Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tithing (giving money to church) as a barometer

So I haven't tithed (which is giving money to the church) in a bit less than a year. Tithing for me is a given. Why? People generally put money into things they care about, whether a church or a cause. And tithing makes me less selfish and reminds me that my money and all things are a gift.

Anyway, I don't know about how giving money works with other people, but for me it's a barometer for how I feel about church (not God, just church). I tithe, and then I realize where my heart is. This morning I attended that reconciling church I've mentioned before and I tithed. My tithing often tells me where my heart is. This is why it's a barometer. I gave money at church and afterwards realized that some part of me, the part that gives money, knew my heart had already switched churches before the rest of me did. I didn't have any major thought when I tithed I just wanted to, but afterwards I thought, I want to support a place that helps me feel less fragmented and that I feel accepts and likes all of me.

In addition to this there are two reasons I felt at rest at church (instead of the tenseness I normally feel in church) and freed me up to connect with God.

1) I sat next to this really wonderful lesbian couple, and I felt at rest in a way I haven't felt in church in a long time. Afterwards I had coffee with the couple. They are civil unionized (how do you say that?), christian, and they just seem so mature and stable. They thanked me for reaching out to ask them for coffee and said I was delightful. It was helpful to talk with them. One of the women is also a pastors kid and told me her coming out story. Her parents are actually both pastors.

2) The church is affirming of me and is pretty scripture-centric. Some people may think conservative churches use more scripture and preach on things like temptation and sin and a church that welcomes gays and lesbians wouldn't. NOT TRUE! This morning sermon was on temptation and addictions. The scripture passage was on the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, and the word sin was in the sermon in talking about addictions in our lives. I wish I could find a better way to explain how this church holds all this. I'm going to have to think about it. But, I like that there's a value of all the things I have traditionally value (like scripture) and an acceptance of me and the fact that I'm gay too.



Zuzu said...

What a beautiful day - what a great story of a great experience. It makes me smile for you in the deepest parts of me. You deserve love, acceptance and the ability to live your live under the umbrella of loving Christians. I'm glad you're finding a community who values you for who are you and allows you to express and explore your faith. I remember when you said, at one point, that leaving your church wasn't an option and was something you really feared. I think in our dialog I'd remarked that IF there came a day when you decided to switch to a different church, it probably wouldn't be as difficult or frightening as you feared. I wonder if you remember that exchange and if you have any reflections on it now that might help a young woman who might find herself in similar shoes? I just remember, when we had exchange before, that was something really hard for you to even contemplate. When I read this, it feels like it chose you and you happily embrace something. I'm sure there's more to it - I'd love to hear more of your thoughts and process on it. - Zu

just me - titration said...

It was a beautiful day. And yes I remember saying that. As to your question I think I need to think about what's I'd say to a similar young woman. Perhaps that's a future blog post.

~Dawn said...

Since I'm not part of a physical church, I give my money to organization like, or to people I have come across who need money in an emergency.

I also like to know that what I give is going to what it is supposed to and not admin stuff.

Anonymous said...

I believe the phrase is "civilly united". I like it and wish this was the option open to all couples!

In line with what Dawn says, could you consider distributing your tithe to a variety of groups you believe in. I give to my church; I also give to CeaseFire (a gun-violence prevention program), the Reconciling Ministries Network, the Human Rights Campaign, the Humane Society, NPR, etc. For me tithing is putting my resources toward God's work, and I see that in all of these places. Just a thought. Freya

just me - titration said...

dawn and freya... good thoughts on diversifying one's giving. I give to a friend of mine who is a missionary as well.

For me however this is more about my heart's hope than anything else. Giving to a local church is connected to still hoping in the church. When I don't have any hope or little I don't tithe. When i do have hope I do tithe.

Plus as a pk who watched my dad put in really long hours for hardly any money counseling and helping masses of people I want to support that. And this particular pastor does a lot to give hope to gays and lesbians who want to leave "church" and faith all together. So I'd like him to stick around. :)