Friday, June 21, 2019

The Cult of Tithing

Sometimes I hesitate to divulge that I’m a Christian on the internet — not because I’m ashamed of having accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, but because the term “Christianity” has been watered down by cult offshoots, and nonsensical, denominational, and ideological rules to the point that the word has virtually no objective meaning.

Whatever the case, within the circle of Christendom and aside from the erroneous idea that salvation from sins can be “lost” is an old but seemingly growing cult in which members thereof attempt to bribe God with money in order to obtain and secure material and financial blessings. The doctrine works like this: If we give a minimum of 10% of all our financial income to a “church” or some other worthy cause (though I’m not sure who defines “worthy”), then God will bless us materially and financially. But, if we DON’T give that minimum 10%, then God will effectively drop a hammer down on us and take away all or some material or financial blessings. Essentially, the doctrine says that God is up in the sky watching as we receive our paychecks waiting to see how the funds are allocated — if the funds aren’t allocated as God sees fit, then He curses us! This 10% in the old testament of the bible was called a “tithe” or “tithing.” One might see how this sort of doctrine can appeal to so many, especially in an age where material gain and prestige are highly esteemed — and we can bet that there are propagators of the doctrine out there looking for people to prey on. The whole system is banked on fear, greed, and superficiality.

Ministers of this cult take their ideology out of context from the book of Malachi in the old testament of the bible. Malachi says, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, “How have we robbed You?” In tithes and offerings.  You are cursed with a curse, your whole nation, for you are robbing Me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing, that there will not be room enough to receive it.” The reason the verse is not being used in the correct context by these cult leaders is that “tithes” were given to support temple worship while waiting for Jesus Christ — the Israelites were expecting Him. The shedding of blood via animal sacrifices in the temple worship was intended to foreshadow the coming of Jesus who would once and for all shed His own blood for the sins of humanity. A reading of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament of the Bible helps put this concept into perspective. Once Jesus died (by crucifixion), the temple worship was no longer required and tithing was implicitly done away with. The new testament gives us instructions for giving today which I’ll get to in a moment.

There are some rather crude and serious implications regarding the doctrine of tithing as it’s sold by leaders of this growing cult. I’m sure most people have heard about the concept of “karma." One way Karma is defined is that if we do something “bad” then bad things will happen to us, but if we do something “good” then good things will happen to us. Notice the parallel of karma to tithing? Imagine this — while sitting in a coffee shop with some tithing friends, one accidentally spills coffee on himself. If onlookers adhere to the doctrine of tithing and are logical and consistent in the belief, they SHOULD say or think something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh!!! God has this person under a curse for not tithing. I’m going to turn up my nose and let God finish punishing this person.” In general, anytime somebody is seen suffering by one who tithes, the sufferer will be perceived as one who is under God's "curse." That is essentially what karma and tithing boil down to. The concept of tithing as it’s sold by these cult leaders, and most of their followers, is logically no different than the concept of karma which is not by any means a concept prescribed by God — the concept of karma does away with any notion of God’s mercy, forgiveness, and patience. Karma and tithing as they are sold by cult leaders are Satanic concepts having no place in a group of true followers of Jesus.

Anyone who is serious about helping with God’s work in this world is not obligated to give a minimum of 10% of all their income. God is not a vending machine that dispenses goods double or triple the value of the money is inserted. The apostle Paul, in speaking about how followers of Jesus should be giving today says, “...Each person should do as he has decided in his heart–not reluctantly or out of compulsion since God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) This standard of giving set forth by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament, and the Old Testament law requiring tithing are very different types of giving and they cannot BOTH be applicable for today. Either one or the other applies. Why would Paul have written out a whole new standard of giving if the Old Testament law of tithing still applied? If one feels like giving 10% (or even more) of any kind of income to help God’s work, then that is just fine and it’s nobody’s business except the giver’s and God’s. However, do not feel obligated to give a minimum of 10%.

It bugs me how some pastors throw out the word “tithe” during their sermons, not explicitly defining what they mean by it, not taking a position one way or another so as not to offend anyone and potentially lose members (money!). It seems they leave it up in the air for everybody to decide for themselves what it means, possibly leaving the listener with an overwhelming sense to come back the following Sunday with a minimum of 10% of their income. Using the word “tithe” interchangeably with “giving” should not be done. The cult spoken of herein exists within a wide variety of erroneous church denominations — cults within cults. Sadly, the cult even exists within circles of true but misinformed followers of Jesus.