Exploring Pagans and their relationship with that earthiest of earth symbols, money.
Tithing: not just for Christians
Risking charges of cultural appropriation, I'm going to come right out and say that I thinking tithing is a wonderful idea that Pagans should borrow and embrace . . . with some modifications to fit our diverse paths and beliefs, of course.
Tithing is the Biblical tradition of skimming ten percent off the top of one's income and giving it to one's church. This was an effective way to provide for priests and ensure that charity stays local, but there are a number of reasons why its literal application won't work for most modern Pagans. A few that come to mind are:
- Many of us don't belong to a church, or belong to several;
- Those churches are often not local, so the good works won't result in local spending;
- Even those Pagans who embrace "perfect love and perfect trust" may not feel that someone else will distribute that money according to our values; and
- Paid clergy are not only uncommon, the very idea is frequently viewed with suspicion.
That's off the top of my head, and I'm sure any reader could come up with several more along the same lines. But there's still value to the tithing concept, of giving away ten percent. Here's a few points of value to consider:
- Giving is a good thing. A lot of gods say so, maybe some of yours.
- 10% is an easy calculation, just move the decimal place over one spot to the left.
- The process can be automated by your bank or payroll office in a lot of cases, making it painless.
So how does Pagan tithing work? Like most aspects of this family of religions, it's largely self-directed. The key is setting up a system of getting that money into a different account, because if you can do so automatically, you won't miss it. Then, you can decide where and how to spend it, based on your religious beliefs, personal ethics, and divine inspiration. I'm getting bored with numbers, so how about I use bullets to rattle off a few examples?
- Buy religious supplies, like incense and offerings.
- Donate to charities that support the environmental, social, or other goals which drew you into your Pagan path.
- Use it to support political actions or campaigns that are in keeping with that path.
- Send money to a church you belong to, or contribute to a Pagan temple fighting a battle for full recognition.
- Purchase toys for children you don't know.
- Ask your own gods; they're likely to have a few ideas.
What you do with the tithe is between you and whatever you hold to be divine. The important thing is starting the habit.
If you've got something in particular you'd like to tithe towards, I'd love to read about it in the comments.
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