Friday, April 15, 2016

"What if your child is gay?" and other questions

Living the Catholic Faith in the western world today is counter-cultural, to say the least. Anyone who assents to the authority of the Church's Magisterium is bound to get lots of questions from lukewarm Catholics and non-Catholics.

Since the assumption is that "Catholic rules are mean!", people are hopeful to hear that I do not actually hate others who "break the rules". I will tell you from the outset that secularists in particular often have philosophical difficulty with making a distinction between the dignity of a person and that person's sinful acts. In other words, the very legitimate "hate the sin, love the sinner" seems like a fraud or a cop-out to them.

Without the ability to make that distinction, mutual understanding on these issues is difficult. But let's try anyway.

Let's tackle the most common questions:

What if your child is gay? (Implied: Would you still love a child who is gay?)

Of course I would still love my child if he told me he was gay! There is nothing in this world or the next that could make me stop loving my children. The entire vocation of a Christian is to love God and to love others. A mother's love for her children knows no bounds, and I will always love my children.

Will you accept his sexual identity?

First, let's define our terms. The only "sexual identity" that we have is our actual, biological sex. Meaning, we are either male or female. Male and female He created us.

My "sexual identity", therefore, is woman -- inherently, intrinsically, essentially, eternally. Even if I had a son with same-sex attraction, his "sexual identity" would still be man, just as intrinsically and eternally as I am a woman. Homosexual women are women. Homosexual men are men.

Of course I understand that the implied question is, Will you be accepting of your child's homosexual temptations and/or actions? and we can break that down into two parts:

First, sexual temptations of whatever stripe are simply that -- temptations. They are not sinful in and of themselves. No mere temptation can ever equal an actual sin. It is only in the willful indulgence of the temptation to sin that we actually sin. Sin is something freely chosen, in thought or in deed. If a thought is unwanted and consciously rejected (even if it continues to tempt), then it's not a sin.

Second, will I accept my child's homosexual actions or willful desires by condoning, confirming, encouraging, or celebrating them? Never. Not in a million years. But that does not translate to "I will disavow and hate my child." I would never cut off or disown my child if he were living a homosexual lifestyle, but at the same time, I would never betray my Lord by rejecting truth and virtue in order to make my child "happy" or to be comfortable in this world.

In fact, I will never accept as "good" any sin that my children commit. This is not hard to understand, I hope. It's so simple: Sin harms my children and could eternally destroy them. Virtue, truth, and goodness, on the other hand, will lead them to Christ and Heaven. I want my kids' highest good, and that highest good is Heaven -- perfect and eternal union with God.

If my child is a thief, I will still love him (though I may not leave valuables laying around the house when he comes for dinner).

If my child is a drug addict, I will still love him.

If my child is a porn star, I will still love him.

If my child is a lying, no-good, nasty, bigot who hates his whole family and God too, I will still love him.

If my son is a rapist, a murderer, or a child predator, I will still love him. Yes, I will. I may have to turn him into the authorities, but I will still love him.

If my son is in prison for crimes against humanity some day, I will still love him, and I will visit him in prison. I will pray daily and do penance for his conversion.

There is not a soul breathing on earth who is beyond God's mercy, and if my child is the most evil person on the face of the planet, I will never stop loving him and praying for his conversion and salvation.

What if your child leaves the Catholic Church?

It would be heartbreaking. I have raised my children to love and understand the Faith and to embrace it on the logical, reasonable, historical, biblical, and spiritual levels. Should a child reject his birthright someday, I will lament that fact. But I will simply turn to St. Monica (oh, St. Augustine... what a time you gave to your mama!) and pray and fast for his eventual return. And I will trust God in all things.

What if your child wants to get married outside of the Catholic Church? Will you attend his wedding?

First, an explanation about Catholics and marriage. A Catholic is obligated to be married in the Church, unless there is a (very rare) dispensation given by the bishop. Note that I speak of a Catholic's obligation to be married in the Church. Two Protestants are not obligated to be married in the Catholic Church, and assuming they are free to marry (no impediments), Protestants may even get married in front of a Justice of the Peace or in Las Vegas by Elvis... and the Church would assume their valid and even sacramental marriage.

But Catholics (yes, even lapsed Catholics) are required to follow the laws of Christ's Church, and that means obeying Canon Law as well as the moral law. So, a Catholic who marries outside the Church would not have a valid marriage.

My answer to the question, then, is, no. I would not attend my child's wedding if my child should get married outside of the Church. It would be an invalid marriage, and I could not in good conscience be there to witness or support the ceremony or celebration. My children were raised to understand and practice their Catholic faith, with no ambiguity. They cannot plead ignorance, and I cannot pretend that they simply do not know.

I can say with confidence that none of my children would ever expect me to attend their non-Catholic wedding, so it's not an issue for us, not even on our radar, and they would not be shocked or appalled by my stance. In fact, I firmly believe they would be shocked and appalled if I compromised on my faith after living it openly and happily and with conviction for their entire lives. Feel free to ask them yourself (I can get them here to the blog), but I am certain that my children would not want me to go against my own convictions, my faith, and my conscience to attend an invalid wedding that would put them in sin.

I hope that makes sense.

And as I stressed earlier, I would continue to love them no matter what, and they know it. Would they and their civil spouse still be welcome in my home, and would I love that civil spouse and my grandchildren and have everyone for Christmas? Of course!!

What if your child was living with someone? Would you have them over to your house and would you go over to their place?

I would be terribly sad and disappointed if this were the case (and I would, again, be praying for St. Monica's intercession!), but yes, I would certainly have them over to the house and keep all lines of communication and all bonds of charity open. However, I would not go over to their place as if they were a married couple. And no way in one trillion years would I allow a cohabiting couple to stay overnight at my house in the same room. Nope. Fornication is serious sin, and I will never indulge it or look the other way. Not only because of the destruction to their own souls (and to mine if I facilitate it), but because of the scandal it would bring to my other children, especially any school-aged children still in the home.

It's such a no-brainer. It's so easy. No unmarried couples sleeping together under our roof.

Okay, those are some of the most common questions I get, and if you can think of any more, let me have 'em. And, as always, let's discuss.


  1. Leila. thank you. !! exactly what I firmly believe and ( hopefully) have let my adult children know about how I feel. Thank you !! many times there is pressure to " accept/ affirm" that which our children are living in or be labeled as " un- loving ". I do have a same sex attracted young adult child and I will always love my child no matter what. But I cannot affirm the lifestyle and betray my faith.

  2. You said you have raised your children to love and embrace the Catholic faith. My oldest is only 12, and we are fully Catholic, but I still don't know that I'm teaching my children to embrace it and understand it so that they won't want to leave the faith eventually. I guess I'm wondering what exactly you have done to be able to have such devout kids, because almost everyone I know who's Catholic with adult children - well, at least one adult child has left.

  3. Therese, exactly! Yes! I want my kids in Heaven. That is my only goal as a parent. If I fail in doing my best there, then I have failed in being a Catholic mom, entrusted with their souls.

    Beth B, great question and it's a big worry for so many! Honestly, it could be that one of my kids could go off the rails someday. I am under no illusions, ha ha. Free will is a great and dangerous gift! :) But here is my general parenting "guide" for how I *think* my kids have done well so far and stayed very Catholic:

    It also reminds me that I need to finish the book I've been writing, ack!! About halfway there, but I got way sidetracked....

  4. What if your child is gay?

    This cutesy little “tester” question couldn’t be more completely irrelevant when used to attempt to draw any relationship between sin or sinful inclinations and love or lack of love of parent. Degrees of love don’t fluctuate based on circumstances. So, wrong. Wrong. And wrong again.

    Learn to separate “what you do” from “my love for you is immeasurable and unchanging”. There is no proportionality there, no contingency.

  5. Nubby, what I have found is that if one does not believe in God, then one must believe that one's actions and thoughts ARE the same as the person. They cannot make the separation. I was shocked to know this, but it's been shown to me again and again (thus the link in the OP to Gwen's question). We are simply material, and since there is no inherent, transcendent dignity to humans, then we humans are defined (in the secularist's mind) by what we *think* or *do* and nothing else. They can't separate it. Our identity is "what we do" or "what we fee" or "what we think" and nothing more.

  6. Yep, that may be what they think, hence my suggestion that they learn to separate the two because, as believers, we don't associate those two. There is no relationship between sin and amount of love.

    And since they're questioning us on what we'd do if our child was gay, then I'd argue that they should follow our logic. I mean, they're putting the question to us in our own context of our faith. So the answer is: We don't love and endorse sin. We love people regardless of sin.

    I don't know why they can't or won't separate the two. It's just logic. It's remedial, actually, not analytical geometry level stuff. LOl I'm kidding, but you know... it's pretty plain.

    Our goal, as Catholics, is to have a net result of (+)love on the balance sheet at the end of a lifetime, not (-)love. We're not in the business of "taking away our love" from anyone.

    Love undergirds the whole practice of our faith and it's our ultimate reward, so a separation of "acts" from "unchanging love" is essential.

    If there was an inversely proportional relationship there, we'd never get in. IE., as our sin increases, God's love decreases?? Never.

    I can't speak to their "matter only" idea, other than to say, it's not based on anything, because atheism just leans on the weak idea that we're atoms randomly (yet perfectly??) arranged. And in that world, morals don't matter anyway, because all is subjective.

    I get what you're saying, but if they put the question to me about my kids, then they're going to get the answer in Catholic context, not their atheistic one. That's why I said, "separate the two". They typically try to use that as a "let's see you fail in love" question anyway. It's not been posited seriously that I've ever seen, anyway.

  7. Yeah, I totally get what you are saying. But I am not even sure that their thought process can go there. Because once it goes there, the whole paradigm shifts, and a new horizon is opened up for them (and then they are on their way to truth, ha ha!). I don't see it happening a lot. And when we expect them to take us at our word, and expect the answer from a Catholic context, we are almost always disappointed.

    I often try the same from the other side: I ask things of an atheist and want the atheist perspective (which I expect from them). That's when I can figure out who is the deeper atheist thinker and who is not thinking at all. The deeper atheist thinkers understand, for example, that there can be no ultimate meaning in a life that is going to go "poof" at the end (zero times a meaningful life is still zero). But the ones who insist on gobs and gobs of "meaning" in the atheistic worldview and life (the "new atheists", as opposed to the existentialists who had the ability to reason the absurdity of it all) are fluffy thinkers. "Feelings", not thoughts, are paramount with them.

    Having said that, I have heard secularists posit the question in sincerity. They are actually relieved to hear that I will love my children no matter what. They may have themselves been rejected by their own parents and that is sad. There are sects of fundamentalists and others who really will disown and cut dead their gay children or those who have left whatever "church" or belief system they were raised in. That is just tragic and angering.

  8. Many belief systems actually require practicing members to shun relatives who leave the faith. Shunning = no contact, at all, ever, no matter what. It's sad.

  9. Yes, like the JWs. I remember one of our RCIA converts was a former JW. Her husband and children and parents all shunned her. Cut her out of their lives. Heartbreaking.

  10. Your answers seem very commen sense and even-handed. Very helpful as a future parent of adult children. :-)

  11. Many belief systems actually require practicing members to shun relatives who leave the faith. Shunning = no contact, at all, ever, no matter what. It's sad.

    It is sad, because these people have forced a relationship between two variables and they create a criterion of love based on performance. Their idea of love is “performance-driven”.

    They couple together “what a person does” with “how much they are then loved” or “shown love” (however their own sect might define “love”). Like the scales need to balance or you get nothing. It’s not that way at all in Christianity. We could never balance the scales.

    And this is part of the reason why Catholicism not only makes more sense (as far as how and why it defines love the way it does) but also why Catholicism brings a fuller beauty and goodness into all relationships.

    In the starkest contrast possible, we Catholics are not taught to shun people. The opposite is true. We go to the outcasts. We extend ourselves. We actually make the concentrated effort to relate to people and unify, no matter their circumstances, or ours.

    It’s not just a nice pious Pollyanna theory, “Oh, what a nice idea to be so loving to the whole world!”, etc. It is our calling card from God to others.

    So I’m flummoxed when this question is posited, “What would you do if your child is gay?”

    My reaction is: What kind of idea, specifically taken from Catholic teaching- since that’s the context they’re asking in, makes these people think that anything that occurs within that relationship is going to stop the momentum of the love that keeps rolling right along there between the parent and child?

    What (contained within the logic of Catholic teaching) would ever suggest that we "do" anything? That we somehow “stop loving people”? The directive is the exact opposite of that.

    Like I said, the ones who ask this type of question need to stop trying to force a relationship to exist between “sinful inclinations/act” and “degrees of love of parent”.

    The two don’t couple together (logically nor spiritually) to be able to infer anything. No relationship exists between those two variables. Love is always there, eternally--- parent to child, and God to us.

    Now, how we react to love and to the whole idea of navigating sin/sinful acts would branch a whole new discussion off the tree, because then we’re into the meat of the faith, i.e., how the Church defines sin, why it does so, etc. Your post, Leila, gets into it, too, a bit.

    But if the person questioning us just understands that much about love being eternal and not earned, then we’d then be able to have the meatier conversation and get into the logic of the teachings. And perhaps the intellectual lights would flicker and God could use those moments to enlighten for sure. I mean, that's the hope and the reason I comment, anyway.

  12. Nice post Leila. While I do think there's many examples online of Christians "shunning" their children, I've never met a Catholic that has dumped their children over anything. We have it all in our parish. Married gay people with children, couples living together without being married and invalid marriages. These are the people that need the Church.

    It's one thing to say that my children aren't going to sleep with their significant other in my house and it's a whole other thing disowning them because they are living together without being married. I think sometimes Christians get unfairly judged and a rule about what goes on under my roof becomes exaggerated to shunning by people who don't understand that you can love someone when you don't agree.

  13. One thing my husband and I have told our children is that if they cohabitate, then don't ask us to pay for their wedding when they do decide they want to get married. They obviously didn't value or understand what marriage truly is if they cohabitated, so they lost their chance to allow us to show how much we value it by paying for their wedding. My oldest daughter and fiance told us they respected us for our values, but they lived together anyway for one year before they got married (at their expense). They weren't resentful when the time came, and I helped her with the planning, etc. It was a beautiful wedding, and they got married in a Catholic church. But they don't go to church, nor have they baptized my grandson. We were hoping that this stipulation would prevent our kids from cohabitating, but now daughter #2 is living with her boyfriend. Daughter #3 is not. At least we made a stand and it showed them how important the sacrament of marriage is to us. I'm a Family Honor instructor, teach Theology of the Body to other families, but obviously it didn't take with my own kids. :( I have 5 kids all together, so I guess there's still hope with the younger ones. And Lord knows I was a revert! I meant to go look for a good prayer to St. Monica last week but forgot...I'm going right now!

  14. LizaMoore, agreed! The one problem comes up when no one bothers to tell the couples (gay couples, couples using IVF, contracepting couples, whatever) that those are actually sins. And once they are informed (which is the obligation of the priest, and those who are close to the people), they also need clear guidance to repent of those sins (that, especially, should be addressed by the priest -- it's a very awesome responsibility on his soul; parents, too, will be culpable for not teaching their children).

    But yes, this idea that Catholics are out there shunning their children is silly. I am sure it has happened in life, but that is not because the Church says to do so.

    Unknown, that is so sad! We cannot underestimate the power of a praying mother! Yes, St. Monica prayer is in order! I will pray for your kids, too! Keep living your example, mama.

  15. Nubby, totally agreed! The thing that is frustrating is that "back in the day" (meaning pre-Reformation), there really was "one faith" and "one Church". So, if a pagan or atheist were to argue against the Church, it would be pretty clear what he was arguing against. Today, "Christian thought" (even and especially in the west) is largely considered Protestant! That is how we get (none-too-culturally literate) people like Dawkins (one of the "new atheists") arguing his points not against Catholic thought (the intellectual font of Christianity) but against fundamentalist Protestant thought! So, my question is always, does he know he's not arguing against the "big guns" intellectually? Or is he arguing against the non-intellectual Christian denominations (which go against Catholicism on those points), so as to make us all look stupid?

    I think the average questioner -- and even most Catholics in America -- have no idea there is a difference between the thought of Protestant and Catholic. For example, I find that most Catholics here in the US actually subscribe to a sola scriptura paradigm!!!! They don't know any better! Crazy.

  16. I want to add one more thing.

    I hear a lot, and even today (offline) that people's children leave their faith in college. I know from my own college experience how this happens. It's gotten so much worse on college campuses since I was in school, and this is a principle I have not had to implement, but I know that my husband and I would implement it in a heartbeat:

    If our child loses his or her faith in college, or if a child decides/declares that they are not longer Catholic after going to college and buying the garbage they teach so often there, they will not receive another penny from us to support them or their "college experience" or their "education". Honestly, I will not -- EVER -- pay to have my child corrupted.

    I've had two children graduate from large, secular, state universities without being corrupted. Another went through a year of community college without corruption. And a fourth is about to leave for another large state school. I am not against a kid getting a degree from those schools, not at all. But my gosh, the minute it starts to harm their soul and their character changes because of those influences -- I am OUT. No more money or support for that kind of crap.

    1. That first part meaning I just heard from someone else, today, about this happening with her own child(ren). Someone not on the blog.

  17. If our child loses his or her faith in college, or if a child decides/declares that they are not longer Catholic after going to college and buying the garbage they teach so often there, they will not receive another penny from us to support them or their "college experience" or their "education". Honestly, I will not -- EVER -- pay to have my child corrupted.

    That's interesting. I don't take that approach, but I hear what you are saying. From my view, the connection between the ideas here doesn't solve anything, as I see it.

    We gotta figure out why and how the child has lost his/her faith and get that figured out. I can't say I'd take the hardline approach of revoking financial assistance because that is done out of wanting to punish the college, which in application really only punishes the child.

    My analogy would be if my brakes aren't working, I don't just stop driving the car. I figure out why the brakes no longer work and try to resolve that so that the car can drive properly again. My two cents.

  18. I'm a little more direct than that. I have no children, and I've told my nieces that in my will I plan to leave most of my estate to charity; they are pleased with that. However .... I told them I would help pay whatever is needed for their kids college education IF they attended an authentic Catholic college (read the Cardinal Newman Society list).

  19. Number 3 is leaving for college this fall. So far so good. The first two have witnessed a lot of wickedness on but they have experienced more good with their faith. Not sure what we would do if anything changes. They do know we won't pay if their grades are not good.

    I found sending kids off to college isn't for the weak. Brought many tests for all in my family.

  20. DNBA, that makes sense. We all have to be accountable for how we spend our money.

    Nubby, my kids don't expect money anyway, past childhood (clearly I have an obligation to support them financially to adulthood, even if they renounce their faith).

    But long ago, before any of them were in college, they knew that if they wanted a lot of siblings (they did and they do) that they would have to fund their own college (loans/scholarships/work), and that we would help them as much as possible, but it couldn't be that much, obviously. They get that. They have never had a sense of entitlement that way (praise GOD!), so they are very grateful for what they do get. Money is not so plentiful that we can just send it down any tuition rathole, so to speak. So, as long as we can see the fruit and benefit of their choices and the education they are receiving, our hard-earned money can still help to fund that. As soon as that fruit or benefit is not longer worth it in our eyes, the (finite) money will be redirected elsewhere.

    If my kids had a promise from childhood that their educations would be funded after adulthood, that would be different. But my kids had no such expectation. It's very easy, then, to decide not to help out with the funding of crappy education that would be an instrument in pulling them away from their Faith.

    LizaMoore, that is good to hear! "so far so good" is a victory! :)

  21. I agree kids shouldn’t expect money from parents for college (or even weddings or post-wedding).

    I never had one dime of college paid for by my parents- no gifts, no loans, not even at marriage either (besides my wedding gown) - but if they pulled the plug financially as I was in college strictly because I wasn’t practicing my faith, I can’t say that would have been a fitting reaction as far as solving the issue of why I’d lost my faith or my desire to practice it.

    It certainly would not have addressed where I was (spiritually) nor how I got there. It would’ve just cemented the reality that they were being hard-nosed instead of problem-solving.

    The point is also for the parent to make the faith attractive once again, to redirect toward the ideals there, if the child wanders. Not to just hit the “toe the line” bit, and drive the pressure through that way. The faith-tests will come; the wandering may come.

    I don’t think the reaction to revoke financial help fits, because it reads like hard and fast punishment, and not as a solution-seeking attitude of, “Let’s put our hearts and heads together and do a gut-check as to why you’re not practicing your faith anymore. Why is your heart no longer in it?”

    This “losing my faith” stuff just doesn’t just happen one day. Chances are, it didn’t just come from any one particular thing on campus. Chances are, there were already doubts swimming around, and that got all tied up with other instances where they’ve already weakened in their faith for one reason or another. Or they rebel. Whatever the case. Faith gets tested at any age and even various ages. I can’t say punishing financially would help resolve that.

    My point is that a manifestation of weakened faith comes up at whichever point in time, no matter which campus, and the compassionate thing to do would be to investigate how and why, for the child’s sake.

    It’s got to be a case-by-case basis, anyway. Is the child being stubborn? Or is the child really struggling? Both, maybe? What’s the real deal? Is the child rebelling because he never thought his faith through until now? Can we really just blame one or two or ten things on college life/experience here? Is the timing right to talk it out? Is the attitude right? There’s factor upon factor, here.

    Compassion should drive the solution, is my main point. I'm looking for the solution, is all.

  22. Absolutely, we'd walk through it. You know me, I'll talk to anyone through anything for as long as they want (unless they get really rude), and that goes 1,000x for my kiddos.

    I think you might be misunderstanding my motive or mode. I would not "de-fund" what little they do get for the sake of punishment. It would not be to coerce or force them to toe the line (that is not what faith is all about; I would never coerce like that as I have too much respect for the gift of free will). My decision to stop further funding would not be a manipulation of the child's conscience, but would simply be a "I'm not putting any more money down that rathole." There are better uses of my money than to put it in a place that influenced my child for the bad, rather than the good. There is only finite funds, and the Church certainly does not require me to pour it into a wasteland. Same reason I don't give to my alma mater, BC. Nope. I can think of a million better places for my dollars.

    Again, if I see fruit and benefit, the school will get Miller tuition money (so far, so good.... my kids' secular public schools did well by my children for the most part). If I see bad fruit, sorry, no more Miller funding goes there.

    As to the relationship and faith building of the wayward child? I'm all over that as you can imagine. And if the child becomes even further removed from faith and family over the money issue (which is minimal), then we have an even bigger problem than I thought. (Because I know my kids, and there's not a one who would expect or want me to compromise on my convictions.... which includes not putting money into a school that influenced my child away from God.

    It seems such a no-brainer to me. I wouldn't even know how to write a check out to a school like that in a situation like that. Nope.

    But compassion? Yes, for sure. My OP covers that, and our relationship would continue on. Never would I cut my child off or disown my child. But that doesn't mean I continue to pay for an adult as he goes his own way.

    Anyway, maybe I'm not being clear.

    1. In other words, maybe you were thinking that I would use the money as a carrot/stick. But that's not it at all. I've never thought of the idea of a "punishment".

      Another thing we do here at the Miller home is treat everyone different. Love them the same, but treat them different, since they are individuals. So, for example. I had one child who worked SO SO SO SO hard, always putting her best effort in, working night and day, sheer force of the will. She got a good scholarship and we supplemented that so that she could get out of college without debt. She earned it! There was another child who lazed his way through high school. He was much more of the natural academic than the daughter, but he did not work hard at all. He got good grades, but through little effort, and the good grades were not good enough to get a great scholarship. We helped him, too, but not nearly in the way that we did the one who worked her tail off. We told him early on: You work hard and you can get a full ride (he could have). He did not. He is the first to admit now (years later) that we were right. Thankfully, he kicked it into gear and is on his way to being a doctor. But, he has much more debt than he should have. This does not mean we did not help him financially. We did. But with about the same zeal as he worked initially. ;)

      Some may think that is mean, but we think it's only fair. Hard work gets rewarded. He's working so hard now in med school that if I had the money, I'd pay his loans. But, I don't have that kind of money. And I have a heck of a lot of kids coming up, including one going off to college in the fall (full tuition scholarship and then some; he worked his tail off).

      Anyway, it's late. Hope that makes sense! It works for us!

      (And I say this as someone whose parents did everything "equally" for two daughters and felt it was their duty to God to put us through private university with no debt, which they did. I am grateful! But that paradigm does not work 30 years later and with our financial circumstances and eight kids.)

  23. Right, I understand. But the only idea I wanted to look at here, is the main idea of:

    My decision to stop further funding would not be a manipulation of the child's conscience, but would simply be a "I'm not putting any more money down that rathole." There are better uses of my money than to put it in a place that influenced my child for the bad, rather than the good.

    This explains the idea to punish the college which really only hurts the child (let's assume payment or partial payment was agreed upon for argument's sake, because when you first made the comment, it was assumed, since that's why I thought you mentioned de-funding).

    I understand the frustration with the colleges, but I don't see this particular idea driving the right outcome.

    I read it as: disgust with what the colleges teach or how they teach it, should equal a punishment of the college, which manifests in revoking any kind of payment for the child’s education there and ultimately hinders the child's progress.

    If the child is going to school there (under the agreement that parents help), then he’s applying himself. He’s set himself up for career success.

    So, to have that challenged or threatened by parents because he’s not practicing his faith could be seen as a harmful thing, a manipulative thing, or an over-bearing thing. It may even be unjust to a lesser degree, if agreement to pay was the previous deal.

    More importantly, you'd agree, it wouldn’t help the parent/child relationship any, it wouldn’t bring him around to his faith any, and it wouldn’t be compassionate toward the child (the one wandering away). In fact, it might do long term damage if he finds himself needing to dump classes or part of his class load or drop out entirely, due to funding issues.

    The point (in my mind) is to solve the root of the problem, not to lash out at the college (which only really harms the child and not the institution) when we see a manifestation of a problem with the child’s faith weakening.

    No funding for leisure expenses, I agree. No funding for living with girlfriend/boyfriend, sinfully designed stuff, I agree. But we’re talking strictly paying for college courses in order to obtain a degree, which is pretty important for the child, if the child is gifted for that and he’s/she’s working toward a solid degree for a good career.

    I, personally, wandered all over the place (morally, spiritually) and didn’t get my head on right til I was around… 26ish…? I’d have been devastated if my mom threw me a financial curve ball I wasn’t expecting that directly harmed my schooling (she didn’t pay for it, but for argument’s sake). And I can’t say it would’ve been medicine for the situation. It would’ve just been her arm-barring me, not solving anything -just her making a dramatic point.

    Anyway, that’s just how I see the marriage between the ideas. No biggie. People are free to parent how they wish.

  24. Hi Nubby, do you think you wandered all over the place spiritually and morally because of your college environment? Just curious - was it a secular school and do you think that wouldn't have happened at a Catholic institution? Very interesting discussion reading all the comments. I really don't know what my position is, but I know I'll be worried when my kids go off to college!

  25. Oh, yes, Nubby, I see what you are saying and I should have been much more clear: We tell our kids not to expect ANY help from us when they make their college decisions. They make their choices on where to attend and what scholarships to take or loans to get based on the assumption that they have to pay for all of it themselves. So, there is no "pulling the rug out" from their plans and suddenly leaving them in a tough spot. That would be mean, ha ha.

    We do help them, but it's not the expectation that they are operating under. It's just cake, so to speak.

    Hope that makes sense! :)

  26. Beth, don't be worried! Be confident! Kids love parents who are happy and confident in the faith and you have been equipped by God to raise them up well. :)

    Although, I know it's hard not to worry.... we are moms, ha ha!

  27. Hi Nubby, do you think you wandered all over the place spiritually and morally because of your college environment? Just curious - was it a secular school and do you think that wouldn't have happened at a Catholic institution?

    Hi Beth,
    No, I, personally, did not wander because of the college environment. Campus life had no bearing on my choices. I did what I wanted, regardless. I was morally aware; I just wasn’t living morally. I attended two secular universities. I was not swayed by messages. I took my own way, but it wasn’t always the moral way. Still my own choice, though, I can’t pin that on a college per se.

    Yes, I believe wandering can happen to anyone at anytime, anywhere, though probably a lot less likely in a good Catholic setting, obviously. This is just the statistical reality. Nothing to worry over. Odds are you’re doing a great job and your kids are self-aware and they’re aware of the world’s pull. They’ll be equipped to navigate that, even if their peers all around them start to fold under worldly pressure, no matter which environment they find themselves in.

  28. And then there's me, who started RCIA during my last semester of college and was confirmed a week or two after graduation... :D

  29. Leila
    I have a friend who became Catholic after she and her husband were married. He is not a Christian. Would her marriage be considered invalid?

  30. Hi Johanne! If neither was Catholic at the time of the marriage (and if neither was married before), the Church would assume that the marriage is valid. :)

    JoAnna, that is awesome! :)

  31. This is horrid. You compare a child or a mans sexual (and yes sexual as in sexual attraction) identity to pedophila or rape. These are not the same things. You shouldn't love your child despite him or her being gay but simply love your child. To compare loving a gay child to loving a child who is a theif or a murderer is unimaginable. Murdering others is a horrible morally wrong choice, but being attracted to the same gender is not. It is neither a choice nor a terrible thing. The way you are looking at things is incredibly backwards. You wouldn't want your child to find happiness just because you don't, what, believe their life is anything but one of sin. This is one of the worst things I've ever read and I can't understand how you or anyone who agrees with this could be so heartless one minute and then preach gods love the next.

  32. Nora, welcome and thanks for commenting!

    First, I am going to guess that you are not Catholic, correct?

    Second, we are all about distinctions here, and my original post made an extremely clear distinction between a "temptation" (or attraction) to something, and a willful acting on that temptation or attraction. So, in no way did I ever state that "being attracted to the same gender" is a "horrible, morally wrong choice". Not even close. I said the opposite, that it's not a sin at all.

    Okay, next point: I didn't say that homosexual acts are "the same thing" as rape or pedophilia, or theft, or any other sin. All are sins, but they are not "the same" nor would I equate them or give them the same weight. I will tell you that all sexual sins (ALL sexual sins) are serious sins, because sex is the very act, the very faculty, that transmits new human life. New human beings are made from this act. So, it is treated very reverently in Catholicism, since all human beings live eternally, and they are made in the image and likeness of God. So, any misuse of human sexuality would be a serious thing, precisely because of how good and transcendent is sex. It's about love and life, never just pleasure alone (like eating an ice cream cone, for example).

    Do you "simply love your child" if he is a cutter, let's say? What if he cuts himself? It's not good for him. Do you love him anyway? OF COURSE! And do you never encourage or condone the cutting? OF COURSE you never would. Why? Because you love him. Precisely because you love your child, you do not condone what you believe and know to be harmful for him.

    That is why Catholic moms will never condone a sin that their child commits, no matter how "happy" in the moment that sin makes the child feel. Because it's not our job to make sure that our child "feels" "happy". It's our job to make sure we love them all the way to eternal happiness, never ending happiness, eternal bliss, eternal ecstasy, not a temporal substitute that can only hurt them in the end.

    I hope that helps a bit.

    1. And I should add: All sexual sin is serious sin, but not all sexual sin is the same, either. For example, fornication is not as sinful as rape, obviously. Contraception and abortion are fruits of the same rotten tree, but they are not morally equated. They are both serious sins, and if done willfully, with full knowledge, they are mortally sinful, but the sin of abortion is more grave than the sin of contraception. The harm is greater. I hope that makes sense.

  33. First: For the record I am Catholic.
    Second, I may or may not be confused here so please correct me if I am incorrect. You are saying that being attracted to the same gender is not a sin unless you act upon it, correct? I don't understand how you can make a distinction between acting upon homosexuality and acting upon heterosexuality. What is the real difference? Why is one considered a sin to you and the other not? Where is the "distinction" between these two?
    Thirdly, I never said that you said that being a murder or a theif was the "same thing" as being gay only that you are comparing them, which you are. You are saying that you would love a child even if he was gay as you would even if he was a theif or rapist.
    You give another example of a child cutting. Again, this is a flawed comparison. Cutting is a choice, a harmful choice. How is homosexuality a choice? How is it harmful? Can you give me an example of when being gay has harmed a living person? Or an example of when it was a choice? Do you remember when you choose to be heterosexual? No? Of course not. You say you wouldn't "condone what you believe and know to be harmful to him". How do you know (truly KNOW) that being gay is harmful to him?

  34. Nora, you ask Leila why one is considered a sin to her and the other not. One thing to understand is that none of this is Leila's opinion or Leila deciding what is and isn't a sin. It's the natural law and objective truth, and it's what the Catholic Church teaches. We don't all get to decide individually what is and isn't sin. I'll let Leila take it from here.

  35. Nora, as a Catholic, are you aware of the Church's teaching regarding chastity? All of us - regardless of whether we're attracted to the same sex or to the opposite sex - are called to practice the virtue of chastity, which ultimately boils down to only engaging in sex in the context of marriage, where you give yourself completely to your spouse, open to the potential of new life (never separating the procreative & unitive aspects).
    I don't think we choose to whom we are attracted, however, we do freely choose whether or not to act on that attraction.
    The harm of mortal sin may not always been visible, but cutting ourselves off from God and His grace is always always harmful. God made us and our sexuality to point towards life. Heck, it's sinful for husband and wife to "fool around" without completing the sexual act. And as an unmarried woman, it's just as sinful for me to engage in any kind of sex as it is for two men or two women.
    Does that help/make sense?

  36. Leila, hey,I just found your blog. Thanks for all your thoughtful posts. I read your post about unmarried kids and boy/girlfriends not being allowed to sleep in same bedroom. You said it was a no brainer. But what if they're invalidly married in a protestant church? They think they're married. And what if they have kids when they come to visit you? Will you make your son/daughter sleep in a separate bedroom than their civil spouse causing scandal to and confusing their kids who think their parents are married? What if your gay married child visits? Can their civil spouse sleep with them? Many families face these dilemmas.

  37. Hi GwennS! I am glad you found the Bubble!

    To the question of the gay couple, the answer is definitely No, No, No. Unlike invalid marriages, a gay pairing does not even hold out the hope of ever being a marriage. It can never be regularized, made right, or become ordered. It's gravely sinful for two men or two women to be "romantic" and share any kind of eros, so there would never be a time that I would ever allow the two to be in the same room overnight and the confusion and scandal and sin that would cause/facilitate. And my kids know that in that situation, they would just never even ask us.

    If I had a child who was invalidly married in a Protestant church, it would be difficult to say. They would already know from our not attending their invalid wedding (and their upbringing) that we don't consider it a valid marriage, so that would already be an understanding. Can I hope that they live in the same town and do not have to stay overnight? lol. Just kidding. But seriously, if they had to stay with us (with their children), I think I would allow it, because I don't think they would get the idea that I'm condoning the irregular marriage, and I also VERY highly doubt that they would do anything but sleep in my house, if you know what I mean. Especially if we stuck their kids in the same room with them, ha.

    But at the least, their civil marriage would have the potential to be regularized, and so therefore, I don't put the same absolute restriction on it as I would a gay relationship.

    Does that make sense? It's a shame we have to wade through all these different scenarios in the first place.


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