Agnostic/Atheist girlfriend


So here’s my little predicament:

I’m 19 years old, an engineering student at UW-Madison and on St. Valentine’s Day, it’ll be 2 years since my girlfriend and I started to go out together. I honestly admit that I’m not the most devout Catholic (kinda why I’m here) but I do feel that I should make some effort to “convert” her (if thats the right word). She was baptized Lutheran, but her family is far from religious and I’m not sure if she’s agnostic or an atheist, as from the few times we’ve talked about it, she seemed uncomfortable.

I should also mention that she’s the most moral atheist/agnostic I’ve ever met. And coming from a student at UW-Madison, thats more than a few. She doesn’t smoke or drink and is the primary reason I dont either. She’s also committed to waiting until marriage to have sex. She also volunteers a lot of her time to the community.

But I have absolutely NO idea how to go about it, or if I really should as she would probly “fake it” for me. She seems largely turned off by organized religion, I guess. Any help plz?


Most people absolutely hate it when others try to convert them to things. So is it worth offending her or even possibly damaging the relationship?

If the answer is yes then I’d suggest you try and be very open about it and just say “This is something very important to me and I’d like to share with you how I see it.” Then try to really share the experience with her. The less presure the better.

Good luck.


Has she asked you yet if she can come to Mass with you? Do you go every week? She must want to know something about what you do at those times because it’s obvious that you’re going somewhere.

If she asks what you do when you go to Mass then invite her to come along. After she’s been a few times she might get what we’re all on about.

If she knows what you do and where you go each weekend and doesn’t want any part of it then it’s more difficult and you’ll need the help of some of the cleverer folk here.


Well, first off…if you’ve been together 2 years, you really need to have a heart to heart with her about the religion issue. The bible is pretty clear about not being “unequally yolked” to another. If you are really starting to embrace your Christian Catholic faith and taking it more seriously, then you’ll need a partner who is completely on board with you. Pray a lot about it. It may be that God wants you to give up this relationship to be closer to him…as much as that hurts. I"ll pray for you too.


[quote=Argh]So here’s my little predicament:

I’m 19 years old, an engineering student at UW-Madison and on St. Valentine’s Day, it’ll be 2 years since my girlfriend and I started to go out together. I honestly admit that I’m not the most devout Catholic (kinda why I’m here) but I do feel that I should make some effort to “convert” her (if thats the right word). She was baptized Lutheran, but her family is far from religious and I’m not sure if she’s agnostic or an atheist, as from the few times we’ve talked about it, she seemed uncomfortable.

I should also mention that she’s the most moral atheist/agnostic I’ve ever met. And coming from a student at UW-Madison, thats more than a few. She doesn’t smoke or drink and is the primary reason I dont either. She’s also committed to waiting until marriage to have sex. She also volunteers a lot of her time to the community.

But I have absolutely NO idea how to go about it, or if I really should as she would probly “fake it” for me. She seems largely turned off by organized religion, I guess. Any help plz?

She sounds like a nice girl. You both sound like decent people. The best thing you can do right now is to become more “devout” in your Catholic faith: read, pray, act how your conscience tells you to, go to Mass every week, confess your sins in the sacrament of reconciliation at least once every two months, stay away from pornography, resist the urge to masturbate (abstinence is tough, especially for those of us who are young, and sometimes it seems as if porn and masturbation can ease the tension, but they actually make it more difficult in the long run because they increase the sex drive).

Love her. Listen to her. Pray for her–maybe by praying the rosary (or just one or two decades at a time), or by praying the Liturgy of the Hours on her behalf, or by simply asking God to bring her to Him. Maybe once in a while you could fast for her. And romance: get her flowers sometimes if she would appreciate that. Or a CD that she’s been wanting to get. Love her.

This seems to be the best way to approach it, seeing as she gets uncomfortable when the subject of God is brought up.



Before telling the good news, I should preface by saying my gf and I are fairly committed already to getting married. The reasons were arent already are 1) We’re waaaayyyy too young and the reason my parents divorced was because they married too young and developed into to very different people 2) We’re still in school 3) Her near psychotic family (too many long stories to list) would flip out.

So anyways, the good news. She managed a suprise visit today, since neither of us have many classes today. Somehow we got into when/how we’ed get married. I told her that I needed to get married in a church in the Church. I also told her I wasn’t sure if we could get married if she, at least technically, was Lutheran. Her response was “anything for you”. I still have goosebumps, makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Oh yeah, I’m really starting to feel better about Catholicism, deciding Lent would be a good time to try to change my life a bit. Also deciding to see if I can fast for at least one day, but with drinking juice and diet soda, because I know I’d go crazy hungry without something and I get the most horrible caffeine headaches otherwise. Part of being an engineering student.


Lent is a great time to reform you life and get back to the habits of Catholicism. That is part of the reason we have Lent.

After lent there is Easter and then Pentecost. Right after Pentecost, the “Inquiry” stage of the Catholic conversion process starts. From there it is RCIA in the fall, and full incorporation into the Church Easter 2006.

So you are in a great place now and it is apparent that the Holy Spirit is working on both of you. So, IMHO -

1). You get straight the the Church and have a good Lent. Hook up with the local priest for guidance.

2). Mass every Sunday w/ her. No exceptions.

3). Offer you lenten sacrifices for her. It may be too premature to start fasting all day, even impractical. Try smaller hidden things like lukewarm showers, giving up sodas and sweets, getting up early to pray or got to Mass, no sugar or cream in your coffee. The concern is if you start w/ heroic sacrifices and fail then you get no where.

4). THIS IS KEY. Offer all of the sacrifices for her conversion. Fast and pray with an intention so as to not “waste the Grace.”

5). Find the local Catholic priest and follow his advice.

6). Do something in the Catholic Community, feed the hungry, clean the Church, take a bible study, etc. Become part of the Catholic Community.

As the spouse of a convert, be assured of my prayers.


I would recommend accepting your girlfriend’s skepticism knowing that when faced with the reality of God’s existence, it will vanish in that instant…

Hopefully the following excerpt from a manuscript relaying the contents of God’s direct communication ( will give all people of faith an alternative perspective on the divinely planned experience of Atheism. I would hope that those of faith do not immediately dismiss this claim as impossible, for nothing is impossible for God…

If we believe that we were created in God’s image and likeness, then we might reasonably believe that in order to accomplish this we were meant to experience life, in a divinely planned simulation, as our Lord himself had.

If you yourself were God, would you believe in a higher power? If you were the Creator, would you believe in a Deity greater than yourself? To whom, if you were God, would you look to as being responsible for your creation and existence? To whom would you look for guidance and support? Think about it…

While those of faith have kept God’s flame burning, Atheists have experienced life as our Lord Himself has—not knowing how He came to be, in the absolute belief that there is no higher power or authority, knowing that, ultimately, He was alone in the Universe. Our daily struggle and toil, the losses that we have suffered, the disappointment, isolation, and loneliness, all of these experiences, while terrible, were meant to bring us closer to Our God. When we look into His eyes, we will recognize a kindred soul. When He looks into each of ours, He will find depth and understanding—qualities essential to our attaining a close and intimate relationship with our Creator. We will share a bond with our Lord that will have been forged through our collective pain and suffering, a bond the likes of which would never have been achieved without such shared experiences.

While, of course, it was not possible to recreate our Lord’s experience of an eternity of isolation and loneliness, it was possible to simulate, to a miniscule extent, our Lord’s own experience of Atheism. This simulation allowed man an understanding and appreciation of life as God has experienced it—not knowing His origin or how He came to be, utterly alone and isolated, and with no higher power or authority to look toward or depend upon. The pain and suffering experienced by those who live, lose loved ones, and meet life’s end with no belief in God or His eternal world beyond this realm, created, through sorrow, a depth of soul and a level of personal responsibility and independence that would not have been achieved otherwise.

      With us, our Lord knows and understands the utter desolation and wretchedness of living a life devoid of faith and hope.  With us, He understands and appreciates the incredibly miraculous and transformative experience of having been reborn.  Nevermore will our Lord feel that He alone has suffered the experience of Atheism, or that, among humankind, He alone has been incredibly and irrevocably altered by this painful experience.  

Just as our Lord perceives life and His role within it, Atheists understand that ultimately humankind is responsible for itself and for those placed in its care. Never again will our Lord feel as though He alone carries the weight, and understands the magnitude, of this incredible responsibility. The experience of Atheism was absolutely part of God’s divine plan. Atheists are God’s own kindred souls, sharing His experience and perspective and helping Him to carry the weight of the world—the weight of existence itself—on their shoulders.


If she’s atheist, you should dump her. Nah, I’m just kidding. Start going to Mass more often or carry the rosary with you and eventually her curiosity(and God)will get her. Don’t just start up a conversation about that with her because as I’ve noticed with other people, that’s a quick way to scare them off. Also, read Padre Pio: The True Story in front of her. If she even hears a little bit about the many graces he had(stigmata, bilocation, etc…), she’ll probably become more devout than you!

P.S. If she’s not that hot, just let her go. Kidding!


I am about your age and feel your pain (it happens with freinds too), this is long but here is what I would do…
-First, thank God that you have a person to take care of and to love, and promise God that you will make an effort to continue to do this because she is God’s and He has put her in your life for some reason…pray, pray pray…for you, and for her, but not just for her or you, but always and for everything…just be a good Catholic attend Mass, pray the rosary etc. even if it is difficult at times and let God’s light shine before you never boasting about it (your faith/deeds)…most people have heard the quote from St. Francis of Assisi “Evangelize always, speak when necessary”…I have found that it is best not to be “preachy” with people about religion and to never say that they are “wrong” for not being Catholic…there are times to be "preacy about the faith/morals, but doing this towards someone you really care about is not the time (unless they are already Catholic) let them see you example and never “show off”…sure, correct them politely if they are going to or did do something wrong, but don’t say that is is wrong according to the church, just tell them why it bothers *you…*give them your heart, not your opinion…and ALWAYS speak gently to her about religious issues, never sound angry or defensive if she doesn’t understand some moral issue or issue of faith…if she gets defensive about something, that is when you know to be careful how to talk to her…people tend not to listen when they get defensive. Women are hard for us men to understand and that ads to the trouble. If you want to tell her something about the faith, instead of putting it bluntly, tell her an experience and how it affected you (like something at you thought was neat about Mass growing up, and how you handeld it it thought of it etc…remember don’t brag and say "oh, I prayed and God did this…use few words, if she needs to know, she will ask…God will illuminate what is needed (this sounds odd, but it is almost making people “jealous” of not having God in their lives without putting the effort into making it come off that way).
-Treat her in your heart as you would a delicate flower that is wilting and needs your care to bloom and be the most beautiful rose in the garden…if you over water a flower, it can die just as if it doesn’t get any water…I’ll let you picture more of the analogy in your own imagination, but please, do meditate on this.
-Be patient…this is very hard and trying, but remember that the reason you are dating her may be because since God loves her more and he knows you believe in Him and she may not, that you can play a role in bringing her into the Catholic faith perhaps in His time (which is why the patient part is needed, because you never know when)…
-Stand firm and be strong! What I mean by this is that she may mean well, but always remember to keep your faith above everything, don’t let anything that she might see as “silly” about the faith let you change your mind. Ex. if she says “I think it is dumb that Catholics do…(fill in the blanks)” just explain the reason and how you feel. Women need real men with strong morals/faith that are able to be “real men” yet give their heart to them. Let you know you love your faith and if you pray, God will lead her to Catholicism one day too, with your help…as much as you love someone and as much as something may hurt, confuse or not make any sense, God loves her more.
That reminds me…if you do not already know, read about St. Augustine (born in/around 85A.D. I think) any way his mother prayed for him and couldn’t understand why he lead such an immoral life…eventually her prayers were answered, and he came back to the faith, and became one of our greatest saints…it makes no sense at times why God allows things to happen as they do, but God can change hearts, we can not…the Lord will not let sincere prayers and tears go to waste. All we can do is pray and try, God could appear right in front of an atheist and let it be known to them He exist and the Catholic faith is the truth…but the person could still disbelieve…it all comes down to a change of heart…and that is between God and the individual prayed for.
God bless and hope that helps, I’ll say a little prayer for you…


Hello Arrg,

Marying a virgin is more than many Catholics can say. Volenteering to help the poor, I assume, is more than a lot of Catholics can say. It seems her heart may be dedicated to God and she just does not know it. People have God given consciences to guide them even when all else fails. Some people have fears toward the Church that are enviormentally driven. I have come to sence that many proclaim to be atheist but few atheists actually believe there is not an afterlife with God. Can you see that she is, and will continue, to follow her God given conscience with all her heart? This is more than many Catholics do.

The Church no longer outlaws marrying non-catholics. It sounds like she loves you enough to allow you to lead the family in the Catholic way. Make sure that your children will be baptized and raised Catholic. Discuss these issues. I believe it is better to be yoked to a non-Catholic who does the will of Jesus (exept for becoming Catholic) than to a Catholic who does not do the will of Jesus.

To marry in the Church she is going to have to go to pre-marriage class or retreat with you. Why not now take her to discuss with a priest your thoughts of marriage? As far as simply discarding her because she is not Catholic, I think you could be throwing away a diamond in the rough.

Pineing your life away because you broke up with a true love simply because she was not Catholic is not an easy cross bear either. Do you love her with all your heart?

Peace in Christ,
Steven Merten


[quote=Argh]But I have absolutely NO idea how to go about it, or if I really should as she would probly “fake it” for me. She seems largely turned off by organized religion, I guess. Any help plz?

First, none of us converts anyone, only God can do that. Although I don’t agree with a lot of what Tlaloc says, I do agree with him that trying to force beliefs on someone won’t work.

Also, and I’ll be blunt, you can’t offer anything you don’t have yourself. If your faith isn’t “alive” in your life and if you don’t have an active relationship with Jesus, you can’t very well convince someone else to do so. By “alive” I mean that you are actively involved in developing your faith through frequent prayer and Scripture study and regular receipt of the Sacraments. Someone in a coma is technically “alive” but they aren’t “living”. It’s the same with our faith.

She sounds like a nice young woman, but believe me, if your relationship goes further, you will have to be able to share something as personal as your religious beliefs. It’s very difficult when two people disagree on the spiritual. If she truly is an atheist (has weighed the evidence and concluded that there is no God or afterlife) and she is not just avoiding the subject, then you are operating with two very different world views. The Christian/Catholic believes that all morals have a basis in God and are, therefore, unchanging and beyond reproach. The atheist, however, believes that all morals have a human origin and can, therefore, change as society and people “evolve”. While both world views can agree on certain moral issues, the foundations are very different. This will eventually put a significant strain on a relationship.

In a nutshell, don’t try to actively ‘convert’ her, but work on your own relationship with Jesus and she will see the change in you. I suspect that this will draw her to the Lord far more effectively than anything you could say.



TY all.

I now seem to remember something a friend of the family pointed out to me. I’m not sure it what it’s called, but it basically said that all good works really are the works of Christ, even if the person has no knowledge of Christ. I cant remember for the life of me what document it was or what kind, but I read it and I know it exists. How accurate my memory is, or my interpretation of the document, I cant say for sure. I’ll try to get a hold of Rob sometime and find out…

Maybe I should clarify that she certainly doesn’t have a negative feeling about God. I think it’s that she isnt really “sold” on the idea of a supreme being.

I’ll get her to church one of these days, I think. As for children (/laugh), she claims she doesn’t want them. But then again, I’m 19, she’s 18, and the thought of being parents scares the bejezes outta me at this point. But she loves children wayyy too much, I think, to ignore maternal instinct forever. She wants to be a teacher, after all.

I love her deeply and I’d never throw her away. She came into my life when I was really hurting emotionally, I might have even been clinically depressed at times. Although no one knew it and still doesnt. I feel embarrassed, but I admit that I’d give anything for her (should I be?). She was there for me when my grandfather died and I’ve been there for her whenever her psychotic parents get her down (maybe not psychotic, but man alive, they make me soooo angry that they treat her the way they do).

My parents divorced because they married sorta young and developed into two very different people in the 7 years they were together. My dad’s car accident and subsequent head injury that left him less in control of his emotions didnt help any either. So I’m gunshy about feeling the way I honestly do about her.

Amanda-latin- “lovable, able to be loved”


Many people from divorced/psycho families say they don’t want children-- they don’t want to mess them up. That was me at 18. Things change.

I’m getting married this summer and moving to WI where my fiance is a dairy farmer. So, Go Badgers.

From what I know, UW-Madison is a liberal place, so find other conservative, Catholic people to hang out with and learn from them-- get involved with the pro-life movement there in Wisconsin. There you will find solid Catholic friends. There’s a Planned Parenthood there, and I’m sure there is a pro-life Catholic group that goes out and prays. Contact Pro-Life Wisconsin, they’re on the web.

I would suggest you study together. Learn what the Catholic faith really teaches, not what you remember from school. Start by studying the Catechism. Go to They have bible studies you can download, and I think their is a new website called (you can probabably google it) that has online study classes on the Catechism. No better way to find out what the Church teaches.

As for children/family life I’d suggest starting with Theology of the Body for Beginners after you’ve studied something on the Trinity and Eucharist. This book by Christopher West explains Catholic teaching on family and contraception very well.

You need to get your own spiritual house in order first, and lead her by example. Read Ephesians 5:22-34. You are called to be the spiritual head of the family. She, however, must be open to the Faith.

You should discern religion together and marriage together. If you do not want discord and trouble in the future, resolve religion first before you even think marriage. And, stay chaste-- no sex. It will just cloud ALL the issues and make it more difficult to stay on the best path for both of you.

Best of luck!

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