See instead: What exactly is a pastoral advice question?
This question should be put on hold until that question is resolved.
Since we talked about pastoral advice questions recently, the label is being used a bit more often on the site. Sometimes, this might be problematic. Adapted from a recent question:
Joe and Martha have been dating for four years, both of them were raised as Catholics but not baptized. Joe was the one interested in dating and so forth. Now Joe sees that both want to continue, but they are not getting married. Instead, they had been living together for a while now. If Joe did want to propose marriage, would it make a difference to Joe and Martha if they got Married (as a Sacrament) before being Baptized, or after?
At this point, we might want to say: "Question author... are you Joe?" But we should not ask that, because it is not our business. Nor is it our business to suggest that this might be a personal problem that the author is facing. He might not be facing any such problem. (Incidentally, the question does have a very clear answer from the Catholic perspective: if both parties are not baptised, they do not receive the Sacrament of Marriage.)
The question, as written, is a hypothetical scenario. Hypothetical scenarios are not pastoral advice questions. As far as we are concerned, the following types of question give no indication, one way or the other, that the author is soliciting pastoral advice:
- Questions that tell a contemporary story or describe historical events.
- Questions that are about family and interpersonal relationships, common situations that a person might "run into on the street", or deal with "practical matters" in general.
- Questions that use the word "I".
We can present scenarios, we can talk about practical matters, and we can use the word "I" in giving background. None of these are on their own or together reasons to close a question or mark it pastoral.
In a pastoral advice question:
- The author self-identifies as being as the one
- actually involved in and having some control over
- the problem discussed in the question
A question can have many other problems: it might still be too localized, or off-topic. So feel free to comment, downvote, or close for those reasons. But unless the question at least meets this definition, it is not a pastoral advice question. In particular, we must not assume that any "hypothetical scenario" actually applies to the person asking the question, since they might not be involved in any such problem. If they do not profess involvement (pastoral advice questions are recognizable because so much involvement is being professed) we should not assume involvement.
Additional clarifications are very much welcome.