Spiritually Speaking

QUESTION: I have a cousin who left his wife and two teenage children. They didn’t divorce. He moved to another state and, a few months later, married someone else. Another cousin told me the wedding was expensive and elaborate.

This is bigamy and quite disturbing because he is not financially supporting his first family. Should I bring this to the attention of the police or just mind my own business?
~Perplexed Cousin


Dear Perplexed Cousin,
I, too, am perplexed but possibly for a different reason. You mention your cousin and his inappropriate behavior towards his first wife and teenage children. You also say that they have not taken any action to secure a legal separation or divorce, and that she has not taken steps to protect the rights of herself and her children.

Do you have a good relationship with her? Can you discuss your concerns with her? I feel that is the best place to start. As you know, bigamy is not legal in the state of California and deadbeat dads are now prosecuted here to the full extent of the law. If your cousin earns a living anywhere, Uncle Sam will track him down and force him to take responsibility for his kids.

As a minister in New Thought philosophy, I would say that your cousin and his wife have their own issues and journey together, which is their responsibility. When counseling people, as a minister, I am mandated to report certain abuses and illegal behavior as soon as I become aware of it. If you have real knowledge (and not just gossip) of illegal and/or criminal behavior taking place, which you say you do, I truly believe that for the good of all involved, you should talk to someone who is in a position of authority.

Everyone has a right to be happy and to move on from a broken relationship. However, we are all responsible for living with the consequences of our choices. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake.”

Look within your heart, and find that place of love and compassion that tells you what is yours to do, if anything at all. Trust your spiritual inner guidance system, and it will not fail you.


Rev. Karen Mitchell



Dear Perplexed Cousin,
In consulting with a lawyer about your question, two issues arise: First, if there was no divorce from the first marriage and the husband legally marries another person, yes this is illegal. Second, child support is also required, and so these two legal matters would have traction in court.

What you are writing about is what is your role in this and what action do you take. So that is what I will hope to address here.

How is your relationship with the “ex-wife”? I would advise talking to her and seeing what action she has or has not taken. Your actions should match her wishes for the future. I would certainly advise her to pursue legal action by consulting with a lawyer who can walk her through the details of how to proceed legally. As to your idea about contacting the police, it is really up to the victim of the crime to file the report.

All this said, I would hope you would be of support to the family; sometimes the abandonment by a person causes so much stress and a feeling of being wounded. It is hard sometimes to know what to do and how to act. Many times victims are so shocked they do not take legal action because this brings up all the feelings again and again. But not taking action also has severe consequences both emotionally and financially. So I would pray you would be the sort of support they would need, to listen to what their wishes are, and to help them on the road to recovery from such a traumatic event.

I am glad you are the kind of person who wants justice to served.

Pastor Steve Marshall


QUESTION: My husband was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was caught early and the prognosis looks good. Our problem though is a judgmental neighbor who told us cancer is “God’s disease” and a person gets cancer because they’ve done something very wrong.

We’re Christians and do not believe this at all. Our pastor has been wonderful in explaining, according to the Bible, that this is not true. Although we’ve forgiven our neighbor, we’re concerned about her fear-driven words and thoughts.

In addition to praying for her, what else could we do to help her put her mind at ease? She’s always worrying about something.
~ Concerned Neighbors


Dear Concerned Neighbors,
First, I’m glad the prostate cancer was caught early and that prognosis for your husband’s recovery looks good!
It’s difficult to fathom how someone could ever think that any disease is God’s punishment for doing something wrong. That is not only absurd and utterly ridiculous; it also is not something a truly caring person would think, much less say. Neighbor or not, this woman does not have your best interests or feelings at heart. In a time when caring and compassion are needed, judgment and chastisement have no place in a friendship.

The famous Religious Science minister and author Terry Cole-Whitaker wrote a book titled, “What You Think About Me is None of My Business.” In essence, she is saying when someone says something to you in judgment it is a statement about who they are, not you. You say that you have forgiven your neighbor, which is the most important thing that you can do for yourself and for her. Other than that, keep your own heart clear about her. There is nothing that you can say to alter her fear-based responses. You will not be able to reform her way of thinking unless she makes the decision to see things differently.

I believe some challenges are in our path to help us open up to express a greater personal sense of love and compassion. We always get the opportunity to be our best self in every situation, especially the ones that test our grace.

Emerson said, “Who you are speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying.” Be that person who shows the same care that you would want to be shown. Whether or not your neighbor responds in a more compassionate way won’t matter. What matters most is that you stand in your truth by not allowing someone else’s thinking cloud your sense of who you are or diminish the goodness and love you came to express.
In Light,

Rev. Mary Morgan


Dear Concerned Neighbors,
It must have been very difficult for you and your husband having to deal with the trauma of the medical diagnosis to then confront the condemning misjudgment of your neighbor. I am glad your minister was there to explain how the true nature of Christ is one of healing, forgiving of all wrongs, and an embracing acceptance as opposed to a rejecting judgment, condemning and punishing. Sometimes people are so fearful of what they imagine is an angry God that they forget the compassionate goodness of God. As it says in one of my favorite hymns, “Streams of mercy never ceasing.”

Your neighbor’s words reflect her own state of mind only, and not anything true or real about your husband. As disturbing as they were for you to hear, please realize her judgment is not your husband’s reality. It’s about her limitations of understanding. Her words, as initially hurtful and fear provoking as they were, have no ultimate power over you or your husband. I cannot state that clearly or forcefully enough. She is no prophet over your husband’s life.

As to what to do about it, there are two things you can do. First of all, I appreciate your desire to be compassionate towards a clearly tortured soul and to seek in some way her liberation from negativity.

Now this may seem harsh on one level. But it is important to recognize that she has a right to her own thinking (positive or negative, good or bad), and she may or may not change. Ultimately, we all have that choice. It’s a matter of free will. We should respect and tolerate where people are, whether we like it or not. You can still treat her with kindness and tolerance, and that has amazing healing power.

But likewise, going forward, you and your husband have a right not to allow yourselves to be affected by her negativity or even to subject yourselves to it should she openly volunteer a negative comment like that in the future. If you choose, it is okay to let her know (and you can be kind, polite and firm about it), that her comments are not helpful but hurtful, and you would prefer she keep such opinions to herself. You have a right to protect you and your husband’s peace of mind in all this, especially during a time of healing. It may even provide her with a wake up call to look at the effect of what she is saying to others.

Secondly, I think your choice of prayer in this instance is the very best choice. I would pray for your husband’s healing, for peace of mind and good will for all parties involved, including your neighbor’s, and for the continuing grace of compassion and forgiveness considering the hurt you and your husband experienced. Here is a simple prayer you can repeat as needed:

“I know that God is love, and the healing power of God’s love is marvelously at work in my husband’s recovery. Nothing can resist the power and goodness of God. Every day and in every way he is getting better and better. I give thanks that we are surrounded by caring professionals, family and friends who positively support us in this healing journey. I also give thanks for God’s healing power of forgiveness and understanding to heal all wounds, to protect and restore peace of mind and good will to and for all parties concerned, including my neighbor. And so it is. Amen.”

Anthony Kelson,
Religious Science Practitioner