For those of you that are a part of a religious institution such as a church, temple, or mosque, you probably wonder if it’s prudent to be tithing while trying to get out of debt or save up for a large purchase. There is a lot of debate among this topic, and I think it’s worth thinking about if you’re devout in your religious faith. I’m going to explore this issue in the context of Christianity. Tithing is the act of giving back a portion of your wages or earnings back to God as a symbol of showing Him that what’s your is not really yours, it’s God’s property. In Christianity, the tithe is 10% of your wages/earnings that is donated to your home church. This is not only a symbolic gesture, but it helps support the church and the charities and missionaries that the church supports. There are some really good Christian personal finance blogs out there that have talked about the issue of tithing and getting out of debt in the past.
Here are a few resources from other bloggers about this subject:
- Free Money Finance responds to a reader who asks whether they should pay off debt first or tithe while paying it off.
- Bible Money Matters has an extensive series that talks about tithing and its biblical principles.
- Christian PF’s thoughts and experiences with tithing while trying to get out of debt.
The General Consensus
From what I have read, the general consensus among Christians who write about personal finance and the teachings of Dave Ramsey and Crown Financial Ministries (both organizations with a Christian backbone) support the idea that Christians should be tithing no matter what situation they are in, unless you are unable to provide for your basic necessities. In that case, your church should be helping you and using church offerings to help support you until you’re back on your feet. But, financial goals of getting out of debt or saving for a big purchase would not trump tithing. It’s also important to remember that tithing is not an eternal issue. The tenants of Christian salvation are not affected by those who tithe and those who do not tithe. There should be no “guilt” in not tithing, but rather, it should be done out of the generosity and willingness of your heart.
Gross versus Net Income
I don’t think God and the Church are splitting hairs over this one. Again, do what you feel is right in this situation. If you feel led to tithe based on your gross income and you have the means to do it, that’s perfectly fine. If you’ve always been tithing off of net income, there’s no shame or harm in that. Biblically, I’m really not sure if it’s clear, so in the matter of gray areas, pray about it and do what feels right.
For those of you that are not religious or not part of a church, this article wasn’t for you, but I know that there are many Christians that think of about the issue of tithing when trying to work towards such a great goal of getting out of debt. The Bible teaches against being in debt, because in Proverbs it warns about “the borrower being slave to the lender,” but supporting your home church and its works around the community come first.