Tithe

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In the Christian and Jewish traditions, a tithe is a sum of money, usually 10% of a person's income,[1] that is given to the church.

The tithe is mandated in the Old Testament (Leviticus 27:30–33) as applicable to Jews, and praised by Jesus (Matthew 23:23). However, the practice was referenced twice prior to the Mosaic Law being given: when Abraham gave a tithe of the spoils of war to Melchizedek, and when Jacob vowed a tithe of all he possessed.

Tithing is strongly preached – for different reasons – within theologically conservative fundamentalist churches and those which hold to the Prosperity Gospel. It is also commonly emphasized greatly within megachurches (to the extent that church employees, in some cases, have it automatically deducted from their paychecks).

However, there are churches which do not believe that it applies to Christians today. Arguments against include:

  • the actions of Abraham and Jacob prior to Mosaic Law were one-time events, not a pattern of regular giving.
  • Acts 15, where after disagreements as to what extent (if any) newly converted Gentiles were to keep Mosaic Law, it was decided that only four specific requirements needed to be kept (v. 29; the tithe not being among them).
  • I Corinthians 16:2 does not mention the tithe, though written by a Jew (the Apostle Paul) to Gentiles who would not know Mosaic Law; if the tithe were to be maintained he would have specifically pointed that out to people not having prior knowledge.

References

  1. The Hebrew word for tithe is tenth.

Further reading