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?
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?