Archive for Saturday, April 13, 2013

Faith Forum: How is paying taxes different from tithing?

April 13, 2013


The Rev. Rob Baldwin, pastor, Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vermont St.:

Tithing is for giving thanks

I think the biggest differences are that taxes are the way in which the citizenry of a community — local, state or nation — contribute to the public dimension of our life together. The things we all enjoy such as roads, police and firefighting services, and our public schools, are provided for by everyone contributing as part of the tax base.

Tithing, on the other hand, is grounded not in duty or to provide for what we want, but in thankfulness for what God has given us. I don’t know how many people pay their taxes with a feeling of gratitude, but God desires that our gifts be given out of thanksgiving and love. Taxes are for what we make; tithing is in response for what we have been given. And while the determination of how taxes are spent is (in theory) at the direction of us and our elected representatives, the use of the tithe is always to the question of what God is calling us to do. It isn’t “do we want to do this” but rather “will we do what God wants us to do as the body of Christ?” As such, unlike taxes which tend to often call us to wonder what benefit it has for us, tithing is explicitly with the mindset of what the world needs to be closer to the world that God has envisioned for us.

— Send email to Rob Baldwin at

The Rev. Mitch Todd, associate pastor, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont St.:

Ten differences come to mind

My top 10 answers:

  1. Taxes are a civic obligation. Tithing is between you and God.
  2. You won’t be audited for not tithing. (At least not in this life.)
  3. Taxes require forms and calculators. Tithing requires scripture and prayer.
  4. The IRS makes allowances for tithers, but Jesus actually loves tax collectors.
  5. God asks for 10 percent as a goal. The IRS thinks of 10 percent as a good starting place.
  6. Your tithe will be used to build something better than bombs.
  7. Death and Taxes? Christians believe there is life after both.
  8. The Church is a place where Republicans and Democrats CAN work together.
  9. When you tithe, you always get something back.
  10. Taxes go to pay off a huge debt. Tithes thank Christ for paying an even bigger one.

— Send email to Mitch Todd at


Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

Mark Chapter 12, verse 17:
Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at him.
(This appears in all three of the synoptic Gospels, but this one is the most succinct.)

Taxes are a required civic duty, and if you don't pay them, you'll most likely end up in trouble with the law. Politicians will decide how this money will be spent, or, some would say, misspent.

Tithing is a free will offering, and will not be subject to the constraints of politicians' whims. Meaning that disasters in various parts of the world can get aid money faster, and community based aid programs can be financed without political interference.

GaryArnold 4 years, 11 months ago

I see you have not given any scripture to support your views on tithing.

THE FIRST TITHE Leviticus 27:30-33 defines this tithe as a tenth of crops and animals in herds and flocks. Numbers 18 gives the ordinances, or instructions, for this tithe, and commands this tithe be taken to the Levites. Purpose of this tithe: to support the Levitical Priesthood.

SECOND TITHE Deuteronomy 14:22-27: aka The Festival Tithe - a tenth of crops, plus add to that the firstborn animals, and take to the yearly feasts. Purpose of this tithe: “that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always”

THIRD TITHE Deuteronomy 14:28-29: aka The Three-Year Tithe aka The Poor Tithe - a tenth of crops, kept at home, and invite the Levites, widows, orphans, stranger to eat. Purpose of this tithe: to feed the poor.

Now, tell me. Which of the above three tithes commanded by God does anyone follow today?

The ONLY people in the Old Testament that were commanded to tithe were those who INHERITED THE PROMISED LAND WITH EVERYTHING ON IT. They got the land, house, animals, crops, etc. ALL FREE AND CLEAR. No mortgage payment or rent to pay. And THEY were commanded to tithe on the crops and animals and take it to the Levites who INHERITED the tithe INSTEAD OF the promised land with everything on it. No one else tithed. Wage earners did not tithe. Jesus did not tithe as a carpenter. Paul did not tithe as a tent maker. Peter did not tithe as a fisherman.

When God gave the Israelites the promised land, He RESERVED, for Himself, a tenth of the crops and every tenth animal. They NEVER did belong to the Israelites. In other words, the tithe was from God's increase of FOOD, not from man's income. It was a way to distribute FOOD to the Levites and priests who did NOT inherit any land.

No one, not even the farmers, tithed from their income.

The farmers made their income by SELLING and/or barter-exchanging their crops and animals but did NOT tithe on that income.

Today, ALL born-again believers are priests. ALL of us are called to be disciples of the Lord. No one of us is greater than another. Our bodies are the Temple where the Spirit dwells. According to the scriptures, priests do not tithe.

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