Protestant Marrying Into Catholic Family


#1

My girlfriend (Raised Catholic fell away and rediscovered her Faith in a Protestant church) and I (raised, accepted Christ and baptized in the Protestant church) have recently begun talking to her family about the prospect of us getting married. They are happy for us and very supportive, however her father will not walk her down the aisle unless the ceremony is performed in a Catholic Church in traditional Catholic form. We both have growing and living relationshipds with our God, are Spirit filled and involved in ministry at our local church. I am a bit confused as to why her dad would take such a strong stance when it comes to the honor of giving his daughter away on her most special day. Any thoughts out there to help me get some peace about this???


#2

Your fiancée’s father wants to be sure his daughter’s marriage is considered valid in the eyes of the Church–that it will be a sacramental marriage. Perhaps you could propose having a Catholic priest or deacon witness your vows along with your Protestant minister. If you have a priest or deacon witness your vows your marriage will be considered sacramental and valid in the Catholic Church. Of course, all this hinges on whether or not a Catholic priest or deacon would be willing to do this when neither one of you is a professing Catholic. But, you can ask the local diocese if that would be an option in your case.


#3

I can only surmise that her father recognizes that the Catholic Church sees marriage in a much different way than most Protestant denominations do…it is not merely a religious contract between a husband a wife. Catholic teaching states that a marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman and GOD…and a covenant is much more than a contract. A contract is a quid pro quo…you give me something and I provide you services for a set amount of time. Once one it done so is the other. A covenant, however, is for life and not one member can leave it unless it is determined that it was not valid from the beginning.

Your girlfriend may have rediscovered her relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is so wonderful! Perhaps she needs to speak with her father and find out if it would help their relationship if she were to rediscover her Catholic roots. The fullness of her faith awaits her, and if she were to begin to study her faith she may find that she needs the Eucharist in her life. The idea that she has available to her, on a daily basis, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of her personal Savior may help her understand why her father wants his daughter to enter into a covenant of marriage rather than just have a wedding.

You might wish to look on the Catholic Answers Website for some information on the Catholic Faith, perhaps to learn more about the faith of your future in-laws so that you can understand your future father-in-law more fully.

Good luck to you!


#4

[quote=Della]Your fiancée’s father wants to be sure his daughter’s marriage is considered valid in the eyes of the Church–that it will be a sacramental marriage. Perhaps you could propose having a Catholic priest or deacon witness your vows along with your Protestant minister. If you have a priest or deacon witness your vows your marriage will be considered sacramental and valid in the Catholic Church. Of course, all this hinges on whether or not a Catholic priest or deacon would be willing to do this when neither one of you is a professing Catholic. But, you can ask the local diocese if that would be an option in your case.
[/quote]

Thanks! I do not believe that is an option we have considered yet.


#5

Is your girlfriend officially Protestant (has she renounced her Catholic faith), or is she just going to a Protestant church?


#6

[quote=LSK]I can only surmise that her father recognizes that the Catholic Church sees marriage in a much different way than most Protestant denominations do…it is not merely a religious contract between a husband a wife. Catholic teaching states that a marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman and GOD…and a covenant is much more than a contract. A contract is a quid pro quo…you give me something and I provide you services for a set amount of time. Once one it done so is the other. A covenant, however, is for life and not one member can leave it unless it is determined that it was not valid from the beginning.

Your girlfriend may have rediscovered her relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is so wonderful! Perhaps she needs to speak with her father and find out if it would help their relationship if she were to rediscover her Catholic roots. The fullness of her faith awaits her, and if she were to begin to study her faith she may find that she needs the Eucharist in her life. The idea that she has available to her, on a daily basis, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of her personal Savior may help her understand why her father wants his daughter to enter into a covenant of marriage rather than just have a wedding.

You might wish to look on the Catholic Answers Website for some information on the Catholic Faith, perhaps to learn more about the faith of your future in-laws so that you can understand your future father-in-law more fully.

Good luck to you!
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I am also of the belief that marraige is a binding covenant and not a legal contract. A promise between two individuals before God is not to be taken or made without the deepest sincerity and full knowlege of the Truth. I will admit that my knowledge of the Eucharist and it’s importance to those of Catholic Faith is limited. I look forward to studying and searching out my own Faith ion this direction. I do know however that we all serve an awsome and loving Father who loves us equally regardless of our religeous affiliation. We were created in His image to have relationship with Him which was made possible by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

Thanks!


#7

[quote=CatholicSam]Is your girlfriend officially Protestant (has she renounced her Catholic faith), or is she just going to a Protestant church?
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She has not fully practiced her Catholic Faith for about 15 years. In the past two years she has rededicated her life to Christ and begun to really search out her personal relationship with the Lord. She has in no way renounced her Catholic roots which I pray she never does. For now she feels God has led her to serve and grow where she is.


#8

Try not to explode while I try to clarify this because it will not likely be easy for you to accept. If your FIL really understands his faith, then he is technically (ouch) “right.” (The fact that he is using a kind of coercion on you is another matter . . . won’t go there.)

Start out from the belief that the Catholic Church IS the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ, and that she is correct in her belief that only within the Catholic Church do we find the fullness of faith.

Although we call cradle-Protestant Christians “separated brethren,” someone who turns his back on the fullness of truth by joining a congregation which, by definition, teaches heretical doctrines, has officially embraced heresy at the peril of his immortal soul. Likely, to your FIL’s mind, if it is working, his daughter, a cradle Catholic, has done just that. :bigyikes:

Now, there are some who say it is better to be a good Protestant than a bad Catholic, but this is slim consolation to someone who firmly believes that Jesus meant what he said when he said he would found his Church, not 30,000 different denominations.

This is serious for us. Raising children in the faith is serious for us. The Church is not just another organization through which we try to be good people. It is the mystical Bride of Christ – terrible as an army with banners (to quote King Solomon). She is our mother and our home. With Christ at her head, she is the source of truth and grace . . .

There was a time when a Catholic would not attend the wedding of any lapsed Catholic who married outside the Church. Kind of made a statement about how highly the Church values this holy Sacrament. Marriage, for us, is a sacrament, Christ-ordained, and sacred beyond words. It is not a civil or even a religious contract. It is a Holy Covenant between one man, one woman, and God himself, indissoluble save by death.


#9

The reason I ask is that if she is still Catholic (not ex-Catholic), then the Catholic Church would view a marriage in a Protestant church without dispensation as invalid. Your in-laws are concerned with your girlfriend’s soul and do not want her to be living in an invalid marriage (which is essentially the same as “living in sin” without being married at all). I know that you do not view things this way, but this is their point of view. Actually, no Catholic should be going to a marriage between an Catholic and a non-Catholic that hasn’t had prior dispensation (an easy thing to do).

However, if she is now officially a member of a certain Protestant church, the Catholic Church would view your marriage as valid without need of any dispensation.

P.S. If you get a dispensation, I don’t think you need to have a priest or deacon present at the wedding.


#10

[quote=Wondering22]Any thoughts out there to help me get some peace about this???
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If dad is paying for the wedding then you had better go Catholic.


#11

[quote=CatholicSam]The reason I ask is that if she is still Catholic (not ex-Catholic), then the Catholic Church would view a marriage in a Protestant church without dispensation as invalid. Your in-laws are concerned with your girlfriend’s soul and do not want her to be living in an invalid marriage (which is essentially the same as “living in sin” without being married at all). I know that you do not view things this way, but this is their point of view. Actually, no Catholic should be going to a marriage between an Catholic and a non-Catholic that hasn’t had prior dispensation (an easy thing to do).

However, if she is now officially a member of a certain Protestant church, the Catholic Church would view your marriage as valid without need of any dispensation.

P.S. If you get a dispensation, I don’t think you need to have a priest or deacon present at the wedding.
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Sam – I think everything you say here needs to be checked. Leaving the Church is not the same as never having been Catholic. My DH did that, did not receive a dispensation when we married n a Protestant Church, and despite the fact that we had not missed a single Sunday in our church for 30 years, we had to marry in the Catholic Church as if we had never been married at all (i.e., the Church saw our “marriage” as equivalent to living in open fornication – which it was, if you look at it dispassionately).

Pastorally, they couldn’t have been kinder, and when I used the term “open fornication” the priest nearly choked to death: buy hey! a spade is a spade. No point in calling it a sugar spoon.


#12

[quote=dhgray]If dad is paying for the wedding then you had better go Catholic.
[/quote]

Lol, no we are paying for it all. Thanks.


#13

[quote=Wondering22]I am also of the belief that marraige is a binding covenant and not a legal contract. A promise between two individuals before God is not to be taken or made without the deepest sincerity and full knowlege of the Truth. I will admit that my knowledge of the Eucharist and it’s importance to those of Catholic Faith is limited. I look forward to studying and searching out my own Faith ion this direction. I do know however that we all serve an awsome and loving Father who loves us equally regardless of our religeous affiliation. We were created in His image to have relationship with Him which was made possible by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

Thanks!
[/quote]

SEE THEN??? We have more in common then you know…the Christian faith is like a banquet…and the Catholic Church is the FULLNESS of that Banquet…so learn as much as you can and who knows? You may end up having a REAL Catholic Wedding before you know it!

Welcome and keep searching!


#14

[quote=Wondering22]Lol, no we are paying for it all. Thanks.
[/quote]

Even if dad were paying for the wedding, that would be no reason to “go Catholic” against your own convictions. He might be “right” to refuse to participate in this irregular marriage, but blackmail would be unconscionable. He should decline on principal and not grandstand over it.

Your fiance might do what daughters with two “dads” because of a divorce and remarriage do: walk up the aisle unaccompanied. This definitely comes under the heading of tradition with a small “t” that needs to be bent to meet your particular difficulties.

If Dad wants to walk his daughter down the aisle, and his conscience will allow him to do it, then he’ll come around. Your fiancee should respect his convictions and not put the screws on him to do it.


#15

[quote=LSK]SEE THEN??? We have more in common then you know…the Christian faith is like a banquet…and the Catholic Church is the FULLNESS of that Banquet…so learn as much as you can and who knows? You may end up having a REAL Catholic Wedding before you know it!

Welcome and keep searching!
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Amen and Amen!


#16

[quote=Wondering22]Amen and Amen!
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Disclaimer: I hope some of the hard things I have said have not scared you! I see that you are a very strong, very committed young man with the VERY best of intentions (that girl is lucky!).


#17

[quote=mercygate]Sam – I think everything you say here needs to be checked. Leaving the Church is not the same as never having been Catholic. My DH did that, did not receive a dispensation when we married n a Protestant Church, and despite the fact that we had not missed a single Sunday in our church for 30 years, we had to marry in the Catholic Church as if we had never been married at all (i.e., the Church saw our “marriage” as equivalent to living in open fornication – which it was, if you look at it dispassionately).

Pastorally, they couldn’t have been kinder, and when I used the term “open fornication” the priest nearly choked to death: buy hey! a spade is a spade. No point in calling it a sugar spoon.
[/quote]

We wrote into Jimmy Akin about this, and he told us that if someone leaves the Catholic Church and renounces his/her Catholicism and marries in a Protestant church, that is not “open fornication.” However, leaving the church is an intrinsically evil act and should be avoided just as much as living in open fornication. Here’s the website: jimmyakin.org/marriage_involvement/

I should say it’s the section on “Son Planning Invalid Marriage”


#18

[quote=mercygate]Disclaimer: I hope some of the hard things I have said have not scared you! I see that you are a very strong, very committed young man with the VERY best of intentions (that girl is lucky!).
[/quote]

I am the blessed one. I truly believe we have met so that through our relationship and love for oneanother we will reach a deeper understanding of the Truth that God has for us as a couple. Learning in this way is all part of the command to “Work out your Faith in fear and trembling.” I am up for that challenge so long as it moves us jointly into a deeper and more real walk with our God.

So I say… Bring it!!! The truth is what will set us free.


#19

[quote=Wondering22]I am the blessed one. I truly believe we have met so that through our relationship and love for oneanother we will reach a deeper understanding of the Truth that God has for us as a couple. Learning in this way is all part of the command to “Work out your Faith in fear and trembling.” I am up for that challenge so long as it moves us jointly into a deeper and more real walk with our God.

So I say… Bring it!!! The truth is what will set us free.
[/quote]

There is a lot of good material on the Catholic faith out there written for the lay person–starting with this website. But, you should get and read according to your questions, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It’s a bit dry but it will answer some of your thornier questions on matters of faith and morals. God bless you and your fiancée. I will pray for you, please pray for me.


#20

[quote=Wondering22] I am the blessed one. I truly believe we have met so that through our relationship and love for oneanother we will reach a deeper understanding of the Truth that God has for us as a couple. Learning in this way is all part of the command to “Work out your Faith in fear and trembling.” I am up for that challenge so long as it moves us jointly into a deeper and more real walk with our God.

So I say… Bring it!!! The truth is what will set us free.
[/quote]

True enough. As a convert, I could not agree with you more. Adding the caveat, however, that the truth can well nigh kill you in the in coming to grips with it!

God love ya!


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