Interfaith Marriage and Pauline Privilege

In Christianity there are some churches that forbid the so-called interfaith marriage where the two partners who wish to get married do not share the Christian faith as their first religion. The objection is based on 2 Corinthians 6:14:

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

However it must be said that there is a distinction between inter-church and interfaith marriages, often based on the opportunities given to the parents to educate her children. Many liberal Christians believe that anyone has the freedom to choose her or his partner for life. This attitude is found most often among those who may be identified as liberal Christians. It is supported by 1 Corinthians 7:12–14:

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

Roman Catholic Church in Uzhhorod, Ukraine

The Roman Catholic Church requires permission for mixed marriages, which it terms all unions between Catholics and baptized non-Catholics – Eastern Orthodox and many Protestants – but such marriages are valid, though illicit, without it: the pastor of the Catholic party has authority to grant such permission. Also, historically, the mixed marriage cannot be officiated by a non-Catholic pastor; doing so would warrant excommunication for the Catholic partner.

In addition, the Catholic Church recognizes the so-called Pauline privilege, wherein a Catholic may marry an unbaptized previously married person who consents to convert, but only if the unbaptized person’s previous spouse refused to become a Catholic.


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