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 3...you 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."

"I believe in the law of tithing. Not because I hope to get rich, but because it helps me to become less selfish. Now here is the question, if I make 10,000 a year and pay 600 to the church and 400 to a starving family--am I not obeying the law of tithing? Does my donation necessarily have to go to the church? Isn't helping a starving family building the Kingdom of God?"

Can you buy God's blessing?

"Does anyone believe that tithing or giving will result in being blessed, receiving blessings?

"Thinking back, I know my pastors have often touted the blessings that will come to those who tithe. That never quite sat right with me. I now see that as saying we can buy God's blessing--as if there were any more that God need do for us than sacrifice His son. As if we could earn blessings, or avoid troubles in this life by giving money. Wouldn't such a concept of our relationship with God show an ignorance of Grace?"


"Any type of donation, whether it be money, food, or clothing, can be considered tithing."

"I get tired of living from paycheck to paycheck, but when we give from the heart because of God's grace, He blesses us in ways that we may not see. Sometimes I feel like I give too much too...but I know that giving with resentment is not part of God's plan."

"How selfish is it of us to think God has done so much for us and only ask for 10% and we get to keep 90%...I find his blessings far succeed the measly 10%."

No more tithing

"As for tithing...God loves a cheerful giver, not a penny pinching tither. Give according to your ability, according to what you have. Meet your bills, provide for your families needs, and give as you purpose in your heart. And if you happen to attend one of those Churches that preach tithing...I would look for a better Bible-teaching, Bible-believing Church. You are free in Christ to give unto the Lord as you prosper and according to your ability."

"I was raised in the non-denominational charismatic church and I don't know how many times I heard a preacher stand at the pulpit shouting "If you don't give the tithe, 10% of your gross income, you're robbing God!" and then tag on "and you better be joyful about it too." That is not freedom in Jesus.

"Giving of our finances is a biblical principle that is essential if we want to experience prosperity and if we want to walk in obedience. That it seems we can all agree on. So, why the 'Moses math'? Why push the 10% when it's not even an accurate representation and we're not commanded to do it?

"All I know is that I give to whom and however much I feel God is telling me to give. I also know many who 'tithe' and are under so much bondage and condemnation it's awful."

"I think pastors are in error when they exhort their congregations to tithe (10%). That said, I still see 10% to be a good rule of thumb which I plan to stick to. By plan, I simply mean that I need to know how much I'll be giving weekly so that I can make my budget work."

"We do not tithe, we give as we are able, and I serve the Lord as a Sunday School teacher and a witness for Christ, both here and in my daily life. I do believe in putting God first in my life, and the way that translates into our finances is to pay our bills promptly and in full, and provide for my family as the scripture says. 1 Tim 5:8-9 'But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.'"


Gifts beyond money

"I believe any type of donation, whether it be money, food, or clothing, can be considered tithing. A sister in our ward once wasn't working and felt bad because she wasn't able to pay. The Bishop explained to her that in a sense she was paying tithing. It's what is in your heart that counts. Some people can pay a straight tithing every week unwillingly, but another sister can be just donating her time and energies to a needy family good heartedly. I think the blessings come more to the willing sister."

"Among Pagan religious communities our form of tithing is called "energy exchange," and it is usually not money, but service. For example, during our festivals, we also require a certain amount of volunteer hours. I ran the Community Health Clinic. One volunteer, a labor and delivery nurse supervised a first trimester pregnancy miscarriage. I then supplied grief counseling for the couple, and some suggestions about timing for their next attempt to conceive. The spiritual return on being a participating member of the community is immeasurable. We very deliberately make volunteering a part of the festivals, because giving to one's spiritual community is part of the spiritual experiences for the participants to take away with them."

Spiritual benefits of tithing

"By tithing, we are responding to what God has told us to do. He says to test Him in this, Malachi 3:8-10. He cannot fulfill what he promised to do, unless we do our part first. So I don't feel like I'm responding to any of religion's laws, instead I am responding to what God said to do. At the same time, I am helping to support my church. The spiritual benefits that I receive are a sense of obeying and trusting God."

"It was a calling of faith, to put our worldly treasures to work."

"Pledging is part of my stewardship for what I have been given. It is also part of my involvement in the community of faith in which I live. Two years ago my wife and I took a deep breath and more than doubled our pledge to the tithe level. We did it as an act of faith, not financial loyalty. Honestly I haven't missed the money. We are not rich, barely middle class. But that was a calling of faith, to put our worldly treasures to work...People who want their churches to "do good", and provide programs for everyone, but aren't willing to be good stewards of their time, talent AND treasure, not only deprive their community financially, they also rob themselves spiritually."

"When I give my money or time away it puts things back into perspective for me. I think I do it more because it is beneficial to my life then to please the divine. It feels right."

"What tithing and gift offerings do is this: It changes perspective, and sets great invisible forces in motion. While it is true that God has no need of our money, many of His children do. It is fair, just, and kind to give to those in need, and there is a great reward in doing so, namely that spiritual growth that comes from being generous. Since the Spirit is the source of all things, visible and invisible, being in harmony with the abundance that is in God naturally returns abundance--though not always in the form of money...there are an extraordinary number of ways to be blessed."

"God wants us to have a relationship with Him. So ask Him what, where, when, and how much to give. I would venture to say that anyone who does that will end up giving more than 10% and it will probably go to a lot of places that need it. Even my church doesn't agree with this, but if God leads me to give 32.567% to the homeless guy on the street and give nothing to the church one day, I'll do it.

"I love to give, and I love the freedom of doing whatever He tells me, rather than getting out my calculator. All that to say, I do believe that those who minister to us should be blessed with our giving too."

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