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.
Sadly, I have been placed in an analogous situation twice. The advantage of having an old Irish priest with a lot of miles on him is that he gives excellent advice (as is given above as well). In both cases, he said that if questioned about my refusal, to simply tell the party that in the eyes of the Church, there is no wedding to speak of! So, for example, would someone attend a birthday party and bring a gift when the person being celebrated doesn't even show up?
The responses I got were incredible. Yes, some of the family was not happy. However, other good, solid Catholics pulled me aside at later events and told me they wish "they had the guts to take that stand." They hadn't for fear of being disliked.
Thanks for posting this NYer. This situation is going to grow more and more common. To consent by your participation or acceptance is giving horrible Witness to the Gospel. I am reminded of a friend--an Orthodox mother-- who told her son she would not attend his wedding if it was not held in a Church, and her son and his fiancee relented. That is tough love!
Amen, Mother. You realize the full impact of that Gospel (it is a Fr. Corapi favorite). The Prodigal Son is ALL of us! God is filled with Divine Mercy and wants us with Him for eternity. However, WE must take that first step and ask forgiveness. He gave us free will to decline His offer!
It is indeed! A good mother, she has my respect and admiration.
There is a priest. He is asked to "co-preside" at the wedding of his nephew. It is to be held at a Lutheran Church and the woman is divorced. This will be her second marriage and the children resulting will be raised Lutheran.
Can the priest attend and "Witness" the wedding? One last thing, he baptized his nephew and saw him raised in the Faith.
Thank you, Monica! ;-o)
Letting children play with dynamite might stop them from wailing and from temper tantrums. It is not in their best interest, however. Especially when a soul is at stake. Witness Fr. Corapi's mom, for example. She was St. Monica too.
I'm with sandyeggo and oldandtired...let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
You're not inviting these people into your house to have sex on your living room floor. You're inviting them to a family event.
So you are saying that you condone their lifestyle, is this correct?
That is a unique interpretation.
I can't believe some of the people on this thread. (Not you.)
What ever happened to simple Christian charity.
"Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, that you have done unto Me"...said the Lord and Master.
I'm with you.
"In the end, there are these three: Faith, Hope, and Charity.
And the greatest of these is Charity."
That was offensive.
"'m with sandyeggo and oldandtired...let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
You're not inviting these people into your house to have sex on your living room floor. You're inviting them to a family event."
Exactly! I can't figure out how these "families" think that the sin of someone else is somehow going to pervert the gathering. If that were the case, no one would have family gatherings ever!
I agree. What ever happened to 'love the sinner, hate the sin'?
I think this sort of thing has to be taken on a case by case basis. There are, perhaps, times when inviting them over is the best course of action and times when not inviting them over would be.
If the homosexual relative couldn't keep it together during the event and would continually fawn over the "boyfriend" then it would be no, to protect MY family. If I thought that being a Christ-like (to the best of my pathetic ability) witness would serve the relative best, I'd invite him.
In any event, each situation like that would require much prayer.
Jesus told the Truth. All of it, friend...
Luke, chapter 6 "But woe to you that are rich, for you have received you
Luke, chapter 6 . "Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger.
Luke, chapter 6 u shall hunger. "Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and
Luke, chapter 6 . "Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so
Luke, chapter 10 . "Woe to you, Chora'zin! woe to you, Beth-sa'ida! for i
Luke, chapter 10 you, Chora'zin! woe to you, Beth-sa'ida! for if the mighty works do
Luke, chapter 11 "But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue an
Luke, chapter 11 s. Woe to you Pharisees! for you love the best seat in t
Luke, chapter 11 s. Woe to you! for you are like graves which are not s
Luke, chapter 11 And he said, "Woe to you lawyers also! for you load men with burd
Luke, chapter 11 s. Woe to you! for you build the tombs of the prophets
Luke, chapter 11 n. Woe to you lawyers! for you have taken away the key
atthew, chapter 11 . "Woe to you, Chora'zin! woe to you, Beth-sa'ida! for
Matthew, chapter 11 ou, Chora'zin! woe to you, Beth-sa'ida! for if the mighty works done
Matthew, chapter 23 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! beca
Matthew, chapter 23 n. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for yo
Matthew, chapter 23 . "Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
Matthew, chapter 23 . "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for
Matthew, chapter 23 ! "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for
Matthew, chapter 23 . "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for
Matthew, chapter 23 . "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for
He couldn't attend of course, and it broke his heart in more ways than one. It was a long story...
We have been taught today that the greatest sin is "intolerance."
Frank, I really can't make any sense of your citations. The Pharisees were EXACTLY the sort of folk who would deny people entrance to their homes because the potential guests didn't meet the definition of holiness as outlined in Jewish law.
Thank you. I am currently having difficulties with my son who is living with his girlfriend. I have refused to allow her into my home. My son recently told us he was not going to marry her and now it appears he might. I will still refuse to allow her into my home. My wife and I are besides ourselves with grief.
My DIL did go 2 years w/o speaking to her brother but she couldn't stand it and it made her miserable because she loves him. Her sisters have had numerous live-ins and children by those live-ins, they are still kids and deserve recognition within the family, they didn't choose their circumstances. I have come to love them all and their children and have babysat and welcomed them into my home and, for the most part, they are starting to settle down.
I almost forgot, the one sister was present at an Easter occasion when we had a huge discussion of religion and within a couple of weeks had arranged to attend OCIA and baptize her children. She went through with it too and now those kids are altar servers and very involved with the church. The mother abstains from Eucharist but attends Mass every week and is getting married next month, finally.
I agree that it's a case by case thing. If I had a family member who worked for Planned Parenthood or was an abortion "provider," for example, that person would never darken my door.
On the other hand, gay family members who simply appear with a friend and do not do anything improper would probably be welcome; for one thing, perhaps it would keep them in touch with the non-gay world. On the other hand, I would never go to a gay "commitment" ceremony or anything that implied approval, no matter who the family members were.
The same is true of marriages. If a couple is getting married by a JP, they have left the Church anyway. The objective would be to get them back or to make sure that the children, at least, were raised as Catholics until such time as the parents came to their senses. And I would want to remain in contact with them so that I could help this to happen. I'm not sure I'd go to the wedding, but I'd probably send a gift or do something else to stay in touch.
I think it is important to examine each case individually. But it is good to read articles like this because most people don't even think about it. We want our bishops to come down on politicians who support abortion, but we invite a family member who spends her weekends "escorting" girls into abortuaries to spend Easter dinner with us. That's not okay.
I would agree with you ONLY if you took the opportunity of a family gathering to discuss the sinful nature of their relationship with them and ask them to change their ways.
If you view this as being preachy or offensive, then your example of Jesus sitting down with tax collectors is irrelevant.
If I had to exclude all sinners from my life and my gatherings, I'd be a sad and lonely person and I'd have to figure out what to do with myself because I often find myself coming short of perfection.
At this very time, my atheist brother and his wife are staying with us. I love them, I make no bones about my religion and I don't allow them to denigrate God or religion and they accept that and are welcome.
Jesus is depicted as a "guru" who was really the first hippie by many. Little is mentioned about how often he spoke of hell or said "Woe to you" and meant it! Instead, everyone takes verses which seem to emphasize His total tolerance which was not His mission. He loved everyone and wants all to attain heaven but it is our choice. He died for us all but only "the many" choose to follow Him.
Here is just one article on Moral Theology. It is something we have lost as the society has consciously caused us to "accept" things which would have made us recoil in horror years ago.
The essence of the Gospel is Caritas: Love. That is, adoration of God and love of our neighbor. However, that does not mean blind acceptance of anything. Jesus loves the woman caught in adultery, but He told her "Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more."
If you attend an event like that described which began this thread, and then left saying those words in total private to the individuals, you would be giving an example directly from the Gospel.
I agree with you.
I think what they are both doing is despicable. I will stand my ground on the basis that it will send the wrong message to my other kids. I have let him know ahead of time what he is doing is wrong and still he defies his family and continues with his "choice". I am spent, I don't know what else to say to him. He dishonors us.
Morally speaking, we live in very difficult times. No matter how hard we work to raise our children in the faith, they still must live in the world. Even the author of this piece, is confronting a problem similar to yours.
Ask St. Monica for some assistance. And rest assured of my prayers.
What a wonderful witness. Within my own family, I have a child "living in sin" and is now pregnant with our second grandchild. This has been a serious source of private grief for both me and her father. However, in about 6-7 weeks, she will marry the father of her child and her father will conduct the ceremony. He has done the standard pastoral counseling with both of them and while I don't know the effect on her fiance, I do know the effect on her!
Then we could talk about my sister's children but that could take hours!
Needless to say, shunning a family member simply because their chosen lifestyle at the time is wrong, is unloving and a poor witness to the love of Christ and his forgiveness.