“Ask a Priest: What If My Boyfriend Won’t Go to the RCIA?”

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Q: I love a man who believes in God but has never been baptized. He wants to be, but isn’t quite committed enough to attend RCIA classes, let alone go to Mass once a week, especially since it interferes with his weekend partying ways! What do I do? Encourage him to be baptized anywhere, or keep praying he will realize the Catholic Church is the only way to go? We have been in a loving non-sexual relationship. But I am reluctant to commit to marriage to someone not committed to God as I am. Thanks for your help. – I.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s good that you are so concerned around your friend. It is also good that you want to be married to someone who shares your commitment to God.

A few observations might be helpful.

First, faith is a gift of God. We can encourage a person to be open to the gift, but ultimately the timetable is out of our control.

Your friend is on a journey that requires his cooperation with God’s grace. If he isn’t ready for the RCIA or doesn’t want to attend Mass because of his party schedule, that indicates he still has a distance to go.

Second, while baptism would be a gift in itself, it’s not clear how he would make his way into a non-Catholic denomination. Would you accompany him? Does he have friends who would introduce him to their denomination?

A potential complication for your relationship would arise if he were to join a Protestant or evangelical group. Many of these groups, by nature, have beliefs opposed to the Catholic faith. Some are overtly hostile to the Church.

If your friend were to join one of those groups, you and he might have baptism in common, but little else. That could make for a rocky relationship and a very difficult marriage.

Third, the grace of God can work marvels in a soul. But you want to be careful and to try to verify your friend’s spiritual progress. Are you seeing progress in his spiritual life week by week, month by month?

A danger here is that little by little you can become emotionally attached to him, and then be tempted to stoke your own (unfounded) hopes for his future conversion. Or worse, you might be tempted to downplay talk of religion altogether.

So be careful. More than a few women have convinced themselves that they will change the man they love — only to find that he proves to be more stubborn than they ever expected.

A good reality-check question to ask yourself is: Could I live with this man, as he is, for the rest of my life? If he never receives baptism, never enters the Church, could I live with that? And what if his weekend partying ways prove to be enduring? Could I see him as the father of my children?

So … you might want to intensify your prayers for him, but look for progress. If the partying continues, if his opposition to RCIA and Mass continues, then you might want to rethink the long-term prospects of the relationship.

Count on my prayers, OK?

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