The authors of this website (from which I’ve culled the picture below), “are convinced that many Christians suffer materially, physically and spiritually because they have been misappropriating that which belongs to God.” By “misappropriating that which belongs to God,” they mean, of course, not tithing. The quote evinces several pagan status quo Christian beliefs that suck the life blood out of the cross. I’ve dealt elsewhere with the question of whether one’s material or physical sufferings can be attributed to divine punishment for sin. But for not tithing!?—that adds a new twist!
I’ve sat through a decent number sermons on tithing, which usually stress the Christian’s obligation to tithe. Some churches are notorious for their unhealthy fixation on tithing. I’ve heard of churches that pass the offering plate around multiple times in one service whilst relentlessly pushing their twisted guilt and fear tactics based on passages like Mal 3:8-10 and the very last clause of 2 Cor 2:7 (blissfully ignoring, of course, 1 Cor 2:17). I’ve even heard of Christians abandoning the faith on account of their profoundly negative experience with the church and tithing. There is the opposite extreme of those Christians who treat tithing as a kind of failsafe investment deal (if I give God n, God will return n+), or worse, as propitiatory; which deserves a place of (dis)honor among the vilest of pagan beliefs and practices.
Thankfully, I was never part of a church where I encountered these extremes. In most churches I have attended, the passing of the offering is done discretely (say, at the beginning of a worship song), and non-Christians or visitors are encouraged to let it pass by them. The subject of tithing itself is rarely mentioned but for an annual sermon on the subject. Over all, I never had a particularly negative experience with tithing.
There were, however, misconceptions encouraged. Like I said, most evangelical churches encourage the belief that Christians have an obligation to tithe, which of course is rubbish. Tithing was Old Covenantal practice instituted by God modeled specifically for Israel. Israel was a theocracy, and tithing was their government tax. News flash: Israel is no longer a theocracy, and we are no longer bound in obligation to the letter of Old Covenant law. And at least partly for that reason tithing is not mentioned in the New Testament, even when Paul had the perfect opportunity to in his discussion of giving at Corinth (2 Cor 8). In short: the New Testament Christians didn’t tithe for the same reason they didn’t make sacrifice for their sins.
Some people think that the practice of tithing has been replaced by the practice of taking up offering, and that while we might not be obligated to tithe, we are obligated to contribute to the offering. This, too, is false. The practice of offering is first mentioned in 2 Cor 8, the purpose for which was to collect money for those in “extreme poverty” (2 Cor 8:2) (which reflects the purpose for which tithing was instituted in Israel. See Deut 14:22-29). Furthermore, it was something Paul recommended, not commanded (2 Cor 2:8).
What’s especially funny is that although the word “tithe” means “a tenth,” God commanded different tithes for different things, each of which was a percentage of one’s assets over different periods of time. In other words, tithing was not just monetary, and was not just annual. The “10% of annual income …pssst, before taxes” propounded by many churches instantiates the oxymoronic property of being completely arbitrary and legalistic at the same time.
The New Testament precedent for giving is very rich and nuanced, but marked chiefly by wisdom and liberty of conscience before God. Highly recommended reading: Dean and Laura VanDruff’s “The Tithe Conspiracy and Exegesis.”