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Tithing: Thinking At The Margins – Part I

You want to pay a full tithe, but some circumstances can make it extremely tough to determine what that is. Erring on the side of paying too much is the right approach, but the larger the dollar, the more difficult the decision becomes when it might easily (and justifiably) go either way.

What’s the best way to live the letter and spirit of the law without paying more than is really necessary? Thinking through some of the following questions will help you re-evaluate your view of tithing and possibly identify some inconsistencies in the way that you think about it. Don’t let these questions be exclusively rhetorical. Print out this page and record your thoughts on each.

Please note that my intent in writing these posts is to propose scenarios that will help you crystallize your view of tithing payments. Personal decisions (wherever possible) are best and most easily made prior to actually being presented with a situation. For example, young people are encouraged to commit to not taking drugs because — the logic goes —they’ll instinctively know how to act if/when they’re offered drugs.

It is specifically not my intent to nit pick or over analyze charitable donations. Hopefully the ideas presented here will not cause confusion, but rather thoughtful consideration.

The genesis of this post was a set of circumstances that my wife and I are presented with that require us to make a number of complex tithing decisions. Not always having a specific answer led me to ask questions about similar scenarios that would ostensibly make our real questions easier to answer. Ultimately my wife grew tired of the mental exercises and requested that I get back to her after coming to my own conclusions.

Let’s stipulate for the sake of discussion that tithing is defined as “10% of your increase or income” without being any more specific about defining the words “increase” or “income.” We’ll further stipulate that the reader intends to pay a full tithe because it’s the right thing to do and because it’s a great way to show gratitude for the blessings you’ve received. Conversely, it’s desirable to not over-pay by a significant margin because we all have living expenses and need to save (for retirement, kids schooling, etc.).

Continue on to read the other parts in this series:

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