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FIFY: No, “committed and living together” is not just as good as marriage

Katrina Fernandez - published on 06/28/16

Katrina Fernandez fixes your life

Dear Katrina,

I’ve been with the same partner for 6 years and we’ve been living together these past two years. We are faithful and kind to each other and are much happier than many of our married friends. My parents were against the arrangement at first, but we’ve been together so long they’ve accepted it. Personally, I don’t see what the problem is. If the pope says that our arrangement is the same as a sacramental marriage then what’s the issue? We aren’t hurting anyone and we’re happy. Isn’t it time we Catholics get over this and move on?



Dear S.

Regardless of what you read in the media or how the pope’s words are used to fit a particular narrative, the fact is that living together in an unwed state is a mortal sin. There can be no graces obtained in that state, and you cannot obtain the same sacramental graces of a marriage when there is no sacrament to start with.

In this Year of Mercy, we need to focus on the Spiritual Works of Mercy over all else. Therefore, I’m not about to start telling people what they want to hear to justify their sins. Doing so is the antithesis of caring and mercy.

You say you aren’t hurting anyone. You’re hurting yourselves. You’re putting the convenience of a living arrangement over any chance to grow in holiness together as a couple. Justifying your arrangement by comparing it to your outside perception of other married couples’ lives doesn’t make your situation any less sinful or spiritually detrimental.

You’re also hurting your parents. They were initially against your living together but you say they accept it now. More likely, they’ve resigned themselves to it. They love you and don’t want to lose you so you’ve put them in a position of compromising their beliefs.

So no, the Catholic Church won’t just get over it because they want to prevent as many souls from perishing in Hell as they can. Or would you prefer we just not give a damn and let you go on about your life in willful ignorance? Which is the more merciful solution to your situation?

I believe you know your arrangement is wrong because your parents raised you better than that, judging from their initial disapproval. If you are looking for validation in some version of the pope’s remarks or from me I’m afraid you won’t find it. What you will find is an honest appeal to reconsider your living arrangement out of love for each other’s spiritual well being, your parents’ peace, and concern for your own eternal salvation.   

Pray on, please? If you ask God what he wants you to do, he will always let you know. Believe it.

God bless,


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