Unequally Yoked: A Catholic Marries an Agnostic (Part I)

***This is the first of a three-part post chronicling the spiritual journey of our marriage. Born and raised a devout Catholic, I didn’t take my faith as seriously in college and began dating a pro-choice agnostic. This is the story of how we balanced the yoke. If you’ve ever wondered if a Catholic can marry an agnostic without compromising the Catholic’s faith, read on. Our story may help you discern whether a marriage of “mixed cult,” or between a baptized and unbaptized party, is a good idea.

I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the first of my parents’ six children.  My dad worked as an engineer, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom.  My parents were cradle Catholics, married in the Church, and all six of us were baptized as babies.  My dad had attended 12 years of Catholic school, and was well-formed in his faith.  Though Catholic, my Mom’s family stopped attending Mass when she was a teenager.  As she got older and without a supportive foundation at home, Mom fell away from the Church.  My Daddy always went to Mass, even when he was sick.  Momma chose to attend a Protestant church, and my brother and I always chose to go to church with her.  It was more fun, after all.  The preacher sent the kids to “children’s church,” where we got grape juice, goldfish crackers, and talked about God.  It was SOOOO much more fun than Daddy’s “boring” church!

When I was in third grade, my dad invited me to attend First Friday devotions with him at his parish.  I will never forget those special nights with him.  We attended Adoration and Benediction together, and I was mesmerized by the incense, the chanted prayers, the Latin, and the solemnness of this type of prayer. Even though Dad’s church was “boring,” those Friday nights really stirred my soul.  Looking at the Blessed Sacrament in the beautiful Monstrance, I was transfixed.  I didn’t know it yet, but I was falling in love with Jesus.

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That Time I Chose Life

Today is the 42nd anniversary of the landmark Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision, which made abortion legal in all 50 states.  My sister marches today with her Ave Maria University friends in the March for Life in Washington DC.  By the grace of God, my brother was born on this day 15 years after the decision.  Though it haunts him that he was allowed to live when tens of millions never were, our family is grateful for his life.  We remind him annually that he is a testament to the beauty and the sacredness of human life.  What follows is my own experience with a crisis pregnancy.  

That Time I Chose Life

My first experience in the pro-life movement was entering an essay contest in elementary school.  The topic was “Why I am Pro-Life,” and I had to go home and ask my mom what that meant.  I knew about the birds and the bees.  I did NOT know that our country sanctioned the killing of innocent babies every year.  When I learned the truth, I was horrified.  As I got older, I began attending the Pro-Life rally each year at the Capitol in Austin, and getting my local Junior Catholic Daughters court involved in the Life Chain events in Houston.  I attended the Human Life International conference when it came to Houston in 1998, and met pro-life hero Joan Andrews Bell (and got her autograph!)  I was passionately Pro-Life, and couldn’t imagine how anyone could ever kill their child.  When you’re 12, naive, and have no idea of the harsh realities of single parenting, teenage pregnancy, financial woes, or an abusive partner, you literally cannot fathom how a woman could feel so hopeless.   I prayed for abortionists, and I prayed for the moms of babies that felt they had no choice but to abort their children.  I studied Church teaching about sex and contraception, and vowed to not lose my virginity until my wedding night.  As my good friend went through her high school years and started seeing girls around her become sexually active, I steeled my will to save myself for my future husband.  I believed very strongly in the beauty of God’s plan for marriage, and that “The temple of God, which you are, is holy.” (1 Corinthians 3:17)  I began praying for my future spouse, whomever he might be, that he would feel God’s grace in his life and be safe and grow in God’s love.  I made a list of qualities I wanted in a husband, and decided I wouldn’t date anyone who didn’t meet the basic requirements: he had to be Catholic, pro-life, and be opposed to artificial birth control.  I didn’t want to waste my time with anyone who didn’t have these characteristics.

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