Friday, August 14, 2009
Changing Thoughts on Tithing
This whole discussion got me thinking about, despite the protest of our most conservative citizens, that our Christian history and ethos informs and colors so much of what the US government does. For example, governments have never paid to much attention the health of their citizens. That only arrived on the scene with the progressive programs implemented during the Great Depression and are largely a post-WWII phenomenon. However, what idea is more fundamental to our Christian ideals than to care for the elderly (read - Medicare) or the infirmed (read - Medicaid).
I find it mountainously ironic, even hypocritical, that right-wing Christians are opposed to the expansion of government into these areas when we, as Christians, are directly told to personally do and support these kinds of activities. We, as Christians, are also told in Mark 22 to care for widows and children, those in jail, those in utter poverty. We could wait for Christian churches to do those things. But after 2000 years of history, the church universal has an abysmal track record in this department too.
How does this come back to tithing? Well, I just checked to see that I pay $87 per paycheck for Medicare, that is, medical insurance covering 36 million elderly Americans. I'd gladly pay another $100 per paycheck to care for uninsured Americans. And though many American Christians scoff at it, I think it's a great idea.
It might come out of my paycheck as a tax, but I now count it a tithe.
Saul Alinsky said that it is a sin not to force others to give of their own wealth for the care of their neighbor, but that's not what Jesus said.
"And if I give all my possessions to the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." (1 Cor. 13:3)
God doesn't reward you for paying your taxes like everyone else. It's not an act of love. It's an act of self-preservation. It is no tithe unless Big Government is your god. Unless you have renounced Christ and converted to Marxism then paying taxes is no tithe.