Lutheran-Catholic Marriage - Advice for raising a family

I am requesting advice on how to deal with common situations that seem to arise in a mixed marriage. I have read these boards off and on for a couple months and I would like some practical tips on handling issues. If you are going to simply blast interfaith marriages or tell us we have to do everything the Catholic way or we are horrible people please refrain from posting.

A little background information:

My husband and I have been married for almost two years. When we got married my husband was a non practicing catholic, and was attending church with me (I am Missouri Synod Lutheran). We were married in the Lutheran Church as well. About 9 months ago my husband rediscovered his Catholic Faith. This has led to a lot of turmoil of the last 9 months, as suddenly all the things we had agreed to before we got married seems to be up for renegotiation. We did go through Radical Sanation (sp?). Now we are looking at starting a family, and we are going to be facing some huge decisions about our kids.

We love each other very much, I cannot imagine life with out my husband by my side, and we have committed to working this situation in a way we both agree on and support. However I would love to here how other interfaith couples have dealt with some of the following issues, and any other issues:

Baptizing Children: I was a godparent to my younger sister (she is 11 years younger) and I would like her to be my Children’s Godparent, but as with the rest of my family she is Lutheran. Not having my family members or a trusted friend be able to be my children’s god parents is strange to me. Not to mention we really don’t know anyone who is Catholic well enough to have them serve as our children’s god parents. On that note not having my husband be able to serve as a god parent to any of my sister’s future children is not okay either.

Weekly Church Attendance: How do we worship as a family while still allowing both my husband and I to practice our respective faiths, how do we expose our children to those faiths with out making it confusing to them as well. (i.e. Why can’t mommy take communion at daddy’s church, etc.)

First Communion: In the Churches I grew up in First Communion was part of confirmation, which took place in the 6th – 8th grade. I am very uncomfortable with 1st graders taking communion, when as I was taught they were not old enough to understand what they were doing. (I’m not sure in 6th grade, I completely understood the importance of communion)

I know that these are hard topics, and as my husband and I have laughed about there are so many similarities about our two churches, and so much that is good and beautiful about each of them that it is very frustrating that the parts that are different can drive us so far apart. I know we can’t solve those larger theological issues as better minds than ours have tried for hundreds of years. We are simply looking for practical everyday ideas and solutions that we can use to make out family run smoothly.

Thank you for any insight that anyone has, and as a reminder please don’t reply if you don’t have anything constructive to say. (Hint: Suggesting to do everything only the Catholic way or only the Lutheran way is not helpful nor constructive. :slight_smile: )


I don’t have too many tips, because I don’t have kids. However, my husband is an ECLA Lutheran and I’m Catholic.

However, it has always been this way. Neither of us has never been non-practicing in our own faith.

I think I can be most helpful with the Church situation. My husband attends Catholic Mass with me almost every single week. He attends Lutheran service on Saturday night with his friend. I attend Lutheran service about once a month. Catholic Mass is non-negotiable, and it will continue this way once we have kids. Nathan will just never receive communion as he has no desire to convert.

As for the issues surrounding children, I am pretty sure that as long as one godparent is Catholic it is OK. Someone may correct me on that. I can’t make any promises, and I can’t pull up the catechism on my work computer. :shrug:

Also, I am pretty sure if one person is Catholic it is expected the children will be raised Catholic…

Have you had your marriage validated by the Catholic Church?

Thank you for any insight that anyone has, and as a reminder please don’t reply if you don’t have anything constructive to say. (Hint: Suggesting to do everything only the Catholic way or only the Lutheran way is not helpful nor constructive. )

I reckon that leaves me outta this conversation. :frowning:

M’am what you want is somebody to tell ya what ya wanna hear.

Actually, I do not want someone to tell me what I want to hear. I am trying to make a family that can nuture both spouses spritually without either one having to give up their faith and “just go along” because it what is easiest.

Not to mention…this is a change that happened after we were married. So the original agreements about raising children and how our family would work that we had agreed on before getting married suddenly have all changed through a decision my husband made. I am happy that he has found spiritual peace and I am trying to be loving and supporting though this, BUT I think I have a valid point in saying that to expect me to give up everything I knew and believe in to do things only the Catholic way is a little unfair.

So no, I am not asking for people to say what I want to hear. If I only wanted things done only my way I would not have posted this question to a Catholic Forum. I am asking for people who have lived this situation or seen how other have lived it to give any advice they have.

Then you should have constructed your home that way. You can’t freely make the choice to have a religiously disunified home, and then get all upset at the churches involved for making your life difficult!

On the godparent issue… in a Catholic baptism, one can have what is called a “Christian witness.” Obviously, they cannot be expected to help raise the child in the Catholic faith or educate him or her in it, but they serve as a baptized Christian who witnessed the baptism. There must still be at least one canonically valid Catholic godparent, as well, though. I am sure that y’all can fine ONE confirmed, practicing Catholic somewhere in the family, or a friend at the parish.

Weekly church attendance: if you want to go as a family, pick one and stick with it. My MIL gave up practicing in her Presbyterian church and went to Mass, raised her boys Catholic. She did that for the unity of her family.

Communion: the Church states the age of reason as being 7 years old. Let’s be honest here. First of all, the communion you grew up with is not the same as Catholic Eucharist. We believe in the miracle of Transubstantiation, where the actual substance of the bread and wine is changed into the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. It is a mystery, meaning none of us truly understand what we are doing when we take it. But children as well as adults can benefit from the graces of partaking, and if they have reached the age of reason, can be educated well enough to approach with the proper reverence and understand at least part of what they are doing. My diocese has reverted to the original order of the sacraments anyway, in which Confirmation comes before Eucharist, and so my children will receive both in third grade. Many dioceses are doing this…

I am sorry to tell you that the only way to have religious peace in your family is to MAKE A CHOICE. Practice Lutheran or practice Catholic, but pick one.

As a child who grew up in a mulit-religious home I highly suggest considering putting what’s best for your children ahead of what you feel is fair, and give them the spiritual consistency they NEED. And when I say need, I mean more than food, water and shelter.

In my opinion, raising them to think both religions are equally good is not only incorrect, (because if they were equally good then why have two), but sets them up for just the opposite of what you are seeking to do which is raise them with a good faith foundation.

What you are proposing is confusing, and a breeding ground for indifference to the important DEFINING differences in the two faiths.

In a nutshell, you kids can grow up thinking that all religions are ‘the same’ and therefore why follow any?

I’m going to advise that you and hubby decide which one you are going to follow, not how you are going to follow both.

I would also like to invite you to more deeply explore, with your husband who has this renewed interest in his faith, the Catholic faith. That means putting aside what you think you know about Catholicism, and being willing to open your heart, even if for the love of your hubby and helping him on his spiritual journey.

I hope this doesn’t sound like a ‘blast’ because I don’t intend it to be, but this subject is one that evokes a lot of ire in me because of the PAIN this very situation has cause my family and especially my poor siblings. I implore you to consider the eternal well being of your children above all else.


Hi Alix! I am a Catholic, also engaged to a Lutheran woman (I almost feel like we Lutheran/Catholic couples could have our own little group here :smiley: ) I also grew up in a mixed religious family and have several Catholic friends who have entered mixed marriages (almost all with Lutherans!)

A lot depends on the particulars of your situation. What has prompted your husband to want to return to the practice of Catholicism now? What elements of your respective faiths are most important to each of you?

You also mentioned that your marriage in the Lutheran church has undergone radical sanation, which I understand means that it is now recognized by the Catholic church as well. Did you and your husband have any marriage preparation before this occurred? My fiancee and I are in the midst of that right now, and it’s been a good way to talk through some of our priorities in how we will raise our kids. If you were not required to do this, you may want to seek it out. It could give you an opening for discussing some of these issues.

I think the most important thing my fiancee and I have done starting off is to find a Catholic parish where we both feel comfortable. The pastor has been involved in a lot of ecumenical efforts and the parish has a lot of inter-faith couples. My fiancee doesn’t feel out of place, and is comfortable attending Mass with me there. I think we are both comfortable with the idea of this as “our” parish, though my fiancee has no intention of converting.

Some of the other issues you will have to work your way through as you go along. The communion issues are especially tricky because of the different understandings of the Eucharist. As several people have mentioned, there is no problem with a non-Catholic friend or relative serving as a “Christian witness” (instead of a Godparent) at the Baptism for one of your children. Having been to several baptisms with a Christian witness in place of a Godparent, it looks a lot like a distinction without a difference. You will have to find at least one Catholic godparent.

Best of luck to you and your husband!

Alix, why was radical sanation the method used, anyway? From what I understand, that is only used when the non-Catholic spouse refuses to do what is necessary for a convalidation. If you had had a convalidation, you would have been required to go through marriage prep, and these issues would have been discussed.

If your refusal to participate in Catholic marriage prep was the reason for radical sanation instead of convalidation, then it seems to me you are set on preserving your own religious identity at all costs, and unwilling to compromise or learn anything about the Catholic faith and church. If that was not the case, then disregard this whole paragraph.

Complaining about what is fair as opposed to unfair will not further a healthy religious unity for this family. Both of you need to be honest and open with each other, and make a choice as to which religion you are going to practice. It must be agreed upon. And please, DO NOT have any children until you both agree. Because it is not fair to bring them into an already declared religious battle. That is so damaging for kids… take shannyk’s words to heart. I was lucky in my religiously divided family in that my dad was an atheist, but didn’t care if my mom took me to Mass. But his example was more of a roadblock than a help when it came to establishing my religious identity and claiming my faith for my own.

Alix1912…I admire you for having the guts to come on here and post. I have been looking at this website for MONTHS and I have finally come to the point I am tired of some of the responses that people give on here. I don’t care for the disagreement with people on here, but the attitiude in which they do it. I have seen some of the most unChrist like attitudes every on here, not everyone, but alot. I am protestant and my husband is Catholic. So like you, I happened on this board to try to find some answers to help my marriage and see about a compromise. As you have found, all you find is, do it the Catholic way or not at all. I don’t understand this at all. What happened to people loving people and loving who Christ is and that HE died for us and our sins. It is simple as that. I have not found that at all on this board with most of the people posting. I have heard, and correct me if I am wrong, if you don’t convert, then it is pretty much ground for an annulement, especially if you weren’t married in the church or had been divorced. I don’t believe giving up on a marriage is what God wanted, even if it is the second, third or fourth. I am married to a Catholic and I happened to be divorced and no we didn’t marry in a Catholic church and no I haven’t recieved an annulement. But my God forgave me. Thank God, he is God and these people on here are not judging me. I would tell you to work with your husband. You probably have not come to the best place in the world to get advice. I am not sure what person here on earth to go to that can give you an objective opinion and not be for one particular side. I know for me, I have decided that I am attending my church, which my husband goes with me , however he knows at anytime he can suggest going to the Catholic church on a Saturday or during the week and I will be glad to go with him at that point. But I pray that you find peace and happiness with you and your husband to where your family can be at full peace and know the peace of God. That is the most important thing of all. All this little stuff that they fight and argue about on here is all going to amount to nothing in the end.

If I have offended anyone on here, I apologize. However, I was just tired of standing back and people coming on here and wanting advice and being attacked. Alix 1912, asked that if you didn’t have anything constructive to say, not to add your opinion and still one person had to throw a comment that was very unChrist like. Think about what you say before you post. Ask yourself if the question, am I going to be pleasing God with my comment. I think in most causes the answer would be NO! We are coming here because we want the best for our families, not because we want to be attacked. Again, this is not everybody on here. I have been more turned off by peoples answers on here and their attitidues than some have actually helped. You can speak what you believe in love.

God Bless Us All.

Ummmm, yeah, that would be why I said this:

And shannyk said this:

:rolleyes: I don’t even know why I bother with these threads anymore.

Lutherans, you think your church is the true church and teaches the truth, right? (And if you don’t… why do you go?) If people came to a Lutheran website and asked about marriage and raising families, you would give them Lutheran answers, right? Well, guess what, this is a Catholic site, and we are Catholics. We think our Church is the One True Church, and we tell people that! And we give Catholic answers, based on Catholic teachings and laws. So why is it hateful/judgemental when we do it, but not hateful/judgemental when you do it? Or, if you don’t tell anyone that your church is the right one, that any old church will do, well, then, why should we think any more highly of your church than you do?

First of all I am not Lutheran. I am a protestant and I am Church of God. But most importantly, I serve a God that died for both of us, so a sign above the door really means nothing to me.

I actually thought your post in the beginning was not condeming. I think you were stating what you know to be the truth as you know it. However, your comment now is not so heartfelt.

Again, as she stated, we are coming here because we are trying to learn about our husbands and about what they believe. Is that not how you learn things? Asking questions? If my husband was not Catholic, believe me I would not be coming here. However, I do respect that he is and I want to learn more, not condem. I was not being judgemental with my comment, sorry you took it that way. I was stating that we all need to think about how we make comments before we make them. LOVE? Do you think that is asking too much to show?

No one here has been harsh. Speaking the truth IS love, and that is what we are doing. Speaking the truth as we know it. Honestly, think about this. If we REALLY believe someone is committing a sin that could condemn them to Hell (mortal sin, as in a baptized Catholic getting married outside the Church) should we sit back and say, “That’s great, go ahead and be happy.” Is allowing a person to be condemned to Hell unchallenged LOVE? If we really believe, and know from experience, that religious division, or attempts to practice both faiths, damages and fractures families, and robs children of their faith foundation, is it LOVING to say, “Go ahead, you’ll be fine and so will your kids.” Or is it just EASY because then everyone thinks we’re nice and won’t call us mean names. Being popular is not the same as being loving.

The differences between our churches are more than a “sign on the door.” And, if it really doesn’t mean ANYTHING, then why do the Protestant spouses in these situations fight so hard against being expected to convert, or to the children being baptized etc. You just told us that it means NOTHING to you… so why do you fight it?

While I respect and try to understand other faiths, sometimes I do not understand the Catholics are so mean mentality.

We are no different than any other faith. If I headed over to ask a question to a bunch of Mormons, I would receive advice from their perspective. If I were to head over to a site for Democrats, I would receive their perspective. See where I am going with this?

This is a site where the main audience is Catholic. This doesn’t mean that it cannot be used by others, but they must expect to receive the Catholic point of view.

I often turn to my Lutheran husband when I need help understanding something Lutheran. I expect I will get the Lutheran point of view.

Dusky nor anyone else is being rude or condescending. We aren’t just Catholic in name you know. We’re practicing Catholics, and there are huge differences in the Protestant Church and the Catholic Church.

No one here is saying you are wrong to be a practicing Protestant. We’re just telling you how we as Catholics see it.

There is nothing wrong with being strong in one’s faith, but that person may not throw stones at others who are strong in theirs.

Duskyjewel… you are totally misreading what I am trying to say. I didn’t mean that a “sign above the door” means nothing to me in that it is putting Catholics down. I am meaning even Church of God, Methodist, Catholic, Baptist and so on and so on. I am saying we are all serving a God who died for our sins. Is that not the most important thing here? We all believe that right? You are not understanding that as protestants married to Catholics, we are just trying to find out about the religion and don’t strike us down when we ask or even when we disagree. That goes for the prostestants also. We all need to have respect for one another. You also need to make sure you are reading what someone is trying to convey before you speak so harsh. You are speaking what you believe and that is wonderful and what you should be doing, but what about the attitude?


  1. You can have a non-Catholic “godparent” at a Catholic baptism. I put it in quotes because he/she is considered a sponsor rather than true godparent. This is because the godparent promises to help raise the child in the Catholic faith, which obviously a non-Catholic wouldn’t do. But, the Catholic Church is truly a welcoming and loving place - your sister will be welcomed at a baptism
  2. First Holy Communion - this sacrament is not the same as Confirmation. What is needed to receive Our Lord is not the same complexity of understanding as for Confirmation. Actually - truly “understanding” that we are receiving the Body of Christ is difficult at any age! I think it is actually easier for a child to have faith and believe that they are receiving the Lord. So basically, this is a hard question to answer because it delves deeply into our faith. Minor point here - the children receive at 2nd grade (after First Reconciliation).

May God bless you and your husband with many children - and God bless you for being open to the Catholic Faith for your children.

rolltide, I never said you were putting Catholics down. Except when you talked about how intolerant we are.

I never told the OP she MUST convert. I told her she and her husband need to make a choice to embrace one practice or the other for the sake of the unity of the family. Would I prefer it was Catholic? Yeah, but for the kids to be born, what matters most is that the family is unified.

What we have here is a fundamental disagreement. You think all Christian churches are interchangeable, and I do not.

Thank you newmrssears for your comment. I agree with you 100%. However, we as protestants are not going to go to an all prostestant board to find out about a Catholic. We would get the 100% all the prostestant response and that is not what we are looking for either. I know some may come on here and want to argue, but sincerely that is not what I am trying to do and I don’t want anybody here thinking that. I just want to find reasoning for the differences. I am 35 and never thought about the differences until I married a Catholic a year ago. Now I have MANY questions.

I do agree with Dusky in that not all Christian faiths are interchangeable. There are some major fundamental differences, because if there weren’t Martin Luther wouldn’t have broken off from the Church nor would any of the others.

I think that Catholic faith can be hard to understand from the outside. It is much much different than most of the other Christian faiths. I recommend looking to see if your local Catholic Diocese does a Why Catholic? series. Our Church does one, and my husband has found it more than valuable.

I think this represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how most non-Catholics view their faith. In my experience, most mainline Protestants (Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, UCC, etc.) do not see their church as “the one true church.” Rather, they see themselves as members of a broader Christian Church, which is made up of lots of different religious traditions. They see themselves as one of many traditions within the church, and under that umbrella they would include Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, etc.

So asking someone with this worldview “Do you believe your church the one true church” is a bit like asking a Catholic “What do you believe is the one true religious order, the Jesuits or the Franciscans?” They don’t see this as an either/or choice.

Obivously, the Catholic church DOES see itself differently from this. And one coming to a Catholic site would expect to have the Catholic worldview explained. However, we also recognize that other Christian traditions have elements of truth in them that need to be respected. And I think we need to be willing to recognize and understand where other people are coming from in order to productively explain where we are coming from as well.

There are lots of mixed marriages in the Church today (I have heard upwards of 40%) and there are challenges that will need to be worked through. If the Catholic party to the marriage is going to follow the Church’s requirements (promising to raise the children Catholic) then the non-Catholic party is already being asked to give more than 50%. Most of these folks seem to accept that. But they seem be looking for practical advice on how they can strike a balance that allows them to feel like their own religious identity is also respected.

Duskyjewel…I would never want you or anybody to think I was putting the Catholic faith down. I apolgize if you think so and also that you took me saying being intolerant to be disrespectful. I think we are ALL, prostestant and Catholics are disrepectful at times to each other. I have seen and heard protestants say things that made me crazy! I also never said you told her to convert. What I was speaking on that, I have seen on here a lot, not particulary this conversation, but in others where they talk alot about annulement if the husband/wife doesn’t convert or gives problems to the fact they are Catholic, to just go get it annuled. I find this very concerning, as the family, needs to really try to work this out. As I said before, I thought your inital response to her was heartfelt.

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