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Sweet Tooth wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a 44-year-old divorced woman and a practicing Catholic with two teenagers.  I have been dating and have subsequently fell in love with a 47 year old divorced man who is an atheist.

We have tried having discussions about religion in general and specifically Catholicism. He was born and raised Catholic but converted to being atheist in his 20's. He doesn't believe anything about the Catholic-based religion because most of it you can't prove scientifically.

My question is:

  • Should I continue a relationship with him as we are not talking about getting married?
  • Will religion be a source of turmoil in our life because of our differences?

He is a wonderful, loving, moral, caring, ethical, and very intelligent man.

Thank you,

Sweet Tooth

  { Should a divorced Catholic woman keep an affair with a former Catholic whose now an atheist? }

John replied:

Sweet Tooth,

Thanks for the question.

The first thing that you need to do is get an annulment. If your first marriage was sacramentally valid and can't be annulled, you probably shouldn't be dating. What's the point in dating and falling in love, if you can't marry. It will only lead to heartache.

Secondly, Scripture teaches us not to be unequally yoked to an unbeliever, so yes, if you can marry this man, you may continue a relationship. It will, no doubt, present problems down the road if he doesn't return to the Church but that is not an excuse for missionary dating. That just doesn't work. If your boyfriend wants to find God, it will be his own desire, though you can certainly share your faith with him.

There are many resources out there to help you but if I were in your situation, I'd try to detach myself emotionally from this person until:

  1. I was sure my previous marriage could be annulled, and
  2. I saw a real interest on this person's part to find God for the right reasons and not just to make me happy.

This may seem tough, but is it the best route.

God Bless,

John D.

Mary Ann replied:

Hi Sweet Tooth,

It is good that you are questioning the relationship. Dating while your children are still at home is fraught with problems, and dating without the goal of marriage is absurd, when you think about it.

Falling in love is something that happens but loving someone is a decision. He seems to be the determining factor in what you think about Catholicism, because much of Catholicism has historic, scientific, and philosophic evidence. He also doesn't seem to have grown up since his 20's, if he is not able to have a real discussion about religion. Yes, religion will be a source of turmoil in your life, even more than it is now.

You may continue a friendship with him, of course, but that is difficult.

There is no point in any other relationship. If you are engaging in marital acts with him, your judgment is colored (it has been found that hormones from sex, block negative perceptions about the partner).

  • If you are not, and he is not talking marriage, what are you talking about??

Be honest and fair with yourself, and to your children. Moreover, it doesn't appear on the surface that you can marry validly.

  • Is your previous marriage annulled?
  • Is his previous marriage annulled?

If you want to be a friend and care about his soul, give the guy Peter Kreeft's Apologetics book (which gives the arguments for and against Atheism), and tell him to call you when he has read it and is ready to have a real conversation.

Then make him wait until your youngest is 18, and you both have annulments, if necessary, so your teens don't have to deal with the terrible emotional turmoil of a new marriage or a live-in bad example.

Good luck,

Mary Ann

John replied:

Sweet Tooth,

Just to add to Mary Ann's recommendation. Another good book that might be lighter than Kreeft is Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

John

Terry replied:

Hi Sweet Tooth,

Basically the Church being faithful to Jesus teaches:

  • Chastity before marriage,
  • fidelity within marriage and
  • indissolubility of a Christian marriage

We all too often forget the powerful effect of praying to the Saints for intercession and in this instance I would suggest the enquirer tries praying to St. Monica for intercession and guidance on how to persuade her friend to examine Catholicism with an open mind. If he is indeed looking for rational explanations then the suggestion of C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity is indeed a good book.

Glad to be receiving your e-mails again.

Regards to all from England,

Terry

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