i swear i can't. you know how i promised to stop talking about my church some months ago cos all y'all said i was going to hell for disagreeing with some of their over the top teachings? well, scratch that, cos try as i do to hold my peace, they sha must say something that pushes my fingers to the keyboard.
so yesterday at church, of all the topics in the world that the pastor could preach on, he chose tithe. as a child that grew up in a christian home, i am very conversant with all the bible verses used to justify the continued practice of tithing. malachi 3 shall a man rob God but ye have robbed me thingy thingy. naturally, that was used in abundance yesterday talking about how we have to pay tithe and how in the 3 years the pastor has been in our church he knows a few people who have never come outside to drop their tithes into the basket etc etc. naturally, this preaching is never complete until you talk about the removal of cankerworms and palmerworms from people's finances if they pay their tithe, and then sprinkle it with testimonies of people who paid in the past and as a result survived everything from the bubonic plague to miraculous wealth from the blues.
so here's my issue (s):
1. i still havent found any place in the bible where the paying of tithes required that the payer must be identified from the crowd (not for convenience sake or any logistic reason) by leaving his seat, walking to the altar in full view of the remaining clearly sinful congregation, to drop their tithe in a basket and then stand there looking a cross between smug and humble, for special "tithe-payer" blessings.
2. how come on the one hand, they say that the abrahamic laws have been wiped away by the blood of Jesus dying on the cross and giving us a new set of laws to live by (laws of grace) but on the other hand insist that the practice of paying tithe still holds true and must be obeyed to the letter.
3. why is it also that not only am i expected to pay tithe in obedience to a commandment in the bible, i should also pay what is called "first fruit". for those of you fellow sinners who have not been complying, first fruit is like this: so youre living in abrahamic times, where we have a high priest and a central worship place, you harvest your fruits and livestock, then take the very first of each thing and hand over to the church for blessings etc. as you know, that was the only way that priests were able to feed seeing that they came from a tribe not entitled to inherit from land etc. naturally, being that this was the only source of food and income for priests, their livestyles reflected modesty and justified their avoiding politics, business etc and maintaining a complete removal from daily pleasures in the full service to God. we all know (admit it or not) that the jet flying pastors today do not exactly fall in that 'modest priest' category anymore but who am i to even think it.
anyways, so today according to the preaching, for first fruit you are supposed to give the churc...er...priest, your entire first salary on a new job (without minusing a dime for your expenses - God will provide) or, whenever that is increased, the complete differential between the old and new salaries on that job...but if you change jobs, you give your entire first salary on that new job. yeah i know, its kinda complicated, just bring your money sha. my heart bleeds for those unable to keep a job for more than a year at a time.
for the entire length of the preaching, you could hear a pin drop. the entire church froze as if moving an eye lid would identify you as the culprit sinner who has not been complying...and for a moment i thought people would pass out from holding their breath. naturally, as soon as the pastor finished the preaching and moved to get off the pulpit so the next pastor could lead prayer, the church went up in an uproar with a dozen hands raised. having seen this same scenario since i was knee-high in every chuirch we've ever attended, i was tickled that this cycle never gets old as i could predict the questions ahead. people and their money sha...its hard to get between the two:
"pastor, i'm an old woman and my chiuldren send me money for my upkeep, should i pay tithe from that?"
"pastor, i'm a contractor, should i pay on the full money given to me to do contract, or pay on my own profit after doing the contract"
"pastor, should my children pay tithe"?
"pastor, as a businessman, am i to pay on my deficit income as against my accumulated income or my group income grossed up to reflect concurrent expenditure"...nigger, really?
i almost screamed: just pay the damn money o. gaddamnit.
well, the truth is that i am one of those who believe the bible should be taken as a whole. the concept of sin at its most basic remains the same. the basis for banning tattoos hasnt changed only because everyone is getting them...same goes for flambouyant pastors (saduccees and pharisees), and tithing (that there may be meat in God's house). so overall, the concept of tithing i do believe in, but the whole first fruit versus children tithing is a bit stretched for me sha. we no longer operate agrarian economies and the church has modernized...if pastors now do business and compete equally in the market place with followers, why should i still feed them? i'd much sooner use that same amount to give those who truly need it (to do jamb, to actually feed, to pay rent, for their health etc) and they are all around me...and not in a basket in front of the altar.
i know everyone has a point of view on whether or not the church (who are we kidding, your money doesn't get to heaven) is still justified to receive anything more than willingly dropped offering to expand the church's mission, and i'd love to hear it in the comment section...but to each his own.
i will keep giving my dear little offering until i can sincerely, non-grudgingly bring myself to drop a tenth of my income, and even then, i will not move an inch from my seat in church for that. nuff said.
see y'all around peeps.