“God loves a cheerful giver….therefore give more to our fundraising/ BUY MORE FESTIVAL OF ART TICKETS.”
It is quite astonishing how the head of A-Christian-School (In-dover) could conveniently exclude the first part of 2 Cor 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” She was either a) unaware, or b) deliberately misusing biblical authority. Some things I’ll never forget.
But I digress.
The question I wish to pose is whether or not giving to God equals to giving to church. We accept that there are quite a few of biblical statements which praise giving to God. Even more praise giving in general. My belief is that giving, in itself, is more important than giving to a church.
Question: What is the function of giving to church?
Answer: To further the purposes of a church.
Question: What is the main purpose of a church?
Answer: Mainly, to spread the word.
Question: Do these functions need money?
Answer: In the era of 1 Cor 16:2, yes. In this day and age, not really. With things like the internet, blogs, and video hosting platforms, it honestly doesn’t take that much to upload a sermon or proselytizing blogpost. I personally have a preference for online sermons. It can be done for free — instead of selling overpriced sermon CDs which ‘devoted’ aunties will buy every week. If the intention was solely to spread the word, then it’ll be a) sold at cost price, and b) allowed to be freely distributed online.
Question: What then does it mean to give to God?
My belief: When you use your money to help another in need. By giving to another in need who is created in the image of God, you are already giving to God. (And by that I mean all human beings regardless of religion.) Contrast this with things like hiring a church typist (or in more high class ones, a video crew), or buying a new piano.
Question: Am I against giving to a church?
Answer: No, not at all. I am against giving blindly. I think we should all consider how would God rather you give your money — paint jobs and building architecture, or actually giving it to people who need it. I used to give a lot to church, but decided that it was more worthwhile giving it to cripples.
But I get angry (almost as angry as when a church vents its bigoted views on homosexuals and sticks its face in politics) when a church emotionally blackmails and browbeats people into parting with their hard-earned money. That is what I’m against. And the worst part, is these people do it believing that they need to do it, believing that its the right thing to do, and in some cases, believing that it will make them happy. Even worse when they are already struggling.
And if you absolutely must give to a church, please give to a smaller one. I know quite a number of smaller churches that are actually in need of money. Your money will be put to better use there.
I’ll address the levitical tithe some other day – it’s quite long and boring.
I re-emphasise this: I support giving. I think it is a virtue in and of itself, and very beneficial to others and even yourself in learning how to let go. In fact, what a lot of churches say about giving to God can probably be accepted. I just think that 1) contrary to the common assumption, giving to God does not necessitate that you give to a church. 2) there are more pressing areas which need money.
3) The onus is on the church to show us that the money will be used God’s work, rather than letting it be assumed to be so. We can have faith in God, but not faith in its man-governed institutions. The church and God are not synonymous.
It is for this reason that I’m quite liberal with buying food/stuff for beulah whenever I have surplus cash. I know that even when I tell her that she’s better off spending the money on herself, she wouldn’t listen. I feel sorry somehow. I mean, I knew for quite a long while that you don’t need talent to get to Hollywood, you need a fuck load of money. And one does not simply get a fuck load of money from nowhere..What the heck, the money I spend on her is still more worthwhile.
Oh great, now someone like Edward is going to claim that he gave up a lot of money to some quasi-religious group or something — but i know he is neither willing nor able to do so :]
(He is also not as cute as..)