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General Discussion => Welcome and General Discussion => Topic started by: justajane on November 15, 2015, 03:25:43 PM

Title: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: justajane on November 15, 2015, 03:25:43 PM
I'm starting a thread for this, because I regularly encounter Case Studies in which the poster has a line item for tithing that is more often than not labeled "non-negotiable", i.e. not up for discussion.

While I can certainly respect a decision to give to others, it oftentimes makes it hard to advise someone about what to do when the answer to their financial difficulties is staring them right in the face. And the whole point of Mustachianism is questioning your spending and doing radical things to up your savings rate. This is very hard to do when there are such significant non-negotiables in the budget. Tithing just tends to be much more prevalent and seems to make up a larger part of the budget than other "non-negotiables" we encounter. Plus, because of the delicate nature of the tithe, we are allowed to challenge people on other supposed non-negotiables in a way that we can't with the tithe.

In my experience, at least, the non-negotiable tithe demands that the OP be very open to cutting other parts of their budget to the bone, else they will be treading water for years to come. So basically, the OP is left with two options.

1) Be ruthless with the rest of the budget. $10 flip phones, rice and beans budget, much cheaper housing, etc.

2) Admit that FIRE is not in the cards for them, at least not on the timeline that others on here have.

What are your thoughts? I don't intend for this to be a discussion about the theological imperative or lack thereof for tithing, although I am open to anyone else's thoughts, whatever direction this discussion goes.

I would also appreciate any links to budgets of yore in which the tithe does work. Is it just in the budgets of those with higher incomes in which the tithe doesn't run counter to FIRE? Or have those families with more modest incomes managed to make it work? In my experience, I haven't seen this as explicitly as I would like. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Travis on November 15, 2015, 03:38:41 PM
That can often be the third rail in case studies where the person's religious or humanitarian (whatever the motivation) beliefs get in the way of what should be a cold economic equation.  In the instances where the person was willing to bend a little bit, we've been able to get them to either lower the amount or trade the money for volunteer work or some other form of giving.  In many case studies the person walks in with "non-negotiables" where compromising with them is a vital first step if you hope to get them to see the simple truth of the math equations we're throwing at them.  If they reduce the tithe to 5% and see how quickly that debt is getting paid off they might be willing to dip a little further. This applies to any spending category the person doesn't want to part with.

My wife has always felt bad that we've never tithed to the church, but there were two important factors in that. 1) I'm not religious, and 2) Until recently I was the only source of income.  I'm not saying this to start a "my money" argument, but we agreed that it wouldn't be fair to me to donate so much of my paycheck to a church I don't attend or believe in.  Now that she's employed, 10% of her check goes to the church.  She feels better about satisfying that part of her faith, and since I make ten times what she does it has little impact on our FIRE date.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: jb130 on November 15, 2015, 03:41:03 PM
I was encouraged to tithe as a student, by a middle class church whose leaders drove BMWs. I came from a poor family and used debt to gain a university education. I was encouraged to tithe even the student loans. A mild version of the prosperity gospel was preached.

I was basing the most important decisions in life on the subjective imagination of faith whilst subjecting the mundane to scrutiny, logic and reason. I thankfully realised the stupidity of this approach and stopped being both poor and stupid.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: marty998 on November 15, 2015, 03:42:15 PM
10% of income from each parishioner adds up to a very large number. I'm interested to know what these churches actually spend the money on.

We have a pentecostal type church in Australia that operates more like a corporate industrial complex. Anyone heard of Hillsong? NW Sydney roots that have taken on the world - their music tops the charts in most of America.

I can't help but feel the poor are feeding the rich in that community.

If people want to give then they can give. It's their money their life. But yes I do find the non-negotiable line in case studies disingenuous sometimes.

Giving is a good thing, but don't pretend it doesn't have an impact on your own finances.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: southern granny on November 15, 2015, 03:55:09 PM
10% of income from each parishioner adds up to a very large number. I'm interested to know what these churches actually spend the money on.

At our church we have quarterly business meetings, where budgets are passed out that shows all contributions and all expenditures.  There is opportunity for anyone to ask questions.  And yes I do tithe.  When we had almost nothing we tithed and now that we are doing well, we still tithe.  It has always been non-negotiable for us also.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: StetsTerhune on November 15, 2015, 03:56:19 PM
The thing I've always wondered about Tithing Mustachians is what they plan to do during early retirement. Give 10% of total investment income (whatever it may be that year)? Give 10% of annual spend? Give nothing because you have no "earned income'?
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: rockstache on November 15, 2015, 04:18:35 PM
I don't think anyone that is non-religious can grasp the tithe item without first accepting the premise of the OP that God is real and active in their life. If this is true, and they believe that God has asked them to give, then He will naturally provide for them in their adherence to that. However if He isn't real and that isn't true, then of course the tithe line item is ridiculous giving to a bunch of greedy non-profit organizations.

I don't really like pets. I've had a dog and I enjoyed it when I was young, but I have no desire to own one at this point in my life. But when people come on the board with 3 large non-negotiable dogs, I get it. They're never going to be my 'family' but I understand that that person sees life differently and then I try to think of other ways that they could make cuts.

It's not a great analogy I admit, but for me it's just a matter of accepting that people are different and have different priorities. I think that keeps things interesting around here, which I like.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Moustachienne on November 15, 2015, 04:36:39 PM
DH and I are non-religious but have always donated at least 5%, and often more, of our income to charities/causes we believe in.  It's kind of like a "pay yourself first" behaviour, i.e. support important things before spending on non-important.  Of course, everyone's important/unimportant will vary.  We are willing to cut a lot of our other discretionary spending before reducing this percentage.  In fact, it's one of the big appeals of the MMM approach.  Optimize expenditures in order to spend on what matters to us - and it seems there's a lot of consumer sukka spending that can be cut first.

So if supporting someone's church is an important value, I'd say great to spend there and cut elsewhere.  Now if there's hair on fire debt - other action may be requited!

Once we retire, we will cut our total giving $ but will need to think hard re whether we should reduce the percentage. maybe not.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Goldielocks on November 15, 2015, 04:52:05 PM
I was encouraged to tithe as a student, by a middle class church whose leaders drove BMWs. I came from a poor family and used debt to gain a university education. I was encouraged to tithe even the student loans. A mild version of the prosperity gospel was preached.

I was basing the most important decisions in life on the subjective imagination of faith whilst subjecting the mundane to scrutiny, logic and reason. I thankfully realised the stupidity of this approach and stopped being both poor and stupid.

Tithing your student loans?   I guess that works if it was done mathematically accurately...  "i have taken on $40,000 of debt, or NEGATIVE $40,000 of income, my tithe is NEGATIVE $4,000... you can pay me by cash or check at your convenience"...

Tithing really should work both ways, and that is what I hate the most.   When people who tithe fully, then don't get the extra help / childcare / meals needed to get them through a downturn.

My take on tithing the modern way is to give 10% of your disposable spend to the church.   e.g.,  clothing, meals out, internet / phone costs, entertainment, anything discretionary...


Sort of like you are taking out yourself, 8 friends and JESUS's guest to dinner tonight...  LOL.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Goldielocks on November 15, 2015, 04:57:34 PM
Another tithing observation -- a Sikh group in my area gives a lot to charity, and I realized that one of their tenents is a tithing to those in need obligation.... except they are not instructed to give it only to the church, just to give 10% overall to any charity they deem in need, from street beggars to families having a hard day, to schools and  firemen's burn unit fundraisers.  I am sure a lot goes to support the organization, but a lot goes directly to the non-profits, too.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: okits on November 15, 2015, 08:30:31 PM
In my experience, at least, the non-negotiable tithe demands that the OP be very open to cutting other parts of their budget to the bone, else they will be treading water for years to come. So basically, the OP is left with two options.

1) Be ruthless with the rest of the budget. $10 flip phones, rice and beans budget, much cheaper housing, etc.

2) Admit that FIRE is not in the cards for them, at least not on the timeline that others on here have.

Yeah, if the big non-negotiable item is truly untouchable, those are the only two options.  The math is very unforgiving.  In the end, if the person can accept that there's no magical source of extra savings without less money going out or more money coming in, then it's cool.  I just don't want to hear whining that something has to change or be sacrificed for FIRE to happen faster.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: southern granny on November 15, 2015, 09:02:08 PM
The thing I've always wondered about Tithing Mustachians is what they plan to do during early retirement. Give 10% of total investment income (whatever it may be that year)? Give 10% of annual spend? Give nothing because you have no "earned income'?
I am going to let the government decide what is income.  If the feds tax it as income, then I will pay the 10% tithe also.  I'm pretty sure they will  keep track of it for me.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: CoderNate on November 15, 2015, 09:37:39 PM
Does anyone consider taxes a form of tithing? We pay several times more in taxes each year than we spend total.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Tom Bri on November 15, 2015, 10:35:30 PM
I am on the board of my church. We discuss the spending at every monthly meeting, and the books are open to every member. The yearly budget is voted on by the whole membership, after open discussion. I know some churches are little better than scams, but I suspect my church is closer to the norm.
From the practical standpoint, being a church member in good standing is a big financial boost. I got my first 'big' job because I was recommended by a church member. They hired me sight unseen, after a short phone interview. I got my current job when a church member heard I was then unemployed, and she got me hired at her company, a job I would never have known of, nor applied for if I had, since it was so far out of my normal work.
I just graduated last month. My church knows this, and there are half a dozen or more members who either are in the same field now or have retired from it, and from the same organizations I want to work for. I fully expect that the HR person who interviews me will already know all about me before he ever sees me. It like having a huge family, hundreds of older brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles, all looking out for you.
I don't tithe, and they don't care. They know I was a student with a part time job and a family to keep. Instead, I volunteered to work on the committees that every church needs but no one wants to do. It costs me a few days a month, but almost no money. When I am working full time at a much higher salary (next year...?!!) I intend to give some back to my church. Small price to pay.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: ditheca on November 15, 2015, 10:50:10 PM
I'm from the tithing in non-negotiable school.  I like rockstache's perspective with the dogs; money management is all about identifying wants vs needs and prioritizing the things that make the most sense to the individual.  If cable TV is non-negotiable for someone, who are we to question that.  Just help others as best you can within the limits they allow.  With your help, they'll be in a better position to realize that maybe cable isn't really that important.  On the other hand, maybe you'll eventually comprehend why it really is essential to their happiness.

Re: StetsTerhune... In retirement I plan to tithe on every dollar I withdraw from investments.  I may or may not also donate another 10% via my will. My kids won't need it anyways; I'm raising them to be self-reliant.

Re: CoderNate... No, Taxes are not a form of tithing.  Tithing should be done with thankfulness and joy, or not at all.  God doesn't take 10% of my paycheck, I offer it to Him thankfully because my family benefits from living His gospel.

LPT: Free charity

Even if you don't tithe, here's a great idea that is helpful for some.  Besides tithing, we budget a monthly amount to contribute to other charity or humanitarian opportunities.  If I want to help a friend, homeless person, etc. I just deduct the money from what I would normally donate.  It fees awesome to be able to help those around me 'for free'.  I recently gave a bicycle to a friend so he could get to a new job, and it didn't make any different to our bottom line.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: minority_finance_mo on November 15, 2015, 10:53:48 PM
Churches and religious communities serve their purpose in society, even though there are plenty of practices one can find fault with. So much of ER comes down to motivation, and the drive to succeed. One way to get that motivation is to draw on a higher power - which many do. That 10% tithe might indeed come back to the giver 10-fold, if only due to their own resolution.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: minority_finance_mo on November 15, 2015, 10:54:37 PM
Even if you don't tithe, here's a great idea that is helpful for some.  Besides tithing, we budget a monthly amount to contribute to other charity or humanitarian opportunities.  If I want to help a friend, homeless person, etc. I just deduct the money from what I would normally donate.  It fees awesome to be able to help those around me 'for free'.  I recently gave a bicycle to a friend so he could get to a new job, and it didn't make any different to our bottom line.

This is amazing - I had never thought of local 'charity' in that way. Thanks for sharing ditheca!
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 15, 2015, 11:00:57 PM
I'm starting a thread for this, because I regularly encounter Case Studies in which the poster has a line item for tithing that is more often than not labeled "non-negotiable", i.e. not up for discussion.
...

I'm so glad you started this thread. I think I witnessed a lot of the Case Studies you're talking about and I saw some of your postings. I mightily resisted my own urge to facepunch, hard, in those threads because I well know how personal religion can be.

Nevertheless, I see the non-negotiability of tithing very large amounts as something kinda bizarre. The threads I'm remembering, the OP's tithes were HUGE, while they were obviously struggling to make ends meet.

What remains a mystery to me is, why they started their threads in the first place. I'm not sure what they thought we were going to tell them - were we going to come up with some kind of magical solution they couldn't themselves see? OF COURSE we were going to attack the tithe with veracity.

I grew up broke-ass poor and Baptist. We simply didn't HAVE the money to tithe so we tithed by donating time. No one ever gave us crap about it and seemed genuinely appreciative of our contribution.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Sailor Sam on November 15, 2015, 11:05:47 PM
If someone posts a tithing case study, I think it's perfectly fair to point out the math and show them how much their donation will delay their debt-free or FIRE goals. If the OP reviews the numbers, and holds firm, then I don't see much point in continuing to push against their line item.

The thing I've always wondered about Tithing Mustachians is what they plan to do during early retirement. Give 10% of total investment income (whatever it may be that year)? Give 10% of annual spend? Give nothing because you have no "earned income'?

I'm currently planning on 10% of annual spend, but I have some time to contemplate my strategy. I donate just about 7k/year, which absolutely effects my savings rate. Realistically my preference will delay FIRE by ~2 years. It's certainly something I think about, but I'm content with my choices.
   
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Goldielocks on November 15, 2015, 11:15:59 PM
At our church, we recently sold off a piece of property that had been owned for over 100 years. 

One of the not-so-geniuses at math spoke for quite a while that we were required to tithe back to the regional mission (bishop) 10% of the money gathered from the sale.  Every year.   The money would be entirely gone in 10 years.  Explains why this 79 year old is dead broke.

OMG,  at no place does it say that to tithe properly you need to sell 10% of your home property each year.  Maybe an argument could be made to give back 10% of the INCOME that the capital funds generated.

Anyway, the saner board members, demured and are holding the funds for future asset / capital maintenance, and likely ramped up the contributions to the regional district.

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: bacchi on November 16, 2015, 12:25:58 AM
Re: CoderNate... No, Taxes are not a form of tithing.  Tithing should be done with thankfulness and joy, or not at all.  God doesn't take 10% of my paycheck, I offer it to Him thankfully because my family benefits from living His gospel.

Taxes can definitely be a source of thankfulness and joy. Every time I checkout out a book from the library, I think "Damn, this is great!" Visit a national park? That Teddy was a forward thinking guy. Drive the interstate system? I'm glad the other R did this.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: patrickza on November 16, 2015, 02:25:25 AM
I had a bad experience with a Church/cult when studying. A lot of stalking by all the members and on campus "pastors". I think it came down to the fact that they assumed you couldn't be a christian unless you brought in new members.

Anyway, that's all besides the point, but the one thing I did find odd was at their service they used to write down what was given in the collection. Apparently this was for "tax" purposes, but in my country churches don't pay tax...
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Astatine on November 16, 2015, 03:53:44 AM
Re: CoderNate... No, Taxes are not a form of tithing.  Tithing should be done with thankfulness and joy, or not at all.  God doesn't take 10% of my paycheck, I offer it to Him thankfully because my family benefits from living His gospel.

Taxes can definitely be a source of thankfulness and joy. Every time I checkout out a book from the library, I think "Damn, this is great!" Visit a national park? That Teddy was a forward thinking guy. Drive the interstate system? I'm glad the other R did this.

I'm very grateful and happy to have social goods paid by my taxes. I spent last night in emergency and I was feeling very happy that my taxes support the emergency ward. Taxes pay for many wonderful things. (I'm not religious and never have been)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: HappierAtHome on November 16, 2015, 04:23:58 AM
Re: CoderNate... No, Taxes are not a form of tithing.  Tithing should be done with thankfulness and joy, or not at all.  God doesn't take 10% of my paycheck, I offer it to Him thankfully because my family benefits from living His gospel.

Taxes can definitely be a source of thankfulness and joy. Every time I checkout out a book from the library, I think "Damn, this is great!" Visit a national park? That Teddy was a forward thinking guy. Drive the interstate system? I'm glad the other R did this.

I'm very grateful and happy to have social goods paid by my taxes. I spent last night in emergency and I was feeling very happy that my taxes support the emergency ward. Taxes pay for many wonderful things. (I'm not religious and never have been)

Taxes paid for my primary and secondary education, all my healthcare as a child, floated me the no-interest loans for my uni degree, they keep the parks and roads and buses and all the other good things running smoothly... oh, and these days taxes pay my salary.

I pay taxes very happily.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: GetItRight on November 16, 2015, 04:34:26 AM
Does anyone consider taxes a form of tithing? We pay several times more in taxes each year than we spend total.

Theft is not charity. To call it that is to call rape love making. The difference is the use of force, the gun to your head. Government rapes while churches are charity, entirely voluntary.

The religiously indoctrinated that give 10% to churches while drowning in debt are foolish, but they have been indoctrinated to believe in fairy tales and original sin... I.e. you are inherently afflicted with sin simply for existing but we have the cure , it only costs 10% for the rest of your life. Granted churches at least don't put a gun to your head like government, they're even a lot more efficient with your money, and Don't even ask for as much as the government steals. Not necessarily a bad charity if you recognize it as what it is, but some people are too dumb or brainwashed to realize you must help yourself first, then help others from a position of strength and stability. Put your own mask on first.


[MOD NOTE:  We don't, as a general rule, do rape metaphors here.  Also, taxation isn't "theft" and the government doesn't put a "gun to your head".  Let's be civil in our discussions.]
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: justajane on November 16, 2015, 05:47:08 AM
I am on the board of my church. We discuss the spending at every monthly meeting, and the books are open to every member. The yearly budget is voted on by the whole membership, after open discussion. I know some churches are little better than scams, but I suspect my church is closer to the norm.

I actually don't think your church is closer to the norm. You are actually the first person I have "met" who has a similar structure to my church. We don't have monthly budget meetings, but we have a yearly budget on which we vote, and every single cent is laid out, including pastor salaries. I have grown up in the church, as well as having parents who have worked for and served in leadership capacities at numerous churches. Most budgets are very opaque and are agreed upon by the elders and not by the congregation.

Regarding tithing in retirement, I should ask my parents what they do because I think they tithed over 10% when they were working. I'm pretty certain they don't tithe on investments, because I remember my dad saying the amount they contribute now has gone down considerably.

I understand the reasoning behind the tithe and even respect it, even though I personally do not tithe. But my point of the thread was more practical for us Mustachians who read and post Case Studies. Like Faraday expressed,  many times I think those who post Case Studies with a very large tithe (sometimes that reaches or eclipses their mortgage!) are expecting us to find some magical solution that will allow them to FIRE in ten years or allow them to build their wealth significantly. And that solution doesn't exist if you tithe and don't have a very high income. You are left with the option to cut your entire budget to the bone. To FIRE with a tithe when you don't make much means you essentially have to live an austere lifestyle otherwise. And usually with these case studies I don't see a realization of this. They somehow think there is another way. But you can't get blood out of stone. 

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: RetiredAt63 on November 16, 2015, 06:46:29 AM
I find it interesting that those of us who pay more taxes (Canada, Australia, various European countries) are quite cheerful about it.  Possibly because we agree with most of where the money gets spent?  While the few posts about "the gun to the head" form of taxes seems to be by an American.  Which, I have to say, totally blows my mind when I look at how low American income (and most sales) taxes are.  Try looking at some other country's tax scales and figure out how much more you would be paying.  Anyway . . .

I look at tithes as a historical relic.  Back in the day (I am thinking England during the Middle Ages) 10% went to the lord and 10% went to the church - that is where the tithe comes from.  But the church housed travelers, provided education and medical care, and supported those in need.  The local lord also provided services in return.

In Canada and Australia, etc., the state has taken over not only the job of the lord (maintains roads, provides security, etc.) but most of the roles of the church (education, medical care, welfare, etc.) And the church has dropped some of its other jobs - can I get housing in a nunnery when I travel?  Or from any other religious institution?   

From what I see as an observer, in the US the state has taken over less of the church's historical role and the local churches play more of their original role than they do elsewhere.  This means that people seem to be more willing to still give a chunk of money to the church.  Of course they also have more after-tax money to do so, since all the Canadian/Australian/etc. government services means higher taxes = lower net income, less money to give elsewhere.  And the churches need it more, since they are doing more in social services.  Personally I would rather my government did things like social support and education, since then things are more neutral (my religion is not a part of receiving assistance), but to each their own.

So in any discussion like this, we almost have to divide the discussion in 2 - Americans and tithing, everyone else and tithing.

Does anyone consider taxes a form of tithing? We pay several times more in taxes each year than we spend total.

Theft is not charity. To call it that is to call rape love making. The difference is the use of force, the gun to your head. Government rapes while churches are charity, entirely voluntary.

The religiously indoctrinated that give 10% to churches while drowning in debt are foolish, but they have been indoctrinated to believe in fairy tales and original sin... I.e. you are inherently afflicted with sin simply for existing but we have the cure , it only costs 10% for the rest of your life. Granted churches at least don't put a gun to your head like government, they're even a lot more efficient with your money, and Don't even ask for as much as the government steals. Not necessarily a bad charity if you recognize it as what it is, but some people are too dumb or brainwashed to realize you must help yourself first, then help others from a position of strength and stability. Put your own mask on first.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: kite on November 16, 2015, 07:09:24 AM
FI is a luxury.  Some are born to it, some achieve with little effort, some with great effort and some not at all.  If you believe you must tithe, but doing so means not enough room in the budget for the level of savings to enable ER then you are electing to forgo the luxury of FI or adjust your timetable. 

The "having it all" debate regarding work/life balance that women have faced for years is a variation of the same pull between priorities.  In that one, it's the needs of family life against the needs for professional and personal achievement.  It may be possible to have it "all" but not necessarily "all at once" and the person with competing demands on their (money or) time needs to account for that. 

If there's an element in budgets that I see others identify as non-negotiable,  it's alcohol and the premium price many are willing to pay for organic, artisan and fair-trade foodstuffs.  IMO, people cling to that stuff as fervently as I've ever seen anyone cling to a religious affiliation. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Guesl982374 on November 16, 2015, 07:21:37 AM
In my experience, at least, the non-negotiable tithe demands that the OP be very open to cutting other parts of their budget to the bone, else they will be treading water for years to come. So basically, the OP is left with two options.

1) Be ruthless with the rest of the budget. $10 flip phones, rice and beans budget, much cheaper housing, etc.

2) Admit that FIRE is not in the cards for them, at least not on the timeline that others on here have.

There is a third option in my opinion, which was discussed in Sol's thread here:http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/'one-more-year'-strikes-the-rich-the-hardest/

3) Cut tithing while striving for FI and once FI is achieved, continue to work for a few more years to fund charities, including whatever church you belong to. You could use the 4% rule or rental properties to fund your chosen cause indefinitely long after you are dead.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Sibley on November 16, 2015, 07:41:48 AM
In general, I don't have a problem with people tithing. I don't like it when someone who's financially drowning won't recognize the facts in front of them. As long as they recognize it, fine. It's their deliberate choice to continue to struggle then.

Of course, I also get really annoyed by all the people who are so vocal about their faith and how great they are, then happily participate in all sorts of not-friendly activities and thoughts. In fact, I'm currently engaged in a FB debate where my sole goal is to show this self-righteous woman that she's actually being pretty mean. So far, she's clueless.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: kite on November 16, 2015, 07:45:30 AM

I look at tithes as a historical relic.  Back in the day (I am thinking England during the Middle Ages) 10% went to the lord and 10% went to the church - that is where the tithe comes from.  But the church housed travelers, provided education and medical care, and supported those in need.  The local lord also provided services in return.

In Canada and Australia, etc., the state has taken over not only the job of the lord (maintains roads, provides security, etc.) but most of the roles of the church (education, medical care, welfare, etc.) And the church has dropped some of its other jobs - can I get housing in a nunnery when I travel?  Or from any other religious institution?   


Tithing goes back quite a bit further than the Middle Ages, my friend. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: BBub on November 16, 2015, 07:51:28 AM
Posting to follow... and share.

The tithing discussion comes up in our household around this time each year.  DW is a devout believer & I am not.  We respect each other's views, but when the time comes to set aside money the conversation always takes a turn for the worse.  A normally civilized discourse between two reasonable people with differing views becomes an emotionally charged battle.  It's the biggest pain point in our marriage, by far.  I'm kind of dreading the process of developing our 2016 budget/ goals for this reason alone.

The only way I can really explain the mindset of a tither to someone who isn't familiar, is that the tithe is one of many disciplines a believer adheres to in order to achieve eternal "FIRE".  Or, rather, avoid eternal fire.  LOL.  The freethinking ER crowd looks at the math, figures X yrs of savings will sustain Y years of ER.  The believers think that our time on earth is just the beginning, so there's no reason in getting caught in the temptation of trying to satisfy earthly desires.  Just believing will lead to eternal salvation.  Once a believer, certain disciplines are adhered to and practiced to deepen faith... things like prayer, service, spreading the word, tithing.. none of these are officially required for salvation, but a true believer will have a burning desire to carry out these acts of faith in order to achieve deeper fulfillment and a closer relationship to God.  Regardless of whether one must work for a few years or a lifetime - the amount of time spent toiling on earth is insignificant in relation to eternity.

So, a natural tension can exist when a believer begins to strive for an earthly goal such as ER.   

Anyway, this is not meant as a blanket statement for the way all believers feel or act... just my observations.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: GetItRight on November 16, 2015, 08:26:03 AM
Quote
[MOD NOTE:  We don't, as a general rule, do rape metaphors here.  Also, taxation isn't "theft" and the government doesn't put a "gun to your head".  Let's be civil in our discussions.]

I didn't realize this forum did censorship of facts stated concisely, nor that the official stance was a Statist one. Tax is by definition theft, just as tithe is by definition charity. The difference between charity and theft is voluntary action with mutual consent vs coercive action.  I don't see any moderators discouraging those who post pro government, pro theft comments, or vicious personal attacks instead of logical arguments or discussion... not that I would like that sort of censorship either.

Perhaps this is not a good or healthy community for me to be a part of. I'll ponder that, but regardless this group has been helpful to get me on the path to FIRE. For that I am thankful.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 16, 2015, 08:34:03 AM
I am on the board of my church. We discuss the spending at every monthly meeting, and the books are open to every member. The yearly budget is voted on by the whole membership, after open discussion. I know some churches are little better than scams, but I suspect my church is closer to the norm.
From the practical standpoint, being a church member in good standing is a big financial boost. I got my first 'big' job because I was recommended by a church member. They hired me sight unseen, after a short phone interview. I got my current job when a church member heard I was then unemployed, and she got me hired at her company, a job I would never have known of, nor applied for if I had, since it was so far out of my normal work.
I just graduated last month. My church knows this, and there are half a dozen or more members who either are in the same field now or have retired from it, and from the same organizations I want to work for. I fully expect that the HR person who interviews me will already know all about me before he ever sees me. It like having a huge family, hundreds of older brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles, all looking out for you.
I don't tithe, and they don't care. They know I was a student with a part time job and a family to keep. Instead, I volunteered to work on the committees that every church needs but no one wants to do. It costs me a few days a month, but almost no money. When I am working full time at a much higher salary (next year...?!!) I intend to give some back to my church. Small price to pay.

I also got my first real job at 18 because I was a volunteer at my church - when people see hard workers and then know of someone who needs an employee, then they refer you to them.  I never thought about the networking aspect of it, but yes, it's there and real at a church.  Volunteering works better in this regards than tithing.  Not that you should volunteer in order to get job offers, but it's a nice after-the-fact-perk.

We don't give 10%, but we do give around 8% of gross.  We make a ton of money (in my view) and we will still retire 'early' at around 45. Our money goes to support medical care and food banks for the needy, plus general church admin costs.    I'm fine with that, and we will still give when we retire, probably based on expenditures i.e, if we spend 30K, we'll give on top of that 3K for a total withdrawal of 33K.  Although when we get to FI and if we still continue to work for wages, I suspect our giving to other causes will increase during that time between FI and RE. 

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 16, 2015, 08:43:58 AM
Quote
[MOD NOTE:  We don't, as a general rule, do rape metaphors here.  Also, taxation isn't "theft" and the government doesn't put a "gun to your head".  Let's be civil in our discussions.]

I didn't realize this forum did censorship of facts stated concisely, nor that the official stance was a Statist one. Tax is by definition theft, just as tithe is by definition charity. The difference between charity and theft is voluntary action with mutual consent vs coercive action.  I don't see any moderators discouraging those who post pro government, pro theft comments, or vicious personal attacks instead of logical arguments or discussion... not that I would like that sort of censorship either.

Perhaps this is not a good or healthy community for me to be a part of. I'll ponder that, but regardless this group has been helpful to get me on the path to FIRE. For that I am thankful.

I appreciate the MOD NOTE in this thread. It's easy to find yourself in states of mind where you use inappropriate metaphors. I've been smacked around for calling people "loser". I pondered what I wrote and I agree with the gentle Mod persuasion here.

GetItRight, don't take this personally, and pleaseGodplease don't take the mod comments as some kind of opposing political view. If you CAN get over it, DO get over it and keep participating.

But if you CAN'T get over it, you need to realize that this is one of the more permissive forums on the internet. If you can't deal with the very few rules here, yeah, you should ditch us all and leave us in your dust.

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: JLee on November 16, 2015, 08:48:33 AM
I'm from the tithing in non-negotiable school.  I like rockstache's perspective with the dogs; money management is all about identifying wants vs needs and prioritizing the things that make the most sense to the individual. If cable TV is non-negotiable for someone, who are we to question that.  Just help others as best you can within the limits they allow.  With your help, they'll be in a better position to realize that maybe cable isn't really that important.  On the other hand, maybe you'll eventually comprehend why it really is essential to their happiness.

Re: StetsTerhune... In retirement I plan to tithe on every dollar I withdraw from investments.  I may or may not also donate another 10% via my will. My kids won't need it anyways; I'm raising them to be self-reliant.

Re: CoderNate... No, Taxes are not a form of tithing.  Tithing should be done with thankfulness and joy, or not at all.  God doesn't take 10% of my paycheck, I offer it to Him thankfully because my family benefits from living His gospel.

LPT: Free charity

Even if you don't tithe, here's a great idea that is helpful for some.  Besides tithing, we budget a monthly amount to contribute to other charity or humanitarian opportunities.  If I want to help a friend, homeless person, etc. I just deduct the money from what I would normally donate.  It fees awesome to be able to help those around me 'for free'.  I recently gave a bicycle to a friend so he could get to a new job, and it didn't make any different to our bottom line.

Isn't the whole essence of mustachianism to question the norm, though? Challenge all expenditures and find better / more efficient alternatives?

I find it interesting that those of us who pay more taxes (Canada, Australia, various European countries) are quite cheerful about it.  Possibly because we agree with most of where the money gets spent?  While the few posts about "the gun to the head" form of taxes seems to be by an American.  Which, I have to say, totally blows my mind when I look at how low American income (and most sales) taxes are.  Try looking at some other country's tax scales and figure out how much more you would be paying.  Anyway . . .

I look at tithes as a historical relic.  Back in the day (I am thinking England during the Middle Ages) 10% went to the lord and 10% went to the church - that is where the tithe comes from.  But the church housed travelers, provided education and medical care, and supported those in need.  The local lord also provided services in return.

In Canada and Australia, etc., the state has taken over not only the job of the lord (maintains roads, provides security, etc.) but most of the roles of the church (education, medical care, welfare, etc.) And the church has dropped some of its other jobs - can I get housing in a nunnery when I travel?  Or from any other religious institution?   

From what I see as an observer, in the US the state has taken over less of the church's historical role and the local churches play more of their original role than they do elsewhere.  This means that people seem to be more willing to still give a chunk of money to the church.  Of course they also have more after-tax money to do so, since all the Canadian/Australian/etc. government services means higher taxes = lower net income, less money to give elsewhere.  And the churches need it more, since they are doing more in social services.  Personally I would rather my government did things like social support and education, since then things are more neutral (my religion is not a part of receiving assistance), but to each their own.

So in any discussion like this, we almost have to divide the discussion in 2 - Americans and tithing, everyone else and tithing.

Does anyone consider taxes a form of tithing? We pay several times more in taxes each year than we spend total.

Theft is not charity. To call it that is to call rape love making. The difference is the use of force, the gun to your head. Government rapes while churches are charity, entirely voluntary.

The religiously indoctrinated that give 10% to churches while drowning in debt are foolish, but they have been indoctrinated to believe in fairy tales and original sin... I.e. you are inherently afflicted with sin simply for existing but we have the cure , it only costs 10% for the rest of your life. Granted churches at least don't put a gun to your head like government, they're even a lot more efficient with your money, and Don't even ask for as much as the government steals. Not necessarily a bad charity if you recognize it as what it is, but some people are too dumb or brainwashed to realize you must help yourself first, then help others from a position of strength and stability. Put your own mask on first.

I also wonder if, in most cases, you see more direct benefit from the level of taxation you have (i.e. superior public transportation, health care, education, etc). Work/life balance also seems to be much better in some other countries, so that may also add to the frustration of paying more taxes (when you are working so much you don't have time for much else, perhaps it's more frustrating to watch money disappear).

I did find this article (http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0411/do-canadians-really-pay-more-taxes-than-americans.aspx), which indicates that for a single person earning less than $82k/yr and not owning a home, they will likely pay less tax in Canada than in the US. This is also not factoring in the costs of health care in the US (which is absurd) (http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2014/06/16/u-s-healthcare-ranked-dead-last-compared-to-10-other-countries/). The US is also very high (http://coursefindr.co.uk/articles/how-much-does-it-cost-to-study-abroad) on the "college costs" list.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: 2Birds1Stone on November 16, 2015, 08:55:31 AM
I'm all about donating time/$ to good causes.

I don't think many tither's really understand where their money actually ends up being spent.

It is also alarming when someone posts a case study and tithing makes up 40% of their spending, while they have debt, families to support, etc.

I just stay out of these threads since my blood pressure doesn't need any artificial raising !
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: arebelspy on November 16, 2015, 09:02:11 AM
Quote
[MOD NOTE:  We don't, as a general rule, do rape metaphors here.  Also, taxation isn't "theft" and the government doesn't put a "gun to your head".  Let's be civil in our discussions.]

I didn't realize this forum did censorship of facts stated concisely, nor that the official stance was a Statist one. Tax is by definition theft, just as tithe is by definition charity. The difference between charity and theft is voluntary action with mutual consent vs coercive action.  I don't see any moderators discouraging those who post pro government, pro theft comments, or vicious personal attacks instead of logical arguments or discussion... not that I would like that sort of censorship either.

Perhaps this is not a good or healthy community for me to be a part of. I'll ponder that, but regardless this group has been helpful to get me on the path to FIRE. For that I am thankful.

Mod Note: Nothing was censored.  Did anything you posted get deleted, or is it still all there for anyone to read?

The rape metaphor crossed a line, and is specifically mentioned as discourse not allowed in the forum rules.

PM a mod if you have questions or comments about mod editing to engage in a discussion/dialogue, rather than continuing to drag this thread off topic.

Feel free to start a new discussion Off Topic if you would like to discuss if tax==theft or not, but likening it to actual rape is not okay.

Cheers!
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 16, 2015, 09:10:40 AM
I'm from the tithing in non-negotiable school.  I like rockstache's perspective with the dogs; money management is all about identifying wants vs needs and prioritizing the things that make the most sense to the individual. If cable TV is non-negotiable for someone, who are we to question that.  Just help others as best you can within the limits they allow.  With your help, they'll be in a better position to realize that maybe cable isn't really that important.  On the other hand, maybe you'll eventually comprehend why it really is essential to their happiness.

This comment seems bizarre to me. Sure, this is a decent, popular definition of "money management", but we here on the forums go far, far beyond that.

It is specifically the purpose of a case study to expose your spending to the MMM membership and open it to questioning. I am completely unconcerned with supporting anyone else's "happiness" or "wants vs needs". When someone posts something in a case study, they are SPECIFICALLY asking us to question it. We in the community expect them to agree and get rid of it.

Our purpose here is the badass race to FIRE. All things get scrutinized and freeing up cash flow is the highest priority here.  I do not, and will never, accept cable TV as being "essential to anyone's happiness".
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: arebelspy on November 16, 2015, 09:24:02 AM
I'm from the tithing in non-negotiable school.  I like rockstache's perspective with the dogs; money management is all about identifying wants vs needs and prioritizing the things that make the most sense to the individual. If cable TV is non-negotiable for someone, who are we to question that.  Just help others as best you can within the limits they allow.  With your help, they'll be in a better position to realize that maybe cable isn't really that important.  On the other hand, maybe you'll eventually comprehend why it really is essential to their happiness.

This comment seems bizarre to me. Sure, this is a decent, popular definition of "money management", but we here on the forums go far, far beyond that.

It is specifically the purpose of a case study to expose your spending to the MMM membership and open it to questioning. I am completely unconcerned with supporting anyone else's "happiness" or "wants vs needs". When someone posts something in a case study, they are SPECIFICALLY asking us to question it. We in the community expect them to agree and get rid of it.

Our purpose here is the badass race to FIRE. All things get scrutinized and freeing up cash flow is the highest priority here.  I do not, and will never, accept cable TV as being "essential to anyone's happiness".

I disagree.  We may try to convince them otherwise, but if something truly has been reflected on and decided as valuable, then so be it.  It's their life to live, and we don't need to continue to face punch.

Mustachianism is about value.  It may not being value for most (say $5 coffees, or cable TV, or whatever), but for any one individual it might, and purposeful spending is the point, not cutting out every single thing.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 16, 2015, 09:33:37 AM
I'm from the tithing in non-negotiable school.  I like rockstache's perspective with the dogs; money management is all about identifying wants vs needs and prioritizing the things that make the most sense to the individual. If cable TV is non-negotiable for someone, who are we to question that.  Just help others as best you can within the limits they allow.  With your help, they'll be in a better position to realize that maybe cable isn't really that important.  On the other hand, maybe you'll eventually comprehend why it really is essential to their happiness.

This comment seems bizarre to me. Sure, this is a decent, popular definition of "money management", but we here on the forums go far, far beyond that.

It is specifically the purpose of a case study to expose your spending to the MMM membership and open it to questioning. I am completely unconcerned with supporting anyone else's "happiness" or "wants vs needs". When someone posts something in a case study, they are SPECIFICALLY asking us to question it. We in the community expect them to agree and get rid of it.

Our purpose here is the badass race to FIRE. All things get scrutinized and freeing up cash flow is the highest priority here.  I do not, and will never, accept cable TV as being "essential to anyone's happiness".

I disagree.  We may try to convince them otherwise, but if something truly has been reflected on and decided as valuable, then so be it.  It's their life to live, and we don't need to continue to face punch.

Mustachianism is about value.  It may not being value for most (say $5 coffees, or cable TV, or whatever), but for any one individual it might, and purposeful spending is the point, not cutting out every single thing.

It's a fair cop, ARS. I may be expecting The Proletariat to back me on this. More accurately:

I expect them to agree and get rid of it. That's why I don't comment in case studies any more. I believe everything must be open to question, always. Otherwise, you're not being truly open minded.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: CommonCents on November 16, 2015, 09:39:49 AM
A lot of people have third rails in their budget:
- Pets (particularly unhealthy ones requiring special diets and vet visits
- Children (particularly education/activities)
- Cable or other form of entertainment (e.g. horses, sailing, D&D meetups)
- Housing location or size
- and, yes, tithing.

To borrow from the bible for this conversation, let the one w/o mustachian "sin" (luxuries) cast the first stone.  We all have our own form of luxuries in the budget, be it fancy cheese or tithing.  The goal is to identify the priorities and spend accordingly, rather than wasting our money on things that aren't important to us.  I myself have an unmustachian house in a fancy neighborhood in an expensive town (which costs more than tithing 10% would) - but I love it, and we spend little on entertainment, cars (we drive an '02 Honda Civic), pets, and have no kids.

While there are aberrations (and yes, they are frustrating), for those who are tithing, there usually are still plenty of other areas to optimize.  I've actually felt that on the whole, those who tithe are so determined to protect it that they are more open to other suggestions than others on the board who don't tithe.  (That said I haven't read a recent case study story which could be sparking this conversation.)  It's certainly worthwhile to question if it is necessary or if, for example, the poster can donate time instead, but after the poster has done that evaluation, it seems to waste time to continue to debate the point.  And if there truly is nothing else that can be offered to be cut, well, all you need to do is say that.  The poster can then decide if they want to reevaluate if no one is able to otherwise help them.

btw, I'm not particularly religious but my sister who is fairly active in her church, got her current job through a church recommendation.  She had interviewed, but they hadn't yet decided, when a church member heard and said, "I know the CEO" called him up and told him to hire her, and she was soon after.

To the earlier poster equating unwillingness to pay tax as coming mostly from the Americans, it just may be a factor of more Americans in general posting here, than being indicative of anything more.  I'm American, I live in a state known for high taxes ("Taxachusetts"), and I'm perfectly happy that it goes to pay for my roads, health care (wish it covered more), libraries, public education, etc. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: justajane on November 16, 2015, 09:59:38 AM
@CommonCents

I agree that many people have non-negotiables in their budgets and that tithing is not the only one. Someone upthread brought up organic food, which is a great example. But if you are posting a case study, particularly a new poster, who just came to the forums or has been a lurker for a while, they usually go to the trouble to post their case study in large part because a new world has opened to them and they want to live differently and save more. But I have just encountered at least a dozen of these cases in which the tithe is going to lead them to go nowhere fast, unless they are willing to live a very, very austere lifestyle. I just don't think this has sunk in yet, and I'm wondering what the point of the case study is to begin with.

You have mentioned your own non-negotiables being more than the traditional 10% tithe. That's perfectly fine, but I'm also guessing that you haven't posting a case study asking for suggestions on how to optimize your budget, in large part because you already know what you would need to do to increase your savings rate even more. But you've decided that you value your fancy home and community more.

So, in essence, it's not the tithe I guess that is bothering me, although it can tend to make up for a much larger chunk of a person's budget than pets or cable or whatever, but it's the non-negotiable aspect of a large line-item in someone's budget that really makes it very difficult for any of us to help someone.

Perhaps like someone else mentioned above, I should just exit case studies with non-negotiables and go on my merry way. But it's just hard when someone is in debt or treading water -- to the detriment of their family and overall mental health -- and to see right in front of them the best way to fix the problem.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 16, 2015, 10:16:05 AM
So, in essence, it's not the tithe I guess that is bothering me, although it can tend to make up for a much larger chunk of a person's budget than pets or cable or whatever, but it's the non-negotiable aspect of a large line-item in someone's budget that really makes it very difficult for any of us to help someone.

I think I just realized something: there are some folks here on the forums who answer the case study with the time-weighted value of the expense over 10 years. So instead of asking someone to question the expense, they "amortize" it out over 10 years at some-percentage-yield and show what the poster is losing in stashe value.

Maybe these people with the non-negotiables don't realize that's what we're asking them to do?
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 16, 2015, 10:25:47 AM
In the cases where tithe is non-negotiable  and they are drowning, then there's always increasing income through side gigs or job moves.  The case studies still benefit from other views even if they won't cut a line item. 

For us, especially since we are single income now and will be double income in the future, it's just not a big deal.  It really doesn't move our timeline that much even though it's about 15% of our spending.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Vertical Mode on November 16, 2015, 10:34:10 AM
A lot of people have third rails in their budget:
- Pets (particularly unhealthy ones requiring special diets and vet visits
- Children (particularly education/activities)
- Cable or other form of entertainment (e.g. horses, sailing, D&D meetups)
- Housing location or size
- and, yes, tithing.

To borrow from the bible for this conversation, let the one w/o mustachian "sin" (luxuries) cast the first stone.  We all have our own form of luxuries in the budget, be it fancy cheese or tithing.  The goal is to identify the priorities and spend accordingly, rather than wasting our money on things that aren't important to us.  I myself have an unmustachian house in a fancy neighborhood in an expensive town (which costs more than tithing 10% would) - but I love it, and we spend little on entertainment, cars (we drive an '02 Honda Civic), pets, and have no kids.

While there are aberrations (and yes, they are frustrating), for those who are tithing, there usually are still plenty of other areas to optimize.  I've actually felt that on the whole, those who tithe are so determined to protect it that they are more open to other suggestions than others on the board who don't tithe.  (That said I haven't read a recent case study story which could be sparking this conversation.)  It's certainly worthwhile to question if it is necessary or if, for example, the poster can donate time instead, but after the poster has done that evaluation, it seems to waste time to continue to debate the point.  And if there truly is nothing else that can be offered to be cut, well, all you need to do is say that.  The poster can then decide if they want to reevaluate if no one is able to otherwise help them.

btw, I'm not particularly religious but my sister who is fairly active in her church, got her current job through a church recommendation.  She had interviewed, but they hadn't yet decided, when a church member heard and said, "I know the CEO" called him up and told him to hire her, and she was soon after.

To the earlier poster equating unwillingness to pay tax as coming mostly from the Americans, it just may be a factor of more Americans in general posting here, than being indicative of anything more.  I'm American, I live in a state known for high taxes ("Taxachusetts"), and I'm perfectly happy that it goes to pay for my roads, health care (wish it covered more), libraries, public education, etc.

+1, very reasonable.

With regard to taxes, America was born in large part because of an ongoing dispute about taxes (we brewed some Earl Grey in Boston Harbor once...). Aversion to taxes is written into our DNA and has been since inception. In concept, I don't mind paying taxes because I enjoy driving on roads and taking public transit from time to time - some of the things we spend tax money on, however, really piss me off because they just seem wasteful. I'll leave it at that.

OT, I'm not religious, but I can certainly see how tithing might be a flashpoint - is this done at the individual church/place-of-worship level, or some national body? Since we're talking money here, is this contribution tax-deductible? Where I grew up we have a relatively large Mormon population which I believe does tithing, but I never learned how it works. If done at the local community level where everyone knows everyone else, I would imagine there might be more flexibility for considering alternate arrangements like donating time or materials. If we assume that our mission is to align spending with our values, I'd be hesitant to push too hard challenging someone about their choice to tithe, but I would advocate donating time or some "alternate currency" instead of dollars if that was an option.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: hops on November 16, 2015, 10:36:54 AM
I am on the board of my church. We discuss the spending at every monthly meeting, and the books are open to every member. The yearly budget is voted on by the whole membership, after open discussion. I know some churches are little better than scams, but I suspect my church is closer to the norm.

My partner's church functions similarly. I'm the product of an interfaith marriage and was raised without religion, but "prosperity gospel" stuff runs rampant around here and I know many families who struggle while giving everything they can to the church. In one extreme case, a large family became homeless but continued to prioritize tithing over saving because of their belief that God would provide.

When I started dating my now-fiancee, whose church is very important to her, I was almost afraid to ask how much she tithed because a non-negotiable 10% would've been a deal-breaker for me if we became serious enough to combine finances. (She has a debt emergency: over $200,000 in high-interest student loans.) Learning that her church is transparent about its spending and never shakes people down for more than they feel comfortable giving was a relief.

For any non-religious Mustachian newly dating someone devout, that conversation, uncomfortable as it is, should be an early one. Fortunately, we were able to agree that tithing was not a financial priority in the face of such enormous debt, and instead we donate our time. (Joining the church is not in the cards for me, but I'm happy to donate time to its school supply drives and food pantry.)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Shane on November 16, 2015, 10:37:47 AM
The tradition of tithing is mystifying to me. I don't get why anyone would want to give money to a conventional church. If you want to help people in need, why not do it directly? How about letting some worthy person who is out of work move into an unused extra bedroom in your house rent free for awhile until she can get pack on her feet? How about giving extra food or money to a family you know who is struggling financially? Why not cut out the middle man and give directly to people who need it?

My grandparents religiously gave an envelope full of money to their suburban Catholic church every Sunday for 60+ years. Other than to pay for maintenance on the building and grounds and to keep the lights on in the church, it seemed pretty unclear to me where the money was actually going, and my grandparents didn't seem to know or care either. Apparently, a lot of the money gets siphoned off to higher levels of the church bureaucracy to pay for bishops and cardinals and their ilk to live pretty lavish lives on the backs of people who are living pretty modestly, some who are just scraping by. When my grandfather was lying in the hospital dying at 90+ years old he was really bitter that no one from his church, including none of the priests, came to see him in the hospital...

Can't people who want to tithe to their churches just donate in-kind services instead? This would free up cash that could be invested to pay off their debts and speed up FIRE. OP, if you want to persuade case-study subjects to redirect money they are tithing towards paying down debt and investing to speed up FIRE, maybe you could convince them by arguing that the sooner they FIRE, the sooner they can begin volunteering more time to help their churches if that's what makes them happy...

If tithing truly is "non-negotiable" for some people, maybe you should just accept that. It's just like people who like driving fancy cars, taking expensive vacations or drinking lattes every day at Starbucks. It's their choice, and if that's what makes them happy, then they'll have to work a few extra years to pay for it. As I read here on the MMM Forum recently, "You should never work harder to help someone than he is willing to work to help himself."
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: CommonCents on November 16, 2015, 10:43:54 AM
@CommonCents

I agree that many people have non-negotiables in their budgets and that tithing is not the only one. Someone upthread brought up organic food, which is a great example. But if you are posting a case study, particularly a new poster, who just came to the forums or has been a lurker for a while, they usually go to the trouble to post their case study in large part because a new world has opened to them and they want to live differently and save more. But I have just encountered at least a dozen of these cases in which the tithe is going to lead them to go nowhere fast, unless they are willing to live a very, very austere lifestyle. I just don't think this has sunk in yet, and I'm wondering what the point of the case study is to begin with.

You have mentioned your own non-negotiables being more than the traditional 10% tithe. That's perfectly fine, but I'm also guessing that you haven't posting a case study asking for suggestions on how to optimize your budget, in large part because you already know what you would need to do to increase your savings rate even more. But you've decided that you value your fancy home and community more.

So, in essence, it's not the tithe I guess that is bothering me, although it can tend to make up for a much larger chunk of a person's budget than pets or cable or whatever, but it's the non-negotiable aspect of a large line-item in someone's budget that really makes it very difficult for any of us to help someone.

Perhaps like someone else mentioned above, I should just exit case studies with non-negotiables and go on my merry way. But it's just hard when someone is in debt or treading water -- to the detriment of their family and overall mental health -- and to see right in front of them the best way to fix the problem.

Very true.  :)  I am well aware we could downsize our 2400 sq foot house on a pond, back to the 1000 sq foot condo we had two years ago.  We could even buy a 2 bedroom rather than the 1 bed my husband bought when a bachelor, with an outdoor deck, and still have money left over to funnel to our retirement accounts.  Anything else we choose to do, from taking cheaper vacations or cooking cheaper cuts of food at home, is peanuts compared to that.  (Although is does add up, which is why we've implemented other ideas from here such as cutting cable.)  This is part of the reason why I have never posted a case study.  For the most part, I am satisfied with our current optimization.

I have a hard time with it too, but I think you really do need to just learn to walk away sometimes and stop investing emotional energy when it's not returned.  Point out that you can help them save the pennies, but unless you find more dollars (more income, or cutting the big budget busters), it won't stem the tide.  And then don't waste your time trying banging your head against the wall.  Wait, and hopefully, you'll lead a horse or two to water.  I know I'm more inclined to post more ideas when people are more amenable to make changes.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Jack on November 16, 2015, 11:07:30 AM
It's a fair cop, ARS. I may be expecting The Proletariat to back me on this. More accurately:

I expect them to agree and get rid of it. That's why I don't comment in case studies any more. I believe everything must be open to question, always. Otherwise, you're not being truly open minded.

What proletariat? We're all bourgeois (or at least wannabe bourgeois) here...

Ironically, that's part of why cable TV is objectionable: it is itself for the proles -- just half of the modern bread and circuses, along with HFCS.

(Note: that came out a lot more elitist than it really was. In reality, mustachianism is a counterexample to Marxist theory, or at least an exception to it.)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Davids on November 16, 2015, 11:09:36 AM
My take is i won't criticise people who tithe. If you feel you have to do it that is your choice and when i respond to a post helping to cut spending i don't mention cut tithe.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 16, 2015, 11:13:29 AM
It's a fair cop, ARS. I may be expecting The Proletariat to back me on this. More accurately:

I expect them to agree and get rid of it. That's why I don't comment in case studies any more. I believe everything must be open to question, always. Otherwise, you're not being truly open minded.

What proletariat? We're all bourgeois (or at least wannabe bourgeois) here...

Ironically, that's part of why cable TV is objectionable: it is itself for the proles -- just half of the modern bread and circuses, along with HFCS.

(Note: that came out a lot more elitist than it really was. In reality, mustachianism is a counterexample to Marxist theory, or at least an exception to it.)

+1! Bwahahah!
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: RetiredAt63 on November 16, 2015, 11:14:56 AM
Tithing goes back quite a bit further than the Middle Ages, my friend.
Sure, tithes are all over the place, depending on what geographical area and what time period you look at.  That is why I identified my example.  I chose England since so many American churches have their origins there.  Does anyone who is not a historian really have a clue about the whole history of tithing in western society?  Is there some place and time that you think is a better example?  Feel free to post it.  Just producing a negative is not helpful.

My main point was that the historical reasons for tithing are outdated in modern Western society, but some people still adhere to them in a very rigid fashion.  Sure I made an offering when I was a more regular church-goer, but no-one ever suggested any set amount or %.  Maybe I am a bit more cynical since I am Anglican (American Episcopalian).  Knowing your church was founded because back in the day the king had an argument with the pope does tend to make one a bit more, not cynical, but pragmatic about churches/organized religion?

I also take issue with the concept that charity (including tithing) has to be money.  My contributions to society are volunteer work more than money.  But I have seen suggestions in case studies that the OP donate more time and less money, and that is rejected.  Even historically some/most of the tithe, both to lord and church, was in time/labour, not money.  After all, a poor peasant could still work in the lord's or church's fields, but have nothing of value to tithe beyond that labour.

And it just struck me - in a society that thinks hiring is by merit, the idea of someone getting a job because there was a connection with their church is actually very off-putting.  Basically it is the same as nepotism or cronyism.


I look at tithes as a historical relic.  Back in the day (I am thinking England during the Middle Ages) 10% went to the lord and 10% went to the church - that is where the tithe comes from.  But the church housed travelers, provided education and medical care, and supported those in need.  The local lord also provided services in return.

In Canada and Australia, etc., the state has taken over not only the job of the lord (maintains roads, provides security, etc.) but most of the roles of the church (education, medical care, welfare, etc.) And the church has dropped some of its other jobs - can I get housing in a nunnery when I travel?  Or from any other religious institution?   


Tithing goes back quite a bit further than the Middle Ages, my friend.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: RetiredAt63 on November 16, 2015, 11:16:43 AM
What do hydrofluorocarbons have to do with anything?

Ironically, that's part of why cable TV is objectionable: it is itself for the proles -- just half of the modern bread and circuses, along with HFCS.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 16, 2015, 11:21:18 AM
What do hydrofluorocarbons have to do with anything?

Ironically, that's part of why cable TV is objectionable: it is itself for the proles -- just half of the modern bread and circuses, along with HFCS.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Quote
And it just struck me - in a society that thinks hiring is by merit, the idea of someone getting a job because there was a connection with their church is actually very off-putting.  Basically it is the same as nepotism or cronyism.

Strongly agreed. That freaked me out. Plus there's the added implication that the tithe is the price of admission to the Cool Kidz Club.  But all that's tangential to the thread, so I stayed chill. Good to know that's what I'm up against.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: RetiredAt63 on November 16, 2015, 11:32:31 AM
HFCS - thank you.  I was trying to tie it to Cable and failing, googling HFCS instead of HFC gets me that.  Sugar - the other addictive white crystal.  (The CCS club - caffeine, cocaine and sugar).

Yes, the Kool Kidz Klub - I haven't seen this happen here more than any hiring influenced by a person's social network.  But some of the examples I have seen on the Forums were way more than that.  Equally icky were assumptions that you would preferentially hire a plumber/electrician etc. from your church (so a wonderful plumber who was not in your church would not be hired), and that they would give you preferential rates.  So you are a roofer, I am not in your church, no discount?  And if most of your clients are in your church, you end up losing a lot of income?

Sorry this got a bit off topic, but it is the whole "must tithe 10% in actual money" mind set that is being examined here, so why not?

What do hydrofluorocarbons have to do with anything?
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Quote
And it just struck me - in a society that thinks hiring is by merit, the idea of someone getting a job because there was a connection with their church is actually very off-putting.  Basically it is the same as nepotism or cronyism.

Strongly agreed. That freaked me out. Plus there's the added implication that the tithe is the price of admission to the Cool Kidz Club.  But all that's tangential to the thread, so I stayed chill. Good to know that's what I'm up against.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: reader2580 on November 16, 2015, 11:38:05 AM
Certainly, churches would either be flush with cash or spend a lot on charity if every family gave 10%.  The reality for many churches is a lot of families will give much less than 10%.  There will also be a number who don't give anything at all.  Very few churches check your membership at the door and they generally welcome everyone.  There are some of the new non-denominational mega churches that are obviously doing quite well when they can build buildings to seat 3,500 for a service.  There are a number of churchgoers that never actually sign up with the church because they don't want to be solicited for donations.

My parent's religion asks parishioners to donate 5% to the church and 5% to other charity.  I don't know how many parents decide how much to give now that they are retired.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: RetiredAt63 on November 16, 2015, 11:44:25 AM
@Reader2580.  Sure, most churches are not hard-core about tithes, which gets me to wondering about the case-study posters who are.  Are their churches really that fussy?  Are they being more doctrinaire than their church?  In a case study those are questions worth asking.  And the OPs should be able to answer them, or at least start asking themselves those questions.

Given that some posters here have said their churches make their budgets public and everyone can look at them, it seems to me that anyone who is committed to tithing should also be getting to see exactly where their church's money goes.  People object to taxes being spent in ways they don't like - but what if your church is spending money in ways you do not like?  If we are examining all our choices here, where our charitable donations (religious or secular) are going is worth looking at as well.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Jack on November 16, 2015, 11:49:19 AM
HFCS - thank you.  I was trying to tie it to Cable and failing, googling HFCS instead of HFC gets me that.  Sugar - the other addictive white crystal.  (The CCS club - caffeine, cocaine and sugar).
What do hydrofluorocarbons have to do with anything?
High Fructose Corn Syrup

Eh, why not both? Some folks here object to air conditioning too! ; )

(But the biggest sin is top-posting (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posting_style)!)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: TheOldestYoungMan on November 16, 2015, 11:59:45 AM
Something to consider on the whole tithing front:  It may very well be the thing that brought them to the boards in the first place.

For many Christians, especially your southern baptist variety, talking about finances is rude.  About the only time you'll ever hear it discussed as you grow up is in the context of tithing.  Tithing is how responsible budgeting and personal finance management are introduced within the culture as necessary moral imperatives.  In order to meet your obligation you must be deliberate in how you spend money.  Younger/struggling christian people will wail at their elders, "how can I possibly give 10%?  I can't afford that!"

And the elders respond, "How much do you give now?  Is it 9%?, Is it 1%?  No, it's 0, because you haven't made it your priority to manage yourself to meet this obligation.  You spend too much, and save too little.  Get your own house in order before you voice doubts upon the commands of the Lord."

There is a direct line between a conversation about how hard it would be to tithe and my own path to my current 65% savings rate.

The MMM answer to the serial tither is to demand the biblical passage that requires the 10% in cold hard cash.  The MMM'er has the no-brainer answer to the tithing expense: time/services.  Volunteering at the church only one day a week more than meets your tithe obligation (1/7 > 1/10).  Any pastor/priest that denies this denies the word of God.  Providing some necessary service for the church (bookkeeping, janitorial, landscaping, project management, cooking, decorating, music) can also go a long way towards meeting the obligation with no cash outlays.

If someone insists they have to give 10% as money, they just haven't been exposed to a serious discussion of what tithing really is, what it really means.  Or they just really hate volunteering/working, and would rather spend money on that particular problem (which as OP points out, is pretty un-MMM).

If I was responding to a case study (and I rarely do) I'd just point that out.  They may list it as non-negotiable, but a fundamental of MMM is that  we recognize our time and freedom as MORE valuable than money.  Therefore an MMM person volunteering 1/10 of their time is making a bigger sacrifice than if we tithe 1/10 of our money.  Likely we're being far truer to the biblical intent as well.

Anyone wondering what to do in retirement re:tithe take note.  10% of your investment income, or 10% of your spend, isn't going to come anywhere close.  The Lord demands 10% of everything.  It isn't a system you can game, and only you know if you've given enough.  No one can offer you absolution, and the best advice anyone can offer from a spiritual perspective is that you probably can't give too much.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: lbmustache on November 16, 2015, 12:05:15 PM
Quote

Sort of like you are taking out yourself, 8 friends and JESUS's guest to dinner tonight...  LOL.

This made me lol. I think that would be a more reasonable form of tithing for most people, tbh.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Metta on November 16, 2015, 12:27:40 PM
And it just struck me - in a society that thinks hiring is by merit, the idea of someone getting a job because there was a connection with their church is actually very off-putting.  Basically it is the same as nepotism or cronyism.

Or a way of practicing religious discrimination on the down-low.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 16, 2015, 12:32:37 PM
I look at it as more as a character reference.  The person who hired me wasn't a member of our church or religious, the person who referred me was.  It's a way to vouch for someone, and if you know the referrer, then you have a better idea if they are telling the truth or not (versus just a resume with references that may have reasons to lie for the applicant - oh sure, she's on time and a hard worker (says the person who is owed money by applicant). 

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: RetiredAt63 on November 16, 2015, 01:36:22 PM
@TheYoungestOldMan

Thank you for that post, it makes sooo much sense.  And it validates donating time/effort as much as (or more than) money.  Which I like since I only get 24 hours a day, and when they are gone they are gone.  Plus many of my volunteer activities are activities that there is no paid equivalent for, so they cannot be arranged for with money.  Really, isn't that the same trade-off a lot of people make in all areas of life?  Not enough time to do whatever, pay someone (house cleaner, lawn care, etc.) or not enough money, pay in time (1.5 hours commute to work on public transit versus 15 minutes in a car).

As an example of different financial educations, I still remember discussing my history class at the dinner table - I was so indignant that the poor peasant ended up giving 20% (money, labour) to the lord and the church.  That was the night I lost my financial innocence - my Dad explained taxes to me.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Vertical Mode on November 16, 2015, 01:51:41 PM
Something to consider on the whole tithing front:  It may very well be the thing that brought them to the boards in the first place.

For many Christians, especially your southern baptist variety, talking about finances is rude.  About the only time you'll ever hear it discussed as you grow up is in the context of tithing.  Tithing is how responsible budgeting and personal finance management are introduced within the culture as necessary moral imperatives.  In order to meet your obligation you must be deliberate in how you spend money.  Younger/struggling christian people will wail at their elders, "how can I possibly give 10%?  I can't afford that!"

And the elders respond, "How much do you give now?  Is it 9%?, Is it 1%?  No, it's 0, because you haven't made it your priority to manage yourself to meet this obligation.  You spend too much, and save too little.  Get your own house in order before you voice doubts upon the commands of the Lord."

There is a direct line between a conversation about how hard it would be to tithe and my own path to my current 65% savings rate.

The MMM answer to the serial tither is to demand the biblical passage that requires the 10% in cold hard cash.  The MMM'er has the no-brainer answer to the tithing expense: time/services.  Volunteering at the church only one day a week more than meets your tithe obligation (1/7 > 1/10).  Any pastor/priest that denies this denies the word of God.  Providing some necessary service for the church (bookkeeping, janitorial, landscaping, project management, cooking, decorating, music) can also go a long way towards meeting the obligation with no cash outlays.

If someone insists they have to give 10% as money, they just haven't been exposed to a serious discussion of what tithing really is, what it really means.  Or they just really hate volunteering/working, and would rather spend money on that particular problem (which as OP points out, is pretty un-MMM).

If I was responding to a case study (and I rarely do) I'd just point that out.  They may list it as non-negotiable, but a fundamental of MMM is that  we recognize our time and freedom as MORE valuable than money.  Therefore an MMM person volunteering 1/10 of their time is making a bigger sacrifice than if we tithe 1/10 of our money.  Likely we're being far truer to the biblical intent as well.

Anyone wondering what to do in retirement re:tithe take note.  10% of your investment income, or 10% of your spend, isn't going to come anywhere close.  The Lord demands 10% of everything.  It isn't a system you can game, and only you know if you've given enough.  No one can offer you absolution, and the best advice anyone can offer from a spiritual perspective is that you probably can't give too much.

Thank you for this post, I've never considered this perspective before.

I've learned something new today.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: CommonCents on November 16, 2015, 02:02:15 PM
And it just struck me - in a society that thinks hiring is by merit, the idea of someone getting a job because there was a connection with their church is actually very off-putting.  Basically it is the same as nepotism or cronyism.

For my sister, it was a character reference.  Apparently he was over their house, and he heard she had interviewed, said he knew the CEO, pulled out his phone and called him then and there to say why exactly my sister was awesome and should be hired.  He gave details not just a "hire her" directive.

Other times it seems to be foot in the door for a look at a resume or an interview.  I totally forgot that as a student in college, I received a job through a church member my parents knew.  I was supremely well (over?)qualified for the position, but it didn't hurt that my parents knew the head of HR and could put my resume in front of her.

Companies spend a lot on bad hires and try to weed out the undesirables/find the best (should we have them take a test?  do a behavioral interview?  group interview? etc.).  I've heard that interviews are really fairly useless in telling how people will perform at a job, and often people just hire "people like them".  So having an added data point from someone - such as that they are a hard and talented worker (as a church volunteer), can't hurt.   
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: AllieVaulter on November 16, 2015, 02:15:20 PM
And it just struck me - in a society that thinks hiring is by merit, the idea of someone getting a job because there was a connection with their church is actually very off-putting.  Basically it is the same as nepotism or cronyism.

Or a way of practicing religious discrimination on the down-low.

Oh PLEASE.  If you're upset that any networking affects job prospects that's one thing.  But singling out a religious connection creating a networking possibility as unfair is just ridiculous. 

Do you have a Linked-In account?  That's an unfair advantage! 
Do you volunteer at the Humane Society?  That's an unfair advantage!
Do you have references on your resume?  That's an unfair advantage!

Personal recommendations are a fact of life in the hiring world.  Railing against religion is insanely misplaced on this topic.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Jack on November 16, 2015, 02:23:02 PM
And it just struck me - in a society that thinks hiring is by merit, the idea of someone getting a job because there was a connection with their church is actually very off-putting.  Basically it is the same as nepotism or cronyism.

Or a way of practicing religious discrimination on the down-low.

Oh PLEASE.  If you're upset that any networking affects job prospects that's one thing.  But singling out a religious connection creating a networking possibility as unfair is just ridiculous. 

Do you have a Linked-In account?  That's an unfair advantage! 
Do you volunteer at the Humane Society?  That's an unfair advantage!
Do you have references on your resume?  That's an unfair advantage!

Personal recommendations are a fact of life in the hiring world.  Railing against religion is insanely misplaced on this topic.

Hypothetical: consider a town that has two churches, one historically (and therefore, currently) white and one historically (and therefore, currently) black. A local business happens to be owned by an attendee of one of the churches, who decides to strongly prefer job applicants referred to him by his fellow parishioners. Racial discrimination, or not?
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: AllieVaulter on November 16, 2015, 02:26:10 PM
I am on the board of my church. We discuss the spending at every monthly meeting, and the books are open to every member. The yearly budget is voted on by the whole membership, after open discussion. I know some churches are little better than scams, but I suspect my church is closer to the norm.

I actually don't think your church is closer to the norm. You are actually the first person I have "met" who has a similar structure to my church. We don't have monthly budget meetings, but we have a yearly budget on which we vote, and every single cent is laid out, including pastor salaries. I have grown up in the church, as well as having parents who have worked for and served in leadership capacities at numerous churches. Most budgets are very opaque and are agreed upon by the elders and not by the congregation.

Regarding tithing in retirement, I should ask my parents what they do because I think they tithed over 10% when they were working. I'm pretty certain they don't tithe on investments, because I remember my dad saying the amount they contribute now has gone down considerably.

I understand the reasoning behind the tithe and even respect it, even though I personally do not tithe. But my point of the thread was more practical for us Mustachians who read and post Case Studies. Like Faraday expressed,  many times I think those who post Case Studies with a very large tithe (sometimes that reaches or eclipses their mortgage!) are expecting us to find some magical solution that will allow them to FIRE in ten years or allow them to build their wealth significantly. And that solution doesn't exist if you tithe and don't have a very high income. You are left with the option to cut your entire budget to the bone. To FIRE with a tithe when you don't make much means you essentially have to live an austere lifestyle otherwise. And usually with these case studies I don't see a realization of this. They somehow think there is another way. But you can't get blood out of stone.

I've only ever belonged this this kind of church.  The monthly budget meetings are usually just attended by the church staff, but the yearly budget meetings are open to everyone.  Only members can vote, but non-members, first time attenders, anyone can get a copy of the budget and see exactly how the money is spent.

I also volunteer to help count the offering.  My church has very strict rules to make sure that everything is above board.  (Two people must be present at all times, detailed records about who was present when the money was counted, recording exactly how much money was received each week, sending the records to multiple people to check them over, etc)

No one is required to tithe.  Anonymous giving is also completely acceptable.  However, we do record who gives money and how much, if they record their name.  The reason for that is for the GIVER'S tax purposes.  It's a tax-deductible donation for the individual.  Come tax season, everyone that has given to the church is given a receipt of how much they gave, for when they file their taxes. Nobody's asking what percentage you give, or asking for your income so they can figure out what percentage you're giving.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: AllieVaulter on November 16, 2015, 02:29:32 PM
And it just struck me - in a society that thinks hiring is by merit, the idea of someone getting a job because there was a connection with their church is actually very off-putting.  Basically it is the same as nepotism or cronyism.

Or a way of practicing religious discrimination on the down-low.

Oh PLEASE.  If you're upset that any networking affects job prospects that's one thing.  But singling out a religious connection creating a networking possibility as unfair is just ridiculous. 

Do you have a Linked-In account?  That's an unfair advantage! 
Do you volunteer at the Humane Society?  That's an unfair advantage!
Do you have references on your resume?  That's an unfair advantage!

Personal recommendations are a fact of life in the hiring world.  Railing against religion is insanely misplaced on this topic.

Hypothetical: consider a town that has two churches, one historically (and therefore, currently) white and one historically (and therefore, currently) black. A local business happens to be owned by an attendee of one of the churches, who decides to strongly prefer job applicants referred to him by his fellow parishioners. Racial discrimination, or not?

If the decision is based on race, yes.  It's racial discrimination. 

Hypothetical: consider a town with two businesses, one historically (and therefore, currently) white and one historically (and therefore, currently) black. A former employee of one of those businesses applies to work at a third company. The owner of company 3 used to work at one of the other businesses and therefore prefers job applicants from that business. Racial discrimination, or not?

EDIT:  My point is that whether or not something is discrimination is based on the person making the decision.  The fact that we have a system that includes references is not evil in itself.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Camarillo Brillo on November 16, 2015, 02:34:02 PM
The tradition of tithing is mystifying to me. I don't get why anyone would want to give money to a conventional church. If you want to help people in need, why not do it directly? How about letting some worthy person who is out of work move into an unused extra bedroom in your house rent free for awhile until she can get pack on her feet? How about giving extra food or money to a family you know who is struggling financially? Why not cut out the middle man and give directly to people who need it?

My grandparents religiously gave an envelope full of money to their suburban Catholic church every Sunday for 60+ years. Other than to pay for maintenance on the building and grounds and to keep the lights on in the church, it seemed pretty unclear to me where the money was actually going, and my grandparents didn't seem to know or care either. Apparently, a lot of the money gets siphoned off to higher levels of the church bureaucracy to pay for bishops and cardinals and their ilk to live pretty lavish lives on the backs of people who are living pretty modestly, some who are just scraping by. When my grandfather was lying in the hospital dying at 90+ years old he was really bitter that no one from his church, including none of the priests, came to see him in the hospital...

Can't people who want to tithe to their churches just donate in-kind services instead? This would free up cash that could be invested to pay off their debts and speed up FIRE. OP, if you want to persuade case-study subjects to redirect money they are tithing towards paying down debt and investing to speed up FIRE, maybe you could convince them by arguing that the sooner they FIRE, the sooner they can begin volunteering more time to help their churches if that's what makes them happy...

If tithing truly is "non-negotiable" for some people, maybe you should just accept that. It's just like people who like driving fancy cars, taking expensive vacations or drinking lattes every day at Starbucks. It's their choice, and if that's what makes them happy, then they'll have to work a few extra years to pay for it. As I read here on the MMM Forum recently, "You should never work harder to help someone than he is willing to work to help himself."
I agree with your viewpoint.  My wife and I donate to many local causes.  But, for the life of me I cannot understand why people feel obligated to give 10% of their income to support causes that aren't even clear.

But, I realize my view is very clouded.  When I was 8 years old my 35-year-old father died of a massive coronary, leaving behind a  young widow and 5 children. Instead of providing any help, our Catholic church instead chose to kick us out since we no longer had any money to contribute.  Their nicely worded letter said we could attend services but, of course, we were no longer welcome as members of the church.   Yeah, real fricken nice.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: MMM365 on November 16, 2015, 02:35:38 PM
First time poster. 

I am enjoying this discussion about the merits of tithing, but I wonder if the poster had instead mentioned, "non negotiable charitable giving," would people be disagreeing with the decision making?  If someone chooses to place a priority on percentage based charitable giving, whether they decide to give it to a church, a temple, a synagogue, or a non-profit that is a priority that this person decides is more important than putting money into the brokerage account to increase the dollar figure. 

I particularly enjoy MMM blog because of the fact that he has decided to spend his life figuring out efficiency of spending and living that way.  If he spends a full day on a repair on the house or souping up his bicycle, this is something he feels he wishes to prioritize his time; also, his decisions are his own. 

In the same way, the person who chooses to give to something that they feel is a bigger cause than themselves should be lauded and not ridiculed for not getting to FIRE faster. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: norabird on November 16, 2015, 02:39:15 PM
I think tithing and either waiting to FIRE or cutting everything else are both great options. Personally I'd rather save less and give more--it's an individual calculus.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: K-ice on November 16, 2015, 02:46:05 PM
For those of you on the non-negotiable tithe side.

I will assume you work 40h per week.

Could you just give 4h of your time to the church each week until your debts are in order?

Historically in-kind contributions were accepted.

Depending on the skills you could provide, that may even be more valuable than your money.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: RetiredAt63 on November 16, 2015, 02:56:59 PM
The discussion started out as a discussion on case study posters who were adamant their (large) tithes were untouchable.  The expansion of the discussion has been interesting.  I think few if any of the determined 10% cash tithers are here - am I wrong?

On the case study aspect, when people post they are asking others to look at all their expenses and question them, and possible suggest alternatives.  How many people here have cut cable?  Or downgraded cell phone plans? Or changed commuting habits? Or coffee drinking habits?  All these were acceptable spending patterns at some point for them.  Tithing or other charitable donations should be in the same case - examine them, are they necessary/valuable, can you get the same benefit some other way?  Maybe cut back?  maybe do time instead of money?  Or maybe that is the most important line item in your budget and everything else can be played with, but not that.  If people have a thought-out reason for the tithing then fine - if it is a knee-jerk reaction "(I have to do this") then it needs examining.

Re the job aspect, it depends. 

If being a member of a congregation is the main reason to either get a job or hire someone for a job, not good.  I have seen posts where if you belonged to a church, you were expected to hire other members of your church for no other reason than that they are fellow members. And if you were a contractor, you were expected to give discounts just because they were fellow congregationalists. 

If it is just one data point among many, then it is like all our other social contacts.  Of course employers want to have a good employee, but people can recommend someone for all the wrong reasons, out of the goodness of their hearts (S/he has had bad luck, s/he really needs that job, etc.).  And then it should work the other way as well, the contact (church, club, whatever) can also say so and so is a slacker, bad attitude, always late, etc.  I only have issues if the church membership really skews things.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Jack on November 16, 2015, 02:58:32 PM
And it just struck me - in a society that thinks hiring is by merit, the idea of someone getting a job because there was a connection with their church is actually very off-putting.  Basically it is the same as nepotism or cronyism.

Or a way of practicing religious discrimination on the down-low.

Oh PLEASE.  If you're upset that any networking affects job prospects that's one thing.  But singling out a religious connection creating a networking possibility as unfair is just ridiculous. 

Do you have a Linked-In account?  That's an unfair advantage! 
Do you volunteer at the Humane Society?  That's an unfair advantage!
Do you have references on your resume?  That's an unfair advantage!

Personal recommendations are a fact of life in the hiring world.  Railing against religion is insanely misplaced on this topic.

Hypothetical: consider a town that has two churches, one historically (and therefore, currently) white and one historically (and therefore, currently) black. A local business happens to be owned by an attendee of one of the churches, who decides to strongly prefer job applicants referred to him by his fellow parishioners. Racial discrimination, or not?

If the decision is based on race, yes.  It's racial discrimination. 

Hypothetical: consider a town with two businesses, one historically (and therefore, currently) white and one historically (and therefore, currently) black. A former employee of one of those businesses applies to work at a third company. The owner of company 3 used to work at one of the other businesses and therefore prefers job applicants from that business. Racial discrimination, or not?

EDIT:  My point is that whether or not something is discrimination is based on the person making the decision.  The fact that we have a system that includes references is not evil in itself.

FYI, both of those examples probably count as racial discrimination. Analogously, the original religious example does too.

You probably don't realize it since Portland is pretty homogeneous (and therefore the issue doesn't come up much), but as far as courts etc. are concerned the decisions in both of those examples would very likely be assumed to be based on race. Even if the decision-maker claims otherwise, outside observers (and/or a jury) will believe either (a) the person in question is lying, or (b) subconscious or structural discrimination existed anyway. In other words, the results (of a workforce skewed towards a particular demographic) speak for themselves. In fact, it almost reads like the EEOC's example (http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/index.cfm) of recruitment discrimination:

Quote
It is also illegal for an employer to recruit new employees in a way that discriminates against them because of their race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

For example, an employer's reliance on word-of-mouth recruitment by its mostly Hispanic work force may violate the law if the result is that almost all new hires are Hispanic.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: JLee on November 16, 2015, 02:59:04 PM
First time poster. 

I am enjoying this discussion about the merits of tithing, but I wonder if the poster had instead mentioned, "non negotiable charitable giving," would people be disagreeing with the decision making?  If someone chooses to place a priority on percentage based charitable giving, whether they decide to give it to a church, a temple, a synagogue, or a non-profit that is a priority that this person decides is more important than putting money into the brokerage account to increase the dollar figure. 

I particularly enjoy MMM blog because of the fact that he has decided to spend his life figuring out efficiency of spending and living that way.  If he spends a full day on a repair on the house or souping up his bicycle, this is something he feels he wishes to prioritize his time; also, his decisions are his own. 

In the same way, the person who chooses to give to something that they feel is a bigger cause than themselves should be lauded and not ridiculed for not getting to FIRE faster.

I think the problem many of us have with the 'mandatory tithe' situation is that often this situation comes up when somebody is up to their eyeballs in debt. Once your own house is squared away, I don't see a problem with donating as you see fit. I do have a hard time putting church-funding ahead of digging yourself out of a terrible financial situation.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Pigeon on November 16, 2015, 03:00:54 PM
I think it's highly illogical, but then again, I'm an atheist.  I certainly don't think there is merit to the idea, although I do think donating to efficient charities dedicated to helping people is an excellent practice.  There is a huge difference between donating to efficient charities an donating to religious organizations, which I think is mostly self-serving.  I could not be in a relationship with someone who insisted on tithing in any way that would include the income I earn, nor would I provide financial assistance to a family member who tithed. 

I find a lot of things that people say are "non-negotiable" in their budgets to be baffling.  "We have hair on fire debt and are in danger of being homeless, but a 100% organic paleo diet rich in unicorn and phoenix meat is non-negotiable."

But providing for my children's college education is non-negotiable, and lots of mustachians are appalled by that.  I doubt many of us are logical about all things all of the time.
 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: MMM365 on November 16, 2015, 03:01:03 PM


I think the problem many of us have with the 'mandatory tithe' situation is that often this situation comes up when somebody is up to their eyeballs in debt. Once your own house is squared away, I don't see a problem with donating as you see fit. I do have a hard time putting church-funding ahead of digging yourself out of a terrible financial situation.

Completely agree with you.  In fact, I would add that if one does work hard to get their house in order, that the ability to give much more freely becomes apparent.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: index on November 16, 2015, 03:03:39 PM
I don't understand a required or suggested tithe. All the directives toward a tenth are from the old testament and no where in the new testament is 10% mentioned. The Jewish faith considers tithing as commanded by the old testament a sin.

If Christians are under the "new covenant" which does not require or suggest tithing, and the Jewish faith that still abides by the law of Moses "the old covenant" (aka old testament) considers tithing a sin; then how do Christian churches justify the tithe?   
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Pigeon on November 16, 2015, 03:07:53 PM
I don't understand a required or suggested tithe. All the directives toward a tenth are from the old testament and no where in the new testament is 10% mentioned. The Jewish faith considers tithing as commanded by the old testament a sin.

If Christians are under the "new covenant" which does not require or suggest tithing, and the Jewish faith that still abides by the law of Moses "the old covenant" (aka old testament) considers tithing a sin; then how do Christian churches justify the tithe?

You really haven't come across Christian churches that apply OT standards when it suits their purpose, but fall back on the "new covenant" thinking when it doesn't?
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Jack on November 16, 2015, 03:11:25 PM
how do Christian churches justify the tithe?

Somebody's gotta pay for Creflo Dollar's jet, and he ain't gonna do it himself!
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Telecaster on November 16, 2015, 03:30:02 PM

So, in essence, it's not the tithe I guess that is bothering me, although it can tend to make up for a much larger chunk of a person's budget than pets or cable or whatever, but it's the non-negotiable aspect of a large line-item in someone's budget that really makes it very difficult for any of us to help someone.


We all make choices in life.  If someone feels tithing is important enough they are willing to have difficulties in other areas, that is their choice and no one else's. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Telecaster on November 16, 2015, 03:34:11 PM
If Christians are under the "new covenant" which does not require or suggest tithing, and the Jewish faith that still abides by the law of Moses "the old covenant" (aka old testament) considers tithing a sin; then how do Christian churches justify the tithe?

See also the 10 Commandments. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: justajane on November 16, 2015, 03:45:45 PM

So, in essence, it's not the tithe I guess that is bothering me, although it can tend to make up for a much larger chunk of a person's budget than pets or cable or whatever, but it's the non-negotiable aspect of a large line-item in someone's budget that really makes it very difficult for any of us to help someone.


We all make choices in life.  If someone feels tithing is important enough they are willing to have difficulties in other areas, that is their choice and no one else's.

That goes without saying. But why post a case study and solicit advice about how to achieve FIRE? In my mind, if you create a case study, you are asking people to put your entire budget under a microscope. I'm not a facepuncher - I even hate the violent (albeit it tongue in cheek) nature of the term. So of course, I back off if someone says they are not going to change. But, unlike cable or food or vacations, the nature of the tithe and how the budget usually says "non-negotiable" in parentheses in the list of expenses means that someone can't really even politely question it. Discussion is dead in the water. I imagine case studies with a tithe listed probably get much less traffic and helpful advice, in large part because there's not as much to optimize.

I almost want to link to some case studies, but my whole point of starting a new thread was precisely because I didn't want to make this personal or call anyone out. I've noticed this for a while and was just wondering if I was the only one who struggled with it when they encountered it.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: johnny847 on November 16, 2015, 03:54:42 PM
In my experience, if they say their tithe is non negotiable, they get really defensive if you start questioning that. So I usually leave that alone.

What I think is just plain dumb though is when people tithe 10% of their GROSS salary while putting the rest of their budget in after tax amounts. If you want to tithe .1/(1- <your marginal FICA + federal + state + local tax rate>) percent of your net salary, which would be 16.3% of your net salary for someone in the 25% federal and 6% state brackets and not exceeding the SS tax ceiling, then sure, be my guest. But at least write down 16.3%, NOT 10%, especially when you've written your monthly budget in terms of your actual take home paychecks (which are post tax withholding!) and spending.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: use2betrix on November 16, 2015, 04:22:28 PM

So, in essence, it's not the tithe I guess that is bothering me, although it can tend to make up for a much larger chunk of a person's budget than pets or cable or whatever, but it's the non-negotiable aspect of a large line-item in someone's budget that really makes it very difficult for any of us to help someone.


We all make choices in life.  If someone feels tithing is important enough they are willing to have difficulties in other areas, that is their choice and no one else's.

That goes without saying. But why post a case study and solicit advice about how to achieve FIRE? In my mind, if you create a case study, you are asking people to put your entire budget under a microscope. I'm not a facepuncher - I even hate the violent (albeit it tongue in cheek) nature of the term. So of course, I back off if someone says they are not going to change. But, unlike cable or food or vacations, the nature of the tithe and how the budget usually says "non-negotiable" in parentheses in the list of expenses means that someone can't really even politely question it. Discussion is dead in the water. I imagine case studies with a tithe listed probably get much less traffic and helpful advice, in large part because there's not as much to optimize.

I almost want to link to some case studies, but my whole point of starting a new thread was precisely because I didn't want to make this personal or call anyone out. I've noticed this for a while and was just wondering if I was the only one who struggled with it when they encountered it.

So if someone has "tithe non-negotiable" in a case study, it's pointless to have the case study?

What about the other 90% of their budge that IS open to scrutiny? Can they not get advice on their federal witholdings or food budget because they tithe? Come on..

I honestly don't understand what's so hard about seeing someone say They tithe, and simply moving on.

It's a basic part of respecting peoples' beliefs. Adulting 101... Not that hard
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: reader2580 on November 16, 2015, 04:45:11 PM
Think about what happens if every churchgoer went to the pastor and said I am going to donate 4 hours a week of my time instead of donating any money.  Where does the money come from then to pay the utility bills, staff and pastor salaries, and other expenses of the church?

I donate a significant amount of my time to a non-profit youth organization, but I also donate some money too.  (I spend a week at organization's summer camp doing construction work plus a lot time throughout the year.)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: justajane on November 16, 2015, 04:52:30 PM

So, in essence, it's not the tithe I guess that is bothering me, although it can tend to make up for a much larger chunk of a person's budget than pets or cable or whatever, but it's the non-negotiable aspect of a large line-item in someone's budget that really makes it very difficult for any of us to help someone.


We all make choices in life.  If someone feels tithing is important enough they are willing to have difficulties in other areas, that is their choice and no one else's.

That goes without saying. But why post a case study and solicit advice about how to achieve FIRE? In my mind, if you create a case study, you are asking people to put your entire budget under a microscope. I'm not a facepuncher - I even hate the violent (albeit it tongue in cheek) nature of the term. So of course, I back off if someone says they are not going to change. But, unlike cable or food or vacations, the nature of the tithe and how the budget usually says "non-negotiable" in parentheses in the list of expenses means that someone can't really even politely question it. Discussion is dead in the water. I imagine case studies with a tithe listed probably get much less traffic and helpful advice, in large part because there's not as much to optimize.

I almost want to link to some case studies, but my whole point of starting a new thread was precisely because I didn't want to make this personal or call anyone out. I've noticed this for a while and was just wondering if I was the only one who struggled with it when they encountered it.

So if someone has "tithe non-negotiable" in a case study, it's pointless to have the case study?

What about the other 90% of their budge that IS open to scrutiny? Can they not get advice on their federal witholdings or food budget because they tithe? Come on..

I honestly don't understand what's so hard about seeing someone say They tithe, and simply moving on.

It's a basic part of respecting peoples' beliefs. Adulting 101... Not that hard

I take issue with your snark here about "Adulting 101", as if somehow it is infantile of me or others to struggle with knowing how to help someone who has sacred cows. Clearly this is not an issue for you, but just because you haven't noticed a problem doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Of course they can still post a case study, but it's not going to go very far. Plus, more often than not, the tithe usually ends up being far, far more than 10% of their budget, since they calculate it based on gross income.

I do often have a sense that certain case studies expect some sort of magic bullet that is going to enable them to keep everything as it already is, only tweaking a few things here and there, and that somehow the numbers will magically be in their favor. Clearly not only tithers struggle with this, but this is going back to my earlier point that almost the only way to gain traction in your budget if you tithe and make closer to the average American income is to have an austerity budget. Not surprisingly, people don't take too kindly to that.   
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Milizard on November 16, 2015, 05:02:58 PM
I don't understand a required or suggested tithe. All the directives toward a tenth are from the old testament and no where in the new testament is 10% mentioned. The Jewish faith considers tithing as commanded by the old testament a sin.

If Christians are under the "new covenant" which does not require or suggest tithing, and the Jewish faith that still abides by the law of Moses "the old covenant" (aka old testament) considers tithing a sin; then how do Christian churches justify the tithe?

Because they wants the money!  ;-p

From what I remember, a tithe was supposed to be the 10th calf, or the 10th bushel of the harvest.  That would mean the first 9 are yours, and the 10th goes to support the church.  If you were to keep going with that logic, it would mean you should be able to support yourself with the basics first--the first 9, then you help the church.  It also makes the case for using after tax amounts.

There might be more to it than I've read about, but that's what I remember.  Being Catholic, I have a lot more issues with a tithe that I won't go into here. 

I have mentioned to people that God also wants you to keep your word, which would mean paying back debts.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: AllieVaulter on November 16, 2015, 05:07:57 PM
And it just struck me - in a society that thinks hiring is by merit, the idea of someone getting a job because there was a connection with their church is actually very off-putting.  Basically it is the same as nepotism or cronyism.

Or a way of practicing religious discrimination on the down-low.

Oh PLEASE.  If you're upset that any networking affects job prospects that's one thing.  But singling out a religious connection creating a networking possibility as unfair is just ridiculous. 

Do you have a Linked-In account?  That's an unfair advantage! 
Do you volunteer at the Humane Society?  That's an unfair advantage!
Do you have references on your resume?  That's an unfair advantage!

Personal recommendations are a fact of life in the hiring world.  Railing against religion is insanely misplaced on this topic.

Hypothetical: consider a town that has two churches, one historically (and therefore, currently) white and one historically (and therefore, currently) black. A local business happens to be owned by an attendee of one of the churches, who decides to strongly prefer job applicants referred to him by his fellow parishioners. Racial discrimination, or not?

If the decision is based on race, yes.  It's racial discrimination. 

Hypothetical: consider a town with two businesses, one historically (and therefore, currently) white and one historically (and therefore, currently) black. A former employee of one of those businesses applies to work at a third company. The owner of company 3 used to work at one of the other businesses and therefore prefers job applicants from that business. Racial discrimination, or not?

EDIT:  My point is that whether or not something is discrimination is based on the person making the decision.  The fact that we have a system that includes references is not evil in itself.

FYI, both of those examples probably count as racial discrimination. Analogously, the original religious example does too.

You probably don't realize it since Portland is pretty homogeneous (and therefore the issue doesn't come up much), but as far as courts etc. are concerned the decisions in both of those examples would very likely be assumed to be based on race. Even if the decision-maker claims otherwise, outside observers (and/or a jury) will believe either (a) the person in question is lying, or (b) subconscious or structural discrimination existed anyway. In other words, the results (of a workforce skewed towards a particular demographic) speak for themselves. In fact, it almost reads like the EEOC's example (http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/index.cfm) of recruitment discrimination:

Quote
It is also illegal for an employer to recruit new employees in a way that discriminates against them because of their race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

For example, an employer's reliance on word-of-mouth recruitment by its mostly Hispanic work force may violate the law if the result is that almost all new hires are Hispanic.

I absolutely agree that both cases are racial discrimination.  That was my point.  The religion aspect was completely unrelated to the hypothetical situation.  The broken part of the system is making the decision (or recruiting) based on race, not because the networking relationship happened because of religion.  Relationships occur when people have something in common. 

And yes, Portland is very homogeneous. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Shane on November 16, 2015, 05:34:01 PM
Think about what happens if every churchgoer went to the pastor and said I am going to donate 4 hours a week of my time instead of donating any money.  Where does the money come from then to pay the utility bills, staff and pastor salaries, and other expenses of the church?

I donate a significant amount of my time to a non-profit youth organization, but I also donate some money too.  (I spend a week at organization's summer camp doing construction work plus a lot time throughout the year.)

To me, the best thing that might come out of that would be that they would close down the church building. I've heard of "churches" that do not own nor need to maintain a building, landscaping, etc. Congregants meet every Sunday at a different member's home. It's pot luck. Every week they all read specific passages from the bible, and then on Sunday they sit around and discuss what they read and how it is applicable to their lives. All the money they save by not having a building they put into various charity projects which they choose and implement themselves. For example, if there's an elderly widow in the community whose home needs a new roof, they all pitch in money, buy the materials, and volunteers from the congregation replace the lady's roof. To me, it sounds better than spending a bunch of money on fancy stained glass windows, manicured lawns and a giant asphalt parking lot...
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Spork on November 16, 2015, 06:21:05 PM
Think about what happens if every churchgoer went to the pastor and said I am going to donate 4 hours a week of my time instead of donating any money.  Where does the money come from then to pay the utility bills, staff and pastor salaries, and other expenses of the church?

I donate a significant amount of my time to a non-profit youth organization, but I also donate some money too.  (I spend a week at organization's summer camp doing construction work plus a lot time throughout the year.)

To me, the best thing that might come out of that would be that they would close down the church building. I've heard of "churches" that do not own nor need to maintain a building, landscaping, etc. Congregants meet every Sunday at a different member's home. It's pot luck. Every week they all read specific passages from the bible, and then on Sunday they sit around and discuss what they read and how it is applicable to their lives. All the money they save by not having a building they put into various charity projects which they choose and implement themselves. For example, if there's an elderly widow in the community whose home needs a new roof, they all pitch in money, buy the materials, and volunteers from the congregation replace the lady's roof. To me, it sounds better than spending a bunch of money on fancy stained glass windows, manicured lawns and a giant asphalt parking lot...

My immediate thoughts to "Oh no, everyone is donating time!" is:  Toss together a labor pool.  Raise money.  I am not religious, so I've been avoiding commenting for the most part here.  But I have to think this is the best problem a preacher could possibly have.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Tom Bri on November 16, 2015, 06:30:05 PM
The tradition of tithing is mystifying to me. I don't get why anyone would want to give money to a conventional church. If you want to help people in need, why not do it directly? How about letting some worthy person who is out of work move into an unused extra bedroom in your house rent free for awhile until she can get pack on her feet? How about giving extra food or money to a family you know who is struggling financially? Why not cut out the middle man and give directly to people who need it?

Couple of reasons. A church, a good one anyway, is part of your family. We have lots of talents, and we know different people. Our charity is nearly 100% efficient, in that no one except the secretary and the pastor get paid. The people who drive food to the local homeless shelter do it on the own time and cost. These are mainly retired people. I don't know who in the community may need help, but someone does in the church. There really is hardly any middleman to cut out.
Not all churches work this way, obviously. But enough do that the tradition continues.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Shane on November 16, 2015, 06:37:31 PM
The tradition of tithing is mystifying to me. I don't get why anyone would want to give money to a conventional church. If you want to help people in need, why not do it directly? How about letting some worthy person who is out of work move into an unused extra bedroom in your house rent free for awhile until she can get pack on her feet? How about giving extra food or money to a family you know who is struggling financially? Why not cut out the middle man and give directly to people who need it?

Couple of reasons. A church, a good one anyway, is part of your family. We have lots of talents, and we know different people. Our charity is nearly 100% efficient, in that no one except the secretary and the pastor get paid. The people who drive food to the local homeless shelter do it on the own time and cost. These are mainly retired people. I don't know who in the community may need help, but someone does in the church. There really is hardly any middleman to cut out.
Not all churches work this way, obviously. But enough do that the tradition continues.

It sounds like you've got a pretty good setup at your church. If you know and trust the people who are actually giving out the money or food or whatever, you can't get much more efficient than that.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Tom Bri on November 16, 2015, 07:15:52 PM
Well, I grew up around here, and went to this same church as a kid. When I moved back to this area 10 years ago, I naturally started going there. The older folks are all the same people I knew when I was a kid. That helps.
In my world travels I often visit churches. I lived in Japan 15 years, and attended several churches there. It is nice to have distant, extended 'family' wherever I go. Only occasionally have I met churches that seemed unwelcoming. I'm not Catholic, but they often seem the most accepting. It is the smaller, odd-ball protestant churches that can sometimes be exclusive.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: use2betrix on November 16, 2015, 07:32:07 PM

So, in essence, it's not the tithe I guess that is bothering me, although it can tend to make up for a much larger chunk of a person's budget than pets or cable or whatever, but it's the non-negotiable aspect of a large line-item in someone's budget that really makes it very difficult for any of us to help someone.


We all make choices in life.  If someone feels tithing is important enough they are willing to have difficulties in other areas, that is their choice and no one else's.

That goes without saying. But why post a case study and solicit advice about how to achieve FIRE? In my mind, if you create a case study, you are asking people to put your entire budget under a microscope. I'm not a facepuncher - I even hate the violent (albeit it tongue in cheek) nature of the term. So of course, I back off if someone says they are not going to change. But, unlike cable or food or vacations, the nature of the tithe and how the budget usually says "non-negotiable" in parentheses in the list of expenses means that someone can't really even politely question it. Discussion is dead in the water. I imagine case studies with a tithe listed probably get much less traffic and helpful advice, in large part because there's not as much to optimize.

I almost want to link to some case studies, but my whole point of starting a new thread was precisely because I didn't want to make this personal or call anyone out. I've noticed this for a while and was just wondering if I was the only one who struggled with it when they encountered it.

So if someone has "tithe non-negotiable" in a case study, it's pointless to have the case study?

What about the other 90% of their budge that IS open to scrutiny? Can they not get advice on their federal witholdings or food budget because they tithe? Come on..

I honestly don't understand what's so hard about seeing someone say They tithe, and simply moving on.

It's a basic part of respecting peoples' beliefs. Adulting 101... Not that hard

I take issue with your snark here about "Adulting 101", as if somehow it is infantile of me or others to struggle with knowing how to help someone who has sacred cows. Clearly this is not an issue for you, but just because you haven't noticed a problem doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Of course they can still post a case study, but it's not going to go very far. Plus, more often than not, the tithe usually ends up being far, far more than 10% of their budget, since they calculate it based on gross income.

I do often have a sense that certain case studies expect some sort of magic bullet that is going to enable them to keep everything as it already is, only tweaking a few things here and there, and that somehow the numbers will magically be in their favor. Clearly not only tithers struggle with this, but this is going back to my earlier point that almost the only way to gain traction in your budget if you tithe and make closer to the average American income is to have an austerity budget. Not surprisingly, people don't take too kindly to that.

You are right, it's not a problem for me because I have no issue respecting others beliefs. I find it odd that you are being accusatory towards me for pointing out the obvious of many here as opposed to realizing maybe you should be more understanding and accepting of others.


Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: sonjak on November 16, 2015, 07:35:32 PM
This thread has been really interesting for me.  I've been enjoying reading the different takes on tithing in the various denominations.

I grew up Mormon where a 10% tithe is mandatory if you want to go to the temple, which is required to go to "the best" heaven.  (The church leadership is not transparent with what they do with the money.)  Everyone volunteers their time in various "callings" so you can't volunteer instead of tithe, you have to do both, and you definitely can't give to another church or charity and have it count in any way towards this expectation.  My parents were very devout, had lots of kids, and my dad was the sole breadwinner.  He never made much money and they were "faithful" tithers for all the years they were members although they really couldn't afford it.  We did without a lot.

They were extremely frugal, took staying out of debt seriously (it was also a church teaching back in the day) and my dad was able to retire at 55.  They considered tithing non-negotiable and they believed that they would be blessed for paying it.  While they were still Mormons, they believed that they were able to do all of that *because* of tithing.

Someone up thread mentioned something about magic helping out and that's how I see these case studies.  People who post and say that tithing is non-negotiable are essentially saying, "I know that this is a huge gap but I believe God will make up for that gap in my plan so please don't focus on that.  Yes, it's irrational/illogical and you can't see how it will work if I don't stop that.  But I believe God will make it work.  So... what else can I fix?"  I find it less frustrating thinking of it worded this way.

Now, the people with the multiple items which are off-limits, who consider fun money, cable, tithing, day care, cleaners, organic food, gas money, their "dream car" payment and/or their trip to XYZ non-negotiable... 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: justajane on November 16, 2015, 08:10:38 PM
You are right, it's not a problem for me because I have no issue respecting others beliefs. I find it odd that you are being accusatory towards me for pointing out the obvious of many here as opposed to realizing maybe you should be more understanding and accepting of others.

Hold on. This is patently untrue. When have I ever demonstrated that I don't respect the beliefs of others? This is just untrue. I have even mentioned my own church attendance and commitment, which includes giving - just not tithing.

I have to say this whole thread has been very civil.....until now.

Here's the original post I made with the sections bolded that show my respect for the tithe, despite my frustration with how it inhibits discussions in a case study.

I'm starting a thread for this, because I regularly encounter Case Studies in which the poster has a line item for tithing that is more often than not labeled "non-negotiable", i.e. not up for discussion.

While I can certainly respect a decision to give to others, it oftentimes makes it hard to advise someone about what to do when the answer to their financial difficulties is staring them right in the face. And the whole point of Mustachianism is questioning your spending and doing radical things to up your savings rate. This is very hard to do when there are such significant non-negotiables in the budget. Tithing just tends to be much more prevalent and seems to make up a larger part of the budget than other "non-negotiables" we encounter. Plus, because of the delicate nature of the tithe, we are allowed to challenge people on other supposed non-negotiables in a way that we can't with the tithe.

In my experience, at least, the non-negotiable tithe demands that the OP be very open to cutting other parts of their budget to the bone, else they will be treading water for years to come. So basically, the OP is left with two options.

1) Be ruthless with the rest of the budget. $10 flip phones, rice and beans budget, much cheaper housing, etc.

2) Admit that FIRE is not in the cards for them, at least not on the timeline that others on here have.

What are your thoughts? I don't intend for this to be a discussion about the theological imperative or lack thereof for tithing, although I am open to anyone else's thoughts, whatever direction this discussion goes.

I would also appreciate any links to budgets of yore in which the tithe does work. Is it just in the budgets of those with higher incomes in which the tithe doesn't run counter to FIRE? Or have those families with more modest incomes managed to make it work? In my experience, I haven't seen this as explicitly as I would like.

Edited to add another quote from me earlier in the thread that contradicts your portrayal of me above. I've just been thrown for a loop that what I've said is being interpreted as a lack of respect and ability to accept the views of others. That is not what I intended, nor what I thought I was communicating.

Quote
I understand the reasoning behind the tithe and even respect it, even though I personally do not tithe. But my point of the thread was more practical for us Mustachians who read and post Case Studies.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: justajane on November 16, 2015, 08:20:04 PM
I appreciate the point that several of you have made about the discipline and sacrifice involved in a tithe and how long term that will serve a person well financially. I hadn't necessarily thought of it in those terms before - that they are honing the skill of saving and setting aside money. That is a good way of looking at it, although you still can't escape the math that X amount is not going into your investments that would be otherwise.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 16, 2015, 09:08:12 PM
Someone up thread mentioned something about magic helping out and that's how I see these case studies.  People who post and say that tithing is non-negotiable are essentially saying, "I know that this is a huge gap but I believe God will make up for that gap in my plan so please don't focus on that.  Yes, it's irrational/illogical and you can't see how it will work if I don't stop that.  But I believe God will make it work.  So... what else can I fix?"  I find it less frustrating thinking of it worded this way.

Now, the people with the multiple items which are off-limits, who consider fun money, cable, tithing, day care, cleaners, organic food, gas money, their "dream car" payment and/or their trip to XYZ non-negotiable...

sonjak, these are fairly intelligent ways of wording each end of the spectrum of possible "off limits" case studies. Much appreciate your articulate sensitivity to the question.

But there are fundamentals to justajane's question here that we still aren't homing in on:

1) Why would anyone come to these forums and, having read ANYTHING and understanding it, post a case study with ANYTHING said to be "off limits"?!? In fact, why wouldn't they simply leave that item out?

You are right, it's not a problem for me because I have no issue respecting others beliefs. I find it odd that you are being accusatory towards me for pointing out the obvious of many here as opposed to realizing maybe you should be more understanding and accepting of others.

As Spike Lee says, "Pleeze baby pleeze": you're getting into a side hustle here that's irrelevant: We don't care about anyone's beliefs. That fact underlies our inability to understand why tithing gets put forward as a non-negotiable.

There's no overarching rule in these forums that you have to be understanding and accepting of anyone. It's all about the FIRE and badassity, and the participants here are expected to call-it-like-we-see it.

We say here what people won't say in real life. That's an underpinning to the case study and the importance of the facepunch: to see where we are fooling ourselves and fix it.

2) Are we being proseletyzed to? Are these "tithes are non-negotiable" meant to be some kind of advertisement or "I'm here, I'm <fill in the blank>, get used to it"?

justajane opened this thread with a simple, non-accusatory question, not name calling or anything. I'm interested in that question and I don't care about this notion of having to understand anyone. Giving my perspective to someone isn't bound by that requirement.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: darkadams00 on November 16, 2015, 09:14:07 PM
So if someone has "tithe non-negotiable" in a case study, it's pointless to have the case study?

What about the other 90% of their budge that IS open to scrutiny? Can they not get advice on their federal witholdings or food budget because they tithe? Come on..

I honestly don't understand what's so hard about seeing someone say They tithe, and simply moving on.

It's a basic part of respecting peoples' beliefs. Adulting 101... Not that hard

I take issue with your snark here about "Adulting 101", as if somehow it is infantile of me or others to struggle with knowing how to help someone who has sacred cows. Clearly this is not an issue for you, but just because you haven't noticed a problem doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Of course they can still post a case study, but it's not going to go very far. Plus, more often than not, the tithe usually ends up being far, far more than 10% of their budget, since they calculate it based on gross income.

I do often have a sense that certain case studies expect some sort of magic bullet that is going to enable them to keep everything as it already is, only tweaking a few things here and there, and that somehow the numbers will magically be in their favor. Clearly not only tithers struggle with this, but this is going back to my earlier point that almost the only way to gain traction in your budget if you tithe and make closer to the average American income is to have an austerity budget. Not surprisingly, people don't take too kindly to that.

1) The tithe can't be far, far more than 10% of the budget because the budget starts with income. Budgets should be begin with income, not income after various selected deductions. And if that's not the number you use, I posit that your percentages are wrong because you use the wrong denominator, not because someone is quoting an erroneously inflated percentage.

2) I have read very few case studies where there weren't sacred cows--mostly implicit. Don't suggest I get rid of my expensive pet/hobby/vehicle/house, stop my expensive shopping/traveling/dining, or give up my coffee shop/gym/cable. Almost everyone posts multiple items in their budget they won't give up. Tithing seems to be more of a lightning rod for some because of the religious aspect.

3) To suggest that I don't have any good ideas on how to handle 80-90% of a person's income just because I can't "touch" a smaller fraction is directly opposite of MMM's "become a millionaire $10 at a time." If $10 can really make a difference, then how about $100 or $500 or $1000? I taught my sons that buying a $5 burger wasn't a budget buster, but the lack of food planning/laziness/love of convenience that led to a habit of $5 burgers would keep them broke and overweight in their teens. I don't know of a single person in any of my social circles that I couldn't help with just one or two suggestions. It wouldn't get them to 50% savings rates, but that's not everyone's goal--even here. Take what the case study offers, give a couple pointers, and move on.

Full disclosure--I give more than a tithe, but only the tithe goes to my church. My church supports the local food bank, homeless shelter, shelter for battered women, Habitat for Humanity, and we visit several nursing homes/senior centers monthly, often with gifts/care packages. I gave when I was a broke college student, later when I was a struggling newlywed, and later when I had lost my job and had mouths to feed. Why? I passed people everyday who were worse off, who had such a bad childhood they didn't know where to start to work their way out of their hole, who had extreme misfortune in their lives. Even when I had little money, I always felt that I had won the life lottery because I grew up in a great home with good parents and loving grandparents. They taught me to love life, work hard, earn an honest living, and be the guy a wife can love and trust. Income has nothing to do with those things. So giving has been easy for me whether I was making south of $30k or north of $150k. I can remember not saving. I can't remember not giving. If I had it all to do over again, I would spend more wisely and save more. I wouldn't take back a dime of my giving.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: darkadams00 on November 16, 2015, 09:48:06 PM
Someone up thread mentioned something about magic helping out and that's how I see these case studies.  People who post and say that tithing is non-negotiable are essentially saying, "I know that this is a huge gap but I believe God will make up for that gap in my plan so please don't focus on that.  Yes, it's irrational/illogical and you can't see how it will work if I don't stop that.  But I believe God will make it work.  So... what else can I fix?"  I find it less frustrating thinking of it worded this way.

Now, the people with the multiple items which are off-limits, who consider fun money, cable, tithing, day care, cleaners, organic food, gas money, their "dream car" payment and/or their trip to XYZ non-negotiable...

sonjak, these are fairly intelligent ways of wording each end of the spectrum of possible "off limits" case studies. Much appreciate your articulate sensitivity to the question.

But there are fundamentals to justajane's question here that we still aren't homing in on:

1) Why would anyone come to these forums and, having read ANYTHING and understanding it, post a case study with ANYTHING said to be "off limits"?!? In fact, why wouldn't they simply leave that item out?

You are right, it's not a problem for me because I have no issue respecting others beliefs. I find it odd that you are being accusatory towards me for pointing out the obvious of many here as opposed to realizing maybe you should be more understanding and accepting of others.

As Spike Lee says, "Pleeze baby pleeze": you're getting into a side hustle here that's irrelevant: We don't care about anyone's beliefs. That fact underlies our inability to understand why tithing gets put forward as a non-negotiable.

There's no overarching rule in these forums that you have to be understanding and accepting of anyone. It's all about the FIRE and badassity, and the participants here are expected to call-it-like-we-see it.

We say here what people won't say in real life. That's an underpinning to the case study and the importance of the facepunch: to see where we are fooling ourselves and fix it.

2) Are we being proseletyzed to? Are these "tithes are non-negotiable" meant to be some kind of advertisement or "I'm here, I'm <fill in the blank>, get used to it"?

justajane opened this thread with a simple, non-accusatory question, not name calling or anything. I'm interested in that question and I don't care about this notion of having to understand anyone. Giving my perspective to someone isn't bound by that requirement.

The issue with the perspective that you posted is simple---not one person on this board believes it. If they did, the answer to every case study, every post would be simple. Sell your cars and your house. Move into the lowest rent housing area in the area closest to your job and use public transportation or some other non-vehicular means to commute. Two kids? One bedroom apartment with a sofa bed is enough. Don't waste money on travel, vacations, or gifts. Buy all your clothes and household goods second and third-hand. Flip phone? Most of the world's population doesn't own even that, so drop it. TV, laptop, iPad? Sell 'em and put the money in Vanguard.

But personal finance consists of a continuum of choices. And what would optimize one's finances doesn't always optimize one's life (or everyone would make the choices mentioned above). The fact that some would label my example as hyperbole just points to the fact that Americans are not willing to live like the majority of the rest of the world (and the poorer folks in your own city). So EVERY SINGLE ITEM on some of the most proud budget writers' spreadsheets on this forum represents a data point much closer to our wasteful brothers than to the unwashed masses. Chest-thumping over an extra 5% savings rate when you own one car per driver in your house or own a house near or above the median price in your town just shows that one has ... Gasp...a sacred cow.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Metta on November 16, 2015, 10:16:10 PM
And it just struck me - in a society that thinks hiring is by merit, the idea of someone getting a job because there was a connection with their church is actually very off-putting.  Basically it is the same as nepotism or cronyism.

Or a way of practicing religious discrimination on the down-low.

Oh PLEASE.  If you're upset that any networking affects job prospects that's one thing.  But singling out a religious connection creating a networking possibility as unfair is just ridiculous. 

Do you have a Linked-In account?  That's an unfair advantage! 
Do you volunteer at the Humane Society?  That's an unfair advantage!
Do you have references on your resume?  That's an unfair advantage!

Personal recommendations are a fact of life in the hiring world.  Railing against religion is insanely misplaced on this topic.

I don't know if it is the same as a Linked-In account. Religion seems a more delicate matter to me than which social network I'm a part of. I remember once I was urged to convert to a person's religion (and attend their church) so that I would be better able to get a job I was interested in. I decided I wasn't interested in working for someone whose criteria required a specific religious affiliation and I'm glad I declined that "opportunity". That doesn't mean that all networking at churches is similar to what I encountered, but it did leave me looking askance at churches that encouraged/required their members to hire only people who shared their faith.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on November 17, 2015, 03:14:26 AM
The situation I have trouble with is when the poster is in debt, behind on payments, and is still tithing.

To me then if I'm in debt and especially if I'm behind on payments, then any money I have after my basic needs are taken care of belongs to whomever I borrowed it from, not me and not the church. Giving money away while I'm not paying my debts feels like stealing from the bank and then justifying it by giving the money away. I have difficulty getting on board with any faith that is (effectively) asking me to borrow money I don't have to give it to them.

Back in the day, churches were essential to the needy because there was very little insurance, little welfare, and limited state support; so 10% seemed about right. Nowadays the state does more, people already pay taxes, so to me, 10% seems higher than necessary, particularly when you see giant churches and pastors driving BMWs. It makes more sense when the church is providing many services in the community (shelters, food banks etc).

If the person posting the case study is debt free and choosing to donate or tithe, and knows how much this will delay financial independence, then I find it much easier to support that choice.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: shelivesthedream on November 17, 2015, 04:52:46 AM
In general, as a totally informal thing, I tend to give people who post a case study a free pass on one thing. If they want to have a three hour commute, fine, but they cannot also have the aforementioned organic phoenix and unicorn diet go unquestioned. Or if they really love buying  a mega-frappa-ultra-super-duper-ccino every day, OK, but they have got to get rid of their surplus cars. If tithers want to make their tithe their free pass, then everything else is up for debate. However, they do need to accept that people on this forum will question/facepunch EVERYTHING and that they should be GRATEFUL for it. Nowhere else will you get the kind of ruthless advice that you get here, but it is only advice and if they don't want to change then they don't have to.

What I always want to know with tithers is what they think the tithe is for. There are a few different thought processes that lead to a compulsory percentage-based tithe and it's always helpful to know what their reasoning is so that they can reflect on whether the 10% is the only way of fulfilling that purpose.

For example, if their church actually requires a 10% tithe to be a member... well, to be honest I have little sympathy with that, but in that case they'll have to cut everything else to the bone or never retire early.

Or, if they are following the historical sense of tithing and giving a portion of your harvest to the temple, they should read up on it and consider the portion of what they are giving. Medieval serfs gave labour as well as harvest, and they got protection and farming rights in return. They should also go and re-read the ENTIRE Bible and consider where this 10% business came from (e.g. Leviticus 27.30-34 and Matthew 23.23) and what God wants the money for - the earth and everything in it belong to the Lord anyway.

Or, maybe it's because Christians have a duty to help the poor. The poor are a huge part of the gospels. Jesus tells his disciples to sell all they have and give it to the poor. In that case they need to consider whether their labour would also help the poor, and whether "the church" and "the poor" are the same thing. A few of the posters need to realise that they ARE the poor! If they are in huge debt with a large family and only one income, THEY are the people that OTHER people need to be helping! They should not be digging themselves in further! I have never quite understood how for many Christians money-borrowers are totally fine while moneylenders are definitely evil. Also, as others have mentioned, "the poor" are helped by the state these days, so they should reconsider whether their tithing is still applicable.

Etc etc.

Tithers also need to accept that 10% is A LOT when we're talking about savings percentages. This may mean that they can never retire early. The magic money fairy isn't going to come and sprinkle them with fairy dust to grow their investments. The maths doesn't lie, and they need to make their choices and accept the consequences.

(Context: my husband is a very religious Anglican (Church of England). I am an atheist. He does not give money to the church but nor is he asked to, except on Sundays when the collection plate is passed round and people put in random small amounts of cash. He does give a lot of his time. I personally give a small amount of money to a charity every month. We have discussed giving a larger household amount to charity (not the church) but have agreed that at the moment we are not in a financial position to do so.)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: justajane on November 17, 2015, 05:18:04 AM
Tithing seems to be more of a lightning rod for some because of the religious aspect.

This is absolutely not the case for me and, based on many of the responses, neither is it the case for others. I'm not sure how many more ways I can say that I respect the tithe and am religious myself.

Quote
2) I have read very few case studies where there weren't sacred cows--mostly implicit. Don't suggest I get rid of my expensive pet/hobby/vehicle/house, stop my expensive shopping/traveling/dining, or give up my coffee shop/gym/cable. Almost everyone posts multiple items in their budget they won't give up.

This is true, but you can dialogue with people about the "organic phoenix and unicorn diet" and the "mega-frappa-ultra-super-duper-ccino" (that was awesome shelivesthedream). You can try to shave percentages and money off their "non-negotiable" budget in a way that you can't with the tithe. You can suggest that they buy their organic apples at the CSA instead of Whole Paycheck. You can suggest that they try to make a coffee beverage at home or maybe only get one once or twice a week instead of daily. But the tithe.....there's no wiggle room. It's non-negotiable in a way that other things aren't. That's my frustration in the context of a case study - not the fact that it is religiously based. On the contrary, I have great respect for anyone who would give that much. It's admirable. But it's non-negotiable in a way that almost nothing else is in a person's budget. Even with pets, you can suggest cheaper medical care, cheaper food, etc.

I appreciate and agree with shelivesthedream's perspective:

Or, maybe it's because Christians have a duty to help the poor. The poor are a huge part of the gospels. Jesus tells his disciples to sell all they have and give it to the poor. In that case they need to consider whether their labour would also help the poor, and whether "the church" and "the poor" are the same thing. A few of the posters need to realise that they ARE the poor! If they are in huge debt with a large family and only one income, THEY are the people that OTHER people need to be helping! They should not be digging themselves in further! I have never quite understood how for many Christians money-borrowers are totally fine while moneylenders are definitely evil. Also, as others have mentioned, "the poor" are helped by the state these days, so they should reconsider whether their tithing is still applicable.

Tithers also need to accept that 10% is A LOT when we're talking about savings percentages. This may mean that they can never retire early. The magic money fairy isn't going to come and sprinkle them with fairy dust to grow their investments. The maths doesn't lie, and they need to make their choices and accept the consequences.

This is why I explicitly asked for examples in which the tithe does work, because a large part of me wants it to work for families. Unfortunately, I have mostly seen case studies in which it doesn't work. The couple is drowning in debt and have no savings. I tend to want to throw myself into those case studies because I want to help and I want to see them live a more secure financial and less stressed life. But the tithe makes getting ahead with a large family and a lower income extremely difficult. FIRE (presumably why most of us are here) is a distant dream.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: use2betrix on November 17, 2015, 05:58:51 AM
Maybe we should add a note to the case study sticky for every person that has a non negotiable tithe to simply reduce their income by the tithing amount and not mention it in the case study? Maybe that would help since it's so difficult to figure out otherwise.

You know, because if someone makes 100k and tithes 10k, that's so much different than a person that makes 90k.

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 17, 2015, 06:14:30 AM
Oh...do you really want a case study where it doesn't affect much? 

Here's ours:

Giving:  $600
Sitar lessons:  $300 (face punch, but my hubby's hobby, it's staying.  He's talented and might be able to teach others as a side gig in retirement)
Food:  $500 (family of four but this is higher than it needs to be)
Household goods:  $80 (rarely use this much)
Going out to eat: $100 (rarely use this much)
Electricity:  $100
Gas: $50
Water: $85
Phone:  $35
Internet: $ZERO - free google fiber
House PITI: $901
Rental PITI: $868
Maintenance for houses: $100
Clothing: $80 (rarely use this each month, but it's there if we need it)
Car Gas:  $70
Car Insurance: $80
School for me: $600 for the next two years
0% Credit Card for house repairs:  $72 - will be paid off in April 2016


Grand total spending (note, includes rental mortgage): $4621

Total after-tax and insurance take home:  $6112

Other 'income' - husband's work gives us about $16K a year in a defined contribution pension account (Vanguard).

This is on one income plus rental income.  I'll be rejoining the workforce in two years when my little guy enters school.  This budget assumes that I might spend $14K on school in the next two years to get my masters in order to teach full time.  I'm trying to find ways to lower this cost but I don't know how or if I can. 

Even with our crazy high expenditures, we are saving around $1500 a month plus getting 16K a year from his employer.  We are giving and saving $36K a year.  When I start working, we should be saving about $66K a year.   Once we reach about $500K (8-10 years from now) I consider us semi-FI and we'll see if one of us wants to quit, or keep working and increase the stash.  Once we are at $750K then we are FI - the sitar lessons won't last forever as his guru is old and at some point we'll payoff mortgages.  I haven't included two bonuses and the two months were we get two paychecks because those usually go for random things like vacations (3K a year) life insurance ($500 a year) property taxes ($600/yr).


There's a TON of other areas where we can cut to bump our savings up - if the giving is non-negotiable, I just don't see why you can't focus on the other multitude of areas:  grill us on our rental (we should sell it), or the sitar, or the crazy high food/restaurant budget.  Ask us what our interest rates are on the houses to make sure we can't optimize there and lower our payments.  Ask if we really spend $100 a month on house maintenance (we don't) and if I really need to go to school to be a teacher (I get my masters and will get paid 4K more a year with it so I think it's worth it, but I could be wrong there).

So many ways to go with this budget to optimize it.  And no, I'm not asking for advice. 

Now had I shown you our budget 7 years ago with an income of 43K and we were giving a solid 10% of gross?  Yes, that would have been more of an issue.  But the answer there was to drastically increase our income, which we did over 7 years. 

I'm fine with not retiring as soon as we could.  I don't see why you care so much about it. It's sweet that you do, I guess, but please don't lose any time or sleep over our choices. 

I think the first time I did post a case study I just left out the giving amount because I knew people would have a problem with it.  People seemed pretty okay with our budget (sans the rental) and I had decreased our income by our tithe amount so no one would 'see' the extra money.  No one chimed in that we should increase our income. 














Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 17, 2015, 06:22:26 AM
Maybe we should add a note to the case study sticky for every person that has a non negotiable tithe to simply reduce their income by the tithing amount and not mention it in the case study? Maybe that would help since it's so difficult to figure out otherwise.

You know, because if someone makes 100k and tithes 10k, that's so much different than a person that makes 90k.

Ha! I think I did that in my first case study and no one told me to go make more money.  I just replied when you were posting, it looks, and mentioned that towards the end. 

I really think this matters more for people making less than 70K a year or so.  Once you go over that, and if you live in a LCOL place, it's just not as big of a deal, in my view.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: justajane on November 17, 2015, 06:40:31 AM
I really think this matters more for people making less than 70K a year or so.  Once you go over that, and if you live in a LCOL place, it's just not as big of a deal, in my view.

Thanks for the case study! I'm not sure why your original caveat ("Oh...do you really want a case study where it doesn't affect much?") was phrased in that way, since I'm a pretty straightforward person. If I asked for examples of case studies, it's because I really wanted to see them!

I guess I should just accept that people who tithe are going to feel attacked or marginalized here, even though it wasn't really my intention.

But your point here is precisely mine, that it matters more when you are making 70K or less. That was the exact same income number I had in my head, so I think we are on the same page, even though evidently it doesn't appear that way to you.

One reason your above budget with tithe works is because you have very low expenses in other areas. No internet, low phones, low food, low utilities, etc.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 17, 2015, 06:43:48 AM
Oh no!  I just missed that you were looking for one where it kind of works.  LOL.  Didn't mean that in a snide way, just in a "oh, she asked for this and I missed it way!"

My case study is full of face-punch worthy items.  I totally see why someone would react negatively to the tithe when we were making much less, because it really was risky from a financial standpoint.  But, in most cases, the answer is "how can you increase income?" if they are dead-set against dropping the giving. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: justajane on November 17, 2015, 06:47:11 AM
Oh no!  I just missed that you were looking for one where it kind of works.  LOL.  Didn't mean that in a snide way, just in a "oh, she asked for this and I missed it way!"

My case study is full of face-punch worthy items.  I totally see why someone would react negatively to the tithe when we were making much less, because it really was risky from a financial standpoint.  But, in most cases, the answer is "how can you increase income?" if they are dead-set against dropping the giving.

No problem, Neustache. :). After you posted, I did comment on your low expenses overall, though. Well done! The low internet, cell phone, food, eating out, utilities, etc. -- all of which are conscious choices on your part -- enable you to give 10%. And that is a choice for which I only have respect.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 17, 2015, 07:12:59 AM
The could be lower, but we are very, very comfortable with this level of spending.  The tithe plus sitar is a nice chunk of change, but since I'll be re-entering the workforce in a few years it will work out okay - we plan to retire by 45, which is ten years sooner than I had hoped for before finding MMM as I had a goal of getting my husband to retire at 55. 

Another perspective on giving money versus time....most people are already doing both.  My husband plays for the church orchestra so there's already 2 hours on Wednesday nights and 2 hours on Sunday mornings that he's giving of his time.  Back in my highest volunteering days, I would work at least 2 hours a week for the children's ministry plus time during the week talking to people or thinking about what's working/not working. 

So when people say "just give your time" realize that they are already probably giving their time, so then they hear "Give MORE time" and that doesn't seem doable. 

ETA - when I think about the practice my husband does outside of rehearsal, his number is closer to 6 hours a week.  Just wanted to add that as it's more accurate and is practically a full day of 'work'.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: shelivesthedream on November 17, 2015, 07:31:37 AM
...case study...

Two reasons why this case study works.

1. Your husband makes a TON of money. Tithing or not, you'd never struggle to cover the basics. I know it's a percentage so it does change with income, but there is actually a number below which basic needs spending cannot go. You pointed this out yourself when you said "Now had I shown you our budget 7 years ago with an income of 43K and we were giving a solid 10% of gross?  Yes, that would have been more of an issue." The people who are posting the problematic tithing case studies are at that stage, when they have too low an income to be able to tithe without something else having to give.

2. You have made your choices and made peace with them. You have put tithing as a considered priority and worked out what else to cut to make that happen. Respect! What you have not done is said, "Oh my, I'm haemorrhaging money left right and centre because I am living way above my means on my inadequate income, but I can't even consider cutting back on tithing (even *consider*, mind you, even if they then decide not to do it) but I still want to retire at 35 with $10 million in the bank." You have made other adjustments (reducing expenses and, as you so rightly pointed out, increasing income) and set your date a little later at 45, and are not expecting the FIRE Fairies to sprinkle their pixie dust and change reality so don't know have to do any extra work.

I have yet to read a response to "Couldn't you cut the tithe?" which was measured, considered, and willing to accept that they would have to reduce the priority of other spending to make that happen. (Maybe it's out there but I've just not come across it!)

Quote
the "organic phoenix and unicorn diet" and the "mega-frappa-ultra-super-duper-ccino" (that was awesome shelivesthedream).

Thanks. :P As discussed on this thread (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/optimism-vs-pessimism-(or-paranoia)/), I'm trying to hold back less...
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: use2betrix on November 17, 2015, 07:48:55 AM
...case study...

Two reasons why this case study works.

1. Your husband makes a TON of money. Tithing or not, you'd never struggle to cover the basics.

Ok, so this makes a good point.

For people that make a "TON" of money as you mention, if they want to tithe, have some lessons, or spend more on groceries, is it as important to beat them up over these things?

For example, if someone makes 150k, do they need to get beaten up because they tithe, like a person who makes 50k would? Or have cable or internet or that matter?

I am reluctant to, and haven't posted a case study for this reason.

On a good month I can save around $7000 if nothing major comes up (major things like my wedding, surgery for my dog, or a mild surgery for cancer for myself). Not too bad for a 27 year old. Some months this year have been $10,000/mo in savings, on a single income two person household.

I haven't posted a case study because I do have some things that are pretty much non-negotiable, such as my $800/mo grocery bill as I'm huge into fitness and eat a ton. In turn, I haven't paid for cable or internet in years, and also live in a 300-400 sq ft 5th wheel.

I know if I posted a case study, I'd get torn apart by people who think I should make major lifestyle changes so I can save $8000/mo instead of $7000/mo, and frankly, at my income level and amount I work I don't find it worthwhile.

That being said, I HAVE made some major changes thanks to this forum, asking questions, and reading other people's case studies. I still learn a lot here, even though I'm not spending 25k/yr like MMM is.

I don't think everyone needs to have the same spending habits nor the same goals, but if everyone here can take something away from this forum and improve their financial badassity, that's still a win to be celebrated.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Pigeon on November 17, 2015, 07:51:59 AM
I think that if there are items people are genuinely unwilling to examine, they should leave them out of their case studies altogether.  I don't see tithing as a privileged class of spending.  If it's off the table, whatever.  Personally, I think leaving major chunks of spending off the table is not a good idea no matter what it is.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 17, 2015, 07:56:59 AM
I think part of this is that people who do give probably need to chime in on threads where the person is over their heads and won't give up the tithe.  I feel like I get the mindset, understand the subtle prosperity gospel that often goes along with it if it's a charismatic/Baptist church (that particular manipulation drives me CRAZY) and understand why they hold onto it. 

I so wish I had posted our budget here 7 years ago (although I don't think this place existed then?) and someone would have thumped me on the head about our income/tithing.  I wouldn't have stopped giving, mind you, but it might have been the reality check we needed to get moving on the income front as we were only saving 3% of our income (company matched it up to 3%).  My husband was in IT with a degree, had multiple years of experience, has great people skills, and when he finally felt forced into looking for a job (not due to money, but due to personality differences) he ended up with the job in 3 weeks with a salary of 60K. Made another move in less than a year and was making 78K and it's only gone up from there.  Had he done that a few years sooner, his compensation now would probably be closer to 120K including the pension and we'd be that much closer to our goals.


Trixr606 - do you have a journal?  I find it great fun to follow people with crazy levels of income.  Nice job!!!  7K a month - wow!!
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: CommonCents on November 17, 2015, 08:08:56 AM
Tithers also need to accept that 10% is A LOT when we're talking about savings percentages. This may mean that they can never retire early. The magic money fairy isn't going to come and sprinkle them with fairy dust to grow their investments. The maths doesn't lie, and they need to make their choices and accept the consequences.

You were the most recent post, but not the only post, on this idea that 10% going to charity or tithing can prevent FIRE. 

I'm going to call bullshit on that.  I don't think tithing alone that would do it, I think it would require multiple non-negotiables.

There are many on this Board who save 50% or more.  Some, like Arebelspy Herbert Deep, save 90%.  Looking at the shockingly simple math, let's see what subtracting 10% from savings does:

20% to 10%: Adds 14 years
25% to 15%: Adds 11 years
30%: 9
35%: 7
40%: 6
45%: 6
50%: 5
55%: 4.5
60%: 4.5
65%: 4
70%: 4
75%: 3.5
80%: 3
85%: 3
90%: Under 2.5

So if the poster can get the savings percentage up (I think from a chart I saw here earlier most mustachians are saving *at least 30%*, and really most at 40%+), you're talking 3-7 years for a values choice.  Heck, many people's "OMY" has been 3+ years!

Yes, it will be long journey for the 20% saver reduced to 10%, but those are really the only ones that might not FIRE.  But save just 5% more through tips gleaned on this forum, reduce the journey to "only" 43 years (20%+5% then after subtracting 10% tithe/charity you're at 15%) and you are still retiring early from "normal" retirement age of 65-68, at 61 (18+43=61).  It's less than most here would want, but it IS early.

That's the awesome part of the message, that small changes can have big cumulative effects.  In fact, I'd venture to say that for these case studies, giving a few tips that saves 5% here and there makes a much more significant impact than a case study at 55%-65% saving, where a bump just shaves off 2 years.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: use2betrix on November 17, 2015, 08:15:39 AM

Trixr606 - do you have a journal?  I find it great fun to follow people with crazy levels of income.  Nice job!!!  7K a month - wow!!

No journal but I've been thinking about starting one, maybe after the new year when I get my wedding out of the way lol. Not terribly expensive but not the most mustachian either. I travel and do contract work all over the country which is why my income is higher. No kids makes it easier but once I have kids and they start school things will drastically change.

Thanks for the journal reminder, I will make that a goal to hold myself accountable after the new year :)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: JLee on November 17, 2015, 08:27:10 AM
Tithers also need to accept that 10% is A LOT when we're talking about savings percentages. This may mean that they can never retire early. The magic money fairy isn't going to come and sprinkle them with fairy dust to grow their investments. The maths doesn't lie, and they need to make their choices and accept the consequences.

You were the most recent post, but not the only post, on this idea that 10% going to charity or tithing can prevent FIRE. 

I'm going to call bullshit on that.  I don't think tithing alone that would do it, I think it would require multiple non-negotiables.

There are many on this Board who save 50% or more.  Some, like Arebelspy, save 90%.  Looking at the shockingly simple math, let's see what subtracting 10% from savings does:

20% to 10%: Adds 14 years
25% to 15%: Adds 11 years
30%: 9
35%: 7
40%: 6
45%: 6
50%: 5
55%: 4.5
60%: 4.5
65%: 4
70%: 4
75%: 3.5
80%: 3
85%: 3
90%: Under 2.5

So if the poster can get the savings percentage up (I think from a chart I saw here earlier most mustachians are saving *at least 30%*, and really most at 40%+), you're talking 3-7 years for a values choice.  Heck, many people's "OMY" has been 3+ years!

Yes, it will be long journey for the 20% saver reduced to 10%, but those are really the only ones that might not FIRE.  But save just 5% more through tips gleaned on this forum, reduce the journey to "only" 43 years (20%+5% then after subtracting 10% tithe/charity you're at 15%) and you are still retiring early from "normal" retirement age of 65-68, at 61 (18+43=61).  It's less than most here would want, but it IS early.

That's the awesome part of the message, that small changes can have big cumulative effects.  In fact, I'd venture to say that for these case studies, giving a few tips that saves 5% here and there makes a much more significant impact than a case study at 55%-65% saving, where a bump just shaves off 2 years.

People saving 50-90% are not generally posting case studies.  The impression I have from reading this thread is most people have no problem with someone tithing if their finances are otherwise in good shape, but this is the situation that becomes frustrating:

(no particular reference, just made up offhand)

Monthly net income, $3000

Tithe (non-negotiable): $300 (or substantially more if calculated off of gross income)
Rent: $800
Phone: $80
Car insurance: $100
Car payment: $300
Food: $400
Utilities: $200
Gym: $100
Gas: $120
Paying $300/mo to $50k student loans at 3%
Paying $250/mo on $5k credit card debt at 11%
Saving $50/mo

Sure, we can knock the phone down a bit, groceries, downsize the car, etc -- but cutting tithe while they are trying to dig themselves out of a hole would be immensely helpful.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: CommonCents on November 17, 2015, 08:32:23 AM
I agree people at the higher end of saving aren't posting case studies, which is why I noted at the end how much a difference the 5% saved can make for the "new" mustachian.  (Trying to stop people from feeling discouraged about their impact.)  At the beginning, saving just 5% more cuts off 6-15 years.  And it's often a snowball effect - seeing the impact of 5% gets them fired up to do more.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: TheOldestYoungMan on November 17, 2015, 08:40:41 AM
I don't understand a required or suggested tithe. All the directives toward a tenth are from the old testament and no where in the new testament is 10% mentioned. The Jewish faith considers tithing as commanded by the old testament a sin.

If Christians are under the "new covenant" which does not require or suggest tithing, and the Jewish faith that still abides by the law of Moses "the old covenant" (aka old testament) considers tithing a sin; then how do Christian churches justify the tithe?

Right, and in my post I referenced the 10%, but that's just thrown out there as a guideline because in the absence of specific instruction we're forced to confront the uncomfortable possibility that Jesus wants us to own nothing.

For those outside the church wondering why the church needs the money, there are some legitimate expenses. 

First off, you have a building that sits empty for much of the day, aside from a small office area in which the pastor/priest and the church staff take care of daily business.  This building tends to be rather large, and the reality is you have to provide some conditioning, to stave off mildew in the South and Freezing in the North.  The electricity/heat bill for churches is a huge expense, usually the largest.

The second highest expense is usually a deferred maintenance type budget.  Churches need new roofs too, there's plumbing, equipment for HVAC, etc.

Cleaning is a large line item, right after services everybody poops (unless you're Catholic, then nobody poops but you).

There's printing costs, supplies, coffee, etc.  Many larger churches also operate a bookstore which will typically operate at a minor loss.

Equipment purchases: tables and chairs for sunday school/bible study/aa meetings wear out and have to be replaced.

So you have all the same expenses associated with any large entertainment complex, but without the 7 day/wk revenue stream.  The comments here about the salary for the pastor are missing the forest for the trees.  No church budget I've ever seen pays the pastor anywhere close to as much as even one of the above costs I've mentioned, and it's arguably the most critical piece of the whole organization to get right.

Not to say there's no hypocrisy, and not to say it couldn't be done better.

An MMM church, for example, would meet in a park.  The "church" would be a van that can hold some audio/visual equipment.  The printing costs would be zero, because everything would be organized online via our church app.  After big church, the various bible study groups would walk/bike to each other's houses.  Every position with the church would be volunteer, on a rotating basis.  Everyone would put money in a hat to cover maintenance/gas for the van.

That's probably what Jesus intended.

From a practical standpoint, for a church you currently attend and enjoy, if you aren't donating money you are literally stealing from everyone else who is.  It'd be like not paying your taxes.  Now, everyone there is cool with you doing that, it's sort of the whole point.  But part of growing as a person and becoming an adult is recognizing that things have to paid for, and church is no different.  You can't build a 20,000 sq. ft. building in downtown anywhere, keep it at 70 degrees and staffed with friendly smiling people for free.  Not in this world, not in any world.

But as someone who from time to time attends church and donates my time/money to it, if you are massively in debt/having trouble saving please don't try and give money to the church.  We've got it covered, get your shit together, you can help so many more people once you yourself are set.

It's that whole thing with breakage.  At a 10% profit margin, how many extra products do I have to sell to make up for even one that breaks? Ten.  You tithing when you can't afford it, and ending up broken, will require ten people who have their shit together to cover.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 17, 2015, 08:45:24 AM
Jlee - just seems if someone is stuck on tithe, then the next step is to get them to increase their income.  We once had a tax preparer mildly encourage us to ditch the tithe to save more money.  Had he instead said "I get this is important to you, but you must make and save more money to retire, if you want help with figuring that out, I'd be happy to help" that would have been much more impactful for us.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 17, 2015, 08:59:14 AM


An MMM church, for example, would meet in a park.  The "church" would be a van that can hold some audio/visual equipment.  The printing costs would be zero, because everything would be organized online via our church app.  After big church, the various bible study groups would walk/bike to each other's houses.  Every position with the church would be volunteer, on a rotating basis.  Everyone would put money in a hat to cover maintenance/gas for the van.

That's probably what Jesus intended.

I would love to see this kind of church.  We couldn't meet in the park year round though, due to Midwest temps, but quite a few churches will meet in bars on Sunday mornings (pay rent) or movie theaters.  I would so love this kind of church.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: JLee on November 17, 2015, 09:05:49 AM
Jlee - just seems if someone is stuck on tithe, then the next step is to get them to increase their income.  We once had a tax preparer mildly encourage us to ditch the tithe to save more money.  Had he instead said "I get this is important to you, but you must make and save more money to retire, if you want help with figuring that out, I'd be happy to help" that would have been much more impactful for us.

I agree - increasing income is generally beneficial in all respects.  I will admit that I am intrigued by people who don't have an inherent drive to increase their income, though...I don't really understand that.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: justajane on November 17, 2015, 09:11:37 AM
@ TheOldestYoungMan
You're making me want to pull out our church budget now. I'm not sure if I saved a copy of ours from the last annual budget meeting, but the entire budget for our small (ca. 150 member church) is 350K. I would say 40% of that is staff (including two pastors, a cleaning person, part-time music director, organist, and part-time secretary), 30%  building expenses, and 30% benevolences (missionaries, charities, etc). I have heard but can't verify that having 30% in benevolences is somewhat high.

My biggest struggle with my church is that the benevolences wouldn't be my first choice. Some of the things we give to I actively disagree with. One reason I will likely never tithe is because I would rather my charitable giving go elsewhere. We have certain charities that we value over the religious-based ones that my church has chosen to donate to.

But, yes, I think it is only right that I donate money towards the salaries of the pastors and the upkeep of the building.

Quote
Cleaning is a large line item, right after services everybody poops (unless you're Catholic, then nobody poops but you)

Thanks for the laugh. We needed some levity here.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 17, 2015, 09:20:52 AM
justajane and others - there is a very specific case study I have in mind when thinking about this thread. The posters were in the PNW, and they were deeply in trouble. Everyone who posted in that thread talked about them being in a hair-on-fire emergency situation. They had kids and they were, like, a month away from living in their car. They had a goodly amount of debt, not much income, only one worked, etc. and they posted this amazing tithe.

I have been looking for this thread and honestly I just can't find it. I didn't comment so it's not in my own history so I can find it.

Does anyone remember that thread? Is it possible to post only the items from the case study and maybe a little bit of text?

I don't want to personalize this at all. I don't care who they were. I am simply interested in making sure we give adequate definition to this thread.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 17, 2015, 09:26:19 AM
Jlee - just seems if someone is stuck on tithe, then the next step is to get them to increase their income.  We once had a tax preparer mildly encourage us to ditch the tithe to save more money.  Had he instead said "I get this is important to you, but you must make and save more money to retire, if you want help with figuring that out, I'd be happy to help" that would have been much more impactful for us.

I agree - increasing income is generally beneficial in all respects.  I will admit that I am intrigued by people who don't have an inherent drive to increase their income, though...I don't really understand that.

I'd say we were content with our income, but my husband did aggressively seek raises and then made very strategic moves once he did move, so I guess we did seek it out.

I was very passive about it when I was working.  I'd change jobs and not even ask about the compensation, if it was a job I wanted.  But that was back DINK days and my income was nice but not necessary.  When I start working again, it will be with a school, and I won't be able to job-hop to make more but then again, I'm looking for a job I find fulfilling and I've been teaching for free for years, so getting paid will be a nice bonus. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: rockstache on November 17, 2015, 09:27:51 AM
I'm really enjoying this mostly respectful discussion.

Theoldestyoungman, that was a great post. I would absolutely love to attend your MMM church (are you starting it soon?? :)  ). Maybe this is the type of attitude that we will look for in our next one (not church hoppers - we just plan to move in the next few years).

Justajane, I can see your struggle with tithing to things you don't agree with. In our church, you can designate on the check where you want your money to go (building, specific missionary, etc.). If you don't specify, then of course it will just go to a general fund. I like how transparent your church is with the finances though, I don't think this is very common.

We do tithe, and we do save quite a bit. I have never posted a case study, but mostly because I think through reading and gradually optimizing, we are giving up our poor spending habits on our own time line. Our 'tithe' is divided (unequally) between our church, a ministry that my husband chose, a charity that we chose together, and a hospice charity which friends of mine run. We also keep a small portion of it for things that we hear of throughout the year that we feel compelled to give to, usually on a local level. We still give in part to the church because of the building/utility/salary requirements that were mentioned by some people above. All in all, I feel that the obligation (for lack of better word) to tithe is a private one between us and God, and is not an agreement between myself and the church that I happen to attend.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: rockstache on November 17, 2015, 09:39:46 AM
justajane and others - there is a very specific case study I have in mind when thinking about this thread. The posters were in the PNW, and they were deeply in trouble. Everyone who posted in that thread talked about them being in a hair-on-fire emergency situation. They had kids and they were, like, a month away from living in their car. They had a goodly amount of debt, not much income, only one worked, etc. and they posted this amazing tithe.

I have been looking for this thread and honestly I just can't find it. I didn't comment so it's not in my own history so I can find it.

Does anyone remember that thread? Is it possible to post only the items from the case study and maybe a little bit of text?

I don't want to personalize this at all. I don't care who they were. I am simply interested in making sure we give adequate definition to this thread.

I don't remember who it was, but I do remember reading it. I don't believe in tithing while you owe. In my mind, you are then choosing to prioritize one part of the Bible over another. Romans 13:8a, "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another;" I would personally make an exception for a house (if I wanted one), but for the people that are overspending in their lives to stick it on a CC or get bailed out by a family member...no. Just no.

Now I'm getting into personal interpretation here, so for those of you who tithe with a car payment/student loan with a low interest rate etc... please don't take this as a criticism. This is just my own personal philosophy, and as we are discussing religion, it is personal. I won't criticize the way you interpret it for your own life.

If someone can't give up tithe because it doesn't fit with your beliefs then fine, but as Justajane said previously, then they must be willing to cut the cell phone/gym/special diet etc.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Spork on November 17, 2015, 09:44:24 AM

Forgive me if this is a heretical question.  I'm very much not religious, but I don't mean this in a snarky way. 

In a real hair-on-fire emergency where you're about to go underwater and lose the house/car/kids/etc, doesn't "God understand"?  What I mean is, if you truly believe in God and tithing ... can you not work out an IOU to God?  I.e. I don't mean "don't pay it".  I mean: "keep track, pay it in full in the future (possibly with interest)".
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: JLee on November 17, 2015, 09:46:50 AM
justajane and others - there is a very specific case study I have in mind when thinking about this thread. The posters were in the PNW, and they were deeply in trouble. Everyone who posted in that thread talked about them being in a hair-on-fire emergency situation. They had kids and they were, like, a month away from living in their car. They had a goodly amount of debt, not much income, only one worked, etc. and they posted this amazing tithe.

I have been looking for this thread and honestly I just can't find it. I didn't comment so it's not in my own history so I can find it.

Does anyone remember that thread? Is it possible to post only the items from the case study and maybe a little bit of text?

I don't want to personalize this at all. I don't care who they were. I am simply interested in making sure we give adequate definition to this thread.

I'm not sure if this is the one you're thinking of, but it is relevant (rephrased to be concise):

Quote
65k/yr single income, wife does not work. 3 kids at home.

Living rent-free in dad's house's basement (who's waiting for them to move out so he can sell his house and retire).

$22k in credit card debt.

$1000 in savings.

Tithing 10% and unwilling to compromise.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: arebelspy on November 17, 2015, 09:53:31 AM
There are many on this Board who save 50% or more.  Some, like Arebelspy, save 90%.

Hah, thanks for the compliment, but I'm not nearly that badass.  :)

Our long term savings rate was about 73% (73.37% from the five year period when I started tracking our spending in April 2010 through right before we FIRE'd in June 2015, and 73.34% from the 12 months before FIRE, so basically exactly in line with our 5-year savings rate).

I think we could have pushed it to north of 80%, maybe even 85%, if we wanted to try to cut our spending, but I don't think I could have hit 90%, on our income, without paying off our residence or something like that.  And cutting our spending was never something I was interested in--I like my facepunch iPhone plan, and our ridiculous luxuries.  :)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 17, 2015, 10:01:47 AM

I'm not sure if this is the one you're thinking of, but it is relevant (rephrased to be concise):

Quote
65k/yr single income, wife does not work. 3 kids at home.

Living rent-free in dad's house's basement (who's waiting for them to move out so he can sell his house and retire).

$22k in credit card debt.

$1000 in savings.

Tithing 10% and unwilling to compromise.


Okay, in the above example, after tithe/taxes, they still should have had like 3.5-4K in income each month, no rent, where was the rest of it going?!? 

With no rent they should have been able to live off of 2K and still save/payoff 2K a month.  The tithe slows them down but the bigger problem is spending. 

So when everyone harps on the tithe, and they won't budge, hopefully people switch gears and attack the other areas.  The tithe is not the problem in the above scenario - spending decisions past and present are. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: CommonCents on November 17, 2015, 10:02:22 AM
There are many on this Board who save 50% or more.  Some, like Arebelspy, save 90%.

Hah, thanks for the compliment, but I'm not nearly that badass.  :)

Our long term savings rate was about 73% (73.37% from the five year period when I started tracking our spending in April 2010 through right before we FIRE'd in June 2015, and 73.34% from the 12 months before FIRE, so basically exactly in line with our 5-year savings rate).

I think we could have pushed it to north of 80%, maybe even 85%, if we wanted to try to cut our spending, but I don't think I could have hit 90%, on our income, without paying off our residence or something like that.  And cutting our spending was never something I was interested in--I like my facepunch iPhone plan, and our ridiculous luxuries.  :)

Hmm, I thought you hit 85-90% regularly.  You have now greatly disappointed me and I will just have to look up to Herbert Deep (and only Herbert) now! 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Goldielocks on November 17, 2015, 10:15:56 AM
A lot of people have third rails in their budget:
- Pets (particularly unhealthy ones requiring special diets and vet visits
- Children (particularly education/activities)
- Cable or other form of entertainment (e.g. horses, sailing, D&D meetups)
- Housing location or size
- and, yes, tithing.

To borrow from the bible for this conversation, let the one w/o mustachian "sin" (luxuries) cast the first stone.  We all have our own form of luxuries in the budget, be it fancy cheese or tithing.  The goal is to identify the priorities and spend accordingly, rather than wasting our money on things that aren't important to us.  I myself have an unmustachian house in a fancy neighborhood in an expensive town (which costs more than tithing 10% would) - but I love it, and we spend little on entertainment, cars (we drive an '02 Honda Civic), pets, and have no kids.

While there are aberrations (and yes, they are frustrating), for those who are tithing, there usually are still plenty of other areas to optimize.  I've actually felt that on the whole, those who tithe are so determined to protect it that they are more open to other suggestions than others on the board who don't tithe.  (That said I haven't read a recent case study story which could be sparking this conversation.)  It's certainly worthwhile to question if it is necessary or if, for example, the poster can donate time instead, but after the poster has done that evaluation, it seems to waste time to continue to debate the point.  And if there truly is nothing else that can be offered to be cut, well, all you need to do is say that.  The poster can then decide if they want to reevaluate if no one is able to otherwise help them.

btw, I'm not particularly religious but my sister who is fairly active in her church, got her current job through a church recommendation.  She had interviewed, but they hadn't yet decided, when a church member heard and said, "I know the CEO" called him up and told him to hire her, and she was soon after.

To the earlier poster equating unwillingness to pay tax as coming mostly from the Americans, it just may be a factor of more Americans in general posting here, than being indicative of anything more.  I'm American, I live in a state known for high taxes ("Taxachusetts"), and I'm perfectly happy that it goes to pay for my roads, health care (wish it covered more), libraries, public education, etc.
You forgot food eating choices on your list.

We have seen many insist on a certain diet as non negotiable even if it is a major cost.

One good thing from this thread.. After reading it I tripled my donation this week.   Good to be reminded how blessed I am to be able to think about FIRE.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: arebelspy on November 17, 2015, 10:16:25 AM
Hmm, I thought you hit 85-90% regularly.  You have now greatly disappointed me and I will just have to look up to Herbert Deep (and only Herbert) now!

Good choice!  THAT guy is badass!  :D
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: JLee on November 17, 2015, 10:17:58 AM

I'm not sure if this is the one you're thinking of, but it is relevant (rephrased to be concise):

Quote
65k/yr single income, wife does not work. 3 kids at home.

Living rent-free in dad's house's basement (who's waiting for them to move out so he can sell his house and retire).

$22k in credit card debt.

$1000 in savings.

Tithing 10% and unwilling to compromise.


Okay, in the above example, after tithe/taxes, they still should have had like 3.5-4K in income each month, no rent, where was the rest of it going?!? 

With no rent they should have been able to live off of 2K and still save/payoff 2K a month.  The tithe slows them down but the bigger problem is spending. 

So when everyone harps on the tithe, and they won't budge, hopefully people switch gears and attack the other areas.  The tithe is not the problem in the above scenario - spending decisions past and present are.

The case study was not very thorough - but I disagree with you here. If you're bumming off of your dad while he's waiting for you to move your family of 5 out so he can sell his house *and* you have $22,000 in credit card debt, that should be your priority.  Abusing your parent's charity so you can donate to others is misguided. Paying off debt at $2k/mo will still take eleven months or more.

As for "past spending decisions" being the problem, no shit! That doesn't mean that current misguided priorities just vanish.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 17, 2015, 10:46:40 AM

I'm not sure if this is the one you're thinking of, but it is relevant (rephrased to be concise):

Quote
65k/yr single income, wife does not work. 3 kids at home.

Living rent-free in dad's house's basement (who's waiting for them to move out so he can sell his house and retire).

$22k in credit card debt.

$1000 in savings.

Tithing 10% and unwilling to compromise.


Okay, in the above example, after tithe/taxes, they still should have had like 3.5-4K in income each month, no rent, where was the rest of it going?!? 

With no rent they should have been able to live off of 2K and still save/payoff 2K a month.  The tithe slows them down but the bigger problem is spending. 

So when everyone harps on the tithe, and they won't budge, hopefully people switch gears and attack the other areas.  The tithe is not the problem in the above scenario - spending decisions past and present are.

The case study was not very thorough - but I disagree with you here. If you're bumming off of your dad while he's waiting for you to move your family of 5 out so he can sell his house *and* you have $22,000 in credit card debt, that should be your priority.  Abusing your parent's charity so you can donate to others is misguided. Paying off debt at $2k/mo will still take eleven months or more.

As for "past spending decisions" being the problem, no shit! That doesn't mean that current misguided priorities just vanish.

I don't think that's it. This one was really, really bad. It was like they were about to go down in flames, husband had a daily commute that included having to pay for ferries across Puget Sound, was driving some big vehicle that got terrible MPG, had a buttload of debt, something bad about housing about to happen (like they expected to lose their house and that's why they posted).  I seem to recall that they were putting off payback of at least one of their debts.

When I read it, it looked to me like they were mere weeks away from having to live at the Salvation Army. It was an extreme case study and people fairly well JUMPED into it calling the hair-on-fire alarm. Yet they were totally enforcing the "don't touch my tithe, dude" line.

Now that I put it this way, it occurs to me the money may not have been a tithe at all, but the monthly cost of their Drug of Choice and they just called it a tithe in order to keep us off that item. So we could dispense the magic beans, that is. :-)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: JLee on November 17, 2015, 10:49:18 AM
Ah, yeah that sounds like a different one. This one had a 40 mile commute, but living free in a house that had a $2k/mo mortgage. If they had rented their own apartment at $1k/mo, their debt payoff would be stretched to multiple years..but it wasn't quite as bad as the situation you describe.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 17, 2015, 10:52:34 AM
Ah, yeah that sounds like a different one. This one had a 40 mile commute, but living free in a house that had a $2k/mo mortgage. If they had rented their own apartment at $1k/mo, their debt payoff would be stretched to multiple years..but it wasn't quite as bad as the situation you describe.

JLee, you get where I'm going with this, right? The original question of this thread has nothing to do with challenging tithes on a religious basis or challenging the spiritual need to do so.

The question really is "WTF do you do with an expense that no one's standing on your head for, when you are quite literally going down the tubes?"
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: JLee on November 17, 2015, 10:53:59 AM
Ah, yeah that sounds like a different one. This one had a 40 mile commute, but living free in a house that had a $2k/mo mortgage. If they had rented their own apartment at $1k/mo, their debt payoff would be stretched to multiple years..but it wasn't quite as bad as the situation you describe.

JLee, you get where I'm going with this, right? The original question of this thread has nothing to do with challenging tithes on a religious basis or challenging the spiritual need to do so.

The question really is "WTF do you do with an expense that no one's standing on your head for, when you are quite literally going down the tubes?"

Absolutely -- it boils down to prioritization of income, regardless of its destination.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 17, 2015, 10:55:16 AM
I agree with you JLee about not taking advantage of his dad while giving, but this seems like an extreme example in what is probably a HCOL area with an enabling parent.  Doesn't seem to be the norm when tithing it concerned. But then again, I stopped hanging out in the case study area because it got boring.  Maybe it's full of basement dwelling non-rent paying tithers.

I'd probably encourage/admonish him with a choice verse from Timothy.  But again, I know which verses to use because I am one of them (muahahaha).  I think in most cases, unless you are a tither and understand the psychology behind it, it's probably best just to say your piece and then move on to other areas where they can optimize, if your goal is to help them.  There are many reasons people tithe - guilt - misapplication of historical tithe - superstition (prosperity gospel) -  fear of losing membership/privileges if they stop - false sense of superiority for being so humble/content that they don't use all their income.  You don't get it?  Fine.  Let the tithers/believers in the group deal with it.  Otherwise they will look at your negative reaction to their tithe as proof that they are doing the right thing because they are feeling pushback by nonbelievers/people who don't believe in their interpretation of the Bible.  Don't play into it by harping on it. 

 I'll be as sweet as possible while I beat them on the head with the Bible.  Bible-thumps instead of face-punches?

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 17, 2015, 11:02:48 AM

I don't think that's it. This one was really, really bad. It was like they were about to go down in flames, husband had a daily commute that included having to pay for ferries across Puget Sound, was driving some big vehicle that got terrible MPG, had a buttload of debt, something bad about housing about to happen (like they expected to lose their house and that's why they posted).  I seem to recall that they were putting off payback of at least one of their debts.

When I read it, it looked to me like they were mere weeks away from having to live at the Salvation Army. It was an extreme case study and people fairly well JUMPED into it calling the hair-on-fire alarm. Yet they were totally enforcing the "don't touch my tithe, dude" line.

Now that I put it this way, it occurs to me the money may not have been a tithe at all, but the monthly cost of their Drug of Choice and they just called it a tithe in order to keep us off that item. So we could dispense the magic beans, that is. :-)

I've seen a similar situation play out and the people lost their house and ended up living with parents.  I had tried to counsel them to cut back spending on kid's activities/gym membership etc. and they just wouldn't do it.  They lost their house and ended up buying a homesteading type property in town with his mom. 

It all ended up fine.  He's making more money now, she gardens and keeps chickens, and the kids outgrew the expensive stuff that cost them money.  They didn't live on the street, nor would they have, because church members would have taken them in (and given them bible-coated face punches).

Really, in these cases, I think they just need to lose the house, hit bottom, and start over.  If they are that set on tithing, let them tithe while living in a fellow church members basement who also agrees and understands the practice.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: JLee on November 17, 2015, 11:03:44 AM
I agree with you JLee about not taking advantage of his dad while giving, but this seems like an extreme example in what is probably a HCOL area with an enabling parent.  Doesn't seem to be the norm when tithing it concerned. But then again, I stopped hanging out in the case study area because it got boring.  Maybe it's full of basement dwelling non-rent paying tithers.

I'd probably encourage/admonish him with a choice verse from Timothy.  But again, I know which verses to use because I am one of them (muahahaha).  I think in most cases, unless you are a tither and understand the psychology behind it, it's probably best just to say your piece and then move on to other areas where they can optimize, if your goal is to help them.  There are many reasons people tithe - guilt - misapplication of historical tithe - superstition (prosperity gospel) -  fear of losing membership/privileges if they stop - false sense of superiority for being so humble/content that they don't use all their income.  You don't get it?  Fine.  Let the tithers/believers in the group deal with it.  Otherwise they will look at your negative reaction to their tithe as proof that they are doing the right thing because they are feeling pushback by nonbelievers/people who don't believe in their interpretation of the Bible.  Don't play into it by harping on it. 

 I'll be as sweet as possible while I beat them on the head with the Bible.  Bible-thumps instead of face-punches?

I started tithing when I started working at 11 years old (or possibly earlier from gifts/etc..I don't remember too well). I am no longer religious, but I am very well aware of the reasons.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Neustache on November 17, 2015, 11:22:35 AM

But you aren't a current believer.  Bottom line is your words won't hold as much weight as someone who currently believes, and you probably know that if you grew up in the culture. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: ditheca on November 17, 2015, 11:52:45 AM
OT, I'm not religious, but I can certainly see how tithing might be a flashpoint - is this done at the individual church/place-of-worship level, or some national body? Since we're talking money here, is this contribution tax-deductible? Where I grew up we have a relatively large Mormon population which I believe does tithing, but I never learned how it works.

Mormons are asked to donate 10% of their 'income' as a tithe.  There is no further official explanation of 'income' or how to calculate it (gross, net, etc.).  If you want to serve a mission or enter a temple, you'll need to be able to say that you have fully paid your tithing.  That conversation occurs privately between an individual and the local bishop.  Other members have no reason to know who in the congregation pays tithing.  Mormon tithes are centralized, they all go to headquarters and then are paid back to the local congregation according to annual budget requirements.

Yes, as a contribution to a non-profit, tithes are tax-deductible in the USA.

Source: I am a Mormon.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: APowers on November 17, 2015, 12:03:34 PM
I appreciate and agree with shelivesthedream's perspective:

Or, maybe it's because Christians have a duty to help the poor. The poor are a huge part of the gospels. Jesus tells his disciples to sell all they have and give it to the poor. In that case they need to consider whether their labour would also help the poor, and whether "the church" and "the poor" are the same thing. A few of the posters need to realise that they ARE the poor! If they are in huge debt with a large family and only one income, THEY are the people that OTHER people need to be helping! They should not be digging themselves in further! I have never quite understood how for many Christians money-borrowers are totally fine while moneylenders are definitely evil. Also, as others have mentioned, "the poor" are helped by the state these days, so they should reconsider whether their tithing is still applicable.

Tithers also need to accept that 10% is A LOT when we're talking about savings percentages. This may mean that they can never retire early. The magic money fairy isn't going to come and sprinkle them with fairy dust to grow their investments. The maths doesn't lie, and they need to make their choices and accept the consequences.

This is why I explicitly asked for examples in which the tithe does work, because a large part of me wants it to work for families. Unfortunately, I have mostly seen case studies in which it doesn't work. The couple is drowning in debt and have no savings. I tend to want to throw myself into those case studies because I want to help and I want to see them live a more secure financial and less stressed life. But the tithe makes getting ahead with a large family and a lower income extremely difficult. FIRE (presumably why most of us are here) is a distant dream.

With regard to the "tithe is to help the poor"

Being a person who does "tithe"...

I don't give my "tithe" to church. Instead, it goes into a checking account, to be spent on such things as I "hear" God tell me to spend it on. So far, it has paid a co-worker's utility bill, been loaned to another co-worker (and repaid); currently, there's about $11.5k in the account, and it is our emergency fund, because (unless directed otherwise) my dependents (wife/kids) being homeless/destitute is THE poverty situation that I know how best to help, and the best help is prevention.
---------------
My case study looks like:

Net income: ~$1,900/mo

Expenses: $850/mo
"Tithe": $85/mo*

*Yes, my "tithe" is based on my budget rather than my (variable) income. I used to do it out of every paycheck, but now I get check + cash tips, and I bailed on doing the funky math for something more straightforward and easy. Also, I try not to call it a "tithe" (notice how it's in scare quotes....), 'cause technically it's not, but it is effectively the same thing, so....
-----------------------------

And this works for us. If all goes according to plan, we ("we" meaning me, wife, and 2 kids) will be FIREd when I'm 35 (I'm 27 now).
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: K-ice on November 17, 2015, 12:54:22 PM
I wondered if the tithe was 10% of gross income or 10% of paycheck.

It probably depends on the church.  10% of gross would be a large blow since considerable taxes and pension come off of my paycheck.

For someone in debt, I would double check the expectations.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: smilla on November 17, 2015, 04:37:17 PM
MMM is about optimizing your life choices, reducing your consumption and achieving FIRE, more or less in that order. And no doubt each forum member defines and weights these goals somewhat differently in their own lives.

As a tither (~50/50 Church/charities) of average income, I accept that FIRE will take 5-7 years longer than if I had invested that money. This is fine because FIRE is not a first priority, and in fact its only importance is in how it can help me achieve other priorities (which disciplines like tithing also help to achieve). Other tithers, pet owners, health nuts, fill-in-the-blanks, may feel similar. 

In case studies for persons who tithe with little to no consumer debt, making the OP's points that if they want to FIRE 1) they'll need to be more hard-core in cutting back (or earning more), and 2) it will still take longer than if they were investing their tithe, is important. Suggesting, as many have posted, that they consider substituting time/service for some/all of their tithe is also fine.

Where the tither has significant consumer debt, it would be reasonable to (gently) point out that, because money is fungible, they are not actually tithing at all - they are spending their full income and then borrowing to give God the "first fruits" of their labour. Maybe suggest they stop giving temporarily and go hard-core to get their debt paid off ASAP, so that they can then tithe in truth (and within their means).

After these points/suggestions are made though, move on to dissect the rest of the budget, accepting that, while the poster may want to reduce expenses, earliest FIRE is not their priority. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: boarder42 on November 17, 2015, 04:45:32 PM
I think the biggest issue most non tithers have with tithing on these forums. Is there is no way to optimize it. When you say I spend 10%of my salary on something that can't be optimized.

Just about everything else you spend money on can be optimized to the nth degree.

Stop using things like pets and hobbies etc to prove a point that it's the same as having cable. Guess what it isn't. The only way its the same is that it's a choice. The cable company or vet or health food store doesn't ask for 10% of your income. Each of these things are as expensive as you make them and can all be optimized. A non negotiable 10% of your income tithe is not optimizable. And that's a choice you make but its not close to the same choices others male to have pets or choose to eat healthier foods bc these can be optimized.

If your tithe was attached to your spending level vs income level then I think this would have a lot smaller impact on how people react who don't tithe.

But to each his own.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: shelivesthedream on November 17, 2015, 04:58:48 PM
Jlee - just seems if someone is stuck on tithe, then the next step is to get them to increase their income.  We once had a tax preparer mildly encourage us to ditch the tithe to save more money.  Had he instead said "I get this is important to you, but you must make and save more money to retire, if you want help with figuring that out, I'd be happy to help" that would have been much more impactful for us.

I agree - increasing income is generally beneficial in all respects.  I will admit that I am intrigued by people who don't have an inherent drive to increase their income, though...I don't really understand that.

I am a low earner (freelance creative) who is not actively chasing a higher income. I come to the MMM forum so that I don't need a higher income, but can live and even save on what I make now. I'm not hustling for more work or starting a side gig - I'd rather have the free time and flexibility I have now. I am very on board with not working for my whole life but I have made a conscious decision not to frontload my working hours but instead to spread them out more thinly. Mustachianism gives me security (savings and low expenses) and the ability to make choices without putting money into the equation (e.g. turning down work that I know will suck). Why would I try to increase my income when the trade off is more stress and less "me and my interests" time?
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: smilla on November 17, 2015, 05:13:19 PM
I think the biggest issue most non tithers have with tithing on these forums. Is there is no way to optimize it. When you say I spend 10%of my salary on something that can't be optimized.

Just about everything else you spend money on can be optimized to the nth degree.

Stop using things like pets and hobbies etc to prove a point that it's the same as having cable. Guess what it isn't. The only way its the same is that it's a choice. The cable company or vet or health food store doesn't ask for 10% of your income. Each of these things are as expensive as you make them and can all be optimized. A non negotiable 10% of your income tithe is not optimizable. And that's a choice you make but its not close to the same choices others male to have pets or choose to eat healthier foods bc these can be optimized.

To clarify, I meant they might also feel that FIRE isn't the main priority, not that the cost or optimization potential was comparable.   

True, 10% of income is 10% of income, but on the plus side, my tithe will go down proportionally with my income (amount I withdraw from investment accounts) when I FIRE on ~40% of my current annual earnings.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Sailor Sam on November 17, 2015, 06:08:35 PM
I wondered if the tithe was 10% of gross income or 10% of paycheck.

It probably depends on the church.  10% of gross would be a large blow since considerable taxes and pension come off of my paycheck.

For someone in debt, I would double check the expectations.

How to calculate a tithe is debated even within the faith community. In the end, I think the response should be left the individual. However, I've heard people in authority answer parishioners with this little probe: would you rather have net blessings, or gross blessings? Hearing it makes me pretty angry, but that's probably my own issue.

Where the tither has significant consumer debt, it would be reasonable to (gently) point out that, because money is fungible, they are not actually tithing at all - they are spending their full income and then borrowing to give God the "first fruits" of their labour. Maybe suggest they stop giving temporarily and go hard-core to get their debt paid off ASAP, so that they can then tithe in truth (and within their means).

I really like how you phrased that, smilla. Seems like a really good starting platform when someone is in huge debt, but also wants to continue donations.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: JLee on November 17, 2015, 07:01:02 PM
I wondered if the tithe was 10% of gross income or 10% of paycheck.

It probably depends on the church.  10% of gross would be a large blow since considerable taxes and pension come off of my paycheck.

For someone in debt, I would double check the expectations.

How to calculate a tithe is debated even within the faith community. In the end, I think the response should be left the individual. However, I've heard people in authority answer parishioners with this little probe: would you rather have net blessings, or gross blessings? Hearing it makes me pretty angry, but that's probably my own issue.

Where the tither has significant consumer debt, it would be reasonable to (gently) point out that, because money is fungible, they are not actually tithing at all - they are spending their full income and then borrowing to give God the "first fruits" of their labour. Maybe suggest they stop giving temporarily and go hard-core to get their debt paid off ASAP, so that they can then tithe in truth (and within their means).

I really like how you phrased that, smilla. Seems like a really good starting platform when someone is in huge debt, but also wants to continue donations.

I'd rather have net blessings because then all the tax is taken care of already. :D
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: sonjak on November 17, 2015, 08:28:49 PM

I'd rather have net blessings because then all the tax is taken care of already. :D

LOL
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 17, 2015, 11:02:09 PM
Where the tither has significant consumer debt, it would be reasonable to (gently) point out that, because money is fungible, they are not actually tithing at all - they are spending their full income and then borrowing to give God the "first fruits" of their labour. Maybe suggest they stop giving temporarily and go hard-core to get their debt paid off ASAP, so that they can then tithe in truth (and within their means).

That might be the best response in the whole thread.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on November 18, 2015, 04:39:14 AM
Where the tither has significant consumer debt, it would be reasonable to (gently) point out that, because money is fungible, they are not actually tithing at all - they are spending their full income and then borrowing to give God the "first fruits" of their labour. Maybe suggest they stop giving temporarily and go hard-core to get their debt paid off ASAP, so that they can then tithe in truth (and within their means).

That might be the best response in the whole thread.

Agreed, this captures how I feel and is phrased much better than I could have put it.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Gyosho on November 18, 2015, 08:34:34 AM
One niggling doubt I have about this topic is that people are making the assumption that the income stays the same whether you tithe or don't tithe. Thus the argument for not tithing is that you will be able to save/invest what you could have tithed and therefore will have more money for spending/tithing/etc. in the future.

But what if, after tithing (or donating to charity) your income actually increases past the point of what it would have been if you had not tithed/donated? You would tithe/donate and end up with more money than you would have had if you had not tithed/donated.

Surely this is one of the religious arguments for tithing - God smiles on the giver; God's smiles = greater income.

Or to take a non-religious view - giving money to charity produces a psychological change in the giver than leads to greater awareness of connectedness to the whole and the giver's contribution to the greater good which naturally includes the giver him/herself who is therefore rewarded with increased self-esteem which leads to promotions at work.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: kite on November 18, 2015, 08:55:03 AM
One niggling doubt I have about this topic is that people are making the assumption that the income stays the same whether you tithe or don't tithe. Thus the argument for not tithing is that you will be able to save/invest what you could have tithed and therefore will have more money for spending/tithing/etc. in the future.

But what if, after tithing (or donating to charity) your income actually increases past the point of what it would have been if you had not tithed/donated? You would tithe/donate and end up with more money than you would have had if you had not tithed/donated.

Surely this is one of the religious arguments for tithing - God smiles on the giver; God's smiles = greater income.

Or to take a non-religious view - giving money to charity produces a psychological change in the giver than leads to greater awareness of connectedness to the whole and the giver's contribution to the greater good which naturally includes the giver him/herself who is therefore rewarded with increased self-esteem which leads to promotions at work.

God smiles = greater income is a theological trap.  It's a popular theme amongst prosperity gospel preachers, but is actually unsupported by Christian scripture. 
Just want to clarify. 
No comment about other religious traditions that include tithing.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: johnny847 on November 18, 2015, 09:28:01 AM
One niggling doubt I have about this topic is that people are making the assumption that the income stays the same whether you tithe or don't tithe. Thus the argument for not tithing is that you will be able to save/invest what you could have tithed and therefore will have more money for spending/tithing/etc. in the future.

But what if, after tithing (or donating to charity) your income actually increases past the point of what it would have been if you had not tithed/donated? You would tithe/donate and end up with more money than you would have had if you had not tithed/donated.

Surely this is one of the religious arguments for tithing - God smiles on the giver; God's smiles = greater income.

Or to take a non-religious view - giving money to charity produces a psychological change in the giver than leads to greater awareness of connectedness to the whole and the giver's contribution to the greater good which naturally includes the giver him/herself who is therefore rewarded with increased self-esteem which leads to promotions at work.

Sounds like the prosperity gospel to me.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Milizard on November 18, 2015, 09:37:18 AM
Might work if you're in sales, but how about constantly struggling and being in debt up to your eyeballs lowers your self esteem as well as your credit rating and increases stress, making it harder to get a better job or make more money.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 18, 2015, 10:18:52 AM
But what if, after tithing (or donating to charity) your income actually increases past the point of what it would have been if you had not tithed/donated? You would tithe/donate and end up with more money than you would have had if you had not tithed/donated.

Surely this is one of the religious arguments for tithing - God smiles on the giver; God's smiles = greater income.

Or to take a non-religious view - giving money to charity produces a psychological change in the giver than leads to greater awareness of connectedness to the whole and the giver's contribution to the greater good which naturally includes the giver him/herself who is therefore rewarded with increased self-esteem which leads to promotions at work.

Sounds like the prosperity gospel to me.

Atheists who I count as dear friends regularly rant about this and they couldn't be more right.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Goldielocks on November 18, 2015, 10:58:20 AM
One niggling doubt I have about this topic is that people are making the assumption that the income stays the same whether you tithe or don't tithe. Thus the argument for not tithing is that you will be able to save/invest what you could have tithed and therefore will have more money for spending/tithing/etc. in the future.

But what if, after tithing (or donating to charity) your income actually increases past the point of what it would have been if you had not tithed/donated? You would tithe/donate and end up with more money than you would have had if you had not tithed/donated.

Surely this is one of the religious arguments for tithing - God smiles on the giver; God's smiles = greater income.

Or to take a non-religious view - giving money to charity produces a psychological change in the giver than leads to greater awareness of connectedness to the whole and the giver's contribution to the greater good which naturally includes the giver him/herself who is therefore rewarded with increased self-esteem which leads to promotions at work.

I think this is way off track....

Volunteering and donating (within your means) helps tremendously to increase our own happiness with life, and also, to greatly prioritize helping others and being in the moment over "things" for ourselves.   I completely agree that everyone in debt should be giving something back, even if it is just $10, or better yet, being a volunteer soccer coach.  The renewed focus on thankfulness, others, and life beyond "things" is the prosperity that comes back to you, not money.

So, giving leads to a happier, MMM lifestyle of reduced consumerism and taking joy in everyday experiences as well as spending where we will get the most from it. 

Tithing, often portrayed as a command to give 10% (non negotiable), is not quite the same as giving generously, to your means. .
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: K-ice on November 18, 2015, 01:16:06 PM
I think the big problem is when someone is in debt and is still paying a tithe.

I am not really versed in this, but isn't holding debt frowned upon in the bible?

Something like you are a slave if you borrow, you should pay it back etc.

And if money is lent, shouldn't it be interest free?

We are living in very different times and I think that prioritizing paying off debt over the tithe makes common sense and could also be justified by the bible.   

"Should people borrow to do the work of the Lord? If a person knowingly violates biblical principles, it’s wrong, no matter how noble the purpose. It is unlikely that God would direct anyone to violate His Word to accomplish His work. Since borrowing is not God’s best for His people, why would He endorse borrowing in order for His work to be accomplished?" ( http://www.cbn.com/finance/crownborrowingquestions.aspx?mobile=false (http://www.cbn.com/finance/crownborrowingquestions.aspx?mobile=false))

These quotes were also interesting:


http://www.openbible.info/topics/borrowing_money (http://www.openbible.info/topics/borrowing_money)


After all debts are paid, it makes sense to tithe,  be generous and potentially slow down your FIRE plans based on your faith.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Vertical Mode on November 18, 2015, 02:23:36 PM
Where the tither has significant consumer debt, it would be reasonable to (gently) point out that, because money is fungible, they are not actually tithing at all - they are spending their full income and then borrowing to give God the "first fruits" of their labour. Maybe suggest they stop giving temporarily and go hard-core to get their debt paid off ASAP, so that they can then tithe in truth (and within their means).

That might be the best response in the whole thread.

Agreed, this captures how I feel and is phrased much better than I could have put it.

smilla, not sure what it is that you do, but I think you may have missed your calling as a diplomat :-)

Speaking someone else's language is a good way to frame the issue in a way that will resonate. Our rational brains may want it to be purely a math problem, but it seems to me that tithing is driven more by emotional/social/cultural factors. When something is deemed "untouchable", we should remember that it may not necessarily be a choice that has been derived from mathematical analysis.

I think the big problem is when someone is in debt and is still paying a tithe.

I am not really versed in this, but isn't holding debt frowned upon in the bible?

Something like you are a slave if you borrow, you should pay it back etc.

And if money is lent, shouldn't it be interest free?

We are living in very different times and I think that prioritizing paying off debt over the tithe makes common sense and could also be justified by the bible.   

"Should people borrow to do the work of the Lord? If a person knowingly violates biblical principles, it’s wrong, no matter how noble the purpose. It is unlikely that God would direct anyone to violate His Word to accomplish His work. Since borrowing is not God’s best for His people, why would He endorse borrowing in order for His work to be accomplished?" ( http://www.cbn.com/finance/crownborrowingquestions.aspx?mobile=false (http://www.cbn.com/finance/crownborrowingquestions.aspx?mobile=false))

These quotes were also interesting:


http://www.openbible.info/topics/borrowing_money (http://www.openbible.info/topics/borrowing_money)


After all debts are paid, it makes sense to tithe,  be generous and potentially slow down your FIRE plans based on your faith.


Somewhat relevant here because you bring up the subject of interest on debts - are you familiar with Islamic banking/Sharia-compliant banking laws? Apparently the Quran specifically prohibits charging interest (usury), so Sharia-compliant banking requires that banks essentially be structured as a giant collective profit-sharing arrangement to get around this.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_banking_and_finance
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: TheOldestYoungMan on November 19, 2015, 03:31:58 PM
I think the big problem is when someone is in debt and is still paying a tithe.

I am not really versed in this, but isn't holding debt frowned upon in the bible?

Something like you are a slave if you borrow, you should pay it back etc.

And if money is lent, shouldn't it be interest free?

We are living in very different times and I think that prioritizing paying off debt over the tithe makes common sense and could also be justified by the bible.   

"Should people borrow to do the work of the Lord? If a person knowingly violates biblical principles, it’s wrong, no matter how noble the purpose. It is unlikely that God would direct anyone to violate His Word to accomplish His work. Since borrowing is not God’s best for His people, why would He endorse borrowing in order for His work to be accomplished?" ( http://www.cbn.com/finance/crownborrowingquestions.aspx?mobile=false (http://www.cbn.com/finance/crownborrowingquestions.aspx?mobile=false))

These quotes were also interesting:


http://www.openbible.info/topics/borrowing_money (http://www.openbible.info/topics/borrowing_money)


After all debts are paid, it makes sense to tithe,  be generous and potentially slow down your FIRE plans based on your faith.

Nope, you hit the nail on the head.

The pop culture representation of the prayer "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us" is more accurately translated into the vernacular as "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."

At least, that's what I was told at Jesus school!

You think of the whole of what religion asks you to do (or not do), that's proper living.  Any piece of it you don't do, that's sin.  The idea is that we sanctify ourselves by trying to live as close to sin-free as possible.

So someone with debt is, strictly speaking, committing a sin.  Debt really should be avoided.  We make all sorts of rationalizations for mortgages, but they are just that.  Other debts are even worse.  Jesus makes a special point of faulting both the borrower and the lender.

Seeing the tithe line item, or really any significant charity from an indebted person, you want to nudge them toward sanctifying themselves first, as reasonably as is practicable.

Probably best not to think of it as an IOU situation with respect to you and big G.  If you are in debt, then spending that money to get out of debt is WHY big G let you have that money in the first place.  Remember that, and once you are out of debt put that surplus to good use.

Alternatively, you can point out that being in debt is living in sin regardless.  So like...what's a little more sin by not tithing for a little bit.  You can't really check that spiritual box for "finances" with heavy debt.  So to the extent you are already in sin, big G doesn't equivocate.  There's no partial credit when it comes to this stuff.  You are either having an affair or not.  Treating people kindly or not.  Living a humble life or not.  Managing your finances or not.  You can't tithe and be in debt and be accomplishing much.  There is forgiveness for your failings, a perfect and wonderful forgiveness as long as you are genuinely trying, but it isn't like one good thing cancels out another bad.  Salvation is not a destination achieved once you reach a certain balance, it is a process, a path, of continual sanctification and renewal.

As for how to calculate the tithe, Reverend Lovejoy said it best: "That's off the top people! Not after taxes!"

But yea, I always had significant issues with where the church spent the money, so I'd donate time instead.  The money stuff I find my own causes, frugal charities and the like.  It's similar to my reasoning behind being willing to give a bum a sandwich but not cash.

As for the prosperity gospel, that's a load of absolute hogwash borne of a superficial understanding by some religious communities, and/or those who attend actual christian worship and don't hear what they are trying to say.

If you go to church long enough you'll see it eventually:

"Would everyone here who regularly gives as much as they can, and who have seen the Lord work in their lives to more than pay them back, please stand up?"

I hate to see it, because as a young person you simply Do. Not. Understand. The. Message.  What you hear when this happens is the prosperity gospel, but that isn't what is being said.

As you force yourself to deliberately manage your money, to live below your means, in some cases well below your means, you receive far more in benefit than you would have gotten from that money.  It isn't the "you will be financially rewarded, this is an investment."

It's the whole MMM argument.  Learn to live on less, and you'll be better off.  There is a diminishing utility to additional money, but it's hard to recognize that when you've never had any before.  The parallels between the philosophy of MMM and what Jesus advises are many.  Eschew the pursuit of things, there is no eternal satisfaction in them.

There is nobody on this forum doing MMM for awhile that can say living on a budget didn't save them more than 10%.  That's what should be taught, but the prosperity gospel is all too often what people hear instead.


Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Faraday on November 19, 2015, 04:46:57 PM

But yea, I always had significant issues with where the church spent the money, so I'd donate time instead.  The money stuff I find my own causes, frugal charities and the like.  It's similar to my reasoning behind being willing to give a bum a sandwich but not cash.

As for the prosperity gospel, that's a load of absolute hogwash borne of a superficial understanding by some religious communities, and/or those who attend actual christian worship and don't hear what they are trying to say.

If you go to church long enough you'll see it eventually:

"Would everyone here who regularly gives as much as they can, and who have seen the Lord work in their lives to more than pay them back, please stand up?"

I hate to see it, because as a young person you simply Do. Not. Understand. The. Message.  What you hear when this happens is the prosperity gospel, but that isn't what is being said.

As you force yourself to deliberately manage your money, to live below your means, in some cases well below your means, you receive far more in benefit than you would have gotten from that money.  It isn't the "you will be financially rewarded, this is an investment."

It's the whole MMM argument.  Learn to live on less, and you'll be better off.  There is a diminishing utility to additional money, but it's hard to recognize that when you've never had any before.  The parallels between the philosophy of MMM and what Jesus advises are many.  Eschew the pursuit of things, there is no eternal satisfaction in them.

There is nobody on this forum doing MMM for awhile that can say living on a budget didn't save them more than 10%.  That's what should be taught, but the prosperity gospel is all too often what people hear instead.

Damn TOYM, preach it! I'll say amen!
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: HAPPYINAZ on November 24, 2015, 12:11:40 PM
MMM is about optimizing your life choices, reducing your consumption and achieving FIRE, more or less in that order. And no doubt each forum member defines and weights these goals somewhat differently in their own lives.

As a tither (~50/50 Church/charities) of average income, I accept that FIRE will take 5-7 years longer than if I had invested that money. This is fine because FIRE is not a first priority, and in fact its only importance is in how it can help me achieve other priorities (which disciplines like tithing also help to achieve). Other tithers, pet owners, health nuts, fill-in-the-blanks, may feel similar. 

In case studies for persons who tithe with little to no consumer debt, making the OP's points that if they want to FIRE 1) they'll need to be more hard-core in cutting back (or earning more), and 2) it will still take longer than if they were investing their tithe, is important. Suggesting, as many have posted, that they consider substituting time/service for some/all of their tithe is also fine.

Where the tither has significant consumer debt, it would be reasonable to (gently) point out that, because money is fungible, they are not actually tithing at all - they are spending their full income and then borrowing to give God the "first fruits" of their labour. Maybe suggest they stop giving temporarily and go hard-core to get their debt paid off ASAP, so that they can then tithe in truth (and within their means).

After these points/suggestions are made though, move on to dissect the rest of the budget, accepting that, while the poster may want to reduce expenses, earliest FIRE is not their priority.


I really like what you said (the part in Bold).  I think that is a good way to handle it. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Captain and Mrs Slow on February 20, 2017, 04:59:15 AM
I’m reviving this old thread as I just joined a new church (expat moving every few years) and the wife and I are discussing how much to give. Due to the move we’re in a bit of a short term cash flow crunch and have limited our “tithe” to 3%. Right now the church is running a “test the tenth*” campaign to encourage people to give. Normally I'd wait but we both feel it's the right time. Along those lines Noticed here that people here see “tithing” or “giving” as a zero sum game, I lose you win, I win you lose. I prefer to see tithing as reflecting a life of generosity rather than one of greed!

To me tithing reflects discipline and the reason we decided to up it now. I remember as a child my Dad typing out post-dated cheques to give to the church and I asked him why. He said “so they can budget”. Whenever we move to a new church (expats so this happens regularly) I always make the point of talking “finances” with people and invariability those who “tithe” are those you assume could least afford it. Families with a SAHM living a very middle class lifestyle. Inspite or perhaps because of many faithfully give 10%. If someone is saying they can’t afford to tithe due to debt it usually (but not always) reflects but a lack of financial discipline not generosity.

There is an intangible to tithing that I can’t really explain. We tithed our way out of a huge debt hole (some 75,000€ of consumer debt). Started off at 5€ a week and keep increasing it till over a year or so we reached 10%.
I’m leaning strongly towards taking the challenge so every so often I’ll post an update of what choices and trades off we made


*a lot of churches teach tithing on the gross but I’ve never agreed. I give 10% of whatever comes in the account.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: arebelspy on February 20, 2017, 07:46:19 AM
*a lot of churches teach tithing on the gross but I’ve never agreed. I give 10% of whatever comes in the account.

Definitely max that 401k then. Saves you on taxes AND tithes.  ;)

(This was tongue in cheek, if it wasn't obvious.)

I don't see tithing as a zero sum game, I see it as a win for the church, loss for other charities who could use it, especially the poor. Even if some of it goes to the poor, a lot won't.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Gunny on February 20, 2017, 08:17:56 AM
*a lot of churches teach tithing on the gross but I’ve never agreed. I give 10% of whatever comes in the account.

Definitely max that 401k then. Saves you on taxes AND tithes.  ;)

(This was tongue in cheek, if it wasn't obvious.)

I don't see tithing as a zero sum game, I see it as a win for the church, loss for other charities who could use it, especially the poor. Even if some of it goes to the poor, a lot won't.

ARS, for once I find myself in disagreement with you.  First off, I think we are in agreement that charitable acts are one of the most important things a person can do, no matter the intended end state.  If it helps make the world better for someone else, it's a good thing.  To believers the church is a major part of their lives.  Their tithes go into the running of the church, evangelical pursuits of the church, and in the case of my church, community outreach programs.  Our church is truly a community church providing many services from foodbank and weekend lunch programs for kids to providing a safe, nurturing environment for kids to play sports, have scout meetings, and youth activities, AA and other support groups and adult education tutoring.   Of course the primary mission of these activities is spreading the word, but we all share in a common concern for our community and its residents.  Our tithes fund these activities.  Having said that, I only give five percent as opposed to ten.  that is the amount that fits into my budget. For believers Tithing is not a matter of salvation or a steadfast rule. Its being faithful to what the bible teaches.  Tithing does affect the lives of the less fortunate and transcends the immediate needs of the church. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Spork on February 20, 2017, 08:51:38 AM
*a lot of churches teach tithing on the gross but I’ve never agreed. I give 10% of whatever comes in the account.

Definitely max that 401k then. Saves you on taxes AND tithes.  ;)

(This was tongue in cheek, if it wasn't obvious.)

I don't see tithing as a zero sum game, I see it as a win for the church, loss for other charities who could use it, especially the poor. Even if some of it goes to the poor, a lot won't.

ARS, for once I find myself in disagreement with you.  First off, I think we are in agreement that charitable acts are one of the most important things a person can do, no matter the intended end state.  If it helps make the world better for someone else, it's a good thing.  To believers the church is a major part of their lives.  Their tithes go into the running of the church, evangelical pursuits of the church, and in the case of my church, community outreach programs.  Our church is truly a community church providing many services from foodbank and weekend lunch programs for kids to providing a safe, nurturing environment for kids to play sports, have scout meetings, and youth activities, AA and other support groups and adult education tutoring.   Of course the primary mission of these activities is spreading the word, but we all share in a common concern for our community and its residents.  Our tithes fund these activities.  Having said that, I only give five percent as opposed to ten.  that is the amount that fits into my budget. For believers Tithing is not a matter of salvation or a steadfast rule. Its being faithful to what the bible teaches.  Tithing does affect the lives of the less fortunate and transcends the immediate needs of the church.

(I'm not religious, but an example from my dad, who was).
I believe my dad gave 10% (probably more, actually) of net.  BUT.... he would also give 10% (probably more) when he took his RMDs from his retirement plan.  And he gave 10% off the top in his will.  It could still work this way.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: caracarn on February 20, 2017, 09:38:58 AM
I’m reviving this old thread as I just joined a new church (expat moving every few years) and the wife and I are discussing how much to give. Due to the move we’re in a bit of a short term cash flow crunch and have limited our “tithe” to 3%. Right now the church is running a “test the tenth*” campaign to encourage people to give. Normally I'd wait but we both feel it's the right time. Along those lines Noticed here that people here see “tithing” or “giving” as a zero sum game, I lose you win, I win you lose. I prefer to see tithing as reflecting a life of generosity rather than one of greed!

To me tithing reflects discipline and the reason we decided to up it now. I remember as a child my Dad typing out post-dated cheques to give to the church and I asked him why. He said “so they can budget”. Whenever we move to a new church (expats so this happens regularly) I always make the point of talking “finances” with people and invariability those who “tithe” are those you assume could least afford it. Families with a SAHM living a very middle class lifestyle. Inspite or perhaps because of many faithfully give 10%. If someone is saying they can’t afford to tithe due to debt it usually (but not always) reflects but a lack of financial discipline not generosity.

There is an intangible to tithing that I can’t really explain. We tithed our way out of a huge debt hole (some 75,000€ of consumer debt). Started off at 5€ a week and keep increasing it till over a year or so we reached 10%.
I’m leaning strongly towards taking the challenge so every so often I’ll post an update of what choices and trades off we made


*a lot of churches teach tithing on the gross but I’ve never agreed. I give 10% of whatever comes in the account.

This thread piqued my interest because it is an area that I felt was ignored a lot in the MMM world, probably because MMM only spoke of it as something he never understood.

We do tithe 10% of what comes in.  If I get an unexpected bonus, 10% goes to our church before I assign it to anything else in my YNAB account.  I would agree that other than my mortgage, tithing is the single largest line item in our budget.  For us it is absolutely a matter of faith and following biblical teaching on the subject.  Our church is a first century evangelical church so we are very focused on what the bible tells us on any topic.  My first wife was not a believer so trying to tithe then was not something I did because the arguments were too much.  After my divorce and then getting married to a believer the tithe was one of the first things we did several years ago and is the first time in my life I have truly tithed.

It was difficult at first and therefore why I feel it is truly a matter of faith.  I recently had a job situation where I was uncertain about what would happen, it I would have a job, etc. and my wife and I discussed what to do with the tithe and in the end decided it was a sign of our faith in God to keep giving even with the uncertainty.  I know if we had asked our pastors that would have been the teaching as well, and I am comfortable with that because I can clearly see for myself the passages in scripture that teach this behavior regardless of the poverty level (the parable of the poor beggar giving all she had (yes that was not strictly a tithe, but it illustrated the concept) versus the religious leaders giving for show as a prime example).  Our hardship would not have immediately been as harsh as those examples, but it did create a different mindset, feeling and faith in God providing.  Since our church is not prosperity gospel, we understood that it may have not been monetary provision.  Everything worked out better than we could have imagined, and while we look at it as God's provision we are careful not to get into the false teaching that the prosperity gospel can lead one down.  We truly view our position as stewards of what it God's so therefore giving 10% back to Him of what is already His is very easy to maintain. 

I think for those where it is non-negotiable, this is what may drive them.  It certainly is the belief that drives us.  I do think it is critical to couple this with prudence is locating a true Bible believing church and not the majority of churches that are programatically driven or more obviously made to enrich the pastors such as mega churches like Lakewood and Willow Creek.  Our church budget is totally transparent and is very clearly focused on Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world in that order as taught in Acts 1:8.  We also have clear teaching that volunteer work is not acceptable as a replacement for giving 10% of your income.  There were some churches I had attended that left that ambiguous and at times I fell into that trap, thinking that it was OK.  Our church also does not collect any public offerings.  Giving is done in collection boxes near the entrances to the church or can now be done online.  This removes the "giving for show" that many people get trapped into at church with the collection plate. 

After having tithed for many years now, for us it would be a non-negotiable but we do responsibly include it in our budget.  Once I stepped away from the wordly view that it was somehow taking money from myself or my family and understanding what its purpose truly was, it was not longer a burden.   
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Tabaxus on February 20, 2017, 10:23:54 AM
For people who tithe, this is more fundamental than paying other bills, more fundamental than retirement, etc.  If the decision is being made with open eyes, then it makes no sense to try to talk someone down from something that is honestly part of their faith.  I candidly don't understand it, just as I don't understand most things about religion, but that doesn't mean I don't respect it a great deal.  I could afford to give 10% of my net or gross income to charity every year, but I won't, because it's not a sacrifice I'm willing to make while I'm still on the path to FI; I have noting but respect for people who choose to make that sacrifice.

I  do hope though that everyone who tithes does their homework on how the money is actually being spent.  Of course, many people don't do that homework, and there are a lot of crappy churches out there (just like there are crappy charities).

Prosperity gospel is another kettle of fish, and the prosperity gospel "pastors" that play on ignorant peoples' hopes and gullibility should be thrown in jail.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Mezzie on February 20, 2017, 10:33:08 AM
I was religious most of my life. The churches I belonged to encouraged a generous spirit but did not require a tithe. Some asked for budgeting purposes that we estimate at the beginning of the fiscal year how much we would be donating to which funds (there were general church funds, disaster relief funds, food pantry/soup kitchen funds, etc.). Even at my most poor, I found money and time to give to charity, the church, and friends and strangers in need. Sometimes that meant I ate less. I never went into debt over it, though; I don't think you can give what you don't have. I do think you can give up extravagances and even occasional necessities (say, a meal) to help someone else. Whenever I notice my spending on myself creeping up, I increase my charitable giving in kind. My spending on myself immediately decreases as I realize how much more I value helping others over getting stuff that isn't necessary for myself.

Since becoming an atheist, not much has changed: charitable giving of time and money is still incredibly important to me and makes up a decent chunk of my spending. I also still observe Lent, though in a non-religious, character-building way. I spend less time on charitable pursuits only because my disability prohibits the hours of standing and walking that usually entails.

This is a rambly way to say that for me, both planned and incidental charitable giving ARE a non-negotiable. I would give up internet, all subscription services (Netflix and the like), new clothes, fancy veggies, and just about any other first world comfort before giving that up. The fact that I CAN give things up if I choose means I have something to spare for those less fortunate. Lately I've been thinking of creating a scholarship fund for low-income students.

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: RetiredAt63 on February 20, 2017, 12:41:08 PM
Just a question, not a comment for or against tithing.

Tithing discussions always seem to be about money.  But what about time? 

I have always given some to charities.  But more than money, I have given time.  Even when I was working full time, married with a husband and small child and a long commute, I volunteered.  Now that I have more time I donate more time.  If tithing is seen as giving to the community and those in need, my time donations were worth more than my money donations.  They certainly made more of an impact.

Thoughts?
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Tabaxus on February 20, 2017, 01:44:52 PM
Just a question, not a comment for or against tithing.

Tithing discussions always seem to be about money.  But what about time? 

I have always given some to charities.  But more than money, I have given time.  Even when I was working full time, married with a husband and small child and a long commute, I volunteered.  Now that I have more time I donate more time.  If tithing is seen as giving to the community and those in need, my time donations were worth more than my money donations.  They certainly made more of an impact.

Thoughts?

Varies from church to church.  Stricter interpretations of the text don't permit this kind of time-for-money swapping--you're expected to donate both (as someone above mentioned).
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: arebelspy on February 20, 2017, 02:36:02 PM
*a lot of churches teach tithing on the gross but I’ve never agreed. I give 10% of whatever comes in the account.

Definitely max that 401k then. Saves you on taxes AND tithes.  ;)

(This was tongue in cheek, if it wasn't obvious.)

I don't see tithing as a zero sum game, I see it as a win for the church, loss for other charities who could use it, especially the poor. Even if some of it goes to the poor, a lot won't.

ARS, for once I find myself in disagreement with you.  First off, I think we are in agreement that charitable acts are one of the most important things a person can do, no matter the intended end state.  If it helps make the world better for someone else, it's a good thing.  To believers the church is a major part of their lives.  Their tithes go into the running of the church, evangelical pursuits of the church, and in the case of my church, community outreach programs.  Our church is truly a community church providing many services from foodbank and weekend lunch programs for kids to providing a safe, nurturing environment for kids to play sports, have scout meetings, and youth activities, AA and other support groups and adult education tutoring.   Of course the primary mission of these activities is spreading the word, but we all share in a common concern for our community and its residents.  Our tithes fund these activities.  Having said that, I only give five percent as opposed to ten.  that is the amount that fits into my budget. For believers Tithing is not a matter of salvation or a steadfast rule. Its being faithful to what the bible teaches.  Tithing does affect the lives of the less fortunate and transcends the immediate needs of the church.
And donating to your local social club could have those benefits as well.

I'd still feel bad for the people living in poverty around the world.

It's about where it's going, to me. Highest and best use.  Sucking up a bunch of money intended for charity for a very pretty building, for example, I feel is immoral.  (Luckily most tithed money is not intended for charity, beyond the church itself, I guess?)

Some don't do this. Most do.

I'd consider it on the same level of immoral as, say, donating to the local YMCA, even if they provided free youth swimming classes and summer BBQs for the community.  That money could literally save lives.

20% of children living in poverty die before the age of 5.

It's not like "you're evil" immoral but more like "you're negligent" immoral.

Obviously your opinion will differ, and that's fine. I don't expect we'll change each other's minds. I hold you, or other people who give money to their church instead of directly to the poor, no ill-will. It's just a big missed opportunity to do real good, IMO (or at least maximize the good, as some money may go to the poor while trying to convert them, so a little good may be done).
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: MBot on February 20, 2017, 06:47:31 PM
Just a question, not a comment for or against tithing.

Tithing discussions always seem to be about money.  But what about time? 

I have always given some to charities.  But more than money, I have given time.  Even when I was working full time, married with a husband and small child and a long commute, I volunteered.  Now that I have more time I donate more time.  If tithing is seen as giving to the community and those in need, my time donations were worth more than my money donations.  They certainly made more of an impact.

Thoughts?

From the church perspective, very few people actually give 10%. And you can't pay bills with people's donated time. Can you give both? Most church members and employees do. It's not really an either/or proposition

No one thinks about the "impact" paying the heating bill or keeping the doors open or keeping the parking lot plowed have, and it can feel less satisfying. But maybe add up some of those intangibles and list all the services the church provides, and it may be easier and more fulfilling to give both :)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: obstinate on February 20, 2017, 07:00:48 PM
So, I'm not religious (actually I'm anti-religious) but I used to be a fundie. So I can at least try to help you understand.

Some people believe the man in the sky is a real, actual thing. Like, something that REALLY EXISTS. He says to pay ten percent, under certain interpretations of their holy book, which they believe LITERALLY are the infallible words of their god. So, the cold economic calculation is, on the one hand, risk pissing off a being so powerful that it could literally CREATE THE UNIVERSE, or on the other hand retire a bit later.

Under these initial assumptions, the non-negotiable tithe makes sense. If you want to dissuade something of making it, you'll have better luck attacking their religious beliefs directly. Of course, we all know how well that tends to work.

MOD EDIT: Let's not go there, please.  My bad. Edited to removing the offending excess.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Spork on February 21, 2017, 08:07:34 AM

From the church perspective, very few people actually give 10%. And you can't pay bills with people's donated time. Can you give both? Most church members and employees do. It's not really an either/or proposition

No one thinks about the "impact" paying the heating bill or keeping the doors open or keeping the parking lot plowed have, and it can feel less satisfying. But maybe add up some of those intangibles and list all the services the church provides, and it may be easier and more fulfilling to give both :)

Sure you can.
option 1: pay the cleaning crew and yard crew to maintain the look of the church every week. 
option 2: church members do it voluntarily

Option 2 effectively pays the bills with donated time.  Repeat this exercise for "the church's web site" and various other things deemed necessary.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: AMandM on February 21, 2017, 08:42:31 AM
I would also appreciate any links to budgets of yore in which the tithe does work. Is it just in the budgets of those with higher incomes in which the tithe doesn't run counter to FIRE? Or have those families with more modest incomes managed to make it work? In my experience, I haven't seen this as explicitly as I would like.

I haven't read the whole thread, but here's a link to a tithing family that I know personally. They are a one-income family with 13 kids, and until recently their income was less than $50k, in a very HCOL area. They are on track not quite for RE, but retiring at 62 after 13 years of income over $50k.
http://www.madfientist.com/how-to-retire-early-with-13-kids/

If they can retire in 13 years with 13 kids on $100k, I have to believe it's possible to retire early on a smaller salary with only 2-3 kids.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: 2Birds1Stone on February 21, 2017, 08:53:43 AM
I would also appreciate any links to budgets of yore in which the tithe does work. Is it just in the budgets of those with higher incomes in which the tithe doesn't run counter to FIRE? Or have those families with more modest incomes managed to make it work? In my experience, I haven't seen this as explicitly as I would like.

I haven't read the whole thread, but here's a link to a tithing family that I know personally. They are a one-income family with 13 kids, and until recently their income was less than $50k, in a very HCOL area. They are on track not quite for RE, but retiring at 62 after 13 years of income over $50k.
http://www.madfientist.com/how-to-retire-early-with-13-kids/

If they can retire in 13 years with 13 kids on $100k, I have to believe it's possible to retire early on a smaller salary with only 2-3 kids.

They should thank their fellow taxpayers ;)

Impressive non the less.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: runewell on February 21, 2017, 08:58:55 AM
Quote
The MMM answer to the serial tither is to demand the biblical passage that requires the 10% in cold hard cash.  The MMM'er has the no-brainer answer to the tithing expense: time/services. 

Malachi 3:10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Proverbs 3:9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

Genesis 28:20-22 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

That's pretty close to cold hard cash.  Those verses and others like them aren't suggesting they opt out with volunteering.  If you can't give up 10% of your possessions, perhaps your trust in your possessions is misplaced.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Vanguards and Lentils on February 21, 2017, 09:09:53 AM
This is an interesting thread! Can't believe I missed it. My personal situation is that I'm "tithing" on a somewhat smaller income (grad student) but only 1/4 of that tithe is going to my chuch. I like the idea that someone mentioned about Sikh's having a similar perspective - giving away 10%, but not necessarily all to their church.

An earlier post I read said that only the OT mentions tithe and the NT doesn't. Wrong (https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Matthew%2023%3A23). It was important enough that Jesus commented on it - implying that it wasn't the most important thing, but that it should still be done regardless. This and this passage from Malachi (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Malachi+3:6-12) have led me to conclude that tithe is non-negotiable given a straightforward reading of the words. But there must certainly have been some things different back then, such as the nature of people's income and the differences between the Temple back then and churches today.

Thinking about these differences led me to donate only partially to my church - some of their spending seems too wasteful. I wish I had a system like some other posters' where every member gets to vote on every line item. But I can definitely see how most churches wouldn't be cool with that ("just trust your leaders" etc). So I've arrived at the happy medium of giving most of my tithe to effective charities overseas.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: norabird on February 21, 2017, 09:24:56 AM
What a wonderful discussion. Thanks to all for contributing. I need to take a look at what I'm giving to charity to try and get my % up.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: obstinate on February 21, 2017, 09:45:37 AM
Genesis 28:20-22 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

That's pretty close to cold hard cash.  Those verses and others like them aren't suggesting they opt out with volunteering.  If you can't give up 10% of your possessions, perhaps your trust in your possessions is misplaced.
Ah, I love biblical interpretation. Why would Jacob's promise to god mandate everyone else promise the same amount? Because we decided it did and then did post-hoc rationalization. Other supportable perspectives:
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Vanguards and Lentils on February 21, 2017, 10:08:22 AM
Genesis 28:20-22 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

That's pretty close to cold hard cash.  Those verses and others like them aren't suggesting they opt out with volunteering.  If you can't give up 10% of your possessions, perhaps your trust in your possessions is misplaced.
Ah, I love biblical interpretation. Why would Jacob's promise to god mandate everyone else promise the same amount? Because we decided it did and then did post-hoc rationalization. Other supportable perspectives:
  • The parable of the last penny suggests that no fixed percentage is sufficient. You must give everything.
  • Jesus' statements on the rich (easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man enter the kingdom of God) suggest that you might want to give enough such that you are no longer rich.

All three of these positions seem weak to be. The Jacob passage at most, suggests we should follow his example, but it is certainly not any kind of injunction. The same thing with the lady giving her two coins (actually not a parable unless I'm thinking if a different story).

Using the passing through the eye of the needle passage is the weakest, however since it is again not an injunction to not be rich, and also the sentences IMMEDIATELY following say that saving is the work of God, thus possible (Matthew 19).

I am not for logical contortions of any kind; the verses I referenced above are straightforward injunctions (Malachi 3 and Matthew 20).
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: obstinate on February 21, 2017, 10:12:14 AM
All three of these positions seem weak to be.
Well, to me too. I'm not religious.
Using the passing through the eye of the needle passage is the weakest, however since it is again not an injunction to not be rich, and also the sentences IMMEDIATELY following say that saving is the work of God, thus possible (Matthew 19).
I believe the implication was that it was unlikely. Him observing that anything is possible does not mean that it's equally likely to non-wealthy people entering the kingdom of god.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Debonair on February 21, 2017, 10:24:58 AM
Is 10% normal for Christians?

Or is that Abrahamic Religions?


It makes the burning money for the ancestors or gods seem cheap.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: caracarn on February 21, 2017, 01:08:00 PM
Is 10% normal for Christians?

Or is that Abrahamic Religions?


It makes the burning money for the ancestors or gods seem cheap.

10% is normal for Christians as the target.  I agree few get there.  Why is going to get you as many different opinions as you have answers, so not providing mine, as I could only answer what our excuse was before we got there.

My response to those who are trying to interpret above in creative ways is that there are other passages that indicate that all scripture is profitable for learning and should be used to direct our own actions.  Hence Jacob giving 10% is not just an agreement between God and Jacob.   It is an agreement between all of us and God.  You can chose to not believe that, but those who tithe look at it through that understanding.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: redbird on February 21, 2017, 01:30:14 PM
I see tithing and giving to charity the same way - if you are in debt (with the exception of mortgage and possibly car loan, though I really dislike the latter), then I don't think you can afford to give money. That is my biggest issue with case studies that spell out that tithing is non-negotiable. Some of these case studies have people with massive debt, yet they're giving away 10%+ of their income every month. That just boggles my mind.

If you have zero debt and/or very little debt and want to tithe and/or give to charity, have at it. It's your life and what makes you happy. Especially if you have zero debt and have the higher income levels that the majority of these forum members tend to have - you probably don't even need all of that money for you personally anyway, so it might give you happiness to help others.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Emerald on February 21, 2017, 02:13:02 PM
I'm a Unitarian Universalist and a board member at my local Fellowship (church).  UUs are asked to pledge (not specifically to tithe); there are recommendations on how much to give (based on household income), but the recommendations fall below the 10% tithe requirement. 

As a UU board member, we (the board) are responsible for creating a yearly budget and adjusting it as needed throughout the year.  The board discusses each and every line item, and the Fellowship members have a voice in creating the budget and ultimately in voting on the budget.

While it is always our goal as a Fellowship to support charities and our local communities, the reality is that much of the money goes to actually paying the bills.  We employ a full time minister and 2 part time employees.  We have a mortgage on our sanctuary (our only debt), and maintain 2 buildings, a playground/garden, and parking lot.  We have electric bills, and heating bills, and water bills, and termite inspection bills, among many other costs associated with maintaining property and an ongoing, vibrant community.

We pull on volunteers to do as much work as possible to cut costs, but it still takes actual money to function.

I have to shake my head when someone complains about giving to their church.  Do folks think the pews and hymnals just magically fall from Heaven?  Do folks think the gas company is providing heat out of the goodness of their hearts?  Do folks think their minister could/would work 7 days a week for the church without due compensation?

If someone knows a way to run a church so 100% of collected funds could go directly to charities, please PM me ASAP!

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: arebelspy on February 22, 2017, 05:07:05 PM


?
If someone knows a way to run a church so 100% of collected funds could go directly to charities, please PM me ASAP!

Well, you could just give all of the money donated, and disband the church part. Since I don't think you'll like that solution because you think the church provides benefits to its members (though not others in need), here's another idea.

Collect dues to be a part of the club church. Don't call it charity.

Collect charity, and give 100% of it.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: norabird on February 22, 2017, 05:29:53 PM
Ha, ARS, I also believe in charitable giving and have been suspicious of religion, but that suggestion is so a no go! I have to say I've been amazed at the community and sense of healing at the episcopal church I've started attending. I think we can all give to an organization that nurtures us and also give to charity.


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Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: arebelspy on February 22, 2017, 05:32:31 PM
Ha, ARS, I also believe in charitable giving and have been suspicious of religion, but that suggestion is so a no go! I have to say I've been amazed at the community and sense of healing at the episcopal church I've started attending. I think we can all give to an organization that nurtures us and also give to charity.


Um, did you read my second suggestion?  How is that incompatible with what you're saying?  In fact, it literally suggests what your last sentence says. :)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Much Fishing to Do on February 22, 2017, 05:49:38 PM
I don't see how this is much different in effect than me be non-negotiable on paying taxes (which I am, less because of a moral belief and more because jail sucks).  Taxes cost me more than 10%.  To say me paying my taxes then makes cutting too tough or early retirement impossible is a cop out.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: obstinate on February 22, 2017, 07:04:37 PM
I don't see how this is much different in effect than me be non-negotiable on paying taxes (which I am, less because of a moral belief and more because jail sucks).  Taxes cost me more than 10%.  To say me paying my taxes then makes cutting too tough or early retirement impossible is a cop out.
Taxes are not optional -- in the sense that there is a physical authority that will compel you to pay them. They are quite different from tithes in that regard.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: arebelspy on February 22, 2017, 09:49:54 PM
I don't see how this is much different in effect than me be non-negotiable on paying taxes (which I am, less because of a moral belief and more because jail sucks).  Taxes cost me more than 10%.  To say me paying my taxes then makes cutting too tough or early retirement impossible is a cop out.
Taxes are not optional -- in the sense that there is a physical authority that will compel you to pay them. They are quite different from tithes in that regard.

The premise of this thread was the "non-negotiable" tithe (i.e. mandatory)--it's in the thread title.  :)

Sure, for some people they're optional. The person you're quoting was addressing the people who they aren't optional (by choice, yes).
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Much Fishing to Do on February 23, 2017, 05:54:33 AM
I don't see how this is much different in effect than me be non-negotiable on paying taxes (which I am, less because of a moral belief and more because jail sucks).  Taxes cost me more than 10%.  To say me paying my taxes then makes cutting too tough or early retirement impossible is a cop out.
Taxes are not optional -- in the sense that there is a physical authority that will compel you to pay them. They are quite different from tithes in that regard.
Maybe I used the wrongs words with "in effect", I'm just saying that if say congress today raised everyone's tax obligation by 10% we wouldn't jump straight to conclusions like in the original post:
"the OP is left with two options.
1) Be ruthless with the rest of the budget. $10 flip phones, rice and beans budget, much cheaper housing, etc.
2) Admit that FIRE is not in the cards for them, at least not on the timeline that others on here have."
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Emerald on February 23, 2017, 08:42:46 AM
Well, you could just give all of the money donated, and disband the church part. Since I don't think you'll like that solution because you think the church provides benefits to its members (though not others in need), here's another idea.

-Please don't put words in my mouth. Our fellowship absolutely does provide benefits to others in need, both financial and material (see below).   

Collect dues to be a part of the club church. Don't call it charity.

-I see where you are confused.  Pledging is not charity, though pledge money certainly does support fellowship charities. 


Collect charity, and give 100% of it.


-We do.  At every service we collect money and food specifically for local charities and the food bank.  Our building provides a free meeting place for many local community and social organizations.  We have a social action committee focused on creating and increasing charitable opportunities. 

And this does not include the many hours of time our members give to helping our community. Cook meals for the homeless- check.  Volunteer at the women's shelter- check.  Organizing the local crop walk- check.  Building homes with Habitat for Humanity- check.  I could go on and on. 

We come together as a fellowship because we want to improve the world we live in, and we honestly believe we are better together than apart. 




   



Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Debonair on February 24, 2017, 03:57:07 AM
Is 10% normal for Christians?

Or is that Abrahamic Religions?


It makes the burning money for the ancestors or gods seem cheap.

10% is normal for Christians as the target.  I agree few get there.  Why is going to get you as many different opinions as you have answers, so not providing mine, as I could only answer what our excuse was before we got there.

My response to those who are trying to interpret above in creative ways is that there are other passages that indicate that all scripture is profitable for learning and should be used to direct our own actions.  Hence Jacob giving 10% is not just an agreement between God and Jacob.   It is an agreement between all of us and God.  You can chose to not believe that, but those who tithe look at it through that understanding.

OK, Thank You!!!!!!
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: kayvent on February 24, 2017, 02:50:38 PM
I saw this thread yesterday and read many of the posts. Since then I have been thinking and stewing over this topic.

Imagine an individual posted their budget and wanted some advice. To your shock you see a massive 30% of their gross income (43% net) go to one item. An amount far greater than any other expenditure. So you tell them that if they want to get out of debt or invest more or retire early, they need to stop putting money into that category. They look at you puzzled and explain that they can't simply choose to not pay taxes. The government is owed taxes by her citizens.

To a Christian of the certain proclivity, the tithe is not their money to decide to allocate or not (this is why a tithe is calculated on net income and not gross: they see the tithe as being the first-class stakeholder in their income).
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Just Joe on February 24, 2017, 03:26:59 PM
That is correct. There is a local church of a certain common variety that requires members to bring in their tax returns so the church can set your tithe for you. I hear there is another church across our small town that something similar. Both have had big building plans over the years to pay for.

We choose to volunteer at various charitable events and make donations closer to the needs that will be helped. Not through a church.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Txtriathlete on February 24, 2017, 03:54:37 PM
I saw this thread yesterday and read many of the posts. Since then I have been thinking and stewing over this topic.

Imagine an individual posted their budget and wanted some advice. To your shock you see a massive 30% of their gross income (43% net) go to one item. An amount far greater than any other expenditure. So you tell them that if they want to get out of debt or invest more or retire early, they need to stop putting money into that category. They look at you puzzled and explain that they can't simply choose to not pay taxes. The government is owed taxes by her citizens.

To a Christian of the certain proclivity, the tithe is not their money to decide to allocate or not (this is why a tithe is calculated on net income and not gross: they see the tithe as being the first-class stakeholder in their income).

This.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: norabird on February 24, 2017, 04:12:52 PM
I do think if my church wanted to force me to tithe for their new building I would find a new church! But for the right community, one that really is a space that welcomes and helps all, there's no point in pushing on the non negotiability.


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Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Spork on February 24, 2017, 05:01:20 PM
I saw this thread yesterday and read many of the posts. Since then I have been thinking and stewing over this topic.

Imagine an individual posted their budget and wanted some advice. To your shock you see a massive 30% of their gross income (43% net) go to one item. An amount far greater than any other expenditure. So you tell them that if they want to get out of debt or invest more or retire early, they need to stop putting money into that category. They look at you puzzled and explain that they can't simply choose to not pay taxes. The government is owed taxes by her citizens.

To a Christian of the certain proclivity, the tithe is not their money to decide to allocate or not (this is why a tithe is calculated on net income and not gross: they see the tithe as being the first-class stakeholder in their income).

I'm not sure that is 100% comparable.   You are likely to get a ton of advice on how to optimize income to legally pay less taxes.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: cbr shadow on February 24, 2017, 05:26:43 PM
I don't think anyone that is non-religious can grasp the tithe item without first accepting the premise of the OP that God is real and active in their life. If this is true, and they believe that God has asked them to give, then He will naturally provide for them in their adherence to that. However if He isn't real and that isn't true, then of course the tithe line item is ridiculous giving to a bunch of greedy non-profit organizations.

I don't really like pets. I've had a dog and I enjoyed it when I was young, but I have no desire to own one at this point in my life. But when people come on the board with 3 large non-negotiable dogs, I get it. They're never going to be my 'family' but I understand that that person sees life differently and then I try to think of other ways that they could make cuts.

It's not a great analogy I admit, but for me it's just a matter of accepting that people are different and have different priorities. I think that keeps things interesting around here, which I like.

Really good post.  Thanks.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Vanguards and Lentils on February 24, 2017, 05:44:09 PM
There is a local church of a certain common variety that requires members to bring in their tax returns so the church can set your tithe for you. I hear there is another church across our small town that something similar. Both have had big building plans over the years to pay for.

That is horrible, and actually in direct conflict with the bible:

Quote
2 Corinthians 9
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[a] will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

So they are trying to compel, and also deciding for the individual. I've actually never heard of this - would you mind sharing what church does this
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on February 27, 2017, 12:52:05 AM
I see tithing and giving to charity the same way - if you are in debt (with the exception of mortgage and possibly car loan, though I really dislike the latter), then I don't think you can afford to give money. That is my biggest issue with case studies that spell out that tithing is non-negotiable. Some of these case studies have people with massive debt, yet they're giving away 10%+ of their income every month. That just boggles my mind.

If you have zero debt and/or very little debt and want to tithe and/or give to charity, have at it. It's your life and what makes you happy. Especially if you have zero debt and have the higher income levels that the majority of these forum members tend to have - you probably don't even need all of that money for you personally anyway, so it might give you happiness to help others.

This is the key difference. If you are in debt that you are struggling or unable to service while tithing, you are not giving away your money: you are giving away the car loan person's money. If you have high interest debt that you are able to service, you are not giving your 'first fruits', you are borrowing to give. You do not have the money to buy all the things you wanted in the past, the things you need now and give.

I can't get on board with any organisation that would encourage people who are struggling financially to borrow at high interest in order to donate, even if the organisation is also providing services to those struggling financially.

I can only give something that is mine. If I take or steal something from you and hand it to another person, I'm not giving it, I'm fencing stolen goods. If you believe that the first part of your income already belongs to your religion or your god - you've made a mistake or sinned by overspending in the past: acknowledge it, make a plan to fix it, confess it if that is your style but don't make it worse by borrowing more (or failing to pay back a debt) in order to give.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Erica on February 27, 2017, 02:07:41 AM
This is impossible. WE CANNOT TITHE so this thread is a misnomer.


Sadly, this farce is often pushed to fleece the sheep. Money intended to line greedy men's pockets, men who refuse to get real
jobs to support their families like ALL MEN did in the bible. Including Jesus, who was a Carpenter. Only extenuating circumstances such as physical or mental issues would prevent any man from working a trade in the BIBLE.

Only Missionaries (like Apostle Paul) are to be supported for obvious reasons.

They cannot just set up shop in a new town expecting to support themselves.

The church is not a business, it is a church.

And we are not Pharisees, Abraham, or Old Testament Isrealites. <-- the ONLY three groups this OT law is given to. Majority  didn't tithe.

Malachi 3:10 is taken out of context so the leaders of the church can fleece the congregation, aka steal.

ALL MEN worked in the bible, including Jesus, or they are considered to be infidels not supporting their families.

Except the obvious, if mental or physical issues disallowed working a trade (demon posession, blindness, etc..)

Malachi is a Prophet speaking to Old Testament Israelites living under Old Testament Law. It has NOTHING TO DO WITH US

We are to give cheerfully to those in need.

And Elders aka bishops run the church. They are NOT PAID unless you want to take that verse out of context and ALSO PAY the widows of the church who also deserve "honor". Many men run a church, there is no pyramid scheme in the bible in which there is one Pastor and other men below this one man. That is not how Apostle Paul instructed the church be set up.

Missionaries such as Apostle Paul are rightfully paid so they can meet their basic needs. Even though Apostle Paul discouraged Missionaries taking $$, he explained he had a right to be supported. Yet even PAUL, like every man, WORKED for a living. So he supported himself AND sometimes those with him, much of the time.

The problem is...just like in the OLD & NEW Testaments, those who call themselves Christians are far from it. hypocrites who cherry pick a law while ignoring all other OT law. Trying to apply it to others to obligate them to throw away their hard earned money.

Some people are just mistaken due to lies being pushed onto them, often by preachers,  but for many or most people, it is unmistakable. Their father is the devil who was a liar from the beginning so the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Ignore those who push this lie while ignoring all of the rest of the OLD TESTAMENT LAW. Greed is powerful

2 Cor 9:7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

This command is not to ^^ give to an organization such as a Charity.It is for Christians to DIRECTLY give to someone in need. So you both can experience the blessing. To fund a secular organization (and all are secular, as there is no such "organizations" in scripture) is to expect others to do your obligation on your behalf. Doesn't work that way. Next time you see a poor person in church, hand them some money. Give them a ride to the doctor or church, clean their house, cook for them. That is all a form of giving. Especially do this for the Elderly. You have just cheerfully given as commanded by your God. You did not throw away money to a charity, which was rightfully designated by God, to go to a person in need. Directly hand your cash aka cheerful giving to a Missionary.






Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: arebelspy on February 27, 2017, 02:34:10 AM
I like that philosophy way better.

Too bad more don't subscribe to that interpretation.

Money is a powerful allure, I suppose.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Erica on February 27, 2017, 02:42:15 AM
I like that philosophy way better.

Too bad more don't subscribe to that interpretation.

Money is a powerful allure, I suppose.
Glad to hear it.
My husband is not a Christian but he studied this topic when I started attending church years back.
I also studied scritpture and came up with the same conclusion. And with the internet now, it's really easy to google or youtube the subject.
So I don't feel it is an interpretation but what the bible actually says, aka teaches. Cheerful giving is what is commanded of Christ followers in the New Covenant (New Testament) in which we live. I better get to sleep, goodnight for now
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: marty998 on February 27, 2017, 03:04:39 AM

Snip!


I am always surprised by what I learn from this forum. I thought I heard every argument from every side on tithing, but you've put forward a very well reasoned, and original case.

I give about $250 a year to my local church which I attend Christmas and Easter mass only. It's not because the bible or the church instructs me to. Rather I recognise the good work that the priests and lay people do so I'd like to support them.

Would prefer some of the donation is not sent to Rome where it is spent on fancy frocks and frivolity, but once you give you don't necessarily get that choice.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Erica on February 28, 2017, 04:13:30 PM
Thank you Marty, I'll take that as a compliment :) !

I learn much more from this forum than I contribute.

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: FIreDrill on February 28, 2017, 04:48:26 PM
The thing I've always wondered about Tithing Mustachians is what they plan to do during early retirement. Give 10% of total investment income (whatever it may be that year)? Give 10% of annual spend? Give nothing because you have no "earned income'?
Late to the party but I thought I would share my decision on this particular scenario you bring up.

We give 10% of our net income, or take home pay.  This number does not include 401k Contributions, HSA contributions, or medical deductions out of my paycheck.  Mainly, this is just an easy way to tithe for us and takes a lot of the guess work out of it.  I also feel it is an appropriate amount for us to give.  When we start withdrawing that money in early retirement I plan to give 10% as a tithe as well, since technically our retirement contributions haven't been tithed on.  We will most likely have side jobs that will being in decent money which will make our tithe more though.

I know for a fact that our donation is not wasted.  We go to a very small church and get detailed expense numbers from the church every year.  Most of the tithe goes to paying the pastors modest salary.  If we went to a larger church that was gushing with cash our plan may change so we could give more directly to individual causes.  But I believe our tithe goes to good use right now.

Regardless, I don't really think there is a certain percentage everyone should be giving.  It's between you and God, just because I believe God instructed me to give how I give doesn't mean you should do the same.  I also believe Christians need to get off their asses more and actually do things for people in need.  Our community has a pretty bad homeless problem so we are looking how we can help those people out.  Our community would be a much better place if churches spent more time on helping people outside the church walls.


Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: caracarn on March 01, 2017, 09:24:23 AM
This is impossible. WE CANNOT TITHE so this thread is a misnomer.

(Shortened for brevity)

Here is some food for thought from some church information.  Sharing for consideration as a counterpoint to these views.

Why Tithe?
The giving of a tithe is a recognition that everything you possess actually belongs to the Lord.

Scripture requires CONSISTENT giving.
2 Corinthians 8–9 presents a method of giving that is well–planned and consistent, rather than haphazard. 2 Corinthians 8:12 teaches that you are to give according to what you have, not according to what you don’t (or what you hope to) have. Hence, God’s desire is that you put what He has already provided to good use.

2 Corinthians 8:13–15 goes on to teach equality in giving—not each member giving equal amounts, but each member making equal sacrifice. Not everyone can give the same amount, but everyone can give. Like the believers in the city of Corinth, your giving should be well–planned and consistent.

It is natural for other priorities to crowd out your giving to the Lord—God won’t send you an overdue notice or disconnect your phone if you don’t pay Him. Further, many people determine their giving based on how their finances are looking at the end of the year—they give just enough to get a good tax break. Yet, Scripture teaches that giving to the Lord should be your first priority. He is deserving of—and demands—“the first of all your produce,” and not your leftovers.

In Genesis 14, Abraham won a great military battle, and along with it, the spoils of battle. As Melchizedek, the priest of the Lord, came to greet him, Abraham offered him a tithe (tenth) of all He
had obtained (v. 20).

Many people have suggested that the tithe is not valid for today because it was a part of the Old Testament Law. Indeed, the tithe appears most often in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. Yet, Abraham’s tithe in Genesis 14 (and Jacob’s in Genesis 28:22) was “pre–Law”—the Law wasn’t given until Exodus 20. So the tithe supersedes the Old Testament Law.

Further, Christ condemned the Pharisees for the hypocrisy of tithing even of the smallest portions, yet ignoring the major commandments of Scripture. However, notice His conclusion concerning the tithe: “these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others” (Luke 11:42). Christ commended their tithing but rebuked their hypocrisy. The New Testament generally teaches consistent, joyful giving without mentioning the word tithe. For the New Testament believer responding to God’s gift to us, the tithe is a good starting point!

“Hold the Sprinkles, Please.”
The story is told of a boy who visited a restaurant and asked his waitress how much an ice cream cone would cost. After she replied that it would be 20 cents, he asked how much it would be with chocolate sprinkles. Irritated and in a hurry, she snapped that it would be 25 cents. After considering his options for a few moments, the boy quietly asked for a plain cone. The lady’s spirit softened when she returned to the place where the boy had finished and paid for his cone and found a 5 cent tip.

What is the lesson from the boy with the ice cream cone? Tithing doesn’t just happen—it is the result of intentional planning and determination to live within that plan. In other words, budget and stick to it. The math is simple (10% of your income), but the practice often is not. Discipline yourself to give the first 10% of every paycheck to the Lord’s work. Then live within your means (the remaining 90%) and determine to increase that percentage as the Lord allows you to prosper. You may need to do without some “sprinkles.” Yet, honoring and obeying the Lord is worth making small adjustments to your lifestyle.

Suppose you had ten lollipops…
Many Christians reason that 10% is simply too much to give, yet forget that everything they have has been given to them by God. To be very mundane, if Johnny gives Joey ten lollipops, Joey is not being overly generous to give one of them back!

Practical Suggestions about Giving
The following practical suggestions answer some commonly asked questions concerning giving and the local church.

Does it matter where my tithe is given?
The biblical pattern is for you to support financially the ministry that serves you spiritually (1 Corinthians 9:11). Further, the local church is the primary means through which God is working in this age. Therefore, your tithes and offerings should be given to the local church. Further, you should normally give your tithe to your church’s general fund, then make an additional offering for any
designated gifts (e.g., building fund, benevolence fund, etc.).

Am I required to give a tithe of money that I obtain apart from my normal income (i.e., a gift)?
First, remember that giving is a privilege to be enjoyed, not a burden to be borne. Compare your situation to Proverbs 3:9. Of course, a gift is additional provision from the Lord. You may not need to claim it on your tax forms, but you still should honor the Lord for it.

What if I’m in debt? Should I still tithe?
The first step to getting out of debt is a recognition that— with few exceptions—poor stewardship got you there. If necessary, confess your lack of discipline to the Lord as sin. Next, determine to “honor the Lord” with what He gives you…starting now! Don’t wait to obey. Delayed obedience is really disobedience. Begin tithing now, and trust the Lord to be true to His Word. Next, determine where you can decrease your spending to allow you to pay off your debts.  Emulate the boy with the ice cream cone: “hold the sprinkles!” The quickest way out of debt is simply to stop
spending! Finally, prayerfully seek the Lord’s help, both to provide for you and to work in your heart to control your spending.

Does the money I pay for Christian education or for Christian books count as part of my tithe?
Again, this question misses the spirit of biblical giving. Money given for a service rendered or an item purchased should not be considered a gift unto the Lord. This is an attempt to find a loophole, not a tithe or offering. Notice David’s spirit in 2 Samuel 24:24: “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.”

What if I miss a week of giving due to illness or vacation?
Enjoy your vacation from work. However, don’t vacation from obedience and worship. If you miss a week of giving, make it up as soon as you return. Determine to be conscientious about the Lord’s money. Don’t spend it elsewhere.

Is it legitimate to spend the Lord’s money on buildings, vehicles and equipment even though the early church didn’t have them?
All three of these things are tools for ministry. They must not become an end in themselves. Many churches raise edifices as monuments of their greatness, not God’s. Yet, these items are legitimate to the extent that they enable and facilitate spiritual ministry
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Cassie on March 01, 2017, 05:25:28 PM
Ares: we do the same as you and give to charities. Some churches pressure people to tithe and that makes me sick. People should give what they want and can afford. Giving of your time is a great way to help others too. I do both but see no problem with people of lesser means giving time only instead of $. The thinking that give your $ to the church and God will provide makes me shake my head that anyone does this.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: 2Birds1Stone on March 02, 2017, 07:23:21 AM
All of this sounds very cultish to me.

In Poland where my family is from ( I was raised Roman Catholic) the members of the church live lavish lifestyles while the poor are told to tithe what little they have. Over there, the church is involved in constant scandals and has control over many parts of the government. It's a very toxic and oppressive life for those people.

Maybe things are different here. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: wbranch on March 02, 2017, 10:59:23 AM
That explanation from the church a few posts above reminds of insurance salesman recommending whole life policies or financial "advisers" selling high expense ratio mutual funds with front load fees. Of course (many) churches think giving 10% is a great idea, thankfully they are not deciding for me.

We do not go to church but do give some $ to charity and volunteer quite a bit of time. Increasing $ going to charity has been one goal we have not been good at achieving, but we are working on improving.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: exmmmer on March 02, 2017, 11:09:31 AM
We *must* tithe.

We *CANNOT* tithe.

It is always based on the interpretation, which morphs to fit the viewpoint of the interpreter. This is true for the concept of the tithe just like it is for every other doctrine in the bible.

Even while we were still believers our views on the tithe shifted. For the most part we just gave the standard 10%. Later on, we ended up giving 10% of our *gross income* which caused our tax prep software to red flag us. Evidently this put us in the top 5% of charitable givers (as a percentage of those who used that software). Later still, we gave most of our money directly to those in need. An ex-nanny who had raised my wife got the bulk of that. Out of all those gifts, that was the one that felt like it matched a biblical view the most.

Now we give in a much more targeted fashion, and totally avoid any religious organizations. Just reading this thread kinda gave me the heebie-jeebies...
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Cassie on March 02, 2017, 12:02:38 PM
My DIL is from Poland and her family still lives there so I will ask her if it is the way you describe in the town where they live. It definitely is not a rich country at all.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Kiwi Fuzz on March 02, 2017, 01:02:38 PM
I find it interesting that those of us who pay more taxes (Canada, Australia, various European countries) are quite cheerful about it.  Possibly because we agree with most of where the money gets spent?  While the few posts about "the gun to the head" form of taxes seems to be by an American.  Which, I have to say, totally blows my mind when I look at how low American income (and most sales) taxes are.  Try looking at some other country's tax scales and figure out how much more you would be paying.  Anyway . . .

Kiwi ex-pat living in 'Taxachusetts' USA here.

For what people get from their tax dollars, I can understand the resentment. I don't share it but I understand.
In NZ I had interest free student loans, free ambulance services, and health care where I paid a total of $30 NZD for a doctor's visit (NZD is worth about 30% less than USD).

Here I have to pay $10K USD annually for health coverage/treatment (admittedly, I now have an High Deductible Health Plan (1.5K deductible) with lower premiums and Health Savings Account so 6.5K of that is savings - which may or may not be spent by year end and earns interest). It costs something like $30K to give birth in a hospital (on the lower end) without insurance. The school systems here are lagging behind the rest of the OECD countries (I don't have kids, though), public services are always on the chopping block no matter who's in power and there's a general feeling of 'I could do it better if I just got to keep my tax dollars' - I see that sentiment on the MMM forums frequently.

That said, my husband is on disability (Social Security Disability) and in the USA his payments are not impacted by my income - only his assets (of which he has none). If we lived in NZ then he would be means tested against the household income - meaning his and my income combined - and would be eligible for a grand total of $0 of NZ governmental disability assistance. And keep in mind that I don't even make the median state income for Massachusetts.

Taxes here are very low but services also seem to be very low - unless you're extremely poor or disabled. That's how some people like it, I guess, otherwise they wouldn't have voted how they did. The people who benefit from the system the most don't pay income tax (because they don't have work income or don't have enough work income to enjoy a living wage). Which, for the record, I feel is as it should be. But this does make the people in the middle (lower middle class) feel squeezed. However, it's dead easy to legally evade taxes. Interest free retirement accounts, interest free health savings accounts, health premiums are tax deductible - the list is pretty much endless as the tax code gets more complex every year. But if one doesn't have the time or wherewithal to figure out the tax code (or pay an accountant) one may not realize this...

Again, I don't agree but I do understand after living here a few years.

~

As for tithing - I have no opinion on that specifically. I'm a life-long Atheist, raised by Atheists and married to an Atheist. I am dubious of predatory 'mega churches' but realize that not all churches are such and at the end of the day it's not my decision for make for others.
I agree with the sentiment that MMM is about prioritizing your spending. If you want your life back from the corporation you work for then you'll save more so you can retire early. If you want the warm-fuzzies of donating (to a church or otherwise) you'll do so. I second the idea that if advice about reducing that non-negotiable budget item is ignored then all one can do is make other suggestions and wish them well.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Erica on March 02, 2017, 11:55:58 PM
We *must* tithe.

We *CANNOT* tithe.

It is always based on the interpretation, which morphs to fit the viewpoint of the interpreter. This is true for the concept of the tithe just like it is for every other doctrine in the bible.
With all due respect, :) it's not interpretation.
It's an OLD TESTAMENT law given to a specific group of people.
It is not a "concept" anyone can just follow

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Erica on March 03, 2017, 12:12:53 AM
Anyone who questions this just ask these so called "tithers" this one little question :)

"Please give me an example of someone in the bible I can follow regarding tithing"

They won't know what to tell you.

And if they do answer you by showing you an example, very soon you will have a be-willdered look on your face

Because even if we are delusional enough to falsely apply the Old Testament tithe to ourselves, we still have another problem.

Though there was currency as early as Genesis 47:14 (in the form of silver and gold) the Tithe required by GOD is NOT CURRENCY

Be prepared to offer up a few farm animals, a donkey maybe, or be well versed in growing your own food.


Also....in the New Testament, aka the new covenant, don't assume a measly 10% of your crop or animal(s) will suffice anyway. Again, the command isn't referring to currency. The contribution may be more or less $$ depending on Jesus words to you (via the holy spirit) and your personal circumstance. Also the condition of your heart

ALL JESUS' WORDS -

 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[a] will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Or
Mark 12: 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Notice the widow "gave out of her poverty" ^^so Jesus said she contributed FAR MORE than the richer folks because her divvy was all out of her poverty. So it's not a specific amount of money or percentage GOD is counting as righteous. The poor widow gave "out of her poverty" versus "Out of her abundance" as the richer people did. As a Christ follower, these are Christs words. What he expects. Christians could easily be called to donate MUCH MORE than 10% or possibly, MUCH LESS.

Another example- Jesus words
Luke 18:18-24

The Rich Official. 18 An official asked Jesus this question, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20 You know the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother.’” 21 And he replied, “All of these I have observed from my youth.” 22 [a]When Jesus heard this he said to him, “There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard this he became quite sad, for he was very rich.

So this rich man says he adheres to all the commandments (which is impossible so this tells you off the bat he is not saved) yet he endures sadness when he is told to give all of his money to the poor and become a Jesus follower on earth spreading the gospel. Only until he is saved, aka becomes a Chrsit follower, will he be viewed as adhering to the law (commandments) because Christ fulfilled the law


Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: expatartist on March 03, 2017, 01:41:38 AM
Fascinating discussion, went in directions I wouldn't have imagined from the original post.

My father's a conservative catholic theologian, but tithing was never discussed considered or practiced by us. Sure, we donated $ every week at church, but nothing like 10%. As with the story of Adam and Eve, we were brought up to believe these were moral tales told at particular point in history to our ancestors, but not to be taken literally. These stories were instructive and interesting but not practically applicable to life in the developed world where our economics and social situations are so different.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: norabird on March 03, 2017, 08:46:37 AM
The last quote of the rich official kind of makes me think of the Jain religion (if any of you are familiar with it).
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: exmmmer on March 03, 2017, 09:30:38 AM
We *must* tithe.

We *CANNOT* tithe.

It is always based on the interpretation, which morphs to fit the viewpoint of the interpreter. This is true for the concept of the tithe just like it is for every other doctrine in the bible.
With all due respect, :) it's not interpretation.
It's an OLD TESTAMENT law given to a specific group of people.
It is not a "concept" anyone can just follow

No, it's 100% interpretation. No one has the original Hebrew (or whatever Babylonian language ) the original might have been written in. No one can know *for sure* exactly how it was implemented. There are even indications there was more than one 'tithe'...

https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1958/09/the-three-tithes-of-the-old-testament (https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1958/09/the-three-tithes-of-the-old-testament)

Thus, my reference to the tithe as a 'concept.' Sure, it was intended for Judaism. They called it a 'law,' fine. I get that.

Keep in mind I'm approaching this from the viewpoint of a lifelong fundamentalist who is now an atheist...YMMV
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Turkey Leg on March 03, 2017, 09:34:10 AM
Though there was currency as early as Genesis 47:14 (in the form of silver and gold) the Tithe required by GOD is NOT CURRENCY
Tell that to the widow. (Mark 12:42 "Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.") She wasn't a coin-maker, yet contributed her tithe as coins.

Interesting discussion here. I can't believe some of the churches out there. Wow. Ours certainly does not require a tithe, and much of what our church collects supports local people who need help, as well as missionaries abroad. (And some of it goes to pay for electricity and the woman who cleans the church, and the other staff.)

There are many bad examples of Christians and Christianity out there, and that is very sad.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Erica on March 03, 2017, 12:11:08 PM
Though there was currency as early as Genesis 47:14 (in the form of silver and gold) the Tithe required by GOD is NOT CURRENCY
Tell that to the widow. (Mark 12:42 "Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.") She wasn't a coin-maker, yet contributed her tithe as coins.
Good afternoon MacNerd. I am the one who posted that with the very explanation you are re-iterating, maybe I am reading it incorrectly but it appears there could be some confusion.
The widow was following Jesus instructions to be a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). Contributing currency which is one form of giving in the New Testament. She lives in the New Covenant just as we Christians do therefore she cannot tithe. Even if she was alive in the OT, it never applied to her. She is not an Old Testament Isrealite under Old Testament Law. My guess is she doesn't have a large crop or raise farm animals anyhow so would not have that to give. Animals were regularly used as offerings, including sacrificial offerings, in the Old Testament. Until the ultimate sacrifice arrived to die once and for all, for those who accept him as their Savior.
.
A Christian is a Christ Follower. They have a desire to follow their Gods instructions to them, not commands given to others. Nor disobey our Lord by deluding themselves into believing they are heeding old commandments given to a select group of people hundreds of years ago whether legalistically or in the form of "a concept" This makes no sense. Especially in light of there are direct commands given directly to them to cheerfully give without being under compulsion or obligation.
Quote
Interesting discussion here. I can't believe some of the churches out there. Wow. Ours certainly does not require a tithe, and much of what our church collects supports local people who need help, as well as missionaries abroad. (And some of it goes to pay for electricity and the woman who cleans the church, and the other staff.) .There are many bad examples of Christians and Christianity out there, and that is very sad.
I agree. I don't see where your example of giving a few dollars to help out with a volunteers electricity bill is forbidden in scripture. Good on you for being a part of a church that helps people in need, including supporting missionaries abroad.

For the Record, and you may know this already but for everyone, church is from the the Greek word ecclesia. It refers to a group of people, Christ followers, not a building. There are very few Christ followers. Most people who join churches have no desire to follow Christ. They choose what they want to believe, whether it actually pertains to them or not. And sometimes in the face of rebelling against the commands that do apply to them.

People who cling to old commandments, OT LAW, which doesn't apply to them in the first place while rebelling against Gods commands  to be a cheerful giver, are not Christians by definition. Everyone falls short and sins at times, but an absolute refusal to believe the Word of God, aka the truth, to turn and believe lies, this is what sets believers and non-believers apart.  Saved versus unsaved.

In the Old Testament (OT) God destroyed everyone except 8 people who were related to Noah (who built the Ark). They were the only righteous people on earth at that time. Noah built an Ark, a command given specifically to him. No one else is commanded to build an Ark. Yet so many pretend they are commanded to tithe.

God destroyed entire towns because of their wickedness,- Sodom & Gomorrah saving only Lot and his family. Multitudes of people are saved in the NT, and will be saved, especially in the last days. It will be the largest revival in history. Example- 1/3 of the Jewish people (Zechariah 13:8) will be saved in the last days leaving 2/3 to perish. Also Old testament saints resurrected. To wrap this up to tie into the subject of mustachism, we arrive with nothing in this world and will leave with nothing. Yet in the afterlife for some, it will be different.

Jesus said....

John 14:2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
 
Sorry for being so long winded. Better sign off for now. Hope you have a wonderful weekend :)

.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: shelivesthedream on March 04, 2017, 03:40:32 AM
No, it's 100% interpretation. No one has the original Hebrew (or whatever Babylonian language ) the original might have been written in. No one can know *for sure* exactly how it was implemented. There are even indications there was more than one 'tithe'...

Whaaa? There are numerous ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible from various places in the world. Admittedly not from the year dot, but there are HUNDREDS of academic biblical scholars all over the world collating the differences between the manuscripts and working out what the "original" might have said and using their knowledge of the ancient world to work out what that would have meant. Different translations into English aren't the same as not knowing what the ancient Hebrew said.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: arebelspy on March 04, 2017, 03:49:24 AM
I tend to favor the 1631 version.

It's just more fun (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/22/17th-century-wicked-bible-instructs-readers-thou-shalt-commit-adultery/)!
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: exmmmer on March 04, 2017, 04:59:38 AM
No, it's 100% interpretation. No one has the original Hebrew (or whatever Babylonian language ) the original might have been written in. No one can know *for sure* exactly how it was implemented. There are even indications there was more than one 'tithe'...

Whaaa? There are numerous ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible from various places in the world. Admittedly not from the year dot, but there are HUNDREDS of academic biblical scholars all over the world collating the differences between the manuscripts and working out what the "original" might have said and using their knowledge of the ancient world to work out what that would have meant. Different translations into English aren't the same as not knowing what the ancient Hebrew said.
I did not make any reference to translation. However, as to scholars, there are consensus issues...

https://www.sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?ArticleId=725

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: exmmmer on March 04, 2017, 05:01:09 AM
I tend to favor the 1631 version.

It's just more fun (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/22/17th-century-wicked-bible-instructs-readers-thou-shalt-commit-adultery/)!
I favor this one :) https://www.amazon.com/Holy-Bible-agnostics-religious-stupidity-ebook/dp/B00G68FI98

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on March 04, 2017, 05:57:09 AM
I just posted about this topic on my journal if you are interested.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Erica on March 05, 2017, 04:56:14 PM
I tend to favor the 1631 version.

It's just more fun (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/22/17th-century-wicked-bible-instructs-readers-thou-shalt-commit-adultery/)!
Blasphemous! :)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: financepatriot@gmail.com on March 06, 2017, 09:41:10 AM
Guess I am glad to be Catholic, where tithing is negotiable.  I have never felt pressured by my church to give any amount.  Yes, they ask, and yes some give way more than others, but the fact that they don't pressure me makes me more inclined to give larger amounts, after FI. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: runewell on March 06, 2017, 10:11:51 AM
I"m not sure why people think the 10% tithe should be on the net income - I have always given 10% of the gross.
Shouldn't you give money to God first?  By tithing on the net income it sounds like you are giving money to Uncle Sam first, and God only gets 90% of what Uncle Sam doesn't take.  That doesn't seem like "firstfruits" to me.

Also, I once told a wise friend that tithing was an Old Testament concept. 
He told me I was right.  Under the New Testament, we give ALL of our money to God. 

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Vanguards and Lentils on March 06, 2017, 12:14:53 PM
I"m not sure why people think the 10% tithe should be on the net income - I have always given 10% of the gross.
Shouldn't you give money to God first?  By tithing on the net income it sounds like you are giving money to Uncle Sam first, and God only gets 90% of what Uncle Sam doesn't take.  That doesn't seem like "firstfruits" to me.

Also, I once told a wise friend that tithing was an Old Testament concept. 
He told me I was right.  Under the New Testament, we give ALL of our money to God.

I don't think first fruits really has much to do with pretax and after-tax. It was probably just a reminder, at the beginning of the season, that everything after that belonged to God. I would be very suspicious of any church which declared that tithing was "meant" to be done pre-tax because we really don't know. Why would God make tithing so much more difficult on western Europeans than on Americans?
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: WGH on March 06, 2017, 12:29:40 PM
There is a local church of a certain common variety that requires members to bring in their tax returns so the church can set your tithe for you. I hear there is another church across our small town that something similar. Both have had big building plans over the years to pay for.

That is horrible, and actually in direct conflict with the bible:

Quote
2 Corinthians 9
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[a] will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

So they are trying to compel, and also deciding for the individual. I've actually never heard of this - would you mind sharing what church does this

Personally I have attended a Baptist church and a Catholic church who both stressed that the 10% was to be pre tax and not post tax very specifically. Both churches also reminded me not to tithe was a sin and my soul would be damned to not do so. These were two different churches in two different states.

The last time I attended the Catholic church a couple was brought up who told a sad tale of medical bills and a fear of not being able to pay for a needed treatment. Rather than helping themselves and getting another job or selling extra possesions they prayed apparently and somehow an anonymous check arrived in the mail. This was decided to be a proof of their faith and the miracle of God working through his devout. I understood that the church was teaching the 1,000 or so people attending that day when you have a problem it can simply be solved by prayer and disregard your own responsiblities in the matter.

I think I will go pray for my stache to grow an extra zero at the end.....
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: kite on March 06, 2017, 02:20:47 PM
There is a local church of a certain common variety that requires members to bring in their tax returns so the church can set your tithe for you. I hear there is another church across our small town that something similar. Both have had big building plans over the years to pay for.

That is horrible, and actually in direct conflict with the bible:

Quote
2 Corinthians 9
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[a] will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

So they are trying to compel, and also deciding for the individual. I've actually never heard of this - would you mind sharing what church does this

Personally I have attended a Baptist church and a Catholic church who both stressed that the 10% was to be pre tax and not post tax very specifically. Both churches also reminded me not to tithe was a sin and my soul would be damned to not do so. These were two different churches in two different states.

The last time I attended the Catholic church a couple was brought up who told a sad tale of medical bills and a fear of not being able to pay for a needed treatment. Rather than helping themselves and getting another job or selling extra possesions they prayed apparently and somehow an anonymous check arrived in the mail. This was decided to be a proof of their faith and the miracle of God working through his devout. I understood that the church was teaching the 1,000 or so people attending that day when you have a problem it can simply be solved by prayer and disregard your own responsiblities in the matter.

I think I will go pray for my stache to grow an extra zero at the end.....

Catholics are not required to tithe.  I'm not suggesting your recollection is faulty, only pointing out that pre or post tax % is irrelevant because there isn't a requirement for Catholics to give a certain percentage.  Whoever said so was incorrect.  Your salvation is not dependent upon handing over 10% to the Church.
Neither does Catholicism teach that your problems can simply be solved by prayer, disregarding one's own responsiblities.  Again, I'm not saying your recollection was faulty or that the sermon didn't include a tale about medical bills, etc.  More likely they were a tangible example of the people helped by charity, and a reminder to the 1000 or so in attendance of whom they help with their charity. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: WGH on March 07, 2017, 09:04:50 AM
Catholics are not required to tithe.  I'm not suggesting your recollection is faulty, only pointing out that pre or post tax % is irrelevant because there isn't a requirement for Catholics to give a certain percentage.  Whoever said so was incorrect.  Your salvation is not dependent upon handing over 10% to the Church.

This is what I love about religion. You make all these bold statements as if they were facts that you could prove. Like it's a math problem and 2 + 2 = 4 and any other answer is just wrong. Except what you state is merely an interpretation likely based on what you were taught, studied, or believe. Other Catholics would tell you that you are flat out wrong as I have sat in a pew and heard a sermon that the bible states I must hand over 10% of my pre tax income.

That self righteousness is easily the most offensive part of organized religion.

Neither does Catholicism teach that your problems can simply be solved by prayer, disregarding one's own responsiblities.  Again, I'm not saying your recollection was faulty or that the sermon didn't include a tale about medical bills, etc.  More likely they were a tangible example of the people helped by charity, and a reminder to the 1000 or so in attendance of whom they help with their charity.

Again that is your interpretation. I know what I heard and what I heard was not this is the power of charity it was this is the power of prayer. If you just believe, just have faith then all would be well. That was the message as I interpreted it.

Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: kite on March 07, 2017, 02:30:06 PM
Catholics are not required to tithe.  I'm not suggesting your recollection is faulty, only pointing out that pre or post tax % is irrelevant because there isn't a requirement for Catholics to give a certain percentage.  Whoever said so was incorrect.  Your salvation is not dependent upon handing over 10% to the Church.

This is what I love about religion. You make all these bold statements as if they were facts that you could prove. Like it's a math problem and 2 + 2 = 4 and any other answer is just wrong. Except what you state is merely an interpretation likely based on what you were taught, studied, or believe. Other Catholics would tell you that you are flat out wrong as I have sat in a pew and heard a sermon that the bible states I must hand over 10% of my pre tax income.

That self righteousness is easily the most offensive part of organized religion.

Neither does Catholicism teach that your problems can simply be solved by prayer, disregarding one's own responsiblities.  Again, I'm not saying your recollection was faulty or that the sermon didn't include a tale about medical bills, etc.  More likely they were a tangible example of the people helped by charity, and a reminder to the 1000 or so in attendance of whom they help with their charity.

Again that is your interpretation. I know what I heard and what I heard was not this is the power of charity it was this is the power of prayer. If you just believe, just have faith then all would be well. That was the message as I interpreted it.

It is not my interpretation.  Catholic Teaching IS defined, explained and documented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  It's an actual thing, that you could look up and verify.  It doesn't bend to the whim of a particular priest who happens to be preaching on any given Sunday.  The Catechism is what it is, and isn't dependent upon a poll of what Catholics think or feel at a particular point in time.
If you are so inclined, you can find in the Catechism at CCC 2043, the fifth precept.  Literally, "each according to his own abilities." 
Catholic Universities and Catholic Hospitals around the globe don't just sit around praying all will be well.  You'd learn hard science at Georgetown, Notre Dame, St. Joe's, Fordham or Boston College.  You'd get actual surgery or chemotherapy, antibiotics or radiation, depending upon the need, at a Catholic Hospital.  I don't discount your recollection of what you heard, but the church doesn't ask the faithful to shut off their brains and have faith in the best outcome.  It's nonsensical.  Particularly for an institution that has witnessed death, wars, plagues and suffering over millenia.  It's possible, if one is already hostile to organized religion, to sit in the pew and think we're all believing and hoping like tinkerbell that we can fly. 
Have a dispute with the church or Catholicism on a genuine, debatable subject. There are countless legitimate causes.  But not tithes, and not a teaching that faith alone is sufficient. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: expatartist on March 07, 2017, 06:22:14 PM
Catholic Teaching IS defined, explained and documented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  It's an actual thing, that you could look up and verify.  It doesn't bend to the whim of a particular priest who happens to be preaching on any given Sunday.  The Catechism is what it is, and isn't dependent upon a poll of what Catholics think or feel at a particular point in time.
If you are so inclined, you can find in the Catechism at CCC 2043, the fifth precept.  Literally, "each according to his own abilities." 
Catholic Universities and Catholic Hospitals around the globe don't just sit around praying all will be well.  You'd learn hard science at Georgetown, Notre Dame, St. Joe's, Fordham or Boston College.  You'd get actual surgery or chemotherapy, antibiotics or radiation, depending upon the need, at a Catholic Hospital.  I don't discount your recollection of what you heard, but the church doesn't ask the faithful to shut off their brains and have faith in the best outcome.  It's nonsensical.  Particularly for an institution that has witnessed death, wars, plagues and suffering over millenia.  It's possible, if one is already hostile to organized religion, to sit in the pew and think we're all believing and hoping like tinkerbell that we can fly. 
Have a dispute with the church or Catholicism on a genuine, debatable subject. There are countless legitimate causes.  But not tithes, and not a teaching that faith alone is sufficient.

+1
While I have a lot of problems with the Catholic church, it's a top-down org. Everything's codified, though individual parishes may have a rogue priest or group of nuns.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: talltexan on March 08, 2017, 08:08:56 AM
Thanks for great discussion!

Mainline protestant here...I served as a finance volunteer at my previous church, which was located in an affluent suburb of Cincinnati. Average giving per household was about $$4000 per year in an area with an average household income above $80,000. I cannot see how a mainline Protestant church would require the tithe without seeing a dramatic drop in membership, and I think this matters: the mission of the church is to serve these members, too.

I personally consider placing something in the offering plate to be an act of worship and attempt to do it with any bill every time I am in church.

Our church has a general fund, as well as a "Mission Fund", which are a set of ministries that church resources go to. At my old church, the Mission budget was about 15% of all the church budget. The programs in the "Mission Fund" are probably more akin to the causes that help people directly, although I would argue that the church's main programs still have significant spiritual value.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: JustGettingStarted1980 on March 08, 2017, 10:55:54 AM
I don't see how this is much different in effect than me be non-negotiable on paying taxes (which I am, less because of a moral belief and more because jail sucks).  Taxes cost me more than 10%.  To say me paying my taxes then makes cutting too tough or early retirement impossible is a cop out.

I may not have exactly the same point of view, but I think we are both barking up the same tree!

I view taxes as my tithe, but with no religious expectations/compromises/obligations.  I personally feel that it is the local, regional, state, and federal government's job to care for the poorest among us, the sick, the orphans, the elderly.  I also vote accordingly. 

I don't mind paying higher taxes at all, as long as they are not used to create war or global strife (yes, I know, I know). Thus, we get things like the CDC (they do a great job!), FEMA (sometimes), the EPA (awesome track record for 50 years), MEDICARE (increased life expectancy by >10 years since the late 60's!), the National Institute of Health, Community Family Health Centers, Regional Public Hospitals, etc....

I worry about the non-profit status of religious organizations when I see how often the "top guy" lives a life of luxury and scandal. I also see bloated administration in many "charities" in which 10% or less of revenue is actually spent on the mission of the organization. Medicare administration expenses are about 3%, last time I checked.

JGS


Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: retired? on March 10, 2017, 02:10:51 PM
I don't attend church.  My wife is a non-practicing jew.  We don't attend any services at all so this is not an issue.

The 10% always struck me as like the diamond industry marketed the idea that an engagement ring should be two months of pay.

I know my parents adjusted the % they gave according to how much they earned.  As it went up, the $$ amount might go up but the % went down.  It was out of a feeling of obligation.  The church asked for a pledge at the start of each year.

I think the people who truly gain something positive from church will have no problem tithing.  It's those that attend church out of duty that will question the amount to tithe.

BUT, if I did tithe and were to request an analysis at MMM, I would cut that out of the data I presented.  It's too much of an easy target.

lastly, just like college savings shouldn't come at the expense of retirement savings, I don't think tithing should come at the expense of retirement savings.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: lampstache on March 11, 2017, 11:46:13 AM
My wife and I have been thinking about tithing vs. not tithing at our current church. The past few years we had been a one income household and it didn't make financial sense for us to tithe since we were on a tight budget as it was. Now that my wife has finished school and we have two incomes coming in, we still don't feel led to tithe to our church. What we're both in agreement with is that we have and want to continue to be charitable when individual cases come up.

For example, we have a couple who we're in a marriage bible study with and the husband will soon be donating a kidney to his ailing father. The husband will have to take 6 weeks off (teacher) and it will be a big strain on their finances. We've decided we would give them at least $1,000 anonymously to help them through his recovery. There are other one off instances where we've donated to teachers in need of supplies, camp scholarships, mission trips to name a few. We feel more comfortable with this type of giving personally.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: JLee on March 12, 2017, 04:28:16 AM
I don't attend church.  My wife is a non-practicing jew.  We don't attend any services at all so this is not an issue.

The 10% always struck me as like the diamond industry marketed the idea that an engagement ring should be two months of pay.

I know my parents adjusted the % they gave according to how much they earned.  As it went up, the $$ amount might go up but the % went down.  It was out of a feeling of obligation.  The church asked for a pledge at the start of each year.

I think the people who truly gain something positive from church will have no problem tithing.  It's those that attend church out of duty that will question the amount to tithe.

BUT, if I did tithe and were to request an analysis at MMM, I would cut that out of the data I presented.  It's too much of an easy target.

lastly, just like college savings shouldn't come at the expense of retirement savings, I don't think tithing should come at the expense of retirement savings.

I wonder how many people are unable to retire at typical retirement age because of tithing - I just ran the numbers out of curiosity, and if was investing 10% of my gross today (at 33yo), starting with a balance of zero (i.e. the 10% of gross recommended as a tithe by someone earlier in this thread), I'd be a millionaire by the time I was 65.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: talltexan on March 13, 2017, 08:02:53 AM
Here's an alternative to the tithe: commit to donate 12.5% of your unearned post-tax income.

It's more than 10%.

But it's from the fruit of your "land", not "labor". Build the stache quickly, live off a lower SWR because of the good you're doing.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: runewell on March 13, 2017, 08:16:24 AM

I wonder how many people are unable to retire at typical retirement age because of tithing.

No doubt I could have shave several years off of my eventual retirement date had I not tithed my whole life.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: MustachianAccountant on March 14, 2017, 05:58:20 AM
This is impossible. WE CANNOT TITHE so this thread is a misnomer.

(Shortened for brevity)

Here is some food for thought from some church information.  Sharing for consideration as a counterpoint to these views.

Why Tithe?
The giving of a tithe is a recognition that everything you possess actually belongs to the Lord.

(Shortened for brevity)

There is a lot that goes into this discussion, but here's some food for thought:

--Please have your church leaders explain Deuteronomy 14:22-29 to you. I've never heard this passage spoken on when the tithe is brought up, which is strange (and by that I mean, not strange).

--There IS an Old Testament guideline for us on giving, but it's not the tithe. It's found in Exodus 35:4-29. That passage aligns directly with what we find in 2 Corinthians 9, and how the early church gave in Acts.

--If you want great, well thought out, Biblical resources on tithing, check out Matthew Narramore and Graeme Carle. Free online studies linked here. They argue better than I ever could:

Graeme Carle: Eating Sacred Cows http://www.tithingdebate.com/eatingsacredcowsdownload.pdf (http://www.tithingdebate.com/eatingsacredcowsdownload.pdf)

Matthew Narramore: Tithing - Low Realm, Obselete, Defunct www.tekoapublishing.com (http://www.tekoapublishing.com)
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: caracarn on March 14, 2017, 07:18:35 AM
This is impossible. WE CANNOT TITHE so this thread is a misnomer.

(Shortened for brevity)

Here is some food for thought from some church information.  Sharing for consideration as a counterpoint to these views.

Why Tithe?
The giving of a tithe is a recognition that everything you possess actually belongs to the Lord.

(Shortened for brevity)

There is a lot that goes into this discussion, but here's some food for thought:

--Please have your church leaders explain Deuteronomy 14:22-29 to you. I've never heard this passage spoken on when the tithe is brought up, which is strange (ok, not really).

--There IS an Old Testament guideline for us on giving, but it's not the tithe. It's found in Exodus 35:4-29. That passage aligns directly with what we find in 2 Corinthians 9, and how the early church gave in Acts.

--If you want great, well thought out, Biblical resources on tithing, check out Matthew Narramore and Graeme Carle. Free online studies linked here. They argue better than I ever could:

Graeme Carle: Eating Sacred Cows http://www.tithingdebate.com/eatingsacredcowsdownload.pdf (http://www.tithingdebate.com/eatingsacredcowsdownload.pdf)

Matthew Narramore: Tithing - Low Realm, Obselete, Defunct www.tekoapublishing.com (http://www.tekoapublishing.com)

Thanks for this material.  Always interesting to learn more.  I only spent a bit of time to far, but wanted to see what the "point" of these sources was so went to the end of Mr. Narramore's book.

In reading his Chapter 12 Commencement, I feel his teaching is certainly sound, and in line with what our church focuses on.  We do not succumb to the doctrine that any works, including tithing, are demanded by God to be saved.  In the end Mr. Narramore's message is no different than what we've been following which is to give to the church as the Lord leads.   We do not give 10% out of a feeling of obligation, but simply because that is what we feel is appropriate.  If we were part of a church that gave us pause, obviously our first course of action should be to search for another church that was more Biblically based.  Our church is the first one that I have attended (and over my lifetime I've been part of about 30 churches) that follows the precept that giving is between you and the Lord.  We do not pass a collection plate, you give (or not) to the church in collection boxes in a few places around the building.  They do allow you to give online if you choose and if that is easier, which is how we do it so that we do not have to write checks, bring them with, etc.  It's just done each week.  There is no selection on the web site to have it calculate 10% for you, no text indicating it should be 10% etc.  I do not feel it "buys" me a place in heaven, it is required by God, or any of the other things Mr. Narramore indicates are false doctrine.  As such I feel his direction is sound.  I do not  feel that changes the fact that for us what we give is non-negotiable.  Our giving is to help further the Great Commission and that clearly is what we are commanded to do under the New Covenant.  If at any point I feel that our church is no longer focused solely on that, I will most likely have the Lord lead us to a lower level of giving or to once again find a church modeled after Acts 1:8.  Our church has been this was for 40 years, so I'm not too concerned that a change like that will come.  Our current pastor has been senior pastor for over ten years, and was involved in associate pastor duties her for fifteen years before that.  His father was senior pastor for thirty years before him.  There was a pastor search before he was appointed so for those who will cynically point to some pre-determined succession, that is not the case.  The church elders are godly men and were very forthright with the congregation during that time and were very clear that the son may not have been chosen, but after over a year of consideration that decision was made with consent of the congregation.  In short, I agree with what little I've read from Mr. Narramore, and my reasons for giving at the tithe level are totally in line with his explanations as I've been them thus far.   If people fall into the traps he lists (I did scan the other chapter summaries), I would encourage them to look at what you have provided and clear their mind (or "cleanse" it as Mr. Narramore suggests) of the false rationale for tithing, but I believe you'll find most true believers at that point would not change their giving, if their church serves the purpose of furthering the gospel in the world.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: MustachianAccountant on March 14, 2017, 07:35:21 AM
This is impossible. WE CANNOT TITHE so this thread is a misnomer.

(Shortened for brevity)

Here is some food for thought from some church information.  Sharing for consideration as a counterpoint to these views.

Why Tithe?
The giving of a tithe is a recognition that everything you possess actually belongs to the Lord.

(Shortened for brevity)

There is a lot that goes into this discussion, but here's some food for thought:

--Please have your church leaders explain Deuteronomy 14:22-29 to you. I've never heard this passage spoken on when the tithe is brought up, which is strange (ok, not really).

--There IS an Old Testament guideline for us on giving, but it's not the tithe. It's found in Exodus 35:4-29. That passage aligns directly with what we find in 2 Corinthians 9, and how the early church gave in Acts.

--If you want great, well thought out, Biblical resources on tithing, check out Matthew Narramore and Graeme Carle. Free online studies linked here. They argue better than I ever could:

Graeme Carle: Eating Sacred Cows http://www.tithingdebate.com/eatingsacredcowsdownload.pdf (http://www.tithingdebate.com/eatingsacredcowsdownload.pdf)

Matthew Narramore: Tithing - Low Realm, Obselete, Defunct www.tekoapublishing.com (http://www.tekoapublishing.com)

Thanks for this material.  Always interesting to learn more.  I only spent a bit of time to far, but wanted to see what the "point" of these sources was so went to the end of Mr. Narramore's book.

In reading his Chapter 12 Commencement, I feel his teaching is certainly sound, and in line with what our church focuses on.  We do not succumb to the doctrine that any works, including tithing, are demanded by God to be saved.  In the end Mr. Narramore's message is no different than what we've been following which is to give to the church as the Lord leads.   We do not give 10% out of a feeling of obligation, but simply because that is what we feel is appropriate.  If we were part of a church that gave us pause, obviously our first course of action should be to search for another church that was more Biblically based.  Our church is the first one that I have attended (and over my lifetime I've been part of about 30 churches) that follows the precept that giving is between you and the Lord.  We do not pass a collection plate, you give (or not) to the church in collection boxes in a few places around the building.  They do allow you to give online if you choose and if that is easier, which is how we do it so that we do not have to write checks, bring them with, etc.  It's just done each week.  There is no selection on the web site to have it calculate 10% for you, no text indicating it should be 10% etc.  I do not feel it "buys" me a place in heaven, it is required by God, or any of the other things Mr. Narramore indicates are false doctrine.  As such I feel his direction is sound.  I do not  feel that changes the fact that for us what we give is non-negotiable.  Our giving is to help further the Great Commission and that clearly is what we are commanded to do under the New Covenant.  If at any point I feel that our church is no longer focused solely on that, I will most likely have the Lord lead us to a lower level of giving or to once again find a church modeled after Acts 1:8.

You (and your church) are conflating "giving" with "tithing."

One says Christians should give. I agree with that.

The other says Christians should give at least 10%, and then layer rules and regulations on top of that (Gross or net? What about money gifted to me? What if I go on vacation? What if I'm in debt? What if...). I don't agree with that. There is simply no Biblical support for it.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts after you fully read the literature I linked.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: caracarn on March 14, 2017, 07:59:53 AM
MustachianAccountant, no actually I respectfully disagree.  I believe it is you who is conflating the fact that since I have chosen to given 10%  as some sort of proof that I misunderstand.  I've read the summary section of both authors at this point, so unless they handle their writing differently I've gotten the full impact of their teaching.  They both say the same thing.  Give what the Lord lays on your heart at the time, do not give our of fear or obligation.  I (or my church) do exactly that.  All of the traps in the questions Carle provides such as "should I now not give" , individual responsibility and inappropriate assignment of blessing are things I follow and understand.  I just happen to have arrived at what most would label a tithe, because it works for our family and my wife and I agree.

Where I disagree with Carle is on splitting the giving between what he properly classifies as "church" and "para church".  I would argue that if you feel that compulsion you should listen to he Holy Spirit's message that your church is doing things that make you uncomfortable and are most likely ungodly (such as building projects for no purpose, which he references, properly I would argue, and man's denominational obsession with keeping things separate).  Our church regularly shares our facilities with other like minded churches as there is need.  We only embark on building or other projects after there is clear need through growth of it and do so in a way that honors the fact, as Carle, points out the ten tenths of what we have is God's and therefore we steward it accordingly.  We actually are embarking on a new building to expand out worship facility.  Initially we will be able to accommodate 700 souls, with modular classrooms behind the initial space and above it which can then be converted to worship space if the congregation grows (notice not "when", as only God can provide the souls if we honor him with proper worship and teaching) up to 1,300.  The existing space will be utilized for expanded youth space as we have outgrown our youth space as well.  Our church provides no "programs" beyond Bible study and other learning opportunities to focus on God's Word.  I have no compulsion from the Spirit to spread my giving beyond the church, where I had before.  This is not due to marketing by the pastors, it is due to the fact that our mission and structure is clearly Biblical in the New Covenant design of Acts.  We consider ourselves a first century church, and are not denominational for exactly the reasons Carle gives, of being mandated to use God's provision in unbiblical ways. 

From reading both authors I believe Carle and Narramore would be quite pleased if they visited our church and spoke with out pastors.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: MustachianAccountant on March 14, 2017, 08:27:33 AM
From reading both authors I believe Carle and Narramore would be quite pleased if they visited our church and spoke with out pastors.

Is this:

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/the-non-negotiable-tithe/msg1454042/#msg1454042

from your church's literature? Is this what they teach on giving? Because if so, then Narramore and Carle both would strenuously disagree with your pastors.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: caracarn on March 14, 2017, 08:47:40 AM
From reading both authors I believe Carle and Narramore would be quite pleased if they visited our church and spoke with out pastors.

Is this:

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/the-non-negotiable-tithe/msg1454042/#msg1454042

from your church's literature? Is this what they teach on giving? Because if so, then Narramore and Carle both would strenuously disagree with your pastors.

It is material used for new members yes.   And you've got me there on what is written.  In practice the message is much more in line with Narramore and Carle as no one is walking around making people feel guilty for not tithing etc. like in other churches I've attended.  The attention is much more on simply make people aware from time to time that giving is a part of worship between you and the Lord and hence why we give in secret as Carle also mentions. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: caracarn on March 15, 2017, 02:36:36 PM
MustachianAccountant, I've fully read both of the documents you linked to.

They are well written and thought out, but I wish the credentials of the authors were clear.  I have forwarded them on to one of our pastors, as I would agree that our material, while clearly starting with the fact that is in recognition that everything is God's does convolute things.  It contain points that are opposed to what these studies point out.  I do think the one section in Narramore's writing where he shows all the different interpretations and uses it to point out that God would be unlikely to leave something that is taught to be so core so open to interpretation carries the most impact.  I felt the first study was more Scripturally focused and I believe that is because it seems Carle has some theological background, where I have no idea is Narramore has any credentials. 

In short I have no disagreement with what they point out, that everything is God's and therefore we should give according to the Holy Spirit, not some doctrine that they argue no longer applies.  They did a good job of going through the verses and explaining them based on the knowledge I have, but I've not been trained in seminary, so I will be curious what my pastors make of it (and frankly if they will make any effort at all.  I believe they will, but not sure they will read in detail).  I'd like to believe that what they say is true, that a truly born again Christian led by the Spirit will likely give even more than 10% if the need is there, and I have no reason to doubt that.  As I have stated many times over in this thread, I give 10% not out of compulsion, or obligation, but rather because I feel that is right and what I feel called to give by the Spirit.  I have not always done that, and our move to 10% is only about two years old, and the shift was definitely from within, not from haranguing by our pastors.  They almost never talk about the topic.  For me it's still non-negotiable and for reasons entirely in line with what your two sources indicate.  Thanks for sharing, I always enjoy a good Bible study and these both had me digging in further to see if I agreed with their context in the broader chapters, and they did. 
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: Much Fishing to Do on March 15, 2017, 05:57:23 PM

I wonder how many people are unable to retire at typical retirement age because of tithing.

No doubt I could have shave several years off of my eventual retirement date had I not tithed my whole life.

This would probably change the retirement date of a lot of people here...but I don't think it would effect most people being able to retire.  Its just like I don;t really follow the argument that if people were allowed to save and invest the 12% that goes to SS themselves that they'd be better off...I don't think most people would save and invest it, at least not for decades, they'd eventually spend it.
Title: Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
Post by: caracarn on March 16, 2017, 06:13:09 AM

I think the people who truly gain something positive from church will have no problem tithing.  It's those that attend church out of duty that will question the amount to tithe.


I would not disagree with that at all.  The material recently linked by MustachianAccountant gets to the heart of that.  Those authors would argue that those people (that attend church out of duty) are not at the point that they have embraced Christianity in the New Covenant.  I'd not go as far as to say they were not truly saved (that's between them and God) but once you get to a point where you have faith and inwardly are a Christian you do not view it as a burden (just like you do not view attending church as a duty.  It's the best part of your week).