Bill says: Our only son, Rob, just announced to us that he is “getting married” to another man. We have known that Rob and his friend, Matt, have been close for several years, but this news has stunned us. They intend to have a wedding ceremony at Matt’s non-denominational church followed by a reception at a local hotel. Rob has made it clear that he would very much like for us to attend. My initial reaction is that since what Rob and Matt plan to do is against Catholic teaching, there is no way that we will be there!
Patricia says: I understand where Bill is coming from and I share his concerns. However, Rob is our only child and we have always been close over the years. I would not want to lose our relationship with our son by refusing to attend Rob’s perceived important day in his life. This issue is now beginning to come between Bill and I and our marriage relationship. What shall we do?
What do they do?
Sometimes the lives and actions of adult children can severely impact the relationship of their parents. An especially sensitive area is the choices of our Catholic children in regards to marriage and decisions they make that separate themselves from Church teachings. As parents, we want to be a part of our children’s lives, particularly at important life-altering events. But, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we must remain faithful to his teachings in the Gospel.
While being supportive of our child, we must be careful not to be affirming of the action contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church.
Bill and Patricia need to discuss and pray about their decision on whether or not to attend Rob’s ceremony and reception (try Psalm 119). While it would be inadvisable to attend the ceremony itself, perhaps your personal love and support for Rob could be expressed by your presence at the party.
In conveying your decision to your son Rob, it is crucial that you speak with kindness and conviction. Remember, in endorsing the traditional definition of marriage, the Catholic Church is not against anyone. As stated by Bishop Thomas Tobin in his May 2013 pastoral letter on “Same-sex Marriage” to Catholics in Rhode Island: “The Catholic Church has respect, love and pastoral concern for our brothers and sisters who have same-sex attraction.”
Bill and Patricia, you face very difficult circumstances. “And this is my prayer: That your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1: 9-10).
Deacon Paul McBlain and wife Helen are members of St. Joseph Parish, Collingdale, where they have served as marriage preparation instructors for more than 25 years.
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I wouldn’t go. If I went, I’d have to be cordial, so it would be taken as a sign of support. I wasn’t at my son’s heterosexual wedding. He eloped. It was fine.
I would not do something I thought was wrong because my child demanded it. I would take the risk they would sever ties with me. If they did, we probably didn’t have a very good relationship to begin with.
What would you do if your daughter made it clear to you that she is going to get an abortion, nothing you say or do will change her mind, but she wants you there for support…..would you go? That’s about where I stand with the gay wedding thing. I’m not going to show my support of the action, but rather of the person I care about. I wouldn’t want my daughter to do through that alone. Nor would I want my daughter to get married–validly or invalidly–without me there. I kind of feel that if someone I love has made up their mind to sin, I still want to be there with them so when the consequence of their decision hits there’s still a relationship there to support the person. On the other hand you don’t want to send the wrong message. Is it ok to willingly hold someone’s hand through their sin just so you can love them when its over?
We all love our relatives regardless of their sexuality, or, that is how it should be. Though most Catholics may support same sex marriage, the truth is, we cannot in good conscience, as Roman Catholics, do this. Christ left us a Church to guide us, not a democracy. Its the most difficult, painful situation for many and I expect this will be come up in my family. While very painful, I understand why it is wrong for us to attend or support a same sex marriage. True love should go both ways, and I can only pray that people who choose to marry a same sex partner would love and respect their parents or other relatives enough to understand why they cannot be there. One of the most unsetting aspects of the idea of same sex marriage, to me, is that those of us who are trying our best to live according to our faith are being put in situations where we are called “haters” and other uncharitable terms, simply for following Christ. It will be difficult, but, as Christ picked up and carried His cross, so must we. Not attending a wedding does not necessarily imply one’s judgement of the relative/friend choosing to marry, rather, the parent/potential wedding guest’s need to stand, for him or herself in the presence of the Lord on the day of judgement for.his or her own soul. Each of us will need to provide our own account, and I believe, in kindness and love, respect should go both ways and, if necessary, go beyond who attends which wedding, since in the end, things of Eternal importance are all that is relevant.
Thank you, anonymous, for your thoughtful (and accurate) reply to Mike. I believe Mike means well, but whenever anyone starts with “the majority of Catholics” do or do not believe something as a basis for their position they show a lack of understanding of the teaching of Christ and a lack of spiritual maturity. Christianity is hard and this issue is one of the hardest we face. When we stand with the Church we subject ourselves to the harshest of judgment. It is lonely to stand up for the sacrament of marriage, and not just in the same sex context. I have attended weddings of Catholics who are free to marry in the Church but choose not to. This was also a dilemma for me. But at least I could say “I hope you have your marriage blessed” because there is the possibility of the marriage becoming valid. In the case of same-sex relationships the possibility is not there, and it is difficult to penetrate the cult-like mind set that seeks to create a new morality based on feelings. People have justified adultery for years based on love. But love is bigger, and harder than that.
While I am sure the authors of this post meant well, I think their answer may have been more appropriate twenty or thirty years ago. A majority of Catholics, myself included, now support marriage equality, a/k/a gay marriage. That said, the church is quite clear as to where they stand on this issue.
If the person who posed this original question is reading, I hope you realize that this is your only child. You might not always agree, or understand, how he lives his life, but you should absolutely be in attendance at his wedding to support him – I hope this is what your heart is telling you. The authors of this post mention reading Psalm 119, but I think you need not go any further than the words of our very own Holy Father: “Who am I to judge?”