Here is an imaginary trial transcript – the trial of Pastor Jones for teaching tithing. It’s well written & worth reading.
The trial of Pastor Jones – from http://www.tithingdebate.com/
Judge: Mr. Jones you have been charged with multiple counts of extortion. Your crime spree covers 20 years and thousands of victims. You have defrauded people out of their money with fear and manipulation, telling them they had to tithe 10% of their income to your church and that God would bless them if they did. You also told them that if they didn’t tithe God would curse them. How do you plead?
Mr. Jones: I plead not guilty your Honor, I have done nothing wrong. I have only preached what the Bible says. In the Bible Abraham tithed to Melchizedek and God blessed him for his faithful giving. The Bible even says he was rich in silver and gold.
Judge: Is it not true, Mr. Jones, that in Genesis chapter 13 verse 2 the Bible says Abraham was rich with livestock, silver and gold?
Mr. Jones: Yes, you are exactly right, that’s what I just told you.
Judge: Ok, we read about Abraham being a rich man in chapter 13 but it is not until Genesis chapter 14 that we read about Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek. So Abraham was already a rich man before he tithed to Melchizedek, wasn’t he?
Mr. Jones: Yes, I suppose you are right.
Judge: So his riches were not the result of his tithe to Melchizedek?
Mr. Jones: No.
Judge: Mr. Jones, you also say God blessed him for his faithful giving. How many times is it recorded that Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek?
Mr. Jones: Well, just once.
Judge: So the Bible never said that he gave week after week?
Mr. Jones: No it does not.
Judge: Where did Abraham get the things that he gave to Melchizedek?
Mr. Jones: Well the Bible says it was from the plunders of war?
Judge: So you are telling me that he gave from the plunders of war?
Mr. Jones: Yes that’s what the Bible says.
Judge: So he basically took things that were not really his in the first place and gave them as the tithe?
Mr. Jones: That is what the scripture seems to indicate.
Judge: Is it recorded that he ever took anything from his own possessions
and tithed them to Melchizedek or anyone else?
Mr. Jones: I guess not
Judge: You guess not, you are a Pastor and you are only guessing, is it or
is it not written that he ever gave any of his own possessions as a tithe to
Mr. Jones: No it is not written anywhere that I have seen.
Judge: Is it recorded as to what exactly Abraham did give Melchizedek?
Mr. Jones: I believe it says plunder?
Judge: So plunder could be any number of things?
Mr. Jones: Yes, I suppose
Judge: It could have been food, cattle, sheep, the people’s
possessions or any number of things. It does not say it was all money
Mr. Jones: Yes you are correct, it does not say just money
Judge: As a matter of fact money is never mentioned in that account at all
is that correct Mr. Jones?
Mr. Jones: Yes your Honor, money is never mentioned just goods and food and
Judge: So there is no way you can say with any certainty that Abraham in
fact gave Melchizedek any money at all?
Mr. Jones: That is right.
Judge: I only have one last question for you Mr. Jones, did God command Abraham to give this plunder tithe to Melchizedek?
Mr. Jones: No, it appears that he did this voluntarily.
Judge: So are you trying to tell me that because of this voluntary, one time gift by Abraham, that may not have even consisted of money, all Christians everywhere are obligated to bring 10% of their weekly paycheck to a local church?
Judge: Considering all the evidence I would say you are beyond any shadow of a doubt guilty of deliberately trying to make the scriptures says things they have not said for financial gain.
Mr. Jones: Ok your Honor, I can see how foolish I was to try and use the story of Melchizedeck to try and get the people to tithe money. But there are many other verses that will support my belief on tithing. Jacob said he would give God 10% of everything. I think we should follow his example.
Judge: Let’s see what Jacob said. Please read the verse you are talking about for me Mr. Jones.
Mr. Jones: In Genesis chapter 28 starting at verse 20 it says. Jacob vowed a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and clothing to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, and Yahweh will be my God, then this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, will be God’s house. Of all that you will give me I will surely give the tenth to you.”
Judge: You said we should follow Jacobs’s example, is that right Mr. Jones?
Mr. Jones: Yes that is right, he vowed to give a tenth and we should too.
Judge: Let me point out one thing for you Mr. Jones, Jacob said he would Give God a tenth, ONLY if He blessed him first. So as you said previously, we should follow Jacob’s example and tell God that we will only give him a tenth if he blesses us first. Is that right?
Mr. Jones: That is not what I meant.
Judge: What did you mean then?
Mr. Jones: That we should give God a tenth also.
Judge: There you go again, trying to make the scripture say what you want it to say for your benefit. I would also like you to tell me the scriptures that say that Jacob kept his vow with God. I would also like to know where he gave the tenth to because there was no temple or levites to give it to at that time.
Mr. Jones: I can not think of any scriptures that say where or if he ever tithed after his vow.
Judge: It seems fairly obvious to me that Jacob made a voluntary and conditional vow to God. This in no way can be used as a reason to demand others to bring their income to you or any other place.
Mr. Jones: I do have a few more scriptures that I believe will show that we are supposed to tithe.
Judge: You have not said anything yet to convince me one little bit that people are obligated to tithe money to the local churches and that you were justified in what you were doing. You have taken scripture and misapplied it to your beliefs and for your gain. But in order to be fair to you I will allow you to present more evidence.
Mr. Jones: In the book of Malachi chapter 3 starting at verse 8 it says, will a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, In what have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the store-house, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now with this, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. So you see your Honor, we are commanded to bring the tithes into the storehouse or God will curse us.
Judge: Answer me this Mr. Jones, were you aware that God never required anyone to tithe money?
Mr. Jones: No I didn’t know that.
Judge: The tithe spoken of here was always edible products never money.
Mr. Jones: well your Honor that is because they didn’t have money at the time so God had them tithe food instead.
Judge: Not true, money is first mentioned in Genesis and Malachi was written hundreds of years later. God had them bring food in so that the levites, the fatherless and widows may eat and be satisfied. The tithe was used mainly to take care of people. Also notice it says in the verse you quoted, that there may be food in my house. How do you completely overlook the word food in those verses?
Mr. Jones: I don’t know
Judge: I also want you to know that these verses speak to people under the Old Testament law. As you may or may not know Jesus fulfilled the law, it is no longer binding. Tithing was part of that law that has been abolished.
Judge: Once again you have tried to completely take a scripture out of context and apply it to others for your benefit. Can you give me a single scripture where God changed the tithe from food to money?
Mr. Jones: I do not know of any.
Judge: So if God never changed it from food to money who did?
Mr. Jones: Man must have.
Judge: So far all you have done Mr. Jones is take Old Testament scriptures out of context and try to apply it to believers under the New Covenant. Is this all the proof you have?
Mr. Jones: I do have a New Testament scripture that will show that Jesus told us to tithe.
Judge: Ok let me hear it.
Mr. Jones: Jesus said in Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone. See Jesus said we should be tithing.
Judge: Let me ask you a question, who was Jesus talking to?
Mr. Jones: The scripture says the scribes and Pharisees.
Judge: Are you a scribe or Pharisee?
Mr. Jones: Of course not.
Judge: Jesus also said in that passage, you have left undone the weightier matters of the law. Are we under the law Mr. Jones?
Mr. Jones: No.
Judge: Why not?
Mr. Jones: Because Jesus fulfilled it.
Judge: When did Jesus fulfill the law?
Mr. Jones: When He was crucified.
Judge: So the law was still in effect until Jesus death?
Mr. Jones: That is correct.
Judge: I think you know where I am going with this don’t you?
Mr. Jones: Yes your Honor. Since Jesus had not yet been crucified and the law was still binding the Pharisees were required to tithe because it was part of the law. Once the law ended, tithing ended also.
Judge: I want you to take a look at that verse again. Also tell me, what were they tithing?
Mr. Jones: The scripture says it was mint, dill and cumin.
Judge: Is money mentioned?
Mr. Jones: No it was not.
Judge: Once again it was edible products that they were tithing, not money. Do you have anything else you would like to say?
Mr. Jones: If people only tithed edible products like the scripture says, then how would the church survive? We have our mortgage payment, utility bills, my salary and a host of other things that we have to pay each week. We depend on the money from the people.
Judge: The need does not justify the means. In other words, just because you have all these debts does not give you the right to twist and manipulate scripture and cause people to give under fear of being cursed by God to meet your needs. In closing, let me recap a few things for you Mr. Jones. The tithe was never money; the tithe was an Old Testament law, which is no longer binding. When it was binding the tithe was used to take care of people, not buildings. We are under a new covenant now. Paul instructs the Corinthian believers how they are to give. He says in second Corinthians chapter 9 verse 7, Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart; not grudgingly, or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. So each believer is supposed to give as he or she has determined in his or her heart. If you are trying to make people give under the threat of being cursed or any other reason you are wrong. Someone can not give cheerfully if they are being forced to give. If your church can not survive on freewill offerings maybe God is not part of your church at all.
Mr. Jones: I never realized all these things, I have always been taught that we had to tithe money to the local church and that is what I have always taught. I can see now that I was completely wrong. I did not study the scripture for myself, I only took mans word for it. Yes I am guilty. I will not teach this error anymore.
Judge: Mr. Jones, I can see that you done this in ignorance and are repentant, this court will not hold you accountable. It is your responsibility to know the truth. I would advise you and everyone else in this courtroom to really start studying the Bible and seeking God on the subject of tithing and your eyes will be open. Do not just take mans word any longer. Start seeking God as to how and where He would have you give. Court adjourned.