Going to hell if we can't join the church?



I’m really confused here. My husband and I recently left our protestant church after a HORRIBLE experience, and were seriously considering joining the RC church. However, it appears that my husband and I couldn’t even join the church because my husband was previously married. His 1st marriage ended in divorce by no fault of his own (his 1st wife left him for a homosexual relationship), but it was a marriage that he entered into willingly, so I don’t think there are any real grounds for a catholic annulment according to all of my research.

The logical conclusion would be that not being able to join the church = being denied the sacraments = no grace from God = dying in our mortal sins = hell for the two of us. If our faith in Christ isn’t enough to save our souls, and we need to receive sacraments via the one true church as our source of God’s grace, it appears that we can’t receive them. Apparently, we can’t even go to confession, much less join the RC church! Am I misunderstanding something? :confused:



I really think you should talk to a preist about the annulment. I can not see how his first wife had truely accepted the marriage when she left it for a homosexual relationship later on. I am not even close to an expert, just my opinion. :slight_smile:


I think you need to talk to a priest. :slight_smile:


I think scripture states that unfaithfulness is definetely a cause for divorce.

Dont get yourselfs wrapped up in the “rules” of churches to the point you wander off from God. It can happen and you end up going nowhere a real limbo land caught on this earth feeling unaccepted by all the churches.

Im not saying dont discuss this with a priest to get it clear (and when you do; try to reconcille before you switch which scripture also states)

You can get wound up worrying about such things and forget Jesus who is the author and perfecter of your faith, the goal you both need at this time.



Perhaps someone can help me with this. If OP’s husband was not married in the church, therefore the marrige is not recognized by the church (yes???), would an annulment even be necessary?

Thanks and God Bless Yins!


I think you should go talk to a priest. Do Not Be Afraid. :slight_smile: He’ll listen and guide you as to what you need to do.
May God Bless You.


If the OP’s husband was not a Catholic then he is not bound by Church Law. It is Church Law that states that one must be married in the Church.

The Church has a presumption of validity for all marriages and an investigation would need to be done for the anullment process.

But as has been stated. It is not only the disposition of the OP’s husband at the time of that marriage, it is also the state of his then spouse. As she left for a homosexual relationship I believe that there are grounds for a decree of nullity in this case and the OP should contact a priest.

As for divorce being allowed, it is not.


Take a breath.:wink: You’re not going to Hell just yet.:thumbsup:

Annulments are granted on the basis of a pre-existing condition that would make the marriage invalid. Seems to me that his situation certainly qualifies for this. Was the ex-wife not living a lie when she married? Talk to a priest as mentioned. Get going on it now as the annulment process takes varied amounts of time depending on the circumstances and parties involved.

In the meantime, you both should begin attending Mass each Sunday. Though you are unable to celebrate the sacraments just yet, there are graces you receive by just being in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist! Many people attend Mass and for one reason or another, do not go up to receive communion. While others are going up to receive, this is an excellent time for you to kneel in prayer (others will do so as they return to their seats).

If you and your husband were in our parish at this very moment, we would get the annulment papers going and have you both sign up for the RCIA program beginning in the fall. That annulment could just be granted before the Easter Vigil next year and you both could enter the Church together at the same time! If the annulment were to take a little longer, you would complete the program without celebrating the Sacraments and do so when (if) the annulment were granted.

You are not alone in this situation. Be patient. The wait is worth it, just as it is with anything in Christ Jesus. :slight_smile:

God bless you and learn about your new faith now. You’ll have a head start!


Unless the first husband is a baptized Catholic and married outside the church, the first marriage is presumed valid.

HOWEVER. . .definitely approach the priest and petition for a decree of nullity. Your ‘own research’ just isn’t the same as the research of a valid tribunal with all its resources and experiences. The fact that the first wife left the marriage for a homosexual union could very well indicate that SHE had no intention of consenting to a valid marriage. . .and thus, the marriage would have been null because she did not give valid consent. In such a case, once the decree is given, the husband and the OP would be able to have their marriage convalidated.

Certainly one should never walk away from the truth because it might be ‘difficult’ to follow. Even if the husband’s marriage turned out to be valid, there is still the option for the OP and husband to either separate (if there are no minor children to care for) or to live as ‘brother and sister’. Isn’t eternal life worth that sacrifice? After all, once in heaven we are no longer ‘married or given in marriage’.

You cannot currently go to confession because you are living in a state of sin and currently are not correcting it. (and this is not to call you names, it’s just the way things are. That you didn’t realize it was sinful at first doesn’t automatically make it not sinful, but it certainly lessens your culpability for making the error in the first place. That you are trying to find ways to join the true church is also a point in your favor. God will help you.) And remember, those Catholics who are in a state of sin and will not correct it cannot go to confession either, so this isn’t something ‘unfair’ that just affects ‘you’. Knowing that might help. You aren’t alone, you aren’t being treated badly.

And you are certainly free to do all the research you can on the faith, to try to learn the practices, to read the catechism and learn the teachings and follow them so far as you are able, without actually ‘joining’ until you are free to do so.


I just want to say that annulments may take longer than a year.

My husband is an RCIA teacher. A man in the RCIA class of 2006 had hoped to receive an annulment and receive Holy Communion last year at the Easter Vigil.

The annulment didn’t come through. So the man continued to attend mass, and became involved in helping with the RCIA class of 2007, as well as several other ministries.

His annulment came through a few weeks before Easter Vigil of 2007, and his First Holy Communion was probably the most joyous in the congregation that night!

He waited TWO YEARS, but it was worth it.

The Catholic Church doesn’t hurry, and we just have to be patient sometimes. I don’t know about you, but as a Protestant, I wasn’t used to waiting for much of anything. Full church membership was as easy as giving a personal testimony before the Church Governing Board and then you’re in. Heck, in one denomination that we were part of, everyone who volunteered for a ministry was “ordained”; ordination didn’t apply just to the pastor.

Keep pursuing the Catholic Church. It’s worth the chase.


What would the RC church teach would happen to our souls should we die before we are able to receive the sacraments? Would we be justified by our faith in anticipation of receiving the sacraments, or would we be damned to hell, or at least have a VERY long stay in purgatory? I guess I’m just trying to see where God’s grace and our faith fits in to the picture along with the actual sacraments…


First of all, you should not assume that there are no grounds for nullity. There are many factors. Go talk to a compentent authority in your diocese and discuss the situation. Start with a priest in the local parish you would be joining. Lay out all the details, he will guide you.

If his prior bond is found to be null, you could have your marriage validated in the church.

If it is found to be valid, your option would be to live as brother & sister.

You could then receive the Sacraments and intiation into the Church.

Would that be a hard road to go down? Yes
Are your souls worth it? Yes


I don’t think you can know definitively any of this and you will be wasting your time speculating about it and soliciting the (mostly) uninformed speculations of others. You need to follow the advice of these good people here and speak to an expert who is in a position to give you sound direction on how to proceed. Start with your local priest or whoever is in charge of these things at your nearest parish. Only then will you get the answers you need.

At the same time, if you are sincerely seeking to do God’s will and are willing to follow his direction to you through his Church, place all your trust in his Divine Mercy and love for you, and be confident that he wants what is best for you and your husband. Don’t forget that He loves you and has created you to be with him in heaven forever. God bless.



Being on the road to Truth, and waiting obediently for “go” from the proper authorities, certainly puts you in good standing with God, IMO.
I would not fear the Lord, just trust Him. You are seeking Him and all will be well.


Hello, I was received in the Church last September after the annulment process. Talk to a Priest; they all have been wonderful. Going to hell? If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ you will be saved. Many different faiths will be in heaven including Catholics. I was Pentecostal for 10 years and loved and served the Lord. I was not (only by his grace) going to hell. I am now experiencing the fullness of the faith and love the sacraments. My bags are packed for a long stay in Purgatory and I will be joined by many. Talk to a priest, go to mass, and don’t feel left out when** everyone** :confused: goes forward to receive the Body and Blood. I don’t know as much about the Church as some but I do know that God loves you and His heart felt desire is to welcome you into his kingdom. Continue to trust in His love and mercy and He will see you through. Mike


It’s important to remember Jesus Christ loves you and His heart is full of mercy. People will be judged on the light of their conscience. What I mean by that is this: your desire was to enter the church and recieve all the sacraments, this is an act of trust in Jesus. Now, this does not mean you should not do everything possible to get into the church. Jesus does not want anyone in Hell and is not going to let us slip into hell even though we were trying with everything we had to do right.

Now with that said, perhaps you should take a different perspective: Instead of thinking so much about ‘am I going to hell’ , think about the grace and beauty that awaits you, the fullness of Jesus in the Eucharist. The graces God gives through His sacraments to humble contrite hearts are absolutely beautiful and will open up new dimensions to our Lord that you never imagined. :slight_smile:



God does read our hearts and know our intentions.

If you are taking steps to correct the situation (i.e., living as brother & sister until the marriage is sorted out) and steps to enter the Church then do not be troubled.

Catechumens (the unbaptized) are counted among the believers if they are in the process of joining the Church but die before Baptism. If you are already Baptized, you are already a member of the Church (though not in full Communion), have had Original Sin remitted, and are a chidl of God. Personal sin can be remitted through confession-- or perfect contrition.

Go talk to a priest. God is merciful, don’t forget that. You are sincerely seeking to do God’s will. It will work out.


My experience is Protestants can understand Catholic spirituality rather easily however they tend to completely misunderstand the rules/teachings. This is because too many Protestant intently mix and match rules with misinterpretation to scare other Protestants from the Catholic Church.

FIRST attend RCIA classes (and Mass) to see if you want to be Catholic it is a life long commitment. Only after you’re sure you want to live the life, start the official process. Your life on earth lasts however long it lasts, which is the same amount of time you have to achieve good standing (state of Grace). Unless you want to be Catholic for life my advise is to be a welcome guest of the Church for as long as you would like. Far to many want to know how long it takes with out understanding their question- It takes your life time to be Catholic it always has-


As has already been said:

  1. Talk to the pastor at the local parish. And pray.
  2. Go through the RCIA program of preparation for admission into the Church. And pray.
  3. Decide if this is really where you want to be. And pray.
  4. Follow your conscience. And pray.
  5. Let pastor help you find a canon lawyer to help you through the annulment/marriage process if you have decided to join us. And pray.

The idea that you would go to hell is just a non-starter. Don’t even think about it. The Father loves you far too much to let you drop through the cracks. Your heart is in the right place.
We will be glad to have you with us and in anticipation: Welcome home.


PS Did I mention that you should pray?


Thanks for the clairification, how ever I do disagree with your last point. Divorce is a civil matter, and anyone is free to divorce and still be in full communion with the church, so long as that person doesn’t re-marry.

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