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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Moral Dilemma

Rich and I are in a bit of a quandry regarding a moral dilemma facing us right now. A friend of ours, we'll call her Norma, is getting married soon to a man we'll call Sam. When we first found out about Sam, we were really excited for Norma. She wants to be married and we are very pro-marriage here in the Arabian Knits household.

Since then, however, we have learned things about Sam that lead us the the firm conclusion that this is an illicit relationship and that the marriage will be invalid. We have this understanding because of the clear teaching of Jesus in the scriptures as well as it being the position of the historic Church and all the Fathers. We decided, at that point, that we wouldn't even try to go to the wedding. We did not want to be witnesses and supporters of an invalid marriage.

Well, another issue has come up. As you well know, there are all sorts of other events that surround a wedding. We just received an invitation to one. Our first thought was to try to go, after all this is, as I said, a friend of ours. We'd get to see her and bring a gift. However, both Rich and I pulled back from that right away, because it is still supporting something morally wrong.

We have debated about it, and part of the equation is that Norma and Sam's church does not recognize the authority of the Church Fathers, nor does it seem to take Jesus' words at face value. If this were a minor issue, we might let it pass as a point of individual church governance, and not say or do anything about it, but it is not. If this isn't merely our understanding, but the understanding of the Church, we cannot condone it. So, we don't want to go, and we don't want to send a gift.

It makes us feel a bit awkward, though, and we don't really know how to deal with the friendship from here on out. We wish her the best, and we do want her to be happy, but we don't believe true happiness can follow from something that goes against the teaching of the Lord. This wouldn't be such a big deal, as we don't see Norma all that often anyway, except that there is a bit of family history with her, and we anticipate it coming up in discussion that we didn't attend, didn't send a gift, didn't try to work it out, etc. We have yet to have these kinds of discussions with the people who are most likely to bring it up, and have tried, for the most part, to put aside theological differences, rather than debate them, for the sake of the relationship. There is also the issue that we are teaching our children our church's understanding of the nature of marriage and what constitutes a valid marriage, and it is contradictory to put them in situations where we are, seemingly, fine with an invalid marriage. How can we tell them that it is wrong, but then expose them to it and act as though it were alright?

We do not believe in delivering a sermon to this woman, as she has not asked our counsel. On the other hand, we are admonished to encourage, build up and correct our brethren in the faith. We do not want to appear rude, but fear it would appear even more rude to explain our reasons for not attending or sending anything and we cannot compromise on our beliefs. How would you handle such a dilemma?


My thought would be this:
Don't go to the wedding. It obvious is not something you can support, and since you feel strongly, you should not go.

However, I don't think sending a gift has the same special significance as attending the wedding would. A gift is just a gift, and wedding gifts are part of a social, not religious, convention. It doesn't mean anything other than that you like her, which you presumably do.

If you really think a gift would mean more than that, I would at least write her a letter wishing her the best. Just leave out the part where you say that this isn't a step towards happiness.
I think you're right. It was more the whole festivity, present, party package that was not sitting well with us. I have some pretty notecards, and we can get them something they can use and just send it, rather than go to the whole hoo-haw deal.
I have to come from the opposite point of view as Kris. Several years back, my best friend told me she was marrying a man I couldn't stand. I found him to be dishonest, rude, obnoxious, but she had her mind set on him because he was the father of her son, and she thought that she had to marry him for all sorts of reasons. She asked me what I thought about it for a minute, and I stared down two roads, one where I condoned the marriage, and then hated myself later, and one where I told her exactly what I thought, and we were no longer friends.

I sighed, and the answer came to me in a way it hadn't in a long time. "Melissa," I said, "I think you're my best friend."

I think she knew that I thought she was being crazy and that this would all come to a bad end, but I was allowed to express myself without losing her friendship, and when he did leave her for a woman seven years younger than her (and twelve years younger than him!) I was there for her, but I didn't feel like saying I told you so.

Everything else I might say on this would sound like I'm preaching to you, and I don't want to do that. But my thought is that your friend needs you, or she wouldn't have asked you to be there.

Just me. :)
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