Valid Marriage? Or No? HELP!

I’m confused about something involving my mother. She and my step-father were both non-Christians but they were married in a christian church because, well, folk get married in churches. It was a cultural tradition, not a religious thing. Does that make sense?

Was their marriage valid in the eyes of God AND would their marriage be valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church?

If two non-Christians get married by a Protestant minister IN a church building…is their marriage valid in the eyes of God AND the Catholic Church?? Yes or No? (I have several friends who are non-Christians who have gotten married by Protestant ministers inside of churches…)

One more question: My mom is dead. IF my mom’s marriage was NOT vaild will she have gone to hell even though she didn’t know any better because she WASN’T christian??

Please don’t soften your answers because my mom is already dead - give them to me straight. I’m not about to run around denouncing my friends’ marriages etc either. I just need to know the answers to these questions. Thanks!!

[quote=MichelleTherese]I’m confused about something involving my mother. She and my step-father were both non-Christians but they were married in a christian church because, well, folk get married in churches. It was a cultural tradition, not a religious thing. Does that make sense?

Was their marriage valid in the eyes of God AND would their marriage be valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church?

If two non-Christians get married by a Protestant minister IN a church building…is their marriage valid in the eyes of God AND the Catholic Church?? Yes or No? (I have several friends who are non-Christians who have gotten married by Protestant ministers inside of churches…)

One more question: My mom is dead. IF my mom’s marriage was NOT vaild will she have gone to hell even though she didn’t know any better because she WASN’T christian??

Please don’t soften your answers because my mom is already dead - give them to me straight. I’m not about to run around denouncing my friends’ marriages etc either. I just need to know the answers to these questions. Thanks!!
[/quote]

Assuming neither of your parents were previously married, their marriage is valid. It was not a Sacrament because they weren’t Christians, but the Catholic Church would consider them married.

[quote=MichelleTherese]I’m confused about something involving my mother. She and my step-father were both non-Christians but they were married in a christian church because, well, folk get married in churches. It was a cultural tradition, not a religious thing. Does that make sense?

Was their marriage valid in the eyes of God AND would their marriage be valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church?

If two non-Christians get married by a Protestant minister IN a church building…is their marriage valid in the eyes of God AND the Catholic Church?? Yes or No? (I have several friends who are non-Christians who have gotten married by Protestant ministers inside of churches…)

One more question: My mom is dead. IF my mom’s marriage was NOT vaild will she have gone to hell even though she didn’t know any better because she WASN’T christian??

Please don’t soften your answers because my mom is already dead - give them to me straight. I’m not about to run around denouncing my friends’ marriages etc either. I just need to know the answers to these questions. Thanks!!
[/quote]

If your mother’s first husband(s) was(were) dead at the time that she married your stepfather, and your stepfather had no previously living spouse(s), then the marriage was valid.:slight_smile:

And even if they were formally non-christians but had been baptised as children or at some other time it would have had the favor of law as being a sacramental marriage.

[quote=MichelleTherese]If two non-Christians get married by a Protestant minister IN a church building…is their marriage valid in the eyes of God AND the Catholic Church?? Yes or No? (I have several friends who are non-Christians who have gotten married by Protestant ministers inside of churches…)
[/quote]

If non Christians are free to marry (not previously married or any former spouses have died), they can marry in any form that is civilly valid. The officiant and the place are irrelevant

One more question: My mom is dead. IF my mom’s marriage was NOT vaild will she have gone to hell even though she didn’t know any better because she WASN’T christian??

We always commit the souls of non Christians to the mercy of God. Saint Paul in Romans speaks of the moral law written on everyone’s heart by God. However, the Church understands that “invincible error” when acting in “good faith” would be applicable. See www.newadvent.org/cathen/05525a.htm and newadvent.org/cathen/06642a.htm for those topics.

Non Catholics do not have a means to know with certainty whether or not a prior marriage was invalid and must rely on their individual consciences. It is possible that a non Catholic did enter a marriage invalidly to begin with, got civilly divorced, and then did remarry without the spectre of objective adultery. We just don’t know.

Neither do we know the state of the souls of even the most pious or charitable or religious people we have ever met. They might have rejected God in ways we could never know.

So it is best to avoid your final but serious question, and recall that the Son of Man came, not to condemn, but to save, and to rely on Him.

In all cases though, we must always defer to God, just and merciful judge, who alone knows the human heart. In accord with Catholic tradition, it is proper to trust in God and to pray for the soul of your mother.

Hopefully some comforting thoughts on the loss of your mother. Mortal sin is our denial of God. In order for sin to be mortal, three conditions have to exist. It must be of grave matter, the offender must have knowledge that it is sinful, and they must commit said offense of their own free will, without external coercion or force.

Your mother, not being Catholic, would not have had the knowledge that what she was doing was sinful, and its entirely possible that she committed no sin at all. Neither I, nor any other human on this earth for that matter, can say for certain whether or not she was in a state of mortal sin.

What we can say is that, when she died she was in the hands of a God who’s love, mercy, and wisdom are so infinite and so perfect that we can not comprehend it in human terms. This is why I feel in my heart that it is so important to pray for the souls in purgatory. If you asked me my personal opinion of what happened to your mom when she passed, I would offer that more than likely she was placed in purgatory because she probably wasn’t sanctified completely. Remember that purgatory doesnt neccessicarily have to have such a negative connotation, because if that is where she is, then she is ASSURED to be in heaven…she’s just not ready yet.

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