Giving back to God in tangible ways.

Tithing is the act of giving to God. Believers donate a portion (e.g. 10%) of their income towards an organisation with religious affiliations. The transfer occurs between people, and involves assets that are of tangible financial value to human beings.

Religious organisations have numerous costs to cover- they maintain a place of worship, create and distribute evangelical materials, provide musical instruments and visual aids, pay salaries to men and women of God, provide the paraphernalia used in ceremonies, and so on. Tithing is a practical way of supporting all these activities.

During services, people hold hands, pray, and sing, as the offering bag is passed around the congregation. This ritual becomes standard practise, and the matter of how the religious institution gets its income is dealt with gracefully.

The issue of money is typically a sensitive one. Many religious organisations adopt a no-nonsense approach and explicitly inform their followers that a certain fraction of their income is expected. This direct attitude simplifies the procedure tremendously and offers significant psychological benefits.

What benefits do we derive through tithing?
  1. Our financial obligations have been met.

  2. Our religious institution proves its competence in dealing with financial matters.

  3. We practise money management.

  4. Altruism is a shared activity.

  5. We're clear about how the system works.
Firstly, believers are secure in the knowledge that their financial obligations are fulfilled.
Regardless of your income level, as long as the minimum requirements are met most of the time, you need not feel guilty about the amount that you retain. Nothing more is expected, and you’re free to do what you like with the remainder of your income.

This removal of ambiguity brings a sense of relief (particularly to high income-earners, who might otherwise feel guilty for earning so much), and minimises unnecessary anxiety and second-guessing.

If you exceed the minimum, you experience a sense of self-satisfaction. If you don’t quite meet it, you can compensate by giving more the next time. (Click here for more on the possession of Material Wealth.)
Secondly, we feel pleased that our religious institution is able to handle its finances so competently.
Week after week, tithes are made, and the institution continues to thrive and look after its congregation’s spiritual needs. This demonstrates that, far from being irrelevant, unresponsive, and old-fashioned, the organisation is fully operational in modern day society, and receives God’s favour.
Thirdly, tithing is an excellent exercise in money management.
It instils discipline, as it requires you to set aside the required amount and surrender your money. It requires awareness of your financial state, and some quick mental calculations as you fish out the money.
Fourthly, it promotes a feeling of belonging and good will amongst believers.
When a donation of any kind is made- in the form of money, time, or energy- one places a stake in the religious institution and all that it stands for. It allows believers to demonstrate their commitment to a cause, as with donations made to non-religious charities and non-profit organisations. (Read more about Altruism here.)

Contributions help to further the religion’s aims, support existing members, and attract new converts. And as with many other rituals, the act of tithing is performed in communion with fellow believers. When we each place our money in the bag, and watch others do the same, we share a sense of solidarity. (Refer to the section on Community for more details on the social aspects of religion.)
Fifthly, the tithing system shows that the religious institution is comfortable around money, and is frank with its members about its needs and operating costs.
It does not skirt around the issue of funding, and by making the tithing ritual a regular, standardised affair, it conveys the impression of openness and stability. The procedure is straightforward, and it allows believers to see how the religious organisation sustains itself financially, and to feel comfortable with its methods.

We’ve all heard horror stories about religious leaders who steal from their congregations, but we hope that these are rare exceptions. Individuals who betray the trust of their followers probably do not fear God greatly.

As it's not possible to know exactly what another person’s true beliefs are, one can only have faith and trust that their leaders are genuine worshippers of God. (Click here for more on Religious Leaders and their responsibilities.)
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