Can a Catholic date an atheist? Today’s article comes from a viewer on our YouTube channel who asked this question.
(It’s an older video now, but to the video instead, click here!)
She asks: My boyfriend doesn’t believe in God. What should I do? Is it OK to date an atheist?
You may be asking the same question. Or perhaps, you have found yourself feeling attracted to someone who does not believe in God, or perhaps have a friend who does.
Can a Catholic date an atheist?
Let us begin with some questions. How important is your faith to you? If you do not practice your faith or live it, and if you do not follow God, then what difference does it make? You are already living like an atheist.
However, if your faith is important to you, then ask yourself: why do you desire to date an atheist instead of another Catholic? Why date someone who does not even believe God exists, rather than someone who can walk along side of you in this faith journey and build you up?
Is your ideal to date an atheist? Or do you feel you are compromising? Think about that for a minute. Just because you are attracted to someone and get along well with them doesn’t mean you should necessarily date them.
Will dating an atheist help you get to heaven or hinder it
Catholics and Atheists
Let us take religion out of the equation for a second. Imagine someone who loves hiking, extreme sports, and the outdoors. They buy all the gear. They read hiking blogs and listen to podcasts on the great outdoors.
Then, they begin dating a homebody who does not enjoy leaving the house and dislikes the outdoors. Worse, they believe doing adventurous outdoor activities is dangerous and wrong.
If they get married, they will not raise their kids to go outside although they may permit their significant other doing so. All this man wanted most in life was someone who shared his affinity for the outdoors. He now realizes that by dating this person, he is throwing that dream out the window and that he will spend the rest of his life doing what he loves by himself.
It is the same in the spiritual life. We cannot help who we are attracted to, but attraction and chemistry don’t mean that someone is good for us, good for our souls, or good for our future family. We must think about the relationship long term.
What if you get married someday? Would you be okay with your spouse not sharing your faith or your love of God? They may or may not even support you in your beliefs long term.
Some atheists might be fine with you practicing your faith. They might even attend church once in a while to support you. That is the best-case scenario. However, it can get more complicated than that.
What if they grow tired of your beliefs and attempt to talk you out of them? Many people get divorced over this. What if you have kids together down the road? Someday, those kids will say, “Mom, why doesn’t daddy believe in God?” “Mommy, why doesn’t daddy go to church with us?”
How are you going to answer that and tell them that their father doesn’t believe in God, thereby planting that thought in their head? Confusion over religion is guaranteed to happen. Is this the type of confusion you would want for your family? Moreover, there are often drastic differences of belief, especially when it comes to sexuality, children, or church.
More than this though is, wouldn’t you want to find someone who shares your faith, can help you get to heaven, and walk hand in hand with you in faith?
A standard life lesson that psychology instills is that it’s important for people to find someone with the same core values. One of the leading causes for divorce is a difference of religious beliefs.
For these reasons, we recommend that Catholics date practicing Catholics. This is also the long held tradition and belief of the Catholic Church. For this and other reasons, we recommend not dating atheists. They cannot accompany you in the same way in faith. After all, the purpose of marriage is to sanctify your spouse and get them to heaven.
To be clear, atheists are not necessarily bad people. Some live good moral lives. However, they do not share the same faith or core beliefs as you do. Dating someone you are not on the same playing field with can be a big mistake. In marriage, it’s a permanent mistake.
If your Catholic faith is important you, then be friends with the atheist, but find someone else to marry, someone who will walk alongside you on your journey toward heaven. They will help you to grow in holiness and come closer to God.
Choose a spouse who will help you to reach heaven and not be a hindrance toward that goal!