I Have a Question About Tithing?

Photo of a Collection Plate

What should I do if I want to tithe, but my unbelieving husband doesn’t?

This is actually a complex question since there may be several pieces to the puzzle, like:

  • Are both spouses working?
  • Do you use one combined account? (BTW- yes, you should)
  • How’s the communication in the marriage?
  • What’s the tension factor surrounding the topic?
  • etc.

First, the simplest answer is if YOU are not generating any income then your tithe is $0.00.  But, if you ARE generating income then there are some ways you can approach this subject.

Second, you must keep first things first and that is, your first desire is for your husband to come to Christ.  If tithing produces a resentful attitude towards the church and your faith, then drop it.  Focus on living the kind of life that would draw him towards Christ, not push him away.

Finally, if there is a good relationship and the spouse is not hostile towards Christianity you could have a conversation like the one below (These comments are borrowed from John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church)

 

“Could I count any of your income as mine and have discretion over it? Because I work: I keep this house, I keep our children. I’m full-time here. This is a partnership. I know that you go outside for work, but I do the home. I make this happen.”

And then, not to deceive him in any way, but totally open and above board so that he knows where she’s going, she could ask, “Can I count some of your income as discretionary for me? I know that it’s not your preference to give money to what you don’t believe in, but you know that I believe in this, and it’s helping me—I hope—be a really good wife for you. I’m faithful to you. I serve you. I’m physically and sexually there for you. I admire many things about you. I’m glad I’m married to you.” (I think a Christian wife can say those kinds of things to an unbelieving husband.)

And then humbly say, “I know you don’t want us to give ten percent of our income away, but can we just come up with a number that is mine to work with?” And I would guess that an unbelieving husband would do that. At least, that would be the direction that I would go. Then she would tithe what she senses and he agrees is her appropriate share.

So that would be my approach for the wife: seek her husband’s willingness to count some of the money as hers, and then ask if she can do with it according to her own priorities.

Thoughts or questions?

Posted in ORBC
8 comments on “I Have a Question About Tithing?
  1. Dawn says:

    asks do you share a combined account…then says yes you should. What if this is the 3rd marriage for both of you. Is there any verses that you should share a joint account for this? and then the other thing is…. since we both tithe out of our individual accounts/income, then share house utilites and other things we buy together. Just wondering about the shared account thing. Wondering why it says we should share an account.

    • Scott Creager says:

      There is one verse that jumps out to me as an answer, “And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Matt. 19:5-6 My belief in this passage is the idea of oneness, in the every aspect of the relationship, regardless of which number your on. (The first, or second marriage, or so and so on) The more together you are on all areas of your relationship, esp. money, the stronger it will be. My sister does something to instill this into her three daughters. She takes all the Halloween candy and puts it into one bucket when they are done collecting. It eliminates fighting, levels the playing field, and prevents someone from feeling left out. Now that sounds like something I would want in my marriage. One last thought, having a joint account disciplines the area of communication, an essential to any relationship. Hope this helps and God bless

  2. Vicki says:

    I don’t work – well outside the home anyway. I have always struggled with this very question. My husband was raised Catholic and his idea of tithing has always been just to open his wallet and throw in a five, ten, or gasp, twenty dollar bill on the days he happens to show up for a worship service. Eventually he found Christ through Charles Stanley, switched to the Baptist denomination, and I learned who Christ was as well. For a while, he was attending regularly and we actually tithed (in an envelope! Yeah! That’s a step) on a very regular basis. Now I am in one state and he is in the other and is back to throwing a bill in the plate whenever he shows up. He does give me discretionary cash and I have decided that I will tithe on that cash. At this point, I feel it’s what I can do in order to obey God. Hopefully, my husband will be led by example to tithe the way God has commanded us to do. Good post. It was just what I needed.

  3. Mike says:

    Tithing – A subject with many considerations. Often we hear that word and think that churches all have the same opinion on the subject. However, that is not true. For example, a professor at Liberty University by the name of Dr. David Croteau (http://www.liberty.edu/academics/?PID=11847), wrote his thesis on the subject (http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1016&context=fac_dis) while completing his PhD from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In his paper, an in depth study concluded tithing is not consistent with New Covenant teachings. Take time to read his paper if interested. In addition, a brief Google search will discover Dr. Croteau is not alone – there are many pastors and theologians (including Baptist) who also question this teaching.

    While one can find Biblical verses to support tithing, there are many verses in the New Testament that question the relevance of the Old Covenant teaching relative to living in the New Covenant age. Paul wrote several books in the New Testament, yet tithing was not part of his teaching. He wrote in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8:

    “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

    Paul provided great instruction for how churches and the ministry should be supported and expanded in the New Covenant. Understanding tithing from a historical basis and recognizing there are theological differences with arguments on each side of the issue is something that each Christian needs know.

    Take time to pray about this subject. Remember, we came into this world with nothing and will leave this world with no money in our pockets. Everything we have belongs to our Lord. We must be good stewards of everything – time, family, jobs, money, relationships, community, etc. I hope one day tithing will be a teaching of the past as Paul seemed to recognize in his ministry. The tithing dogmatism with perpetual teaching of tithing legalism is pushing people away from the church. I would encourage pastors to stop tithing and encourage the concepts of New Covenant giving. I think church ministries across America would be renewed and expanded with many more brothers and sisters joining us in Heaven!

    • Brian Moss says:

      Hey Mike,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that there is tremendous divergence of thought on this matter. Some of history’s greatest pastors have landed on opposite sides of the fence on this issue and they are all far smarter than I. Even the author you alluded to confesses in his dissertation that Matthew 23:23 is a particularly tricky verse in light of a view towards tithing cessation. “This verse is the only one in the New Testament that could promote tithing. Jesus does not prohibit tithing; he condemns the wrong attitude and motive of those who were tithing.”

      I teach my particular understanding of tithing in a comprehensive class (CLASS301 – Stewardship) as a part of our basic discipleship training for our members. If someone feels they disagree, I have no problem with that. They should simply find a church led by a godly pastor in line with their understanding.

      All in all I believe tithing is the ground floor for giving. I personally haven’t given that little in well over a decade. I give far more than simply 10%. I’ve found that most Christians who argue against the tithe give less than 10%. I like my generosity more than theirs. I figure if I get to heaven and God says, “You silly boy. You didn’t have to give that,” I’ll be okay with it.

      • John says:

        Thanks for these comments! I’ve had similar thoughts.

        Don’t most scholars agree that Matthew 23:23 is part of the Old Covenant? While it is part of the New Testament, it occurred prior to the resurrection of Jesus. Consequently, the Law was still adhered to at this point and this is not a New Covenant principle.

        While I agree we should congregate for worship, edification and work diligently to expand God’s kingdom, there is no perfect church on earth. It is unfortunate that the controversial concept of tithing needs to exclude leaders from ORBC. Surely if God can use a harlot to farther His kingdom, then surely one who views tithing as part of the Law could be used to further His kingdom too.

        While Jesus may think it “silly” that you gave more than your understanding of the “required” tithe, He may likewise say – Did you not learn from Paul when he taught us we are no longer under the bondage of the Law? Why did you keep teaching the Law? Did the Law not end when I gave My life for you?

        Galatians 5:1-6 reads:
        “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

        These are interesting thoughts that we must each address in our hearts as we finance the local church to build Gods’ kingdom. While we may not agree on this topic, it is truly about Loving God and Loving People. Hopefully one day the tithe, as it is taught, will fade into history and allow more leaders to be used within ORBC to Expand the Dream.

        Thanks for allowing the conversation and your blog!

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