I was wondering if anyone knows how to admonish someone living in sin without you looking holier then thou art?
You might take a look at the Old Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on fraternal correction:
I would tread very lightly here. The article points out the criteria which would obligate a person to “admonish the sinner”:
*]the delinquency to be corrected or prevented is a grievous one;
*]there is no good reason to believe that the sinner will adequately provide for himself;
*]there is a well-founded expectation that the admonition will be heeded;
*]there is no one else just as well fitted for this work of Christian charity and likely to undertake it;
*]there is no special trouble or disadvantage accruing to the reformer as a result of his zeal.
Then it says, “Practically, however, individuals without any official capacity are seldom impeachable as having seriously transgressed the law in this matter because it is but rarely one finds the coalition of circumstances just enumerated.”
If you are going to issue fraternal correction, make sure that you genuinely love the person and that they know that you genuinely love them.
First and foremost, the “how” must be with clear, visible, and apparent charity!
You may have had no opportunity to do so, but I have always found teaching and sharing when we first get a clue that someone is pondering whether to cohabitate is far more effective than admonition after the fact.
Our human condition tends to make us resentful of admonishment, regardless of how offered. On the upside, if we are resentful of admonishment offered with charity, its usually a good indication that our conscience is doing its job!
And, even before admonishing, in this case (and all cases, for that matter), pray for the couple!
Peace and All Good!
Simply keep the “you” out of it. It’s not about you, it’s about them and their good. So do not talk about yourself, what you do, how you are, etc. If they try to make it about you (and they might, because that’s an easy way of resisting the chastisement), don’t let them.
In addition to what has been shared with you by Joe 5859 on fraternal correction, I would have to say that the nature of the relationship is also extremely important. For example, I have brothers who I have had to discuss issues with which could be labeled as admonishments to sinners. In each case I was able to discuss the problem with them because we have the kind of relationships where tough conversations can happen without judgment or anger. On the other hand, I have relatives who need to be admonished that I would never be the one to talk to them as I would make the situation worse. If you really want to accomplish something this important it has to be taken on by the right person. I never assume I am the only one who knows what has to be done and if it isn’t right for me I turn it over to prayer.
Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.
Do not judge men, judge sinful behaviors.
Tolerate sinners, not error.
Love sinners, not sin.
Do not impose, ask.
Do not condemn, show how something is hurtful (spiritually, psychologically, and physically).
And if you strive to get to heaven, you strive to become a saint, and thus you will be holier every day, though being holy does not mean that you are sinless or perfect. St. Paul was definitely holier than many of the people who lived around him, yet he said: “Christ came to save sinners, of which I am the worst”.
Prayerfully, privately, lovingly and thoughtfully. Once done, do NOT repeat. Let it go and don’t be attached to the results. This is one of the works of mercy.