Clarity Needed


I know that for a man and woman to cohabitate before marriage is sinful, but what if a man's girlfriend's parents invite him to stay with them (say, if he was going through some hard times)? That being said, I'm having trouble with a family member. She's pregnant, has a child, and is living in a terrible place. She wants to move and I am all for helping her, as in letting her stay with me, but she wants both her and the father of the children to come. Then she wants to get an apartment for them to live in. I told her I would be willing to pay for her ticket, and even help him in a way, but not to that end, and if they were persuing that end, I wouldn't help. I believe I'm doing the right thing by offering support on the condition that I am not helping someone go fron sin to sin. Is this right?


There really is no right or wrong answer. I spend a great deal of time working with the homeless and near homeless. They sometimes make decisions that rub against my moral conscience, but they also live in pressures and situations I really can’t understand, having not having experienced them first hand.

The foundation of the faith is to love thy neighbor, not judge him or her. So love and generosity is a good place to start. That said, it is reasonable for a person to put conditions on help. You will keep attending AA, you won’t entertain your male/female friend at my home, etc.

The problem is that boundaries can backfire. That is, if we try to use them to modify behavior, the people we are trying to help may find them too constraining and opt for a worse/more dangerous situation (at least from our point of view). My suggestion would be to talk through the desired boundaries with the person (or people) you are trying to help.

If you speak from the heart, ‘this really bothers me…’ or ‘I worry about that…’ and also try to listen with an open heart (‘I love him/her…’, ‘I want my child to know his father…’, etc.), then you can often avoid a situation where help becomes adversarial right from the start.

Ultimately, the only decent advice I can give is plenty of patience and plenty of prayers!

Pax Christi


There CAN be a right or wrong answer.

If you open your home to someone and you have children and those children see things or experience things that are harmful, that is wrong. There are ways to help without enabling. It does require your clarity on that person's mental and physical health, and where is the best place for them and for you and your family.

You need to look closely and ask around for experienced help:

I took in my brother, an alcoholic, and his daughter. There were times I wanted to send him away since he was not getting better. An addiction specialist said, "Kick out an alcoholic and you get a homeless alcoholic." I let him stay, did interventions, and he died six years later--did I cause his death or delay it? I think we delayed his death based on what his doctor said.

On the other hand, I have had to say NO to someone because I knew that I would go crazy around this person. That is a hard decision to make at times.


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