When a comment such as they’re trying to do the right thing is made a couple of things instantly come to mind: trying is not necessarily doing and the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I have found myself discussing an upcoming marriage and commenting about how the couple was shacking up and having children before being married to which the comment was made that they were arranging their marriage and therefore trying to do the right thing. Fine, but is that all there is to it?
Firstly, if I were punching you in the face and then I stopped punching you in the face that would resolve the problem. Therefore, to cease from living in sin is to resolve the problem. However, this would be dealing with the cause while not addressing the effect. If I stopped punching you I would cease from causing further damage but there would be the issue of the damage already caused. Thus, with regards to the above mentioned example, for this couple to now get married is to appropriately deal with the cause, true, but it is not dealing with the effect. Is it a step in the right direction? Yes, that is granted, but what of the effect?
The effect is that children are being raised to believe that it is perfectly acceptable to engage in fornication (generally with multiple partners), it is perfectly acceptable to live with a lover before marriage, and it is perfectly acceptable to have children outside of the bonds of marriage. Moreover, in the case of the single parent (who may be single for a number of reasons including widowhood), the parent, seeking a mate, may bring numerous potential mates into the home (in order to live there or just to make frequent visits) in order to see how they do with kids.
This will quickly teach a child that people/relationships are to be tried on and discarded just as quickly. But what is more troubling to the child is that the child will continuously bond with the potential parents/role-models only to end up being hurt by their absence when and if the temporary mate is found incompatible.
This would not only cause deep and continuous hurt but it would teach a child that relationships are in constant flux and there is to be found no stability therein. It may take the form of teaching a child, beyond all reason that living, as it were, out of a suitcase is perfectly normal as they move from one potential mate’s habitation to another’s.
But, now they are trying to do the right thing, but what will this marriage mean? If the couple goes through a ceremony only to return to the same old home, with the same old copulation and the same old children then the marriage is none but a legal proceeding (a view all too popular and destructive in our day). The appropriate, and admittedly difficult, task for the couple who is now trying to do the right thing would be to explain to the child that the actions thus far taken have been wrong, immoral actions which are now in the process of being rectified.
Explain that there is repentance and a new outlook on life that makes the previous actions undesirable. But what if the child (at some point) were to say I can do it too and you can’t tell me not to because you did it. This is a poor (yet, affective) argument since it seems to catch a person in contradiction. But who is better qualified to say don’t do that, than a person who has done it and has felt the negative effects thereof? Also, remember that hypocrisy is doing one thing and proclaiming another and not having once done something that you are now against.
Thus, will this marriage be an occasion in which to set wrongs aright? Will it be a tool that will be used to correct and shape the family’s morals? Or will it be an empty ritual, a legal transaction, or a mere yielding to familial, religious or societal pressure?
The bottom line point, and the point that will surely cause untold conflict, is the question of whether you want to celebrate the furtherance of moral decay, the teaching to children of immorality that will actually be the cause of the next generation’s moral entropy. Some parents choose to raise their children in a manner that mimics their own behavior for fear of not being their child’s best friend anymore. Some choose to raise their children as social liberals in order to not have to have their own behavior identified as immoral.
The course of action to take would be to ask the couple to be wed what this marriage means and what they will teach their children about why they were not previously married (while living together, fornicating and producing children) and are now getting married, etc. These questions may be too personal for some people to ask and for some people to answer, they may even been viewed as intrusive and cause shunning. Yet, they are very important if you are the sort of person that wants to make sure that they know what they are being invited to celebrate and therefore, approve.