Tipping and Tithing

I have written and spoken on this subject at length in the past, but my idea is seldom understood. Let’s try again.

I believe that tipping is more important than tithing.

When good Christians hear that statement they jump to the conclusion that I am some kind of anarchist.

Many Christians are light tippers, if the anecdotes of servers are to be believed. I’ve heard people use the excuse of their tithing a reason for light tipping, as if the two forms of giving were interchangeable and, of course, giving to God is more important than giving to people.

That is wrong on at least two counts:

  • Tithing is not giving to God.
  • Got has told us to give to people.

Tithing, as currently practiced, is giving to the church. There is a lot of language in the church to make it seem as if we owe a tenth of our income to God, but that was OT legislation to provide for the living of those devoted to liturgical service. We don’t have a central place of worship to support, nor a centralized clergy, so the whole idea of tithing is moot. No good argument can be made for a requirement of tithing today.

Now, of course we should support our house of worship and the people who are paid to make it work. But that does not require a tenth of everyone’s income. I can prove that by looking at giving records and noting that Christians don’t, on average, give anything close to ten percent, and yet the church persists.

It’s time we were honest with ourselves about what we are doing when we give. It is not an act of worship; it is an act of survival.

Concerning people, Jesus told a wonderful story about how giving to the least is the same as giving to him. That, right there, shows how important it is to give to others.

Most of us don’t have many truly poor people around us. But, if we go to a restaurant, we have people waiting on us like manservants and maidservants of old. They are paid almost nothing by their employers and rely on us to make a living. It is my thesis that to fail to tip and to tip well is the same as stealing from these fine folks who are making our lives easier. (My personal practice is to start at 20% for poor service and move up from there. But I wouldn’t codify that.)

Thus, tipping is more important than tithing. And giving to those who need a boost is more important than giving to support a Christian shopping mall in the guise of a church.

Commence the discussion, if this tickles your interest bone. But maybe you don’t want to use your noodle that much.

2 thoughts on “Tipping and Tithing

  1. It makes perfect sense to me. I do give a tenth or more to my local house of worship; I also tip generously.
    However, I don’t typically give to people at the exit ramp & I struggle with whether I should or not. Some, not all, (I feel) could walk a few yards down the street & get a job at one of the many food establishments saying “now hiring”. Then I question if I am being judgmental & I should give out of the abundance of my heart & not consider if they are capable of a living besides begging on the exit ramp.

    1. Right. As I see it, someone holding a sign at the exit is quite different from one waiting on me. But I get the anxiety about it.

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