Within popular piety in America today, it is widely believed that the Bible instructs Christians, either explicitly or implicitly, to give ten percent of their income to their local churches. Pastors teach this in the name of the biblical notion of “tithing,” a term applied to the giving of ten percent of one’s crops and flocks to the Levite. As we will see, however, the Bible nowhere even remotely suggests that Christians are supposed to give ten percent of their income to the church, or anything. Moreover, the plain facts about biblical tithing contradict the very possibility of any sort of Christian tithing, or at least of the possibility of basing such a practice upon a biblical model. Let us leave aside the question of whether Christians are bound to the Old Testament commandments for now, and look first at some of the specifics concerning tithing during the days of the Temple.
If Jesus censured the Pharisees for loading burdens upon the people that they could not bear, would he not censure today’s pastors for doing the same thing?