A Catholic dates a Mormon

November 25th, 2009

Dr. Mathias: It’s madness.

The Operative: Madness? Have you looked at this scan carefully, Doctor?  At his face?  It’s love, in point of fact.  Something a good deal more dangerous.

Serenity (2005)

Patrick Madrid blogged about a call he took on his radio show.  Dominic, a 19-year-old Catholic man, told the story of dating a girl whose Presbyterian faith (and parents) caused her to break up with him.  Patrick responded gently but with a firm message, basically: Date Catholics.  Parents, don’t let your kids date non-Catholics.

This issue is one that evokes strong feelings in many people; this post by Patrick drew more comments than his post about the Archishop of Canterbury urging the Pope to allow female bishops.  Julie D. of Happy Catholic took particular issue, as she was an agnostic at the time she married her husband.  The comments on both her post and Patrick’s fall strongly on either side, with anecdotes like Julie’s to support them.

I have a few of my own.  My mother and her sisters married non-Catholics, all of whom are now among the finest Catholic men I know.  If all devout Catholics dated and married only in the Church, not only would Julie not be writing her blog, I wouldn’t even exist.  The people supporting this side of the issue point out, rightly, that with God all things are possible and that we should fear no evil (such as the evils of ignorance, prejudice, and false belief).

On the other hand, proponents of the “date Catholics only” side point out, rightly, that mixed relationships – crucially, mixed marriages – can cause tremendous suffering.  The problems go beyond the couple – to their families, friends, and most especially their children.

Dominic was forced, after a relatively short period of time, to look down the road and see a certain wisdom in what happened.  The concern revolves around marriage.  I think very few couples begin their relationship with an eye on that possibility.  I think fewer couples, even if they have that foresight, appreciate the difficulties that can come from solid and opposing religious beliefs.

I have no experience of marriage.  Even if I did, one experience is hardly a guide for the rest of the world; the comments on Patrick’s and Julie’s blogs relate any number of “horror stories and happy endings.”  I’m writing because I do have experience in a long, serious, and “mixed” relationship.  The aspiring Dominics out there may recognize the wisdom in the warning but choose to proceed anyway, due largely to unfounded optimism (not that I can blame them).  My story, I hope, might make the potential consequences a little more real.

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