Protestant pastor marrying a Catholic girl


#1

Keep in mind, I'm much too young to marry at this point. However, my long-term relationship has caused me to wonder about this particular question.

I'm being called to the church. God has given me the gift of building, so after college I'm going to serve on the mission field. He also gave me a passion for Him that is leading me to vocational ministry.

My girlfriend is a devout Catholic. She always goes to mass, confession, trips, and most other things her church does. She's studying to be a biomedical engineer.

Here's the thing: I've been learning about Catholicism, trying to understand it to better understand my girlfriend. As a result, I now know a lot more than most Protestants I know (to the point where people now assume I'm Catholic). But for reasons that belong in another thread, I won't become Catholic. My trip to Italy solidified that.

So, the question. If I pursue God's call into vocational ministry in the Methodist church, ultimately seeking ordination, would that absolutely mean that my relationship with my catholic girlfriend would have to end? Or is there a chance for a happily-ever-after ending? I haven't seen any threads exactly like this, so please forgive me if there are. Also forgive me if this is in the wrong place. It would be just as big of a thing for my girlfriend and her family, not to mention the new family that would start if marriage happened.


#2

Dear brother.

Great to hear that you are on fire with the Lord.

I don’t know what you experienced in Italy but just remember that the Church is universal, just because you don’t like a style or practice in one place, doesn’t mean its all the same everywhere.

One thing I wish to tell you… I don’t know if it fits on you or not. If it doesn’t, please forgive me. Sometimes a person is lead to one place but because of attachments to hopes in the other places the person cannot freely follow God’s guidance. You understand what I am getting at. Quite a few have had to give up being Protestant leaders in order to fully join in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

I used to date a Protestant pastor for a short period of time. He was great and wonderful but I was laying a wake at night wondering if I could live with the fact that he might belie the Word of God by remarrying people in his church while the Bible is clearly against divorce and remarriage.

We didn’t get around to talking about children… but this is the primary end of marriage, teaches the Church. If you marry a serious Catholic, you will have a Sacramental marriage (which is great… many graces! ) but you will also, as the non-catholic part, have to agree wholeheartedly that the children be raised as Catholics, and that artificial birth control is a sin. Especially the first demand might be very hard for you to live with, in all honesty, since you are ideally to be the spiritual head of the household, and you are probably very convinced about the truth of Protestantism.

It’s not too early to ask yourself these very important questions. If you can work them out I think its awesome… Just realise the seriousness of it all.

Lastly, love is a great gift! You are blessed to have found it.:slight_smile:


#3

When my husband was in the military we were stationed at an army post where there was a protestant chaplain married to a devout Catholic. They seemed to be OK with it. The military is a special environment. Maybe it is easier to have a "mixed marriage " there. I don't know. Just wanted to say that I knew someone who had done this successfully. If it's God's will, He will help you find a way to make it work. God bless you. May you hear Him clearly as you make these important decisions in your life.


#4

[quote="Hecares, post:3, topic:235562"]
When my husband was in the military we were stationed at an army post where there was a protestant chaplain married to a devout Catholic. They seemed to be OK with it. The military is a special environment. Maybe it is easier to have a "mixed marriage " there. I don't know. Just wanted to say that I knew someone who had done this successfully. If it's God's will, He will help you find a way to make it work. God bless you. May you hear Him clearly as you make these important decisions in your life.

[/quote]

You don't mention children. Are there any in this marriage? That's where the real problems lie. Any two people can love each other and follow a different creed, but the children should be the same as one or the other. Too often both partners leave their faith rather than struggle with the obstacles of the children's faith. Find someone who feels as you do about faith, and you'll have a happy, successful marriage.


#5

[quote="ConsciousCoward, post:1, topic:235562"]
Keep in mind, I'm much too young to marry at this point. However, my long-term relationship has caused me to wonder about this particular question.

I'm being called to the church. God has given me the gift of building, so after college I'm going to serve on the mission field. He also gave me a passion for Him that is leading me to vocational ministry.

My girlfriend is a devout Catholic. She always goes to mass, confession, trips, and most other things her church does. She's studying to be a biomedical engineer.

Here's the thing: I've been learning about Catholicism, trying to understand it to better understand my girlfriend. As a result, I now know a lot more than most Protestants I know (to the point where people now assume I'm Catholic). But for reasons that belong in another thread, I won't become Catholic. My trip to Italy solidified that.

So, the question. If I pursue God's call into vocational ministry in the Methodist church, ultimately seeking ordination, would that absolutely mean that my relationship with my catholic girlfriend would have to end? Or is there a chance for a happily-ever-after ending? I haven't seen any threads exactly like this, so please forgive me if there are. Also forgive me if this is in the wrong place. It would be just as big of a thing for my girlfriend and her family, not to mention the new family that would start if marriage happened.

[/quote]

The short answer is that if you both love one another and are completely honest, then one of two things will happen. Either you will find the various obstacles to to be too large and you will not marry, or you will both see clear paths to understanding and you will marry and have a happy life.

I can say this because, based on what you say above, you have both placed God at the center of your lives. Having done so, and loving each other first and foremost as Children of God, you will not choose to do something that is contrary to either God's will for you, or would be to the detriment of your intended spouse or offspring.

Being of the same faith tradition is, of course, preferable as it makes many things easier. but without knowing any more about your understandings of Catholicism (and I'm not asking you to share if you don't want to) there is little more that I can offer. Only that you and she mnust give serious, honest and frank thought and discussions to the many facets of your life as a couple that might differ between you.

Peace
James


#6

I would not recommend that you pursue this relationship at this point. As a minister in any protestant faith tradition, your wife will have an integral role in the church - indeed, a minister's wife is an unpaid laborer for the church. With your differences in faith, this will be an untenable situation for a Catholic woman.

I used to work as a secretary for the non-Catholic church I was attending - those ministers' wives have it rough. Not only do they have to do a lot of work for the church, they are expected to be perfect wives, mothers and housekeepers. They must deal with much criticism and wagging tongues. In fact, some years ago, a George Barna Study found that most married clergy would not have entered the ministry if they would have known how difficult it would be for their spouses and children.

Now imagine putting a Catholic woman through that. Your church would be expecting your wife to share your burden and be at your side through every service, which a Catholic woman probably couldn't do. She could not receive communion in your church, nor could she miss Mass at her parish on any Sunday or other Holy Days. She must raise her children Catholic, making sure that they get all the sacraments of initiation (baptism, confession, Communion, confirmation). Your church might consider that an act of defiance against your leadership. And that's just the start of your problems!

I am very curious how a trip to Italy could have made you decide that you don't ever want to be Catholic. What happened?


#7

[quote="Sparki777, post:6, topic:235562"]
I would not recommend that you pursue this relationship at this point. As a minister in any protestant faith tradition, your wife will have an integral role in the church - indeed, a minister's wife is an unpaid laborer for the church. With your differences in faith, this will be an untenable situation for a Catholic woman.

I used to work as a secretary for the non-Catholic church I was attending - those ministers' wives have it rough. Not only do they have to do a lot of work for the church, they are expected to be perfect wives, mothers and housekeepers. They must deal with much criticism and wagging tongues. In fact, some years ago, a George Barna Study found that most married clergy would not have entered the ministry if they would have known how difficult it would be for their spouses and children.

Now imagine putting a Catholic woman through that. Your church would be expecting your wife to share your burden and be at your side through every service, which a Catholic woman probably couldn't do. She could not receive communion in your church, nor could she miss Mass at her parish on any Sunday or other Holy Days. She must raise her children Catholic, making sure that they get all the sacraments of initiation (baptism, confession, Communion, confirmation). Your church might consider that an act of defiance against your leadership. And that's just the start of your problems!

I am very curious how a trip to Italy could have made you decide that you don't ever want to be Catholic. What happened?

[/quote]

Excellant Post!!!! :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Peace
James


#8

Please, please, please don’t take my story as an insult to Catholicism. Some of my best friends are catholic. It’s just an experience that I personally had that made me more sure I wanted to help people, but the setting changed the meaning.

I went to the Vatican while in Italy, and I was…overwhelmed. Everything there was beautiful, and the chapel was huge, the walls lined with statues and sculptures and various one-of-a-kind decorations. Almost certainly the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen. Which makes sense, I suppose, since it’s the center of the most prominent religion in the country (world?), though ultimately decorations don’t make the church. The artist in me was speechless.

There was something that bothered me a lot, though. Just outside, in the Vatican City, there were beggars and gypsies, just like everywhere else in Italy. Gypsies choose their lives, I will confess, but I saw a woman on the sidewalk. Her body was shriveled, not much more than skin and bones. She couldn’t really stand, so she was laying on the side of the road. The hat she used as a begging plate was nearly empty, and she couldn’t even really lift her head to talk. I tried to get the attention of our guide, but she told me it wasn’t my business to worry about her, and that I should just enjoy the city. I couldn’t get anyone else to help, because I don’t speak Italian and I really didn’t have money. I gave her my ten euros that I had, but I’m sure she didn’t live long. She was already almost all the way gone.

I can’t help but think that if one piece of art or one statue, just one, was sold from the Vatican, they could feed all the hungry beggars around the city for a while. I don’t mean Rome, I’ve just been talking about the Vatican City.

I know the abuses of boys by a few priests isn’t reflective of the whole church. But I can’t understand why at the center of the church, they would allow people to starve. That does reflect on the whole church, because it’s the same city as the leaders are in. Not all Catholics are guilty of disregarding the hungry or homeless, but I was horrified to see that it seemed like the ones in the Vatican City were.

I know we probably won’t last. If I go out of country to do mission work for a year or more and she doesn’t follow, we wouldn’t have much communication. I don’t think we could do it. But I was wondering about this particular question.


#9

it depends on how firmly each of you is committed to your faith.
She must do everything in her power for instance to raise your children Catholic, and indeed, it would be almost unbearable for a committed CAtholic to do otherwise. How is your family, let alone your future congregation, seminary or church governing committee going to view that? It is never happily ever after with no conflicts in any case, but you are introducing fundamental differences into what should be the most intimate union, in an area that should be foundational for your individual characters and identities.


#10

[quote="ConsciousCoward, post:8, topic:235562"]
Please, please, please don't take my story as an insult to Catholicism. Some of my best friends are catholic. It's just an experience that I personally had that made me more sure I wanted to help people, but the setting changed the meaning.

I went to the Vatican while in Italy, and I was...overwhelmed. Everything there was beautiful, and the chapel was huge, the walls lined with statues and sculptures and various one-of-a-kind decorations. Almost certainly the most beautiful building I've ever seen. Which makes sense, I suppose, since it's the center of the most prominent religion in the country (world?), though ultimately decorations don't make the church. The artist in me was speechless.

There was something that bothered me a lot, though. Just outside, in the Vatican City, there were beggars and gypsies, just like everywhere else in Italy. Gypsies choose their lives, I will confess, but I saw a woman on the sidewalk. Her body was shriveled, not much more than skin and bones. She couldn't really stand, so she was laying on the side of the road. The hat she used as a begging plate was nearly empty, and she couldn't even really lift her head to talk. I tried to get the attention of our guide, but she told me it wasn't my business to worry about her, and that I should just enjoy the city. I couldn't get anyone else to help, because I don't speak Italian and I really didn't have money. I gave her my ten euros that I had, but I'm sure she didn't live long. She was already almost all the way gone.

I can't help but think that if one piece of art or one statue, just one, was sold from the Vatican, they could feed all the hungry beggars around the city for a while. I don't mean Rome, I've just been talking about the Vatican City.

I know the abuses of boys by a few priests isn't reflective of the whole church. But I can't understand why at the center of the church, they would allow people to starve. That does reflect on the whole church, because it's the same city as the leaders are in. Not all Catholics are guilty of disregarding the hungry or homeless, but I was horrified to see that it seemed like the ones in the Vatican City were.

I know we probably won't last. If I go out of country to do mission work for a year or more and she doesn't follow, we wouldn't have much communication. I don't think we could do it. But I was wondering about this particular question.

[/quote]

I suggest if you have no hope it will last between you and your girl friend you break up today, instead of letting her become more attached to you. The longer it goes, the more you will break her heart. And by the way, why could she not go with you into the mission field? it doesn't interest her?

Brother, do you realise that the R.C. Church is the biggest charity organisation in the world? There are so many Catholic hospitals and organizations everywhere, even in Protestant countries.
Gypsies and Romas go to western Europe in groups to do organised begging in all big cities. You cannot know how long the woman has been there.. They travel around the cities and the most miserable ones are often used by the group to beg.

We have much corruption among ourselves in all of the world and much neglect and helplessness. I would say that there are many Evangelists in New York that could sell their big cars and fancy suits - which the say God gave to them -. in order to save a few poor people off the street. But I don't expect that from them, and I don't blame protestantism per se for the generel signs of original sin..

In the Catholic countries like Malta and Ireland and Poland the abortion is still illegal. The more Catholic a place is, the higher is the resistance against abortion. Many Protestant countries are not doing so well in that aspect. Does that mean that all protestants should go into a demonstration tomorrow?
Having grown up in a Protestant culture I was shocked how the leaders of that church condoned abortion, gay marriage, remarriage and all kinds of unbiblical things.
During the Nazi regime in Germany the most anti-Hitler regions in Germany were the ones where there were most Catholics.. and I can continue with these examples. But what will it all serve?

We all have a responsibility but the world will not be perfect until heaven.

My Church has a coherent social teaching on every ethical issue because the happiness of people matter to it. Does yours?

As a person who wants to go into full time ministry you should have a special interest to look into the actual teachings of different churches and denominations. Its worth it to make a thorough examination, since you will give yourself fully in the service of your denomination. You will not escape original sin anywhere, but you should study the actual doctrines and ask about which church is most true to its roots historically, logically, biblically etc.

God bless your search that I hope continues with or without the involvement with a girl:)

Grace - former Protestant


#11

[quote="ConsciousCoward, post:8, topic:235562"]

I can't help but think that if one piece of art or one statue, just one, was sold from the Vatican, they could feed all the hungry beggars around the city for a while. I don't mean Rome, I've just been talking about the Vatican City.

[/quote]

These artworks - and maybe you didn't realize it - these artworks were created by the artists, either for free, or for room and board during the period while they were being created - not for any high price, to be sure - and they were created for the spreading of the Gospel. To sell them - and really, who would buy them? To sell them would be to change their purpose completely - to hide them away in vaults where no living human being may see them nor experience the Gospel through them - what a shame that would be!

But please understand that the Church didn't pay any money for them, other than just room and board for the artists while they were being made - certainly, nothing from the fund for the poor was ever spent on them.

I don't know why you saw people starving in front of the Vatican, but I do know that even if the walls were stripped bare, there would still be starving people lined up in front of the Church looking for help - or if they weren't, it would only because they couldn't find the place, being as the art was all gone.


#12

[quote="ConsciousCoward, post:1, topic:235562"]
Keep in
My girlfriend is a devout Catholic. She always goes to mass, confession, trips, and most other things her church does. She's studying to be a biomedical engineer.

Here's the thing: I've been learning about Catholicism, trying to understand it to better understand my girlfriend. As a result, I now know a lot more than most Protestants I know (to the point where people now assume I'm Catholic). But for reasons that belong in another thread, I won't become Catholic. My trip to Italy solidified that.

[/quote]

You will find that you know more then many Catholics also, like the misconception many have that the children "must be raised Catholic". Their standard for a permissable marraige is that she do everything in her power to have the children baptised and raised Catholic. How can you pastor a church without your own kids? It will be bad enough without Mrs CC also being "Pastor CC"


#13

It really doesn't matter how many starving people there are, if there's anything that could be done to help them live another day, it should be. She could have been there for years, but that wouldn't change the fact that she was nearly dead.

The art there would be worth a ton. Especially the gold.

Basically, I was bothered that the small city that is home to the leaders of the catholic church could also be home to starvation. It doesn't matter that the church is the largest charity organization if the leaders aren't actively going out into their city and feeding the hungry. The art is just decoration, but it could be used to provide.

But anyway, she wouldn't follow me to the mission field because it isn't her calling. She wants to be in a lab doing research, not out in the world. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not for her.


#14

The point remains that selling Church art could not have saved her - she needed a doctor; not an art auction. The ten euros you gave her as a direct donation would have been enough for her next meal and bed - it’s unfortunate that no one was willing to call a doctor, but artists who’ve been dead for 300-400 years are not to blame for that.

The art there would be worth a ton. Especially the gold.

You would be surprised. What gives the art value is the fact that it is owned by the Church and is displayed in the Vatican. Once those two factors were gone, the pieces would be worth what your local artists can sell their paintings for - maybe $150.00 each, if that. Certainly not enough for all of the starving people to live on for the rest of their lives - nor even for one person to live for more than a year or so.

As to the gold, it’s not solid gold - it is just a thin veneer, painted over top of wood or brass. There isn’t really that much of it.

Basically, I was bothered that the small city that is home to the leaders of the catholic church could also be home to starvation.

Every city has starving people. It is the nature of cities. The more important question is, what are you doing for the starving people in your own city? I am betting selling the art from off the walls of your church is not at the top of your list - more likely, you are giving tax receipts for direct donations, and getting the various groups at your church to take turns volunteering at the soup kitchen - because these are the things that work, and that can be repeated day after day.


#15

Don’t worry. You’ll become Catholic, if you marry her.


#16

I do want to make a quick point here. About 6 years ago, my mother and I went on a trip to Europe. We started in Paris, traveled to Nice, Venice and Florence and ended our trip in Rome. At the time I was not a practicing Catholic. I was also disgusted by the Vatican at the time. With the other beautiful cathedrals around the city and other places in Italy as well as France, you could almost feel the piety in the building-- the fact that people gave their talents and sometimes their lives to build something for the glory of God. But St. Peter's to me felt like it was just full of excess- instead of "look at what we did for God" it felt more like "look at us! we have all the money in the world!" But no matter... as I got home and got further away from it, I gradually realized that this, too, was for the glory of God, it was just gathered in one place rather than spread out across the country.

The point I wanted to make here, though, is that in my hometown there is an Assemblies of God community. It's GIANT, and the parking lot is frequently full of Escalades and BMWs. Just a few months ago, they added another wing to it (it was completed in 2003). You can also alway tell who around town attends this "church" because they sell all kinds of memorabilia-- car decals in a stylized cross, t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc. Now, our Catholic church on the other hand has marble floors and gold leafed statues, but it was built in the late 19th century. Last December, our priest had to practically BEG us to donate some extra money to replace the furnace. Why? Because the money WE raise at our church goes to the mission, to hospitals, to social programs in our Diocese, NOT to building us a giant building to gather and drink our Starbucks in.

It's not just the Catholics who "let" people starve on their streets. Food for thought.


#17

That’s also why I’m not part of an Assemblies of God church. The extravagance misses the point, not only disregarding the command to give up our riches, but also taking the focus off of God and putting it on themselves.

I’m sorry, I didn’t really want the thread to be about why I’m not Catholic. I considered Catholicism at a point (I considered it stongly, in fact), but I just can’t. Not now, at least. If it’s God’s will, he’ll change my heart, I’m sure, but it hasn’t happened.


#18

[quote="ConsciousCoward, post:8, topic:235562"]
I can't help but think that if one piece of art or one statue, just one, was sold from the Vatican, they could feed all the hungry beggars around the city for a while. I don't mean Rome, I've just been talking about the Vatican City... I can't understand why at the center of the church, they would allow people to starve.

[/quote]

There's too much we don't know here. It's possible that this woman had been repeatedly offered help by priests and nuns and had refused the help because she was anti-Catholic for some reason. It's possible that members of the Church had offered her help, and she accepted it, but then refused to follow doctor's orders because she was passively suicidal and longed to die. It's possible that she had been there so many days, she had become "invisible" and people failed to notice her.

I don't know the whole story, and you don't either.

Another thing, those paintings in the Vatican? They don't belong to Catholics. They belong to Christ. They were made for and given to Him. They're not ours to sell. They are there to give glory to God. Meanwhile, we do a lot to help the poor. As noted above by somebody else, the Catholic Church is the biggest charity in the world. Do some people fall through the cracks? Yes, regrettably so. But we're still feeding more people, sheltering more people, ministering to more dying people, clothing more naked people, providing water to more people than any ohther organization. (there's a whole dept. at the Vatican dedicated to making sure people have clean drinking water all over the world).

And let's be realistic here. YOU might be great at helping the poor, but is your whole church that good? Where I live, Methodists hardly lift a finger for the poor or for pro-life causes, while Catholics are extremely focused on feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless and protecting the unborn. In fact, our local churches just finished building a secure apartment building to house women threatened by abuse or abortion (abortion is frequently forced on women). They can live there in nice, new furnished apartments, rent free, and get free counseling, job training, clothes, food, babysitting and even medical care, all funded by local Catholics who want to help. Frankly, I have never heard of a Methodist church anywhere in the world doing such a thing. But I still would never say that the Methodists are hypocrites who ought to sell whatever artwork they have in their churches to help the poor.


#19

CC,
I appreciate that you did not want to make this about why you have not chosen to come into the church (yet;))…And I’m sure that you maybe feel a little ganged up on. So I just wanted to chime in and say that I firmly agree with you that what you saw was horrible and sad and, frankly, shameful.
That said, and I reiterate that I would have been just as revolted as you, there are two minor points I’d like to make.

  1. Given the numbers of pilgrims, as well as the number of residents of Rome, there hardly seems the need to sell of artwork to care for the poor.
    While the “riches” of the Vatican are certainly a very visible and profound juxtaposition and as such one might easily say, as Judas did about the oil used to annoint Jesus’ feet, why not sell them and give tothe poor. But in reality, even if this were done, the money would be finite and the poor would still be with us, and they would continue to need to rely on alms. As Jesus said, we sill have teh ppor with us always.
  2. The woman you saw was not in the Vatican. She was in Rome. Another country in fact from the Vatican.
    That said, I do believe that there is a house for the homeless in the Vatican and run by the Sisters of Charity. Though I may be wrong about that. It may actually be in Rome.

Peace
James


#20

[quote="ConsciousCoward, post:1, topic:235562"]
Keep in mind, I'm much too young to marry at this point. However, my long-term relationship has caused me to wonder about this particular question.

I'm being called to the church. God has given me the gift of building, so after college I'm going to serve on the mission field. He also gave me a passion for Him that is leading me to vocational ministry.

My girlfriend is a devout Catholic. She always goes to mass, confession, trips, and most other things her church does. She's studying to be a biomedical engineer.

Here's the thing: I've been learning about Catholicism, trying to understand it to better understand my girlfriend. As a result, I now know a lot more than most Protestants I know (to the point where people now assume I'm Catholic). But for reasons that belong in another thread, I won't become Catholic. My trip to Italy solidified that.

So, the question. If I pursue God's call into vocational ministry in the Methodist church, ultimately seeking ordination, would that absolutely mean that my relationship with my catholic girlfriend would have to end? Or is there a chance for a happily-ever-after ending? I haven't seen any threads exactly like this, so please forgive me if there are. Also forgive me if this is in the wrong place. It would be just as big of a thing for my girlfriend and her family, not to mention the new family that would start if marriage happened.

[/quote]

I'm an ex-Protestant, but my wife is Baptist. When we married we were both Protestant.

Now while she wondered if I knew what I was doing by becoming Catholic, she's accepted it, but not once has she gone to a mass. On the other hand I try to go to her church monthly or so.

Sooner or later I'm expecting trouble at her church, or possibly with another Baptist church, based on my old pastor's prediction (back when I was still Protestant). Having predicted I'd become Catholic, he also commented, "I think you might have trouble with the Baptists. They're very much aware of being 'Baptist", much more so than Presbyrerians are of being 'Presbyterian' for example" (at the time I was in a Presbyterian Church). So far I've only had one run-in, and I suspect any trouble may be with another Baptist church rather than the one she's going to now, gazing into my 'crystal ball'. But that's to be seen.

But my situation is different to yours. Obviously you both knew from the outset what your affiliations were, whereas I changed part way through our marriage.

So clearly you both accept that. However if you're going on the mission field, bear in mind your potential Catholic wife is not going to support any aspect of your work that will oppose Catholicism. I'm also curious as to what you've got against the Catholic Church. But as you say that's another thread.

I think marriage could work, but you'd both have to make compromises.

Put it this way - either you will learn to work around the issues, or it will destroy your marriage.


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