Archbishop Lwanga, God doesn’t even require Christians to pay tithe

Friday November 9 2018

Patrick Barasa

Patrick Barasa  

By Patrick Barasa

This exposé almost coincides with the recent proposition by the Kampala Archbishop, Dr Cyprian K. Lwanga, that government should withhold a tithe (10 per cent) of the income of civil servants who subscribe to the Catholic faith, and remit the same to the church.
Earlier, Pastor Robert Kayanja made a similar, albeit more outlandish proposal, suggesting to President Museveni the ineffable idea that government should give 10 per cent of our national revenue to churches. Yes, 10 per cent of the taxes we, including Muslims, traditionalists, and atheists pay, to them. These outrageous suggestions are advised by a false notion in this country, which has given our prelates the hallucinated idea that Uganda is a Christian (perhaps theocratic) nation.
Archbishop Lwanga’s proposition speaks to the fact, as Ofwono Opondo pointed out in an opinion in the Nile Post, that the church has failed and seeks to enlist government’s assistance in the matter of revenue collection. I concur with Opondo’s assessment that the idea is ridiculous, and that God wouldn’t approve of it.
However, beyond that, the very idea that Christians are obligated to pay tithe, which is the basic theory upon which Archbishop Lwanga’s and Pastor Kayanja’s impugned proposals are anchored, is in unmistakable want of doctrinal veracity, upon close examination of scripture. As I will later expose, God required the Hebrews to part with 10 per cent of their produce, but does not require Christians to do the same - and might in fact abhor it.
Parting with 10 per cent is first mentioned in the Bible in the Old Testament book of Genesis, when Abram (as Abraham was known at that time) gave Melchizedek, the King of Salem, and God’s High Priest at once, 10 per cent of the war booty he had dispossessed from King Kedorlaomer of Elam, and his allies.
This was a voluntary act by Abraham, in absence of a law or divine command that can be referenced, requiring him to give 10 per cent. Moreover, Abram did not deduct the 10 per cent from his income.
Tithing only became involuntary much later, for the Hebrews and the Hebrews only, after God through Moses, delivered them from their Egyptian slave masters, and constituted them as a theocratic nation-state. In ordering His “chosen” Nation-state, Israel, God legislated through Moses, certain laws, including the law of tithing.
In Numbers 18:21, God legislated requiring all Hebrews to give tithes to Levites, who also were in turn required to give 10 per cent to priests. Paying tithe was legalistic for the Hebrews; infraction attracted sanctions from God, as compliance opened floodgates of heavenly blessings (Malachi 3:8-10). But that existed in the Old Testament - the contract between God and the Hebrews. This, however, changed because the Old Testament, to which no non-Hebrew was a party, was retired and replaced with the New Testament.
The New Testament contains terms governing relations between God and a Christian, Hebrew or non-Hebrew. Apostle Paul said of the obsoleteness of the Old Testament and the validity of the New Testament, saying that: “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:13).
The essence of the New Testament is liberty and freedom for a Christian man/woman, from the legalistic requirements of the Old Testament. Apostle Paul couldn’t have been clearer when he observed that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). If that be true, then Christians were, too, redeemed from the curse of the tithe law.
This, however, does not mean that Christians should not give or support Church work. Jesus and the apostles after Him, taught about the virtue of giving and supporting the work of God’s Kingdom, but doing so in a non-legalistic, voluntary, free and cheerful manner.
Thus, a Christian can and should give any amount they are able and willing; anything north of 0 per cent, including up to 100 per cent of their income. Insisting that Christians must pay 10 per cent is legalistic, belongs in the obsolete Old Testament, and clearly out of sync with sound Christian doctrine.