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“Ask a Priest: May I Consider My Son as Dead If He’s Living in Sin?”
Q: We adopted our son when he was 3 and have always thought the Lord had a plan for us to unite with the boy, an orphan. Now in his 20s, he has moved out of state to be with a girlfriend he found online. He met her once, in person, prior to moving in with her. My son knows I am vehemently against this situation as I think it’s sinful to live together outside of marriage. My son allowed his girlfriend to curse at me online; I was shocked about her language and venom toward me. She knows that I and my husband think the relationship they have is immoral. My son says he loves me but will no longer speak to me. I am both sad and angry about his situation, but I feel he is dead to me. If I think he is dead, then I won’t be sad or angry all the time. I will be seeing a counselor about this soon. My husband says he will meet with our son, but I asked my son not to see me again. Am I wrong to think of my son as dead? I feel he is dead in Christ. We also took out a protective order against the girlfriend, due to the profane language she used in her e-mail. We have never met this girlfriend nor heard her voice. She is not permitted on our property should our son visit his dad in the future. I won’t tolerate the girlfriend’s ugly profanity toward me. – E.P.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: I am sorry to hear about the situation. It must be heartbreaking for you.
As for considering your son dead: I would invite you to meditate on the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).
Christ suffered and died for your son, and he wants your son to be with him someday in heaven.
This is a truth you want to keep in view. You are still his mom, and your prayers and sacrifices can help bring him back to the faith. Don’t give up on him.
As for the young woman: It’s understandable that she is not welcome in your home for now. You don’t need to ignore her abusive online behavior. This might send a message that she and your son need to absorb.
It’s possible that this young woman, like many in her generation, has grown up in a culture where sexual impurity and coarse language on social media were the norm.
She might find chastity as nonsensical as you find fornication and cohabitation offensive. You might have radically different worldviews. Whether this young woman could ever see the wisdom of purity is another question.
In the meantime, don’t give up on your son. Your impact on him runs deep. And who knows, he might realize one day that his friend’s scathing attacks on you are over the top.
This is the moment when your grace of state as his mom can help bring him back to the fold.
For your own benefit it might be good to speak with your pastor or confessor about how to maintain a balance between mercy and justice in this situation.
And you might want to pray for St. Monica’s intercession. She, too, had a wayward son who came back to Christ.
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