Is it sinful to break ties with a sister divorcing her husband without even a good excuse?


#1

My sister has a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. This is her second marriage - she was going through the declaration of nullity process for her first marriage. Her first marriage was brief and with no children, and I have reason to believe God never blessed it.

She and her husband have recently "agreed to divorce". Neither one has given me any explanation other than their "differences" and their years of arguing. They haven't attempted any reasonable solution to these "differences" and "arguments", other than a handful of silly things.

They were supposed to come visit my husband and I soon, but now with the news of the divorce, I told her I don't want to see her. I told her she is welcome to send the kids over whenever she can.

My question is: is it sinful for me to avoid her? I cannot begin to comprehend how much selfishness it must take for someone to be so inconsiderate toward their own children. I do not feel I can even trust that person to be anywhere near me. I cannot imagine having any energy to get up in the morning to make breakfast for this person when she visits me, or take her out to local stores and shop all day until my back hurts, as usual, since she's a shopping addict.

Above all, I feel she will be a bad example for our future children. But I also worry about her children, and I am her daughter's godmother. I am also concerned she will not let me be near her children if I refuse to see her.

I realize I'm supposed to forgive 70 times seven. But she has not repented, and is still in sin. Repentance is a pre-requisite for forgiveness, even with God, otherwise there would be no Hell.

I don't feel like I love her any less than I ever did. I continue to wish, hope and pray for the best for her: conversion and Heaven. I realize Jesus ate with sinners and said "hate the sin, love the sinner", but he did that so he could tell them as it is and heal them, not to condone their behavior. My sister never wants to hear it when I talk about being a Catholic/Christian.

Matthew 10:
5 Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, "Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.
6 Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 As you go, make this proclamation: 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
14 Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words--go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.
15 Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
34 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
35 For I have come to set a man 'against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and one's enemies will be those of his household.'
37 "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;

Am I being self-righteous and judgmental? I know that loving someone doesn't necessarily require hanging out with that person. Or does it, in this case, since she is my sister?

Thanks for your input and help in advance.


#2

Did she sin against you?

It sounds as if you are being extremely judgemental with no cause.

Divorce is not a sin.

You have no idea what she has gone through.
She owes you no explanation.


#3

I think could offer to help by being a mediator if she and her husband want to work things out. Maybe things are too far gone to repair the damage. It's difficult to see the entire picture when you don't live day-to-day life in their home with them. Maybe they're not at a point where they want to or think they are able to work out the problems in their marriage.

I think you need to be there to support your sister and her children. Divorce/separation is not in itself a sin. It is only a sin if she starts seeing someone else before her annulment is completed. Maybe they just aren't right for each other and need to move on in different directions.


#4

We really are required to forgive others, no 'ifs or buts' if we want to be forgiven our sins. But I can't see how she has sinned against you, I can see how she may annoy you.

If you want to be a Christian role model for your sister's children, I would be showing love to your sister instead of cutting her off.

On a trivial note, you aren't required to go shopping with her.


#5

Do you think maybe she isn't telling you the whole story?

But of course, I don't know your sister.

I know what you mean about feeling sorrow about what another person is doing. Keep on praying for her.. but try not to think too much about the state of her soul, since only God knows about that. Just pray for God to help her and to bring her closer to Himself, and to give the grace of salvation. I think since she didn't sin against you personally in getting the divorce, - maybe it wouldnt be entirely right to cut her out of your life. (and even if she had, we need to forgive others).

I keep on remembering that part in 1 Cor. 13 - that love remembers no wrong.... that love forgives and forgets. I know that in our relationship with God, repentance is a prerequisite for forgiveness, and that's because God can't take away our sins if we refuse to let them go. But since we're human and can't take away sin from others' souls, I think we need to forgive even if a person is not repentant. In this case, the offense was not personally against you, so it would make sense to just keep on treating your sister as before. That does not mean thinking that what she did was right, or not feeling any sorrow for sin.... we should feel sorrow for sin. But there are three issues here:
- simply getting a divorce is a not sin; remarrying is a sin if the marriage was valid.
- we dont know the whole story
- breaking ties with your sister might alienate her further from the faith.

If I can make any suggestion, I think..try to be a good influence in her life and the lives of her children, say your opinion on the divorce if she asks you, but leave her conversion and salvation to God. Just pray for her and talk to her about God if a good opportunity arises and you see that she is more open. If we are charitable and kind to people, that helps them be more open. if the topic of the divorce comes up, maybe ask her questions rather than making assumptions about her views, etc. As for how much you hang out with her, or whether you go shopping with her or not, that is your choice of course, try to do the more charitable thing but maybe explain to her that shopping is tiring for you.

I hope this reply doesn't seem harsh.... I do know what you mean about feeling sad for family members or friends especially if they are doing something against the faith.


#6

She and her husband have recently "agreed to divorce". Neither one has given **me** any explanation other than their "differences" and their years of arguing. They haven't attempted any reasonable solution to these "differences" and "arguments", other than a handful of silly things.

I am confused as to why you think she owes you an explanation. Why does any adult have to justify their actions to you ? She does not need your approval. After all she was in the process to nullify the first marriage, (so I will assume she has returned to the church, and this marriage hasn‘t been blessed by the Church) which means if she has plans to marry again, legally or otherwise, this one will have to be nullified as well.

As for repentance, she doesn’t owe you that, either. I am certain what she needs is to know is she is loved by someone. To know that there may be someplace she can go and not worry about the influence on her children. Why not just be that person?:hug3:

take her out to local stores and shop all day until my back hurts, as usual, since she's a shopping addict.

If this is the case, I most certainly would not. (I wouldn’t anyway I despise shopping):eek:


#7

Is it sinful to lie? Yes, because lying is causes grave harm. Is it sinful to give to the poor? No, because giving to the poor is good. Is it sinful to admonish the sinner? No, because admonishing sinners is a work of mercy.

My point is, don't think so much about is it sinful, but is it good, or not good.

Admonishing sinners is, in itself, a good thing. Just like giving to the poor is, in itself, a good thing. It can only be wrong if it is misapplied, eg, it's done completely out of proportion, it's done with the intention of causing harm, it's done for self-aggrandisement.

Ask yourself - what do you hope to achieve with this action, what can you achieve, what are your motives, what are the alternatives, what are the risks.

One bit of advice I find useful again and again is - when there are two courses of action, and neither is more clearly right than the other, take the course of least risk.

So, I'm veering towards discouraging you, but on the basis of it's intrinsically a right action, but inappropriate with all things considered.


#8

As another poster mentioned, it IS possible that she doesn’t want to discuss the reason with you at this time. Maybe there is a very good reason that she doesn’t feel comfortable talking about. Regardless of that, in my opinion, she hasn’t wronged you, and even if there is no “good reason” for the divorce, she hasn’t done anything directly to you, and everyone sins. Cutting her off will come across as highly judgmental and self-righteous, in my opinion. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone…


#9

There is an old saying—one can choose ones friends; but one cannot choose ones relatives! Unless through the grace of God ,I would say that most people have ‘’ THE BLACK SHEEP’’ problem.I certainly have and at different stages in my life, I too was as black as the ace of spades! There is one good point of having being a bad sinner, is that I tend to be more compassionate towards my fellow man.

Do I get angry feelings at times when confronted by my siblings, as they attack my beliefs in the manner that is hurtful to me? Sure like you, I do get angry,judgemental etc.but then ,if I retaliate I am not very Christ like am I?So I do make an effort to bight my tongue and return good for evil.Instead of being angry I remember how Jesus loved me,even when I was a sinner!! I try to pray for them all,their ex-husbands,children and my siblings.

There used to be a song called “Pick me up on your way down”.There is a real possibility that if you continue in your angry frame of mind towards your sister ;that you are heading away from Jesus.Does it mean that you should approve of her actions if they are wrong-certainly not; but you would be well advised to do as Jesus did;He loved the sinner and not the sin.

So on family gatherings I try to be on good terms with my sibblings,it does hurt me that they leave God out of their daily lives.If they shared my gratitude and love for Jesus and His Church ,I would be closer to them by going to Mass,praying “grace” before meals,sharing the Rosary and my thoughts about the spiritual life with them.BUT that is not my reality at the moment and like you I can only leave them in the hands of our Merciful Father, who loves each family member far more than we ever can.Our Father sent His Son to die for everyone of us–because we were sinners(including you and me)

Is it a sin to break ties with a sister ?(your own flesh and blood)
—maybe not always; but is it a good idea? Is that a Christ like action? what did Jesus do?
Parents are always deeply hurt when grown sibblings fight–how then do you think that the Sacred Heart of Jesus feels?

Jesus,Mary and Joseph,please protect our families.Amen.


#10

[quote="Thais, post:1, topic:204400"]

Am I being self-righteous and judgmental? .

[/quote]

Yes.

Your sister needs prayers and love, not someone feeling morally superior to her.

Everyone else has given really good advice.


#11

Hi,
I have a similiar situation with my sister in law...and her daughter is my Goddaughter.
I don't agree with how she lives her life, I think it is sinful. But I've learned that there is no changing her. The best you can do is be an example. I still see my SIL at family gatherings,there is no way to avoid her. I watch her daughter a lot, though, b/c I love her daughter....Unfortunately, a lot of people have situations like ours, but when it's family, you really can't completely avoid them. Leave her to Jesus, and be an example, that's what I do:)


#12

You mentioned that she had been previously married and did not have a decree of nullity (I believe you phrased it as she "was going through" an annulment).

So, it is her current marriage that is the sinful situation-- she is committing adultery. Now, if she receives a decree of nullity, she could seek convalidation of this marriage. If it is already breaking down, that may be unwise.

Sounds like your sister needs some counseling.

I'm curious as to why you accepted your sister's adultery but are now upset about her leaving the adulterous relationship?

Divorce is indeed a sin (several people on here said it isn't, which is not true). It is a sin against the Sixth Commandment. However, in your sister's case, she is not validly married and a civil divorce is not a sin. Getting "remarried" was the sin.

Your primary concern is the children, and I agree that this divorce will be devestating for them. I would suggest you support your sister in reconciling with the Church first, through a decree of nullity from her first marriage, and then urge reconciling with the father of her children and seeking a valid marriage.

I would not cut her off nor would I treat her as you are treating her. You are mad at her and wanting to lash out and make her feel hurt as well. You say you don't want her around your children b/c she will be a bad example. Well, living in an invalid marriage is already a bad example. It seems you are picking and choosing which ones of her sins are bad examples. Maybe you need to look at yourself for the answer to why you are reacting this way. Maybe you have been hurt by her in other ways-- you hint at selfishness on her part-- and are taking this divorce personally.

Is she practicing the faith? Is she going to church regularly? Has she met with her priest on all this? Is she getting advice from the priest?


#13

You never know what goes on behind closed doors.

She owes you no explanation.

Be a nice sister, not a judgmental one. It's not your place to judge!


#14

[quote="Catholic90, post:13, topic:204400"]
You never know what goes on behind closed doors.

She owes you no explanation.

Be a nice sister, not a judgmental one. It's not your place to judge!

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#15

I’m glad it was finally pointed out that divorce is a sin. I actually wish she had sinned against me, and not the most important people in her life: husband and kids.

In The Catechism of the Catholic Church (n.1651), the Church stresses that the community of the faithful should exercise a sensitivity to the divorced through works of charity.
2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.
2400 Adultery, divorce, polygamy, and free union are grave offenses against the dignity of marriage.

cdop.org/pages/AOfficeFamilyFAQDivorce.aspx
Does the Church consider divorce a sin?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
• “The separation of spouses, while maintaining the marriage bond, can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law. If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense” (#2383).
• Divorce, for reasons other than safety and security however, is considered a grave offense because it “claims to break the [marriage] contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death” (#2384).
• “Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.” (#2385).
• “It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to [their]… marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage” (#2386)."

My point is not that she owes me anything, but that, as I read the threads about some (holy) people struggling with their alcoholic, violent or unfaithful spouses, I can’t help but feel like my sister has absolutely nothing to complain about, as we know (and she confirms) that he is a man of good character - honest and responsible. I highly doubt that they are hiding some drastic information from us, and we have always had open communication with them. They remain friends and have been to a couple of family events together - most likely to make this a smoother transition for the children.

Even though her previous marriage’s nullity process is still going (last I heard), that doesn’t mean she has “returned to the Church”. She has made it clear she is only doing it because of her “current” husband’s insistence. He goes to Mass and refrains from the Eucharist because of their sinful state. She doesn’t go to church and does not believe in Christianity, sometimes not even God’s existence (she comes and goes). She has told me she will allow her daughter to be profane as she sees nothing wrong with that. Her husband does, and he was my best hope for their children. As a side note, he has agreed to leave the chldren with her, which I cannot comprehend either. We all say she became a nicer person ever since their marriage, and I fear the path she’ll go down now. I’m afraid he may have given up on her lack of holiness and kindness, even though I realize he is no saint either, but definitely closer to God than she ever was.

She definitely needs some counseling, but she won’t go to a priest. She goes to a therapist, who is obviously not a Christian, at least not a serious one.

I can understand the paradox I sound like, since she is not even validly married. I’m a revert and she already had her first child when it happened. The following day, after the three-day retreat during which I had my conversion, I read up on nullity decrees, and called her to talk about it. I also gave them a book on the subject - he had already been asking her to try getting the decree of nullity before my conversion.

Years later, after she finally started her process, when she told me she wanted the Eucharist (one of her swings), I asked her to live with her husband as brother and sister and she basically laughed at me. I suspect he would have done it, if she would agree. She went to confession anyway (this was years ago), and the priest told her he couldn’t give her absolution while she was still in adultery - thank God, I was praying he’d give her a faithful answer.

I was hoping she would get her nullity and validly marry him before my husband and I start having our children. But now, I just feel like this was the last straw. I have no doubt she’ll just drop the nullity process now. I don’t know what else I can do to help her (yeah, I’ve been praying ever since my conversion), and I cannot just sit “compassionately” and watch her on her way down to you know where. I was hoping a “shock treatment” may wake her up. If everybody does what my family has been doing “we’re all here for you, no matter what you do”, she’ll just feel she can go through life like this and everyone will just tolerate it and then see her through the consequences.

She refuses to see a priest or watch any Catholic videos I have recommended - she said her husband and I are nice people, despite our Christianity.


#16

I have two sisters and it wasn't until years later which is the present that we started talking about our life experiences with our ex-spouses. We all got divorced. We are all still single.

I was never able to tell anybody why I got divorced. I still don't tell people why I got divorced.
But I had to tell my two sisters about it when I had to use them as my witnesses for my Catholic annulment.

Your sister most likely has many reasons why she and her ex-spouse have chosen to divorce.

It is not your business to judge your sister and her life. You don't really know what was going on behind closed doors in her house.

It looks like your sister chose to keep her personal problems with her husband personal.

Please don't throw stones at her.... I know Jesus wouldn't.

I think you sister may have a serious pyschological problem of just wanting to go shopping and spending more money that she can afford to spend. Maybe that was one of the reasons for the divorce.

My advise is for you to just cut back on calling her or seeing her. You can set it up just to meet on special Holidays. I don't think you really like her bad habits because they bother you a lot.

I think the divorce is just an excuse not to see her so often.

You better have a talk with her on what is really bothering you about her behavior and clear the air.
Or... you can tell her you never want to see her again and the friendship will be cut forever.
It will be your lose. It is not a sin to cut people out of your life who are giving you grief.


#17

Frankly, if I was your sister's husband I would divorce her, too. Her complete desertion of the Catholic faith makes it clear that convalidating this marriage is unlikely. For him, separating from her and reconciling with the Church is the best thing he can do.

So, I still do not understand why you want this marriage to work so badly. Is her spouse supposed to sit in Mass unable to receive the Eucharist forever because of your sister? No. He should put his soul first. I don't know why he would agree regarding the chidlren, other than the fact that the mother has to practically be an axe murderer in order for the father to get custody. So, he's probably trying not to stir up a custody battle in hopes of having some sort of joint situation.

Your sister is a total screw up.

Do what you can to partner with the children's father to give them some sort of stability and faith life. But I would suggest stop trying to fix your sister and telling her what she "should" do. She's way beyond that, marching to the tune of "I don't care about anyone but me."


#18

[quote="Thais, post:15, topic:204400"]

My point is not that she owes me anything, but that, as I read the threads about some (holy) people struggling with their alcoholic, violent or unfaithful spouses, I can't help but feel like my sister has absolutely nothing to complain about, as we know (and she confirms) that he is a man of good character - honest and responsible. I highly doubt that they are hiding some drastic information from us, and we have always had open communication with them. They remain friends and have been to a couple of family events together - most likely to make this a smoother transition for the children.

[/quote]

I would say not to compare two people. It could be that there are minor things going on that you don't know about that can lead to a breakdown of a marriage. Your sister may also be struggling with some form of mental illness causing her to look for divorce instead of communication. Her husband may also have issues that they aren't discussing...they may not be earth shattering but it dosn't mean that they can't cause pain. You are not in the bedroom (I hope) so you still only have an outside perspective on what's going on.

She definitely needs some counseling, but she won't go to a priest. She goes to a therapist, who is obviously not a Christian, at least not a serious one.

She is not cheating on her husband. She's getting a divorce which is NOT yet any sin in any sort of way. Even a priest may allow this sort of things to happen even if your sister wasn't invalidly married if the psychological problems required it. And they're not even validly married!!!!

I was hoping she would get her nullity and validly marry him before my husband and I start having our children. But now, I just feel like this was the last straw. I have no doubt she'll just drop the nullity process now. I don't know what else I can do to help her (yeah, I've been praying ever since my conversion), and I cannot just sit "compassionately" and watch her on her way down to you know where. I was hoping a "shock treatment" may wake her up. If everybody does what my family has been doing "we're all here for you, no matter what you do", she'll just feel she can go through life like this and everyone will just tolerate it and then see her through the consequences.

To be very blunt. This is NOT about you or wanting a nice God parent for future kids or having the kiddos go to vacation bible school together. This is not your issue. She cannot be what you want her to be and that's coming only from you.

She refuses to see a priest or watch any Catholic videos I have recommended - she said her husband and I are nice people, despite our Christianity.

So stop making this a religious issue. And maybe she'' see that you're nice BECAUSE you have Jesus.


#19

[quote="Thais, post:1, topic:204400"]
My sister has a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. This is her second marriage - she was going through the declaration of nullity process for her first marriage. Her first marriage was brief and with no children, and I have reason to believe God never blessed it.

She and her husband have recently "agreed to divorce". Neither one has given me any explanation other than their "differences" and their years of arguing. They haven't attempted any reasonable solution to these "differences" and "arguments", other than a handful of silly things.

They were supposed to come visit my husband and I soon, but now with the news of the divorce, I told her I don't want to see her. I told her she is welcome to send the kids over whenever she can.

My question is: is it sinful for me to avoid her? Ie.

[/quote]

I am not sure on what grounds you justify avoiding your sister if she gets divorced. YOu are aware that the Church allows civil divorce if it is the only way the couple can legally separate in cases where that becomes necessary. She actually does not owe you an explanation of why she feels that is so. If she is welcome to attend Mass and receive communion, I am not seeing why your feel the rules of your home should be stricter.

you have not shown that she is engaging in any sinful activity such as moving in with another man, so am still wondering what is the basis of your thinking.


#20

About the "divorce is not a sin" allegations, where is the supporting evidence for these claims? Where is that in the Catechism, or in a Papal Encyclical, Council Documents, or some other authoritative source, other than the "divorce is not a sin" litany in this thread?

I realize that for him, this would be the best option, if it wasn't for the kids. I want it to work so badly because that's my sister's best shot in getting to Heaven, at this moment. And most of all, because of the children. I was already concerned for their holiness before the divorce, but now it just seems almost certain that she'll mess them up.

I do not want to take any chances on close bad influence on our future children. There's plenty of evil and wrong in the world already. I do not want my children being confused about who they are when they see me put up with my sister's bad behavior, and then turn around and tell them to not do the same.

You're probably right about him just avoiding a custody battle.

I know she is a total screw up, hence my question. Should I reconcile and extend an invitation for her to visit sometime in the future (not October as originally forecast)? Or should I do what is safest for our future children?

I do like the suggestion of getting access to the kids through their dad, instead of through her. Thanks.

By the way, just another clarification, I only see my sister once or twice a year (when we stay under the same roof for one or two weeks), because she lives in another country. So it's not easy to just "see her less", or "see her at family gatherings, just not at each other's house", etc.


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