Stephen Poindexter wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a question about Protestant and secular marriage.

I am not super familiar with the Catholic view on the sacrament of Marriage, but my understanding is that, technically, the only way someone can be married through the Church and be united in the Holy Spirit, is by being married by the Catholic Church.

This invalidates secular marriage, and technically Protestant marriage (unless the Church clarified their stance on Protestant marriage during Vatican II).

  • If their marriage is not valid in the eyes of God, are Protestant couples having sex outside of marriage, even if they have a legal marriage license, permissible?


  { What is the validity of Protestant and secular marriages and is their conjugal love permissible? }

Mike replied:

Hi Stephen,

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner.

I found this web posting in our database; it should answer most of your question:
Make sure you read Fr. Jonathan's final reply at the very end of the posting.

One of my colleagues may also wish to reply. To my knowledge, Vatican II said nothing in reference to Protestant marriages. A Church council, like Vatican II, speaks to Catholic beliefs for the faithful.

Follow-up if you still have questions.


Paul replied:


The Catholic Church holds that a valid and consummated marriage is, by its nature, unbreakable.

For a marriage to be deemed valid, a Catholic must marry within (his/her) own Church laws - i.e. in the presence of a priest or deacon, in a church, and with two witnesses minimum. This is not the same for non-Catholics.

The marriage of non-Catholics are considered valid by the Catholic Church if, for example, they are married by a Justice of the Peace, a Rabbi, or a Protestant minister. Second marriages, on the other hand, are invalid — unless the spouse dies before the second union or the first union has been declared null and void by the Church.



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