When dating Catholics interview their potential mates, the questions look vastly different from the prompts on dating apps like Hinge.
Instead of, “How much money do you make?” we might ask, “How often do you frequent the sacraments?”
But perhaps the most controversial question a young Catholic asks herself is, “Can I date someone who doesn’t share my Catholic faith?”
We asked a few students at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and their answers shed light on this debate.
Falling in Love with Catholicism
Many of the students interviewed knew of couples who did not share the same religion or had been in a previous relationship with someone who was not Catholic. Both John Halberg, a senior mechanical engineering major, and Haley Foster, a junior nursing major, shared that they have parents who converted to the faith through dating and eventually marrying a Catholic.
Foster said that her parents’ relationship remained surface level at the beginning, which she attributed to her mom not sharing in the Catholic faith:
When they got more serious and were falling in love she saw how my dad loved the faith and the beauty of Catholicism and she started to experience it for herself.Haley Foster
There is a beautiful kind of intimacy that comes from taking a new step in faith with your significant other, whether that is going deeper into your faith or jumping into the depths of Catholicism for the first time. Dating across religions carries its own set of difficulties but with it comes a unique joy that only those in the relationship can experience.
What the Church Teaches: Interfaith Marriage
When it comes to interfaith dating, the Church has been pretty quiet. But if marriage is the goal of dating, much can be inferred from the Church’s counsel on interfaith marriage.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1634:
Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ. But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated.
This advice should be kept in mind when young people pursue a dating or romantic relationship. When asked to explain in their own words what the Catholic view of dating is, the students we interviewed all agreed that one of the most important factors in a relationship is discerning the future.
Jared Barrett, a senior architecture major, said that for him dating is about finding a future spouse. “You are kinda looking for a partner to marry and raise children in a Catholic view with the right morals and views of a moral lifestyle,” Barrett said.
Proceed with Caution?
Not sharing the same religion can make it harder to achieve the goal of unity in marriage.
When two people have different views of the world, it makes it difficult to connect. Having hard conversations also becomes tougher when the two people have different core beliefs, said Jackie McCoy, a senior theology and math major.
Knowing that dating is ultimately meant to lead to marriage, the four students had similar answers when asked if they think a Catholic should date a non-Catholic. The general consensus of the students was that it should not be something that is prohibited, but also is not an issue to take lightly.
College is an age of self-discovery for many and “a lot of young people haven’t seriously considered their [faith] compared to others,” Halberg said. He cited this as a reason to be more open to inter-denominational dating and said that he has seen young people convert after being in a relationship.
McCoy highlighted the importance of making sure it is a good choice for both parties because having “generally different systems and beliefs” can make having a life together hard.
All students stressed that it should be a personal choice that is taken very seriously. Through careful discernment and open communication, they believe that couples who do not share the same faith can remain happy in a relationship. The key is love, discernment, and communication.