You are here:

Presbyterians/Catholic and Presbyterian relationship/marriage

Advertisement


Question
I have been praying for guidance about this.

I'm catholic and my girlfriend of close to a year is a Presbyterian.

She still lives at home, extremely influenced by her parents, sisters, and brother in-laws. Some times I fear she will never be able to make a decision of her own; which is way I told her I would like her to move out before we go any further. I ask this of her so she can grow independently so I can see her grow independently and how her independence affect our relationship. I realize she will never not be influenced by them but this will give her a voice and thought of her own instead of the definite decisions that are already made for her.

I feel this stigma against Catholics by them and seems speaking with the brother in-law he went through the same but he ended up conforming to what they want and he is okay with it, but in return he is trying very hard to convince me to do the same. Being around them even though they don't say it I feel they think I'm not Christian or spiritual enough because the way I practice and relate to God is completely different than how they do.

Recently we have attended my Catholic Church and I have gone to hers. Her church's Pastor ended up leaving breaking up the church which got her thinking we should find a church of our own. As much as I agree we need to, I'm just not quite ready to leave the Catholic Church. I agreed we should find a church however still visiting my church as well (she was hesitant at first but starting to come around - as she doesn't feel welcomed, which I guess I will never understand because as a Catholic I view it as accepting everyone and she can even still get blessed during the Eucharist).

Just recently has this topic come to light because of this and is starting to become serious. A few weeks ago, she came to me in tears about it and to say/ask: How do I plan on raising my children? What church do I plan on attending to? How are we going to practice and grow spiritually together?

I almost feel she is being pressured by her family as well as being conflicted religiously at first it felt she was asking me to leave my Catholic Church. She realized she is being stubborn and too set in her ways and trying to be more open minded and accepting but I see her struggle with it and I physically hear her family and brother in-law tell her how it should be and what she needs to do. I want us to grow together spiritually but it wont happen overnight as she expects.
I always viewed it as we're both Christians we should accept each other for who we are.

I suggested premarital counsel which she agreed to, but I would like to start working on this before we go as that is still ways away from us attending to.  

What can I/we do?

Thank you so much for your advise.

Answer
My experience with marriages of those who come from different religious traditions has not been a positive one I'm afraid. This is true when certainly the faiths are completely different (eg Islam and Christianity), but it is true even when people come from different historically Christian traditions. Even among Protestants who would be closer in their belief systems than Roman Catholics and Protestants foreseeable problems emerge. For example, if a Baptist were to marry a Presbyterian they may seem to have a lot in common until children came into the picture. The Presbyterian would feel it a biblical requirement that the children be baptized, the Baptist would believe it was wrong to do so.

The problem runs even deeper when the mixing is between Roman Catholics and those churches which were a part of the Reformation in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Presbyterian doctrinal statement is the Westminster Standards. The Confession of Faith sets forth a doctrine of justification (how we are made right with God) in chapters 11 and 14. The Roman Catholic Council of Trent (1545-63) pronounced to be damned (anathema) anyone who holds the views set forth in the Westminster Standards.

The Westminster Confession of Faith ch. 24 therefore states that those who hold the Reformed Faith should not marry Roman Catholics.

I think you both need to seriously assess how seriously you take your respective faiths. If you both take them seriously, it would be hard for you to continue with someone whom your church pronounces to be damned because of her faith, and for her part she would take the statement of her faith expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith seriously as well.

Religious differences are something to be worked out before a relationship begins or becomes serious. My uniform experience is that those who have proceeded with the relationship with the idea that they would work out their religious differences together as they went along as ended in disaster without any exception in my experience of 25 years of ministry.

This is a matter you need to both come to on your own. She needs to come to her own conclusions without pressure from you or your family, and you need to come to your own conclusions without pressure from her or her family. If you can come to the unity in your faith, you would have a foundation to continue the relationship. Without that foundation, hard as it seems now, you would be better to part ways and each find someone more compatible with you in what is or should be the most important aspect of your lives individually and together.

Presbyterians

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Pastor G

Expertise

I am glad to answer questions about the Scriptures, Systematic, Biblical and Historic Theology, New Testament Greek, Biblical Hebrew (although my Greek is stronger than my Hebrew); and I am also glad to give pastoral advise and counsel.

Experience

A minister ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church since 1993. Prior to that I served as an elder. Former Senior Police Chaplain. College and Seminary-level lecturer.

Education/Credentials
B.A. Psychology and Theology, M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary D.Min., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Law Enforcement Chaplaincy certification, ICPC

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.