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Family Members Living Together QUESTION from Rich July 28, 2000 I have an Aunt who has been living with her boyfriend for over 10 years. They are in their late 60's. Both were widowed before they began to live together. They recently purchased a new house together and have invited my wife & I over to visit them. On several occasions I have mentioned to them that they should get married because they are setting a very poor example to their Grandchildren, Nieces & Nephews. They insist that there is no intimate behavior because of their ages, they are not going to get married and that they do not want the subject mentioned again.
I am having great difficulty with this situation. Do I ignore the immorality and bad example of the situation in order to keep the peace in the family or should I refrain from doing anything that would show my support for their lifestyle?
Please help. Rich from Ohio
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on October 15, 2000 Dear Mr. Rich:
Well from what you describe, the couple are not having marital relations. If this is the case and if a series of other ifs are true then no immorality is occurring.
IF.....
they are not having marital relations
they are NOT holding themselves out to be married to the community
they are living like brother and sister, roommates
they are not in anyway implying a marriage-like relationship .....then,
They may not be involved in any immoral activity.
But public scandal needs to be a concern. As Christians sometimes the prudent thing is to NOT do something EVEN IF there is nothing wrong with doing it IF other PERCEIVE it to be wrong.
(i.e. Remember St. Paul's advice about eating meat offered to idols.)
But is they present themselves to the world as platonic roommates, there may not be a problem.
However, if they pass themselves off as a married couple, or a married-like relationship then we do have a problem. If they sleep in the same bed or in any other way act married, then that gives off the wrong impression to your children and it is your job to protect your children from improper influences. It is certainly important for your children to know that concubinage (living together as husband and wife without marriage) is a sin.
If the situation is merely roommates, then you can tell your children that Auntie and her friend are merely roommates like any roommates.
we will be in prayer for your family and for the Aunt.

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