Q: I have been taught that it is our duty to give precisely one tenth of our gross income to the church. Under this teaching not doing so is thought to be robbing God of what is His. What are your views on tithing?
A: Concerning your question on tithing, what you have been told is a good example of what happens when people pull certain verses out of context and then misapply what they have pulled out of context.
First of all, the actual Mosaic tithe was not 10 percent but 22-23 percent. That is because there were two annual tithes of 10 percent each and a third tithe every third year. The total averages out to 22-23 percent.
Second, the tithing itself was aimed strictly at the farming community, which most Jews were a member of at that time. They had to tithe from what was grown and what was raised such as flocks. Anyone else outside the field of farming would simply pay the annual half shekel at Passover.
Third, tithing was part of the Mosaic Law and therefore was only in force as long as the Mosaic Law was in force. The Mosaic Law came to an end when Messiah died on the cross.
Fourth, the biblical principle for today's giving is not based upon tithing but based upon giving as the Lord has prospered. From week to week the percentile might be different depending on the obligations we might have.
Fifth, the Bible nowhere says we are to give our entire offering (not tithe) to the local church. On the contrary, we are told that we should lay it in private deposit and strictly distribute our giving as necessary. The certain things we are required to support would include the local church, but that does not mean they get the entire amount of our offering. There are other ministries we are obligated to support such as whom we learn the Word from (Galatians 6), Jewish ministries (Romans 15:25-27), and others we give to as we are led to give. There is no need to feel guilty if somebody tries to get on your case for not tithing specifically to the church. The verses they use are verses that deal with the Mosaic Law. The storehouse was in the Temple Compound where the food was stored and not the church treasury.
Q: Based on Paul's teaching about those observing the Law being under a curse (Galatians 3:10-14), does this mean that churches and believers who believe they must follow the law of tithing are under a curse?
A: Paul's basic teaching throughout Galatians is that Gentile believers who wished to submit to the Law through circumcision were, in turn, obligated to keep the entire Law (613 commandments). By so doing, they placed themselves under a curse — the disciplines of God detailed in several Torah passages (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28-29; etc.) — as they would find it impossible to keep the whole Law.
I would not say that modern-day “Law-keepers” are necessarily under a curse, but the fact remains that it would be impossible to keep the tithe exactly as Moses commanded: a largely agricultural, annual rate of 23 percent. Though they would not necessarily suffer any special judgment from God, I do believe they rob themselves of His blessings that come through the teaching of grace-giving.