One of my least favorite arguments among Christians involves the question of whether Christians should tithe or not. Both sides of the debate get all hot and bothered, and nothing ever changes…
…in the church, anyway.
Outside the church, however, tithing is picking up steam. Thanks, Kirsten Bullock (her blog is the best weekly aggregator of articles on fundraising, by the way), for the link to the story on the launch of the Rutgers University chapter of Giving What We Can. Let me quote at length and assure you that the whole thing is a must-read:
By American standards, Nick Beckstead’s current salary is pretty small.
The Rutgers University graduate student earns less than $25,000 a year from his university stipend and the extra cash he picks up doing various academic jobs on campus.
But Beckstead has big plans. The philosophy student is pledging to donate everything he earns above $20,000 to charity while he’s a student, then give away 50 percent of his take-home pay for the rest of his life once he graduates and gets a job.
“People making an ordinary income can make a massive difference by donating,” said Beckstead, 25, of North Brunswick. “Most of us in the United States are among the richest in the world.”
Beckstead is part of Giving What We Can, a growing charity movement started by an Oxford University philosopher. Members pledge to give away 10 percent or more of their income for life to the most effective charities they can find, usually in developing countries where small amounts of money can directly save lives.
Thursday night, a group of Rutgers University students launched Giving What We Can’s first U.S. chapter with a rally and lecture at the Livingston Student Center in Piscataway. Students gathered to learn about the movement and hear from students who have already made pledges.
The featured speaker was Peter Singer, the controversial Princeton University bioethics professor known for his polarizing views on animal rights, human disabilities and euthanasia. Singer has written philosophical essays that argue it is morally indefensible for people to live in luxury while others starve.
Um… Aren’t those supposed to be our lines?
Sadly, we are too busy working to reassure ourselves that the best way to make sure we’re saved by grace is to be stingy and feel joyfully righteous about it. (“See? I’m not under the law! I’m under grace! That must explain this nice watch I own.”)
Worth checking out the Giving What We Can giving pledge, which reveals how, astonishingly, one can tithe without getting one’s theological knickers in a knot over it all:
The Pledge to Give
I recognise that I can use part of my income to do a significant amount of good in the developing world. Since I can live well enough on a smaller income, I pledge that from today until the day I retire, I shall give at least ten percent of what I earn to whichever organizations can most effectively use it to fight poverty in developing countries. I make this pledge freely, openly, and without regret.
There’s something about that last sentence that sounds like one of our lines, too…