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John Doe wrote:


I am having trouble with the tithing concept. I understand that Catholicism does not endorse 10% tithe as a rule, but I keep falling back to that figure since I like hard numbers. I took out my pay stubs and did a quick search of U.S. federal expenditures to social programs (FICA, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment, Welfare, etc). I calculated that slightly more than 9% of my pre-tax income goes to charity.

Can I count this enforced social welfare spending as charity as it pertains to a tithe?

In short, I am torn between Romans 13:8 and 2 Corinthians 9:7.

  • Does one Scripture passage take precedence over the other?

My wife and I are relatively well off, financially. Our incomes are more than enough for a comfortable life, but we're paying off significant debts. We follow the D.R. plan, spending as little as possible on our current needs but rolling every last cent toward past debts. We can certainly afford to give more but would not get out of debt as quickly, hampering our ability to generate numerically greater giving's by prospering ourselves.

Now I'm getting into a Mark 12:41-44 issue as well.

Much prayer is needed, but any insight you can provide would be most welcome.

— John

  { Though there's no rule, can you guide me on tithing and can I count welfare spending as charity? }

Bob replied:

Hi John,

You are correct in saying there is no rule for Catholics. Your conscience is your greatest rule.

Furthermore, if you find that the Lord is sending you a particular opportunity to be charitable (again, recognized by conscience) it is your duty to respond generously according to your means.

If I were you, I would continue to do a bit of everything:

  • aggressively pay down debts and
  • support your church and other charitable associations as you are able while living modestly.

God will assuredly be pleased with that.

Tithing according to a percent, in my view, does need to account for more complex circumstances (taxes, debts, etc.). Simply put, follow your conscience.


Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Hi, John —

You said:
My wife and I are relatively well off, financially. Our incomes are more than enough for a comfortable life, but we're paying off significant debts.

After you are able to pay off your debts, it would be appreciated if you consider making a regular donate.

I receive no financial support from the Church for any of the work I do and am financially struggling to get by. If you have enjoyed any of these services, please consider making a donation at:


Mike Humphrey
Admin for:

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