The Tithing Laws and the Land of Israel

Some of you might already know the historical information in this article and it might seem repetitive. However, my hope is that you will see how this historical information provides context to the tithing laws and paints a clearer picture of how tithing was to be carried out during the Old Covenant.

According to Scripture, the tithe had to come from the land of Israel, so we will begin there.

In Genesis 12:1-3, God called Abraham out of his native country “to a land” that He would show him. This land was the land of Israel.

Just a few verses down in Genesis 12:7, the Lord told Abraham that He would give this promised land to his descendants. These descendants were the Twelve Tribes of Israel whom God delivered from slavery in Egypt.

In Exodus 3, the Lord spoke to Moses from a burning bush and told him that He came down to deliver His people from slavery in Egypt and bring them into the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

In Joshua chapters 3-5, the children of Israel finally entered the promised land, and for the first time “the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.” (Joshua 5:12)

This geographical area (ancient Canaan) was the land that God commanded the people of Israel to tithe from. So when you read the tithing laws and see the word “land”, it was referring to the land of Israel.

Tithing Myth #1: “Tithing is an Eternal Principle”

Some people claim that tithing is an eternal principle because Abraham gave one-tenth to Melchizedek before the Law of Moses.

People who follow this line of reasoning are inconsistent in their application of Scripture, because Abraham also sacrificed animals and kept the law of physical circumcision before the Law of Moses.

Does this mean that sacrificing animals and practicing physical circumcision are eternal principles which remain in effect in the New Covenant? No. Are believers required to sacrifice animals and practice physical circumcision just because Abraham practiced both of these things before the Law of Moses? No.

Animal sacrifices and the law of physical circumcision were brought to an end at Christ’s crucifixion, when the New Covenant was instituted by God through Jesus’ shed blood.

Just because the patriarchs practiced something before the Law of Moses doesn’t mean that it’s an eternal principle binding upon believers for all time. The patriarchs practiced many things that aren’t part of the New Covenant.

The phrase “eternal principle” means that a principle or law that God requires in all time periods, in all places, of all people. For example, “you shall not murder” is an eternal principle because all people, in all places, in all time periods are forbidden from taking innocent life. The same thing cannot be said of tithing.

God never required all people, in all places, at all times to tithe. God didn’t require anyone to tithe before the Old Covenant. And even during the Old Covenant, not all people were required to tithe (for example: Gentiles, the poor, widows, orphans, and people who weren’t farmers and shepherds weren’t required to tithe). This shows that tithing isn’t an “eternal principle.”

Even if we were to entertain the idea that tithing is an eternal principle, people who believe in tithing aren’t adhering to the tithing laws that God commanded in Scripture. They’re practicing a man-made tradition of monetary-tithing which developed after the original apostles died. So even if we go along with the idea that “tithing is an eternal principle,” it simply creates another problem which is. . . why isn’t anyone practicing tithing in the specific manner that God commanded in Scripture?

At any rate, Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek doesn’t prove that tithing is an eternal principle, because God didn’t command Abraham to tithe to anyone and tithing wasn’t part of Abraham’s covenant with God. As believers in Jesus Christ, we don’t base our beliefs and practices on what Abraham did before the Law of Moses. We base our beliefs and practices on the full counsel of Scripture rightly divided through the illuminating light of Jesus Christ and the New Covenant.

Women in Abusive Marriages Aren’t Obligated to “Exhaust All Options and Resources”

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I was going through my emails this morning and I came across a long response by someone who commented on one of my blog articles about spousal abuse.

The comment had a number of problems, but one of the problems that stood out to me the most was the statement that women who are married to abusive husbands must “exhaust all options and resources” (in an attempt to motivate their abusive husbands to repent and change, and hopefully save their marriages) before they are ‘allowed’ to consider divorce.

This false belief (that women are obligated to exhaust all options and resources in an attempt to motivate their abusive husbands to repent and change, and save their marriages, before they are ‘allowed’ to consider divorce) is promoted by many well-meaning professing Christians (both in the pews and the pulpit). Their aim is to encourage the perpetuation of ‘traditional’ marriage and ‘in-tact’ nuclear/two-parent families, and discourage divorce, ‘broken’ families, and single-mother households.

This aim might sound good on the surface, but the problem is that telling women that they are obligated to go out of their way, jump through hoops, and bend over backwards (even further than they already have for their abusive husbands) in an attempt to motivate their abusive husbands to repent and change, and hopefully save their marriages. . . is one of the reasons why so many women stay in abusive marriages, continue to suffer (as well as their children) as their abusive husbands escalate their abusive behavior, and in some cases, end up murdered in domestic violence homicides and homicide-suicides.

People need to stop asking women why they stay in abusive marriages and start asking themselves in what ways do they encourage women to stay in abusive marriages. They might find that they are among the number of well-meaning professing Christians who encourage women to pray more, fast more, submit more, read their Bibles more, be more gentle and loving, be more patient, read ‘Christian’ books about how to be better wives and fix their marriages (or accept the abuse), attend marriage counseling, get a legal separation and pray for their abusive husbands’ repentance and the restoration of their marriages, assert their boundaries, etc.

Spousal abuse is already a heavy burden upon the hearts, minds, spirits, and bodies of women. Telling women that they must exhaust all options and resources (in an attempt to motivate their abusive husbands to repent and change, and save their marriages) simply heaps another burden upon them and makes their life even more painful, difficult, and exhausting.

Abusive husbands already have a problem of thinking that their wives are responsible for doing all of the emotional labor to maintain the marriage. They believe that it is their wives’ sole duty to keep the marriage together, “fix” all of the problems (that they create by being abusive), and somehow make the marriage healthy, happy, and stable in spite of their destructive abusive behavior.

This expectation (that their wives are responsible for doing all of the emotional labor to maintain the marriage) is one of the benefits of abuse (abuse is incentivized by various benefits that abusers coerce and manipulate out of their partners and children). As long as abusive husbands receive this benefit of not having to do any emotional labor to maintain their marriages, they have no incentive to repent or change. But rather, they have a very strong incentive to remain abusive.

Why should abusive husbands feel like they need to repent and change, when they can remain abusive and enjoy the benefit of doing nothing, staying comfortably in their sin, while their wives exhaust themselves trying to make the marriage better, be better wives, get their abusive husbands to change, and put out all of the fires that their abusive husbands create?

Expecting an abusive husband to repent and change while he benefits from his wife “exhausting all options and resources,” is like expecting a child who behaves badly to feel motivated to behave well by their parents spoiling them with sweets, toys, and a trip to Disneyland. It’s unrealistic to expect anyone to change if their bad behavior is being incentivized by benefits. Giving an abusive husband more of whatever he is benefiting from (in this case, his wife’s emotional labor being poured into him) obviously won’t incentivize or motivate him to repent or change.

Telling women that they must exhaust all options and resources (in an attempt to motivate their abusive husbands to repent and change, and save their marriages) is just another way of reinforcing an abusive husband’s mentality and belief that his wife is solely responsible for doing all of the emotional labor to maintain the marriage. More often than not, this reinforcement or enabling emboldens abusive husbands to become more abusive, and their abuse escalates, which makes the situation even more dangerous and harmful for their wives and children.

Women who are married to abusive husbands do not need a long laundry list of things that they need to do to motivate their abusive husbands to repent and change and save their marriages. They are not the ones who are obligated to explore and exhaust all options and resources to fix or save anyone or anything, because they are not the ones who are being abusive and destroying their family and marriage–their husbands are.

Their husbands are the ones who are being abusive, destructive, deceptive, and manipulative, so they are the ones who are obligated to exhaust all options and resources, and make a serious effort to change their thinking, beliefs, values, attitudes, and behavior.

The professing Christian community is approaching the issue of spousal abuse upside down. We are telling women who are married to abusive husbands that they are obligated to exhaust all options and resources, when in fact, this burden of responsibility does not fall on them–it falls on their abusive husbands. The only person who needs to be given a list of things that they need to do to fix the problem (which is THEMSELVES and their warped thinking, values, beliefs, and behavior) is the abusive husband, NOT the wife.

Telling women who are married to abusive husbands that they must exhaust all options and resources is also preaching to the choir. Many women have already exhausted all options and resources in an attempt to get their abusive husbands to repent and change, and save their marriages.

They’ve already tried praying more, fasting, reading their Bible more, submitting more, being more gentle and loving, being more patient, forgiving their husbands, reading and applying advice from Christian materials on how to ‘fix’ their marriages and be better wives, attending marriage counseling, and seeking help from their faith community, religious leaders, friends, and relatives for counseling and accountability.

In some cases, they have already reported the abuse to the authorities (the police, court system, military, etc), but to no avail in terms of getting their abusive husbands to repent and change, and save their marriages. So telling women that they need to DO MORE is NOT the solution.

The support that women need isn’t a cacophony of voices in their family, faith community, or random people on the internet, heaping additional burdens on them by telling them that they are obligated to exhaust all options and resources in an attempt to motivate their abusive husbands to repent and change, so that their marriages might be saved. . . and only THEN, after they have tried every option on earth and in heaven, are they ‘allowed’ to consider divorce.

The support that women need is trauma-centered advocacy that listens to their voice with empathy, believes them as credible eyewitnesses, acknowledges and affirms that they are the expert of their own experiences and the one who knows their abusive husbands best, and respects their autonomy, decisions (including the decision to get divorced or not), and the fact that they (not outsiders) are in the best position to determine what they and their children need to be safe.

Women who are married to abusive husbands need to know that it is okay, and even beneficial (to themselves and their children) to stop bending over backwards, jumping through hoops in an attempt to motivate their husbands to repent and change, to be better wives, and to save their marriages.

Abusive husbands have to want to change on their own. . . not for self-serving reasons, such as to keep their wives from leaving and filing for a divorce, alimony, and child support (so that they can continue to receive the benefits of abuse, save money, and uphold the outward imagery of having a ‘traditional’ marriage and a nuclear/two-parent family to make themselves look good to people outside of the home).

They have to want to change because using deception, manipulation, intimidation, threats, and coercion in order to control people and get what they want at any cost, is inherently immoral, depraved, and wicked. They have to want to change because abuse is wrong, sinful, evil, dehumanizing, oppressive, and destructive, and human beings deserve to be treated with dignity, equality, fairness, respect, and compassion.

The fact that a few husbands sincerely repent of abuse and make meaningful lasting changes for the better doesn’t justify telling women to stay in abusive marriages, because in the vast majority of abusive marriages, the husbands refuse to repent and change, and the abuse only escalates while their wives and children continue to suffer great harm. The fact that a handful of abusers will repent and change doesn’t justify sacrificing millions of lives.

The value of human life far outweighs the value of the institution of marriage. And it’s more important to prevent abuse and save human lives than it is to prevent the filing of divorce papers for a marriage that has already been breached, abandoned, and destroyed by spousal abuse.

“The Husband Has the Final Say” and Other Sexist Myths [Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife]

I was browsing Facebook today, and I came across the following post by Lori Alexander:

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Just Who is Lori Alexander?

Lori Alexander is a blogger, author, and mentor of women. She has an older blog called “Always Learning” and a more recent blog called “The Transformed Wife.” Lori also has a Facebook page where critical comments often disappear down the “memory hole.”

Lori claims that her “ministry” is based upon Titus 2:3-5, but the problem is that she promotes false teachings which contradict the exegetical teaching of Titus 2 and the full counsel of Scripture.

Like so many other women and men in the professing Christian community who claim to have “women’s ministries” and seem to have appointed themselves as mentors, marriage experts, and relationship gurus to Christian women. . . Lori promotes a dangerous blend of truth and sexist myths cloaked in spiritual-sounding flowery language and select Scriptures taken out of context.

Her false teachings give both women and men a false perspective of themselves, a false understanding of their purpose in God’s will, an unrealistic portrayal of marriage, and false ideas about what constitutes a healthy marriage.

The overall impression that I get from Lori’s messages is that if women say and do all of the right things [according to Lori’s beliefs], they will have a happy marriage and a joyful home, and if they don’t, they need to try harder.

In Lori’s world, marriage is elevated to the point of idolatry, husbands are placed in the position of God over women, a woman’s identity revolves around serving her husband [of course under the guise of “serving God”], and a wife’s sanctification and justification before God are based upon how well she pleases her husband and to what extent she obeys him. In short, Lori pushes man-centered theology dressed up as “Biblical womanhood” and a “high view of marriage.”

On July 27, 2017, Lori reinforced the sexist myth that “the husband has the final say.” Although this idea is very popular among professing Christians and in many cultures around the world, interestingly enough, it cannot be found anywhere in Scripture, nor is it remotely implied. This fact alone utterly annihilates the idea that the husband has the final say, because if the Scriptures don’t teach it, then professing Christians shouldn’t be teaching it either as if it’s God-breathed and authoritative.

The sexist myth that “the husband has the final say” is a human precept and a man-made tradition taught as a doctrine of God. Matthew 15:1-9 shows that Jesus doesn’t take too kindly to such traditions, because they cancel or make void the word of God.

How so?

Let Us Go Back to the Beginning

The book of Genesis tells us that God created both Adam and Eve in His image, meaning that both men and women possess intelligence, moral agency, and the ability to make decisions. We see this all throughout Scripture. Both men and women are able to make good decisions because God has blessed us with intelligence, the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and sound judgment.

The ability to make good decisions isn’t dependent upon one’s biological sex. It is dependent upon one’s level of wisdom, knowledge, expertise, discernment, faith and reverence for God. In some cases, the husband might be the one to make the best decision, and in other cases, the wife might be the one to make the best decision. It all depends on the situation and who has the most wisdom, knowledge, and experience in a certain area, and that person won’t always be the husband.

The idea that the husband has the final say opposes what the Scriptures teach about decision-making skills and insinuates that the final say rests in the hands of the husband merely because he is a male, and the wife is obligated to go along with whatever he decides merely because she is a female. This is rooted in sexism and not the full counsel of Scripture. It is carnal and not spiritual. It is disrespectful to God, who created women in His image with the intelligence, moral agency, and ability to make good decisions.

God did not create Eve to be intellectually inferior to Adam. Genesis 2:18 says that He created Eve to be “just right for him.” Only an intelligent woman can be “just right” for an intelligent man. When God created Eve to be Adam’s helper, that included her helping him make good decisions for himself, their marriage, and anything pertaining to their family.

The intention was for Adam and Eve to become “one flesh” and make good decisions together, corporately, as husband and wife. Sometimes the help that a husband needs is a discerning wife who will explain why his idea isn’t a good one and present a better decision.

There is no indication in Genesis that God created Adam to be the primary or sole decision-maker and that he would have the final say in all decisions by virtue of being a male. This seems to be a “gender/creation role” that sinful men have invented out of an ungodly desire to hold all of the power in their marriage, rule over their wives, get their own way and not be questioned, reproved, or held accountable by their wives for making bad decisions, and be the final authority on all decisions.

The idea that “the husband has the final say” opposes and contradicts the creation account, which states that God made both man and woman in His image, and created Eve to be “just right” for Adam as his helper and not his personal “amen section.” God’s will is for wives to help their husbands make good decisions, and the sexist myth that “the husband has the final say” cancels that out and diminishes the wife’s intellect, voice, and contributions.

Husbands Can Make Bad Decisions

The sexist myth that “the husband has the final say” contradicts the truth that human beings are flawed sinful creatures with finite understanding, and therefore, we can make bad decisions and one person should never hold all of the decision-making power.

Scripture is full of examples of husbands making bad decisions about sex, marriage, parenting, money, politics, and religious worship to their own detriment and the detriment of their wives, children, and nation. In light of this, to yield all final decisions to the husband merely because he is a male can be harmful and dangerous because of the sinfulness of man.

Men need to be questioned before they make decisions, especially major decisions that will affect themselves, their wives and children, and community. They need “checks and balances,” first and foremost their wives, and also well-trusted friends to hold them accountable, admonish them, and be their sounding board to give them honest feedback and suggest better ideas.

To push this idea that the husband has the final say is to ignore the truth that human beings are sinful creatures with finite understanding, and that husbands can and do make bad decisions.

Husbands aren’t less sinful than their wives and they do not necessarily have more understanding than their wives, so it makes no sense for a wife to defer all decisions to her husband as the final authority on all matters when he is just as human and fallible as she is.

Much unnecessary hardship, peril, disaster, and struggle has been brought upon families as a result of husbands and wives following this sexist myth that “the husband has the final say.”

Husbands and Wives are Subject to One Another

“. . . Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5, KJV)

“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21, NLT)

The Scriptures teach mutual submission — that men and women in the body of Christ are to submit to one another. This mutual submission doesn’t cease, stop, or come to an end just because a man and woman get married. Upon marriage, they are still expected [per Ephesians 5:21] to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Many people only focus on the passage which instructs wives to submit to their husbands, but they seem to skip over the passage which leads into Paul’s instruction on marriage and commands us to submit to one another out of deep respect for Jesus.

The sexist myth that “the husband has the final say” flies in the face of mutual submission. A husband is not being clothed with humility and subject to his wife if he never defers to her wisdom because he thinks that his “gender role” is to have the final say on everything and his wife must subserviently go along with whatever he decides.

If he always gets his way and has the final say, then he never has to learn how to reach a compromise, never has to respect what his wife says, and never has to trust her to make the right decision. He never learns how to sacrifice his interests for the well-being of others, work together with his wife, and grow in this regard, because his wife is the only one who is yielding, deferring, compromising, trusting, and sacrificing. This is one-way submission and one-way compromise which caters to the flesh of the man-in-charge and it is contrary to Scripture.

But Test Everything That is Said.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NLT)

The Scriptures instruct us to “test [examine] all things” and use discernment and sound judgment. We normally apply this to discerning religious teachings, practices, and leaders in the church, but it also applies to the decisions that we and our spouses make. If our spouse has an idea, it’s imperative that we weigh it against Scripture and sound wisdom in order to see if it’s a good idea or not.

Whether the issue is joining a new church, quitting a 9 to 5 in order to start a new business, or investing money in some venture, it’s important that a wife evaluates her husband’s idea and offers her opinion on the matter. He could be making a bad decision based on misinformation, incomplete information, impatience, pride, gullibility, or a desire to get rich quick. Or it could be that his decision isn’t necessarily bad, but there is a better option that he hasn’t considered. If this is the case, the wife should speak up out of love and concern for her family.

A Meek and Quiet Spirit

Lori seems to think that having a meek and quiet spirit means being subservient to your husband’s decisions, therefore, women who disagree with or question their husband’s decisions don’t have a meek and quiet spirit.

However, the spiritual meaning of having a “meek and quiet spirit” doesn’t mean that a wife is supposed to suppress her logic, critical thinking skills, discernment, wisdom, and sound judgment. The phrase “quiet spirit” doesn’t mean that a wife is supposed to be literally silent, say nothing in acquiescent agreement, and ignore red flags when her husband is about to make a bad decision. The koine Greek term translated as “quiet” in 1 Peter 3:4 means to be peaceable–not mute.

Queen Esther had a meek and quiet spirit, and yet she spoke up and stopped King Ahasuerus–her husband–from making a bad decision by giving Haman authority to slaughter the Jews. Abigail had a meek and quiet spirit, and yet she went against her husband’s dangerous decision to insult David and his men and secretly went to meet David and intercede for her husband.

When Scripture said that women are to have a “meek and quiet spirit,” it means something very different than what Lori Alexander teaches. Having a meek and quiet spirit doesn’t equate to bowing down unquestioningly to whatever your husband says.

Lori seems to think that as long as your husband isn’t an evil man, then you have no reason to question his decisions. Well, the problem with this kind of thinking is that even godly men make bad decisions and there are a plethora of examples of this all throughout Scripture.

For this reason, even godly, loving husbands need to be questioned, reproved, admonished, and given feedback. Believers aren’t supposed to sit back passively, docile, and silent when someone that we love is about to make a bad decision, especially not our spouse! That’s not Biblical submission, that’s unloving.

Asking your husband, “Are you sure we should do that?” or “Wouldn’t this be better?” isn’t playing the head over him — that’s being his helper, a loving wife, and a real friend who is impartial and objective enough to be honest and ask important questions. Lori doesn’t seem to know the difference between a wife usurping her husband and a wife helping her husband.

The Husband Having the Final Say is Lazy and the Easy Way Out

Anyone who has been married knows that it takes hard work. Both parties have to learn how to be quick to listen and slow to speak, communicate, respectfully disagree when differences of opinion arise, compromise, sacrifice, and defer to one another. It takes a lot of effort to learn how to “cleave” to one’s spouse, cooperate, work together as a team, and reach a consensus that pleases both parties.

It seems to me that a marriage where the husband has the final say is the easy way out and takes less effort than a marriage where both parties have their own mind, their own voice, their own perspective, and must learn to sing different notes in harmony and function as one cohesive duo. If the husband has the final say, then he’s a “one man duet” because he is the only voice that matters and he doesn’t have to harmonize with anyone.

If the husband has the final say, that’s also less work for the wife because she doesn’t have to figure certain things out and learn how to make major decisions. She just leaves the important decisions up to her husband and doesn’t have to grow by learning how to think things through, discussing different perspectives, and planing out and executing major decisions.

Yes, I do believe that the husband is the head of his wife, but being the head doesn’t mean that a husband is supposed to do all or most of the thinking and decision-making, or that marriage is an authoritarian power structure or a benevolent dictatorship where the husband calls the final shots and the wife is to silently and mindlessly nod in agreement even if she thinks differently.

I utterly reject this idea that when a woman gets married, she is to disappear or vanish into her husband and be so swallowed up by her marriage that she loses herself and her individuality and becomes an appendage of her husband who voices no thoughts of her own. Wives have their own mind just like husbands do and it is perfectly okay for them to express their thoughts, feelings, convictions, and opinions. Becoming one flesh doesn’t eradicate one’s individuality.

Do Whatever Your Husband Says as Long as it Isn’t a Sin?

I’ve also heard people teach Christian women that they must do whatever their husbands say as long as it isn’t a sin. This is another sexist myth which cannot be found anywhere in Scripture and should be tossed into the metaphorical trash can.

Teaching a woman that she must do whatever her husband says as long as he isn’t telling her to sin, is itself a sin, because it infringes on her individual liberty, blood-bought freedom, and personal convictions. Just because something isn’t a sin, that doesn’t mean that a woman has to do it because her husband said so. This is an old wive’s tale which is used to control and micromanage women and it needs to be purged from the minds of believers.

It isn’t a sin to do jumping-jacks, so does this mean that a wife should do jumping-jacks just because her husband tells her to? Absolutely not. A wife isn’t a slave to her husband or his personal robot, so she doesn’t have to do anything that he tells her to do just because it isn’t sinful. Expecting someone to do whatever you say just because it isn’t sinful is a form of control, humiliation, domination, and degradation.

It’s false teachings like this that are driving Christian women out of the local church and reinforcing the false belief that God is a woman-hating tyrant and the Bible/Christian Faith is misogynistic, sexist, and oppressive towards women and girls.

If more conservative Evangelical Christians don’t speak out against these sexist myths with the same intensity and righteous indignation that they speak out against other false teachings, they are going to see more Christian women grabbing their Bible and heading for the nearest exit, and they are going to see more women running off to third wave feminism.

No discerning Christian woman in her right mind will stay in a religious organization, movement, or theological camp where women are treated as if they are the “oldest child” in their house, an appendage of their husband, and their husband is their god, high priest, or mediator.

Ultimately, Lori’s fans need to examine her teachings more closely and compare what she says to the exegetical teaching of Scripture, and they need to ask themselves exactly what type of wife will she transform them into if they follow her false teachings?

Will they be transformed into daughters of Sarah, like Abigail and Esther? Or will they be transformed into unthinking Stepford wives who relegate their responsibility to make decisions to their husbands? Ironically, they will have to make that decision on their own.