WWYD: Prudie & The Ethicist Edition
Wouldn’t Prudie and the Ethicist be a good name for a band? Anyway. Someone wrote a letter to Slate’s Dear Prudence with a question that they should have pointed our way:
My good friend has found her mate after several failed relationships and is desperate to be married and start her family (tick tock). I am thrilled that she is engaged, and she has asked me to be in the wedding. I would normally be pleased to do so, except for one issue. She has debt of approximately $250,000 in credit cards and student loans, and she has not told her fiancé about this. I feel strongly that she is morally and ethically required to tell him before they are married, but she refuses. I can’t help but feel like an accomplice to her dishonesty by standing up in the wedding. What is the right thing to do? — Silent Accomplice
Prudie tells SA that she’s right to be squicked out: her “good” friend is perpetrating a fraud.
debt like this is something that simply must be revealed before two people wed. Keeping from your intended painful news, like a diagnosis of major illness, a previous incarceration, or the fact that you are dead broke (and not Hillary Clinton dead broke), means starting a life together based on an implicit lie.
Startlingly, Prudie does not suggest that SA write the clueless fiance an anonymous letter suggesting he follow the money. I wish we knew whether the bride were hiding financial truths from the groom or straight out lying. Either way, marriages have been based on deceit since the beginning of time. Years shaved off of ages, ex-wives forgotten, goats gone unaccounted for, paternity fudged. This can be seen as just another strike against the Wedding Industrial Complex, the societal idiocy that drives us to get married at all costs, often literally. Audits and prenups for all! Or don’t get married. That’s cool too.
Meanwhile, at the Ethicist’s lair …
Chuck Klosterman v2.1 — the more sober and mature version — deals with a question of whether, when we give someone money, we have any say over how they spend it:
Over the years, I have been providing significant financial support to a close relative whose financial situation is precarious. I was surprised to learn that she has been proudly tithing 10 percent of her income to charity. While I appreciate the beauty and nobility of that gesture, my question is: Should I have any say on that person’s decision to tithe? NAME WITHHELD
No, right? No. It might seem crazy to you, it might make you tear your financially secure, secular hair out, but you are contributing to her income and she is spending that income as she sees fit, which is to say, according to the instructions of Malachi 3:10: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Your relative is religious, and anyway, maybe she’s right: maybe God is helping her because she is being generous — by blessing her with the unstinting generosity of her relatives.
Stay tuned: in a near future installment, we’re going to talk to a person who tithes. She’ll give us the inside scoop.