Marriage Question. Non gay related!

Hello all.

If a non religious couple entered in to marriage with no intention of having children would the Catholic church consider that an invalid marriage? I as because I have an atheist asking me this.


“Non-religious” is probably not a meaningful descriptor here. Whether one or more of the parties are baptized is more likely to be relevant. Marriages between baptised persons are sacramental, and between non-baptised are ‘natural’.

As I understand it, Canon Law is for the governance of the Catholic Church only. I do not see on what basis the Church would have a reason to hold a view about the validity of a marriage of non-Catholics (and than to presume validity in general), unless they were presenting themselves to join the Catholic Church. If in this situation, an impediment to a valid marriage came to light, the Church would likely propose that the couple marry in the Catholic Church.

I think for the marriage to be invalid the couple would have to have the intention of not having children at all - the mere absence of an intention to have children would not be enough to render it invalid

The original question seems only to make sense if we assume he meant an intention to entirely avoid children. The question is not so much about what constitutes an impediment, but rather effect of the impediment in the context of “non-religious” persons.

The real question is why would a non-religious couple consider the “Holy Covenant of Marriage” in the first place if they are non-religious? We can’t take the beliefs of an atheist for our beliefs and then compare their beliefs with ours on issues of life, because often we don’t see eye to eye with the secular world. We are baptized as children of God and that means something and when when a man and woman marry, the two shall become one and so are open to new life as a blessing of that union…Life… Thats what God wants, new life and family and the Church promotes life. Marriage is a Holy Sacrament to us, not so in a secular union of a non-religious couple.

There are three essential properties of marriage. One cannot validly marry if one excludes one or more by an act of the will:


So if they intend to exclude children from the marriage permanently, it is not possible to contract marriage validly, regardless is one is religious or not.

Don’t confuse the issue. Those who are non-Catholic or non-Christian marry validly when they marry civilly provided there are no defects or impediments that prevent the marriage.

That matters not. A marriage is either valid or not. The Church can and does rule on the validity of such marriages if they are presented to the tribunal.

The threefold essential properties of marriage apply to all, not just Catholics.

Yes and no. Within canon law there is both divine law and ecclesial law pertaining to marriage. Ecclesial law applies only to Catholics, but the divine law applies to all.

Certainly they would make no judgment unless it was brought to the tribunal, but the grounds of permanent intention against children would be grounds upon which the Church could and would make a finding of nullity in the case presented by the OP.

To put the question of validity another way - a valid marriage is something that’s presumed. If you’re married, you have a valid marriage. Tell your atheist friend that it’s not the case that Catholics look down on people married by a Justice of the Peace and say “well, my marriage is valid but yours isn’t!”

Validity is only questioned when it needs to be questioned - the only example I can think of is the question of whether someone entered into a valid marriage previously and wants to marry again, ie remarriage after a civil divorce.

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