Should a believer secretly tithe income?

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By BibleAsk Team


The question of whether a believer should secretly tithe their income if their unbelieving spouse doesn’t agree is a complex issue that requires careful consideration of biblical principles, ethical concerns, and relational dynamics within marriage. Tithing, the practice of giving a portion of one’s income to support the work of the church and ministry, is an important aspect of Christian stewardship and obedience to God’s commands. However, navigating differences in beliefs and practices within marriage requires wisdom, discernment, and a commitment to mutual respect and understanding.

The Principle of Tithing

The practice of tithing finds its roots in the Old Testament, where God commanded the Israelites to give a tenth of their income, crops, and livestock for the support of the Levites, priests, and the temple (Leviticus 27:30; Deuteronomy 14:22). Tithing was a tangible expression of gratitude to God for his provision and a means of supporting the religious community and its ministries.

New Testament Perspectives

While the New Testament does not prescribe tithing with the same specificity as the Old Testament, it affirms the principles of generosity, stewardship, and sacrificial giving. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, Paul instructs the Corinthian church to set aside a portion of their income for the support of the saints, emphasizing the importance of regular and intentional giving.

Marriage and Unity

Marriage is a sacred covenant between a husband and wife, characterized by mutual love, respect, and partnership. In Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul describes marriage as a reflection of Christ’s relationship with the church, calling husbands to love their wives sacrificially and wives to respect their husbands. Within the context of marriage, decisions regarding finances, including tithing, should ideally be made collaboratively and with mutual agreement.

Honesty and Transparency

Honesty and transparency are essential virtues in marriage, fostering trust, intimacy, and open communication. Keeping financial decisions, including tithing, a secret from one’s spouse undermines the foundation of trust and unity within the marital relationship. Proverbs 11:3 declares, “The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.”

Respect for Differences

In cases where spouses hold differing beliefs or convictions regarding tithing or other spiritual practices, it’s important to approach the matter with respect, humility, and understanding. While a believer may feel called to tithe as an expression of obedience to God, it’s essential to acknowledge and honor the perspectives and convictions of their spouse. 1 Peter 3:1-2 exhorts believers, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.”

The good example of the believing spouse may lead the unbeliever to accept Christ. Saving the unbeliever should be the main object of the Christian wife and this requires patience and long-suffering. She should never cease for one moment to live a true Christian life, no matter what provocation may arise to prompt her to do otherwise (Matthew 5:16).

Seeking Common Ground

Rather than resorting to secrecy or deception, couples can seek to find common ground and compromise in matters of faith and practice. This may involve discussing and negotiating a budget that reflects both spouses’ priorities and values, including charitable giving and financial stewardship. Philippians 2:4 encourages believers to “let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Now, if the unbelieving husband gives a personal allowance to the wife to spend on whatever she wishes, she can certainly tithe that part of the income and claim the blessing that is promised for those that tithe (Malachi 3:10). If both spouses earn an income and bring it to the family account, then an agreement may be reached that the wife can tithe her income for she is entitled to that as she has earned that money. Whatever the case may be, the Lord wants Christians to be Christ-like in all that they do. And the Lord will certainly bless the believing spouse and work all things for the good (Romans 8:28) that the grace of God may abound at the home.

Prayer and Patience

In situations where spouses disagree on matters of faith and practice, prayer and patience are essential. Trusting in God’s sovereignty and seeking his guidance through prayer can provide clarity, wisdom, and strength to navigate difficult conversations and decisions within marriage. James 1:5 assures believers, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Conclusion

In conclusion, the question of whether a believer should secretly tithe their income if their unbelieving spouse doesn’t agree requires careful consideration of biblical principles, relational dynamics, and ethical concerns within marriage. While tithing is an important aspect of Christian stewardship and obedience to God, it should ideally be practiced with honesty, transparency, and mutual agreement within the context of marriage. Honoring the unity, trust, and respect within the marital relationship is paramount, even as spouses navigate differences in beliefs and practices. Through open communication, respect for differences, seeking common ground, and reliance on prayer and patience, couples can cultivate a spirit of unity, love, and mutual respect in their journey of faith together.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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