Thursday, March 6, 2014

Paychecks and Tithing

I had a real treat last night.  My oldest daughter gave me a call.

She is in her first year of working.  She was smart.  She researched to learn what specialties had the most job openings. She focused her studies (electives) in college on those specialites.  She volunteered extensively and beefed up her ability to network.  It was not just who she knew.  It was who knew her by face and had her categorized as "go-getter". She was also very willing to relocate.  


Tithing is the Biblical idea of donating one-part-in-ten to the Lord. 

Her pastor told her she was doing it wrong.  He said that it did not count unless it was 10% of her gross income.  He quoted the "first fruits, best fruits" as Biblical proof that God wanted employees to tithe off the gross and not the net.

My daughter sent me a .pdf of her pay stub.  She loses 45% of her gross pay on its way to the bottom line.  That is, tithing off her gross will be almost twice as much as tithing off her net.

Why Tithe?

God does not need our money.  If fact, God does not even need our obedience.  WE need to understand our "place" in God's scheme of things.  Our understanding is shaped by our actions.  We need tithing as the blade needs that hammer and the anvil, to shape us to fit in our place.

From a practical standpoint, many of line items in my daughter's paycheck were cost transfers from her employer.  Just a few years ago those costs were on the invisible side of the gross income.  That is, they were like the 6.2% share of FICA that the employer pays; completely invisible to the employee.  At that point no pastor in the world was asking the congregation to pay tithe on the 6.2% FICA that the employer pays pre-gross and the value of the "fringe benefits".

What Tithing used to pay for

As a final observation, many of the functions that "Church" used to fill:
  • Education
  • Orphanages
  • Hospitals, care of the sick and dying
  • Care of widows and orphans
  • Famine relief, feeding the hungry
 ....have been usurped by the State and funded with enforced "donations", i.e. taxes.  Paying "tithe" on the enforced "tithe" is a double whammy.

I advised my daughter to pray about tithing.  I told her to listen to more than one person.  I suggested that she get opinions from a spectrum of people, that the pastor has a vested interest.  She may very well decide to tithe out of her gross, but it will not be because she thinks it is the only "right" way to tithe and is doing so out of guilt.

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