According to the OCA, the Orthodox Church teaches that we do not have to follow the 10% tithe in a legalistic fashion–as in, you must give 10% first to the church out of your gross income no matter how much you have left, etc. Rather, the principal is to give what we can, not grudgingly (when we can’t afford a tithe and the utility bill) or giving only 10% when we can easily afford more.
The point is to give the “first portion” before paying our other bills, to give what we can with thanksgiving, without comparing ourselves to others. If you can afford it, you should tithe ten percent; if you can afford more, give more; if you can’t afford ten percent, give what you can manage. The Orthodox Church also disagrees with the Prosperity Gospel. —Giving to the Church
The New Testament does not explicitly promote or encourage tithing per se, that is, the offering of one tenth of one’s income to the Church. Instead, the New Testament promotes the concept of ‘proportionate giving’, which may even exceed the ten percent limitation denoted by the word ‘tithe’.” —Michael Makridis, Christian Stewardship and Tithing
You hear people grumble about giving to the Church, or say, “God doesn’t need my money.” No, but your church does–to pay the preacher, pay the light bill, pay the insurance premiums, etc. etc.
So while a legalistic form of tithing–i.e., “It is required to pay 10% or else you are sinning and God will not bless you”–is wrong and oppressive, giving to your church is still needed.
Maybe large churches with lots of rich givers will survive if some people give nothing, but a large number of churches are small and can barely afford to keep the lights on.
And keep in mind that many clubs and unions have dues. Orthodox churches often used to have dues, but in recent years have turned to stewardship (voluntary proportional giving) instead.
It is not wrong to ask for our money to keep the club, union or church going. It is good to strive for that 10% tithe, or beyond.
It is, however, wrong to frighten people into it with threats of God’s punishment, or to tie them with legalistic bonds that are not part of the Gospel.
There are many reasons–poverty or debt, for example–why many households simply cannot pay that 10%.
You should not force them into it while also telling them to paste a smile on their faces, as they drop their rent money in the collection plate.
The landlord or the credit card company or the bank or the IRS will not be swayed by, “I gave your money to the church.”
The New Testament makes very little reference to tithing and when it does it is in reference to Israel’s paying its taxation to the national government. At no time does the New Testament ever suggest nor even hint that the tithe is exacted upon the Christian. The New Testament is concerned with free will giving.
The Gospel of Luke (6:38) tells us that giving is an investment. ‘Give and it shall be given unto you.’ What you invest with God you receive in dividends.
Giving is an investment with God and the return is an eternal yield. Be sure your priority of investing is with God. Because wherever you put your treasure, that is where you will put your heart….
Giving is a matter of attitude. Remember what Solomon said? What is new? Nothing! The system of giving is the same. We learn what we choose to learn.
Where is your treasure? What is really important to you? Giving is sacrificial. It is not the amount. It is what it costs you to give. Even when there is little there is much when God is in it.
….Experience has told us that the most fair and equitable guideline to contribute is one hour’s pay per week or five dollars per week for every ten thousand dollars of gross income. It is fair and represents the abilities of individual communicants of all walks of life.
….We become short-sided and narrow-minded when we concern ourselves more with what others give (or for that matter do not give) and concern ourselves about what others will think about our gift (no matter how large or small it may be).
When giving a gift to God, the measure does not show in the ‘how much category’ or the ‘tally’ of the amount given, but God measures what type of true sacrifice was made, (whether the gift was a gift that had meaning to it or not) or one that merely fulfilled a sense of obligation.
….In I Corinthians 16.1-2, St. Paul encourages us to lay aside contributions regularly to meet the needs of God’s work in an amount that is in proportion to the blessings that we have received.
This means that the amount of our commitment is based on each member’s means, conscience and faith; there is no minimum or maximum amount required.
Your Stewardship Commitment is a reflection of your love for God and the Church and will express your commitment to insure and promote the future of our Church.
If, however, you would like a suggested guideline for making a pledge, you may want to consider starting with the ‘one hour’s pay per week’ rule of thumb.
Of course, the scriptural call for which we should strive is found in 2 Chronicles 31-15, in which the Lord asks that we offer a ‘tithe’ (or ten percent) of our first fruits back to the Lord. —GOARCH, A Collection of Sermons on Stewardship Ministry
The Catholic Church also agrees that tithing 10% is an Old Testament obligation, one which Christians are released from. Adults are to give what they can, cheerfully, to support their churches, but churches are not to force a particular percentage–which is called extortion:
To paraphrase: God doesn’t demand a fixed amount of money from us; he wants us to give from the heart.
If people are forced by their church to give a certain percent of their income, that’s extortion. If they give freely and cheerfully the amount they are able, that’s a gift. —Quick Questions (fourth question down on the page)
Sometimes people misunderstand, so I will restate: By no means is tithing 10% something we should not do.
Rather, tithing 10% is a good thing we should all strive for, even go beyond if we can, but it is not required if we cannot afford it even while living modestly within our means.
(If you’re living extravagantly and say you can’t afford the tithe, then you need to cut back on your “frills.”)
Index to my theology/church opinion pages:
–End Times and Christian Zionism
–God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine
–Cat and Dog Theology
–Raising One’s Hands in Worship
–On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
–On church buildings
–The Message Bible
–The Purpose-Driven Life
–The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers
–The idea that God has someone in mind for you
–Literalism in Biblical interpretation
–Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology, Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
–More about Pat Robertson
–Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
–Women in Marriage/the Church
–Why do bad things happen?
–Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts? Or, how should we evangelize, then?
–Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
–Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
–Hell and the Nature of God
–Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday?
–Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
–How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples?
–What about predestination?
–Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship
–An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God
–Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go?
–Are Spiritual Marriages “real”? (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated)
–Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
–What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
–Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
–What is Worship?
–Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
–Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge
–Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
–Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week