Taxes and Tithes

There is an area of public policy where I think Representative Paul Ryan, the conservative Republican who heads the House Ways and Means Committee, and I may agree, or at least where I think he is speaking a truth that comports with my understanding of biblical truth.

When he says that we need to widen the tax base so that more income is taxed–and admits that much income that currently is not subject to tax belongs to the richest Americans–I applaud. This principle of widening the base from the top down–it is a clear principle for Ryan–lines up well with my belief that, in tithing to support the work of God, all my income be included in the calculation.

What I mean is that I tithe on my gross not my net. Theologically, the principle for me is that I tithe to God before I give to the government, not after. God comes first, then the government–so I tithe even on the portion of my income that the government claims in taxes.

In terms of tax policy, what Representative Ryan is saying is that all income is subject to tax because no source of income is so special that it should be exempt. He might not put it this way, but I understand him to mean that we all have responsibility to maintain our government.

And it is interesting that his proposal has the highest incomes taxed at a 25% rate and the rest of us pay at 10%–the biblical tithe rate. He says this can be done and the result will be tax reform without raising taxes. We may part company on the question of increased revenue, because I think there are some needs we are not meeting adequately.

But I really want us to get our fiscal house in order, and think his proposal provides an opportunity to move forward. I hope he can find some colleagues, on his side as well as the other side, to join in the conversation. And make something happen.

5 thoughts on “Taxes and Tithes”

  1. Do we want to decide what is best, OR do we want to follow the scriptures?

    Tithing ended at the cross per Hebrews 7:5,12,18 and many other verses. But even if it didn’t, the Biblical tithe was NEVER money, even though the Temple Tax had to be paid with money. The Biblical tithe NEVER came from anyone’s income, but instead always came from God’s miraculous increase of food from crops and animals.

    Now, IF we try to use the Old Testament tithing to base how we give today (which you really can’t do as it would be comparing apples to oranges), you would tithe on your NET income, not the gross amount.

    Abram gave a tenth of the NET war spoils, not the gross. The Israelites tithed from the NET crops and NET new born animals, not the gross. To try to apply that to income today, we would tithe from the NET, after tax amount.

    One problem is, people don’t understand the Biblical tithe.

    When God gave the Israelites the promised land, He RESERVED, for Himself, a tenth of the crops and every tenth animal. They NEVER did belong to the Israelites. In other words, the tithe was from God’s increase of FOOD, not from man’s income. It was a way to distribute FOOD to the Levites and priests who did NOT inherit any land.

    No one, not even the farmers, tithed on their income.

    The farmers made their income by SELLING and/or barter-exchanging their crops and animals but did NOT tithe on that income.

    Today, ALL born-again believers are priests. ALL of us are called to be deciples of the Lord. No one of us is higher than another. Our bodies are the Temple where the Spirit dwells. According to the scriptures, priests do not tithe.

    And by the way, the Biblical tithe “rate” was not ten percent. It was a TENTH, not 10%. If a farmer had 9 new born animals during the year, there was no tithe. If there were 19 new born animals during the year, ONE was the tithe.

    1. Thanks for caring enough to comment. You certainly are entitled to your view. I do not share it, either as to what needs to be done today, or even to your interpretation of biblical texts. And I certainly am not going to claim an exemption from tithing, or giving, to the work of God through the church.

      1. Please don’t misunderstand me. I was speaking of the tithe, only, not giving.

        The New Testament teaches generous, sacrificial giving, from the heart, according to our means. For some, $1 might be a sacrifice, while for others, even giving 50% of their income might not induce a sacrifice. In the Old Testament, ONLY the farmers tithed, and it was equal percentage (a tenth). The New Testament teaches the principle of equal sacrifice instead of equal percentage. Equal sacrifice is much harder to achieve, if not impossible, than giving ten percent.

        Being Spirit led, I give far more than a mere tenth of my income.

        1. As do I, but I find the tithe a sound concept to help people understand that the first fruits of our lives belong properly to God, in gratitude.

  2. Nehemiah 10:37-38 (KJV)
    37And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.
    38And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.

    In Nehemiah 10:37 we learn that the firstfruits were taken to the temple for the priests, and the tithes were taken to the Levites who lived in the Levitical cities. Therefore, we see that firstfruits have nothing to do with the tithe.

    In Nehemiah 10:38 we learn that the Levites would take a tithe of the tithe to the Temple. It is this tithe, the tithe from the Levites, that went to the storehouse, not the tithe from the people. This is important to remember when we study Malachi 3:10.

    Now, should we be following the Old Testament, or the New Testament?

    Proverbs 3:9 (KJV) “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:”

    2 Timothy 2:6 (KJV) “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.”

    1 Timothy 5:8 (KJV) “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

    The New Testament makes it clear that we are to use the FIRST of our income to take care of ourselves and our family. We are talking about needs, here, not just anything we want. Then we should give generously from what is left.

    The New Testament teaches that God wants us to give ourselves to Him, not our money.

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