Wondering If a Pentecostal Can Marry a Catholic?

Though Pentecostals and Catholics agree about certain doctrines like the Trinity and share many values, such as the importance of family, the differences in their belief systems raise compatibility questions regarding marriage.

Pentecostals have the freedom to marry a member of the Catholic Church, but some argue that it may not be a wise choice because of the tensions and conflicts that could arise. Furthermore, the Catholic Church has specific regulations for members who marry outside the church that a Pentecostal may find disagreeable.

Would Pentecostals lose good standing in their church if they married a Catholic? Is it wise for a Pentecostal to marry a Catholic? What are the Catholic Church’s regulations for members marrying non-Catholics?

Also, see Pentecostal vs. Catholic: What’s the Difference? to learn more

Catholic Protestant bride groom
What happens if a Pentecostal marries a Catholic? See below

Would Pentecostals Lose Good Standing In Their Church If They Married a Catholic?

First, “Pentecostal” doesn’t describe a denomination but a theological belief system to which certain denominations are committed. The largest Pentecostal denomination in the world is the Assemblies of God. (Also see Can a Pentecostal Marry a Baptist?)

Pentecostals, like other Christians, believe in the inspiration of Scripture, the Trinity, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, their belief system also has unique emphases, such as:

  • Baptism of the Holy Spirit: All Christians believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Non-Pentecostals believe that it occurs at conversion. Pentecostals believe the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a subsequent experience that occurs sometime after a person converts to Christ.
  • Speaking in tongues: Another unique emphasis of Pentecostal theology is that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals believe that the stories of people speaking in tongues, especially those recorded in the book of Acts, are — or should be — the normal experience for every believer.

Don’t some Christians in non-Pentecostal churches speak in tongues? Yes, but the doctrine and practice aren’t an emphasis of their denomination’s stated theological beliefs. People in Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, and even Catholic churches speak in tongues and generally hold to the framework of Pentecostal theology. (Also see Pentecostal vs. Evangelical: What’s the Difference?)

Would marrying a Catholic cause a Pentecostal to lose their church membership? In most cases, including those with membership in the Assemblies of God denomination, it wouldn’t. However, some Pentecostal churches are autonomous, so there may be exceptions.

It’s also important to realize that a church could suspend a person’s membership due to a prolonged absence if they were to make a sustained commitment to another church.

Also, see What’s the Difference Between Pentecostal and Reformed? to learn more.

Catholic marriage certificate
What does the Catholic Church say about members marrying non-Catholics? See below

Is It Wise For a Pentecostal to Marry a Catholic?

For many Christians, not all decisions are a matter of “black and white,” “right or wrong,” or “sinful or righteous.” Some decisions are matters of wisdom. What is practical for my life? What is harmonious for my relationships with extended family and friends? What is peaceful to my heart and mind?

Questions like these may not always have a right or wrong answer, but whatever choice a person makes may affect their health, for example, if there is increased tension in their extended family, parenting, and marriage. (Also see Pentecostal vs. Apostolic: What’s the Difference?)

Is Pentecostal parenting and Catholic parenting compatible? The answer to this question often depends on each married couple. One may be more active in their church than the other, which may lessen certain tensions.

On the other hand, if both are active and committed to their churches, a husband and wife must make decisions about matters that are hard to recognize. For example:

In which church will the children be baptized? Baptism signifies membership in the church for Pentecostal denominations like the Assemblies of God and the Catholic Church.

Infant baptism is a critical practice in the Catholic Church, yet it’s the firm conviction of Pentecostal churches to only baptize professing believers. So pentecostal and Catholic beliefs about baptism aren’t compatible.

Baptism is important to salvation in Catholicism but not in Pentecostalism. Baptism is central to salvation in the Catholic church, but it’s a symbolic public display of conversion and commitment to Christ in Pentecostal churches.

A Catholic spouse may see baptism as directly affecting their child’s salvation. On the other hand, the spouse who is Pentecostal may believe that the child should have a say in their baptism and understand the significance of it. (Also see Pentecostal vs. Church of God: What’s the Difference?)

Pentecostal Church
Pentecostal Christian Church

How Are Pentecostal and Catholic Marriage Different Theologically?

Even though Pentecostals wouldn’t lose membership in their church for marrying a Catholic, couples must consider the Catholic Church’s regulations for members that marry outside the church.

One of the most important doctrinal differences between Protestants, including Pentecostals, and Catholics is that the latter believe marriage is a sacrament.

What does it mean that marriage is a sacrament in Catholicism? In Catholicism, sacraments are practices that serve as channels of God’s grace. Besides marriage, baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance and reconciliation, extreme unction, and holy orders are also sacraments.

Protestants uphold marriage as an institution God created that mirrors the Trinity and reverently do their best to obey the Bible’s instructions to husbands and wives. However, Protestants don’t believe marriage is a channel of God’s grace because of the lack of biblical teaching.

Catholicism’s Code of Canon Law teaches, “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized. For this reason, a valid matrimonial contract cannot exist between the baptized without it being by that fact a sacrament.” (Canon law 1055, emphasis added)

In Pentecostalism, marriage isn’t a sacrament. The only two sacraments in Protestantism, including Pentecostalism, are the Lord’s Supper and water baptism. (Also see Do Pentecostals Celebrate Christmas?)

What Are the Catholic Church’s Regulations For Members Marrying Non-Catholics?

According to the Code of Canon Law, a Catholic can marry a non-Catholic as long as they agree to certain regulations: Canon 1125: The local ordinary can grant a permission of this kind if there is a just and reasonable cause. He is not to grant it unless the following conditions have been fulfilled:

  1. The Catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power so that all offspring are baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church;
  2. The other party is to be informed at an appropriate time about the promises which the Catholic party is to make, in such a way that it is certain that he or she is truly aware of the promise and obligation of the Catholic party;
  3. Both parties are to be instructed about the purposes and essential properties of marriage which neither of the contracting parties is to exclude.

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Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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