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When Ideology Trumps Theology (instead of liberal/conservative,ask yourself -- is it biblical?)
Leadership ^ | 04/02/2010 | Tracey Bianchi

Posted on 04/02/2010 7:39:22 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

I’m a glutton for punishment. I could have decided to slouch along the sidelines of ministry and watch the many controversies within the church zip past. Perhaps peeking over the pew on occasion and catching a slight breeze off the mini-tornadoes of debate that exist under the umbrella that is American Evangelicalism.

Public prayer, the roles of women, the role of the Holy Spirit, capital punishment, responses to poverty, HIV/AIDS, divorce, adult or infant baptism, health or wealth . . . . . .

But you see I’m optimistic to a fault so I have decided to throw myself into a few of the storms. Sort of like that completely unrealistic heifer in the movie “Twister.” I decided to ride the windy tumult on occasion. Most recently, I became a Christian environmentalist.

As my position on environmental stewardship (also known as Creation Care) has become more public I’ve been reminded afresh of a the very painful way many of us in faith communities go about making decisions. I’m convinced perhaps now more than ever that those of us in the church need to put grace and peace before our own agendas. We need to out God’s agenda first.

“Well, duh,” you might say. This is nothing new. But since the Garden we have put our own agendas before God’s agenda. It seems to be the way of humankind. Since we’ve not managed to solve this issue yet I believe the conversation bears repeating for the church today. I will use Christian environmentalism as a little test case here.

There are both fans and skeptics involved in the debate over how much energy and resources Christians should place on caring for Creation. Should we care about the issue at all? Is there room in the Kingdom of God for conversations about sustainability, land and water use, resource management, and stewardship of the land?

These are just a few of the current arguments. Every debate inside Christendom has its respective list of questions, fans, and skeptics. Because a Christian response to environmentalism is a fierce debate today, this issue can shed new light on how we engage with ideas and thoughts in our culture today. For example:

When I speak about Creation Care I receive two basic replies. The first is an overflowing sigh of thanksgiving that seems to emanate from the depths of a person’s gut. “Thank you Jesus that we are finally doing something about this.” People say. “I am so happy we are finally taking this conversation into the church.” They smile.

The other response often goes like this. “Hmmm, isn’t this a liberal agenda item?” “Are you saying that you think Obama is right?” “Isn’t this an issue for Democrats?”

These are fair questions and this is not to mock any of them. Where I struggle is with the fact that rarely does someone say to me “is this biblical?”

“Is this biblical” is the question we should be asking in every debate, on both sides. In a subject area that is rife with pantheists and a real concern that worship of God may be diverted from Creator to Creation, “is this biblical” is an essential question. But sadly I receive the biblical query in small numbers compared to those who are angry with our current President or what they perceive to be a liberal political agenda.

There is a leadership lesson here for the church that brings me to reflect on my own responses to issues. How often do I let my own ideologies drive my theology? I am usually tempted to consider first how a particular issue or response fits into my own ideological framework rather than asking the simple question, “well, is it biblical?” And if so, then how do I adjust my life accordingly (whether I want to or not).

My desire to be a good steward of the earth comes from Scripture. Sure, people can lump the passions of “green” folks like me into whatever camp they want. But to honor the conversation I do my best to let Scripture drive my agenda. This principle applies to other dicey debates as well.

If we let theology drive our ideology we open ourselves up to the horrifying yet humble possibility that we might be wrong. This puts us in a place where the Holy Spirit can move in our lives and can shape our very souls. Eugene Peterson (and I am paraphrasing here) once remarked that the moment we declare we know it all is the moment that we’ve told the Holy Spirit to take a hike.

To claim we know it all and then to declare a particular political or social camp captures that viewpoint is to place the wisdom that belongs to God alone into the hands of sinful humanity. We enter dangerous territory when we ask ideological questions before theological questions, especially in the church.

Whether environmentalism, immigration reform or economic recovery, we do the Kingdom of God justice when we venture out bravely and search first for a theological position rather than hunker down smugly behind our ideologies. This can leave us exposed, caught in the cross-fires, but strangely free to live a bit more like Jesus, who came to free us from the very ideologies of his own day, and our days as well.

-- Tracey Bianchi is the Pastor of Women's Ministries at Christ Church of Oak Brook in Illinois and author of Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet (Zondervan). She currently works at home with her three preschool aged children where she writes and speaks nationally for organizations such as MOPS International and locally for women’s retreats and events in the Midwest.


TOPICS: Current Events; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Theology
KEYWORDS: biblical; ideology; liberal; theology

1 posted on 04/02/2010 7:39:23 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Sanctimonious drivel. This woman will be a Marxist within 10 years and her ideology will trump her theology.


2 posted on 04/02/2010 7:49:30 AM PDT by Guyin4Os (My name says Guyin40s but now I have an exotic, daring, new nickname..... Guyin50s)
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To: Guyin4Os
Sanctimonious drivel. This woman will be a Marxist within 10 years and her ideology will trump her theology.

I'd like to hear you critique her reasoning instead of giving me two line attack as in the above.
3 posted on 04/02/2010 7:52:52 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Silly woman! God commands us to care for the poor. That is a command of God.

HOW we care for the poor mixes theology with politics. Some say the government should do it, having more resources. I say WE - individuals - are commanded to do it, and the fewer taxes the government takes, the more I have to give. As an Anglican Bishop pointed out, you cannot give to the poor if the government has taken everything you have...

The same holds true of the environment. We are to use the earth wisely - but that has nothing to do with Global Warming, or campaigns against nuclear power. Those are political agendas, and not needed inside the Church.


4 posted on 04/02/2010 7:55:45 AM PDT by Mr Rogers
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To: SeekAndFind

“To claim we know it all and then to declare a particular political or social camp captures that viewpoint is to place the wisdom that belongs to God alone into the hands of sinful humanity.”

This bears repeating, not so much for the political connection, but for the general observation that so many people claim to have knowledge of things they do not (such as the afterlife and who goes to which part of it!)

Those folks, here on FR and elsewhere, are really really really pompous and annoying.


5 posted on 04/02/2010 7:57:04 AM PDT by Flightdeck (Go Longhorns)
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To: SeekAndFind
Female pastor? Where is that supported in the Bible? In the area of Biblical leadership I'll take my advice from people that aren't clearly clueless.
6 posted on 04/02/2010 7:58:48 AM PDT by Woebama (Never, never, never quit)
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To: Mr Rogers

I re-read the article and don’t see anything about her support of the theory of global warming.


7 posted on 04/02/2010 7:58:56 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: Mr Rogers

I think this is one area where we definitely agree.

Christ told the young rich man to sell all he had and give the money to the poor.

He did not say sell all he had and give the money to Caesar, so that Caesar could give it to the poor.


8 posted on 04/02/2010 8:06:15 AM PDT by Yudan (Living comes much easier once we admit we're dying.)
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To: SeekAndFind
I'd like to hear you critique her reasoning instead of giving me two line attack as in the above.

The problem with critiquing her reasoning is that she does not define her terms. For instance, what does she mean by "environmentalism"? I consider myself an environmentalist, but I consider the idea that humanity is influencing global climate to be preposterous and the "green" agenda to be downright evil.

In my view, most of the agenda of the environmental movement for the last forty years has been anti-human and, frankly, anti-environment. I believe that wealthy societies are clean societies, and that subsistence societies lack the resources to bother to do much about protecting their environment. Finally, I believe that almost all real environmental issues are local and regional; I don't think there is such a thing as a truly "global" environmental issue.

That said, I think we should care for creation; we are its stewards. I love nature and despise littering, for example, and I think regulating industrial waste is a legitimate function of government.

I guess if I were to critique the reasoning of the column, it would be to say that the author presents a false choice between ideology and theology as drivers of our thinking, and that she presents conservative opposition as a "they're for it, so I'm agin' it" straw man.

There are other options - ideology and theology are not the only sources of truth. What about looking at environmental issues with curious but skeptical eyes and looking for common-sense solutions to the problems that turn out to be real, rather than swallowing the environmental left's propaganda wholesale under the guise of being "Biblical"?

The author needs to understand that treating her opposition as a cartoonish straw man does nothing to convince those of us whose opposition is reasoned and principled. She'll have to do a whole lot better than this fluff.

9 posted on 04/02/2010 8:10:22 AM PDT by xjcsa (Ridiculing the ridiculous since the day I was born.)
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To: SeekAndFind

My point was that environmentalism, in the sense of caring for the earth God has given us, is NOT the same as environmentalism as normally discussed in politics.

A farmer who produces sheep and cattle on a farm is, IMHO, a far better environmentalist that some city-slicker nutjob protesting McDonalds.

So when she takes a political cause ind injects it into the Church, she is mixing politics with religion - and that is bad. While I believe God’s purposes are more closely aligned with the GOP than Democrats, I am called to follow God - NOT Republicans or democrats.

Environmentalism is NOT a religious issue except for the Mother Gaea worshipers.

Theology sets goals. Politics discusses what path we should take to reach those goals. Very few political disputes involve the end state (good health care for as many people as possible), but HOW to do it.


10 posted on 04/02/2010 8:12:56 AM PDT by Mr Rogers
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To: Yudan

What Jesus was saying there - put God first in your life before your riches. Seek the Kingdom of God first.


11 posted on 04/02/2010 8:20:36 AM PDT by presently no screen name
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To: SeekAndFind

It’s the churches place to help the poor and almost all do! It’s not the gov’t place - because the gov’t doesn’t have money - it’s the people money. Nor does the Bible agree to STEALING from the rich and giving to the poor.

2 Thess 3:10
“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

Mark 14:7 “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you WISH you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me”.


12 posted on 04/02/2010 8:28:25 AM PDT by presently no screen name
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To: presently no screen name

Primarily what Christ meant there was specifically targeted to that young man, whose passion lied with his wealth and possessions.

Secondarily and in the more general sense - and the lesson of the passage for the rest of the world - is to put our individual seeking of the Kingdom above our worldly desires, whatever it is that knocks us off the path to the Kingdom.


13 posted on 04/02/2010 8:45:27 AM PDT by Yudan (Living comes much easier once we admit we're dying.)
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To: Yudan
Christ told the young rich man to sell all he had and give the money to the poor.

If we sell all we have and give it to the poor, won't that make us poor too?

14 posted on 04/02/2010 8:47:50 AM PDT by Netizen
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To: SeekAndFind
Most recently, I became a Christian environmentalist.

I am a Christian and I believe in conservation, but I would never try use one to justify the other.

Why do Christians always try to justify everything through the Bible? There are numerous good ideas (not that I agree with the author) that are not covered in the Bible.

Everything in the Bible is good, but not everything good is in the Bible.

15 posted on 04/02/2010 8:48:33 AM PDT by Between the Lines (AreYouWhoYouSayYouAre?)
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To: Netizen

Yep, quite possible - at least in individual cases. Not all of us are preoccupied with our possessions to the point of forsaking our salvation as was that young man in the parable.


16 posted on 04/02/2010 8:52:07 AM PDT by Yudan (Living comes much easier once we admit we're dying.)
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To: SeekAndFind
"I'd like to hear you critique her reasoning instead of giving me two line attack as in the above."

That's pretty easy. The whole article is about basing one's assertions on the Bible and she doesn't refer to the Bible to back up a single point she makes in the article.

17 posted on 04/02/2010 8:58:40 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: Yudan

Exactly. And that includes the poor, also. Look to HIM, HE is their Source, not the government, not man.

That’s the way to His financial provision, not handouts. The poor have climbed out of debt doing it HIS Way.


18 posted on 04/02/2010 9:00:02 AM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZEROcare!)
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To: Yudan

I think the original intent of the tithes was to set up charity warehouses for the poor, homeless, orphans and travelers. Somewhere along the line I think the monies got mismanaged.


19 posted on 04/02/2010 9:00:02 AM PDT by Netizen
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To: Netizen

That’s not what Jesus was implying. He was showing him that he put his riches above seeking God.

Mark 6:33
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

That goes for the rich and poor.


20 posted on 04/02/2010 9:04:39 AM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZEROcare!)
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To: Guyin4Os
Sanctimonious drivel

Absolutely right! As with MOST so called Christian leaders, they take the three year ministry of JESUS and try to build Christian theology. They totally miss the mark. The three year mission for JESUS was to present himself as the promised Messiah to the Jews. He taught from the Jewish Torah. While there is truth for everyone in the teachings of JESUS, his mission was to the Jews NOT the gentiles.

The epistles of Paul are JESUS' message to the gentiles. That's where the heart of Christian theology is.

One of the ironies in my opinion is where the Catholic church holds on to the Apostle Peter as the founder of Christianity, the first Pope, leader of the Christian church, whatever Catholics wants to call him. Peter was resistant to including gentiles into the believers of his day. Peter for a time resisted Paul and his teaching.

There is a BIBLE teacher out there who gets most things right, 99.99% in my opinion. He is Les Feldick on: lesfeldick.org He can also be found on radio & satellite stations. It's very low key and sensible

21 posted on 04/02/2010 9:18:34 AM PDT by FW190
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To: Netizen
I think the original intent of the tithes was to set up charity warehouses for the poor, homeless, orphans and travelers. Somewhere along the line I think the monies got mismanaged.

And if you were to look at the way giving was practiced in the Old Testament ( as commanded via the Levitical laws ), you would soon understand that it is MORE THAN 10%.

When we look closely at the tithe of the nation of Israel then, it wasn't just ten percent. It was closer to 30 percent, because the tithe was given at different times of the year and for different purposes, sometimes for the priests and sometimes for the government.

Actually, the priesthood and the machinery of government were tightly interwoven. One could almost think of the tithe as a civic tax, to some degree. If the OT law on tithing applies with equal force to Gentile Christians as to Old Testament Jews, then multiple tithes are required, not just the one-time 10%.
22 posted on 04/02/2010 9:19:27 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: Mr Rogers
I say WE - individuals - are commanded to do it, and the fewer taxes the government takes, the more I have to give.

I agree with you.

We think that Jesus commanded us to help the poor, sick, widows, orphans, destitute and needy so that we might be a blessing in their lives and lift them up, but that is not why Jesus commanded us to it. While it is true that we become a blessing in other's lives by helping them the true blessings are meant for us.

God does not need us to help those in need. He could easily do it Himself. God wants us to help the needy because in doing so we grow and mature spiritually and we grow relationally to each other.

So when the government forces us to pay to help the needy they are robbing us of our blessings.

23 posted on 04/02/2010 9:26:39 AM PDT by Between the Lines (AreYouWhoYouSayYouAre?)
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To: Netizen
If we sell all we have and give it to the poor, won't that make us poor too?

"Where you treasure is there your heart will be also." It depends on your definition of rich and poor.

24 posted on 04/02/2010 9:31:08 AM PDT by Between the Lines (AreYouWhoYouSayYouAre?)
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To: SeekAndFind

yours——And if you were to look at the way giving was practiced in the Old Testament ( as commanded via the Levitical laws ), you would soon understand that it is MORE THAN 10%.

Actually it depends on what you have. The wealthy giving more, and you can give in other ways, not just monetary.

The Jewish Concept of Tithing (Maaser Kesafim) in Today’s Society

By Rabbi David Bassous
Congregation Etz Ahaim
Highland Park, New Jersey

Gemilut Hasadim means giving kindness. It is a mitzvah in the Torah to “Love Your Friend as Yourself.” 1 This is the source of a broad range of behavior under the heading of gemilut hasadim. Acts of kindness or hesed make this world a more tolerable and better place and draw closer the final redemption. 2

* A Person Can Help Another in a Variety of Different Ways:
1. Physical help. Helping someone to lift or carry a burden. Giving someone a ride. Having and entertaining guests.
2. Mental support. Hearing someone else’s problems, empathizing with them, cheering them up and giving them a positive attitude.
3. Spiritually. Teaching them about G-d, the Torah and mitzvot. Spreading ethical monotheism.
4. Positive Speech. Recommending someone to somebody else. Helping them to find business contacts or a marriage partner. Positive encouragement and praise.
5. Monetarily. By giving someone a loan, sedakah or giving employment.
* The Different Kinds of Hesed: a) Hachnasat Orchim. Entertaining guests.
b) Visiting the sick. Take care of their needs; praying for them and cheering them up.
c) Hesed shel emet.
3- True kindness. Taking care of the needs of the deceased.
d) Sedakah. Financial help to those in need.

* Priorities in Hesed - Who Comes First? a) Parents. Honor your father and mother. b) Other Relatives. 4 c) All Others.

No Limits on Hesed
The Mishnah in Peah 5 states the following:
These are mitzvot with no maximum limits:
Peah - Separating a corner of ones field for the poor.
Bikkurim - The first fruits that a person would bring to the Temple.
Re’ayon - Visiting the Bet Hamikdash three times a year. There is no time limit on how long a person should spend in the Temple
Gemilut Hasadim - Acts of kindness. There is no upper limit on acts of kindness, it is left up to our free choice.

The Mitzvah of kindness (Gemilut Hasadim) is one of the pillars on which the world stands, as Shimon Hatzadeek says in Pirke Avot 6: “On three things does the world rest: Torah; service of G-d; and loving kindness.”

Sedakah is one facet of loving kindness, which is performed with a person’s belongings rather than his person.

Sedakah is not only one of the facets of loving kindness but it is a mitzvah in it’s own right. Sedakah is a positive commandment, as it says “you will surely open your hand to your poor brother 7.” By hiding from a poor person a person transgresses a negative commandment of “do not close your hand from your poor brother.”

A person, if he has the means, has to provide for all the needs of the poor. If however, one does not have the means to provide for all their needs one should try and give at least one fifth of ones earnings to sedakah.

The concept of tithing ones belongings and giving a tenth away to sedakah (charity) is an old one mentioned in Genesis when Abraham our forefather conquered the four kings in order to save Lot he gave one tenth of all the belongings that he had captured to Malchizedek the King of Shalem the priest to the High G-d. 9

We also find the idea of tithing by the account of Jacob when he left his fathers house to run to Haran to escape Esau’s wrath. In his vision of G-d he makes a vow that whatever G-d would give him he would give one tenth back. 10

There are mitzvot of tithing in the Torah but they all seem to deal with the tithing of agricultural produce and not tithing money. For example one tenth of a person’s crop had to be given to the Levites 11 and on the third and sixth years of the Shemittah cycle another tenth was to be separated and given to the poor, this was known as maaser ani (tithe for the poor).

Tosfot 12, one of the classic Talmudic commentators, quotes the Sifri on the verse: “You will surely take a tenth of all the produce of your crops...” 13 The Sifri points out that the word ‘all’ is redundant in the verse and therefore must teach us something additional. The Sifri says that the additional law which we learn from the extra world is that of ‘maaser kesafim’ tithing ones profits whether in goods or money. The Rambam 14, Tur and Shulhan Aruch all quote this law in their books of halachah.

The Shulhan Aruch 15 seems to separate this law into four categories. The ideal for a very wealthy person; the ideal for an average person; the recommended minimum for an average person; and the absolute minimum that a person should give each year. a) If a person can afford it he should give as much sedakah as the poor require.

b) If he is unable to give that much he should give at least one fifth. The first year from his capital, and from then on every year one fifth of his profits.

c) One tenth is the average quantity that a person should give, less than this is miserliness.

d) However, a person should not give less than three shekels 16 a year to charity 17.
Is Tithing for Sedakah (Maaser Kesafim) a Torah Law
or Rabbinic Law?
The Bach 18 and other authorities 19 write that tithing ones income is neither a Torah law or a Rabbinical law, for the following reasons:

1. Most of the great early Rabbinic authorities do not bring down this law.
2. It is true that the Sifri, Midrash Tanhuma and Yalkut Shimoni all quote this law but why did the Talmud not quote it? The Talmud Yerushalmi 20 says that we are not allowed to learn halachah from stories or from additional material, only from the Talmud.
3. The law of tithing agricultural produce and giving it to the poor (maaser ani) is a law from the Torah and yet the Torah only obligates this on the third and sixth years of the shemittah cycle and not every year. If the Rabbis did make this law of tithing for sedakah based on the verse quoted by the Sifri it would be logical to make it exactly the same as the Torah law of maaser ani.
4. Even the Rambam and Shulhan Aruch who quote the law of the Sifri end off that a person should not give less than three shekels a year. We see that they hold that tithing is not a requirement of Jewish law and is therefore not obligatory. Giving three shekel a year is however mandatory, because it is a requirement of Jewish law.
5. If maaser kesafim is obligatory why do the majority of Jews not observe it, we only find that one or two people in a city give a tenth of their profits to sedakah.
6. The Talmud 21 does discuss the verse that is the source for the Sifri’s rule of tithing income and does not learn the same rule from it.

Maharam of Rottenburg agrees with the Bach that Maaser kesafim is neither a Torah Law or a Rabbinical law but says that it is a custom. 22

The Tur and Rema 23 write that one is not obligated to give maaser kesafim if one cannot afford it because one is not obligated to give charity unless one has enough for one’s own needs. Whereas by maaser ani - the tithe for the poor has to be paid by everyone regardless of lack of financial resources 24. We are forced to say that maaser kesafim is not a mitzvah but a hiddur mitzvah.

However the Hida - Rabbi Haim Yoseph David Azulai insists that maaser kesafim is a Rabbinical commandment that the reason most people were lenient on maaser kesafim was not because it is not a mitzvah but because most people were supporting their own children which the Talmud considers to be sedakah. Because sometimes a person can spend over one half of their earnings on expenses involving their own children. Similarly some people help financially to support their poor relatives this can also be considered part of their maaser kesafim. Therefore only very wealthy members of the community had the custom to give maaser kesafim.

Even though one was not allowed to feed ones own poor parents maaser ani, the biblically ordained tithe for the poor, one is allowed to provide for ones parents from the Rabbinically prescribed maaser kesafim.

Other major authorities 25 hold that maaser kesafim is a minhag and once a person starts a good minhag with the intent to continue, or he does it three times in a row it becomes a vow 26.
May a Person Support his own Children from his Maaser Kesafim?
The Rambam 27 writes:

A person who provides for his older sons and daughters for whom he is not obliged according to law to support, in order to teach them Torah and lead them along the right path this is included in the mitzvah of sedakah. And it is a high form of sedakah because the closest relatives take priority.

This halachah is also quoted by the Shulhan Aruh 28.

This law is based on the Talmud 29 which comments on the following verse:

“Happy are they that do justice and perform righteous deeds all the time.” 30

Is it possible to do righteousness (sedakah) at all times? Our Rabbis from Yavneh and some say Rabbi Eliezer explained that this (verse) refers to a person who maintains his sons and daughters when they are young 31. The Talmud further on 32 explains that a person has an obligation to support his children until the age of six. We can infer that past the age of six a person may support his children from his sedakah contributions.

The Shach 33 quotes Maharam me’Rottenberg:

It is allowed to support ones grown children from maaser money even if he has the ability to pay for their needs without touching the maaser money, since this is also considered sedakah as mentioned later in the Shulhan Aruh. 34

The Taz however, dismisses this opinion and states that the Talmud considers supporting ones children as an act of righteousness but not an act of charity (sedakah) and one is forbidden to utilize ones maaser money for the upkeep of ones children over age six. 35

The Aruh Hashulhan 36 also prohibits a person to support his children or even grandchildren using maaser money. Otherwise no one will give a cent to the poor.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein 37 writes that in today’s day and age a person is prohibited from supporting his children over age six from his maaser money. His rationale is that according to Rabenu Nissim a person’s obligation to support his children under age six stems from his obligations to his wife. Since they are totally dependent on her and she cannot bear to withhold their support. Supporting them is part of supporting her. 38 In today’s society where mother and children live together in the same house and the children are unable to support themselves independently the father is also obliged to support them as part and parcel of his support for his wife.

Hacham Ovadia Yosef disagrees with Rabbi Moshe Feinstein for the following reason:

The Ribash and the Rosh had a similar situation as Rabenu Nissim above where a man had a child from an unmarried woman who was not his wife. They still made him pay for the child’s upkeep even though there was no contractual relationship of a ketubah but simply because of the moral obligation of it being his child. Similarly the Smag obliged a man to support his children even though he was now divorced from their mother. We see that a man is obligated to provide for his young children regardless of his contractual obligations to his wife.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel in order to enforce child support payments passed a Rabbinical edict in the 1950’s that made a man liable to support his children up to age fifteen 39 not just up to the age of six mentioned in the Talmud. Nevertheless, even after this edict, a person may deduct his child support payments from his ‘maaser kesafim’. This Rabbinical edict was not made in order to remove the mitzvah of sedakah from a father who supported his son through ages six to fifteen, but to force those fathers who would shirk their responsibilities of kindness and charity towards their own children and leave them penniless.

Rabbi Joseph Karo famed halachic authority and author of the Shulhan Aruh and Bet Yoseph in his responsa entitled Avkat Rochel 40 discusses the obligation of ‘maaser kesafim’ and concludes that the obligation to tithe one’s money applies only after paying ones household expenses.

Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg 41 another contemporary halachic authority concludes that since the majority of our legal decisors determine that ‘maaser kesafim’ is either a rabbinical ordinance or only a ‘minhag’ a person may be lenient and give ‘maaser’ from what is left after sustaining his household without any constraints. If a person was already accustomed to give ‘maaser’ as a percentage of his gross earnings he may annul his minhag and then only give ‘maaser’ as a percentage of his net earnings after subtracting all his household expenses.
Conclusion

* If a person can afford to give ten percent of his income to the poor and to support the Yeshivot he should continue to do so.
* A person who tithes his income is allowed to subtract from the tithe the cost of supporting his children over the age of six, even if they are dependent on him.
* Similarly a person may use his ‘maaser’ money to pay for his children’s weddings and apartments, furniture etc. to enable themselves to get established. Especially if his sons and sons in law are learning Torah, it is a tremendous mitzvah to support them honorably.
* A person who, because of financial constraints is unable to give ten percent of his gross income may give ten percent of what is left of his income after subtracting his household expenses.

Footnotes

1. Leviticus 19:18.
2. Olam Hesed Yibaneh. Psalms 89:3.
3. Genesis 47:29. And the time drew nearer that Israel must die; and he called his son Joseph, and said to him, If now I have found grace in your sight, put, I beg you, your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; please don’t bury me in Egypt; See Rashi; burial of the dead is true kindness.
4. ‘Do not hide from your own flesh.’ Isaiah 58:7.
5. Chapter 1, Mishnah 1.
6. Chapter 1, Mishnah 2.
7. Devarim 15:11.
8. Devarim 15:7.
9. Bereishit 14:20.
10. Bereishit 28:22.
11. Bemidbar 18:23.
12. Taanit 9a. in the name of the Sifri.
13. Devarim 14:28. At the end of three years you shall bring forth all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall lay it up inside your gates; And the Levite, because he has no part nor inheritance with you, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow, who are inside your gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
14. The laws of Gifts to the Poor Chapter 7:5.
15. Yoreh Deah 249:1.
16. A shekel is 0.6 oz of silver. At today’s prices the value of three shekel is approximately $11.
17. Baba Batra 9a.
18. Bayit Hadash Yoreh Deah end of Chapter 331.
19. Havot Yair 224
20. Peah 2:4.
21. Rosh Hashanah 8a.
22. So do Teshuva Meahava; Mishnat Hachamim; Yehudah Yaaleh.
23. Yoreh Deah 251:3.
24. Tur Yoreh Deah 331.
25. She’elot Maharam me’Rottenberg 74. She’elot Chatan Sofer 20.
26. Shulhan Aruch Yoreh Deah 231.
27. Laws of Gifts to the Poor Chapter 10:16.
28. Yoreh Deah 251:3.
29. Ketubot 50a.
30. Psalms 106:3.
31. I.e. over the age of six. Under the age of six they are still infants and he is obliged in their upkeep.
32. Ketubot 65a.
33. Shulhan Aruh Yoreh Deah 249:3.
34. Yoreh Deah 251:3.
35. Rabbi Haim Ben Attar (Otherwise known as the Or Hahaim Hakadosh famous commentator on the Torah.) strongly denounces the Taz’s view. Had the Taz seen the opinion of Maharam of Rottenburg he would surely not have prohibited this. Furthermore the Gemara (Ketubot 50a) explicitly states that supporting ones children over the age of six is considered sedakah. This gemara is explained by Rashi and Rabenu Nissim in this way and is thus codified by the Shulhan Aruh in Yoreh Deah 251:3. 36. Siman 249:7.
37. Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah Siman 143.
38. The Mishna Le Melech in Hil. Ishut 12:14 claims that this is also the view of the Rambam.
39. See Yaskil Avdi Vol. 4 Even Haezer 15.
40. Siman 3. The Hida in Birke Yoseph Yoreh Deah 249:5 questions the authenticity of this responsa even though he had a hand written and signed copy of it in his possession which was in Rabbi Yoseph Karo’s own writing. The Knesset Hagedolah Yoreh Deah 249:1 quotes this responsa in a different Rabbi’s name.
41. Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 10:6.


25 posted on 04/02/2010 9:49:33 AM PDT by Netizen
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To: Between the Lines
"Where you treasure is there your heart will be also." It depends on your definition of rich and poor.

I doubt the homeless guy, huddled in a winter alley worries about definitions.

26 posted on 04/02/2010 9:51:44 AM PDT by Netizen
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To: SeekAndFind
I'm a non-denominational Christian and I have had numerous discussions with family members about this issue over the past few years.

Here is my critique and observations:

Firstly, the author asks the question "is it biblical?", but doesn't provide any Scripture whatsoever to support her position.

Yes, the earth is God's creation and mankind was created to subdue it and rule over it in Genesis 1 and 2.

When mankind fell, so did all of creation - Romans 8:19-25. We and all of creation are not existing as God intended.

Yes, we're still stewards of everything that God has placed at our disposal. But there are priorities, and those are well communicated by Jesus Himself in the Great Commission: preach the Gospel so that fallen mankind will be redeemed.

Jesus didn't die on the cross to save the physical earth. He died to save sinners. (1 Tim 1:15). Humans. Not trees. Not oceans.

I see the current interest by Christians in environmentalism as a distraction in fulfilling the Great Commission: go and make disciples, baptize them.

Is protecting the environment a good thing? Probably is. Does that activity steal time away from preaching the Gospel? What it does is do the good at the expense of the best.

But here's a question for Christian environmentalists:

If you had a house, and it had a sign on the front door that said "Condemned. Total renovation by Owner in near future.", would you go spend any time at all on the house?

Consider these Scriptures:

2 Peter 3:10-13

Revelation 21:1

There's going to be a new heaven and new earth. Old, passed away.

To sum up: lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, not in saving the condemned house.

27 posted on 04/02/2010 10:09:23 AM PDT by Bosco (Remember how you felt on September 11?)
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To: Bosco
To sum up: lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, not in saving the condemned house.

So much effort and horrific expense on cutting the emissions of trace atmospheric gases, while simultaneously emitting spiritual/ideological pollution by the universe-load: that's modern "environmentalism".

The reason this author doesn't provide support for her position is probably that for her, "Christian" is just a label without content. It sounds good.

28 posted on 04/02/2010 10:26:27 AM PDT by thulldud (Is it "alter or abolish" time yet?)
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To: xjcsa

Excellent reply that addresses the points I had in mind. This is inane babbling of the worst kind.


29 posted on 04/02/2010 10:36:34 AM PDT by ResponseAbility (Prepare for battle and never forsake the Lord...unknown)
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To: SeekAndFind
I'd like to hear you critique her reasoning instead of giving me two line attack as in the above.

It isn't even worth refutation. She is hobby-horsing.. ie, selecting a tiny area of theology around which to build an entire theology. Her ideology will eventually trump the way she treats all other aspects of theology.

30 posted on 04/02/2010 11:57:13 AM PDT by Guyin4Os (A messianic ger-tsedek)
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To: Mr Rogers

As a hobby farmer that raises sheep, I thank you for your comment.


31 posted on 04/02/2010 12:21:36 PM PDT by WorldviewDad (following God instead of culture)
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To: Yudan

>>>He did not say sell all he had and give the money to Caesar, so that Caesar could give it to the poor.<<<

Also, He did not say, “Take your neighbors’ money against their will and give it to the poor.”


32 posted on 04/02/2010 12:28:14 PM PDT by Above My Pay Grade
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To: Above My Pay Grade

Too right.


33 posted on 04/02/2010 12:31:22 PM PDT by Yudan (Living comes much easier once we admit we're dying.)
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To: Bosco

I too noticed the absence of scripture in the article but this is now more the norm for what passes as “biblical teaching” when it is normally just somebodies opinion. In the “great commission” Jesus clearly tells us what to do...

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, and baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It is the lack of teaching from God’s word that has helped to corrupt our culture. I just read two studies this morning that stated that only 51 % of pastors and 8 % of church members have a biblical worldview (connect the teachings of scripture to how they understand the world). This has lead to around four out of every five young people raised in the church to walk away from the faith.

We need to teach from the Bible and not from man’s opinions.


34 posted on 04/02/2010 2:12:06 PM PDT by WorldviewDad (following God instead of culture)
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To: Guyin4Os

My brother has self identified as a “born again christian” for about 20years now. He belongs to a “born again” church, but I swear if they didn’t hand him the little cheat sheet on what and who to vote for, he’d probably agree with the dems on a whole lot of policy issues.

except for abortion... that’s pretty much where the line is drawn.


35 posted on 04/02/2010 3:30:53 PM PDT by Katya (Homo Nosce Te Ipsum)
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To: Mr Rogers
I say WE - individuals - are commanded to do it, and the fewer taxes the government takes, the more I have to give. As an Anglican Bishop pointed out, you cannot give to the poor if the government has taken everything you have...

Correct. When Jesus said "feed my sheep" (John 21:16-17), he wasn't speaking to the government.

36 posted on 04/02/2010 3:37:39 PM PDT by Colonel_Flagg (No apologies.)
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To: Katya
My brother has self identified as a “born again christian” for about 20years now. He belongs to a “born again” church

It's a total shame that modern Christians hold a concept of "born-again" that does not mirror what the Savior clearly taught. If modern Christians would simply read the OT .. and more specifically, Ezekiel, they would have a much different view of what "born-again" means.

37 posted on 04/02/2010 4:49:07 PM PDT by Guyin4Os (A messianic ger-tsedek)
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