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Mike Hayes Answers:
Question: My husband and I have had an ongoing discussion. Occasionally we have friends who stay one or two nights with us. Our more ‘devout’ Catholic friends who are dating but not married have always stayed in separate rooms. But recently we had two lapsed Catholics stay with us and they shared one room (and one bed).
Our debate is, first, are we being sinful by allowing others to do so? Second, what if the people aren’t religious – do we impose our beliefs on them? I know some of our friends/family would laugh hysterically if we told them they couldn’t sleep together in our house.
In full disclosure, this most recent couple are very much adults – 30’s and up. And we do not have any children either – and we think our decision might be different if we did have children. Is there a right or wrong answer on our part?
There are two situations to address here:
The first is clear: You are not responsible for the sexual life of others. Should two people have sex in your home who are unmarried, you are not culpable for their sin.
The second is that you do have the right to make rules in your house for guests to follow. If you are embarrassed by your beliefs, then that should raise some questions for discussion about this that you can pursue on your own.
Your friends should respect you enough to adhere by the rules of your home. Suffice it to say, that your rules probably won’t stop them. After you go to bed, they would be free to do as they wish anyway.
One could say that you would be enabling the couple and leading them into sin by not objecting to their behavior. Having children present doesn’t change the situation, it only heightens the fact that you are uncomfortable with the arrangement and if you are, then you should make your feelings known.
What if the situation were reversed? What if the couple did not wish to sleep in the same bedroom and you assumed that they did wish to? How uncomfortable would that be for them and you?
The truth is that we are all responsible for ourselves. So you having rules about overnight guests does not impose your beliefs on others as outside of your home they can do as they wish. Your guests do not have to stay under those conditions either and they could abide by them or not.
Freedom as we know is a central tenet of the Catholic faith and so that should be mentioned as well. You have the freedom to maintain your home and the boundaries of that home as you see fit and others have the right to choose to sleep together or not. Highlighting that freedom to your guests may help them understand your position.
It sounds to me like your conscience has led you to believe that you should impose the rule on all unmarried guests and if that is true than Catholic teaching says you are bound to follow that.