I'm In Love With A Catholic

Mary Ann Collins
(A Former Catholic Nun)

April, 2002
Revised November 2006

I have received many letters from Protestant Christians who are in love with Catholics.

Theology seems so dry and distant when you're looking into the eyes of the man or woman that you love. When your heart is pounding and you long to be closer, theology feels so irrelevant.

But what will happen after the honeymoon is over? What will happen when the pressure of mundane, daily life, the demands of working, and the stress of finances set in? What will happen during the times of disillusionment? (They occur in every marriage.) What will happen when the love of your life has a bad case of the flu, and you discover how sick and cranky he or she can be? What will happen if your in-laws start pressuring both of you to attend your mate's church? What will happen when you have disagreements and conflicts and misunderstandings? (This happens in every marriage.) What is the glue that will hold you together? What will keep you going during the rough times?

What will happen when you have children? I know this doesn't seem relevant when you're in love. But wives do get pregnant -- sometimes when you don't expect them to. How will you raise your children? What church will you take them to? What kind of religious instruction will you give them?

Marriage is not a short-term sprint. It's a long-term race, like the Boston Marathon. It requires endurance, and preparation, and determination to make it work no matter what. The Bible says,

"Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1)

One of the things which can weigh couples down and hold them back is disagreement about religion. I've received letters from people who are in anguish about it. I have personal friends who have gone through intense emotional suffering for years, because they and their mate disagree about religion. In addition to confusion and heartache, they also have practical problems.

The Bible says, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers". (2 Corinthians 6:14) By Biblical standards, the Catholic Church presents a Gospel that is badly distorted. It is salvation by "Jesus plus". Jesus plus the Catholic Church. Jesus plus the sacraments. Jesus plus good works. Jesus plus Catholic tradition.

This is contrary to Scripture. The Apostle Paul said that requiring people to be circumcised nullifies the grace of God, with the result that people are not saved. It is such a serious thing that "Christ is become of no effect unto you" and you "are fallen from grace". In other words, Jesus Christ no longer does you any good. (Galatians 5:1-4)

If just being required to add circumcision nullifies the grace of God, then what happens when you are required to add the sacraments and the Pope and Catholic tradition and good works and the Catholic magisterium? [The "magisterium" is the official teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church.]

Protestants have faith in Jesus Christ. Their rule of faith is the Bible.

Catholics have faith in the Catholic Church. (Their faith in Jesus Christ is through the Catholic Church, rather than directly in Jesus Himself.) Their rule of faith is the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" and other official Catholic documents. This includes the Catholic Bible, as interpreted by the Catholic magisterium. But when I was a Catholic, it was unusual to find Catholics who read it. Judging by the correspondence that I've been receiving, it is still unusual.

The song expressing the heart of Protestantism is, "Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so." The song expressing the heart of Catholicism would be, "Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Catholic magisterium tells me so." [Note 1]

During the Protestant Reformation, the Reformers believed that, according to Biblical standards, Catholics are not Christians. Many Protestants believed this until the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which promoted ecumenical dialog between Catholics and Protestants. In the years following Vatican II, many Protestants came to believe that Catholics are true Christians. However, some Protestants still believe that Catholics are not Christians, and they send missionaries to Catholic countries. So there is a wide variety of Protestant beliefs regarding whether or not Catholics are really Christians.

If modern ecumenical Protestants are correct, then Catholics would be Christians. (However, they would be confused by unscriptural teachings.) If the Reformers were correct, then most Catholics would not be true Christians. (Some might have found salvation in spite of what they were taught.)

Either way, any Protestant who marries a Catholic is going to have some serious problems. It will cause heartache and confusion and practical problems for both the husband and wife. And it will cause suffering and confusion for their children.

When God told us not to be "unequally yoked" He wasn't trying to hurt us, or to prevent us from having a wonderful relationship with a special person. On the contrary, He was taking the long-term view of the situation. He was trying to protect us from having to endure years of heartache and distress and confusion. He loves us so much. He wants us to have what's best for us -- really best for us, in the long term.

Following is an example of what can happen when a born-again Christian marries a Catholic. This is Joe Mizzi's reply to a question from an Evangelical man who is married to a Catholic wife. In this case, the man was a Catholic when he married her, and later converted to Protestantism.

"May the Lord give you wisdom from above to deal with your difficult situation."

"There are two basic principles which you should consider."

"First, God's purpose for marriage is a life-long union between husband and wife, whatever their religious convictions. You should strive to maintain and nurture your relationship with your wife, and you should not even consider the option of leaving her (irrespective of whether you have a daughter or not). I am aware that it is possible (may this never happen!) that because of your faithfulness to Christ, your wife may leave you. In that case, you should let her depart. But as for you, your aim is to continue dwelling in peace with her as long as you live. In this respect please study 1 Corinthians 7:13-15."

"Secondly, faith is a matter of conscience, and every individual should be allowed freedom in religion. Your wife, being a Roman Catholic, is 100% correct when she says that she will never go to a non-Roman Catholic church. Why should she? How could she go to an Evangelical church if she does not believe what Evangelicals believe? It would be wrong for you to pressure her to come with you to a Baptist or any other Evangelical church. You should love her enough to give her the freedom of choice in such a matter of conscience. By the same token, she should do the same to you. You cannot continue to attend a Catholic church if in your heart you don't believe in Catholic doctrines any longer. You would be a hypocrite if you continue to hear Mass. She should understand this, and give you the freedom to worship God according to your own conscience. 'Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind' Romans 14:5."

"You have two obligations, to God first... to worship Him with His people, as the Bible commands us; and to your wife, that as far as possible, you would live at peace with her throughout your life. Pray that God may grant you the grace to do both. I also hope that by your godly life and your prayers, you would lead your wife to a saving knowledge of Christ." [Note 2]

This couple was not unequally yoked going into the marriage. The husband wound up in a difficult situation because God opened his eyes, and he became a born-again Christian.

It's another matter to walk into a situation with your eyes wide open, having been warned about it ahead of time. Then, when you run into difficulties, in addition to having the practical problems and heartache to deal with you, may also be kicking yourself for having allowed yourself to get into that situation.

If you don't want to have to endure what this man is living through, then please make sure that you and your prospective mate are in real agreement about religion before you get married. Make sure that it is real agreement, based on each person's personal convictions. I'm not talking about one of you compromising in order to please the other one (or in order to avoid conflict or possible rejection). What I'm talking about is real, gut-level agreement.

The Bible says that when prudent men and women see danger, they avoid it. But foolish people keep on going in spite of the danger, and they suffer because of it. (See Proverbs 22:3) If you truly love the Catholic man or woman you are in love with, then don't set them up for heartache and confusion. Resolve this issue now, before you become even more emotionally involved with them. Here is some more advice from Joe Mizzi:

"Christian marriage is the life-long covenant of companionship between a man and his wife. Their unity is a reflection of the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church (Ephesians 5:22-23). They can only experience fulfilment if they are united spiritually in a common faith and love for Christ. Otherwise there would be discord and untold misery. 'Shall two walk together, except they be agreed?' (Amos 3:3)." [Note 3]

Share what your real feelings and beliefs are. It isn't enough to just have some understanding of where your friend is coming from. There needs to be real agreement, at a deep level.

I strongly recommend that you get the video "Catholicism: Crisis of Faith." It is gentle, respectful, and non-threatening. It interviews former priests and former nuns who are appealing people. Watch the video yourself. Then invite your Catholic friend to watch it with you. This will give both of you valuable information about Catholicism, and about one another. Your responses to the video will be a good indication of whether or not you are in agreement. Americans can order it by phone from D&K Press (1-800-777-8839). (My article "Resources" in the Frequently Asked Questions section tells how to get copies in other countries, and in other languages.)

Be careful of counterfeit "conversions". Under the influence of being in love, some people convert to the faith of their beloved based on the desire to please their beloved, and to avoid conflict. Such "conversions" often fall apart when pressure comes. Notice, I said "when," not "if". Every life and every marriage has times of pressure. If your Catholic friend converts to Protestantism, take things slowly. Take enough time to be sure that it will "stick". And pray.

Even if you and your Catholic friend are fully in agreement, you need to realize that your friend's family may put pressure on him or her. They may try to pressure your friend into getting you to convert to Catholicism, or at least to agree to have your children be raised as Catholics.

I have received letters from people who have gone through great heartache and confusion because of pressure from Catholic in-laws. You and your friend need to have such a level of agreement that you will be able to stand up to that kind of pressure.

Of course, your salvation is the most important decision that you will ever make. But the second most important decision is your choice of a marriage partner. Once you promise to love them "for better or for worse," from then on your life will either get better, or it will get worse.

If you marry God's choice, then your life will get better (even though you may have some difficulties). If you fail to heed the warnings of Scripture and you become "unequally yoked," then you are setting yourself and your mate up for a lifetime of heartache.

I know that it is difficult to see things objectively when you feel in love. But please ask God to help you see the long-term picture. There is more at stake than you probably realize.

Love songs and movies and soap operas make us think that "falling in love" is irresistible, like falling down a hill, or catching the flu. But that's not true. The Bible says,

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23)

According to "Strong's Concordance," the word translated "keep" means "to guard, to protect". God wouldn't tell us to guard and protect our heart if it wasn't possible to do it. We may need to ask Him for wisdom and strength. But it is possible.

We are not at the mercy of our feelings -- not even the feeling of being in love. God is greater than our feelings. And He can enable us to make the right decisions (and to stick with them) in spite of our feelings.



1. I owe this illustration and the comparison in the preceding paragraph to Dr. Eric D. Svendsen, "Upon This Slippery Rock: Countering Roman Catholic Claims to Authority" (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2002). You can order this book by phone (1-800-789-8175).

2. The article is on-line at the address below. I have quoted Dr. Mizzi's entire response.

3. The full article is on-line at the following address. Joe Mizzi is from the Island of Malta, which is Catholic. On Malta, the term "mixed marriage" refers to a marriage between two people who have religious differences. Usually this means that one of them is Catholic and the other is Protestant.



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