Dear Abby: Your response to "Smitten in North Texas" (Aug. 17), who was romantically interested in his deceased father's wife, was not entirely correct.
True, there is no blood relationship between the two, but a relationship of a romantic nature between them is akin to incest because of the previously established relationship of a stepmom/stepson.
A more appropriate response would have been to advise "Smitten" to check the legality of such a relationship in the state of Texas with a family law attorney qualified to practice in that state. — Pat in Prichard, W.Va.
Dear Pat: Thank you for writing and pointing out, so gently, that my answer was off the mark. I'm afraid it's time to drag out the old wet noodle, because after reviewing the mail I have received from readers around the country regarding that letter, "Smitten" should definitely consult an attorney — and possibly a clergyperson — before taking the relationship to the next level. Read on:
Dear Abby: I wish to correct a flaw in your advice to "Smitten in North Texas" regarding a potential marriage to his now-former stepmother (his father having passed away). You advised the young man to go ahead with the relationship should he wish.
Under the current Texas Family Code, Chapter 6, Section 6.206: "A marriage is void if a party is a current or former stepchild or stepparent of the other party."
Therefore, under current Texas law, "Smitten" and his stepmother could not achieve a legally binding marriage. They would have to move to another state without such a provision to take that course of action. — Awaiting My Bar Exam Results in Oklahoma
Dear Abby: Regarding your advice to "Smitten," be aware that some states, including Texas, outlaw marriage to your stepmother as incestuous. Others are Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Oklahoma. — Clem in Wallingford, Pa.
Dear Abby: If the young man's mother is alive, how would she receive her son's new mate, who used to be her ex-husband's wife? "Smitten's" mother could be an undue source of stress in his marriage, and he should be alerted to that fact. — Offering a Warning in Houston
Dear Abby:"Smitten" may be in trouble regarding the Bible's prohibition stating that "You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife; it is your father's nakedness." (Leviticus 18:8.) A better suggestion would be to consult a knowledgeable ecumenical authority. — Marlon in Rosamond, Calif.
Dear Abby:I'm afraid this time you misled your readers. In all heavenly religions (including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.) if a man marries a woman — providing having a sexual relationship between them — his son may NEVER enter wedlock with his stepmother in any way at all! You do not have the right to allow them to marry. To do so would be irreligious, unethical and sinful. You owe palliation to pious readers. — Father K., A Muslim Reader
Dear Abby: I found it very interesting that in describing the "deeper, most romantic kind of love" that young man said he has for a former stepmother, the first on his list of attributes about her was that she is "built" (and don't forget "pretty"). Sounds like true love to me! — Cynical in Chicago
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. © Universal Press Syndicate