Tithing When Your Spouse Doesn’t Approve

Tithing

A friend of mine recently confided, “I always tithe from my income, but I would never tell my husband . . . he would not approve.”  My initial response was respect for this act of devotion toward God in spite of the resistance her husband represents.  However, as the conversation settled in, I began to question my friend’s actions.

Pastor Roger at Crosswalk.com

Her situation is similar to the question, “What if My Husband Won’t Let Me Tithe?” submitted to Pastor Roger at Crosswalk.com.  Two differences are that my friend’s husband is not a believer and that my friend is keeping her giving a secret.  However, the same question arises: Should one spouse tithe when the other spouse doesn’t approve?

I agree with Pastor Roger that the wife should not force the issue.  I hope you take time to read his thoughts, but I will attempt to provide a brief summary here.  Pastor Roger states that tithing should be a natural outflow of love and devotion to God (Luke 11:42), and that the husband (who is a professing Christian) is behaving like an unbeliever.  The wife, therefore, should strive to practice Peter’s admonition to women married to unbelievers, “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1).

He adds, “winning him over ‘without words’ in no way precludes a talk as to why he’s reluctant to tithe.  At the right time, and in the right way, it’s OK to explore with him why he refuses to tithe – or to allow you to tithe.”  There are many possible reasons:

  • He may be angry with God.
  • He may be blaming God for past hurts.
  • He may resent the fact that his spouse makes more money than he does.
  • He may think that the church doesn’t need the money – or deserve it.
  • He may have a spending problem.
  • He may believe that God will not provide if he gets into financial trouble.
  • He may be bowing down to the god of Materialism.

In conclusion, Pastor Roger recommends not forcing the tithing issue, submitting to her husband’s authority and, when the husband is open to it, discuss his reluctance to tithe.

The Three Points I’d Add

1. All marital money belongs to both spouses.

Both my friend and the writer to “Ask Roger” distinguished between “my money” and “his money”.  I love Dave Ramsey’s observation, “The preacher said, ‘and now your are one’.  He didn’t say ‘and now you are a joint venture’.”  My point is that married couples own all assets together, meaning both must agree on how to use those assets.  The question “Should I tithe my money?” should not even be asked because neither spouse has their own money.

2. Marital secrets are time bombs.

Without telling her husband, my friend piously tithes, almost with a martyr’s complex.  As I mentioned earlier, once I digested what she was saying, I began to question her giving.  In fact, I asked her, “Do you believe that God wants you to keep secrets from your husband?”, to which she replied, “Yes, if that is what it takes for me to tithe.”   I disagree.  Such secrets will undermine the quality of any marriage, and I cannot imagine God winking at her as if to give His permission.  Eventually, the truth will come out and I am concerned that whatever Christian witness she brought to the marriage will be compromised by this deceit.  In her effort to please God, she may be effectively destroying any hope for her husband to come to faith.

3. Husbands don’t get a free pass.

Both examples in this post refer to wives, but the very same principles apply to husbands who may want to tithe when their wives don’t approve.  My guess is that men will justify controlling the money because they are the breadwinners or because the wives are supposed to submit to them.  Husbands:  yes, your wife is supposed to submit to your leadership, but you are supposed to earn that leadership by loving your wife as Christ loves the church.

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.  He gave up His life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.” (Ephesians 5:25-26).

Just as Christ gave up His life to make the church holy and clean, we husbands should strive to give ourselves up to our wives so they will become holy and clean.  Jesus knows that a holy church will want to tithe; in the same way, a wife who is loved unconditionally by her husband will also want to tithe.  Forcing a tithe could short circuit the process.

In conclusion, I think all believers should strive to tithe.  However, a married couple should do so together.  If one spouse is not ready, the other should patiently wait until that time comes.

Readers:  Is tithing when your spouse doesn’t approve an issue in your marriage?  Are you the one who pushes for the tithe or the one who is being pushed?  How does this struggle affect your marriage?  Your relationship with God?  Leave a comment below!















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35 Comments
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  1. “My guess is that men will justify controlling the money because they are the breadwinners or because the wives are supposed to submit to them. Husbands: yes, your wife is supposed to submit to your leadership”…..um nope, pretty sure we’re not obligated to “submit” to another person’s leadership in our own private lives.

    • JD, marriage brings two people together, so their lives are no longer “private” from each other. I believe Joe understands that both the husband and the wife in a marriage has a vote, and it would be a good thing to consider the “submitting” concept in the context of that entire Bible chapter (and the entire Bible itself).

      • Well said, John. Not to belabor the point (but I will a bit), the Bible instructs all of us to submit ourselves to those in authority, such as: citizens to Governing authorities (Romans 13), workers to their bosses (Ephesians 6: 5-7), children to parents (Ephesians 6:1-3), church members to their spiritual leaders (Hebrews 13:7) and wives to husbands (Ephesians 5:22) — although Ephesians 5:21 says the husbands and wives should submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. My point in this post was to challenge husbands to not “Lord it over” their wives, but earn the respect of their wives by loving them as Christ loves the church.

  2. There is one very important point that was left out of your reason in this article, as quoted by Pastor Roger’s points, for why a spouse may not want to tithe. And that is that perhaps a spouse thinks that tithing is not supported in the scriptures. I have been married for 9 years, today, to a wonderful, fearful man of God and Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. He has been saved for 20 years. He however did not want us to tithe our money because he did not like the dictation or expectation from the Church, (especially in seeing how the funds were being used which is another topic altogether). Tithing is in the Old Testament and mainly set up so that the Levites (The Priests) would be provided for. And mainly a direction for the children of Israel. Numbers 18:24-28. It is not supported in the New Testament. Having said that though the pooling and sharing of resources is supported in the New Testament, which could include tithing if one chooses but does not mandate it. Acts 2:44-45. My husband always thought that he was “tithing” because we share our income in many other ways. We sponsor 4 children from World Vision, we have helped family members in need financially without expecting it to be paid back, we gave to brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Once we paid a yearly tax bill for close friends of ours, a Christian married couple, who had fallen on bad times and we did not want them to lose their home. We also paid off the dental bill for our Pastor’s wife. I do not state this to brag in anyway. I just state it to say that what we have given was way and above the 10% expected tithing to the Church in which there is nothing in the Bible that says that you must do that. In addition, we would have loved for our love offering of paying off the taxes and paying the dental bill to have been done anonymously, but there was no way to do that due to the nature of each bill. Nor did they ask or solicit for help. We just knew of the need because of conversations privately and my husband prayed about the blessing we had received financially and decided to bless others because we believe that if we gain financially it is not necessarily for our own purpose, but if possible to help others in the body of Christ. We set aside a fixed amount in our budget of funds (the envelope system) for an “offering” every month. We don’t call it a “tithe”. We do give “offerings” to our Church and continue to support other people and organizations in the body of Christ. But it is out of a generous, prayerful and joyful giving not because we feel legalistically that we have to give a 10% tithe or whatever percentage seems to be mandated. I just thought I would share this because there are more reasons than selfishness, or focusing on materialism, or blame or resentment on why a husband (or wife) may decide that they do not want to “tithe” to a Church. I pray that this was helpful.

    • Sheri,
      Thanks for sharing another point in this discussion. Pastor Roger did not mention it (that a spouse might not tithe because he/she does not think tithing is supported in scripture) and I did not think of it, but I can see how it could be a point of contention. Evidently, you and your husband are on the same page — that is a good thing.

  3. Michelle

    Wow. That is exactly what I do. My husband’s concern, ever since we had our first child 8 years ago, has been that we won’t have enough money if we tithe. Sometimes I feel guilty not telling him. I don’t outright hide it, but I handle the finances, and I just don’t tell him that I tithe my paycheck. I feel bad when I don’t tithe, though. I love God. I want to tithe.

    • Michelle — the key, in my opinion, is whether your husband is OK with the tithing you do. Even though it is from your paycheck, it is still “marital money”, so he should have a say. Evidently, he was OK with tithing before your first born came along 8 years ago. What if the two of you agreed to a giving amount for a set period of time (3-6 months) and then evaluate whether you have enough money. Even if it isn’t a tithe of your family income, perhaps you could agree to incrementally bump it up a bit from year to year.

  4. Brandy Mills

    Thank you for posting this on your site. I’ve wrestled with this issue, even though I totally agree with the submission aspect. But something about the way you wrote it seemed so much more simplified. I think I will have a much easier time “keeping silent” now and letting my husband make his own decisions when the time is right for him instead of forcing him to walk in my “light.”

    Thanks for the clarification.
    Brandy

    • Brandy — I am glad this helped. Your patience will give you peace and allow you to trust God to do His thing.

  5. OBONDI DARIUS

    To my personal knowledge,tithering is just an appreciation to the Lord for what has done to one because it is the wish of Him that we posses what we posses.In the Bible we are told that all of us with our properties and wealth belongs to the Lord and we shall return to the Lord without our possessions.So is good that we give the Lord what belongs to Him and to Caesar what belongs to him.
    The Child of the Lord can save the people who are with them whenever the Lord wants to destroy the city.Let a spouse continue to Pray for another to do the will of the Lord.
    Once one is prayed and saved by the blood of the Lord is completely dissolved in the Lord in both faith and truth.

    • GUEST FOR TRUTH

      Tithing is in most churches as a mandate for today. The way it is taught in Christendom has created many grace robbers who are robbing Christians of their peace if they do not have ten percent on every dollar to give. It shames the poor, brings fear of a curse by preachers quoting Malachi 3:8-9 out of context. It has created a giving to get, tit for tat mentality and relationship with God. It damages the character of God as someone ready and willing to curse us over failure to give a certain amount of money. It robs the Holy Spirit of enabling us to be led by him on how much to give. It throws those redeemed from the curse of the law according to Galatians 3:13 back under a curse that Jesus took away and nailed to his cross Col. 2:14
      We are now free to give as we decide or purpose in our hearts. Too many preachers are condemning people over the tithe and they have no right to do this See Romans 8:33

  6. I am in the same boat and felt badly about not being allowed to tythe until I realized a couple things…

    First, God looks at the heart and intent. He knows you really want to tythe.

    Second, you can find ways to tythe that won’t offend your husband. Time and talents are worth more than money.

    Our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills, dear ones. He doesn’t NEED our money, but He wants our hearts.

  7. Francoise

    I’m with Brandy I loved the timing and simplicity of Pastor Roger’s article and it reminded me that my husband and I are ‘one’ so nothing really to the term his finances and mine – it all comes from God and belongs to Him – “we” are both just stewards of what He has given us. I too handle all the finances and simply kept quite about my tithing and giving as my husband is not a believer. But I trust God and will stop for now until my prayers for his salvation come to pass and we are able to agree together on how best to deal with our finances.

  8. i am saved and my husband is not so our situation differs from the example. i tithe my paycheck and any other income that i receive. he doesn’t like it but i believe that it is an important expression of my faith. i don’t do it in secret.

  9. I was a new believer when I heard about tithing many, many years ago. However, my husband who was the only one working at the time, was not a believer. I did not want to tithe behind his back or without his permission. So, I prayed and asked God for favor and for the right time to approach him regarding the subject. When the time came, I went to him with my Bible and showed him some scriptures and asked if he would mind if we began tithing. After reviewing the scriptures himself and giving it further consideration, he agreed that we could tithe. From that point on, we tithed the gross amount of every paycheck, as well as any income that came into our home. Over the years we have been more “blessed to give than to receive!”

    • What an encouraging story Lydia! I’m sure that a lot of people going through a similar situation will be encouraged by what you’re written here. God bless!

  10. Since i do not believe tithing is required. i certainly would not agree with a spouse tithing while the other was unaware. It would be a greater testimony to keep peace then to make sure that your church had your money.

    – jared

  11. We have three children that I am trying to save up for college and their future. My husband is in control of all of our money and he freely tithes and gives it away to homeless people and children all over the world. God has put in me the need to be an advocate for the children that have come from me & myhusband, so I each time I get extra money, I put it aside for them. I know I am being diligent and responsible. When my husband gets extra money, he thinks of homeless strangers & other people outside of his home first, but I think of our children first. Sorry if this offends you, but I have three children to think about and provide for and I believe that I am doing the right thing. Please comment.

    • Wow, Bella I am so surprised by this post. First of all, your husband is a wonderful Christian man and truly has his heart focused on Jesus. “4 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:14-17. If you said that he was taking the money and using it for others and you and the children were going without food or medical necessities or a roof over your head then, I could see complaining about it and questioning it. But you are worrying about College?! Seriously? When did saving money for College become a Christian worldview? College is a privilege not a right. Furthermore, they do not educate any longer. They indoctrinate your children and there are many studies that show how 75 to 80% of Christian children walk away from the faith by the time they leave College. I would think that in worrying about their future your focus would be on if and how they are walking with Christ. Your husband is setting a good example for them in serving and helping others. You could be supporting your husband (after all he is the leader of your home and responsible to God ultimately for you and the children) by teaching them Godly principles. And that if College is to be in their future it is something they should work and save for. You could help them by making sure they are getting good grades so they can get scholarships. You can explain to them that College is expensive and set their sights on a local community College to build up a great GPA and then perhaps transfer possibly on full scholarship to a 4 year school. You could encourage them to do College from home. There are many programs that do not require your child to leave home and they are reputable. Ever heard of College Plus? “The CollegePlus Bachelor’s Degree Program allows you to earn your fully accredited Bachelor’s degree in two to three years, without debt, for around $15,000, and with the freedom and flexibility to gain life experience while you earn your degree” The focus in on serving and I think they do Missions trips. The site is http://www.collegeplus.org. And now here is scripture to support my comments. God bless your husband. Matthew 25:44-46 New King James Version (NKJV)
      44 “Then they also will answer Him,[a] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Also, look up Psalm 78:5-8 and Deut. 6:4-9. As a Christian, I pray that you will take this in an unoffensive manner as well and look to God’s Word on how you should be an advocate for your husband. God bless.

  12. hi all, i commented earlier. i really believe that giving to the things of GOD (usually) reflects our trust in Him. having said that, we are all in different places of maturity. i am persuaded that if we follow GOD’s Way then we have no need to worry about money, but it has taken many years to get to that point. for a long time i did not tithe or give much to the church with the convenient excuse that i was a student and then that my husband did not believe that i should do it and/or that we did not have the money to do it and on and on. i have had to learn many lessons – including how to live within my means, how to not buy things that i cannot afford to pay for, how to tell my children that they will not get everything that everyone else has even though we can afford to buy it, how to care more about what GOD says than about what other people think, how to live debt free (!!!!!), how to be satisfied with the things that i have and not spend my life pursuing things that i don’t need. can i just say that GOD is faithful to honor his Word? following these principles we are financially secure and at peace in our home over finances. each year we are able to put aside ~50K+ in addition to retirement because we have been living within our means and managing our finances GOD’s Way since 2009. and i support missionaries and give to the poor, the orphans (in fact we adopted one:), the widow and i drive a car that is 10 years old and i look forward with great anticipation to my heavenly reward. so Bella, i am glad that you asked your question and i am confident that as you continue to seek GOD, read His Word, pray and seek GODLY counsel you will find your answer. GODspeed!!!

  13. sorry!! error – managing our finances GOD’s Way since 2003, totally out of debt (more than $70,000 dollars in debt including cars) in 2009 :)

    • GUEST FOR TRUTH

      So you think you had to pay God to get you out of debt? Sad. Go read this: Romans 8:32-33 God with Jesus Freely gives us all things! Ever consider other people got out of debt by the grace of God and his free blessings? Wish this teaching to pay God for his blessings would end as if God is a bill collector wanting to repossess our stuff.
      I give just for the pleasure of giving as my act of worship but I in no way think I must pay God for what Jesus already paid for. Neither am I confused about what God said under which covenant and what Jesus said before and after the cross and the change that took place.

  14. Kelikan

    I have a question… My husband is the typical “overworked, underpaid” guy, but even though I feel he deserves so much more, it is still fairly little. He is not saved. I am saved and do subbing for the school district (not teaching, but clerical, secretary, and campus security) so my work is on and off not very standard. I tithe on my income. Should I be tithing on his as well?

    • Kelikan, personally I wouldn’t tithe on his income unless he approves of it. There’s a lot more I could go into, but I pray the Lord will give you his answers.

    • GUEST FOR TRUTH

      No! Under our New Covenant of Grace we are free to give as the Holy Spirit leads us in our heart . There is NOT one bible verse in the New Testament under the New Covenant where God says obey the Leviticus law to be blessed or earn his favor.
      If you are in Christ you already have the favor of God free of charge!

      2nd Corinthians 3:6 He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.

      How does the old covenant end in death? Because they had endless animal sacrifices and stoning people to death for breaking the least one.
      Jesus placed tithing in Matthew 23:23 on a low scale as not the most important law and this was when they were still under the tithe law before he died and said it is finished.
      Jesus said It is finished as in Paid in full and I believe him, end of story

  15. Robin Ingraham

    Referencing Acts 4:32-5:11 as an example; she was submitting to her husband yet was held accountable. So which viewpoint is correct; that submission to our spouses and being in agreement is the goal or do we do what we ought to do according to God’s word being held accountable as an individual?

  16. GUEST FOR TRUTH

    Amended Jesus took all of your curses and nailed them to the cross Galatians 3:13
    Romans 8:32 To freely give you all things!
    Romans 8:33 No one should condemn you or bring a charge against you if you belong to God, not even if you do not have a full ten percent in cash at offering time.

  17. My husband is a professing believer, but although he gives regularily to our church, he has never biblically tithed. I have often told him he was being disobedient, but he always tries to justify it. I was tempted to open up a separate checking account and depositing my paycheck. I’m thankful for your counsel. We are not a joint venture, but one. Even though I don’t agree with him, the Lord knows my heart. That’s all I can do for now. That and pray he will be won over without a word (We’ve had plenty of those). Thanks again for your counsel. I know the Lord used you to answer my prayers.

  18. Waaaoo. .This is all amazing. ..am not married but I have learned ttithing and have see the hand of God in all my ways. .my question is what about if the husband gives to the needy without agreeing with the wife and it’s something that happens often and the wife knows it and she doesn’t support that. Will the husband be blessed? I understand the Bible says when husband and wife are married they become one..so how can you help such a couple both are saved.

  19. michael

    My wife had restrained me in this area for some time; however, a wise Christian friend of mine pointed out that we are called to tithe “our treasure, our time and our talents.” If we are hindered in one of these areas of giving, perhaps we can increase in the other areas. This has helped me immensely.

  20. In my marriage, my husband is the tither. It is a very touchy subject for me. Over the years I have tried to come to understand tithing and giving, it is not easy. I try hard to respect his faith, and we have seen some blessings from the tithe. But currently we are in debt, trying to pay it off, and he has been mentioning more and more thing he would like to do that all involve money…singing lessons, playing hockey, new gear, fixing things around the house. No matter how much I try to reason with him to pull the reins back on giving less he will not budge, I feel like am wasting my breath and feelings on the topic, like I have NO say in this financial matter, I have made many sacrifices because of my husbands giving, I just pray he could see the stresses it is putting on me and frankly our relationship.

  21. The situation you talk about of tithing in secret was me! I gave my life to Jesus last year and instantly felt the need to start giving. I faithfully tithed 10% of ‘my’ paycheck and gave a large offering each week. I was thrilled to do something for the kingdom. But I didn’t heed the voice of God. He did tell me to stop doing it behind my husbands back. But I didn’t listen. And then it all blew up one night while we were out of town for a big family wedding. My husband got into my check book for some reason and saw my check register with the amounts that I had been giving. He was extremely mad at me and we argued. I was shocked that something that was meant for such good had quickly turned sour! And I was shocked that he was so mad. While I didn’t necessarily give money to the church behind his back, I certainly made no effort to tell him about it.
    But I believe that even though I was giving so cheerfully, I was also doing it with deception. So God put an end to it. My Pastor counseled me with your same advice. Wait for the right moment and bring it up to your spouse and tell them that it is important to you and something that you feel led to do and if 10% is too much, what would they feel comfortable with you giving. Tell them that you both can re-evaluate in a certain amount of time and see if it is still agreeable.
    Im still praying for my right time! LOL

  22. There is no reason for a Christian to tithe, because it is not biblical. Tithing was to be paid to the Levites in the temple. There are neither of those today. Tithing wasn’t never suppose to be monetary. In other words it wasn’t based on money. Tithing was not commanded in the New Testament. The converted gentiles were never asked to tithe.

    The Christian church falsely teaches tithe as a requirement and means for salvation. Most people who tithe would deny this, but they only tithe out of fear. Fear of God turning His back on them by removing His blessing. They believe that tithing brings blessings, because they attribute arbitrary random events as being a blessing. My pastor told me, because he tithed, he was able to find a laptop on sale at Bestbuy. Which is just a ridiculous thing to say.

    I have discussed tithe with my pastor before and he simply could not prove to me in the bible that tithing was a requirement for us. He only quoted books written by other pastors. He could not prove to me biblically that the church was now the temple, and the pastors were the Levites, yet he claimed to have replaced the Levites. Which reveals even more of a lack of understanding of tithing among church leaders. If they are the modern day Levites, then why do they tithe themselves? The Levites were to receive tithe, not pay it.

    He then stated that if people don’t tithe the church will run out of money. That is mistrusting God, while at the same time claiming that tithing is showing trust in God. God wouldn’t let His church run out of money, unless He allowed it. If His church needs money, He will provide it. The existence of a church shouldn’t be based on guilting people into financially supporting it.

    If you truly want to give 10% of your income to your church, do it as offering. If you give under the idea of tithe, you aren’t truly giving. You are only surrendering money, because you believe that your salvation and well-being depends on it. You aren’t giving freely. God doesn’t require a fee for His blessing and help.

    Tithing is simply not a requirement anymore. The Christian church has altered and changed it without the authority to do so. No man has the authority to change scripture.

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