My religious rant of the day– A few years ago I dug into study on the tithe that is mentioned in the Bible. Most religious Christians have grown up with an understanding of what a tithe is, but it wasn’t until I read a description of it in the Bible, that I started thinking that it has somehow been usurped by religion be something is never was intended. Read it for yourself:
22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. 24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. 26 Use the silver to buy whatever your heart desires: cattle, sheep, wine or other alcoholic drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice. 27 And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own. 28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
When I read this my mouth fell open and I thought that somehow something went terribly wrong somewhere. When did the Christian Church start teaching that a tithe is 10% of what you earn that you are supposed to give to God via church proxy? The tithe as it is laid out in the Old Testament law is something you eat and enjoy in the presence of God. In the law, the levite priests only got a portion of that tithe and that is because the basically were given no land with with to make a living. They served Jehovah and their portion was given to them by those that had, but in general, the tithe wasn’t given over to the priests, but on occasion.
Oh, and when the priests were given the tithe, they shared what they were given with the widows, fatherless and aliens within their borders. Does this sound anything like what you may have been taught since you were a child? Yes, there are additional sacrifices and offerings, even consecrations that were given to the priests, some of which givers got to partake of and others to which they had no further right. But those were all special offerings, the “recurring revenue” offerings of the tithe were not what we seem to have been taught.
If you ware to practice tithing today as it is described in the Bible what would that look like to you? Does the fact that tithes are only spoken about in terms of things that are eaten mean anything? What would the Christian church look like if they didn’t have the cash cow “tithe” that we know it to be now? I think reading the Bible really makes me think about it. What do you think?