Since last week’s post about his money and her money was so popular (and controversial!), I thought I’d tackle another sensitive subject this week – relationships and tithing/charitable giving. I’ve gotten several questions regarding the tithe and how it applies to us as Christians today. Even though Stacy wrote on what the Bible teaches about tithing a while back, one thing I would like to address is the issue of what to do when your spouse disagrees about a course of action when it comes to giving.
First off, if couples agreed about everything when it came to how to spend their money, it would be SCARY. So let me start by saying it is perfectly okay to disagree about money. In fact, I would encourage you and your spouse to have some disagreements about things every now and then. It will help make sure you actually communicate with each other about what matters to you, and that is always a good thing! Equally importantly, I have a pretty standard rule that you should never spend money on something until you can agree on the budget. If you are looking at tithing, a full 10% of your total budget, a disagreement here will KILL your entire budget.
So back to our discussion about giving when you can’t agree. Lots of people think tithing is only an Old Testament concept and so it doesn’t apply anymore. So what if I tell Stacy that we’re going to stop tithing on our income because I don’t believe it is required? How should she respond? While the Bible clearly teaches that a wife is to submit to her husband as the head of their household, she is also to help him change his mind if she believes he is doing wrong (please don’t think I’m promoting nagging – I’m promoting open discussion). In this case, since I believe tithing is an active Biblical mandate for all believers, I think there are a few things that husband and wife should discuss if you can’t agree on the subject of tithing.
First, Stacy addressed in her tithing post that tithing is mentioned in the Old Testament long before the law was given to Moses (in Genesis 14, to be a bit more exact). She also mentioned that Jesus chided the Pharisees in Matthew chapter 23 for neglecting other matters of the faith while focusing strictly on the tithe. This makes it clear that Jesus didn’t want them to stop tithing, but instead wanted them to recognize that wasn’t their only duty as a believer. As believers, if it was practice before the law and Jesus mentioned it after He showed up to fulfill the law; that seals it for me and should make for a point of discussion for you and your spouse.
Second, your church is scripturally mandated to do many things. How could they do these things if you didn’t give them the funds to do them? I know there are plenty of churches out there that fail miserably to be good managers of the money they’re given, but those are the churches I don’t want to attend. If you’re attending a church that is preaching the gospel, taking care of the poor, the orphans and the widows as mentioned numerous times in scripture, there is money required to do all of this. Where is it to come from if not from you?
Third, you and I both know that when we are generous, we are happier people. I’ve seen from numerous sources the example of a hundred dollar bill wadded up in someone’s fist that guarantees the money won’t escape. At the same time, it also guarantees more money can’t come in. An open hand can allow money to come and go – to flow through the person. I believe this is an even bigger reason for us to be givers to our local church. If I attend a church that is actively helping the community and I’m motivated to give to ANY charity, wouldn’t the church be the absolute best choice? Even though it will likely generate some hateful comments, let me be so bold to say that if you don’t believe your church is the best place to invest your charitable giving, maybe you’re attending the wrong church.
Lastly, Dr. Larry Burkett wrote an excellent article called Tithing When Your Spouse Objects that may give you a slightly different viewpoint, but one that should help you as you prayerfully decide your appropriate course of action.
So what do you think? What advice would you give to a couple arguing about whether to give (to their church or otherwise)? Let the debate begin!