Thanks to all of you who gave your thoughts regarding the question of whether to tithe before or after taxes. First, it must be said at the outset that tithing itself is not optional. As Christians, we are called to give in this manner. Giving a tenth of our first-fruits to support the ministries of the church should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately this is a problem in most churches today.
The reason I advocate tithing before taxes is because that’s what your actual salary is. It’s the honest answer. Depending upon what the tax laws happen to be and how much money you make, you’ll get at least some of it back. The caution here is not to become overly legalistic about it. Some Christians live in different countries altogether with different situations.
Another important point to remember is that everything we have ultimately belongs to God. We may possess a certain amount of material wealth to one degree or another, but we have anything at all because of God’s hand of providence. God doesn’t need our wealth, but His appointed ministers here on earth certainly do. They, in turn, feed the whole church.
I found two very good articles about this subject from two different perspectives. The first article is by D.A. Carson who advocates what can be described as a minimalist position on tithing. From the other perspective, I found an article by A.W. Pink on this topic. I tend to endorse Pink’s position on the issue and he sums it up nicely when he wrote the following:
Only God has the right to say how much of our income shall be set aside and set apart unto Him. And He has so said clearly, repeatedly, in the Old Testament Scriptures, and there is nothing in the New Testament that introduces any change or that sets aside the teaching of the Old Testament on this important subject.
Many people who take the minimalist position use Matt. 23:23 as their text. Yet in this passage, Christ is not setting aside the mandate to tithe. He is rebuking the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and the manner by which they tithe. The Pharisees are under attack here because they’re doing so for the wrong reasons. Carson also says something which is worth considering:
A strictly legal perspective on giving soon runs into a plethora of complicated debates. Is this 10 percent of gross income or of net? How does this play out in a country where a progressive income-tax system rises to 90 percent of in come? If we choose to tithe from our net income, are we talking “take-home pay” only, or does it include what is withheld for medical insurance and retirement benefits?
I think there’s a balance here. We shouldn’t resort to legalism here and at the same time we shouldn’t endorse antinomianism either. I look forward to reading your comments in response.