Yesterday morning, we were watching CBS Sunday Morning. One of the stories they ran was about how much many churches collect in “tithes”. Tithes are called for in the Bible, though I am not sure that 10% is actually written anywhere. I was surprised though, that there is paperwork kept to keep track of how much you give.
We are friends with the Harrison’s, a family in our neighborhood who happen to be Mormon. While talking about the differences in our religions- which in the basics, there aren’t many, I discovered that their church keeps careful track of their members individual offerings. Until Sunday, I thought that was just a Mormon thing.
When I was little, our family went to Rock Springs Baptist Church. I remember the offering plate being passed. If you had an offering, you put it in the plate and passed it on, if you didn’t, well, you passed it on. I never remember filling out an envelope with our names on it. I can’t imagine Brother Tommy standing in front of us all reminding us that we are supposed to give 10% . In watching this news story, I felt as if these pastors are telling their congregations that if they don’t give 10%, well, they just aren’t giving their all and that maybe they aren’t going to make it into heaven. They even showed one church that had put in an ATM type machine.
I don’t understand this. I thought church was a place to go to worship. These churches sound like a bank where they are collecting your payments for your place in Heaven.
They talked quite a bit about the “television” preachers, the ones who have private jets and huge mansions. I have always wondered what they do with all of the offerings they collect. I hoped that they, being “men of God” would use the money to do good things. Help homeless shelters. Help the poor, the elderly, sick and needy. Instead, they buy planes and giant houses and vacation homes.
Monks and nuns give up everything. Brother Tommy didn’t live in a mansion. Still doesn’t. We had a very small church for many years. It was a great event when we built a new building. He doesn’t wear designer suits or drive a fancy car. His church does help needy people in the area. There were many Christmases in our house that would not have been quite as merry for us without the help of his church. Our church helped with our utilities when my dad was out of work. They helped with groceries. When we were in a position that we could help, we helped others in the same way. I thought that THAT was how things were supposed to be.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?
Give 10% to the church so I can refuel my jet plane and pay the mortgage on my Lake Tahoe house? I am just not sure they are the same thing.