President Nelson's Tithing Messaging in the Developing World

On his global tour that included stops in Nairobi, Kenya, President Russell M. Nelson made a statement that then made the rounds on Twitter.

“We preach tithing to the poor people of the world because the poor people of the world have had cycles of poverty, generation after generation... That same poverty continues from one generation to another, until people pay their tithing.”

I could see saying this about fast offerings. Setting aside and saving a little to help others, no matter how little you have, is how communities thrive and flourish. It's a principle of kindness and sacrifice where the end goal is visible.

This? I'm not sure what to make of this.

I grew up poor. I've gone hungry many times throughout my life, including during years when I paid my tithing. Tithing isn't some magic bullet for poverty and hunger. It's a commandment with a blessing, and the blessing isn't always wealth, financial prosperity, comfort, or ease.

God didn't institute tithing because he needs, or even particularly values, money. Jesus taught that lesson to Peter when he pulled a coin from the fish's mouth. He has only ever needed faith from his disciples to change their circumstances. I hope our leaders remember that, and the African Saints will learn that lesson in their own way, independent of what any leader of the Church says to them.

No matter what, teaching tithing to financially disadvantaged people will always have bad optics. It was one of my least favorite lessons to teach in São Paulo, Brazil for exactly this reason. The knowledge that it wasn't me asking was the only way I could do it some days.

President Nelson has the ability to promise nations that if members pay their tithing, their burdens and cycles of poverty will cease. That would be preferable over this prescriptive language, in which those who don't even know about tithing are being condemned for not paying it. Given that some of the wealthiest nations on earth are full of people who also don't pay tithing, this message just isn't going to land in any way that is logical.

I'm sure President Nelson is doing his best. I'll be praying for him, as I will for the Saints in Africa. Most people are doing the best they know how with what they have. And I hope God will look upon all people with mercy, as he has ever done.

What would I do if my husband couldn't be happy without having children?

Something is currently knocking around in my head that I realize I should probably shake loose.

Someone recently asked me what I, an infertile woman, would do if my husband couldn't be happy without having children.

My husband and I would never be in the position where we would be having that conversation because our relationship and personal satisfaction in life doesn't rest upon us being able to conceive. His mother had to receive fertility treatments to even bring him into this world, so he knows better than that. He also doesn't expect me to be responsible for his feelings and emotions. But if through some cartoonish series of events he was hypothetically coming to me with such a dilemma, there is only one thing I could say at that point.

"That sounds like a You problem."

It is not my job to make my husband happy. It is not the job of me and my body parts, such as they function, to fulfill every expectation he has in life. He's an adult who is responsible for his own feelings, emotions, disappointments, and the redirections we each get handed by life. He still has to wake up and do those things for himself every day if we never end up having any children.

If I can wake up every day and confront the reality of what infertility means for my life, my health, and my ongoing happiness, so can he.

It is not my responsibility to shield him from the effects and consequences of the health conditions I've had for all of my life. 

I'm still trying to figure out exactly how I was supposed to answer this question. Be okay with him divorcing me? Allowing him to take a mistress? Stealing a baby from the Walmart parking lot? 

What was I supposed to say?

You are not entitled to have children!

Your spouse is not responsible for giving them to you. And if you find yourself in a marriage where you haven't gotten your way on children because of infertility, let me tell you a secret: 

Your spouse still has it worse than you. 

Infertility is hard for spouses with healthy fertility. No one is disputing that. 

It's still harder for the one experiencing the infertility, especially when the infertility is related to a chronic illness. 

Feel your pain. Feel your loss. Feel whatever you need to feel. But be half as strong as your spouse is by not taking that pain out on them. 

Do not make this devastating situation any worse by making it all about you.

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