Advice needed please -- family related moral dilemna

Hello All:

I have a moral/ethical question and I am looking for some advice on how to deal with the situation.

My husband’s brother has repeatedly made decisions that cause him to live in a sinful way. My question is, what is the most appropriate way to deal with our relationship to him?

About a year and a half ago, we learned that my brother-in-law (who is single), was having an affair with a married woman, and she got pregnant. At the time, both my husband and I spoke to him and told him that we were very upset with what he had done, but as the baby obviously was innocent of all that had happened, we would try to embrace the baby as our nephew.

The baby is now almost a year old. The mother of the baby got a divorce about 6 months after the baby was born, and now she lives full time with my BIL and their child together, along with (part-time), the mother’s 10 year old daughter from her previous marriage. After meeting with our priest, we decided to advise them to get married as soon as possible so they could make a commitment in raising their son together. They have not – and whenever my husband talks to his BIL he is evasive about when/if they might get married. If it helps for context, neither of them are religious (my BIL is a ‘lapsed’ Catholic).

Last week we found out that the mother/girlfriend of my BIL is pregnant again. I am completely torn about this. On one hand, I do want my BIL to be in my husband’s life. This is his only brother and they used to be very close. In addition, our nephew (and future niece/nephew) are innocent in this mess and my husband believes that we need to continue to be involved to set an example to these children about what a true, godly relationship can be. On the other hand, we live far away and do not see the BIL and family very often. They clearly do not respect or value our advice, and rebuff any and all opportunities to spend time with us. The mother has told me that “She doesn’t need to see family, that is what facebook is for.” My heart breaks for her children (and baby to be).

So, what is the moral/ethical path here? I do not want to shun them (Matthew 7:1-6), but I also do not want to appear to condone their decisions and lifestyle (2 Thessalonians 3:6-10). I also do not want to punish our nephew and soon to be niece/nephew by not spending time with them. I guess the crux of what I’m wondering is this 1) Is is sinful for me to spend time with them? or 2) is is fruitful for me to spend time with them if we think we can provide a positive example to their children, even if we do not think that the parents will change? If I should not spend time with them, how should I behave during the holidays, etc, when we will see them?

Any and all thoughts would be very appreciated in this circumstance. We already have a rocky relationship already and I feel as though I am at my wit’s end.

BIL’s girlfriend may not be free to marry in the Catholic Church, and even if she is free to marry BIL, would she be a good wife to him? I would not encourage this couple toward marriage without having a lot more information than you have.

Feel free to cultivate your relationship with the children (sending birthday and Christmas gifts and greetings, etc.).

This exactly.

No, it is not sinful to spend time with family that do things we don’t approve of.

Further, not shunning them is not in any way equivalent to condoning their behavior.

You can only do so much. You cannot force someone to make moral decisions. You voiced your opinion. There is no need to revisit the topic at every opportunity. Presumably, he knows where you stand and what you believe.

Continue to love your family.

You’ve made your feelings, and Church teaching, known to your BIL. To continuously bring it up would most likely do more harm than good. Those children will need your presence in their lives.

Yes, by all means be a great Aunt to the children. And try to be loving and caring toward the BIL and his woman, as well. I’d een say try to befriend her. She is coming out of a failed marriage, has a young child and a baby on the way, and maybe she could really use someone in her life that doesn’t judge her and that can help her to be better than she is today in some way or another.

Like the famous proverb says “Never advise anyone to go to war or to get married”. Their marital status is really not your concern or your problem, and you have absolutely no idea what their relationship is like or what goes on behind closed doors. For all you know they may be trying their hardest to have a functioning relationship and household but just don’t feel confident enough in it to get married yet. The couple should not get married just because they have a child, and if there is any question about them being able to have a stable, loving household together they should hold off.

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