Monday, January 19, 2009

More from Jess

Below is my most recent email from Jess. Once again, I want to thank her for her candid way of expressing herself. Jess, you are NOT offending anyone with your questions. We can all see that your tone is one of careful questioning, not of judgment. Thank you for that.
I have read and re-read the posts in Highway, but Sabrina's most recent post about giving touches on another subject/list of questions I have.

Actually, I feel that she said what I've always thought was "more right" if there was actually a "more right". I remember the money basket going around the pews when I was small, but I didn't understand what it was or what it meant, and I had never known the word tithe.

After I met my husband, he explained the theory on tithing, the 10% rule. But I always wondered if Jesus was himself poor, and taught people for free, how does it make sense for common churches to consider tithing 10% of their earnings as WHAT they're supposed to do to give? I understand giving enough to allow a pastor to live completely in his passion of teaching God's way, but it seems that the act of giving has come to dollars and cents as opposed to aiding common folk through common sense.

Maybe my feelings on this topic are touchy because I haven't ever been and don't forsee a time in the near future where I can afford to give up 10% of ANYthing I make. Paycheck to paycheck prevents that. And I guess I feel a bit angry at the idea of going to church and knowing I'd feel guilty for not being able to contribute much to a tithing bucket. I feel like it would be expected, watched over, and judged by the neighbors sharing my row of seats. I feel a bit angry that if I didn't hand over that ten percent, I'd be judged as not worthy of the praise lavished by "good Christians".

Please don't take this last paragraph as angry-sounding; if we were speaking face to face, you would see that it's not. I just get confused by the "rule of tithing" versus my ideas of giving and versus my guilt for what I can and cannot do and versus my perception of how I am judged by those who believe and do as the tithing rule states.That's a lot of versuses. Sorry if it gets confusing to read. It's all a jumble in my head most times.

I have read just a bit of the conversion diary, but intend to go back and read more. I enjoyed her five step plan post in April 2008, I felt it made "sense"...which I am figuring out is a common theme. I don't think, for the most part, any of you have been speaking "Christianese" as you all put it. :) I appreciate the effort everyone has made to put things into "simple terms" for this confused gal. IT HELPS.

I hope you've had a wonderful weekend and that today has started off a great week for you. I hope to get to a bookstore later today to browse through selections in the Religion section. Wish me luck that the children will behave long enough for me to find what I need/want!



Sabrina said...


Those are great questions, and you are normal to feel confused by tithing. I don't know if what I wrote earlier made sense. But I do believe God cares more about your heart and your motives than any dollar amount.

Pam at beyondjustmom said...

Oh Jess,
You hit on the questions that I think every honest Christian asks herself once in awhile. I could go on and on about the many different ways to interpret what tithing means, but I don't think God or any church wants that to be the main issue. I believe God truly just wants a relationship with us, and that's what matters so much more than the rituals and regulations.
There's a video by Rob Bell that I think hits home on this topic. Rob Bell is controversial in some conservative circles, but I think he really brings clarity to the heart issues.
Check out this link: Nooma--Sunday

MidnightCafe said...

Ah, tithing can be a serious hot button issue. It's no surprise that you're asking questions like this. I believe that the original tithe in the Bible was intended to care for the priests, the poor, the fatherless, and the widows. And the tithe was food & goods, not money. So, I think it's certainly acceptable to tithe things other than money and in places other than church. For years we've contributes time and money to Mango's classroom here in Minneapolis. We're helping the poor and the fatherless in that way. I think people should contribute from their talents, their time, and sometimes their money.

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