A Question of Net Tithing
NCW 20, June 1995
Q. I understand that [the New Covenant Church] practices "net tithing", meaning you pay your taxes to the state before you give the Lord His tithe. Isn't that to put the state before God?
This is a legitimate question and not one easily answered. In the theocratic environment in which tithing was established, taxes were tithes. No other moneys were levied from the people until the monarchy of Solomon and it is probable (though we don't know) that taxes were paid on top of tithes (i.e. after tithing). We do know that Solomon's taxation was a great burden to the people and that it was used for his ostentatious building projects (he even conscripted his citizens for slave labour).
The Patriarchal era doesn't help us much either. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek after his war against the kings but there is a question as to whether Melchizedek was a secular or a spiritual king. Many believe that the bread and wine offered Abraham was not sacramental (in other words, it was not a type of the Eucharist) and therefore it seems likely to them that this payment was secular. Yet Yah'shua the Messiah's (Jesus Christ's) superior Priesthood (to the Levitical) is compared with Melchizedek who apparently lacked genealogy, making Melchizedek a type of Christ and therefore spiritual. New Covenant Christians believe that Melchizedek was a title of Shem, the son of Noah. Therefore we are forced to conclude that the bread and wine meal was sacral in some way.
Added to this is the fact that the payment of tithing was very common outside the patriarchs as well as the Mosaic dispensation. It was always a means of collecting revenue for the state. Taxation seems to therefore have been 10% (or multiples thereof).
New Covenant Christians do not want to rob God (and that is our first priority) but neither do we wish to rob man. If true tithing belongs to a theocratic society then paying tithes/taxes to the state is a kind of robbery for although much of it is used for righteous purposes (services) much of it is not (military, abortion, false education, etc.). Christians therefore face a dilemma because they are presented with two tithes -- God's 10% and the state's 30% (more or less).
The New Covenant Church desires to create a society as independent from the economy of the secular society as possible. For us, the state's "tithe" is a kind of robbery because a greater part of it is used for unrighteous purposes. Since we do not know what percentage is used for unrighteousness (military, secular education on homosexual rights, abortions, unnecessary luxuries, etc.) we cannot say what proportion is being used for essential things.
Added to this problem is the fact that tithing under the Mosaic system was used exclusively to support the priests and therefore the temple. It was not used for "community services" like hospitals, police, etc., because these things didn't exist then. This was a primitive agrarian society. Ours is not. How, then, is Yahweh's tithe to be used in a modern society?
There is no doubt that some of the welfare services provided for by the state reflect Christian principles such as taking care of the poor, elderly, and needy. Unfortunately, though, the whole premiss of society is wrong -- such poverty and need would not exist in a true theocratic society so its foundations are wrong from the beginning. Yes, it is right to pay for services to heal injured souls, but is it right to pay for such services when the state's whole philosophy is injuring them in the first place?
Even when Zion is self-sufficient there are (in Norway at any rate) still property taxes, so that even if the state were giving us nothing, we would still be required to give something to it.
We would like to be able to say in response to your question something like: 'Since the state is robbing God, we let them rob us of our 30% (of whatever it is) and then regard what is left to be what is rightfully our's and God's. We therefore pay 10% to God on that.' Yet we know it isn't that simple. We know also that God has ordained "rulers and authorities" for the peace, welfare and prosperity of all men and women in the world and that we are to uphold them with our prayers so long as the theocratic, millennialistic society is not here.
We therefore recommend that our people pay 10% nett. I stress the word recommend. If our members feel uncomfortable with that and desire to pay a Gross Tithe (on money earned before tax), then they are free to live after their consciences. There is a third system of tithing also, called "Increase Tithing" which is even more extreme (liberally-speaking) than Nett Tithing which says that the people pay 10% on what is left over after taxes and basic living expenses have been met, and this was a system we practiced in the past because of the influence of the Restoration movement on us, as this was the practice of the first Restoration Christians twot centuries ago. This was abandoned by us when we discovered that it had no Biblical basis. Certainly paying God His title after meeting basic living expenses is a kind of robbery even though it does have the desired effect to forcing a man to examine his conscience honesty and to live up to high stewardship principles.
Throughout it's history NCCG has adopted different policies on tithing. It would be true to say that the New Covenant practices both Nett and Gross Tithing but it is up to the personal conscience of each member or family what they practice. It is, in any case, regarded by us only as a schoolmaster system of financial stewardship, for our goal is the United Order, or the Law of All Things in Common, which is practiced by those of us living in Zionic (firstborn) communities. Though the state still gets its "cut", all the rest is given to God and shared amongst the people as they have need.
Another complication is to be found in the types of tithe required by Yahweh, of which there are three, viz. tithes for the priests (ministers), tithes for the seven obligatory festivals and especially those requiring travel), and alms for the poor. These distinctions were not made in the Patriarchal era because Israel was not then a nation. The same three obligations devolve upon us today because we are supposed to help the poor, attend the festivals and support - where needed - our ministers according to Yahweh's Shemittah Cycle.
To date we have no hard-and-fast rules concerning tithing under the present world system and leave it a matter of individual conscience pending clear revelation on the subject. We don't believe there is a perfect tithing solution outside the theocratic nation of Messianic Israel. What we do have, however, is the opportunity to live the United Order of all Things in Common which we are aiming for in our firstborn colonies to be built. And though the state will still take its pound of flesh even there, until the Tribulation, it will be easier to live Yahweh's financial laws under such circumstances than under the tithing system.
- The Law of Tithing in Biblical Times.
- The Treasury of Wealth: Yahweh's Financial law
This page was created on 2 May 1998
Last updated on 30 December 2007
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