Can a Catholic man marry a non-Catholic woman who is opposed to the Church teaching on birth control?

I am a Catholic man. I have been dating a Baptist woman for the last 8 months. While we are not looking to immediately get married, we have discussed marriage and see it in our future together. Despite our different faith backgrounds, we are respectful of each other’s faith. She goes to Mass with me every Sunday and I go with her to her church with her every Sunday as well. She is aware of the Church’s teaching on birth control and has told me that if we marry, she intends to use the pill for contraceptive purposes. If I were to marry her, knowing this was her intention ahead of time, what position would this put me in? I have Googled this question and all of the answers I find appear to be directed at couples already married. From what I understand, as long as the partner opposed to the use of birth control does not directly aid his/her partner in its use (purchasing it, reminding them to take their birth control medication, etc) he or she is not guilty of sin and is free to have sexual relations with their spouse. However, is my situation any different being that I know my potential future wife intends to use birth control? I am asking that people give me answers that can be backed up with legitimate sources. Please do not lecture me or give me your personal interpretation of Catholic doctrine in this matter. Links or other resources would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

This is something you both need to discuss in person with people in your parish/church. You can find any number of opinions on the internet but in the end this forum or any other won’t provide you what you need; that has to be worked out in person.

I remember reading somewhere that women who use birth control have a much higher rate of infidelity and marital problems than women who are against and don’t use it. It has to do with respecting the gift of procreation and the issues of unconditional love. Contraception is a form of rejecting ones partner actually. Which is probably why it is later linked to a higher rate of marital problems.Contraception puts conditions on marriage that is contrary to true conjugal love…It says to your partner “I love you, BUT”…

These problems must be worked out before something like marriage. Contraception harms marriage. In my opinion, if someone is using contraception, they are not yet mature enough spiritually for marriage and children…The fact that she said she will continue to use it after marriage shows she does not respect your faith or your authority as a husband…However, sadly, this rebellious attitude is common in women in the westernized parts of the world.

Teach her about NFP, it’s safer for her, it’s more secure along family planning then contraception, it’s a far more natural way of doing it and you aren’t trying to circumvent what God has put into place, reducing making Love into a simple act of cheap lust.

If she at least gave it some discussion and a chance, you have a chance to work things out, if not, it’s a huge red flag, for this is only the start of things to come that will be far worse then this. (like preventing life could be far worse…)

Here’s my advice… You should speak to your parish priest about this. I say this as I am now nearing the end of my annulment process and know that under the circumstances that you have spoken of concerning your partner’s unwillingness to conceive (the use of ABC), there would be grounds for a decree of nullity if the ceremony were to take place. Grave lack of discretionary judgment concerning essential matrimonial rights and duties (Canon 1095, 1055, 1061, 1101 §2) which includes willful exclusion of children. If this situation is considered valid grounds for an annulment, I don’t see how a valid marriage would be possible if both parties knew before the ceremony that this was/is the case. And I doubt very much whether a priest will take part in this situation. However, again, to be sure, you should speak to your priest.

Jesus,our Lords peace be whit You.
Of course,but,yes,there is always the word “but” in matters like theese. I wont go in to what the Church teaches because we well know it well enough.
If You truly love each other,wich I think You are,and then stumble on this one thing,and it is one of the foundation the Churs stand on,it can be a tricky marriage. Love is the strongest force on eart,but even so,to a point. If I would be in that situation,wich I ain’t because since my disaster also know as marrige,which ended in a wery welcomed divorce and I am living in celibacy now,You to have a lot to talk about,between You,and whit a priest. One thing however is sure. As a catholic You need to defend the Holy truth the Church is teaching,and we now what it is.
A marriage is not only a thing between a man and a woman,it is also the wery foundation we stand on,and by going against the Church,who teaches what the Gospels tell,we are doing a sin. It is not realy up to us to decide when we will have children,or how many,children are a gift from God,so by prevented that gift,we say no to God in a very offending way. Before You get married I strongly advice You to talk to a priest,and go thru the whole thing,what is it that You want. A happy marrige whitout kids? If that is Your goal,please don’t get married. Never say no to God. But talk about it to each other,whit a priest,whit older members of your Church,and think it true. I hope You will marrie,and be happy,but can You be knowing it is a sin to prevent the greatest gift of all that God gives us,a child.

The explanation found at the following site is EXCELLENT. Every woman should read this.

There is a lot about women’s health etc but also the following important fact:

Another little known fact about the Birth Control Pill is that it can act as an abortifacient. And not only can it, but it is designed to do so.

If you read the fine print about the Birth Control Pill, they all say that they work these three basic ways.

By hopefully preventing the woman from ovulating.
It causes a woman’s cervical mucus to thicken to try and prevent sperm from getting through.
It thins the lining of the uterus so that (if points 1 and 2 don’t work and a sperm happens to fertilize an egg) the fertilized egg can not implant – ending the life of the new human that the woman just created.

That’s right ladies. Another bill of goods we were sold.

Please don’t read this as harsh, but I think that you should at least consider this:

Tell her that you won’t participate, at all, in sex protected by contraception. And that she can either change her opinion (BTW most Protestants objected to birth control until almost the middle of the last century), or she can find someone else who is fine with the pill.

But don’t waste any more time hoping that she’ll change.

Sometimes it’s better to face hard decisions head on . . . and to rip off a bandage rather than peel it back.


I am going back to the first thing you brought up, which is that she is a Baptist and you are a Catholic. If she goes to Mass with you, she is going against what her church teaches (that Catholics are the Whore of Babylon), or, she is gathering information with which to try and convert you. Baptists as a whole put Catholics somewhat above a pagan, but not very much above. If you were to try and participate in her church’s Bible studies and let it be known that you are Catholic, you’d get immense pressure to convert lest your soul be lost forever.

I live in Baptist country and I have experienced these things myself.

The root issue is marrying outside your faith. Her belief system with contraceptives might extend into abortion if she felt it was not a convenient time for you to have children, have you thought about that? What if she is using birth control and it fails (it has a failure rate, even if small, it happens)? Would she then refuse to carry the child because it was not in her plans? If you married her, she would have to agree to raise the children as Catholics and I do not believe a Baptist would ever do that as they don’t believe in infant baptism, the real presence, etc.

Talk about all of these things and please pray very hard. If you were my son I would tell you frankly that if your faith means anything to you, you should not marry outside the church. It could mean a world of heartache and if you have children, that will carry on into their lives. Talk to your priest and tell him everything, he will advise you.

A very bad one.

Yes, there is a huge difference between a person already married having contraception **forced **upon them, and someone like you who would be freely and knowingly putting themselves in this situation.

Well, there is more to it than that. A spouse must also work towards the conversion of their spouse and discontinuation of contraception. And, in the Vademecum for Confessors you will find:

The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity; it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life. [you know already contraception is a moral evil and a harm to marriage]

A specific and more seroius moral evil is present in the use of means which have an abortive effect, impeding the implantation of the embryo which has just been fertilized or even causing its expulsion in an early stage of pregnancy. ** [the pill does this] **

The confessor is bound to admonish penitents regarding objectively grave transgressions of God’s law and to ensure that they truly desire absolution and God’s pardon with the resolution to re-examine and correct their behaviour. [if you were to take this to your priest in confession, how could you express a true desire for God’s pardon and a resolution to correct the behavior if you knowingly entered into this situation that has not resolution?]
Special difficulties are presented by cases of cooperation in the sin of a spouse who voluntarily renders the unitive act infecund. In the first place,* it is necessary to distinguish cooperation in the proper sense, from violence or unjust imposition on the part of one of the spouses, which the other spouse in fact cannot resist**. This cooperation can be licit when the three following conditions are jointly met:

when the action of the cooperating spouse is not already illicit in itself;
when proportionally grave reasons exist for cooperating in the sin of the other spouse;
when one is seeking to help the other spouse to desist from such conduct (patiently, with prayer, charity and dialogue; although not necessarily in that moment, nor on every single occasion).

Furthermore, it is necessary to carefully evaluate the question of cooperation in evil when recourse is made to means which can have an abortifacient effect.* [could you really say that you could not resist when you would be knowingly going into the situation. You aren’t engaged, you aren’t at the altar, you are only dating. And she is also telling you she plans to use an abortifacient. Yes, this would be your sin]

Yes. It’s entirely different. You would be knowingly cooperating with this sin. And, as you know, it is a sin to encourage, support, or direclty cooperate with another’s sin (see Catechism .

This sounds like someone who already knows what they are contemplating doing is wrong and doesn’t want anyone to tell them. Someone who only wants to hear things that support their desires. You should talk to a holy priest. But, really, you need to find someone on the same spiritual page as you are. Not someone who wants to bring a mortal sin into the very center of your marriage.

This question should simply read, “Can a catholic man marry a non-Catholic”. The Church is alone in proclaiming the evil of contraception, or at least 99.99% of people that practice other faiths believe that contraception is acceptable at least some of the time.

The only promise that I am aware of that a non-Catholic has to make for a dispensation is not to interfere with raising any children Catholic.

Best advice, ask your priest during counseling. You will not be the first couple he has seen with this problem and he will be able to give you the most accurate answer.

It might not be advisable but I’m just not sure if it is absolutely forbidden. I can’t imagine any mixed marriages ever occurring if it were absolutely forbidden.

Just to note…there are a few posts in which people take my original post as stating that my girlfriend has NO intention of having children in the future. She only desires to use artificial birth control as a mean to prevent a pregnancy before we are both ready for one and spacing births.

Once again, I ask that people do not give me their personal interpretation of Church doctrine on this matter. I can not be the first Catholic in the history of the Church to face this dilemma. However, recommending I talk to a priest about this issue is a good advice. However, I’m a little nervous about asking a priest a question of this nature, although it’s looking like that might be what I ultimately have to do. If one can direct me to a Catholic resource that DIRECTLY addresses this issue I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

The bolded part is a red flag. You are going to have to have a discussion with the priest or his designee about your intentions entering the marriage. Openness to life is bound to be one of the topics. I did my pre-cana in an ultra-liberal campus chapel but it was still one of the things the priest discussed with us. Are you planning to avoid the topic when it comes up? Or avoid the truth?

The priest is the very best person to give you advice on this. Why would you want to get advice from an internet forum or a document that addresses the generalities of situations when you can get advice **on your specific situation **from your priest?

Talk to your priest, I am sure he will steer you in the right direction.

As a secondary note, it is always so sad when people jump on threads like this and tell people to just dump someone on the side of the road (paraphrasing a bit, but that is the basic message). Try and be slightly charitable. She may be the most wonderful woman, and a true blessing to this man. You don’t know her or the OP.

And I get that you want to help save him from potential trouble down the road. That is fair. Some of the snap judgments on a person you don’t know are really mean. I know many happily married Catholic to Non-Catholic couples. I am one, should I have walked away from my wife 9 years ago when we met? Sad thought. Anecdotal info, but her entire family is Catholic, and I think only one or two of them married Catholic, the rest (maybe 15-20) married non-Catholic. I think of all my in laws, and all nieces/nephews/second cousins etc, is it really better that they all walked away and these families never existed?

Again, I get the words of warning, but don’t ignore that there is another potentially life long relationship on the other side of the coin.

A permanent intention against children is an impediment to a valid marriage. It would be quite specific, and contraception, per se, would not mean a permanent intention. However, it was also pointed out that it *may *be a defect of intent or consent regarding the essential properties of marriage. This is the area a priest must help you with.

Which is a moral evil.

Yes, talking with a holy priest is a good idea for anyone considering marriage, especially marriage to a non-Catholic in general. A non-Catholic who intends to contracept from the outset of the marriage is very serious.

I quoted for you from Vademecum for Confessors. That is a Catholic resource.

I don’t think you are going to find an explicit statement from the Church here because you are expected to use your brain, form your conscience, and **know **that participating in someone else’s sin is itself a sin.

Again, this is not a situation in which an innocent spouse is sinned against and forced into a situation. You are not yet married. You would be condoning and participating in a mortal sin were you to consent to marry someone knowing ahead of time what they planned to do.

You don’t seem like you want to accept that, but there it is. From the Catechism:

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

  • by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

  • by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

  • by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

  • by protecting evil-doers.

1869 Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. “Structures of sin” are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a “social sin.”

Natural Family Planning. . Birth control is fine, contraceptives are wrong. NFP will allow you to choose the timing of children while not excluding God from the decision.

Here is the main issue that I have with this situation.

Your wedding vows. If you get married in a Catholic church your vows will include that you are joining yourselves freely, faithfully, fully, and fruitfully (being open to children). . Saying that, then taking contraceptives is really turning your back on your vows.

It’s not that I never intend to discuss the matter with a priest if we end up deciding to ultimately get married. I’m just not exactly comfortable with the idea of walking up to my parish priest and saying, “Hey Padre, can I have a little talk with you about sex?”.

I would rather find out what moral implications this has for me potentially before we potentially get engaged rather than waiting until we’re in Pre-Cana classes. As I’ve seen before in these forums, there is a huge diversity of opinion.

Respectfully, opinions on this matter are irrelevant (as you know). There has been at least two valid sources quoted or linked that provide you the opportunity to see exactly what the Church’s position is concerning this matter. Base your decision on the facts and speak with a good Catholic Priest. This is a sacrament and as I am sure you are aware, VERY important. God bless.

Once more, what happens if the timing is off and she gets pregnant anyway? Would she consider an abortion? Are you 100% sure of that? You have just said that she "only desires to use ABC to “space births.” So you are also open to that philosophy.

I am not condemning you, sir. Not at all. But I can tell you from direct experience that when children do arrive, it is very common to have a VERY strong desire to pass along one’s faith to those children. If you go forward with this relationship, you’d better understand that. Things change in a lot of ways when you have kids…

You are concerned enough about the future that you have come here for help, which is good. Something is telling you that there might be a problem. My experience says that yes, there sure could be. What about her family? Are they sanguine about her marrying a Catholic? Or will they be pressuring both of you to not baptize the children? How close is she to her family? If she is not close, why? You do not have to answer those questions here, but do think about these things. Many Baptists are pretty vocal about the Catholic Church, and they view our rituals as pure paganism.

Please do talk to your priest and if you want to go to another parish so you don’t have to see that priest on a weekly basis, then do that. You are not talking to him about sex, by the way, but about contraception, which is a different matter, and also an inter-faith marriage, which is an even deeper matter, IMO. The contraception issue is a part of the problem of an inter-faith marriage.

This is surely not the only issue you are going to come upon due to the differences in faith. First off you , the husband are the spiritual leader in the family. You will be morally responsible for setting the moral compass of the marriage. So , yes in theory you could marry but then you would be responsible for periodically teaching , reinforcing and making your disapproval known. Kind of puts a damper on your sex life. Now, you don’t have to constantly hound your future wife about it but you do have to take an active role in forming her conscience in this area. You could start now by doing a study on marriage and marital relations. Get one of the Christopher West studies or another one on Theology of the Body.

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