I know tithing is important for God’s blessing on my family finances. However, my husband refuses to tithe.
Before the Covid curse overtook our country, he had, finally, begun to give $50 per week, some weeks. I begged him for most of our 40-year marriage to tithe. He has always said we cannot afford to tithe.
I have felt so hopeless because he is in charge of all the money. I have worked a little over the years, allowing me a small SS income of $674 per month. I do tithe on that now.
I have some resentment toward my husband. I have prayed all these years for God to change his heart in this area. He is a Christian and wouldn’t miss church. He has a moral compass facing due N. He has been a deacon for many years. He is very knowledgeable of the Bible. He’s read it front to back several times. He says tithing is OT and not required under the grace of the NT. Do you have any wisdom for me?
In all honesty, much of what we have to say will be more helpful to newly married or about-to-be-married couples than it might be to you. In more than 40 years of marriage, we imagine that you and your husband have navigated a number of difficult situations. Without making light of your feelings, you most probably have learned techniques for turning resentment into acceptance and moving on in a healthy way.
One question we urge you to ask yourself is why this long-standing problem is hitting a sore spot now. You opened your letter to us by saying that tithing is important for God’s blessing on your finances. Are you worried about money in a way that you previously weren’t? If so, those concerns should be aired in your marriage.
We would word our views on tithing (or giving charity) in a different way than you do. We believe that, among many other instructions, God tells us that not all of our money actually belongs to us. At least 10% is given to us in order for us to give it away. While we think (and we elaborate on this in the book, Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money) that being generous and giving often helps one make more money, it is not a case of quid pro quo. A society in which people tithe will be more prosperous. While most individuals also will do better, it isn’t a magic formula for making money, but something we do because it is the right thing to do.
Since our area of wisdom is only from the perspective of ancient Jewish wisdom, we cannot comment on your husband’s theological understanding of tithing. As the upright and religious man you describe him to be, he firmly trusts that he is doing the right thing. Is there a religious mentor that you can both speak to who might help you understand this view?
The issue that your letter does raise is how important it is to set up financial understanding from the outset of a marriage. When the husband is earning the living and the wife is running the home, the money belongs equally to the two of them. If two partners run a store together and one mans the counter and makes sales while the other does the marketing and maintenance, the one who handles the cash is not the “owner” of that money. In the same way, finances belong to the couple. From day one, whether or not you worked, you should have had the freedom to do as you wished with a certain amount of the money brought into the house, as he should have as well. While your husband may not feel that tithing is necessary, we assume he would not have objected to you ear-marking some of your portion of the funds for charity.
Our impression we have, which might be mistaken, is that you almost feel that you are being punished in some way for 40 years of not tithing. We are quite sure that God smiles on happy marriages, so while charity might be important, so is staying true emotionally to the man in your life.
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
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