Why is it wrong to date/marry unbelievers?


I understand the reasoning as to why it’s a bad idea to get romantically involved with someone who is an unbeliever. But at the same time, if Catholics don’t reach out to these people and get involved in their lives, how can we expect them to ever change? If we automatically say no to dating/marrying someone just because they don’t believe in God, isn’t that person even more likely to be doomed spending the rest of their life as an atheist/agnostic? Is the only way to reach these people is as friends and nothing more?


“Missionary dating” is just a bad idea. Dating people expecting them to change, be to change their habits from being a night owl to being a morning person or to change their politics or religion, is an immature sort of dating.

Christ did not command “go into all the world and date all people so they may be baptized” nor “let your dates so shine before men that they see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”.

Marriage is a reflection of the Trinity, it is raised to a Sacrament.

I’d suggest you read Fulton J Sheen’s “Three To Get Married” to get an understanding of the Catholic understanding of marriage. I believe EWTN offers it as a free text file.



Evangelization is out of agape love, not eros (romantic love). Certainly we should reach out in friendship to unbelievers. All unbelievers. And we should treat them as brothers and sisters.

We should not target them to try to date them into the Church. That is called missionary dating, it’s done a lot in evangelical protestant circles, and it’s wrong. Getting someone romantically involved with you and then manipulating their emotions when they have feelings for you in order to get them to join the Church is wrong.


Sometimes, when someone dates an unbeliever or a non-Catholic, that person will convert. There is a difference between targeting their conversion, and their conversion happening on its own. The Catholic dating a non-Catholic has to be 100% OK with the fact that that person is a non-Catholic and assume that they will remain that way for the entire marriage. Dating someone and marrying them with the secret desire that they become a Catholic is a recipe for a bad marriage.


So it wouldn’t be wrong to date/marry a non-Catholic just so long as you don’t compromise your own faith for them or go into it with the intention of converting them?


The Church warns against marriage to non-Catholics and non-believers for good reason. It requires permission for mixed marriage and a dispensation for disparity of cult (marriage to an unbaptized person).

I personally don’t recommend it because I don’t think it’s prudent. I think it can be dangerous to the Catholic’s faith, I think it can be dangerous to the children’s faith, and I think that it can cause strife in a marriage. That’s why the bible warns against it. I know there will be countless anecdotal stories about how it “works” in their marriage-- but I don’t think you should set out to marry a non-Catholic. I personally did not entertain that in any way, I did not date non-Catholics once I became a Catholic. Most of the time when it “works” one of the two parties is non-practicing or indifferent in their own faith and let’s the other raise children in the other faith, goes to church with the other, or remains silent/doesn’t interfere with the other. Indifference is hardly a great example for the kids. And if both are devout in their own faiths-- that’s a recipe for disaster.

Obviously the Church allows it as a mercy to those who don’t heed its warnings, but it shouldn’t be treated as no big deal.


Well yeah, obviously I’m not purposely setting out to date/marry a non-Catholic man. In an ideal world, I’d find that knight in shining armor who is a good Catholic man. But the fact of the matter that I’m finding out is that it is extremely hard to find a good practicing Catholic man nowadays, let alone one that I’m attracted to. I’m not saying that I’m willing to “settle” for a bad guy, I’m just wondering what my options are at this point and what would be permissible by the Church.


Discern regarding the purpose of marriage. It’s to help each other get to heaven and to raise future souls for heaven.

I think some people get focused on wanting to be married, to not be alone, rather than on what marriage is for. I decided that if I didn’t meet a Catholic man to go shoulder to shoulder for the kingdom with, then I wasn’t meant to be married. I had opportunities with non-Catholics, including a really great Greek Orthodox guy, and I shut those down. I didn’t entertain those options.

I did meet a wonderful Catholic man, and I am right where I am supposed to be. I converted to the Catholic Church at 25. I met my husband at 36 and married at 38, almost 39. My life went in unexpected directions. But, I know without a doubt that I am right where God wanted me to be.

ETA: That’s my story. Not saying it’s your story. Just giving you perspective, that I decided being alone was OK. It turned out that I am not alone. I did go through a period where I wanted to be married to “have someone”. It wasn’t until I got past that that I could be OK with not getting married. And then, I did meet my husband.


This is the way it went for me, all the way down to a really great Greek Orthodox guy. I made up my mind that I would find a Catholic man who shared my faith and fit my standards in areas other than religion, or I would just remain single.

Yes, and that usually leads to bad situations.

I went through the same thing, and it also turned out great. I met a man who fit my standards to the T, and I couldn’t be happier or more blessed.


There’s a big difference in reaching out to someone by evangelizing and marrying them


I wouldn’t marry a man solely for the purpose of evangelizing him. But if the man I happen to fall in love with happens to be a non-Catholic, what I was wondering was whether or not it would be OK that I continue the relationship, especially since we are called to evangelize. But the sole purpose of my relationship wouldn’t be to convert him. That wouldn’t even be a reason I’d get involved with such a man, I would get involved with a man if I liked him for himself, not because I want to convert him. It would just so happen to be if he converted as a byproduct of being around me, not because I set out with that goal in mind.


It’s permissable by the Church to marry both someone who is a non-Catholic Christian and even someone who isn’t Christian at all.

With the proper permissions, the marriage to the non-Catholic Christian (given they are baptized) is even still considered a sacrament. Marriage to those who are not baptized would be considered natural.

I’m glad my wife didn’t come here asking for advice on whether or not it’s OK to marry a non-Catholic back when we were dating… We may have missed out on 15 years of marriage (and counting…we’ve been together almost 20) and 3 great kids…¯_(ツ)_/¯

The biggest thing in Catholic/non-Catholic marriages (specifically non-Catholic Christian) is respect. If you both can respect each others’ religious background, from the religion standpoint the rest is easy.

The only issue that we’ve had so far is it seems that the parishes around our area aren’t the most welcoming to non-Catholic(s)/NC spouses (unless you want to convert), but I’m getting to the point where I just let that roll off my back…


In addition to the “missionary dating” issue, I think it’s very important to be careful about how you push the issue. If it comes across as “if only you believed like me I’d date you” then this opens up a world of hurt. That’d pressure them to either fake it or simply struggle with trying to believe something they find unbelievable. I’ve seen the former and attempted the latter.


Morally wrong? No, as long as you both were honest about your intentions and what you were getting into. Wise? Not so much.


Another thing to consider when a Catholic dates / marries a non-Catholic: it may cause a Catholic to be “out” a spose or force said Catholic to settle for a non-Catholic.


We are suppose to raise our kids in the faith and church teaching, it would be difficult if one parent is an unbeliever as both parents wont be on the same page.


Out a spouse or settle…LULZ.

And then people wonder why NC spouses don’t feel welcome at Mass or in the parish community.


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