Catholic dating an Agnostic


#1

I’m a cradle Catholic, but have really only devoutly embraced it over the last few years. My boyfriend (who I started dating before becoming devout) is agnostic. If there’s any religion that he would lean towards, it seems to be Buddhism (minus reincarnation). I know I want to marry this man, but difference of religion comes up between us. He has deep knowledge of science and space, plus he has a very logical mind. Sometimes it is difficult for me to approach our discussions, as I don’t always know the right responses.

What would be some good resources (preferably free or cheap)? Are there any former agnostics/atheists out there who have a similar background - what changed your mind? I know I can’t convert him, I just want him to be a little more open to my view. I also want to be able to engage in our discussions better through better responses and logic.

Thank you!


#2

You can start by looking on the Catholic Answers site, Catholic.com. They have many free articles and other items.

Are you looking for material to educate yourself or to share with him?


#3

A little of both. I definitely want some more information and I’m always looking for more info on Catholicism, and really just religion in general. He’s not necessarily seeking information out on his own, so it would have to be material that I can share through discussions.


#4

I really like the YouTube videos of Ascension Presents. They’re brief but accurate.


#5

I’ve heard that “Catholicism for Dummies” is a good book for Catholics or non-Catholics to learn about the Faith. I haven’t read it, but I watch the authors on EWTN every Saturday night on “Web of Faith” (which is another excellent source for info). They take questions from viewers about the Catholic Faith, and they give excellent advice and explain Church teachings very clearly.


#6

Your religious views don’t always need to the same to get married if ever. There are many interfaith marriages out there, and the unions last. Just try to understand each other more.


#7

Why don’t you try to find a good Cathoilc friend,who is like-minded whome you can share the Catholic faith with?

2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness? 15 What agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share with an unbeliever?

16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,“I will live in them and walk among them,and I will be their God,and they shall be my people.17 Therefore come out from them,and be separate from them, says the Lord,and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you,18 and I will be your father,and you shall be my sons and daughters,says the Lord Almighty.”


#8

There are all sorts of unbelievers in God just as there are all sorts of unbelievers in elves. Their unbelief does not predict what sort of person they are. You are yourself an unbeliever in the vast majority of gods people have believed in. Your unbelief in Zeus, Krishna, Tawhirimātea or Odin does not predict anything about what sort of relationship you could have. If you need to have someone who shares your beliefs the best way to ensure this is to find one rather than try to change someone to agree with you. But there is always the possibility that if someone agrees with you now they will change their minds later. Just look at the number of priests who have completely changed their views. So the real question is: can you love one another if your views change within reasonable and expected limits? Why to try a counsellor to help talk these things through?


#9

How old are you, may I ask …


#10

First of all, interfaith marriages can work out quite splendidly. I’m a seriously practicing cradle Catholic and my late wife was a seriously practicing Zen Buddhist, and our marriage was sheer bliss for both of us. What is needed is absolute and total respect for each other and each other’s beliefs. If this is not the case, or if you are entering into the marriage with even the slightest hint of a trace of expectation that you fiance is going to convert some time in the future, then it is probably not going to be as blissful. If the latter is the case, then I agree with the other who said it would be better for you to marry someone who shares your faith rather than betting the farm on the off-chance that your current fiance is going to convert. Best to cut your losses now than wasting valuable time on a relationship that has little, if any, chance of working out.

Second of all, when discussing our faith with non-believers, they often ask, sometimes totally sincerely, about the unsavory events in Church history, of which there is no shortage. The automatic response is either to deny them, or whitewash them, and either of those responses are likely to turn them off. All religions have inspired great people to do great things, and all religions have inspired horrible people to do horrible things. Catholicism included. We have a lot of skeletons in our closet, and trying to dismiss them or paint them in a better light is not the way to earn respect for the religion. Learn about these episodes in Church history, and how the Church learned from it’s mistakes. The rejection of antisemitism with Vatican II is a good example. Avoid any apologetics books that tend to gloss over the dark side of Catholic history or explain it away with cute excuses. They are unlikely to convince anyone else, and might even undermine your own faith.

Third of all, there are different “levels” of religion, from folk religion that borders on superstition, to legalistic religion, to philosophical religion, to mysticism. The first two are what non-believers usually have the biggest problems with, especially if they are well-educated. And, frankly, so do a good many Catholics. On the other hand, they are often fascinated by the latter two. Learn about the rich history of Catholic philosophy and mysticism. But also learn about folk expressions and the legalistic mindset, so that you can appreciate how outsiders often view our faith.


#11

Set some parameters and then pray and pray and pray. It might not be a logical conversation, but some grace-filled moment that changes his heart.

My husband was somewhere between agnostic and apathetic when we met.(He decided to start RCIA about a year after we married) When I agreed to date him there was a serious up front talk that went like this:

  1. I’m Catholic.There are things I won’t do outside of marriage.
  2. I date with marriage in mind and I marry for life.
  3. If we were to marry our children will be raised in the faith.
  4. I will not force you to convert. That’s not how it works, but you will sit in the pew each Sunday for the sake of our children.

When that didn’t scare him off and it was his idea to start going to mass with me, I figured it was going to be ok.

There are things about married life we don’t consider before we are married and people on this forum tried to warn me about pursuing the relationship. Some were insulting, some encouraging and some just reasonably concerned. They warned of the loneliness of being unequally yoked and not sharing the most important things about life with your spouse. They warned about raising children with an unbeliever. Their warnings were valid and came from lived experience as parents and married people that is hard to imagine before you are there. I know I am fortunate my husband was converted so quickly. It took my granddaddy 50 years of marriage!

Good Luck and God Bless.


#12

Have you read Jennifer Fulwiler’s book, Something Other Than God? The Holy Spirit can and does lead people from atheism to Catholicism in surprising ways as her story relates. It might be helpful to you.


#13

Differences in faith do not get better with time. I would consider what it will be like to try to raise children in the Christian faith when one of the parents (quite frankly as a man, he will have a stronger influence over their moral and religious leanings than you will) is pulling in another direction. To be honest, I think it would be foolish, if you value your faith, to marry this person.


#14

Is he respectful of your faith? If he isn’t… that’s not a great start.

You can’t convince him. The BEST witness you can provide to him is by living your faith fully and completely and being the best dang Catholic there EVER was. In you he will see the truth of Catholicism. But it’s a heavy burden because any misstep from you could impede his ability to find the truth.

Just my opinion though.


#16

Our religious differences aren’t so much an issue now. It’s mostly that I’m concerned that the church won’t consider our marriage valid, and I’m sure there will be a lot of issues once we have kids on how to raise them. He seems to be trying to understand Catholicism and Christianity more lately, while I have also been trying to understand his perspective.


#17

We’re both 24


#18

Thank you for sharing about your marriage! I’ve never really seen examples of Catholic/non-Christian marriages, only Catholic/Protestant or just straight Catholic. I also really appreciate your point about not glossing over problems in the Church’s past. I especially agree with your third point about folk religion and legalistic religion. These seem to be a couple of the things holding him back from any type of organized religion. I know he also been hearing a lot about some sects of Christianity that are young Earthers etc which makes it harder to point out that science and religion can blend.


#19

Well…there is 1st Corinthians 7 : 14 …

“ I know I can’t convert him “ - that’s an interesting sentence.


#20

For your marriage to be valid he’ll have to agree to raise the children Catholic. Is he willing to do that?


#21

As long as you get the proper permissions – your marriage will be valid.

If he’s baptized = sacramental

If he’s not = natural


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.