Skip to comments.Catholic Replies: Inviting relatives (living in sin) to family gatherings
Posted on 03/27/2007 10:09:04 AM PDT by NYer
Q. In your response about whether a homosexual relatives male partner should be included in family gatherings, you gave the same response we received from other trusted Catholic sources after much prayer. We have held our ground (which was extremely hard) and have become unpopular with that side of the family. Yet, our family is not exposed to this sinful situation because now only the relative, and not his partner, is invited to family gatherings.
Our question is, should we view differently a relative on the other side of the family who has lived with her boyfriend for four years (they have a 3 year old son)? Marriage could remedy their sinful situation. They have always attended family gatherings, and she writes Christmas notes and includes family photos. I can see a gradual desensitizing happening, and this is not what we want for our family. What are we to do at this point?
R. Morally speaking, the two situations are virtually the same, though one could argue that the same-sex relationship is worse since it involves acts contrary to nature and it cannot be remedied by marriage. Be that as it may, the heterosexual relative is living in objective mortal sin and to include her in family get-togethers not only signals approval of, or at least indifference to her immoral lifestyle but, as you said, it also desensitizes the moral consciences of those witnessing her actions. For example, how does one tell a teenage daughter or son not to live with another person outside of marriage when they see this relative doing just that and being treated no differently than a married person?
So, no, you should not view the two situations differently, but since you have already, at least publicly, given the appearance of accepting the sinful arrangement of the relative and her boyfriend, it will be, to use your words, extremely hard to speak out now against them. If you think you were unpopular with some of the family for your stance on the same-sex couple, wait til you weigh in on the opposite-sex duo. Were not saying that you shouldnt be consistent in opposing sexual immorality; you should. But it will be more difficult this time because the latter situation is much more prevalent these days than the former situation, and because many of those who apparently see no moral problem with heterosexual violations, of the divine plan for life and love are still squeamish about accepting homosexual behavior among family members. In other words, while you might get some support for refusing to endorse the same-sex lifestyle, that support will be much less when you object to fornication, even though some family members may agree with you privately.
In making your decision, you will have to ask yourself, Do I want to be popular with family members or with Jesus? Recall that it was Jesus who said, Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me (Matthew 10:37-38). The Lord also warned: Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Fathers glory with the holy angels (Mark 8:38).
These hard sayings of the Lord are not often quoted these days and, if they should appear in a Sunday Gospel, they are usually ignored or glossed over in the homily because the message might be disturbing to those who think that the strongest words Christ ever spoke were, Love one another as I have loved you.
Lest anyone think that we dispense this advice from an ivory tower, be it noted that we have for some years declined to invite a daughters live-in boyfriend to our home or to family get-togethers. The daughter is welcome as we try to persuade her to abandon her sinful lifestyle, but her male companion is not. Furthermore, we have in recent months declined to attend the weddings of first a nephew and then a niece because they were being married before a justice of the peace, which for baptized Catholics is a mortal sin.
Some family members have taken the same stance, but others have attended the weddings either because they did not want to disturb family harmony, because hey are not sensitive to the obligation of a Catholic to adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church, or because they do not recognize that their cooperation in this sinful event could be a source of scandal.
Are we being judgmental in taking this position? Yes, but not of the motives of the persons involved, which Jesus forbids and on which He alone will render judgment, but rather of their actions, which are contrary to what the Lord teaches. To suggest that one cannot take a stand against violations of the marriage laws of the Church is to say that one cannot take a stand against other moral evils of the time either, such as abortion, racism, and sexual abuse of children.
Thanks for posting.
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I wonder how many families these days must face these hard decisions? A majority?
If only our society had not grown accepting of these situations, an article such as this would not have needed to have been written.
Hard decisions but Christ also showed mercy and forgiveness to sinners. These "family gatherings" may be the only Christ based witness these family members encounter.
You picked up on the very words that prompted me to post this thread :-)!
As you note, this is a question confronted by so many today and it is truly painful. How many simply 'close their eyes' to our Lord's words in order to enjoy a few fleeting hours with their loved ones.
"Hard decisions but Christ also showed mercy and forgiveness to sinners. These "family gatherings" may be the only Christ based witness these family members encounter."
Amen to that.
Remember last weeks gospel.
Nowadays, folks want absolution and acceptance without repentance or contrition. In fact, they don't think what they're doing is a sin at all. (See the Episcopal Church.)
Exactly! I don't know if my family is like others, but it seems that it doesn't take much to cause ill feelings. Especially once our parents passed away.
Personally I'd say the current issue is worse to which to expose "the family" (I suppose that is the immediate family, which includes children).
They are making babies against the latter's will and bringing them into the world in inideal situations. Their situation is IMO more tenuous. Encouraging bringing innocent children into bad situations is not good.
But that's JMHO!
I don't agree with this response. We haven't seen any reason not to accept these people into our homes. Obviously, we would avoid providing them with the occasion of sin and wouldn't allow them privacy (not a problem in our house!) but to have these people over for dinner, etc. Why not? Christ sat down with the tax collecters. We don't have a litmus test for purity on our door and I wonder exactly what kind of sinners would be ok?
I agree with you. How can it be a good thing to cut off beloved family members from the one sure road back to the faith...the love and forgiveness of a truly Christlike family?
Jesus himself made it a point to hang out publically with sinners. The Pharisees of His day criticized Him for it.
The Pharisees we will have always with us, unfortunately.
"Are we being judgmental in taking this position? Yes, but not of the motives of the persons involved, which Jesus forbids and on which He alone will render judgment, but rather of their actions, which are contrary to what the Lord teaches."
This is interesting. I've never seen this take on the "judgementalism". It's always been "how dare you ever judge anything!" At least these days, of a PC world. Which often include "Christians" always repeating the mantra of never "judging", which even means apparently never speaking out against their actions!
(I'm not a Catholic, so maybe it's normal for you all to see it as "motive" vs. "action", but I've never heard this delineation.)
From the Gospel of Luke:
5:27. And after these things, he went forth and saw a publican named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said to him: Follow me.
Et post haec exiit et vidit publicanum nomine Levi sedentem ad teloneum et ait illi sequere me
5:28. And leaving all things, he rose up and followed him.
Et relictis omnibus surgens secutus est eum
5:29. And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: And there was a great company of publicans and of others that were at table with them.
Et fecit ei convivium magnum Levi in domo sua et erat turba multa publicanorum et aliorum qui cum illis erant discumbentes
5:30. But the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying to his disciples: Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
Et murmurabant Pharisaei et scribae eorum dicentes ad discipulos eius quare cum publicanis et peccatoribus manducatis et bibitis
5:31. And Jesus answering, said to them: They that are whole need not the physician: but they that are sick.
See post #14
True. But you have taken the event out of context. Jesus called to Matthew, the Tax Collector, to follow him. This following meant imitating the pattern of his life - not just walking after him.
As he sat at table in the house, behold many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples.
This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon. No sooner was he converted than Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation.
It was Matthew who invited Jesus to dine with him, not the other way around. The 'sinners' were drawn to the one who was already converted.