Looking South East from Hilltop Farm, Gladstone South Australia

Doing the right thing

"Doing the right thing" is a really loaded statement. What does "the right thing" really mean? It should be measured against justice and compassion. Love your neighbour as yourself, Jesus said. It was one of the two commandments on which hung the whole law and the prophets.

So in days gone by, when a man "did the right thing" and married a woman, there was justice and compassion involved. She was spared the scandal of being a mother and unmarried. The child was spared the very real social cost and prejudice of being a bastard, that afflicted a fatherless child. In economic terms they were spared the poverty that came to a fatherless family.

But many unfortunate marriages were made. Marriage was forced for the "honour" of the family, not for care of the child. One or both of a couple lived with a lifetime of resentment or even abuse as a result. This was even in situations where a girl's family would have been a safer and more wholesome place for her child (and herself} if it were not for prejudice.

What then is behind your desire to do the right thing? Are you doing the best by Sophie, and the child to come, and yourself? Would you have married her- or she you- if this had not happened? Will grasping the nettle of this marriage grow you two, or is it a thing of foolishness not to be touched?

You will, of course, provide financially for the raising of this child. You will consider, too, what emotional and spiritual and other support you can give both the child and Sophie. A marriage may be the way. But act for compassion and justice and love. Don't act for the ''honor" of your parents, or be misled by old aristocratic notions of legitimacy. All of your lives are too important. What do you and the child and Sophie need to live well?

Posted July 19 2004


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