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That's a Good Question

Cohabitation, Compatibility, and Christian Commitment

October 3, 2023

Jon Delger


Ryan Kimmel

JonHey everyone, welcome to That's a Good Question, a podcast of Peace Church. This is a place where we answer questions about the Christian faith in plain language. I'm Jon, I get to serve as one of the pastors at Peace Church, and I also get to serve as the weekly host of this show. Our purpose here is to help people grow in their knowledge of the Bible and their walk with the Lord by answering their questions. And today I am here with Pastor Ryan. Hey, Pastor Ryan.

RyanHi, Pastor Jon, how you doing?

JonI'm doing good.

RyanI'm the lead pastor here at Peace. That's right. Excited to join you for today's discussions.

JonThat's right. We've got some great questions here So we're gonna jump into a few different places in scripture and answer some awesome questions, but we'll start with this one All right. Here's a question. Is it okay to give 10% a tithe that split between church and other Christian organizations? All right. I know there's a ton we could say about this. Let's split it into a few different questions Pastor Ryan. First, What does the Bible say about the tithe does the New Testament talk about a tithe?

Question #1: What does the Bible say about the tithe? Does the New Testament talk about a tithe?

RyanSo yeah, I'd say that is a multifaceted question that they asked there. So I think what you see in a very general way, and there's different ways you can begin to dive deeper into this, but generally speaking when you go back, the tithe belongs to the Lord. The tithe is holy to the Lord. Tithe obviously connected to the word tenth, that we are to give God 10% of what He's given us back to him in praise and worship. And so that is kind of a very broad general principle that you pull from the Old Testament. The question begins then, does that translate then into the New Testament? I think it's kind of what you're getting at, right? And so, does it translate into the New Testament? Not as a mandated law. No. Part of what Christ has done for us through his life, death, and resurrection is he's freed us from the law. He's freed us from a faith that's bound by a legalistic approach to our faith that we have to do certain things in order to maintain salvation or favor with God. So the tithe is no longer a legal spiritual requirement for believers in the New Testament, like all the Old Testament laws, Christ has released us from that. So, the question that I think is, is, okay, so what is the place of financial giving in the New Testament?

JonIs that kind of, I think, where we're going? Yeah, totally. So, just to say a little bit more about even just the Old Testament part of it. So, Genesis 14, first passage in the Bible that talks about a tithe, Abraham gives a tithe. And then it's talked about in many places throughout the rest of the Old Testament. And I'm sure we'll get to this as we talk more about this, but I would also just add right away, it's important I think for Christians to realize that in the Old Testament, the tithe was only the beginning of the giving that Israelites gave to others. So the tithe was 10%, they usually gave that to the temple, but then there was alms and other things. I've heard it said that the Israelites probably gave more like 30% of their overall income. Yeah, as well as 20%. Yeah, to the work of the temple as well as to the poor and things like that.

RyanSo, well, yeah, like you're saying, it's not a specific direct law that might carry over, but the principles there are valuable and important and point to even more giving than 10%. Yeah, and we see this a lot in the in the ways that certain laws translate into the New Testament that the law doesn't carry but the principle does in many ways even even heightens and so like you know not only are you not supposed to you know not hate your neighbor, you love your neighbor. Right. Or you're not supposed to not just hate your enemy, you're supposed to love your enemies. Yeah, Jesus takes it up a notch. Jesus always takes it up a notch.

JonYou've heard it said, don't commit adultery, I tell you the truth. You know, if you even look at a woman lustfully, you've committed adultery.

RyanRight. Yeah, exactly. So there's principles that carry over and not just carry over, but often expand. And so when we talk about financial giving in the New Testament, I think we all, you know, immediately want to go talk about what are some Bible passages that give us some direction for that? And I think some of the, two of the most profound ones come from 2 Corinthians, chapter 8 and chapter 9. Paul is talking about the generosity of another church, the Macedonian church, and how even in their poverty, they gave extravagantly. And that sets a standard for Christians that if we believe the gospel is the message of salvation for the world, how can that not take priority in our life in every way, including our giving? And so, you know, so to talk about just I and here's I just need to always say this whenever we talk about money and talk about tithing there, I can never and I'm telling you that I've gotten a thousand on this. I can never talk about money without getting some sort of response from people the next day, if not even after the service. You talk about tithing, you talk about people's money, they always want to talk about it. They always have a follow-up. I've said this to you before, I could talk about the flames of hell and I won't get a single follow-up the next day. But I talk about someone's money and they've got a lot of thoughts they want to share on that.

JonWell, with that in mind, you can send your complaints to Pastor Ryan.

RyanYeah, no, Pastor Jon, yeah. Our producer Mitchell over here can take some of them, too. So, I mean, what are some of the other angles you want to take on that question?

JonYeah, so let's dive in a little bit to some of the texts of the New Testament talks about giving to the church. So one of the ones I think of is Matthew 23, where Jesus is critiquing the Pharisees, and he's saying, you know, you tithe on your dill and your mint and your cumin. He's saying you tithe either on these plants that you pick out of your garden. And then he says, you ought to do more of the latter, but also do the former. So you ought to do the other works of the law, or the works of justice, while not neglecting the first, the tithe. So Jesus does talk positively about the tithe, that it is important that Christians continue to give.

RyanAnd so... Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's Matthew 23, 23, when Jesus talks about, yeah, you guys tithe even on your spice rack, but you've forgotten the weightier matters of the law, such as justice, love, and mercy. And so, like you're saying, Jesus spoke positively of the tithe, that we are to give what God has given us, we are to use for His glory. I also think one of the bigger ones is when Jesus is observing the widow and she gives her last penny. And you know, He's with His disciples and He says, that woman's given more than anyone else has given. And it's because she gave all that she had. She literally gave her last penny. And what's important to note about that is she didn't give it to the poor, she gave it at the temple as a form of worship and Jesus affirmed her because she didn't get 10% she gave 100% and so as we're talking about things the pattern that you see is that the collection happened at the local gathering of believers and in the New Testament when Paul's gathering offerings and tithes and in financial gifts it's always in the company of believers it's always in the company of those you gather and worship with. And those monies were always used for ministry purposes.

And so while there is no mandated law of giving 10%, I think what you see is a pattern established in the Old Testament that the New Testament continues to expound on and strengthen. And I have no problem being open about this because we believe that from scripture. My wife and I, we give way more than 10% of our income, but our first fruits that we talked about earlier, our first 10% is always going to be to God through the local church because I think that's the clearest example that you see in the New Testament. So our first 10% is given because that's what we've prayed and believe God's calling us to give. First and foremost as our first fruits, we give that to the local church and then on top of that we continue to give over and above 10% to other Christian organizations, to those in need, or maybe continuing to the local church. And again, that's because we want to live the standard that we think that the Bible sets so that we can be an example to others.

JonRight. Yep. And that's kind of what I think we're trying to balance that emphasis of. On the one hand, we don't want to be legalistic and say that.

RyanBecause that's what happens as soon as you specify a number, your people either will naturally fall into legalism or you'll be accused of a legalistic approach.

JonRight, so that's what, yeah, we're trying to dance the line here. But on the one hand, we don't want to be legalistic about that 10% number. And yet, on the other hand, we don't want to ease it and just say, oh, you know, totally up to you. You do whatever, you know, whatever you want.

RyanCause we know, we all know the human heart, our human heart is looking at how can we give less? Yeah. No one is coming to this question saying, how do I give more? Where can I give more? Um, or what, what biblical justification is there that I get to give more, you know, people, people in their heart of hearts, they want to figure out how can I give less or they find excuses to give less. I don't, I don't like how the church uses the money, therefore I'm not going to give. And usually I say to those people is if you think that your church is mishandling money, or not using it rightly, then you need to find a new church.

But I think what often happens is the heart of heart of people is that they try to find ways to give less and less. When I think the standard that we see is that we have to give more and more. Christ gave every ounce of his blood. We see Jesus give it all. We see the disciples go and give their lives for this. How could we not give more? And given, let's just say that the 10% was the standard of the Old Testament. How could we in the New Testament or New Testament believers who are on this side of the cross, how could we not want to give more now that we know the clarity of the gospel? Now that we know the clarity of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that he lived, died, and rose again, how could we not want to give more to see that work continue? How could we not want to see our local church be financially, not just like making it, but thriving? And again, like we are nowhere saying like if you give, God's going to bless you financially back. That's not part of it either. That's the flip side of this that I think it can get real dark real fast. Yeah.

JonWell, yeah, let's talk about that for a quick minute. Yeah, so we, you know, we don't have a money back guarantee on our tithing here at Peace Church. We don't get up and say you get your money back if you don't get a blessing out of it. And so, yeah, like you just said, we don't, it's not like, hey, oh man, I, you know, I've heard people tell these stories that I gave to church and then the next day I found a $20 bill and I had only given $15 to the church the day before. So see, the Lord, the Lord blessed me more than I gave. Well, I would say that you will absolutely be blessed when you give because I would say that all Christians are blessed by the Lord, they're blessed with the Lord's presence. So hear me when I say that, I think, you know, in scripture, the word blessing does not just refer to financial things. So you will be blessed. That blessing might not come until you're in heaven with the Lord or that blessing might come in a totally different way than financially, there is no guarantee that you will be financially, that you will receive a financial reward for giving.

RyanWell, I think that's actually what you are doing, is that when you do give, you're storing up treasures for yourself in heaven. Right. You're kind of sending your money ahead of time, is kind of what the treasure principle talks about. I was also going to say, and I can say this from my own personal experience, and I know what this is going to sound like to people, but I have to say it, because it's absolutely true. I cannot out-give God. Like, I cannot out-give God. It is like every single time we up our giving, God finds a way to bless us abundantly. And I'm not saying that's a one-for-one correlation that's gonna happen in anyone else's life. But I am saying that when we move forward in faith, and we financially trust God, and we give abundantly, He blesses us abundantly. And maybe that's just through our giving that God's given us the eyes to see how he already was blessing us. Maybe. I'm just telling you with honest to God truth and I have to say this because it's a testimony that's been true. God outgives my wife and I every single time we up our giving. And I'm not saying it's always in the almighty dollar, but I will say it's always in some form, some material form. Whether that's food or maybe it is money. We cannot out give God. It's literally like, I don't want to test God, but it's almost like I want to give it all away and see what God does, because he's already proven to be so trustworthy in all this. And the blessing is, I get to be a part of the group that says, we're going to make sure that the church is financially stable. That's a blessing to be able to say, I'm part of the company of people that are ensuring that God's church remains stable. And it doesn't mean because we gave ex-ima, it's because we gave faithfully. The single mom that gives faithfully out of her poverty is part of that company too. It's those who in their wealth are stingy and find reasons not to give who should be concerned.

JonYeah, so you shared a little bit about from your own personal experience, so I'll share that too. I think as Stephanie and I, as my wife and I look at Scripture and look at the Old Testament, we see that tithe principle that, you know, whether we view that as an absolute requirement in the New Testament or not, we see that as an important principle. And so for us, that's the start, is that we say even before taxes are taken out, 10% goes to the Lord, that that's not like a bill we pay or that's not stacked up among other expenses, that we just see that as, hey, that belongs to the Lord before it gets taxed, before it comes to us, any of that kind of stuff. And then, by God's grace, he's given us enough that we also get to give to some other causes that we like and appreciate, but it's beyond those things. So when we go back to the person's question, the person's question, right, is, can I split my 10 percent between the church and other causes? So we've already said, all right, let's not get legalistic about that 10% number as if it's a bill to pay and you get to split it between a couple of different causes. Let's not view it that way. Let's think about New Testament, kind of heart of generous giving. And then as we think about those causes, I again would go back to just that Old Testament principle of the tithe and that, I think the Lord has called us to give that 10% to his work, his unique, specific gospel preaching work in and through the church, as well as giving to others.

RyanTotally. And if you go on social media, you're going to find a whole bunch of Christians out there railing against the tithe. They say, stop tithing, stop tithing. And if you watch the video, it'll say, you need to discern from the Lord an amount to give. I think what they're trying to do is they're trying to diminish a legalistic approach to giving, which I can appreciate. They're also pushing back on all these televangelists who have been so deceitful and robbing people of money, calling them to a biblical mandate that's not actually biblical. So I mean, I can appreciate that, but we need to stop listening to cynical voices. We need to stop listening to voices that, how do I say it? I mean, just that really aren't helpful, opinionated. We need to stop listening to opinionated voices and start seeking the counsel of your local body through the word and figure out what this is gonna mean for your life. And so, yeah, I don't know if there's anything else I can say at the moment.

JonNo, that's really good. That's really good. Like we've said a few different times, we're trying to balance that way between we don't want to be legalistic, but we also want to be clear about kind of the principles that scripture calls.

RyanYeah, so what I was going to say was it's not that we're trying to avoid this person's question. It's just the premise is faulty. That we've got this 10% God's called me to give exactly 10%. What's my way to give that that's still faithful? And we say let's go back a moment and just examine this whole notion of 10% and just say is that really the mandate that Scripture is requiring of you or is that it's principle that we see and now we get to follow? Now what does it mean to follow that principle? Good. Yay. Money. Yay. Always a fun topic. That's right. Man this is gonna get a bunch of comments right now. Whenever I speak on money, like, and it just only gets proved more and more true, especially the bigger we get, every stinking word is examined.

Yeah. Seriously, I'm not like I can talk about hell and how your pet, I could say, I could say your pets go into hell because Jesus didn't die for animals. I could say that and no one would care. Like I won't get a comment. But I talk about how Christians are supposed to give and man, I tell you what, you get a thousand excuses about why this person doesn't feel, yeah. So, all right, so let me just take a second and say this. When a person tries to argue giving less than 10%, I've never had a person come to me with that mentality who, for me, felt like they were trying to get out of something that they knew they should do. Or they were trying to... it never felt right to me. Now there's been times people have come to me with that and said, you know, the Bible says that we can give more, that we're supposed to give more, we're supposed to give a lot. Then I'm like, yeah, okay, and that, yeah, absolutely. Then, yeah, the 10% is a great base to build from and starting point, right? It's not the finish line, it's the starting line. And so there's that aspect of it, but many times it's people are like, well, I don't have to give anything. Bible says I don't have to give. Jesus died so I don't have to follow the law anymore.

JonYou know? Well, the main one I was expecting people have in their minds is, does my Christian school tuition count as my tithe?

RyanOkay, dude, I'm telling you now.

JonThat's what I was expecting in my mind in there. I don't know if we should even talk about that or not.

RyanBut, well, so, okay, so I think the answer is that's a faulty premise. But let me just say this, my most memorable moment in seminary is when I saw, oh yeah, you've told me this before, yeah, when I saw two, a person said that. They said, it was a gal who was seeking an MDiv, she wanted to be a pastor, and she said in the class, because we're talking about tithing, she said, my husband and I do tithe, but it's our children's education to Christian schools. And it was like, I'd say two-thirds of the class were like, yeah, yeah, because I went to a, I went to Calvin, I went to Calvin, you know, CRC has a big emphasis on that. Or at least in West Michigan I've heard. And so, um, but there's a few of us in the class were like, wait, is that, is that true? Like, is that, is that actually okay? And then the professor looked at her like, I have to address this now. Like, Oh crap. I have to like, I have to push back on this is what's wrong he's like like no that's that's not that's not your tithe that's that's a wonderful thing that you do I fully affirm it I think it's worthy worthy to sacrifice other things to see that happen for your family but you cannot say that that's giving to God so okay okay so here's one of the things I think is a really a great thing about Peace Church is that we don't shove one form of education down our throat and down anyone's throat.

We've got people here who do public school, homeschool, charter school, private school, Christian school, and we say, God bless you, discern from the Lord what's best for you and your family. And I want, no matter what a family chooses, I want them to know that as long as I can ensure that you've sought the Lord on this, and you are engaged in your children's education, because I think you can check out, you can send your kids to Christian school and check out, you can send your kids to public school and check out. As long as you are prayerful in your decision and engaged in your education, then I trust whatever God's led you to do. And so, I don't want people to hear us say that money given to your children's Christian education does not count as a tithe. I don't want them to hear that as, that we don't bless their decision to send their kids to Christian school. I think that's an admirable, sacrificial, wise decision for your family.

But I don't think you can say my money given to that expense counts now as the tithe. I mean, we know people who believe so much in going to peace church for their family, they gave up getting support from their local church. Yeah, totally. Like they stayed at the local church, they would have gotten money to help with their Christian education. They gave that up because they believe that God's called them to the ministry of peace. And so that's why I'm just really cautious to like, I want to make sure it's really clear that while I don't believe you can say money given to your Christian's education counts as your tithe or to the Lord, I do still affirm people's decision if that's what they feel like they're right call is for their family.


Yeah, yeah, totally. All right, hey, next question. Is it okay for Christians to live together before they get married? Where in the Bible does it address this?

Question #2: Is it okay for Christians to live together before they get married? Where in the Bible does it address this?


So that notion of cohabitation I don't think is like directly addressed, that it wasn't a thing Back in those days, but I will say that I think you see that notion put the rest in Genesis a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, right? not not a man boy to venture out on his own and Moving with his girlfriend While they figure out life together. Sorry, that's not see if they're compatible. Yeah. No that's uh, so I'd say and then also you get you things like, um, you know in Hebrews talks about Keeping the marriage bed your thing. That's a language find it. Yeah, and so that notion like yeah You don't you don't get into the marriage bed unless you're actually married Yeah, or even in Scripture other words like sexual immorality or fornication or words that you know, they specifically include things like sex outside of marriage Yeah, absolutely, whether that's temple prostitution or whatever.

And so, yeah, this whole notion of cohabitation, I think you also just see, I mean, not that you need this, you don't need this to affirm what the scripture said, but the studies constantly are showing those who live together before they're married, their marriages don't last or they're very unhappy marriages. It's not the way that God's designed and that's proven to be true when people step outside God's design. It does not benefit their life. In fact, it wreaks havoc on their life. And I would say by extension, the culture at large. I think this is probably why, part of the reason why you see such rampant brokenness in marriages and families is because people don't value marriage, they don't respect it before they get married and they try to act like they're married before they actually are. And so I'd say for me that's just, I'm sad about how prevalent it is among Christians. That does make me sad. And so just to go back I think while you don't see thou shalt not cohabitate written in Scripture, I think what you see is from the very earliest pages a principle is set that's good and right and beautiful and glorifying to God and good for one another that a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife.

JonI think that was an awesome great full answer if I may I've got just a couple of real quick ones which I just want to hit first one is is this what do you say to that that argument that we have to figure out if we're compatible?

RyanI would say then okay that you certainly do but you don't do that by living together and sleeping together. That's right. You don't do that by playing marriage when you're not actually married. You do that by spending quality time together, having gospel, God-centered conversations. And that's how you do that. You do that, yes, through spending time together, but you don't do that through living together.

JonYeah, that's good. One other one. If somebody were to come to you, and I've actually heard this before, if somebody were to come to you and say, well, but what if we live together, but we don't have sex?

RyanAgain, I would say a man shall leave his father and mother, aka move out of his house and be united to his wife. And so for me, it's the proclivity or the attraction or the temptation for sex is part of the reason why you shouldn't cohabitate. Yeah. That's not the only reason you shouldn't cohabitate.

JonYeah. And when we when we do premarital counseling here, we actually if a couple is living together, we say you've got to you've got to separate. Yep. For the period of your premarital counseling. Now, until you get married. And I've often I've I've offered a couple of times to guys to come move in with me if they got to. I mean, you got to you got to separate. You got to get away from from that in order to reestablish.

RyanYep, same thing. That's what I do. That's the standard here. We don't marry people who are living together. Because if you want one of our pastors to initiate your wedding, it's because you want to have a gospel, Christ-centered marriage. And that starts in your engagement. So, as we talk about this, let me just add one thing. For those who are listening, who maybe are spending too many nights in a row at their boyfriend or girlfriend's house. By doing this, number one, studies show you're ruining your future marriage if you are going to marry this person. You're not setting your marriage up for success. And I'd also say, secondly, and even more importantly, you're in sin. God's not going to bless this, and you can't be pursuing the Lord and willfully living in this pursuing this much sin.

So our loving encouragement would be to say God has something so much better for you. He wants you to be in a relationship that's flourishing that's centered on Him and that's not going to happen if you are going against His will and you're living together or sleeping together or spending each other the night at each other's house. So my encouragement for those who are cohabitating or who have a temptation to be spending the night at each other's house or who are sexually active, stop. Stop because you're actively choosing what's not good for you. You're choosing what's less for you. God has something greater and better for you. And if this person is somebody that you want to spend the rest of your life with, then start now and making by making your future marriage better, and that at least study-wise says stop living together, and scripture says God's not gonna bless that. God's gonna bless the marriage that seeks him above all else.

JonYeah, totally. And we say that because we love you, we care about you. 100%. And if you're a parent or a close friend listening and have somebody in your life who you wanna share that truth with, make sure you do so with love and with much prayer, but you gotta share it if you care about them share the truth.

RyanYep, you should be and also I mean and on the flip You should be with someone who wants to call you to a deeper level of faith Hmm and to get closer to God and if they are sleeping with you or living with you or asking for that or vying for that And they're not seeking what's got God's best for you. They're seeking probably selfish desires If they really want what's best for you And if you really want to marry a Christian person, then they're going to be pointing you and calling you to the standard that Jesus has set for us, which is good and right and beautiful.

JonAmen. Thank you, Pastor Ryan. Thanks, Pastor Jon. Thanks, everybody, for listening. Great to get to share and talk about God's Word together. If you have questions, please submit those to You can also rate and review this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts and be sure to share with a friend so we can help more people grow in their walk with be sure to share with a friend so we can help more people grow in their walk with Jesus. be sure to share with a friend so we can help more people grow in their walk with Jesus. Thanks everybody.

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