I have written a few articles about the theological reasons why tithing is mandatory in the New Testament era, but it’s also helpful to explain some of the more practical benefits that accrue to the Church from setting up a two-tiered membership distinguished by a specific boundary: those who tithe and those who don’t.
Only tithing members should be granted voting rights. That means the right to vote in most matters of Church importance. Choosing church leaders is often done by vote: congregations vote on who will occupy the office of deacon, of elder, and sometimes of pastor (teaching elder).
To vote properly (Biblically) on these matters, you have to be familiar with the requirements set forth in passages like 1 Timothy 3. There, specific requirements for those in contention to be elders or deacons are established. Today, churches allow almost anyone to vote as long as they’re baptized. The problem is, a new convert has probably been immersed in the religious worldview of secular humanism his whole life. That worldview teaches that churches that do not allow women to be voted into the office of elder or deacon are being sexist and barbaric; such a church is not up to speed on the modern era’s progressiveness.
Such a convert probably won’t quickly or easily grasp the theological reasons behind Paul’s requirement that an elder, for example, be “the husband of one wife.” Ignoring even the theological reasons, it’s clearly understood that a woman cannot be a husband. Doubtless also is it that such a convert will be willing to take Scripture as his ultimate authority in all matters (2 Cor. 10:4-5). That means he requires undergoing a slow process of re-programming every facet of the foundations of one’s belief system. That means rejecting the wisdom of the world and embracing the foolishness of the cross:
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? …but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles…For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men…But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise… (1 Cor. 1:18-30, abbrev.)
It’s a tall order to expect a brand new Christian convert, after spending his entire life steeped in the worldview of humanism, to embrace these heavenly principles completely short of a massive pouring out of grace. And even then, it’s one thing to embrace the principles but another to understand how to apply them.
The Church also votes on matters of church discipline (excommunication). Of course, not a lot of churches take excommunication seriously anymore. They reject Paul’s call to discipline the body:
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Cor. 5:11-13)
Why should we purge the evil person from among us? To keep the bride pure and without blemish. This means a church that teaches sound, Scriptural doctrine, among other things. It means a church who manages its finances in a way that glorifies God and expands the Kingdom. It means a church that is intolerant to unrepentant sin.
Of course, it’s in our sinful nature to abhor these things. We want to be sinners. We don’t want to repent. We want to waste our money and value the present over the future. And a willingness to let just any old Joe vote on important church matters who has recently walked into the door and been baptized has resulted in churches that preach the virtue of sinful things. It’s no accident.
HOW THE LIBERALS CAPTURED THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Liberals captured the mainline Protestant denominations in a systematic way beginning in the mid-1800s. It was all over before the second World War began. Only a detailed case study of the Presbyterian church has been assembled. We need similar studies for every other denomination.
How did they do it? They put their people, who held their liberal idealogy, into positions of influence and leadership in the churches. They recognized the churches as centers of influence, so they sought to capture them. How? By voting their people into Church office. What were the minimum requirements to vote? To be baptized. It’s no big deal for a humanist to lie about holding Christian beliefs, especially since they don’t believe there is a personal God who will bring sanctions against them, in time and in eternity. “You want me to get baptized to vote? Or re-baptized? Sure, whatever you say, line me up. And all my friends, too. The Lord has blessed us with a revival! Look at all these lost souls coming to the altar!”
You can bring in a big group of your friends, infiltrate the congregation, easily secure a large percentage of votes by simply lying about what you believe, and then start influencing church elections.
Once you can vote your people into Church office who hold your non-Christian ideology, you can then modify the message coming out of the pulpit. At that point, you’ve won. A small handful of people has captured an entire congregation without protest. They can then undermine orthodoxy. And that’s what the humanists did.
ERECT BARRIERS AND RAISE THE COST OF CAPTURING A CHURCH
But what if they all had to tithe to get a voting share? Not many people are willing to put their money where their mouth is. Not even most Christians are willing to tithe to the God they profess to love. They would rather steal from him in spite of his explicit disdain for such theft:
Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. (Mal. 3:8-9)
The job of the priest is to guard the Church from invaders. We are made a nation of priests after being adopted into the high priesthood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:9). Collectively, we have let snakes into the garden and they have captured our Churches. Until Christians get serious about self-discipline, until they believe that God still brings positive and negative sanctions in history for obeying or disobeying his law, and until they believe they really do need to guard the churches from invaders by holding the congregation’s feet to the fire of credal confession by making them buy into that confession where it hurts the most (their pocketbook), the Church will continue to struggle.
You cannot serve both God and Mammon. What you do with the top 10% of your income reveals which God you serve in your heart of hearts. It’s one thing to confess with your mouth that you believe Jesus Christ was crucified, dead, and buried, and rose again on the third day and ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father almighty. It’s another thing to announce your complete surrender to his authority by cutting into the biggest temptation there is: your paycheck. Your wealth.
When you give the top 10% to God, you’re saying that you depend on him for everything because you understand that man cannot live on bread alone. When you keep that top 10% for yourself, you are announcing that there are areas in this life where God cannot help you, but rather only your own cunning and resources can help you. You have rejected God’s total sovereignty over you and your life because you have rejected the truth that everything you have is a gift given directly to you by Him. You are announcing that by the might of your own hand have you gotten your wealth. You are saying that you are sovereign over your wealth, and its your choice to determine how much of it God receives.
Total surrender to Lord Jesus Christ in words becomes partial surrender in deed when even a mere 10% is on the line. That’s why such a system of screening by a local church would be so effective at keeping out the snakes and the wolves: it dramatically raises the cost required to capture a church. When the cost of something rises, less is demanded.
FINAL WORD ABOUT DEDUCTING TITHES FROM TAXES
Additionally, let me say this about deducting your tithes from your taxes: if you give that money to the church and report it to the government, the government gets less tax money from you. Tithing to the Church and starving the federal government is a win for the Kingdom and a loss for tyrannical humanism. Sounds like a good deal to me.