Tithing Disagreement between Husband and Wife


#1

My husband and I have a very different perspective on tithing, but because I trust my husband, and I trust God to lead him to what is right as the spiritual leader of our household, I hold my tongue (mostly ;) ). I was raised to believe that when we join a church, we are required to tithe 10% of our income, and this is what I did with my income from part-time jobs when I lived in my parents' home. Well, my husband and I have not been members at any church since the church where we met as teens, yet we have visited various churches. Now that we are joining the Catholic church, I feel that we are obligated to begin tithing. We always place something in the offering plate every time we visit a church, and since beginning attending our local Catholic church, we have been giving more than we might ever have elsewhere (God's hand is active in that change).

So, because of some financial difficulties (and I know most people are experiencing some fairly dramatic changes in their financial status in America right now), when we begin soon to use the offering envelope system, which will track our giving, we will not be able to give 10% for quite some time. My husband sees nothing wrong with that, but me?...I feel very wrong about it. Part of it is guilt for having made the financial mistakes in the first place (although some things are not our fault, but due to the actions of others as well), but part of it really has to do with my being taught to give 10% in tithing.

As a stay-at-home mother, I receive a monthly deposit to my spending account for groceries and other necessities from my husband's paycheck each month. Should I be tithing 10% from that money in addition to whatever my husband tithes on behalf of our family, or would that be wrong of me? I want God to show our family how to tithe properly, and I want my husband to feel like he is leading us and that I support him, but what should I do when I have a different perspective from him on tithing? Am I doing God's will by giving my opinion, but then allowing my husband to lead, even if he does not feel convicted?
This is also a tricky subject because the truth of it is that if I tithe 10% out of my household account, I will have not enough to cover the amount we currently are spending for a family of four, and now we have a baby on the way.
I love my husband and I trust him, I also trust God to lead us in the right way. I am just confused about how to go about handling a situation when my husband and I disagree in a matter of conscience. Any thoughts would be appreciated!


#2

I am not an expert in this, but the one thing I have noticed is that the 10% tithing "rule" seems to be more of a Protestant thing and I haven't seen any evidence of this "rule" in my diocese. In fact one of our priest recently gave a homily that said that he would rather people give what they can/wanted to give than to feel obligated to give a certain amount to the church, he said the rules of always giving a certain % of money created a obligatory givers instead of those that give because they want to give.

My fiancee and I give to our parish in the envelopes but we only give what we can without setting a 10% rule for ourselves.


#3

Maybe these will help:

Must Catholics Tithe?

Must Catholics Give 10%?

10% of Net or Gross Income?

Church Teaching on Tithing

:D


#4

Thank you so much! That really helped a lot. I will continue to read about giving according to Catholic precepts and reeducate myself, so I don’t cling to Protestant teachings that are inconsistent with Catholic doctrine.


#5

I don't know if there is an answer, if there is I want to know. I have a similar disagreement with my wife, and have gone as far to contribute money behind her back, and have been "caught". It is a very difficult thing as she sees our finances differently than I. Whats important to me isn't necessarily important to her(financially), and then the whole rich Catholic Church topic comes up. So I eat dirt, and we have settled on an amount that she is happy with contributing, even though I feel it is an insult. But it does not stop me from dropping money in the poor box monthly, in secret of course. Good luck.


#6

[quote="belmontmac, post:5, topic:188293"]
I don't know if there is an answer, if there is I want to know. I have a similar disagreement with my wife, and have gone as far to contribute money behind her back, and have been "caught". It is a very difficult thing as she sees our finances differently than I. Whats important to me isn't necessarily important to her(financially), and then the whole rich Catholic Church topic comes up. So I eat dirt, and we have settled on an amount that she is happy with contributing, even though I feel it is an insult. But it does not stop me from dropping money in the poor box monthly, in secret of course. Good luck.

[/quote]

I admire your desire to give to the Church, but it seems to me (perhaps because I am a woman!) that it is more important to be honest with your wife. As others have pointed out, the Church does not mandate a percentage. I was taught that it was good to give 5% to the Church and another 5% to other concerns, such as feeding the hungry, etc. If your wife is not Catholic (or not practicing) she might be more happy about the amount if half of it were going directly to the poor, e.g. via CRS or some other charity that will never use it for abortion, etc.

I think that if you have a weekly "allowance" of a certain amount for lunches out, gas, etc. you could give extra from that by making personal sacrifices, but otherwise if you and your wife have agreed on an amount, I think you should stick to it or have another discussion, rather than keeping secrets. If it were a mandate of the Church that you give a certain percentage, you would be in a different position, but I'm sure the Church would rather lose out on some money than have that money be a cause of division in a marriage.

Just my :twocents: with no offence meant and I hope none taken.

--Jen


#7

I don't think it's a strict 10%. When I joined the parish I belong to now, the priest said that it's best to give of our first fruits, not necessarily 10%.

I figured out what I could give each week based on how much I make the first day of the week. In the end it turns out to be around 10%, but that was kind of by chance.

Also, if you feel that you can't afford tithing, perhaps look into other areas where you can cut costs (cable etc). Because really, the Church should be receiving the first of our fruits, not what we have left over at the end of the week.


#8

wow .. i did not know about this.. i always thought it was 10%


#9

Our biblical model for tithing should be the widow and her "mite". Our goal should be to give (prudentially, of course!), not just out of our surplus, but out of our "mite". This will be very different for each family, and may be much more or much less than 10%.

It is very important for a husband and wife to be honest with each other about the family money. In the OP's case, I think she should bow to her husband's wishes, but at the same time make it clear that her wish as a family is to be more generous, bit by bit. IF it will not cause a shortage of necessities for her family, i see nothing wrong with giving a bit (without holding fast to the 10% "rule") out of her own spending account, as long as she's open and honest with her DH about it, and he's ok with it. It won't come as a surprise to her DH if she's already made her desires to be more generous gently known.

I will say, from my own personal experience, that God is absolutely NOT outdone when it comes to generosity. If a family can find it possible, generous (prudential!) giving and trusting in God may not result in material comfort, but for sure it will result in great spiritual peace within the family.

I also try to remember that "giving" includes more than just monetary funds. :)


#10

BTW - the word "tithe" means 10%. If you give a different amount, it is an offering, not a "tithe".


#11

Never a protestant, but I have always thought the 10% thing felt about right. I have always split this between the parish and other charities, but always tried to mainting the 10%, even in tough time. I've always thought of it as 4 hours of work a week. Doesn't seem that bad. But I would agree, we with Consecrated:

"Our biblical model for tithing should be the widow and her "mite". Our goal should be to give (prudentially, of course!), not just out of our surplus, but out of our "mite". This will be very different for each family, and may be much more or much less than 10%.
"


#12

[quote="Consecrated, post:9, topic:188293"]
Our biblical model for tithing should be the widow and her "mite". Our goal should be to give (prudentially, of course!), not just out of our surplus, but out of our "mite". This will be very different for each family, and may be much more or much less than 10%.

It is very important for a husband and wife to be honest with each other about the family money. In the OP's case, I think she should bow to her husband's wishes, but at the same time make it clear that her wish as a family is to be more generous, bit by bit. IF it will not cause a shortage of necessities for her family, i see nothing wrong with giving a bit (without holding fast to the 10% "rule") out of her own spending account, as long as she's open and honest with her DH about it, and he's ok with it. It won't come as a surprise to her DH if she's already made her desires to be more generous gently known.

I will say, from my own personal experience, that God is absolutely NOT outdone when it comes to generosity. If a family can find it possible, generous (prudential!) giving and trusting in God may not result in material comfort, but for sure it will result in great spiritual peace within the family.

I also try to remember that "giving" includes more than just monetary funds. :)

[/quote]

While I would never use the word 'bow' with respect to honoring my husband's leadership, I do particularly like your response. In the recent years, when I would make a conscious decision to allow my husband to decide and lead our family, even when I had a dissenting opinion, it has been apparent to me very quickly that God was pleased with my attitude. Either my husband would have a change of heart so that his perspective became more in line with my own, or I would have a change of heart, or we would be further educated about proper actions/behaviors through readings (scripture, books, online) that practically fell into our laps. Sometimes, the very things I worried about never came to pass when I said to my husband "I trust you." Sometimes, the worrisome things did happen, but the fact that I trusted him to begin with allowed me to say to him "Well, mistakes happen, and since this is an area over which you have authority, I trust you to make it better." Since we have more strictly divided up areas of authority and responsibility in our family life, giving one or the other the greater weight depending upon particular skills and vocation, we have been much happier. And since I stopped trying to run around fixing everything when he made a human error, we both became much more confident in his ability to lead. Great leaders can still make mistakes, what matters to us now as a couple is that in my husband's leadership, he is allowed to 'take care' of us, to 'serve' his family, to 'provide and protect', and if a mistake happens, then I just try to encourage him that he can fix it and I will be right there with him to help.
Anyway, that's a long story for a minor topic. Thanks to those who have offered such excellent advice.


#13

[quote="Randi, post:12, topic:188293"]
... In the recent years, when I would make a conscious decision to allow my husband to decide and lead our family, even when I had a dissenting opinion, it has been apparent to me very quickly that God was pleased with my attitude. Either my husband would have a change of heart so that his perspective became more in line with my own, or I would have a change of heart, or we would be further educated about proper actions/behaviors through readings (scripture, books, online) that practically fell into our laps. Sometimes, the very things I worried about never came to pass when I said to my husband "I trust you." Sometimes, the worrisome things did happen, but the fact that I trusted him to begin with allowed me to say to him "Well, mistakes happen, and since this is an area over which you have authority, I trust you to make it better."

[/quote]

Yes, this! I have found this to be true, too. It also has to do with trust in God. :yup:


#14

[quote="Randi, post:4, topic:188293"]
Thank you so much! That really helped a lot. I will continue to read about giving according to Catholic precepts and reeducate myself, so I don't cling to Protestant teachings that are inconsistent with Catholic doctrine.

[/quote]

They are not protestant teachings inconsistent with Catholic doctrine. If you were to look at things from a different point of view 10% tithing is the minimum requirement and we should do more. The Jews were given those laws because their hearts were hard. We should aim to higher standards.

Now my real take is that we have to do our best and we cannot be cheap with God by making excuses. We have to give back the first and the best. Having said that, I think that if you are truly making sacrifices and you are truly aiming to target a 10% donation I would not say that you are doing wrong by giving less.

I do not know about your finances, I simply know that in my case if would be sinful not to tithe 10% considering that I spend money for internet, television, cell phone, restaurants and other luxuries.


#15

Tithing...or doing anything for God, isn't about dollor amout or percentage but giving to God what is God's.

God dosn't ask for just anything...but the FIRST 10%. And as a good priest once told me...this isn't always money. Do you have a small garden during the summer? Donating the first fruits to a local pantry is VERY pleasing to God. We have become so separated in our day from what it means to work.

Right now I cannot tithe money....especially because I have to pay off student loans.

However, I tithe by going to Mass before work and either praying or praising God on the way to work. The first 10% of my wage-earning day is focused on God. I am giving Him what He asks for.

Our culture too often focus' on wages.

And I want to be clear on one thing becuase I see this happen FAR too often. Don't take money out of a "necessary" food budget. Eg: money to buy fresh veggies or good meat. Buying can spinach over fresh spinach or cheaper, fattier meat with filler so you can "give to God" dosn't do anyone any good. Taking nutritious food out of your children's mouths...or out of your or your husband's IS sinful. We are called to be good stewarts and that means meeting our family's basic needs first.

Figure out what your "fruits" are. Visit a nursing home with your children, sing praise songs with them. GIVE to God what is His.


#16

[quote="purplesunshine, post:15, topic:188293"]
Tithing...or doing anything for God, isn't about dollor amout or percentage but giving to God what is God's.

God dosn't ask for just anything...but the FIRST 10%. And as a good priest once told me...this isn't always money. Do you have a small garden during the summer? Donating the first fruits to a local pantry is VERY pleasing to God. We have become so separated in our day from what it means to work.

Right now I cannot tithe money....especially because I have to pay off student loans.

However, I tithe by going to Mass before work and either praying or praising God on the way to work. The first 10% of my wage-earning day is focused on God. I am giving Him what He asks for.

Our culture too often focus' on wages.

And I want to be clear on one thing becuase I see this happen FAR too often. Don't take money out of a "necessary" food budget. Eg: money to buy fresh veggies or good meat. Buying can spinach over fresh spinach or cheaper, fattier meat with filler so you can "give to God" dosn't do anyone any good. Taking nutritious food out of your children's mouths...or out of your or your husband's IS sinful. We are called to be good stewarts and that means meeting our family's basic needs first.

Figure out what your "fruits" are. Visit a nursing home with your children, sing praise songs with them. GIVE to God what is His.

[/quote]

:)
This also helps a lot. I want to do the right thing here, but wading through societal/cultural expectations and trying to learn what the bible and the church really is teaching us can be very difficult sometimes. Your mention of substituting lower quality food hits the nail on the head. My greatest responsibility and joy in my life as a stay-at-home mom is providing my children with yummy and nutritious meals and I don't want to compromise that by mistakenly following the teachings of some groups that tithing is more important than filling their bodies with nutrition (and some groups do suggest that, I have encountered this attitude time and again). My husband and I have agreed that with my duties as mother, homemaker and childbearer, at this point in our lives together, we need him to handle the responsibilities of managing our budget/charitable giving/tithing. And I want to rest in that knowledge that he will do what needs to be done, because frankly, I have my hands full right now.


#17

[quote="Randi, post:16, topic:188293"]
:)
This also helps a lot. I want to do the right thing here, but wading through societal/cultural expectations and trying to learn what the bible and the church really is teaching us can be very difficult sometimes. Your mention of substituting lower quality food hits the nail on the head. My greatest responsibility and joy in my life as a stay-at-home mom is providing my children with yummy and nutritious meals and I don't want to compromise that by mistakenly following the teachings of some groups that tithing is more important than filling their bodies with nutrition (and some groups do suggest that, I have encountered this attitude time and again). My husband and I have agreed that with my duties as mother, homemaker and childbearer, at this point in our lives together, we need him to handle the responsibilities of managing our budget/charitable giving/tithing. And I want to rest in that knowledge that he will do what needs to be done, because frankly, I have my hands full right now.

[/quote]

One more thing. God wants us to think for ourself but he NEVER punishes obedience.


#18

[quote="Cristiano, post:14, topic:188293"]
They are not protestant teachings inconsistent with Catholic doctrine. If you were to look at things from a different point of view 10% tithing is the minimum requirement and we should do more. The Jews were given those laws because their hearts were hard. We should aim to higher standards.

Now my real take is that we have to do our best and we cannot be cheap with God by making excuses. We have to give back the first and the best. Having said that, I think that if you are truly making sacrifices and you are truly aiming to target a 10% donation I would not say that you are doing wrong by giving less.

I do not know about your finances, I simply know that in my case if would be sinful not to tithe 10% considering that I spend money for internet, television, cell phone, restaurants and other luxuries.

[/quote]

This does not really help me, because based on what your saying, I could take a couple different approaches, neither of which are beneficial:
I could keep bringing the topic up to my husband, even though he has already expressed the desire to determine the amount we give. I might rapidly turn myself into the queen of the harpies.
I could give 10% of my stipend, which would reduce my grocery money significantly. It is possible that I could find a way to spend a lot less on necessities through coupon use and sales shopping, I suppose.
I think your response misses the point of this thread. I already feel very convicted about tithing, but I do not want to harp, I do not want to undermine my husband. I will not do these things because he is a good man whom God has blessed me with and I trust God to show him what is right. My question is about what actions I should take in the meantime. Should I add more to the offering envelope from my own budget, or would that be like a slap in the face to my husband? Should I just pray about it? Should I give to a charity (quietly, while still ensuring I can provide for the food and necessities) out of my budget? There are, I am sure, many ways in which the non-wage earning spouse can give to the Lord without hurting their spouse. So any ideas on that?

Another question, what does 'first fruits' mean practically speaking?


#19

Best to keep in mind that everything we have belongs to God. It should all be available for His use as He guides us.


#20

[quote="purplesunshine, post:17, topic:188293"]
One more thing. God wants us to think for ourself but he NEVER punishes obedience.

[/quote]

This one took me a minute to understand you meant obedience to my husband, not obeying God by undermining my spouse. I like your response here, because it feels really good to me to let my husband (who is truly wonderful!) lead us and make the financial decisions. He acts from the head, while I act from the heart. I would give the shirt off my back, while he is trying to make sure he can keep all of us clothed! Okay, a bit of an exaggeration here ;) but my essential point remains - he can consider the teachings on tithing and make a decision based upon careful financial analysis. I will hear the teachings on tithing and immediately feel the impulse to sell everything I own in order to give the money to the church or the poor. Not exactly the smartest move for a growing family. :D
I feel so much more peace about this now that I have heard some of these responses. Thanks to all!


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.