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That way, I could skip all the Bible passages that urge singles only to “marry in the Lord” (1 Corinthians ) and not “be unequally yoked” (2 Corinthians ) and the Old Testament proscriptions against marrying the foreigner, a worshiper of a god other than the God of Israel (see Numbers 12 where Moses marries a woman of another race but the same faith).

You can find those passages in abundance, but when someone has already allowed his or her heart to become engaged with a person outside the faith, I find that the Bible has already been devalued as the non-negotiable rule of faith and practice.

Both depend in part on whether the non-Catholic spouse is a baptized Christian or a non-baptized person, such as a Jew, Muslim or atheist.

If the non-Catholic is a baptized Christian (not necessarily Catholic), the marriage is valid as long as the Catholic party obtains official permission from the diocese to enter into the marriage and follows all the stipulations for a Catholic wedding.

Over the course of our ministry, the most common pastoral issue that Tim and I have confronted is probably marriages—either actual or proposed—between Christians and non-Christians.

I have often thought how much simpler it would be if I could remove myself from the conversation and invite those already married to unbelievers do the talking to singles who are desperately trying to find a loophole that would allow them to marry someone who does not share their faith.

Just spare yourself the heartache and get over it.” Yet such harshness is neither in line with the gentleness of Christ, nor convincing.

If only I could pair those sadder and wiser women—and men—who have found themselves in unequal marriages (either by their own foolishness or due to one person finding Christ after the marriage had already occurred) with the blithely optimistic singles who are convinced that their passion and commitment will overcome all obstacles.

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The rate of ecumenical marriages (a Catholic marrying a baptized non-Catholic) and interfaith marriages (a Catholic marrying an non-baptized non-Christian) varies by region. Because of the challenges that arise when a Catholic marries someone of a different religion, the church doesn’t encourage the practice, but it does try to support ecumenical and interfaith couples and help them prepare to meet those challenges with a spirit of holiness.Theologican Robert Hater, author of the 2006 book, “When a Catholic Marries a Non-Catholic,” writes: “To regard mixed religion marriages negatively does them a disservice.They are holy covenants and must be treated as such.” A marriage can be regarded at two levels – whether it is valid in the eyes of the church and whether it is a sacrament.Having grown weary and impatient, I want to snap and say, “It won't work, not in the long run.Marriage is hard enough when you have two believers who are completely in harmony spiritually. But when 30 hit, let’s just say God and me were in a fight. You go to youth group, you love Jesus, you meet someone, you graduate high school, you get married, and as the fairy tales say, “You live happily ever after.” When I was 19 I was ready. At 27, I understood and accepted that God was using the last few years to prepare me for marriage.Instead, variants of the serpent's question to Eve—“Did God really say?” are floated, as if somehow case might be eligible for an exemption, considering how much they love each other, how the unbeliever supports and understands the Christian's faith, how they are soul-mates despite the absence of a shared soul-faith. Growing up in the church, I thought I had a solid understanding of how my story would play out. No matter how you choose to word it, being single was never in my plans.