At Slate’s My Goodness column the question is “Which is more important: tithing or paying off my $13,000 credit-card debt?” After noting that under “the Hatch-Obama bill in 2006 … those in consumer bankruptcy can continue to make reasonable charitable contributions, including tithing,” Sandy Stonesifer offers this advice:
[A] calculated decision to stop tithing (or any charitable giving, religiously encouraged or otherwise) in order to escape credit-card debt is perfectly acceptable and possibly even recommended, as long as you follow a few basic guidelines: First, have a plan with a clear beginning and end. Otherwise it will be easy to stop giving and never start again. Second, spend some time thinking about what landed you in credit-card debt. Redefine living within your means to a point where tithing is included, since that seems to be a nearly non-negotiable part of your life. Third, consider substituting your monetary tithing with “time tithing,” a concept mentioned in The Power of Giving. Tithe your time by volunteering at your church. While 10 percent of your week (16.8 hours) may seem hefty, 10 percent of waking nonworking hours may be more manageable (approximately 7.2 hours).
Finally, remember that 7 percent, or 5 percent, or 2 percent is better than nothing. So decide together what feels right, and congratulate yourselves on taking the first step to get out of debt. Shoring up your own finances will help you help others in the future.
Read it all.