Nearly as controversial as the amount of income we give to the government is the amount we give to religious institutions. Beliefnet takes a look at the religious equivalent of taxes--tithing.

The practice started in biblical times with laws about giving a tenth of one's harvest to the poor. Today, people interpret tithing to mean everything from a strict 10% weekly religious donation to any gift of money or volunteer time.

Is tithing an old-fashioned way of mandating charity, or is it a spiritually beneficial practice?

Respond to these posts by clicking on the member name, or by joining the discussion on the main Beliefnet tithing board here.

What's the right amount?

"I for myself try to give on a "progressive" system like with taxes. That means that the more I earn, the more I give. So if I am barely struggling to make ends meet, I might give less that 10% and if I land that cool job, I give a lot more that 10%. Really I just try to be free with it and not worry about exactly how much it is, then it is a joy for me."

"Why the 'Moses math'? I know many who tithe and are under so much bondage it's awful."

"Tithing is good, and in some ways necessary. Now that diocesan priests usually have to manage a whole parish without other priests they can't spend time at jobs, and they need tithes to support them. It doesn't really matter if you give 10% of your "net" or "gross" but you should give 10%, in my opinion. I took it to mean 10% of what you earned in a week/what you earn with each paycheck, or whatever. Remember, churches require heavy taxes. The Church needs her members to give a little. And it should be enough that someone would truly miss. Not chump change. If you are poorer, the gift is all the greater."

Whose money is it?

"There is a difference between Spiritual and non-Spiritual attitudes toward finance. And not just money but Time also. The Spiritual perspective takes the 'possessive' aspect out. The treasure, talent and time belong to GOD and we are HIS stewards. We have to use what he gives us wisely, for the betterment of humanity. The creator gets the Worship, not the stuff created."

"Tithing is for God...People continually harp on the 'MONEY' aspect as if to say...'WHY SHOULD I TITHE?' One has nothing to do with the other. Read Malachi are robbing God. If your pastor does unscrupulous things with the tithe of the Church (which is paying for his salary) that is for God to handle...not you."

Does it have to go to church?

"Tithes are usually looked upon as one tenth of one's annual production, one tenth of anything. These tithes are to do God's will, but it doesn't necessarily have to be given to the church. Churches throughout the world have used tithings to build more and bigger churches, pay salaries of the help, etc. It has become big business. The question is, is this doing God's will?"


"As to where it goes, I've decided that supporting charities like the Christian Children's Fund is far more important than helping my church save for a nice new building.

I plan to give my church less."