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Why does the whole tithe go to clergy / the church? I haven't been able to find any church that practices otherwise.

When I look at the Old Testament, the precedent was for the tithe (Deut 14:29) was to support the Levites, widows, orphans, and strangers. Somehow or another, Christian churches seem to interpret the New Testament equivalent of all this as the clergy alone. I fail to see how using tithe for the sole purpose of building finances and paid clergy / ministers is equivalent to the additional social services (aid to the widows, orphans, and strangers) that the tithe also provided for in the Old Testament thru Israel. Also additional offerings are collected for the church, for the clergy, and on a rare occasion for other purposes. It seems that most Christians today look to government agencies to fulfill this role (i.e. Social Security, Medicaid, welfare / WIC, food stamps, etc) however doesn't God look to His church to keep this responsibility?

Widows: Matt 23:14, Acts 6:1, Acts 9:41, 1 Tim 5:3, 1 Tim 5:16
Orphans: James 1:27, Luke 18:16
Strangers: Matt 25:35-44, 1 Tim 5:10, Heb 13:2, 3 John 1:5

The other thing I find fascinating is in the token scripture used by most churches to "encourage" (guilt) people into tithing is the "you robbed God" scripture: Malachi 3:8. However, when taken in the context of the entire chapter of Malachi 3, God, thru the prophet Malachi, scolds Israel for neglecting... the widow, the orphan, the stranger (verse 5.) No mention is made of the Israelites neglecting the Levites in their tithe. Perhaps by this time, the Levite / clergy had already usurped the entire tithe for themselves, given how Malachi also says God saw them in need of purification and purging (verse 3.)

Thoughts? I apologize for ruffling feathers, but when the government is broke or corrupt, and people aren't getting the financial support they need, you have to wonder, what is the church's role in all this? Where are the "lights of the world" ?

Grace be with you,

TiffTheTraveler's picture


Hi Nate,

It does take money to support general upkeep of churches and its staff, but I agree with you in general because I have noticed that a lot of churches seem to do little else with incoming tithes. In my opinion, a sign of a healthy, vibrant church is how they spend money and time on their people and the surrounding community. And to be direct, it's the church's responsibility to take care of those in need, not the government's responsibility...its part of our mandate as Christians:
"The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." -Mark 12:31
"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." -Phil 2:4
If we really took this to heart, there would be no welfare programs needed. There are a few churches where I live that have very active outreach programs, helping the homeless, half way house sponsorships, etc and I gladly donate to these churches.

Hopefully you can find a church that has some type of community outreach going on...or maybe help start an outreach at your current church?