Hi. My bf and I have been talking more seriously about getting married in the near future (I am 23 and he is 25, both have good jobs). We’ve picked out engagement rings and have a few dates in mind. We have discussed every topic about our future such as who pays the bills, adopting children, how many pets we should, cleaning the house, family, religion and so much more. We want to make sure that if we are going to take the next step we learn about each other now rather than later (although there are always things to learn)! Our biggest hurdle right now is religion, which play a major role. I am catholic. My parents are both catholic (my dad converted and my mom’s father was very strict catholic from Poland) and it is very important to them that I am married in a catholic church. While being catholic is very important to my parents, as a family we are those who go to church only on holidays. My bf’s family is southern baptist. They worked in a church when he was younger (about 20 years ago) and their religion is also very important to them. I promised my parents I would marry in a catholic church and my bf agrees this is okay. Out of respect for my family we both want to do this. My mom, however has a very hard time still with my bf not wanting to participate in a catholic church after we’re married. My bf and I agreed to either find a new church we both enjoy or take turns each week between a baptist or catholic church. For him and I it’s more important that we’re learning about God and enjoy going to church than either not going at all or going to something we don’t agree with. I am posting on here to ask for advise. I know that the baptist and catholic churches are very different, but I see that it comes down to belief. We both believe and love God and we want to learn more together. It’s hard for me to say he must go to catholic mass on sunday, when my own family doesn’t go every sunday. I am a fair person, but how can you be fair with religion? If you have any advice on how to approach the marriage, my family, his family or what to do after we’re married I would really appreciate it. Thank you for you’re time and sorry this is so long!
I’m sorry that you grew up in a family that only went to church on holidays. You are missing out on understanding the fullness of the Catholic faith, which is about so much more than enjoying yourself in church.
My best advice to you, is to learn what the Catholic Church really teaches. Maybe invite your boyfriend along to investigate this with you. Just make sure your sources are actually Catholic sources, not anti-Catholic sources. I grew up in a Baptist family and coverted to Catholicism as an adult. I know that what they Batptist Church teaches that the Catholic Church teaches and what the Catholic Church actually teaches are two entirely different things.
What’s more, while you can respect your boyfriend’s beliefs, beliefs are not just beliefs. There is actual Truth. Our beliefs reflect our perception of that Truth, so while there may be many differing and conflicting beliefs, there is still only one Truth.
You and your boyfriend have discussed a lot, but I wonder, have you talked about what it means that the husband is the spiritual head of the household? My own experience has taught me that it is a good idea to approach marriage knowing what you believe and sharing those beliefs with your spouse. Meeting with a priest and discussing the Catholic teaching about marriage might be a good place to start.
I would like to tell you that I grew up in a household that even though God was talked about, the bible was read, and everyone believed in God, there wasn’t a definite choice in Organized Religion. My mother was Catholic and always maintained her beliefs but my father didn’t find an affiliation with a particular church while we were growing up, and thus we bounced from church to church. I attended a Catholic, Evangelical, Jehovah Witnesses, Methodist, and was baptized in a Pentecostal Church. My father usually found something wrong with each church and we stopped going and since we were children we’d rather do something else anyways. What I’m trying to tell you is that before you get married and at least before you have children that a decision on which church to attend as a family should be made. Childhood and especially the teenage years are difficult enough without having to bounce back and forth between churches like channels on a television. “It’s okay to be open minded but not so open minded that your brain falls out.”
Thank you for your repy! My family and I have gone to church more than just holidays. But in the past few years it’s been mainly holidays. My sister and I also have learned a lot about the catholic religion through C.C.D classes and our parents. I definitely don’t want to blame them, because it’s not a blame. I’m old enough now where I can go on my own and should maybe do that more. My bf and I will definitely be sitting down to talk to a priest before we get married as well as go through the pre-cana classes. Thank you again for your reply. Every little bit helps!
When you are married in the Catholic Church, your bf will have to state that he will raise the children (via tummy or adoption) Catholic. This means that the children attend Catholic Mass and recieve all the sacraments at the appropriate time. This included infant baptism. This means that you both need to attend Mass EVERY Sunday. Not trading off. Attending his Church does NOT fulfill your, or your future children’s, Sunday obligation.
Additionally, artificial birth control is a no-no in the Church. He probably won’t see a problem with it, but there is. You both need to attend NFP classes. Picking up a copy of Sex and Marriage by Christopher West will help a whole bunch with this.
The FOCUS test will help you two figure a lot of this out. As will regular meetings with the priest who will be marrying you. And when I say regular, I mean you need to be seeing him at least once a month. Also, make sure you attend Pre-Cana or Engaged Encounter.
I am sorry if I sound harsh. I just want you to know all of the things you will need to know.
I am a newlywed in a mixed marriage to a Southern Baptist. PM me and I will talk you through a lot of things that you will need to know.
i was once engaged to a devout Southern Baptist. we thought we could make it work, but we were wrong. the FOCUS test was so accurate. we scored off the charts on everything but religion. there we were low, low, low. thankfully, we realized it couldn’t work. there was no way to do ‘both’ and i wanted to do Catholic and he wanted to do Baptist. i was very dismayed when we broke up bec i couldn’t find a single Catholic man that took his faith seriously, despite living in a midwestern city with tons of Catholics. so i moved and found a great Catholic man…the end;)
I’d suggest you figure out who you are and what you believe before you get married to anyone.
You state you are “very Catholic” yet you don’t go to Church! You need to begin regular Mass attendance, and perhaps even some adult education classes. Even though you were raised in the Catholic faith, it seems you missed some important points.
It would be a real shame if you were to awaken to your faith only after you were married, causing strife in your marriage as you become more devout in the practice of your Catholic faith.
The Catholic religion is not something you can compromise on. As others have stated, you have an absolute obligation to raise your children Catholic-- and you must state this during your pre-cana classes.
You cannot just have a Catholic “wedding” to please your parents or anyone else. When you come before the church as an adult seeking marriage you are asking for a Sacrament. You must intend what the Church intends and you must make promises before God.
You and your boyfriend don’t sound like you’ve given much thought to how your difference of religion will work in the long run. You as a Catholic cannot attend his services, you can’t “trade off”. Your obligation is to attend Mass every Sunday and raise your children Catholic.
Honestly, you need to think twice about a mixed marriage-- and you need to think about what your religion really means to you and what being a Catholic really means to you. Whether your family goes to Mass or not, you should-- if you really believe what the Catholic Church teaches.
Start with going to Confession for having been away from regular Mass attendance. Then, begin receiving the Eucharist again. Make sure you study the Church’s moral teachings-- as you know contraception and premarital sex are mortally sinful.
Make an appointment to talk to your priest now– not after you are all caught up in wedding planning and feel as if you are on a train that you cannot get off of. Truly, once the weddding planning starts it’s hard to tackle these truly tough issues. Do it now, and as the previous poster indicated-- don’t be afraid to call it off if you come to an impass.
Good luck in your discernment. I hope you will embrace your faith more fully.
Thank you for all of your answers. I guess we have a lot to think about.
A parting thought or two. The Catholic Church does not prohibit" mixed marriages" but very correctly places some conditions on them. One condition, and this is very important, is that the Catholic party is responsible to see that any children are raised in the Church. That is to say, baptized, and raised as Catholics. That also includes attendence at Sunday Mass, as well as holy days of obligation. You may argue that these provisions are unenforceable. That’s true from a practical perspective. A cop won’t show up at your door, nor will the Church sue you for breach of contract. These provisions are made from a moral perspective, and do have eternal consequences. While wishing you the very best, I urge you to pray and seek some counseling regarding your situation with a Priest or Deacon.
Yes, as a convert who came from a mixed Catholic/Southern Baptist family, don’t confuse Catholic culture for correct Catholic teaching. That may be one thing your bf has reservations about. I suggest you get a copy of the new USCCB United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. It’s a nice thorough book on Catholic teaching that’s not too long. Catholicism for Dummies is also a very well-written book by Fr. John Trigilio, a very good priest. Alternately, you could go to the mainpage of this website and read the topics covered by Carl Keating, Jimmy Akin, and the gang. If you have a better idea of what the Church teaches, you will be more capable of explaining it to your boyfriend.
Most Southern Baptist churches teach the Bible alone as the source of ultimate authority, salvation by faith alone through grace, and have much different ideas about baptism and the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper). Take the time to learn the “how and why” of what separates you and be able to explain it to your boyfriend. Otherwise, you risk putting yourself on the path to life-long troubles over religion.
Most Protestant men I know expect their wife and children to submit to their leadership with this. They take it very seriously, especially as they get older. This one point could be a major battlefield throughout your married life. You would be living in a war zone.
My daughter is planning to marry an athiest from a Buddhist background. She has spelled it out pretty clearly that their children will be brought up Catholic and that, although she accepts he will not join her in going to Church, he will do nothing to undermine her teaching them the Faith.
I was raised Baptist & joined the Catholic Church as a young adult, before I met my dh, a cradle Catholic. We have found that having the bond of the same faith is more important than anything else. Plans go awry, expectations change - life happens! Being on the same page in the Faith is the one things that lasts.
What I’ve noticed in mixed marriages is that usually the faith of 1 spouse becomes the faith of both. It’s difficult to be separated on Sunday & in daily prayer.
It sounds to me like you have already accepted one of the more classic protestant heresies that as long as God is the center, it doesn’t matter what technical denomination you belong to, because you are still part of the “church.” That sounds all nice, charitable, and tolerant, but reality is that Jesus established ONE Church, and that Church is NOT “the invisible body of all true believers,” but the visible Roman Catholic Church. (I can go into the apologetics on that, if you want.) It is true that our Protestant brothers and sisters have a unity, although an imperfect unity with us, through VALID Baptism; but the fullness of Christianity attainable during this lifetime is found only in the Catholic Church.
I admire the fact that you are seeking advice on a Catholic message board, as it shows that you have some genuine concern on this issue. I think, however, irrelevant to your boyfriend, you need to become more firmly grounded in your Catholic faith.
Remember, husbands are only for this lifetime(if even), but God is for eternity. DO NOT turn your back on God for the sake of some man. Now, I know you are probably thinking, “but I wouldn’t be turning my back on God, just on the Catholic Church. I will still be worshipping God.” That is true to a point, but what you would REALLY be doing is walking away from the One and Only Church that Jesus established, potentially sacrificing your own eternal salvation, as well as the eternal salvation of your future children, just to please some man and have some romance in your life, which would then become an idol in violation of the First Commandment. When looked at that way, I make it sound rather ugly, don’t I? Well, I’m showing you the reality according to reality, as opposed to “reality” according to the heretical Protestant “invisible church” viewpoint.
To further understand your faith, this website has some excellent resources, and I highly recommend staycatholic.com Furthermore, I would recommend the book, “By What Authority” by Mark Shea, as it does an excellent job in distinguishing the truthful Catholic authority from the illogical Protestant viewpoint of “Sola-Scriptura.”
You can NOT make any compromises here. I would recommend that either your boyfriend converts to the Catholic Church(and not merely to please you or your family, but because in his heart he has realized that the Catholic Church is the One True Church) or it would be ill-advosed to marry him. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, and I’m sure that it is NOT what you want to hear, but it is what I feel you NEED to hear, in the best interests of you and your future children.
I realize that this thread is about discerning marriage, but I see your own uncertainty of Catholic teachings to be a far more prevalent issue that needs to be first addressed before you even begin to consider marriage to anyone.
When discerning, do not ever accept Protestant sources to tell you what the Catholic Church teaches, or what the Bible says. Instead, do genuine research with the aformentioned websites and book, and other CATHOLIC resources. Pray fervently about it, and as another poster mentioned, go to Confession, confess having missed Mass before, and whatever else you may need to confess, and then receive the Eucharist again.
Realize that your boyfriend can NOT receive Communion in a Catholic Church, nor can you receive communion in his church.
When raising your future children, when they get older, they will likely ask you why “daddy” goes to a different church. How do you answer such a question while staying true God, your husband, and your children at the same time? So, as you see, you would be setting yourself up for incredible strife in the future, if you married this man, prior to you BOTH becoming firmly grounded in the Catholic Faith.
I realize that predicaments like this tend to be unwelcome, but this is where our faith gets really put to the test. What is more important to you, God, or your boyfriend? Can you have both? Yes, but only if you are willing to make no compromises to your own faith or that of your future children. You have a lot to consider. May God be with you.
PatienceandLove is at least twenty years behind in the marriage rules. The non-Catholic makes no promises regarding the children. He is simply made aware that the Catholic has re-affirmed his obligation to raise all children Catholic. That is different than 1950s.
Mixed marriages can work but they are not easy and if having Catholic children and grandchildren is part of your desire I would recommend against it. I take my kids to Mass each week but it is a struggle with a non-active spouse who wants the weekends free.
Thank you for all of the responses. We have talked about this a lot and have come to some agreements. I appreciate all of your words of widsom! God Bless and have a safe and happy new year!
Also the poster who stated that you caanot go to your boyfriend’s church is incorrect. You can certainly go, but cannot recieve communion there and you must also attent Mass.
PatienceAndLove was married in May of this year. Her husband had to make that agreement.
I have a friend who is Catholic and her husband is Baptist. They go to both a Baptist service and Catholic mass every week. The children attended CCD and Awana, and the children know that both denominations believe that God created the world and us, and loved us so much that he sent his son to die for our sins. Then, they are honest with their 3 children and explain that mommy & daddy have different beliefs…mom believes X and dad believes Y. They present it all to them. Their children are now teenagers, and still faithfully attend both churches with their parents. They see the beauty in both denominations. They are inspired with the praise and worship of the Baptist service, and the solemnity and sacraments of the mass.
Their children are now teenagers, and still faithfully attend both churches with their parents. They see the beauty in both denominations. They are inspired with the praise and worship of the Baptist service, and the solemnity and sacraments of the mass.
So they believe that both churches teach the same things? That the sacraments of the Catholic Church & the ordinances of the Baptist church are equal? At some point they have to choose or be forever sitting on the fence.
This would be fine if the Catholic parent believe that being Protestant is equal to being Catholic. This is not what I believe. Although I respect my Protestant friends’ sincerity and commitment, I believe that only Catholicism has the fullness of truth in it. I would be very sad if my children chose to be Protestant and missed out on the joy and wonder of being Catholic.
This type of fence sitting is exactly why Catholics should be wary of marrying Protestants.