Spiritual Abuse: Pastor Uses Shame and Humiliation to Elicit Tithes

Tithing has not been a topic that I’ve discussed and to be honest, I really haven’t researched it much in the past, but here are some links I found very quickly (and I don’t know anything about them):

The Truth about Tithing     Tithing:  The Great False Doctrine

The Tithing Debate

It is a topic generating a lot of heated discussion on blogs, including  FBC Jax Watchdogs’ blog:

Even Emotional, “Common Sense” Tithing Appeals Make No Sense

Ed Young’s Tithing Sermon: Show Me the Money!

Regardless of your tithing practices or beliefs, most of us would probably agree that the pastor in the next story did not represent Christ well by the way in which he asked for contributions in tithes.  This story would probably send shivers down a lot of godly pastors’ spines hearing these words and knowing the stinging effect they could have on someone’s life.

This personal story comes from reader, Gary, who posted the first paragraph on my former blog.  I asked him if he could expound on the story just a bit and he kindly did.  I really appreciate Gary sharing his personal story with us.

I was reminded of the spiritual abuse definition that I use here on my blog (located in Spiritual Abuse Help tab above).  This part of the definition, in particular, rang true in Gary’s story:

 . . . . Rather than speaking the truth in love and rather than ministering grace and truth (Ephesians 4:11-16, 29; Colossians 4:3-6; Titus 2:10-12), the spiritually abusive pastor intimidates, judges, condemns, shames, and blames the sheep without regard for the spiritual wellbeing of the sheep (Jeremiah 23:1-4; Matthew 23:1-39).  Definition from Bob Kellemen, Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition

We read only one paragraph of the actual abusive practice from the pastor, however, notice the long-reaching effects of this particular pastor’s words.  How many people and generations were affected by this man’s shaming words?  We may never know.


With the close exception of my father, my grandfather expressed love to me beyond the measure of any other man.  It is likely the narrative has lost accuracy over many decades, but the story is told how my grandfather, as a young man, attended a “church” service in which the preacher, after the offering, asked those who gave to stand.  The preacher then proceeded to shame those who remained seated.  My grandfather was among the seated and shamed, and he never returned to that “church,” nor did he to my knowledge ever attend any other church or so-called “church” to the end of his life.  If the evangelical doctrines of salvation are correct, I have no reason to believe my grandfather (did I mention that he loved me?) entered the ranks of the redeemed before he died in the 1980s.  Worse, according to the evangelicals, who with rarest exception preach and manipulatively threaten hell, hellfire and brimstone, my grandfather is suffering conscious, fiery, punishment forever and ever–without end.

I do not wish to lay too much at the feet of a preacher who acted immaturely, probably the better part of a century ago.  God is sovereign, redeeming even our mistakes.  All of us, including my grandfather, are accountable for our own lives.  Yet the preacher of whom I speak may have lost the opportunity, through my grandfather, to have been the instrument of God’s transforming grace for generations to come.  Here is what I mean:

My grandfather was a gentle and quiet encourager, teacher and imparter of such positive values and wisdom as he possessed. He possessed a great deal of wisdom.  In cases of need he had the ability to effectively discipline without anger and without resorting to the imposition of fear, guilt and shame.  He had a way of making us know that we were valued, that we had what it takes to accomplish our goals.  He is surely entitled to no small measure of credit for the fact that his descendants include those who have made professional contributions in the areas of the sciences, medicine, law and higher education. There are entrepreneurs.  A goodly number are accomplished musicians.  I believe that my grandfather’s many descendants would without exception be counted good citizens.   But for fear of making my family too easily identifiable, I could go on.

Yet the family history is not without a measure of grief.  Only some of us found our way into active participation in the Faith.  Some, though in the Faith, appear to have remained on its periphery.  Some, from appearances at least, have rejected the Faith.  To my knowledge, and with the exception of one musician, not a one of my grandfather’s descendants has contributed to the Faith at a professional level.  There are none who have made careers of being pastors, evangelists, Christian educators, etc.

I can only wonder.  What might have been the result if that preacher of so long ago had not shamed my grandfather?  What if the preacher had, instead, endeavored to win my grandfather with love?  What if that preacher had actually won him to the Faith?  Might my grandfather then have succeeded in, or at least contributed to, the raising up of generations of believers characterized by grace-driven pursuits redounding, not just to the temporal benefit, but to the eternal benefit, of many?

All of which leads to the question, how can we, how can I, find the way of love, the way to winning with love?  To the extent we either fail or succeed, maybe the eternal consequences are much greater than we can know, either for evil or for good.  I point back to a preacher of long ago, but I convict myself.

photo credit: petit1ze via photopin cc

17 thoughts on “Spiritual Abuse: Pastor Uses Shame and Humiliation to Elicit Tithes”

  1. Julie Anne, The manipulation and spiritual and monetary abuse done in churches over tithing is shameful. This guy has it down, probably the “best” slick marketer of tithing I’ve ever heard. Use a carrot and stick to manipulate tithing to his church. I did a study on tithing and tell the story in my book. It’s Bible abuse par excellence and every pastor buys into it becuase their salary depends on it.

    Teaching on tithing was the last straw for me leaving the church. Now I don’t give a dime to any church, only to aid agencies (some not Christian) and we’ve always been blessed. The NT does not teach tithing, the OT was specific commands for an agricultural society that are old covenant (and actually when you add it up, they gave up to 22% of their produce, not 10%), Jesus taught to care for the poor, and Paul taught to give what you choose to give, cheerfully, but not to the church… to the poor and special needs. Hey, did you get my email?


  2. Gary’s second to last comment reminds me of this C. S. Lewis quote from Mere Christianity: “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.”

    a couple years ago i downloaded two helpful pdf’s on this issue through

    Eating Sacred Cows

    Click to access EatingSacredCowsDownload.pdf


    Should the Church Teach Tithing?

    Click to access REK-Tithing3.pdf


  3. Hey Mike – I’d like to read what you have in your book. I personally haven’t come across pastors who use tithing to abuse, but have read quite a few personal stories. It’s wrong on so many levels. I think if we are getting spiritually fed at a church, it would make sense to tithe at least a portion there, but not with all of those pressure tactics. Yikes!

    I did get your e-mail, thanks! Look for a response soon!


  4. My introduction to ‘the tithe’ was when I was 8 years old. My mother had given me a dollar. I collected matchbox cars and there was a display of them in the drugstore that was like the jewelry displays that sit on counters and rotate. There was a specific one I had been wanting and it cost 99 cents. I asked to go and she took me and waited in the car while I went in and bought the car. I was soooo excited and happy. When I got back to the car and started to show her, she asked me how much I had left. I told her a penny. She smiled and said, “You know, you are supposed to give 10% of your money to God. But you spent on yourself, instead.” Of course, I knew no such thing, and I was devastated. And I now suspect she set me up to ‘teach me a lesson.’

    The cult (church) I was in taught that if you do not tithe at least 10%, you are cursed. And also that we should, as Better Covenant people, give at least twice as much as they did under the Old Covenant. There was a cultivated fear of not tithe. By the time I left, I had agreed to a minimum of 50%……

    The issue of the tithe is something that has been part of my detox process. The following link is to a series of articles that really made things clear for me – and also made persona non grata in some “Christian” circles….


  5. “Tithe or Gawd will ruin you…”?
    i.e. “Gimme Money Or God WILL Punish You”?
    I didn’t know they got that blatant.
    This preacher’s straight out of South Park.
    Or Madilyn Murry O’Hair’s poster boy.


  6. Pastor Uses Shame and Humiliation to Elicit Tithes

    Isn’t that called a Shakedown Racket?


  7. I know this post is a little old, but I thought I’d add another $.02. (My SpiritualSB tithe?) In my former church tithing was what they called a “point of fellowship.” No tithe- no membership. No membership meant you were unwelcome at any Sunday services, home group meetings, or any other function. In retrospect, it sounds more like the dues one pays to belong to some country club. It went a little beyond shaming you if you didn’t pay up. They just kick you out. I have since read statements that tithing is not a NT practice. I’d like to research that some more. I do like the idea of giving 10% to a charity. I think it’s good to give back.


  8. Wow – I’ve never heard of that. I know in LDS churches they keep track of tithing and will come to your house if you are falling behind, but this is over the top crazy!


  9. In Mat 23: 23 Jesus out of his own mouth puts Tithe as Law.
    The Law was abolished at the Cross.
    Gal 3 Paul says come again under the Law and you have rejected grace and Christ is no good to you…you are judged by the Law. This is the great deceit that leads people to ‘another gospel’ that of a mixture and not the pure of faith and grace.

    This is the decit


  10. I left this similar comment on another blog. Today I heard Robert Morris teach that you cannot fulfill your “destiny,” that is, the God spoken “prophecy” over your life -if you fail to tithe. It sounds like extortion. I’ve never heard any pastor teach comprehensively on tithing…its origin, the OT priesthood, the purpose of the tithe,etc. Pastors typically default to the Malachi scripture or the Melchizedek story to prop up their doctrine of tithing. In the NT,1 Cor 9:7 states, “As every man purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly or out of compulsion; for God loveth the cheerful giver.” We are under a New Covenant. Based on what I heard from Robert Morris, his teaching on tithing or blessing doesn’t line up with scripture. Hebrews:
    8:13 In that He saith, a new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away (speaking of the OT law and the priesthood). Additionally in Matthew 23, Jesus warns about teachers of the law. He was speaking of Scribes and Pharisees but what about our current Pastors who put believers under the yoke of OT law?? I suggest any believer become very familiar with Matthew 23 and the book of Hebrews. The book of Hebrews is detailed information about the reason for our New Covenant and the work of Christ’s sacrifice and His unique Priesthood. Matthew 23 is a critique of teachers of the law as stated by Jesus and to me is very relevant when people use the OT law as a means of teaching the Church Body of Believers what God demands of them.


  11. Shiloh

    Yup – The way pastors teach the “tithe,” you are to give 10% of
    your income, MONEY to me, oops, errrr, I mean give the Tithe to God.
    Or, you are under that curse in Malachi…

    It sure “Sounds Like” extortion to me also…

    Seems NO one, OT or NT, ever gave Silver, Gold or Money as a “Tithe.”
    Except once, Abram, slaughtered some Kings and took Spoils of War…
    Gave 10% to Melchisedek, King of Salem, the priest of the most high God.
    Did I say – Once? Did I say – Spoils of War? … 😉

    The “Tithe,” OT and NT, was NEVER MONEY…
    Seems the “Tithe” was always food to be eaten, or sacrificed to God.

    Whens the last time you saw a bunch of Benjamins
    being burnt, sacrificed to God, on a Sun Morn? Or, is that Sun Mourn?

    Extortion indeed – and we are to put away from ourselves – extortioners… 😉
    Pastors who ask for 10% of your income are **covetous,** **extortioners.**

    1 Cor 5:9-13 KJV
    I wrote unto you in an epistle NOT to company with fornicators:
    Yet NOT altogether with the fornicators of this world,
    or **with the covetous,** or **extortioners,**
    or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
    But now I have written unto you NOT to keep company,
    if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or **covetous,**
    or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, **or an extortioner;**
    with such an one NO NOT to eat.
    For what have I to do to judge them also that are without?
    do not ye judge them that are within?
    But them that are without God judgeth.
    Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

    Jesus love me this I know


  12. Shilo

    And there are as many as four differnt “Tithes.” 😉

    In Deut 14:22-26, there is even a Tithe” for you and your family.
    Where *you eat* – **your Tithe,** and rejoice, “you and your household.” 🙂

    Deut 14:22-26 NASB
    22 *You* shall surely tithe all the produce from what *you sow,*
    which comes out of the field every year.
    23 **You shall eat** in the presence of the Lord your God,
    at the place where He chooses to establish His name,
    the tithe of *your* grain, *your* new wine, *your* oil,
    and the firstborn of *your* herd and *your* flock, so that you may
    learn to fear the Lord your God always.
    24 If the distance is so great for you
    that you are not able to bring the tithe,
    since the place where the Lord your God chooses to set His name
    is too far away from you when the Lord your God blesses you,
    25 then *you* shall exchange it for money,
    and bind the money in your hand and
    go to the place which the Lord your God chooses.
    26 *You* may “spend the money” for whatever *your* heart desires:
    for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink,
    or whatever *your* heart desires;
    and there *you* shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God
    and rejoice, *you* and your household.

    Yeah – I never heard these verses preached from the pulpit…

    *Your* “Tithe” of food, is for *you* and *your* family…That…
    *You shall eat** in the presence of the Lord
    The *you* may learn to fear the Lord – And rejoice… 😉

    Now this is a Tithe I can sink my teeth into… 😉

    But – Alas – It is NOT to be for WE, His Ekklesia, His Church, His Called Out Ones.
    The Standard for WE, His Disciples for giving is…

    As every man purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly
    or out of compulsion; for God loveth the cheerful giver.
    1 Cor 9:7


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