How do you handle obvious lifestyle sins charitably?

What’s the charitable response to a coworker or acquaintance telling you things like:
“I just started today. I’m Cynthia. I’m transgender.”
“I’m Mike. My husband works in accounting.”
“My girlfriend actually works with my ex-husband, so we both get to complain about him.”
“I really want my wife sign the divorce papers so my fiancee and I can get married before the baby is born in June.”

I’m at a loss for how wicked the circle of friends, coworkers and family has become over the past two years. In that time:

  • two family members have divorced, one is living with his new fiancee, the other is discovering gay night-life
  • I’ve started working for a very inclusive company that has a lot of LGBTQ people. All very nice and pleasant but I feel uncomfortable congratulating them on their marriages (which are recently-legal in Missouri), but know I’ll lose my job if I say anything against them.
  • My best friend came out and has been dating men.

I am the kind of person who people ask for advice and I’m known for being a good listener. I try to be uplifting and encouraging, I try to see Christ in people, and now I find myself extremely challenged. I have not been able to speak the truth to these folks, yet I know they know I’m Catholic, and I feel that I have erred in not speaking the whole truth. At the same time, I haven’t seen a opening where I can say “what you’re doing is a terrible sin and will condemn you if you don’t repent and change your lifestyle.”

My cousin’s divorce has been very troubling for a number of reasons (his wife is abusive to the kids and has done a number of illegal things after he left, including stalking, harassing his new fiancee and other family members, and identity theft), the least of which is that I’m at a loss as to how to witness to him. At one point, he’s crying on my shoulder, terrified he’ll lose custody of his kids and feeling completely isolated from our conservative family; at another point, he’s bringing his live-in girlfriend over for dinner and his kids call her “Mom” and show her more affection and joy than they’ve shown their biological Mom.

If you read this and can’t think of anything to say, please pray for everyone I’ve mentioned here, and pray for me to discern and be a voice for God. If you have any practical advice, I’d really appreciate it.

Wow. That is a lot to handle. My circle of family and friends and acquaintances would probably be described similarly, if I were to write it all down.

Here is how I handle it.

First, pray for their conversion daily.

Second, ask God to give me His heart for these people in my life.

Third, be a good listener. Patiently respond instead of react rashly.

Fourth, wait for an opportunity provided by the Holy Spirit to witness to the Truth. I ALWAYS preface my words with “Well, you know I am Catholic…” to give them an out of they choose to withdraw from the conversation. I ask them if they would like me to respond to the situation according to the tenets of the Catholic Faith. If they don’t want that, they change the subject and I let it go. If they say they do want to hear my response, I then move on to the next step.

Fifth, I say that what I want most for them is their eternal salvation and I firmly believe that is found in the Catholic Church. I say that I am already praying for their conversion and that anything I say from this point forward will be aimed at helping bring that about.

Sixth, I state the Church teaching that is applicable to their situation. I say to them that I care about them and I only want the best for them and that the current situation is not the best for them. Then, I let them speak.

I would not do this during time on the clock at work or while volunteering in non-religious organizations, however. In such a circumstance, I would say that I would like to continue the conversation on our own time and ask if that sounds like something that they want too. During paid working hours, I would stop at the end of step 4.

But most importantly, I try very hard to remember that I am not called to judge persons. I am expected to be able to judge actions and behaviors and philosophies as objectively good/true or objectively wrong/false/sinful. And to remember that we only hate sin because it harms the person. We do not hate sin so that we can reject a person.

So that is what I do. It has worked for me thus far, but I am no longer in the paid workforce. It may or may not be an effective strategy for wage-earning Catholics given the current state of things.

Wow, that’s a lot to think about so I will be in the category of having nothing to say and I await answers from others in case I am in a similar situation. I do like your comment about seeing Christ in everyone, I do the same thing.

Therefore I offer prayers of discernment for yourself in handling these situation and prayers for all involved in some “sticky” situations.

Mary.

Can you just make it clear those things aren’t appropriate topics for the workplace? I Would pcrobably just answer with a mmmmm if I had to…not my business in the workplace to chastize.

Op list is pretty good if you really want to go further, I tend to try and evangelize by example, not verbally.

The charitable thing to say, in my opinion, is nothing. In a work situation, I believe you have every right to adhere to your own beliefs but not to foist them on others - but neither are you required to provide your approval. Same with mere acquaintances. Friends may be different- you either have to choose whether to say something or to discontinue the friendship.

With Cynthia- I’d say, “Hello, Cynthia. I’m Losh. Good to meet you. Let me know if you need any help getting situated.” There is no need to respond to her comment about being transgender.

With Mike- roughly the same response as above.

The other two- a mere smile and a “hope things work out for the best” might be appropriate- of course, you mean the best in the eyes of God, but they’ll take it as you wishing them the best in what they hope to have and that’s fine.

We don’t need to go around passing judgment on people in random social situations. That doesn’t bring people to Christ.

An old Polish saying has become a favorite - Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Keep things at work strictly business - which means don’t gossip about your life, either.

I think it’s probably the logical response to:
Steve:“Did you have a good weekend?”
Me: “Yeah, took my wife on a date and my kids for ice cream.”
Steve: “My husband and I had his kids this weekend so we went for ice cream too.”

Or:

Steve: “Good meeting, team. Just a reminder I’ll be out the next two weeks as Tom and I are getting married.”
Team: “Congratulations!”
Steve: “Thanks! We’ll be in Boca so don’t expect me to answer emails.”

Good advice.I actually have a t-shirt with that phrase in Polish.

This coupled with prayer is how I handle things and my husband and I are trying to raise our kids to handle them as well. We see lots of interesting things in the Army, on post, and the surrounding communities. Over the last few years with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell it has really become different. Now my husband must council gay and lesbian couples having marriage issues or going through divorces just as he has had to do with straight couples. It’s simply a matter of law and our personal religious beliefs and morals don’t count. They all know we are Catholic and that we are a traditional family (working dad, homeschooling mom, 8 kids). There is no benefit to constantly bring it up. In the end it won’t change them and it won’t change us. It really isn’t worth the hurt feelings and constant confrontations. Many of the couples we know in less traditional situations view ours as the ideal and many have said that us what they planned out and wanted growing up, but unfortunately it turned out differently for them. So I pray for them, and for others who are in similar struggles. Maybe if they see that there are those of us that are religious that aren’t going to belittle them, judge them, or disrespect them, then maybe they will become more open to conversion. Let God handle it

I’ll have to look for that! Or for a coffee cup. Husband still remembers quite a bit of Polish.

:coffee:

Treat everyone with compassion and courtesy.

If any one asks for your advice simply ask them, “What do you want from me? Do you want my to tell you what I really believe or do you want me to just smile and nod my head.”

Chance are they won’t come to you for advice again because people generally want validation when they ask for advice.

If they say, “I want to know the truth.”

Then with all the compassion and love you have for this person, tell them the truth. What they are doing is wrong and will lead to pain and sorrow for themselves and for their loved ones. You don’t need to tell them that they are going to hell.

Continue to not engage in gossip or disparage anyone in any way.

This is so tricky. I also have heard a lot of similar stuff and had to learn how to deal with it. I usually just try to get it out there somehow that I am Catholic. Just as they have outed their beliefs to you. But also I don’t try and push it onto them that they have to respond with any sort of approval, but also be open to questions. Here’s some examples of that:

Example:
What you doing this weekend?
Going to the zoo with my family, and on Sunday we go to mass.
Oh mass can be so relaxing, I like to go swimming for relaxation. But you don’t believe all that do you.
Yes, I do.

Person either acts coldly henceforth, or outright insulting towards me on rarer occasions, or most frequently, thank goodness, continues to act kindly and friendly manner towards me. In almost all cases there are no further questions. In all cases, I attempt to continue to attempt to treat people in kind and friendly manner. That’s your job as Christian even when someone gets insulting.

Sometimes I am ashamed that I downplay it out of cowardice too though.

Where were you at lunch?
I went to lunchtime mass on campus.
Uncomfortable silence
I had to get my daily dash of holiness.
Relieved laughter from everybody

I am lately trying to do Better at this stuff. it’s hard though,and I don’t know how to start. I just wish people would ask more questions… But if people aren’t open I think they won’t want to hear what we have to say and will just get defensive.

Maybe we should pray for people to be more open in to asking questions of us… New intention for me, thanks for making me think of that :slight_smile: good luck with this, it can be so hard. Be brave, God has taught me people will continually surprise you in a good way if you let them.

This is so eloquently said; this is how I operate.
Mary.

Another thing to keep in mind with these things occurring in the work place–the person my be trying to be up front in the beginning to avoid uncomfortable things in the future. If they are upfront and let you know they are gay or transgender or whatever else, you can avoid using language that is insulting to them. They may be trying to both avoid hurt and confrontation. It really is a gift they are offering if you decide to view it that way instead.

One great lesson the Lord taught me is that I took my Faith for granted, and expected the same from everyone else. That they had an informed conscience, that they really knew Christ. They could not give me what they did not have. I fell into the trap of judging them, and I became very self- righteous, a hidden fault rooted in spiritual pride, and blindness. It was a very painful lesson, and well taught by God. I had to learn tolerance, and charity, and share with others in a kind way why I believe the way I do. Sometimes I experience rejection, but that is to be expected, but plant the seed of one’s faith whenever possible, look for opportunities.

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