Question:

I am a Baptist in a relationship with a Catholic.† I donít agree with a lot that her family does and it seems like I am an outcast because of my religion. Is there any advice that you can give me or links to where I can read on how to survive this? I really do care for her and it's not like she is an atheist; she believes in God. Is this too much to carry on my shoulders? When I met her I had no idea that she was Catholic but learned that later on. I feel like God led me to her but I donít know where He is leading me. Thank you for your time.

Answer:

While my goal is to persuade people to become simply Christians and leave the various denominational trappings behind, we can for the moment focus on the problem of mixed religious marriages for the moment. I am assuming that by a "relationship" you mean that you are seriously considering marrying this woman and not that you are having sex with her, which would be a violation of both of your religions' teachings.

First off, in a round about way, you are blaming God for your difficult situation. You feel that God has lead you to her, but now you are facing some adversity. The choice whom you marry is yours to make. There isn't just one special person in the whole world for you. God teaches us, through His word, how to make a good choice in a mate. And, I strongly believe that God works through providence so that those following His will find opportunities to met appropriate people to marry. (I know because such happened in my own life.) But it would be wrong to say that God is tying you to this one woman, but it isn't working out as well as you would like. The choice in mate is yours to make.

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). The idea of becoming one is not just a physical union through sex. Marriage is the process of taking two individuals and blending their lives together to work as a harmonious one. Obviously, religion is one aspect of that blending. Couples of different religions are able to make their marriages work at the beginning, but usually by avoiding religious discussions and disagreements. They don't become one, they learn to avoid arguments -- which is not a good foundation. Typically he goes to his services and she goes to her services. By turning a blind eye to the differences, they continue on through life.

But eventually children come into the picture and this is were the wars begin. Now the difference can no longer be ignored. For instances, she and her family will insist that the children be baptized in the Catholic church. If you object, they will view it that you are trying to send your children to limbo (a place that is neither heaven or hell) because that is what their religion teaches. She will be wanting to take the children to her services so that they can learn about her religion. You will be wanting to take your children to your services so that they can learn about your religion. Her family is going to step in to give unwanted advice in regards to how the children should be raised. Your family is going to step in to give her unwanted advice as to how the children should be raised.

What I'm saying is that you are only seeing the surface issues at the moment with her family. It has a strong possibility of getting a lot worse after you are married.

One other thing that you must be aware of is that Roman Catholics forbid divorce when two Catholics marry. However, they are willing to look the other way when a Catholic wants to leave a non-Catholic spouse. Often the Catholic priest will insist that an agreement is made that the children are raised in the Catholic religion before he will marry a couple, and if the wedding is not done by a Catholic priest, many Catholics feel that it wasn't a legitimate marriage. I've know a few people with a Catholic spouse who thought they were marrying for life only to find their Catholic spouse leaving them and getting the marriage annulled by the Catholic church.

I cannot tell you whether you should consider marrying this young woman or not. Marriage is not going to solve your problems with her family. You need to be aware of the potential problems and then make a rational (not emotional) decision as to what is best for your future.