Some interpretations of Biblical teachings conclude that although tithing was practiced extensively in the Old Testament, it was never practiced or taught within the first-century Church. Instead the New Testament scriptures are seen as teaching the concept of "freewill offerings" as a means of supporting the church (see I Corinthians 16:2 and II Corinthians 9:7). Also, some of the earliest groups sold everything they had and held the proceeds in common to be used for the furtherance of the Gospel (Acts 2:44-47, Acts 4:34-35). The book of Acts contains the account of a man and wife who were living in one of these groups. They sold a piece of property but donated only part of the selling price to the church and were struck dead for lying to God (Acts 5:1-10).
It is thought that tithes were not adopted by the Catholic, Christian church for over seven centuries. Although initially rejected, they were mentioned in councils at Tours in 567 and at Mâcon in 585. They were formally recognized under Pope Adrian I in 787. Tithing in Christian churches today is frequently preached from the pulpit, but denominations and sects view tithing differently. Some view tithing as only clearly required in the Old Testament, and consider it to be a practice that has no place in modern Christianity. Others believe that tithing is still in effect.
When Melchizedek appeared and offered Abram bread and wine and blessed him in the name of God, tithes were exchanged. While the biblical text is not precise in naming who actually gave the tithes, most believe Abram gave the tithes to Melchizedek. The verse records, "....and he gave him a tenth of everything;" the "he" could stand for either Melchizedek or Abram, or perhaps El Elyon Himself. A reference found in expresses the tradition that Abram gave Melchizedek the tithes, and this is the belief that is held by most Christians. Its important to note that Heb. 7:4 says that Abram gave a tenth of the spoils and not necessarily all of his personal wealth. Also, this was the only reference of Abram tithing. We don't know if Abram tithed all of his increase and it would be reading into the scriptures to say otherwise.
Biblically, tithes are received by priests and high priests according to , the sons of Levi were commanded by God to receive tithes, the sons of Levi were appointed to be priests (). This is substantiated also in the Old Testament in that the Levites were supposed to receive tithes. As mentioned in , Levites were appointed to be priests. It is not likely that Melchizedek gave tithes to Abram as some suggest because Abram was not in the office of a priest, but Melchizedek was.
Later in the book of Genesis, Abraham's grandson Jacob also made a commitment to give God back a tenth of his increase ().
[Referring to a ten per cent tax levied on garments by the local ruler:] "the palace has taken eight garments as your tithe (on 85 garments)"
Because of this standard one-tenth tax in Babylon, Abraham of the Genesis account was most likely familiar with the concept of giving up ten-percent of goods as tax.
In India sikh religion also provide for such practice called "Duswanth" Means one tenth part of income to be devoted for religious purposes. Tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh started this practice.
The third year was called "the year of tithing" in which the Israelites set aside 10% of the increase of the land, they were to give this tithe to the Levites, strangers, orphans, and widows. These tithes were in reality more like taxes for the people of Israel and were mandatory, not optional giving. This tithe was distributed locally "within thy gates" to support the Levites and assist the poor. The Levites, also known as the tribe of Levi, were descendants of the family of Aaron. They were assistants to Aaron, his family, and the Israelite priests and did not own or inherit a territorial patrimony . Their function in society was that of temple functionaries and trusted civil servants who supervised the weights and scales and witnessed agreements. The goods donated from the other Israeli tribes were their source of sustenance. They received from "all Israel" a tithe of food or livestock for support, and in turn would set aside a tenth portion of that tithe for the Aaronic priests in Jerusalem. This also includes the land tithe, which is found in . The land tithe could be redeemed, or sold for money, but required an additional 20% contribution, making the actual tithe 12% if paid in money.
LMLK seals may represent the oldest archaeological evidence of tithing. About 10 percent of the storage jars manufactured during Hezekiah's reign (circa 700 BC) were stamped (Grena, 2004, pp. 376-8). See 2 Chronicles 29-31 for a record of this early worship reformation.
The book of Nehemiah also talks about the collection of tithes. People were actually appointed to collect mandatory tithes and place them in specially designated chambers which eventually came to be known as storehouses -.
The book of Malachi has some of the most quoted Biblical versus on tithing, . Jews, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians who tithe, understand that no man may outdo God in the act of charity. These verses talk about the supposed cause and effect of tithing. If one gives to God, they are to be blessed, where if one refuses to give they will be cursed. They also refer back to the storehouses mentioned in Nehemiah. (Malachi 3:8-12):
But I alone went often to Jerusalem at the feasts, as it was ordained unto all the people of Israel by an everlasting decree, having the firstfruits and tenths of increase, with that which was first shorn; and them gave I at the altar to the priests the children of Aaron. The first tenth part of all increase I gave to the sons of Aaron, who ministered at Jerusalem: another tenth part I sold away, and went, and spent it every year at Jerusalem: And the third I gave unto them to whom it was meet, as Debora my father's mother had commanded me...
In the beginning this was supplied by the spontaneous offerings of the faithful. In the course of time, however, as the Church expanded and various institutions arose, it became necessary to make laws which would ensure the proper and permanent support of the clergy.
Many Christians (both Catholic and Protestant) support their churches and pastors with monetary contributions of one sort or another. Frequently these monetary contributions are called tithes whether or not they actually represent ten-percent of anything. Some claim that as tithing was an ingrained Jewish custom by the time of Jesus, no specific command to tithe per se is found in the New Testament. However, this view overlooks the fact that Israel's tithes were of an agricultural nature, not financial. References to tithing in the New Testament can be found in Matthew, Luke, and the book of Hebrews.
For Catholics, the payment of tithes was adopted from the Old Law, and early writers speak of it as a divine ordinance and an obligation of conscience, rather than any direct command by Jesus Christ.
Some Protestant denominations cite as support for tithing.
and its parallel Luke 11:42
Because of Jesus' specific mention of the tithe in this passage, those who support the tithe believe that he gave his endorsement to the practice of tithing in general. Some scholars disagree, however, pointing out that Jesus was simply obeying Mosaic law as an obedient Jew and telling Pharisees they ought to have tithed as they claimed they were living under that law.
The final mention of tithing in the New Testament is . This refers back to the tithe Abram paid to Melchizedek. This passage, although serving as confirmation that Abraham did indeed pay his tithe to Melchisedec, is not so much about tithing as about trying to show the superiority of Christ to that of the Levitical priesthood.
Most New Testament discussion promotes giving and does not mention tithing. talks about giving cheerfully; encourages giving what you can afford; discusses giving weekly; exhorts supporting the financial needs of Christian workers; promotes feeding the hungry wherever they may be; and states that pure religion is to help widows and orphans.
Farmers had to offer a tenth of their harvest, while craftsmen had to offer a tenth of their production.
In Europe, special barns were built in villages order to store the tithe (Tithe Barn, in German Zehntscheunen). These were often the largest building in the village after the church. The priest or the collector (decimator) collected the tithe, though usually tithers delivered their tithe to a collection point themselves. Villages or homesteads were documented as owing tithe. A requirement to tithe was usually acquired by purchase, donation to the church, or when the settlement was founded.
The Ebstorf Abbey in the Lüneburger Heathlands, for example, was owed tithe from over 60 villages.
In the Middle Ages the tithe from the Old Testament was expanded, through a differentiation between a Great Tithe and a Little Tithe.
Other tithes appeared that varied from location to location:
After the Reformation the tithe was increasingly taken over from the church by the state. In countries such as Germany and Switzerland, this remained the case until the 19th century, when the tithe was abolished. In England, church tithes remained until the 19th century and in some cases to this day voluntary tithes are paid by the devout. In some cases the abolishment of the tithe was accompanied by a one-time tax upon the farmers. This led many farmers into debt.
In recent years, tithing has been taught in Christian circles as a form of "stewardship" that God requires of Christians. The primary argument is that God has never formally "abolished" the tithe, and thus Christians should pay the tithe (usually calculated at 10 percent of all gross income from all sources), although at the Council at Jerusalem the Apostles did not include it in the letter to the Gentile believers (). The tithe is usually given to the local congregation, though some teach that a part of the tithe can go to other Christian ministries, so long as total giving is at least 10 percent. Some holding to prosperity theology doctrines go even further, teaching that God will bless those who tithe and curse those who do not.
Some scholars cite that since the account of Abram giving tithe to the high priest occurred before the law was given to Moses, the tithe does not fit into Mosaic Law and therefore is relevant today. That interpretation, however, is suspect since Abram also practised circumcision before the Mosaic law came into being, but that practice has itself been de-emphasized in the New Testament church. It is therefore a much better interpretation, both similar to circumcision and the observation of the Sabbath, that the practise of tithing (that is compulsory giving of 10% of one's income) is no longer applicable to the New Testament church. Instead church members are encouraged "to give as the Lord has prospered (them)” [I Corinthians 16:2], and "every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” [II Corinthians 9:7].
Opponents of tithing argue that the only Biblical references to the tithe occurred (or referenced events that occurred) during the period of Mosaic Law, applicable only to Jews. They further argue that Jesus taught He came to "fulfill" the Law, which they believe occurred at His crucifixion, and therefore Christians are no longer obligated to pay a minimum amount, but should give only as God specifically directs them to do (which may be more or less than 10 percent) 2 Corinthians 8 & 9. Further, opponents hold that the "blessing/cursing" teachings used in prosperity theology would result in God being able to be "bribed" or acting as an "extortionist". In addition, the blessings / curse point of view invalidates the gospel, i.e. if one is cursed, then Christ could not have been a "curse on our behalf" and if we can get more blessing by tithing, then we cannot possibly have "all Spiritual blessings in Christ" (Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 1:3). If it's true that all giving should be non-compulsory and rooted in the Christ in each believer, then tithing is moot.
Proponents argue that one cannot throw out the Law in the name of "fulfillment" because that also would cause the argument that Christians are no longer obligated to live a holy lifestyle according to the ten commandments, which scholars agree is not the intention of Jesus' teachings that He came to "fulfill" the Law.
Church tax is compulsory in Austria and Catholics can be sued by the Church for not paying it. Anyone who wants to stop paying it has to declare in writing, at their local municipal council, that they are leaving the Church. They are then crossed off the Church registers and can no longer receive the sacraments. The tax amounts to about 1% of the income.
All members of the Church of Denmark pay a church tax, which varies between municipalities. The tax is generally around 1% of the taxable income.
The right to receive tithes was granted to the English churches by King Ethelwulf in 855. The Saladin tithe was a royal tax, but assessed using ecclesiastical boundaries, in 1188. Tithes were given legal force by the Statute of Westminster of 1285. Adam Smith criticised the system in The Wealth of Nations (1776), arguing that a fixed rent would encourage peasants to farm more efficiently. The Dissolution of the Monasteries led to the transfer of many tithe rights from the Church to secular landowners, and then in the 1530s to the Crown. The system ended with the Tithe Commutation Act 1836, which replaced tithes with a rent charge decided by a Tithe Commission. The records of land ownership, or Tithe Files, made by the Commission are now a valuable resource for historians.
At first this commutation reduced problems to the ultimate payers by folding tithes in with rents (however it could cause transitional money supply problems by raising the transaction demand for money). Later the decline of large landowners led tenants to become freeholders and again have to pay directly; this also led to renewed objections of principle by non-Anglicans.
The rent charges paid to landowners were converted by the Tithe Commutation Act to annuities paid to the state through the Tithe Redemption Commission. The payments were transferred in 1960 to the Board of Inland Revenue, and finally terminated by the Finance Act 1977.
Members of state churches pay a church tax of between 1% and 2.25% of income, depending on the municipality. Church taxes are integrated into the common national taxation system.
In France, the tithes -- called "la dîme" -- were a land tax. Originally a voluntary tax, in 1585 the "dîme" became mandatory. In principle, unlike the taille, the "dîme" was levied on both noble and non-noble lands. The dîme was divided into a number of types, including the "grosses dîmes" (grains, wine, hay), "menues" or "vertes dîmes" (vegetables, poultry), "dîmes de charnage" (veal, lamb, pork). Although the term "dîme" comes from the Latin decima [pars] ("one tenth", same origin for U.S. coin dime), the "dîme" rarely reached this percentage and (on the whole) it was closer to 1/13th of the agricultural production.
The "dîme" was originally meant to support the local parish, but by the 16th century many "dîmes" went directly to distant abbeys, monasteries, and bishops, leaving the local parish impoverished, and this contributed to general resentment. In the Middle Ages, some monasteries also offered the "dîme" in homage to local lords in exchange for their protection (see Feudalism) (these are called "dîmes inféodées"), but this practice was forbidden by the Lateran Council of 1179.
Germany levies a church tax, on all persons declaring themselves to be Christians, of roughly 8-9% of the income tax, which is effectively (very much depending on the social and financial situation) typically between 0.2% and 1.5% of the total income. The proceeds are shared amongst Catholic, Lutheran, and other Protestant Churches. In 1933 Hitler had the entry "church tax" added to the official tax card, which meant that the tax could now be deducted by the employer like any of the other taxes.
Some believe that the church taxation system was established or started through the Concordat of 1933 signed between the Holy See and the Third Reich. This is a simple misunderstanding or misrepresentation of §13 of the Appendix (The Supplementary Protocol) of the Concordat (Schlußprotokoll, §13). The article reads: „Es besteht Einverständnis darüber, daß das Recht der Kirche, Steuern zu erheben, gewährleistet bleibt.“, (refer to External Links). In English, this translates to: It is understood that the Church retains the right to levy Church taxes, (refer to External Links). Notice that §13 states that the Church "retains the right" or, in German, "gewährleistet bleibt". The church tax (Kirchensteuer) actually traces its roots back as far as the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss of 1803. Today its legal basis is §140 of the Grundgesetz (the German "constitution") in connection with article 137 of the Weimar constitution.
Church tax (Kirchensteuer) is compulsory in Germany for those confessing members of a particular religious group. It is deducted at the PAYE level. The duty to pay this tax theoretically starts on the day one is christened. Anyone who wants to stop paying it has to declare in writing, at their local court of law (Amtsgericht) or registry office, that they are leaving the Church. They are then crossed off the Church registers and can no longer receive the sacraments.
Tithes were introduced after the Norman conquest of 1169-1172, and were specified in the papal bull Laudabiliter as a duty to: ...pay yearly from every house the pension of one penny to St Peter, and to keep and preserve the rights of the churches in that land whole and inviolate. However, collection outside the Norman area of control was sporadic.
From the Reformation in the 1500s, most Irish people chose to remain Roman Catholic and had by now to pay tithes valued at about 10% of an area's agricultural produce, to maintain and fund the established state church, the Anglican Church of Ireland, to which only a small minority of the population converted. Irish Presbyterians and other minorities like the Quakers and Jews were in the same situation.
The collection of tithes was violently resisted in the period 1831-36, known as the Tithe War. Thereafter, tithes were reduced and added to rents. With the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1869, tithes were abolished.
Originally the Italian government of Benito Mussolini, under the Lateran treaties of 1929 with the Holy See, paid a monthly salary to Catholic clergymen. This salary was called the congrua. The eight per thousand law was created as a result of an agreement, in 1984, between the Italian Republic and the Holy See.
Under this law Italian taxpayers are able to declare that 0.8% ('eight per thousand') of their taxes go to a religious confession or, alternatively, to a social assistance scheme run by the Italian State. This declaration is made on the IRPEF form. People are not required to declare a recipient; in that case the law stipulates that this undeclared amount be distributed among the normal recipients of such taxes in proportion to what they have already received from explicit declarations. Only the Catholic Church and the Italian State have agreed to take this undeclared portion of the tax.
The last official statement of Italian Ministry of Finance made in respect of the year 2000 singles out seven beneficiaries: the Italian State, the Catholic Church, the Waldenses, the Jewish Communities, the Lutherans, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Assemblies of God in Italy.
The tax was divided up as follows:
In Scotland teinds were the tenths of certain produce of the land appropriated to the maintenance of the Church and clergy. At the Reformation most of the Church property was acquired by the Crown, nobles and landowners. In 1567 the Privy Council of Scotland provided that a third of the revenues of lands should be applied to paying the clergy of the reformed Church of Scotland. In 1925 the system was recast by statute and provision was made for the standardisation of stipends at a fixed value in money. The Court of Session acted as the Teind Court. Teinds were finally abolished by the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000.
There is no official state church in Switzerland; however, all the 26 cantons (states) financially support at least one of the three traditional denominations--Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, or Protestant--with funds collected through taxation. Each canton has its own regulations regarding the relationship between church and state. In some cantons, the church tax (up to 2.3%) is voluntary but in others an individual who chooses not to contribute to church tax may formally have to leave the church. In some cantons private companies are unable to avoid payment of the church tax.
The United States has never collected a church tax or mandatory tithe on its citizens, which is generally specified in the 1st Amendment (specifically the Establishment Clause) to the US Constitution. The United States and its governmental subdivisions also exempt most churches from payment of income tax (under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and similar state statutes, which also allows donors to claim the donations as an income tax itemized deduction). Also, churches may be permitted exemption from other state and local taxes such as sales and property taxes, either in whole or in part. However, churches are required to withhold Federal and state income tax from their employees along with the employee's share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and pay the employer's share of the latter two taxes, unless the employee is an ordained minister.
Actual collection procedures vary from church to church, from the common, strictly voluntary practice of "passing the plate" in Catholic and mainline Protestant churches, to formal, church-mediated tithing in some conservative Protestant churches (as well as the LDS Church), to membership fees as practiced in many Jewish congregations. There is no government involvement in church collections (though some contributions are considered tax-exempt as charity donations), but because of less-strict income and tax reporting requirements for religious groups, some churches have been placed under legal and media scrutiny for their spending habits.