Limit to Love?

We believe that God loves each of us unconditionally. And that we are to be Christ like and love as much as we can. We accept God’s two greatest commandments to love Him fully and to love others as we love ourselves. [Matt 22: 36-40]

There are degrees of love from mere tolerance of behavior we think wrong to laying down one’s life for the love of another.

Most of us try to be supportive of those important in our lives as a real demonstration of our love for them. We trust their judgment as to which goals to pursue and how to achieve their goals. Not my way, but what the hey, I 'll support them because I love them.

**But, are there limits to the loving support we can give friends who are important in our lives when their goal and behavior are clearly contrary to the tenets of our Faith? **

Is maintaining a close relationship - with the hope of someday being able to help them, an act of tolerant, patient love - more important than setting a limit on loving support?

If we set a limit, we risk losing a friendship that has worked for a long time. They may resent us and refuse to listen to us on any subject.

Is the limit to our love different for a friend? A relative? A close adult family member, given the same behavior?

How would you handle it?

Good question. I often wonder the same thing. If someone is toxic, then clearly we should protect ourselves and just pray for them. But I am currently having a difficult time with guilt over a friendship that I let go because I was not feeling respected by this friend and I did not want to be part of her drama, sin, and self-destruction. (It was also traumatic for me because her behavior in destroying her marriage was bringing up emotions surrounding the end of my marriage.) I now hear that she has had some kind of either physical problem or mental break, is back with her husband who, I and many feel is emotionally and verbally very abusive, and I haven’t been there for her, nor have I ever fully explained to her why I have kept my distance. I really don’t want to re-kindle the friendship, or be socially involved with her husband, but I feel so guilty for not being there for her.

Yes, I think there are different degrees of love that we have for people even though God’s love is unconditional for us. We are His children so he loves us all unconditionally and fairly. But for those that we meet or friends that we have or had, it is different. We can’t love someone whom has caused us pain, we can forgive them but not have the same knid of love prior. Just like the other poster said about her friendship with her friend, the love has changed. I think that is normal in life, we all choose to let people enter or exit our lives. The ones that exit, we can pray for them but not necessary love them.

I have read that “love” is desiring the best for another person. There is a lot of room for prudential judgement about how this can best be done.

However, love is not the same thing as “being supportive.” Being emotionally supportive of someone is often a result of our love for them, but sometimes it is a result of fear, or emotional laziness, or something else. Which is to say that lots of times people will be supportive of others because we feel that we can do them good–now because they will know that we care for them, and hopefully later, when they might be ready to listen to us. But sometimes people might be being supportive because we are afraid that we don’t have the arguments to back up our position or that we will lose a friend and be lonelier. And sometimes people might be being supportive in order to avoid arguments or hard conversations or emotional dangers.

The Bible doesn’t say, “And now there remain faith, hope, and being supportive, these three: but the greatest of these is being supportive.” :smiley:

Putting a limit to “being supportive” is not the same as putting a limit on your love. You are never supposed to put limits on love. But there can be situations in which you put a limit on supporting someone in behavior that harms them. How can it be true love to enable an alcoholic? I think that generally people understand the point when it relates to alcoholism, but not when it relates to “lifestyle choices” like, for instance, cohabitation.

So you have to think and pray about an individual situation. Am I supporting someone who needs my help, or am I enabling someone’s self-harming behavior? How can I best work for their good? The answers will be different depending on the situation.

–Jen

We are not God, so we have limits. We can pray for God to give us more love to share with others. This can help us become better over time, but we can’t become perfect like God. I think if a relationship is harmful to us, we should not get too involved unless we feel called to be involved. Maybe there is some real good that can be done to that person if we push further. Sometimes you know there is nothing you can do though (other than pray).

I don’t think there is a limit to love, but I do think folks do confuse what love really is. Sometimes an act of love just might be setting limits on unacceptable behavior or how involved we can be with a person. Sometimes there are people that we have to say “enough is enough” to because they fail to get the messages given along the way.

As a personal example: I had a male friend for nearly 20 years. From the start I made it very clear to this person that I was not interested in marriage. Still every once in a while he would broach the subject, and I would remind him of my intentions to remain single or even become a Religious. I never did anything or said anything that would make him think otherwise.

Eventually he became more insistent about the subject and actually reached a point were one could say his behavior approached that of stalking me. It was real border-line but it was there. It was at this point that I finally ended the friendship totally. And I had to be very frank and blunt about it. A year later I got a letter of apology, but it included a desire to be friends again. I wrote back and said no.

Setting limits and boundaries is not a failure to love someone. It in fact can be the greatest act of love there is. Kind of like the Prodigal son. Sometime we simply need to let people go their own way while we take a different road. In matters of Faith, even family must sometimes be left behind.

GratefulFred said** : “We believe that God loves each of us unconditionally. And that we are to be Christ-like, and love as much as we can. We accept God’s two greatest Commandments, to love Him fully, and to love others as we love ourselves. [Matt 22: 36-40]
There are degrees of love…
Most of us try to be supportive of those important in our lives… We trust their judgment as to which goals [for them] to pursue, and how to achieve their goals. Not my way, but … I 'll support them because I love them.
But, are there limits to the loving support we can give friends, who are important in our lives, when their goal and behavior are clearly contrary to the tenets of our Faith?”**

NO, the ONLY Limits that YOU have are your OWN Limits.
If your Daughter was viciously Raped, and became Pregnant, but instead of obeying the Catholic Church’s teaching on NOT Aborting a Fetus, she tearfully reveals to you her Plan to have an abortion.
If you, upon hearing this, screamed at her repeatedly, and told her that you were going to LOCK her up in the Basement, to prevent her from obtaining this Murder … I would NOT consider this to be supporting your victim Daughter.
Better, to sit down and Console her about that Terrible Rape, and how it affects her day-to-day Life.
And then, work gently to help change her Mind.
But, it is your daughter’s Life to Live, and if you think that NOBODY can do something that you don’t like, then you have a MONSTROUS Ego.

And,** : “Is maintaining a close relationship - with the hope of someday being able to help them, an act of tolerant, patient love - more important than setting a limit on loving support?”**

I don’t understand what you are asking for, here.

And, : "If we set a limit, we risk losing a friendship that has worked for a long time. They may resent us and refuse to listen to us on any subject."

Everyone sets Limits as to what behavior he will Happily accept (and how MUCH of that Behavior he will accept)…
If I set a Limit to a person running around NAKED inside of my home, then I really don’t care how he would react to my Limit.
I have a Limit … He surpassed it … then, I enforced my Limit upon him.

And,** “Is the limit to our Love different for a friend? A relative? A close adult family member, given the same behavior?”**

Speak for yourself.
This question has a different Answer for EVERYBODY in the World.
Many people will be MORE understanding with a Friend, than a Close Family member.
This is just a personal choice.
It is certainly NOT a Sin to be MORE open to a particular person (or NOT to be).

Revert Jen and Cricket 2, thank you for your responses.

4love2God, thank you also for your responses.

I agree with you that cruelly berating a daughter, or any woman who suffers the crime of rape is a major wrong way to respond. In fact, IMO, a mortal sin.

Perhaps I was not clear. I was not trying to say that nobody can do something I don’t like. I was trying to ask, does the Commandment to love require me, or allow me, to ASSIST them in doing something that is clearly contrary to our Faith and not just something I do not like.

In most friendships, we tolerate certain behaviors we may not like. We try to be mutually supportive as a way to show our love. I think sometimes, the other one sets his or her mind to proceed on a path that clearly violates our Faith. At that point, we may be conflicted. If it comes to it, do we sacrifice a long standing friendship or should we help them anyway in doing something their way because maintaining that friendship, keeping the line of communication open in hope of eventually reaching them is a more important aspect of love ?

How do we make known our unwillingness to help and still maintain a long standing friendship?

I think the best way is just to be really honest about it. “I really care about you and I want to continue our friendship because I really value it. But I can’t see you doing something harmful to yourself and pretend it’s not there or that it’s not harmful.”

It might work or it might not. I’d like to think that normally it would work, but it would really depend on how much they identify with their sin. There are people who have made sinful behavior so much a part of their personality that there really may not be any way to keep the friendship without condoning the sin.

Prayer helps a lot in figuring out just what to say. Or rather, if you immerse yourself in prayer, then the Holy Spirit will help you find what to say.

–Jen

GratefulFred said : "I was trying to ask, does the Commandment to love require me, or allow me, to ASSIST them in doing something that is clearly contrary to our Faith, and not just something I do not like."

OK, Good Question.
There is a thing called a Conspiracy.
This is when 2 or more people agree to do something, and (usually) Conspiracy is about doing something Illegal (or Immoral).

Let’s say that Daughter WANTS to have an Abortion (Bummer).
At this point, you can offer her your Love, and Compassion, and NOT Stop her in a Real Way.
So, if this is what you do, then I see NO Ethical Violation.
However, IF your Daughter asks you to drive her to the Clinic, and you drive her there … then this is the Point at which you MIGHT BE violating your Catholic Faith.
So, you have an active Conspiracy going on to Commit the Sin of Abortion.
I have NO idea how God would treat this, but it seems to me that I would be Sinning if I drove her to the Clinic.
And, EVEN IF God approved of this, I have my OWN Perspective (which would make it a Sin to me, anyway).

GratefulFred then said** : “In most friendships, we tolerate certain behaviors we may not like.
We try to be mutually supportive as a way to show our love.
I think sometimes, the other one sets his or her mind to proceed on a path that clearly violates our Faith. At that point, we may be conflicted.”**

YES, that situation has come up for me many times over the Years.
When I relate to my Atheist friends, I hear a lot of STUFF that is against my way of living Life.
So, I put myself aside, and relate to them as a Favorite Uncle (or some such person).
I listen … I allow them to feel what they want to feel … I LOVE them.
This is easy-Enough to do. Smile, and know that I am being a Good Friend.
These people don’t try to INCLUDE me in living their Lifestyle, so I am not put in the position of second-Guessing my Motives (or actions) for anyone asking me to Conspire to do something Bad.

Fred said a cotton-picking mouthful : "If it comes to it, do we sacrifice a long-standing friendship?
or, should we help them anyway in doing something their way, because maintaining that friendship, [we are] keeping the line of communication open, in hope of eventually reaching them, is a more important aspect of love ?"

This is the $64,000 Question.
What has occurred in my Life is mostly ALLOWING people to do what they want (unless it is something REAL Gross).
Most people are Generally Good.
But, we ALL have “twisted” pieces of insight … so if I believe that the person is OK-enough generally, I will keep that Relationship alive.

Of course, this is NOT just my Decision, it is also a part that my Spouse has her OWN Decision to make.
And, I have broken-off relationships several times, because my Equal Partner has wanted me to do so.
This is JUST how things should work … a Couple decides together what Social Contacts are made (and Kept).
In my experience, I have NEVER disagreed with her Decision (or, even debated it with her) … after all, THAT Relationship is the most important one for me to HAVE and to KEEP.

Fred ends with a Deadly question (deadly to a relationship, that is)** : “How do we make known our unwillingness to help, and still maintain a long standing friendship?”**

This happens (or DOESN’T happen) on a case-by-case basis.
But, I have found that things work out OK … IF I sit down, with Love and Compassion in my Heart, and KINDLY tell say to him,** "My Relationship with you is important to me, but I don’t feel Good about jumping in this time to help you. Maybe next time (and the 10 times after that) I will be Happy to help out."

Thanks, Revert Jen and 4love2God.

You have given good advice.

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