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Amy D. Handler wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have been in a relationship for about a year now. My boyfriend, Jim, is very respectful and kind and we have a good, healthy relationship.

He is an evangelical Christian and is very involved with his church and religion, which has always been something I have admired. He has gone to Catholic Masses with me and I have attended services at his church as well. The differences of religions have never been a problem because a lot of our major beliefs are the same. (One God, Jesus died for us, etc.)

However, lately some ministers from his church have been advising him not to be with me because I am not of the same religion. As you could probably imagine, for the past few weeks he has felt pretty torn. Although he wants us to be together, he doesn't want to disobey someone he trusts in his church so we have been discussing all the issues the minister has raised, searching for solutions.

Often times Jim uses the Scriptures to back up his religion and sometimes I don’t have anything to defend Catholicism with. He knows how important my religion is to me and that converting isn't an option but I wish I had more to back up my Catholic beliefs to help him understand why they are so important to me.

For example, his minister has used Scriptures such as 2 Corinthians 6:14, warning him that he will not go to Heaven if he is with me since I am Catholic. When I was younger, I learned that this was referring to a believer being married to a non-believer but Jim’s church believes it is referring to interfaith marriage.

  • Is that true?

Another issue they often bring up is that his church believes you must:

  • be baptized
  • receive the Holy Spirit and
  • speak in tongues to be saved.

I know that I have been baptized and received the Holy Spirit, but as far as I know, our faith doesn't require speaking in tongues to reach Heaven. He again has used various Scripture passages to back this up.

The third major issue is that his minister says I need to be baptized in his church. They believe the way Catholic's baptize infants is incorrect because you need to be aware of what Baptism means and have to be fully submerged in water.

We have researched things online but it is hard to find reliable sources that aren't biased.

As I said, we are very happy together and serious about our relationship. I have tried to ask my parents but they are not experts on Catholicism either though are fortunate to both be Catholics.

Therefore, I would really appreciate any answers or advice you could give me!

Thanks so much in advance!

Amy

  { Can you help me address the issues my boyfriend is getting from his Protestant minister? }

John replied:

Hi Amy,

It sounds like you boyfriend belongs to a very anti-Catholic denomination that doesn't believe Catholics are Christians. Scripture does talk about not being yoked with an unbeliever but let's settle some other things first.

A marriage between Christians is not an Interfaith marriage but it can be it can be interdenominational. Unlike Protestant faiths, the Catholic Church is not a denomination. It is the One, True Church that Jesus Christ founded on Peter and the Apostles. All other Christians are in an imperfect Communion with us and are said to be part of the one Church in an imperfect way. Protestants are Christians as well Catholics . . . so are the Orthodox . . . but the fullness of the Christian faith subsists in the Catholic Church.

It seems that this sect your boyfriend is in doesn't believe that Catholics are Christians so that's a problem right away. For you to marry him and remain a Catholic in good standing, you would first need permission or what is called a dispensation from the Church (your local Bishop) to marry him.

This is pretty routine and such permission is easily attainable, since he is a Christian. If his faith was something other than Christian then any future marriage would be an interfaith marriage. Again, for you to marry him and remain a Catholic in good standing, you would first need permission or what is called a dispensation from the Church (your local Bishop) to marry him.

He would also have to agree to follow the Church's teachings on being open to new life . . . no artificial birth control. He would have to agree that children would be raised Catholic and agree not interfere with your raising them up as Catholics.

Nevertheless, there seems to be this deeper issue that his sect doesn't recognize you as a believer. It sounds like this could lead to further issues down the road when it came to:

  • raising children
  • having them baptized and schooled in Catholic teachings, and
  • receiving the Sacraments.

These things are non-negotiable for a believing, practicing Catholic Christian. He also needs to respect your faith and acknowledge your Christianity. Jesus is your Lord and Saviour. We are saved by Grace because of His Redemptive Sacrifice.

It sounds however like he or his sect is trying to convert you so the first thing you need to decide is just how important your faith is to you. I don't mean that in negative way but in fact a positive way. This is an opportunity for you to further explore your faith and perhaps learn:

  • the Scriptures
  • what the Church teaches on a variety of issues, and
  • how the Church understands and interprets the Scriptures.

You see, the Bible didn't just float down from Heaven. Yes, it is God's Word but it was written by human authors who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is God's Word in the words of men.

Even after the various books of the Bible were written, someone had to establish which books belonged and which didn't. It was written over centuries and it was written by different people. These books and letters were often circulate around just one book or letter. It wasn't until 382 A.D. that the Catholic Church came together in a Church Council (the Council of Rome), and led by the Holy Spirit, the Bible was put together in one book.

So the Bible is a Catholic Book and therefore it will never contradict Catholic Teaching. If it appears to, it is because it is being improperly read, interpreted, or understood. I can take a verse here and a verse there and twist the Bible to say anything I want it to say.

Now this is not easy for you. I understand. You love your boyfriend. He loves you. He may be concerned about your eternal salvation. Evangelicals are very much attuned to the notion of saving the lost souls and that is admirable. So the first thing for you to establish is whether or not your boyfriend understands that you are a believer and maybe you need to visit your own faith and see just what you believe.

  • Do you take it seriously?
  • Do you know you can't earn your way to Heaven?

Heaven, or rather Salvation, is a free gift, that comes from God, by Grace, through Faith . . . and yes, as Catholics we understand that Good Works are actually the flip side the same coin with Faith. That when we do a Good Work, it is Grace working in us that we respond to. Avoiding temptation to sin or avoiding sin and asking for forgiveness for our sins, all starts with Grace. It is the Holy Spirit in us, working and drawing us closer to Jesus.

We can never stand before God and say we've earned Salvation. Sadly, many Catholics don't get that because of poor teaching by poorly-equipped teachers or perhaps we might express that thought in a different way.

Once you come to terms with what you believe as Catholic, then your boyfriend needs to accept that you are a Christian.

  • If he can't get that far, then there is a real problem.
  • If he can get that far, then he will be willing to stand up for you in opposition to what his sect leaders are telling him.

Let me ask you this. You have shown a willingness you go talk to his Church ministers.

  • Is he willing to now come an talk to your parish priest? <He should be.>

And he shouldn't come with the intention of lecturing him from the Scriptures about doctrine.

Rather he needs to be willing to come and learn what Catholics believe and why. There are biblical foundations for everything Catholics believe. Starting with the fact that the Bible makes it clear that Jesus established one Church on Peter and the Apostles. (Matthew 16:17-19; 1 Timothy 3:15)

He gave that Church a teaching authority and the prerogative to discern and define doctrine, granting the Church's Teaching Authority (the Bishops united with the Pope) the guidance and guarantee of the Holy Spirit when discerning and defining doctrine.

Without this Authority and Promise of the Holy Spirit, we wouldn't even have a Bible as we know it: a total and complete list of books.

I hope this helps you. Please stay in touch and God Bless!

Warmly,

John

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