Monday, September 27, 2010

We must be kind, but not "nice"

I know many of us were shaken by the "blog war" that broke out last week. The extent of the vitriol was unexpected, and some of us are still decompressing.

I was still sorting it all out when providential encouragement came in Saturday's mail, in the form of a local crisis pregnancy center's newsletter. It contained excerpts from a speech that our beloved Bishop Thomas Olmsted had recently delivered at a pro-life luncheon. Anyone who knows Bishop Olmsted knows that he is a gentle, kind and holy soul. Not loud, bombastic or combative, but joyful, peaceful and caring. I daresay he is one of the "nicest" men you'll ever meet. In his own words:
Do not be "nice"; instead, tell the tough truths. At no place in the Sacred Scriptures does it say: Be nice! However, popular portrayals of Christianity would lead us to think that the first and greatest commandment is niceness.
The English word "nice" comes from the Latin word "nescius" --meaning "ignorant, knowing nothing." In English usage of the 13th century, "nice" meant "foolish, stupid, senseless." Today, it means hurting no one's feelings, without regard to what is true or good or right. Garrison Keillor said, You taught me to be nice, so nice that now I am so full of niceness, I have no sense of right and wrong, no outrage, no passion.
St. Paul writes to Timothy (2 Tim 4:2-4), Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths....
John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae (#58): The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception.
....So what to do? Should we not recall Jesus' charge: Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. He knows what He is doing.
....Love our enemies. Love is not "nice." Love is kind; it is patient; love does not rejoice in what is wrong, but rejoices in the truth.... Love is best illustrated by Jesus on the Cross, where He forgave those who put Him to death, where He died so that we sinners might have forgiveness and new life. Love is not cowardly but it is fair, while relentlessly opposing all threats to the dignity of human life. 
....So, do not be "nice"; be kind and tell the truth. Love your wives, your husbands, your children. Love your enemies. Do not be discouraged.
It was not till tonight that I realized (duh!) that the word "discourage" has "courage" as its root. We need courage to counteract our dis-courage-ment. And courage just might be the virtue most lacking today among Christians.

About a year ago, Danya approached Bishop Olmsted and asked him how we Catholics can best dialogue about the contentious, unpopular and controversial teachings of the Church, especially when we know we will be met with mockery, hostility and personal attacks. This meek and humble man responded that at those times, we must set aside our own fears, anxieties and dread, and we must simply speak the truth.




  1. This is beautiful! You know the old saying...sometimes the truth hurts. No one likes to be told they are wrong but it needs to be done. If my husband is doing something he shouldn't, I'm going to tell him. This doesn't mean that I'm going to be mean and nasty about it. But it also doesn't mean I'm going to sugarcoat it. We all need to be told sometimes.

    I also think that in telling people the truth we must remember not to attack the actual person (not saying that anyone did that on that post). It is not the person who is bad it is the actions.

    I think people forget that sometimes being called on our faults is how we learn. We don't always know right and wrong when it comes to certain situations. There has to be guidelines and rules out there. Could you imagine if there were no rules? No fun!

  2. "Popular portrayals of Christianity would lead us to think that the first and greatest commandment is niceness" - isn't that the truth? Geez!

  3. WOW. The excerpt from 2 Timothy and Evangelium Vitae knocked me over! The whole thing was absolutely amazing!

  4. Ok, ok... this may be an unpopular comment, but one thing we ALSO have to remember is that we don't have to be crude-- we DO have to be Christ-like. You know the terrible image that one of the commenters used about the husband/secretary? I CANNOT picture Christ using that kind of image-- NOT Christ-like. However, there were some phrases used to support the Catholic position on IVF that were very nearly that vulgar and that did nothing to keep people's ears, minds, and hearts open to the truth. The medium must be one that will lovingly and truthfully convey the message.

    Again, I know this may be an unpopular idea, but I am having the COURAGE to say that we, too, need to guard our tongues lest we cause greater harm than good, for the sake of the Church and the glory of God. Like Karen said-- don't sugarcoat it, but don't be mean and nasty.

  5. Great post. Kimberly Hahn always says "speak the Truth in love". Waaaay harder than it sounds-but worth striving for.

  6. I think we have more in common that I previously thought. I have been thinking along those same lines lately.

    I'm a die-hard liberal and have been very active throughout my life in liberal causes. Just for example, I served in Peace Corps twice: taught high school Math in Africa, and worked with youth and computing in Central America. However, lately, I've been feeling like I'm too "nice" and not effective, especially in areas of social impact.

    For example, I become very agitated when it seems that a small group of people may deny the right of marriage to an entire class of people (gays). I vote, I state my opinion, but don't have time to protest much (have a toddler at home and baby expected in January, plus an older stepdaughter). All I can do these days is try to convince the deniers of my opinion. I find that in conversations with those who would deny other persons' rights, the idea of a God and the complete truthfulness of the Bible come up as reasons for this denial.

    If I completely dismiss God or the Bible as valid arguments, on the point that there really is no proof, I am rebuked and told that I really should be "nicer" in my discussions. On my part, how can I discuss a point ("God tells me it is so") when the premise of God is not an option for me. On the Christian/Catholic part, how dare I try to have a conversation with you when I'm not "nice" enough to even accept that you believe in God?

    So in order to try to work for social change, and allow everyone the right to marry the way we finally allowed blacks and whites to marry, I must have dialogue. I must try to convince, I must have the courage to speak my peace without alienating those whom I wish to convince.

    And so, I walk the line between being "nice" and being courageous. Just as you are.

  7. I deleted my comment. ;) Didn't want it to be read the "wrong" way! hahahaha

  8. I love this post! Our pastor has given a few homilies about this very topic...really teaching the true origin of the word nice!
    LOVE your neighbor...Not BE NICE to your neighbor!

    Love means seeking the best for the beloved. Of course, the truth is best for everyone, so it goes to follow that we must share this truth with all our neighbors, but make sure we do so in a charitable manner, so that we reflect Christ to those around us.

    I really think that your blog does an amazing of teaching the Truth in a charitable way!

  9. What a great post!

    I learned this lesson from a priest many years ago and have never looked at the word "nice" the same again.

    I try to speak the truth in love, sometimes it is received as judgment. God does know we are sent like lambs to the wolves, but he gives us the courage to stand firm in truth, praise God!

  10. Very interesting post. I almost wrote "nice" post. Yikes, guess I'm not awake yet!

  11. Lisa, I totally agree. I can only speak for myself, but I was troubled by it all, so I went back and read every single comment I made. There was only one comment I could find that went past what I would consider to be charitable. I made a comment personal, which I shouldn't have. The rest of it was factual and correct, but I shouldn't have personalized it.

    It came after the person in question charged the Catholic Church with "killing millions of people" in Africa, so I think I was ticked. :) No excuse! From now on, the one thing I must remember is not to make it personal, but to keep it factual and general.

    Thanks for the courage to say that, Lisa!

  12. Mai, I think you will find on this blog that I don't need you to believe in God to debate the facts. I like being philosophical and I don't always appeal to theology. In fact, I only appeal to theology when I am talking to a believer. So, hopefully this will be a different experience for you than in the past.

    Now that I know that you are not religious, I can debate/dialogue on secular terms.

  13. Wonderful post!! I love what you cited, and speaking as someone who knows this is her weakness, I can tell you it's all throughout Scripture. I'm constantly being reminded that I have to be more courageous!

    I also wanted to touch on the issue of saying something out of love, because I always think the most misunderstood thing in debates like this is that those we are speaking to cannot see that we are doing it out of love. We LOVE them, that's why we want them to see the beauty of the Church.. We LOVE them, that's why we don't want them to destroy embryos.. I could go on and on. "Love" has, in a lot of ways, become like "nice." If you loved me, you'd accept my lifestyle. If you loved me, you wouldn't say those things to me. But it's just the opposite! It's because we love them, even those we have never met, that we want them to know what we know - the Truth - and we want the best for their souls! Yes, we need to say it lovingly, but that's very hard over the internet, because no matter how we phrase it, someone's going to take offense to us stating our beliefs on IVF, birth control, etc. Just us saying it may make them mad, so they're naturally going to think we said it not from a place of love. It's a difficult thing.

  14. PS: Mai, we have now had two very honest and unemotional liberals state on this blog that they are fine with siblings marrying. Check here for one of them:

    Do you agree that siblings have the right to marry?

  15. I have been typing and retyping my comment for awhile, but I just can't seem to form a coherent thought. Please forgive me for my ramblings. But, I just wanted to say I had similar sentiments as Lisa. Thank you Lisa for having the courage to say what you did. The tainting of the Catholic position by for lack of a better word some "snarkiness" was hard to watch. I love all of the Catholic IF / non-IF bloggers and commend them for standing up for the truth. I think things just got very heated and maybe we all need to be reminded from time to time, of Bishop Olmstead's sentiments.

  16. I might have to steal part of this for something I'm working on. Last weekend I was at a baby shower with my Protestant friends. After we prayed for the mother-to-be she asked if we could pray for her friend who was struggling with IF for five years. Turns out she's in the midst of IVF treatment and is supposed to get embryos transplanted next week. My heart sunk as I sat there listening to the ignorant prayers/pleas on behalf of this woman that this medical technology would be effective. It was a very small group by this point and I knew that I would have to vocalize SOMETHING in prayer. All I could muster was asking for "God's wisdom, acceptance and that His will would be done." Then I had to leave the group for the post-prayer discussion about how many embryos to choose?! How much does it cost?! Does it hurt?!
    I knew it was neither the time nor place to speak out so all I could do was silently pray. Such a heartbreak.

  17. Like Joy Beyond the Cross, I've been rehashing my thoughts all morning-mentally writing my comment.

    Let me say that I love everything said in the post. Being "nice", while highly valued in the secular culture, is not among the top five character traits I'm aiming for! In fact, we have done a disservice to Christianity by paining Jesus as "Mr. Nice Guy" and turning Him into a giant wimp. Men, in particular, cannot relate to Mr. Wimpy Nice Guy and become ambivalent about their faith and their family's faith. So right on with being "nice".

    However. While I appreciate the rally cry and encouragement after the ugly blog drama, I wonder if this is the right focus at the right time? I can certainly understand and appreciate your call to "Keep preaching the TRUTH, ladies!". But I think our group made some huge mistakes on that post- NOT the issue or the truth- but the approach. I wonder if instead, we should be focusing on and learning how to preach the TRUTH in LOVE.

    I've wondered if I should send this as a private email, but after Lisa and JBTC's comments, I felt it would be okay. You know how much I love you and your blog, Leila, as well as my fellow bloggers!!! My Marriage Monday posts will hopefully attest to the fact that I am highly committed to the Truth- in spite of negative feedback.

    With all that being said, I just wanted to share my two cents that we must always share the TRUTH WITH LOVE, being cautious of the medium of the internet and it's propensity to misread tone, jokes and hyperbole. I think it would do us all good to go out of our way to be a little more kind and loving while we stand up for Jesus- who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

  18. Lauren, you know how much I love you and respect anything you have to say!

    I really am comfortable with everything I did and said on the post in question (and I'm actually amazed at my restraint when later there was a whole blog post written about me in response.... a not very nice one, with lots of ugly comments about me in response to that). Made me go back and really read the things I wrote. As I said, aside from that one comment which made it personal, my comments were not unkind. I stand by them.

    I think one of the problems is that we all have different temperaments and different "tones" that we respond (or recoil) to. I remember in the Temperaments book, the author mentioned that words an employer might use to motivate a choleric might absolutely devastate a melancholic (or was that a sanguine?).

    Those of us with a Mediterranean background are used to very blunt talk, and we have a different style. I remember Mother Angelica telling a funny story once: "Someone asked me why my family always yelled at each other when we talked. I was so surprised. I told him, 'We aren't yelling, we're Italian!'"

    Sometimes I think temperaments and such might cause us to disagree. :)

    I love the input though! Thanks, and keep it coming!

  19. The quote from 2Timothy is very telling of our times.

    And I 100% agree with what AllYouWhoHope stated...those are exactly my sentiments as well. Well said!!!

    I'm glad you posted this Leila, b/c it reaffirms my last post not regarding the blog "war" but the moral issue/choice our friends just went through, and how we are called to speak the truth even when it is difficult.

  20. You always open my eyes a little more! THANK YOU! Awesome post:)

  21. I hope my point was clear, but I will give an illustration. Some people might not respond in any way to a post which says that "IVF is immoral due to the separation of the unitive and procreative aspects of the sexual act."

    But they might respond when told of the yucky specifics of what happens in sperm collection and IVF procedures regarding impregnation and embryos. (I actually typed it out here, but then deleted it... I don't want to get this debate started again!)

    That's my only point. Some will respond best to a softer presentation, and some will only respond to a blunt but truthful exposition.

    As St. Paul says, we must be all things to all people. My style is a bit blunt sometimes, but that's what makes me respond, so I'm guessing there are some out there like me. Hopefully, I will be kind when I state the hard and ugly facts.


  22. I agree with Lauren and Lisa after I have thought about the things that were said, things that I said. However, I do not regret hitting publish on that post.

    I could have been more clear but I'm not a "teaching" blog, I'm more of a stream of thought blog...It might be difficult for someone to just come off the street and read my blog. It's my space...I don't invade your space when I do not agree. ;)

    I think for the most part there is an underline respect that we have for other bloggers who do their thing...Unless we are like Miss G who comes in with a different approach. :) Thank God for Miss G.

    But because I don't agree with them I don't sit and lurk and get offended by what they say or do. I don't have time for that...

    I do however, regret that I was unable to be home and control the comments and play more of an active role.

    And I did get a little fiesty with Kevin. But I'm blunt and I don't sugar coat things. I hit a nerve with some people and consoling is just not my style.

    Also, when they cried for love it was given to them, but they still decided to balk.

    I see it as we have differing views and we could have been oh so much more loving and the nerve I apparently hit would have made them cry even more....

    Either way there was really no good way out of that situation...Unless I would have cited the church etc...etc...But because it seemed as if it was just one big judgemental post that is where it got out of line....I would have been misunderstood no matter how I would have phrased it. :)

    I regret nothing and I am only sorry that I wasn't more clear.

    Can this end now? Please? :) If not I should just open up the blog and we can have at it.... :)

  23. Love you, Sew. And I'm glad you posted the topic. I'm glad you hit publish, too. It was the last 100 comments or so that broke my heart!!! Thank you for bringing the topic to everyone's attention.

  24. Beautifully put! I was also thinking about this morning while getting ready and listening to EWTN they mentioned the same thing. Be kind, but tell the truth. Christ said Himself that the truth would divide us, and that is precisely what has happened. We should not be combative or intentionally cause hurt, but we must always be truthful.

  25. Hi, Leila - I used to have a blog, until I found I didn't have time when my son was 7 months old. However, in order to reply to your "Are you REALLY a liberal" question of siblings marrying requires more than just a yes or no answer, and so I'll be restarting a blog to write some of these things down in a non-comment format.

    Another common thread here which cries for longer discussion on my part is this idea of what is the "truth". In order to stay calm, I must always reprhase that in my mind as "Catholic version of the truth" or, more appropriately "This commenter's interpretation of the truth". It certainly isn't MY truth, or the truth for women who are undergoing IVF.

  26. Hi Leila!

    Love this post and I have been thinking about this subject since reading it early this morning. When and how I have failed to stand up for I what I believe and when I have done it, but not in the best way.

    Like others I have been thinking and rethinking how to comment. I did not read the original post, but seeing the aftermaths has left me deeply thinking about my role as a Catholic is today´s world.

    One thing that I would love for you to touch upon is how to use the Cardinal Virtues to speak about the Truth.

    As Catholics we have this amazing guide to know when and how to speak and make decisions.

    When is not speaking up cowardice or when is prudent?

    When do we need to continue to push ahead or resist (the two sides of fortitude)?

    How to we need to do it? How do we apply justice? Temperance?.

    I love the way our last 2 popes have done it specially in 2 occasions: Pope John Paul the II with regards to Poland when he was there in front of the soviets and Benedict XVI recently with Anglicans. One can see clearly how they used all 4 cardinal virtues when doing it.

  27. Mai, the part about "your truth" and "my truth" has inspired a new post... thank you!

    Also, I am looking forward to hearing why "should siblings marry" isn't a yes or no question. Either they have the right or they don't. I hope you will engage us here when the question comes up again, because my blog reading has reached a critical mass.

    I wish there were 36 hours in a day! And that I didn't have to sleep. And that's the truth.

  28. Mai, thank you bringing up the subject of "truth." You and I are identical in our feelings and approach to this subject. When a Catholic or a Christian talks about the "Truth," I always mentally add, "the Truth as you believe it according to your faith." I would do the same for anyone of another non-Christian faith.

  29. Mai and Anonymous, just a quick clarification if you don't mind: Do you believe that there is no objective truth? That all "truth" is subjective? Thanks!

  30. hey Mai and Anonymous-can't help giving you two a shout out since we may be the only ones here (at least somewhat visibly) who don't follow the Truth of the Catholic Church and don't feel threatened by same sex marriage (can we call it that please? instead of sibling marriage?)

    great post as always Leila!

    where's the "welcome liberals" sign? ha ha ha!!

  31. Oh and Sew, I sure miss your blog! : ( I hope you open it up again.

  32. Hey Leila! I was wondering if you would be able to email that information to me in regards to...

    "But they might respond when told of the yucky specifics of what happens in sperm collection and IVF procedures regarding impregnation and embryos. (I actually typed it out here, but then deleted it... I don't want to get this debate started again!)

    Privately of course, I agreed with Sew I would like this to die. I do not want to fight about it I am just trying to collect every bit of information prior to our IVF.

    This post left me with “I have never thought about that”. In regards to being nice I guess you are right, you do not have to be nice but are called to love. In a debate or conversation how do you think that this is conveyed to someone you do not know at all? How do you show someone you love them and put them down at the same time? I know people say that it is out of love, and I do believe them but we are talking about a worldly world where no one is used to the blunt truth.

    This is what I can tell you about myself – which may help you understand where I am. I grew up in a church that was very rule bound. Not even rules guided by the bible, but human rules. Such as – you can not wear shorts to church because it is immoral. Stuff like that. Years and years of this talk brought me to where I am today. Today I can tell you I am lost and I am not sure what I believe or even there is a God. So that being said I think that I was even more upset about everything because to me it brought me back to those hurtful years. I am trying to find “God” but to be honest I do not even know where to start.

    So now you know a small part of my past I hope you can see how some of the arguments presented would come across as hurtful to me. I respect you because even faced with opposition and anger you stood up for what you felt was right.

    I am starting to read different books to help me grow in my faith. I will be including your blog as one of those steps because nearly everything that is written hear makes me frustrated. I say that in a good way. You are making me think, which in turn I believe will help me figure out the truth and help me grow spiritually.

    Enough about me – back to your blog post. I guess my only question is the one stated above...

    “How do we show love to the people around us while being blunt and honest in “truth”?

    Do you find this is an effective method? Do people listen? Are lives changed? I may be missing the point entirely and if I am please let me know. I am having a hard time thinking about how that conversation would happen effectively and logistically with someone who you know little about.

    I however think this method of truth works great with close friends.

    Good post Leila you got my brain a thinkin'

  33. Beckie,

    I just wanted to say that I admire your honesty and am praying that you will find peace and clarity as you strive for spiritual growth--and for a dear child!


  34. I think there's a lot of confusion between being "nice" and being kind. Speaking the truth isn't unkind, disagreeing with someone isn't unkind but so often any form of disagreement makes you "not nice" in another's view. Anyway thanks for posting this, I'm a new reader here (clicked through from someone's shared items) who has experienced this very sort of thing elsewhere online over other issues. I shared your post on my FB page.

  35. Beckie -
    I just wanted to tell you (in response to your questions about how in the world we can tell someone the truth that hurts in a way that's loving) that it is SO HARD...and it honestly hurts you as you're doing it, at least it does for me!
    While trying to help people close to me through some times where they were confused about right vs wrong and/or acting out in ways they shouldn't, I honestly can say I suffered. It was painful because they get mad - very mad - at me...however it's always worth it in the end when they come around...and they're always grateful that someone stood firm against them in those moments.
    My husband and I have talked about times we've gone through in our lives where we WISH people would have loved us enough to tell us to "knock it off!" so that we wouldn't have made so many mistakes (maybe we would have listened! :))...but unfortunately they thought that they were loving us by letting us do "whatever we wanted" and by "minding their own business." we wish they wouldn't have! But such is life.
    I hope this helps :) I just wanted to tell you, it's painful...especially when you really do love the person and just want to make him/her happy! It takes courage and sometimes it takes a long time! But it's very much worth it...

  36. and...(ps)'s very much real LOVE. When you're willing to suffer through it because you know it's what's best for them :)

  37. Hi Beckie! Thank you for this thoughtful comment! Excellent points and questions. I will email you privately later about the "details" if that's okay.

    I appreciate you telling me a bit about your religious background. I can see why you are struggling today... Sometimes there is a heavy hand where there shouldn't be, and though I cannot speak for any other branch of Christianity, I can tell you that when dealing with souls it is always a delicate balance of truth and love. Sometimes we as individuals mess that up and drive people out.... Sometimes with too much "love without truth" (which is why I almost left the Church), and sometimes too much "truth without love" (which is why others leave their churches, too.

    The good news is, God can meet us wherever we are. In fact, He is pleased to do so. Gosh, I could go on and on about that, but for now, I want to go to your question of how the conversation of "truth" could work someone I don't know well.

    I guess I would say that it's a bit like what we are doing here. We've come to a place of respect, and I think we can each hear each other a bit better now. Sometimes, in the real world out there, it's a matter of what we call "planting seeds"... speaking the truth when needed, living a life of conviction as a testimony to that truth. I have lived both ways (secular and Catholic) and I can tell you that the peace I have now is much better than what I had then. But I am a person who seeks God through Truth. Some seek Him through Goodness (Holiness), some through Beauty.

    I think it's true that not everyone will be drawn to or be interested in my blog, since I tend to go with my strength, and my strength is the logical, make-it-make-sense stuff. The doctrine. The consistency. The integrity. Etc.

    Bottom line, though, as I heard once and often repeat: Truth comes with graces attached. If I speak the truth, it will resonate somewhere in a soul that is open to hearing truth.

    Anyway, does that make any sense at all? I don't know if it answers you question, but I will email you soon. Thanks so much for reading!!

  38. Hi Miss Gwen! I am not equating/interchanging gay marriage with sibling marriage. I am just saying that it's not logical to be okay with one and not the other, as you honestly admitted.

    Thanks for urging Sew to go public again! :)

  39. Miss G! Thanks for urging me back! My new blog is called, Sew only loves one liberal and that's Miss G. hahahahahaha

    But explain to me why and how same sex marriage and sibling marriage should be lumped together.....? I'm so confused by that?

  40. Leila's the one lumping them together, Sew. I believe it's because logically, if you can change the definition of marriage to mean a union between ANY two individuals, then it follows that it SHOULD be applicable to 2 siblings, as well (either same sex or not).

  41. It all grosses me out. ;) Thanks for the explanation. ;) I'm slow! hahahaha

  42. Love this post!! Was it Lewis who said courage is necessary for any virtue? Someone smart said it. :)

    I think in our current culture, we are very uncomfortable with disagreement. But that is not the case in all cultures, times, or as Leila pointed out, temperaments (I am a Melancholic, and yes we are easily crushed). Meanwhile Cholerics.. haha... my FI is Choleric and his mom has been trying to get him to be "nicer" for years, lol! But as I learn more I see it is not a problem with a lack of niceness but a different style.

    At the same time, I believe truth and love are intertwined and really cannot be separated. (And when I say "truth" I mean universal truth... I became Catholic because I was seeking truth first, and felt Catholicism had it right... not because I liked Catholicism... in fact, I really didn't like Catholicism much when I decided to get confirmed).

    So, I try to remind myself that when I feel stuck "between" the two. If I am trying to choose between them, I realize my approach may really be faulty, so I (try) to step back and consider any other options that would really fulfill truth-and-love.

    Not easy, of course.

  43. Hi, Leila - so I've started up my blog again. My response to the sibling marriage thing is there:

    Oh - and I'm actually MaiZeke.

  44. MaiZeke, thank you! I read it and commented. I may use your post for a future post in the Bubble. Your points are logical.... the only reason to oppose sibling marriage in your mind is the potential problems with the "procreative" issues. Contraception/sterilization is the answer to that, and then your objection disappears. (With gay siblings, this would not be an issue.)

    I appreciate your honesty!

  45. Hi, Leila - Sort of. I do not advocate marriage licenses with contingencies, nor do I advocate forced contraception or sterilization. My objections do not disappear. My answer is still no. If you must press your point, then yes, I would vote yes if the vote ever came up to allow gay siblings to marry.


    PS Apparently my blog name is still my nickname, I guess I'm also hameno

  46. But hameno, there is always abortion as a back up if the siblings get pregnant with a defective fetus, right? And if they wanted to have the child, then they should be allowed to, shouldn't they? It's their reproductive right, isn't it? I know you wouldn't argue that couples must abort defective fetuses, right? Why wouldn't procreating siblings have the right to marry, too? Clarify for me, if you have a moment.

  47. Society doesn't like it when people knowingly create a human that will not be fully functional, so society has established rules where siblings cannot marry. Similar to where society doesn't like it when someone steals from you, so we create rules to counter this. If we would like to bring this down to a realistic topic, let's stop talking about sibling marriage and talk about incest. This is illegal in most situations and in many societies. In this case, it is not siblings' reproductive rights to commit incest and risk creating a child that has a terrible life ahead. There is indeed always abortion if someone commits the crime of incest against someone more helpless, and is one of the reasons that I support abortion. But we are trying to make sure the crime of incest does not happen in the first place, this is the reason we pay taxes for law enforcement and social service agencies like Child and Family Services.

  48. Mai- I think that the case for being supportive of abortion because of incest does women a disservice and allows the perpetrator to keep on perpetrating....Take for instance, a little girl gets pregnant because of incest. Does that not expose the perpatrator? Who are we protecting when one is forced to have an abortion? The woman being attacked or the perpatrator? Would not the birth of her child not make known the incestuous activity that was going on?

    To force a woman to have an abortion after an act such as incest only makes the post tramatic stress worse.

    You speak of crime against the more helpless...Yes, the crime is against the incest victim, but also the live child that she carries in her womb....2 helpless victims now in this situation, death is not the answer.

  49. I really don't want to get off topic because I think we are heading there....Sorry Leila... ;)

  50. Hi, Sew - I see your point, but abortion is another topic altogether (and probably more fraught with emotion).

    BTW, I miss your blog, I had a little bit of trouble getting pregnant with my second baby, and started reading IF blogs. I think we're about the same number of weeks along - I'm due Jan 24!

  51. Hey Mai-I think I enter into the bubble and I become tempered in my emotions for the most part! FOR THE MOST PART, because I have slipped....hahahaha :) But we will let Leila bring up the great debate of abortion. :)

    Oh that is awesome, I'm due Jan 4th or 9th...?? Or whenever....Do you know what you are having?

  52. Hey Beckie!

    Little JoAnn here. Just curious, have you tried to eat low carb, high protein and to lose 15% - 20% of your body weight? Have you ever had your blood flow to your uterus measured? I couldn't do NAPRO for various reasons, mainly because I am not patient enough for it, but I knew, because of my faith, that IVF was not the answer. I used ovulation induction medications, i.e, Clomid, and reproductive immunology medicine, like progesterone support and blood thinners. Women who have PCOS have blood clotting issues. I knew destroying one life to create another life was wrong, so I did not do IVF or IUI. I found my solution out of the many ethical options that are actually out there. Like you, my body does not process sugar! I forgot to tell you the outcome, at 39, after 10 years of infertility, (but only 6 months of my self-directed protocol) I conquered IF. I have a beautiful baby girl. Now, I just have to get my weight back under control, yet again! Like you Metformin and me don't get along.

  53. Leila, I'd like for you to explain something to your readers since this is a teaching blog.

    I just commented on Sarah's blog but not sure it went through.....
    Do Catholics really believe non-Catholics are going to hell? What about all the people who don't even know Catholicism exists? Say, people in third world countries, or people who are just uneducated. Or babies. Christians pray, too - worship God, believe in the scripture, etc. So why would they go to hell?

    (This sparked an interest in me after reading a comment that the devil had much to do with the Protestant Reformation ) Even though in my opinion Christians can be just as holy as Catholics.

  54. Anonymous: Great question! The short answer is, the Catholic Church teaches that non-Catholics (and non-Christians) can go to Heaven. And Catholics and non-Catholics alike can go to hell, too. I will do a post on that just as soon as I can! Thanks for the opportunity!

  55. If you ever want to know what the Catholic Church teaches "officially" you can find the answer in her Universal Catechism. It's available online various places and this site
    ( )has a great search function as well.

    This section - explains the Church's teaching on salvation.

    God bless!

  56. Awesome, Thanks! I think it is another misconception of the Church. I feel good about knowing that isn't the case - it just didn't seem to make sense :-)

  57. Anonymous - I look forward to Leila's post about this! But yes, the short answer is that the Church does not teach all non-Catholics go to hell and the Church certainly doesn't teach that innocents like babies go to hell. The comment on my blog was actually not (I believe) intended to imply that anyone went to hell but was a reference to what we Catholics (and fellow Christians) call "spiritual warfare." The Catholic Church believes anyone - even devout Catholics - can sin, led astray, or influenced by evil. But even when a Christian makes poor choices - even gravely wrong choices - they are not necessarily automatically going to hell. In fact, as far as I am aware, the Church does not make any formal declarations of who is currently in hell (no naming names like they do with the Saints in heaven). Hope my brief, babbling answer helps some. :)

  58. The thing that troubles me about the homosexual marriage debate is the sweeping generalizations that are so often resorted to. Now, we cannot really pass laws about other than generalities, but we can theologize about different situations. I think a big part of the problem is the sexualization of our culture, an issue which of course extends beyond gay marriage.

    I know everyone's got their pet case, which is exactly the trouble with generalizing, but I'm going to share one anyway. We have long-time neighbors, my grandfather's best friends, two homosexual men. One of them is a devout Episcopalian. They have been together for 40+ years now, and I know positively that they are living in what we would call, were they heterosexuals, a brother-sister relationship. I thought for the longest time growing up that they were just two bachelors keeping each other company.

    Now, are they living in sin, because they have affectionate feelings for each other of the depth we usually reserve for spouses? They do not act on them in a physical way. I'm pretty sure that, even were gay marriage to become legalized, they would not avail themselves of it. They are happy the way they are.

    That said, my priest explained to me once that much of the condemnation surrounding homosexuality is not even against THAT per se. NO unmarried people are to engage in sexual relations -- that's why the continued ban on gay marriage is so integral. But we've gotten, in our society, to the point where we can't imagine two people loving one another and not wanting to act out on it in that way.

    These men are much older, and as I said, one is very religious. That may have something to do with it. I do not know if it's possible for young men in a similar situation to behave as they do. But I do think it's important to move from a "these feelings are bad and unnatural" argument, which many (not necessarily here!) opponents of homosexuality and gay marriage take, to a "these feelings are okay, but you must not allow them to tempt you into these sins." Everybody bears their own cross.

  59. Hi Erin #2! I think that it sounds like what the two old men have is a deep friendship at this point.

    I like what you have to say. The only thing I would disagree with is that feelings of attraction to the same sex are not actually okay according to the Church. It is a "disorder" to have those types of feelings. Feelings of love are fine, but feelings of sexual attraction are not.... But the feelings don't constitute a sin. The attraction is not the sin, the acting out on it is. But that may be what you meant anyway! If so, then we agree!

  60. Leila: yes, that is what I meant. Thanks for clarifying for me for everyone else.

  61. Hey Leila! Hopefully you get notified of new comments on old posts? How cool to re-read this! I love this - I heard another priest preach on kind vs nice...maybe Fr. John Klockman years ago. And now another glimpse of hope from Disney Studios??? Have you seen the latest Cinderella??? Have courage and be kind.... Your post here is prophetic!! Or just plain logical- haha!!


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