Dating an Agnostic

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Jacob and Karla in matching outfits on an arboretum date. Photo by Karla Espinoza.

How to honor your faith and respect his

As someone who grew up as a nonpracticing Catholic, it was really interesting to witness my friends’ dating prerequisite that “he must be Catholic or Christian.” For me, it never mattered whether he was religious or not. What mattered to me was whether he was a good person and partner.

The beautiful and undeniable thing about a Catholic marriage is that both husband and wife can work together to reach Heaven. They pray the Rosary, celebrate Saint’s feast days and go to Mass together. I still get to participate in that journey with my agnostic boyfriend but in a different way.

The summer after my freshman year, Jacob Dean and I saw each other for the first time in an arcade back in my hometown. However, we did not start talking until Thanksgiving break of my junior year. We got to know each other for about a month and he drove up to Dallas for our first date in December… which was another arcade. We have been happily dating ever since.

My way of going to heaven with my Jacob has a unique system. He asks questions that I don’t know the answer to, I research, I then properly answer his question and he follows-up with more questions. In his own way, Jacob guides me to know more about my faith and I guide him to know more about the Church.

The important thing I want to emphasize is that God’s grace is at play here. Jacob grew up agnostic for his entire life. Through me, God is allowing Jacob to learn more about Him. Jacob is becoming less involuntarily ignorant, which leads him closer to Heaven through knowledge.

Through Jacob, God’s grace is inspiring me to ponder, investigate and present my faith to another.

However, as a Catholic, I still have my obligations to honor, and Jacob is happy to participate in these obligations. Our relationship has been fulfilling because Jacob recognizes and respects my faith. For me, it is possible to have a fruitful relationship with an agnostic. This is what made it work.

One: Remain Intentional

Just because your partner isn’t Catholic doesn’t mean that y’all can just casually date. Be intentional on where you want your relationship to follow and to end: being married in a Catholic Church and raising children under that same faith. Ironically, Jacob was okay with this because he liked how ‘universal’ the Church is.

Two: Clear Participation

In respect to your obligations to the church, encourage him or her to participate in holy obligations, such as Mass, without the intention to deceive them. It will be uncomfortable for them since it is a new experience so it will be up to you to make it as comfortable as possible. Your approach could harden their hearts to Him. Attending Mass forty five minutes before to teach Jacob prayers and to practice hymns worked for us.

Three: Don’t Gatekeep

Don’t be too afraid of exposing your partner to the Catholic faith out of fear of overstepping his boundaries, especially when he express clear interest. Even if their intentions are simply to spend time with you, it is worth taking them to Mass or Adoration for exposure. During Adoration, I showed Jacob how to use the Catechism while I prayed and read – this was followed up with many fruitful questions.

Four: Imitate Christ

This is the most important one. Strive to imitate Christ and your partner will imitate back because it is a universal, good thing. Whenever Jacob and I need reassurance after a miscommunication, we tend to use the phrase “just as much” to show that our love for each other is unconditional and indifferent after the miscommunication. Originally, I wanted to love Jacob unconditionally just like Christ loves me. Then, out of a habit, he picked the emphasis of unconditional love and acceptance up with the intention of imitating me. Jacob is indirectly imitating Christ through my example in his words and action.

Five: Focus on the Present

You shouldn’t date someone agnostic with the expectation of converting them. By doing so, you are focused on a future that is not guaranteed. The proper expectation is to have a supportive partner in your faith journey. Instead of praying for a timely conversion, one should focus more on praying for God’s grace to intervene and for the other to be open enough to receive that grace. Personally, my moment of witnessing God’s grace intervening was on one random day when Jacob investigated and discovered that he was baptized within the Catholic Church.

Who knows if Jacob will ever fulfill the rest of his Sacraments. The Jacob that I met and chose to love unconditionally is currently attending Mass and Adoration with me, visiting churches, hearing my love for Mother Mary, wanting to pray a rosary and finally asking more questions about RCIA to better understand my faith. Out of all the agnostics in the world, I won the golden lottery.

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