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The Catholic Church and tithing

29 Sep 2015, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Doctrines

tithing1Tithing is actually not an official teaching of the Catholic Church; it was never emphasized, especially in Nigeria. The Church never officially condemned tithing; it was probably not emphasized because of the structure and the traditional ways of doing things in the Catholic Church; however, that does not make it unbiblical. Tithing is strongly biblical, even though some see it as an Old Testament teaching. One of the most popular passages in the scripture that talks about tithe is Malachi 3:10-12; bring the full amount of your tithes to the temple to be plenty of food there. Put me to the test, and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things. I will not let insects destroy your crops, and your grapevines will be loaded with grapes. Then the people of all nations will call you happy because your land will be a good place to live in.

Abraham, our father in faith, paid tithe to Melchizedek the king of Salem and a priest of the highest God; As Abraham was coming back from the battle in which he defeated the four kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of all he had taken. Heb. 7:1-2. The New Testament is not completely silent about tithing, even though it is mentioned in the New Testament concerning the Old Testament. For instance, he mentioned tithing in his parable of the Pharisee and the Tax collector Lk. 18:12, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews mentioned how the law commanded the Levi who were priests to collect tithe, Heb. 7:5.

Some people argue that tithing is an Old Testament teaching, but we must understand that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the Old Testament but to purify it. He did not condemn tithing but made us understand that tithing is something far more than just giving money to the Church; but must connect with our faith and spirituality. Jesus said, how terrible for you, teachers of the law, and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give God a tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect to obey the law’s essential teachings, such as justice and mercy, and honesty. These you should practice, without neglecting the others. Mt. 23:23. This passage does not in any way condemn tithing; it rather encourages us to rise above the legalistic approach to tithing to a faith-based tithing.

Tithing-vs-GivingI read somebody’s argument about how both the Old and the New Testaments encourage tithing, and I see much sense in it. He believes that both Testaments encourage tithing, but the Old Testament insists on a specific amount ( a tenth of your income) why the New Testament talks about generous giving.

Coming back to the Catholic Church, tithing is not official teaching, neither does she discourages it. It is not an imposition but a free-will thing. I personally believe that the Catholic Church in Nigeria silently encourages tithing; in fact, it should be encouraged because there is power in tithing. Many people can testify to the power and blessing that accompanies tithing; it is such an amazing thing to do. As God said in the book of prophet Malachi, he will release his blessings in abundance on those who tithe. God will not lie for any reason; he will do what he says he will do (Num. 23:19); many people can testify to this. Some feel that the Church’s silent encouragement for tithing is not good enough, that the Church should teach it officially. This may be a perfect point, but I think that the silent encouragement reflects the Church’s stand that tithing is not an imposition, and I strongly believe it shouldn’t be.

  • ada Reply

    Wao! Very interesting and educative too. Keep it up Fr. May your oil never run dry.

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