A week or so ago I sat listening to a Presbyterian minister propound his views
relative to giving to God. His were the views of the average Orthodox Christian minister;
and his sermon, though couched in varied form, was composed of the same old
cut-and-dried ideas I have heard time and time again from disheartened ministers who are
helplessly attempting to heckle their congregations into contributing more time and money
to the church. I wouldn't be far wrong if I were to say that the tithing plan was used as a
dunning sermon as far back as the time of the earliest Hebrew religion.

    Now, this tithing, which is the basis of most minister's plea for money, is defined
by Webster's Dictionary as being a tenth of our substance paid as a voluntary contribution;
and the minister adds, "Given to God". Let us analyze this system of tithing. It is valuable
in that it makes percentage of income a measure for giving rather than some set sum for
rich and poor alike; but even the percentage plan is not fair to millionaire and pauper alike.
It is an unchallenged truth that in general everyone has the same basic necessities. We all,
rich or poor, require a minimum of food to maintain efficient existence; we all have
definite clothing requirements, especially during the winter. Everyone has a right to
maintain some standard of living above that of mere beasts. Though, with an income of a
hundred thousand dollars, or so a year, a high standard of living may be maintained and
yet ten per cent, or even fifty per cent given for Church and charities, yet with an income
of only five hundred dollars, or less, as many fine people have today, the whole amount,
and then some is required to maintain the proper living conditions. The giving of fifty
dollars, or less that the ministers tell us this family of scanty income should give, very
likely means malnutrition for the baby or lack of dental care for ten-year-old Billy. I
contend such a system as demands that sort of sacrifice is unjust and decidedly

    The ministers always tell us that the world and everything in it was created by
God, and by this very fact belong to God. Thus we and all our possessions belong to Him.
Therefore, it is only just to give to him a tenth of our possessions. Yes, it all sounds very
well to those inclined to take in ideas as a fish gulps up hook, line, and sinker; but to those
who think before they accept ideas, it doesn't look so appetizing. Let us be the "poor fish"
who thinks -- though he often seems to go hungry, at least he has no indigestion about
which to worry. Are we really egotistical enough to believe we are settling our accounts
with God when we give him a paltry one tenth of what we have? Can you imagine the
irony of petty man thinking he can return to the donor one tenth of that which he has been
given and the account be settled? If we would follow the same line of reasoning as does
the minister -- or the one who did the reasoning for the minister -- we would soon reach
the conclusion that our debt is settled after we have paid our tithe; and we are free to do
as we please with our other ninety per cent; we may hoard it, burn it, start a war with it --
in fact, do anything we jolly well please. That is just what many so called Christians seem
to believe and practice concerning giving of their time to God. They seem to think that if
they attend three or four church services on Sunday they have a perfect right to do almost
anything they wish for the rest of the week. That obviously cannot be right and we are
forced to concede that since what follows is not true, the starting hypothesis (i.e. tithing
and other similar plans) is not true either.

    Rather than this artificial tithing; rather than this unnatural percentage plan of
giving, can't we get back to simpleness once more? What could be simpler, and yet more
Christian than to give our all, ourselves and all we have to God -- whoever, or whatever
He may be? But how are we to give to God our all? We can't go up to His throne on some
majestic cloud or star and lay our gifts before Him; we can't place them upon some altar
and expect Him to miraculously spirit them away to some distant place. God has no use
for the material substance of earth, save on this earth. What could be more logical than
that we were given intellect, health and spirit, as well as material possessions so that we
could use them in making God's kingdom upon this earth. You can do your best work in
the world only after you have done your best upon yourself. Your health, spirit, and
material substances should be used to make you yourself of the greatest worth to the
world. That may, or may not mean a college education with its expenses. It surely does
not mean Rolls-Royces and a palace home. Money spent on these would have been better
spent in helping others.

Dorris Willows
English 1:10

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