Interfaith marriage, and raising the children, scenario


#1

ok, here is the scenario that I’m looking for help on…Catholic man marries non catholic christian woman. They get married in the Catholic church, catholic man signs promise to do his best to raise his children Catholic, has them baptized, etc. Children go to Christian non catholic school, attend both churches, and is raised with loving respect of both faiths. Holy Communion and Confirmation are delayed until the child is mid teens so as to fully make their own decisions. All the while raised in a loving family and taught the Christian walk with God, loving Jesus and truly being taught to immerse themselves in Scripture.

The kids though are not exactly taught to invoke the intercession of the saints, Mary, etc, out of respect for the non-Christian mother, however are taught the Catholic understanding of the communion of saints, the scriptural basis, and misconceptions are eliminated.

Not to say that this is an easy scenario, but Catholic Man and Non Catholic Christian woman love each other immensly and would do a fabulous job raising real God fearing Christian Children, who may some day be fully Catholic if the Holy Spirit guides them as such. They would be protected from Misconceptions about the Catholic faith that is rampant in the world, including non-catholic Christian circles, well, as much as can be. This is obviously not the perfect scenario, and it would be easy to say that the Catholic man should just ditch the non catholic christian woman, however that is not an option here, as these Christians wish to be united and the Catholic wishes to have the Church bless and recognize the marriage, in his obedience to Christ. Catholic man is Strong in his faith, and will witness to it as best he can, so as to be a light to others.

Thanks in advance for all your thoughts.


#2

So why did you post this? You are unwilling to discontinue the relationship, knowing its perils. Are you wanting support? Sorry, can’t give it.

The stewardship of the souls of your children is serious and in my opinion the “hope” that they will someday be Catholic and a watered-down and non-practiced version of Catholicism is unacceptable.

I think it’s a mistake and so that’s all I can say.


#3

Why are you asking this question if it’s not an option for you to leave the girl.

I think the Bible talks about it quite clearly when it says not to be unequally yoked. Yes, your both Christians and profess Christ, but your faith in someways still goes into different directions. For example, why cannot you teach your children to make intercession to the Saints? In a sense won’t your kids than be practicing a Protestant version of Christianity? In fact their teachers at the Christian school will be big influences on the kids. That and the friends they will meet. If your being fair, wouldn’t it be better to have them go to a public school?

I just think that a husband and a wife should be in agreement in these type of matters. Yes, its easy to say now that’s how things will be done, but its quite a different thing when that Child is in your arms. And its the most important responsibilty of a parent to raise their child in the faith.

We may be coming into some really dark times. For all we know new divisions could becoming in the Christian world. I am particularly worried about some of the heretical,deceptive teachings in Protestantism like the rapture etc. When a group doesn’t have the magistrum, well who knows what kind of teachings could come.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I have plenty of wonderful Christian friends who are Protestants but really there is a difference. In a lot of ways a Spirtual one. I think it will be really hrad for you to raise your children to believe in Truth. LIke the Catholic Church claims when Protestantism/Catholicism are portrayed as equals.


#4

Thanks for you thoughts so far. I think the biggest influence will be in the home. I would hope that the example and teaching from their father will entice them to search out the faith. I think the Catholic faith sells itself, and people that are not raised with misconceptions that for years goes uncorrected, like in this case, would be far more open to the truth. I believe that the truth will speak for itself.

They will have a healthy respect for Protestant Christians by virture of the example of their mother. Once the seed is planted, they will be old enough to make their own decision, why I would be doing my best to display the Catholic faith in it’s true light, that wonderful enriching faith that it is. The non Catholic Christian spouse, shows a wonderful example also of how to love Jesus, walk with him, live his word, etc.

1ke, thanks for you input, I’m not looking for support, as I previously stated. Input and opinions, just to foster thoughts in my mind.

bekalc, the last point you made is a good one.


#5

you have described a hypothetical family where neither parent believes strongly enough in their faith to hand it on fully and completely to their children. How can such a weak faith be lived out, and how can you raise children knowing you will deliberately deprive them of the fullness of truth?


#6

I know a good many people who were raised this way. I am 40 yrs old and have attended many types of churches. Realistically, most people raised this way end up feeling that which church you attend doesn’t matter much. Many end up feeling that attending church at all doesn’t matter much.

None of my friends and acquaintences who were raised by parents of different faiths and were raised with a “choice” ended up as staunch members of either faith. They either left church entirely or eventually found their own faith among the options out there.

Many speak of not “choosing” either parents faith, because they did not want to hurt the parent who’s faith they rejected.

I am just reporting what I have heard them say about their own lives. I was raised in a one faith family, very devout etc. etc, and I still left to find my own way, so there are no guarentees either way.

cheddar


#7

[quote=puzzleannie]you have described a hypothetical family where neither parent believes strongly enough in their faith to hand it on fully and completely to their children. How can such a weak faith be lived out, and how can you raise children knowing you will deliberately deprive them of the fullness of truth?
[/quote]

That is quite the assumption you are making. Speaking for myself, I am very strong in the Catholic faith, and very knowledgable, so much so I am considering teaching the RCIA. A strong faith will be lived out, just not forced on the Children, but taught to the Children. Most times, people who are hostile to the Catholic faith are so because they are fed misconceptions about the faith, and that will not happen here. The kids will not be deprived the fullness of truth, because I will be living it and explaining it and why I believe it.

I realize this whole scenario is not popular with most folks on here, but I do appreciate opinions, ideas, suggestions, thats basically why I am here posting this.


#8

[quote=cheddarsox]I know a good many people who were raised this way. I am 40 yrs old and have attended many types of churches. Realistically, most people raised this way end up feeling that which church you attend doesn’t matter much. Many end up feeling that attending church at all doesn’t matter much.

None of my friends and acquaintences who were raised by parents of different faiths and were raised with a “choice” ended up as staunch members of either faith. They either left church entirely or eventually found their own faith among the options out there.

Many speak of not “choosing” either parents faith, because they did not want to hurt the parent who’s faith they rejected.

I am just reporting what I have heard them say about their own lives. I was raised in a one faith family, very devout etc. etc, and I still left to find my own way, so there are no guarentees either way.

cheddar
[/quote]

hmm, thats interesting. Thanks for sharing. The interesting thing is, at least in my view and experience my whole life, is that most Catholics I know and have ever come to know, believe symbolically in the Eucharist (except for the awesome people here at CA), don’t attend church except for the odd Sunday and x-mas/easter/new years, and couldn’t care less about the faith believe it’s ok to join a different denomination as long as they love and pray to Jesus.

I am not like what I just described, and totally believe in the Catholic Church, it’s doctrines, etc, and I believe, that without being brainwashed with misconceptions, and with encouragement to seek out the faith, that it answers all questions, and sells itself (would Christ’s Church do any less?).


#9

You can’t raise your kids in two different faiths. Sorry, not possible. I am the child of parent’s who tried. Usually what happens is that the kids, despite the parents best efforts, doesn’t really learn either and becomes apathetic towards religion. Also be prepared for a battle for in-laws to cut Catholicism out of the picture completely, it happens all the time, mostly after the marriage has already taken place.


#10

[quote=save me Jesus]hmm, thats interesting. Thanks for sharing. The interesting thing is, at least in my view and experience my whole life, is that most Catholics I know and have ever come to know, believe symbolically in the Eucharist (except for the awesome people here at CA), don’t attend church except for the odd Sunday and x-mas/easter/new years, and couldn’t care less about the faith believe it’s ok to join a different denomination as long as they love and pray to Jesus.

I am not like what I just described, and totally believe in the Catholic Church, it’s doctrines, etc, and I believe, that without being brainwashed with misconceptions, and with encouragement to seek out the faith, that it answers all questions, and sells itself (would Christ’s Church do any less?).
[/quote]

I don’t believe that at all. Most are not as you describe.
As for original post quite frankly you should not be allowing your children to attend a non-Catholic church. They should exclusively be attending a Catholic church and religiously be brought up in the Catholic faith and by the way that is not brainwashing. It is actually your duty, assuming what you say about belief in the Church’s doctrines, to bring your children up as Catholics.


#11

I’m also speaking from experience a bit. One of my friends was rasied by a Protestant mom, Catholic dad. She choose Pentecostalism and her new husband is even anti-catholic. Her sister though is leaning Catholic. Still, it ended up that she just did Protestants stuff.

I just think its better for two people to be in agreement about this matter. And it doesn’t really matter if your strong now how do you know what it will be like ten years from now? Look at King Solosman he was strong in his faith too but the women eventually took him a way. Don’t get me wrong of course Protestants are not pagans but still.


#12

Save Me Jesus, you must be very young! The sentence in your posting that was most striking to me was that the couple in question “loved each other immensely”. Have you ever considered what conflicts might arise when the realities of marriage hit, and the infatuation of young love wears off? This of course should be replaced by a more mature form of love which is more satisfying over the long haul. However these religious differences might not look the same after a few years. The other posters have been trying to guide you away from this choice, because experience has shown over and over the pit falls of it. As the child of a mixed marriage who is married to the child of mixed marriage, you can be sure that we did not want that situation for our own children. Please carefully weigh the good advice that you are being given by these posters who want to spare you and the ones that you love a life of heart ache.


#13

[quote=save me Jesus] Thanks for you thoughts so far. I think the biggest influence will be in the home.
[/quote]

Exactly. It starts in the home. And, your home would be a divided home. Mealtime prayers-- do you cross yourself or not? Family rosary? Non-existent. Bible study/stories-- which version of the bible do you use? Lent and Advent-- do you observe or not? The list just goes on and on. Are you so blind that you cannot see that your home life can NEVER be centered on living out your faith when there is more than one faith in the house. Parents are the primary educators of their children-- and they will learn by every example you do and do not set.

[quote=save me Jesus] I would hope that the example and teaching from their father will entice them to search out the faith.
[/quote]

That is not your role as a father-- to “hope” that they will embrace the faith. It is your responsibility to ensure that they are educated in the faith, attend Mass, receive the Sacraments, and are properly formed. Young children are easily confused. What seems so facile to you is in fact a lifetime challenge for parents. And, all along the way you will have a conflicting set of beliefs undermining what you are trying to teach.

[quote=save me Jesus] I think the Catholic faith sells itself,
[/quote]

Not to a 5 year old.

[quote=save me Jesus] and people that are not raised with misconceptions that for years goes uncorrected, like in this case, would be far more open to the truth.
[/quote]

Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps the UNtruth in the Protestant faith will be more compelling b/c it is the easier road-- for example, does this faith allow contraception, divorce & remarriage, have a “soft, squishy” version of Jesus? All of these things appeal to the sinful nature of man. Catholicism is the narrow path, least chosen. Raising your kids with exposure to this other path will confuse them, and possibly lure them.

[quote=save me Jesus] I believe that the truth will speak for itself.
[/quote]

And, based on the state of Cathlic kids raise in fully Catholic households, I challenge that the lies speak louder in society-at-large. And, mixing that with the lies (yes, lies) of the Protestant theology-- well, I think they might drown out the truth. I think the ultimate test here is the kids silent question, “well, if it’s true why doesn’t Mommy believe it?” That is compelling to a child.

[quote=save me Jesus] They will have a healthy respect for Protestant Christians by virture of the example of their mother.
[/quote]

They will have a false view of Protestantism as equal to Catholicism. What happens when they put the real question to you and mom-- only one of you can be right, which is it? How will you be a house divided upon itself with you and your wife both claiming what their church teaches is true?

[quote=save me Jesus] Once the seed is planted, they will be old enough to make their own decision, why I would be doing my best to display the Catholic faith in it’s true light, that wonderful enriching faith that it is. The non Catholic Christian spouse, shows a wonderful example also of how to love Jesus, walk with him, live his word, etc.
[/quote]

Yes, a competition between spouses in front of the kids-- great idea. You are building your house on sandy soil!

You are setting yourself up for serious heartache and, in my opinion, failure. I think you will have a lot to answer for if you try this approach to raising children in two faiths.


#14

[quote=bekalc]Why are you asking this question if it’s not an option for you to leave the girl.
[/quote]

Yes, by all means, divorce your wife and tear your family apart. That’ll thoroughly demonstrate your unwavering committment to Catholic teaching and sway everyone involved into the Church.

– Mark L. Chance.


#15

Honestly, it seems to me Save Me that your children will be raised as Protestants. So all of their friends growing up and their teachers will be Catholic. After all they will attend a Protestant school not a Catholic one. They will not have communion in the Catholic Church at a young age. They will not be taught to make intercession to the saints. If your wife truly respects your faith why wouldn’t she mind if the kids are taught the rosary?

I also think you fail to understand one point. As my aunt said the stay at home parent, the one who is there when the kids are young, home from school etc. That parent is the one who has the most influence on the child.

I don’t know why the kid if taught Protestant is equal to Catholicism. After all mom is a good Christian, would necessarily want to be Catholic. Especially since he will be taught at Protestant schools. Why should the child want days of obligation, Lent etc? Will the child be taught to observe Lent?

You say your strong in your faith and want to teach RCIA. But honestly if I were a priest, I’m not sure I would let you. Why its one thing to be a not/so Catholic and then later become strong and have a Protestant wife, kids not being raised properly Catholic.

It’s another thing to claim to be a strong Catholic and do this, and then want to instruct others in the faith. Scripture says clearly that if someone wants to be a pastor/deacon etc. Their family/children should be believers. How can you properly instruct converts if your not truly instructing/forming your children in the Catholic faith. Things like confirmation/communion etc are meant to instruct the child in the faith.

I realize you love this girl, but have you truly prayed about this. No offense, but Scripture does talk about choosing a spouse, and when the New Testament mentions it, it talks about choosing the spouse wisely. Not marrying someone for the reasons the heathen do. It also says Christians should marry other Christians Since we believe as Catholics that the author of the Scripture was a Catholic. Than really one could suggest it says, Catholics should marry Catholics.

There are plenty of wonderful Catholic girls out there. Honestly I have a feeling there are more strongly practicing Catholic girls than Catholic boys. But I don’t know for sure. You never know too if you give up your girlfriend God might do a work in her.


#16

[quote=mlchance]Yes, by all means, divorce your wife and tear your family apart. That’ll thoroughly demonstrate your unwavering committment to Catholic teaching and sway everyone involved into the Church.

– Mark L. Chance.
[/quote]

ML of course if He is already married to her, He should stay married to her. But I had the feeling he was suggesting what if he married her. That the marraige has not taken place yet. If marriage has not taken place, He shouldn’t do it.


#17

[quote=bekalc]ML of course if He is already married to her, He should stay married to her. But I had the feeling he was suggesting what if he married her. That the marraige has not taken place yet. If marriage has not taken place, He shouldn’t do it.
[/quote]

In your opinion, based on nothing more than mere guesswork about what the future could possibly hold.

Or, assuming the OP is talking hypotheticals, things could work out quite differently. He could end up happily married with two wonderful children, both being raised Catholic, and then have his prayers further blessed by his wife being received into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Perhaps the only thing sillier than folks seeking relationship advice online from complete strangers is complete strangers giving relationship advice while presuming an air of authority.

– Mark L. Chance.


#18

[quote=mlchance]Yes, by all means, divorce your wife and tear your family apart. That’ll thoroughly demonstrate your unwavering committment to Catholic teaching and sway everyone involved into the Church.

– Mark L. Chance.
[/quote]

I guess you missed the part where they aren’t married YET. This is all future tense “what if”.


#19

[quote=1ke]Exactly. It starts in the home. And, your home would be a divided home. Mealtime prayers-- do you cross yourself or not? Family rosary? Non-existent. Bible study/stories-- which version of the bible do you use? Lent and Advent-- do you observe or not? The list just goes on and on. Are you so blind that you cannot see that your home life can NEVER be centered on living out your faith when there is more than one faith in the house. Parents are the primary educators of their children-- and they will learn by every example you do and do not set.

That is not your role as a father-- to “hope” that they will embrace the faith. It is your responsibility to ensure that they are educated in the faith, attend Mass, receive the Sacraments, and are properly formed. Young children are easily confused. What seems so facile to you is in fact a lifetime challenge for parents. And, all along the way you will have a conflicting set of beliefs undermining what you are trying to teach.

Not to a 5 year old.

Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps the UNtruth in the Protestant faith will be more compelling b/c it is the easier road-- for example, does this faith allow contraception, divorce & remarriage, have a “soft, squishy” version of Jesus? All of these things appeal to the sinful nature of man. Catholicism is the narrow path, least chosen. Raising your kids with exposure to this other path will confuse them, and possibly lure them.

And, based on the state of Cathlic kids raise in fully Catholic households, I challenge that the lies speak louder in society-at-large. And, mixing that with the lies (yes, lies) of the Protestant theology-- well, I think they might drown out the truth. I think the ultimate test here is the kids silent question, “well, if it’s true why doesn’t Mommy believe it?” That is compelling to a child.

They will have a false view of Protestantism as equal to Catholicism. What happens when they put the real question to you and mom-- only one of you can be right, which is it? How will you be a house divided upon itself with you and your wife both claiming what their church teaches is true?

Yes, a competition between spouses in front of the kids-- great idea. You are building your house on sandy soil!

You are setting yourself up for serious heartache and, in my opinion, failure. I think you will have a lot to answer for if you try this approach to raising children in two faiths.
[/quote]

Perfectly stated, even though I’m sure the original poster and a lot of other people don’t want to hear this. Even Dr. Laura says that children raised in dual-religion homes will discount both and become neither. If the parents don’t believe in one faith and present a united front, the hypocrasy is easy for the child to see. You can’t fool them. Most likely they will be drop religion altogether when they get older.


#20

I can speak from experience because I am a Catholic woman married to a Protestant man (Baptist).

I want to let you know that it is NOT an easy road. When we married, I was not really a practicing Catholic and had not had a conversion of heart. I went to Catholic school all my life and took my “faith” for granted. I believed but did so because I was told that’s what I was supposed to believe. Anyway, that’s another story…

In the beginning, we felt that our 2 different faiths would not make a difference. We didn’t even talk much about it and problems never entered our minds…until I became pregnant. I then started to realize that raising my child Catholic was really important to me. I convinced my husband that to raise a small child in 2 different faiths was going to be confusing - at best - and he agreed initially anyway, to raise the child in one faith. I guess, since it seemed to be a little more important to me, he agreed to let me raise our son in the Catholic faith - with the understanding that as soon as the child could reason, he would be allowed to teach him about other faiths. I didn’t have a problem with that - at the time.

In time, I guess about 8 years into our marriage, I had that conversion of heart (Cursillo) and came home to the Catholic Church full force! I did allow our son to attend protestant services - but only after he had attended Mass. That didn’t sit too well the the husband or the in-laws in the beginning but they got used to it. I have fortunately, become so strong in my faith that I insisted on our son receiving all the sacraments on time and going to CCD. My husband didn’t push against it. Why? I don’t know but I’m thankful he didn’t. My son is now full fledged Catholic and I hopefully have instilled in him the love and truth of the Catholic faith.

But, it doesn’t end there. I constantly pray for my husband’s conversion. He’s not anti-catholic but could’ve been. He disagrees vehemently about our beliefs (the common misconceptions even after I’ve tried to explain them to him), he even throws out semi anti-catholic comments occasionally. There were never any family rosaries, no Catholic family prayers being prayed as a family, no Catholic traditions, no attending Mass as a family, no real understanding of the Catholic events in my son’s life. We have tried to have conversations about Catholic beliefs but my husband is so interested in proving Catholic beliefs wrong that our “discussions” turn into screaming matches. So, we have agreed to disagree and we no longer can discuss anything about Catholicism (the kids called these discussions the “Holy Wars” and would leave the house!).

Our family is a split family and I hate it! I long to have my husband next to me at Mass and receiving Holy Communion - and having our marriage blessed in the church - which I don’t think will ever happen but I keep praying. I long for him to be a part of my parish and to be involved with the people I have come to know and love through my parish but it seems that anything Catholic - he steers clear of.

So, if you have not discussed these things IN GREAT DETAIL and she does not realize how strong you are in your faith and that you want the kids to be raised Catholic, then I would suggest you give this some long hard thought and prayer because it is very hard to fight with your spouse about these issues - and there will be fights, trust me! It causes division no matter how much you think it won’t. I have lived with these divisions for 22 years - and I don’t wish this kind of turmoil on anyone.
If you are already married, I would make my intentions known - with the help of a priest in the least confrontational manner possible and find some common ground for your sake and the sake of your children. They will be caught in the middle if you don’t.


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