Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Deliberate and Stubborn Misreading

If you try to help people by giving honest advice, you take the risk of being torn to shreds ... or maybe that's if you cast your pearls before swine.

At any rate, I am not telling single Devout Catholics to marry non-Catholics.  I have said that again and again every way I know how.  And if Anonymous claims that I am saying that one more time, Anonymous will be punished.  I will buy her a subscription to

Harsh, I know, but I have to maintain discipline here.



To clarify, as I just said on Facebook ...

My point is not, "Marry Protestants." My point is, "Be willing to date them." If things get serious, and your Catholic faith is the most important thing in your life, and they are open to what it means to you, you may end up dating a Protestant but marrying a Catholic.


jvc said...

Kevin, there are two different anonymous' that you are blending together. (Which doesn't affect the content of your post, but I thought I would point it out.)

Kevin O'Brien said...

JVC, both Anonymouses (anonymi, anonymice?) are identical. I realize that one is a male and the other is a female, but they are indistinguishable in more ways than one.

HEY - YOU TWO SHOULD DATE!!!! Seriously, we've got a lonely Anonymous lady and a lonely Anonymous guy, both super-devout Catholics, both unhappy with parish life and with their prospects ...

Glad to be of service here.

Portia's Sister (formerly anonymous 1) said...

Wait, wait! I am the first anonymous, a woman, and I haven't commented since thanking Kevin and a couple others for responding to my initial life.

My two happiest relationships (with guys to whom I was actually sincerely attracted!) were with declared atheists. I actually had more in common with them than I have with some cultural Catholics, because they had actually thought through their belief systems and explored other philosophies / points of view (I've done that too, and it strengthened my resolve to remain Catholic.) These were great normal guys. Unfortunately, it is really, really unusual for a relationship with a normal, emotionally healthy guy in America today to go months without any significant sexual activity... And what they were willing to try out in Month One grows wearisome by Month Six, especially when there are plenty of other good candidates out there, with values closer to their own (I am NOT judging these men or suggesting that they are wildly promiscuous or uninterested in forming healthy partnerships and families: pretty much all of my friends, including the Catholic ones, lived with their partners before they were engaged or married. My sister, too, and her husband is a wonderful, decent, non-churchgoing man).

I am quite happy with my parish life. I co-lead the Young Adults Group (for young adults in their 20s & 30s---which, sadly, I am now aging out of), participate in a couple other ministries, and know many in the community (of all ages). The two resident priests are practically my surrogate grandfathers. I have a wide circle of non-religious friends, too.

I have dated many devout Catholics. In general, most of these men---while well-intentioned--have been, for lack of a better word, weird. I have---more than once!!!---been asked about my standpoint on contraception on the first date. There are few things more awkward than discussing theoretical sex with a man you aren't even certain you want to see again. Others have been nice, respectable men... but there was zero chemistry. As I am in my late 30s and getting a little desperate now, I have dated some of these men longer than I should have, as I was trying to find some way to "make it work."

I don't blame the awkward devout: As I mentioned, in my teens and 20s, I was fed a lot of nonsense, too. Snappy ways to bring up Theology of the Body with a non-Catholic! Allow yourself to be courted like a Jane Austen heroine! No French Kissing Before You Are Engaged! (Otherwise you're just preparing your body for intercourse, and did you know that Pope Alexander CONDEMNED it??? Besides, in Jane Austen's day Lizzie Bennett would never have even kissed Darcy before they were married... Isn't that the kind of romance you want for yourself?)

Some of the women whose tapes and books I was given 20 years ago are now in their 40s and 50s, and most never married...

Above is why I also find Kevin's case for the threat and danger of Unreality in the Church so compelling.

I will still take advice for getting over a heartbreak (I'm still a little hung up on the memory of one of those atheists, for whom I fell very, very hard). :)

Portia's Sister (formerly anonymous 1) said...

Eeek. I did not edit my comment before posting. Sorry for all the actually actuallys and copious other modifiers!

Kevin O'Brien said...

Anonymous triplets, no less!

Portia's Sister, your comments are kind and delightful to read.

I know I left unaddressed how you are missing a man who is out of your life. It is hard to write about such things for public consumption. I may give that a shot, anyway - or I may not. Feel free to email me, as that may be a more appropriate way of discussing that.

Catho-holic said...

I don't blame those men for asking such questions early on. American dating culture makes dating within one's own social circle a huge taboo. If they knew you well enough to not have to ask those questions, they would know you so well that asking you on a date would be faux pas.

I've heard horror stories who've not asked these questions early enough and wasted so much time dating someone who they couldn't marry.

I don't mean to excuse their actions but explain them.

I don't mean to justify them, only explain.

Portia's Sister (formerly anonymous 1) said...

Dear Kevin,

Thank you for your response and for the offer to email you directly. I may take you up on that---

Dear Catho-holic,

Thanks, too, for your reply!

The thing is, I think there are lots of questions to be discussed and behavior to be observed before committing to a marriage. I wouldn't request character references on a first date, or ask someone whether they were an alcoholic, or require them to share their personal failings and deepest held dreams. Some conversations need to unfold after a certain level of intimacy and trust is established, and after both parties determine they are interested in exploring a relationship (most first dates never go beyond a first or second date, so discussions of contraception that early are kind of moot).

This is an idea I've encountered in other places, but I have found it generally good rule of thumb: the behaviour (and I would say conversation) should be appropriate to the level of the relationship.

As awkward as first date contraception discussions are, they pale next to the guy who confessed to me on date two that he was no longer a virgin (and shared the number of partners he had had, along with his deep regrets) as his lead up to inquiring into the status of my virginity, as the waiter served my dinner plate. ;)

Christian LeBlanc said...

Two of my children are married. Both dated Protestants who became Catholic, one before the wedding and one shortly after, mostly due to Easter Vigil and wedding dates.