Should interfaith marriage be discouraged?

Hello. I was at a church event and my friend from youth group and I were having a conversation on religion and the topic of interfaith marriage came up. We were talking about how interfaith marriage and even interfaith dating should be discouraged because there will be serious consequences in the marriage (Eastern Orthodox/Catholic marriage is exceptional). The children will most likely be confused about faith if both parties are not practicing Catholics and they might even abandon Catholicism later in their lives. I once saw a post that said: "How can you tell your children to go to church and teach them about the faith when your spouse has no affiliation with the faith and does not go to church. I can even relate to this issue as my cousin had an interfaith marriage with a hindu woman. They had 2 separate ceremonies: Catholic and Hindu. She promised to raise their child Catholic but she did not keep the promise. They divorced because of religious differences and their child does not have a religion; she bounces between houses and is exposed to Catholicism in her father’s side and Hinduism in her mother’s side.
However I did see an article in regards to interfaith marriages that said that the love between the couple should be favored over the concept of the children’s faith. But isn’t the primary goal of marriage to lead your spouse to Heaven?
What do you guys think?

I think it can cause a lot of problems in a marriage when spouses/parents don’t have the same beliefs and values. I’m not married but the majority of couples I know have said that it was their faith that got them through the hardest times in their marriage.

2 Corinthians 6:14

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

Can it be done?

Absolutely…there are plenty of successful interfaith marriages.

Should it be discouraged?


I will say that in every interfaith marriage I know of (in real life), the Catholic party does not practice their faith. Now, I also know a lot of fallen away Catholics who aren’t married, so it may not have been the interfaith marriage itself that did it.

I would say that I would prefer to encourage my children, if they are called to marry, to marry someone who is Catholic (and practicing), rather than discouraging them from marrying outside the faith. The difference may be subtle, but I think it’s still there. I think also teaching from a young age that marriage is a vocation, to be discerned and prayed about, may help. It seems to me for a lot of the “cultural Catholics” I know that religion was very much a “Sunday only” thing, so when it came to dating, the attitudes were very secular.

Especially with adolescents and young adults, focusing on the negative can just be a catalyst for rebellion.

I will also say that I am glad that my husband chose to date me anyway, even though I was non-religious, and I did convert, and both of us have grown a lot in our faith (he was more a “cultural Catholic” when we met. His parents were/are a mixed marriage, and his mother has now left the Church. :()

The home is the first seminary/school/social club for a human being. I can’t conceive of any advantage to a home of mixed faith, where it is a better seminary/school/social club than a home where a husband and wife are on a united front. I’d go as far as to muse that a child born in a unified protestant home may get a closer immersion in truth than a child born with one Catholic parent.

I believe interfaith marriage in the 20th century is directly linked - among many other things - to a crisis in vocations: vocations to the priesthood, vocations to religious, vocations to authentic marriage. You score more homeruns when you start on 1st, 2nd, or 3rd base.

Of course, that doesn’t mean interfaith marriage isn’t allowed, nor that God isn’t capable of making an interfaith marriage successful. I’m not making up my own doctrines here, but, well, you guys tell me? Do I have bad reasons for believing what I believe? Do I make sense or do I need to lighten up?

DH and I have been married for 33 years. I am Catholic and he is not. We dealt with this in the dating process. He understood that this was not negotiable and had no issues raising our kids Catholic. He attends church with me every weekend. He has never indicated a desire to convert and I have never pressured him. He believes in God and respects the Catholic faith.

It can work.

My marriage is interfaith. Since DH was raised Methodist, but doesn’t practice, neither of us really figured it would have much impact. I’d keep doing what I was doing, and he would cooperate. But just the differences in worldview are big obstacles, especially in reproductive matters-- artificial birth control, whether or not to have children, etc.

You talk about things ahead of time, and think you’re on the same page-- but it doesn’t work out that way in reality. It might take five years, or ten years, or fifteen years-- but eventually that difference in worldview is going to make unity very difficult.

I highly recommend only dating and marrying within your faith.

My wife is a secular Jew. We started dating and married when I was away from the Faith.

I can honestly say that religious differences and the world views based on different morals & values are HUGE.

I’m doing everything I can to make it work, but my kid’s religious upbringing is hurting tremendously. However, it’s far more important that I keep the marriage together than allow her to divorce me, move to New York, and marry a non-Catholic.

At least while still married, I can continue to plant seeds in my children and wife, praying that the Holy Spirit shows them the way (plus not destroy my children’s family).

Note: I still love my wife very much and would not want to change anything. If not for my wife, I would not have my kids. Therefore, I continue to ask the Holy Spirit to help me show her my love and that hopefully, she will one day soften her heart and allow the Holy Spirit to show her the Truth.

However, with this said: I would still recommend to people who are dating, etc: stay within your faith. Even if it’s not an issue while dating, engaged, etc… It will play a factor when raising kids.

God Bless

I know at least one non-Catholic Christian who was so good about supporting his wife in raising their children to be active Catholics that he was asked if he would consider being on the pastoral counsel at their parish. No one noticed that he never received Holy Communion.

Having said that, it is difficult to be an active Catholic married to a non-Catholic and it is difficult to be the non-Catholic in an actively Catholic family. Yes, you are in love with this person, but you have to ask how you two are going to balance your love of your faith. It can be done, but no one should pretend that it is easy for either party.

Maybe. A lot depends on circumstances and I thank God that my Catholic in laws didn’t take a hard stance against interfaith marriage.

The circumstances for us: DH is a committed Catholic - even when we met just after college. I was at best a lukewarm Baptist who could count on one hand the number of times I had been to church in the five years before we met. Within a month of dating, I regularly attended Sunday Mass with his family. When he told me no birth control just NFP, I not only said ok - I meant it. Same with agreeing to raise the kids Catholic. I got mistaken at our church for a “good Catholic girl” by friends of the family before we even got married. That was an interesting conversation.

The only thing I was adamantly against was me converting simply because we were getting married, which he never asked me to do. This allowed me to come to the Catholic faith in my own time with the full support of both my Protestant and Catholic families.

I normally stay out of these discussions because I know my experience is not the most common. And I strongly believe that you should NOT go into an interfaith marriage expecting the other person to convert or that it will be easy. But I did want to provide a little balance to all the comments of "I’ve never seen one of those situations work of well. "

This hits close to home for me, being the child of a Catholic father and Methodist mother. At one time I would have said it did not matter, but now I am over 50 and have the benefit of more hindsight.

Both of my parents had strong faith, and were active in their churches. Both were extremely stubborn, and were not the types to compromise, apologize, or admit fault.

The real trouble came in the mid-80’s when my sister committed suicide. They disagreed on many things by that point, and Dad wanted counseling, Mom refused. From that point on they pretty much lived seperate lives in the same house. They would even drive seperately when they attended events (weddings, 50th aniversary parties) together.

So, looking back, my thinking is that going to church seperately made doing a lot of other things seperately “normal” in their lives. Clearly there was a lot of disfunction all around.

Twenty years into my own marriage, my parents’ disfunction spilled over to a point that it completely disrupted my life and cost me my career. I do not know how we would have gotten through it as a couple without the common bond of faith. The Sacraments are brilliantly designed to help us.

I know people who have christian and Jewish parents. They all seemed like fine families to me and worked out well. They would celebrate holidays in both religions and I’m sure as the children get older they learn to understand both in some way. There could be some religions that might cause slightly and small problems but that’s few. My parents told me that the religions of someone does not matter. It’s how they treat you as a person and individual. Love does not obay any laws and goes past religion.

My Mom is Catholic and my dad is Presbyterian. I have never seen them disagree on religion or anything related to it. I have only seen unity and understanding from them. They told me a person’s religion mean nothing when dating or marrying them. I would gladly marry a man from a religion like Shinto etc.

Agreed, because this was my mother and father’s situation, except that Mom and Dad didn’t go to church together. Dad didn’t belong to a church at all (raised in some church) and was okay with my being raised Catholic by Mom, as that way I was at least getting “something.”

I think the key is that the non-Catholic spouse be solid about the Catholic remaining Catholic and raising the children that way.

I am glad that your parents have a beautiful marriage, what they DO have in common is they both have a belief in Jesus Christ and that he is God and that is a pretty big common belief.

You wrote “A person’s religion means nothing when dating or marrying them” and that is not something I believe. Take this example: substitute “deeply held personal convictions” for “religion” and see if the same statement holds true. Would you say that a person’s deeply held personal convictions don’t matter much when dating or marrying? I would say they most certainly do.

Take God out of the equation. Could a person who is a vegan and animal rights activist marry and outdoorsman that goes hunting and fishing? Quite possibly they could! There are people that have! However the odds in my opinion are that they are going to have a great deal of difficulty. They could both be very nice, loving and sweet people but they hold deeply held beliefs that are in contradiction with one another. When people hold their religions faiths deeply, it becomes difficult to share a home and a life with a person who doesn’t share those beliefs. That doesn’t make them bad or judgmental people, just means they have a degree of incompatibility much like a vegan and a hunter.

You could marry, as you say a man from the Shinto religion. He could be nice and kind in many ways, however if you are a Christian with a sincere belief in Jesus Christ then you could face a great deal of difficulty in your family life, especially when raising children. God bless.


I’m just open minded and I know not everyone is. In my home we don’t talk about religion or politics they can start arguments. To each there own you know. I have also seen people who eat meat get married to those who don’t and seem to be doing fine.
Have a nice day!

My wife is a practicing Protestant and I am a practicing Catholic.

It is a nonissue.

Many of the Protestant sermons are excellent.

Your wife and you agree to raise the kids Catholic and as a protestant she follows Catholic teaching on sexual matters including contraception?

Well, There is a job for you two in the middle east!:thumbsup:

See, but how would this help lead each other to Heaven, if you don’t even talk about your faith? I think the question is more, if you want to lead a Catholic life, and have your children grow up in the faith, should interfaith marriage be discouraged? And I say YES!
How can you help your children learn about God if you both have different definitions of the Truth? How can you help each other get to heaven if you remove God from your lives… to not start arguments? How do you make any decisions where the only reason you choose the more difficult option is because it is the only moral choice?

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