Is the Church your chaperone?


I’ve likened CatholicMatch to an awkward school dance before, but one wherein no one is dancing.

Cue the films and TV of the 1950s again: remember the common motif wherein two teens are slow dancing, getting closer and closer, until a dour chaperone taps them on the shoulder to separate them? Well, I’m getting on my soapbox again, because I see a fair amount of that right here on CatholicMatch.

Only, there’s no dour chaperone separating the dancing couples. It’s something far more subtle, and while on the surface it looks benign and righteous, it makes me wonder. Are we using Church teachings to keep us from potential dates?

Think about it. People are on a quest to be holy. That much is fine, it’s admirable. But it gets out of hand when people try to “out-Catholic” each other. And in the process, they alienate themselves from others; some of those alienated people could have been great dates. Looking at this situation, I tried to figure out what it is motivated by. 

Quite frankly, I see a lot of this in the forums. The guise it takes is when one person opens up a topic for debate—modesty of dress,  or the seven questions of faith, for instance—and it incites a firestorm of controversy. During that controversy, quite a bit of “out-Catholic” efforts take place. It’s great to be a devout Catholic, no one would contest that. But it’s not so great if, in the effort to be a better Catholic, we start shutting others out, we remain alone and dateless.

As I thought more about it, I wondered if it is motivated by fear. Certainly, the older we get, the more we’ve been burned. And for those of us that divorced due to abuse, neglect, addiction or something equally serious, we become a little distrustful, a little less optimistic. It would make all the sense for us to turn to our faith in troubling times such as this. But in turning to our faith, are we turning away from others?

I’d love to think that all of us on CatholicMatch are open and accepting of others, no matter where they are on their faith journey. I’d also love to think that all of us on CatholicMatch will find our perfect match. But I wonder if that will happen for those among us who are always trying to “out-Catholic” others. 

As we enter this holiday season, perhaps we could take a moral inventory and examine if we’ve done this to others before. We all fall prey to it; I know I had in the past. But the important thing is twofold: introspection, and contrition.

Who knows where that will lead—a little contrition goes a long way. And noting someone else’s ability to forgive is a good thing. Forgiveness is perhaps one of the most vital necessities for a successful relationship. Pay attention to those who ask for forgiveness. Pay attention to those who forgive. These might be just the people for you. 

Most importantly, respect and accept the others who are in different places in their faith. Approach them with a bit of humility, show them the Church teachings, but don’t tell them what a good Catholic you are. We lead by example, not by pedantry. As I always tell my writing students, show, don’t tell. You never know—your perfect match might be reading your posts!

My hope is that you all find your match!




  1. Vincent-921622 November 27, 2012 Reply

    hi, I will take this to a different level, As a catholic I KNOW I must be tolerant and not condemn.
    regarding church Dogma and the opinions of many theologians. the rule is that a person that has been divorced civil but not obtained a annulment from the church is still married tine ex spouse. Having a relationship even dating a married person is a form of adultery irregardless of the civil dissolution of the marriage. So why would a practicing catholic advertise themselves when divorced as available for dating. the action is contradictory to the cannons of the church.Divorced persons seeking companionship with marriage in mind do a great disservice to themselves and to others as their actions lead to sin.
    I know this will creat a stir

  2. James-404829 November 15, 2012 Reply

    I suppose church could be like a chaperone, but I have not seen many seen any single unmarried women at Mass during the past calendar year. One young woman, showed up three-times. And the other two women showed up once each. This might be because I attend a canonically Italian ethnic parish. The proof is in the pudding, we Italian-Americans haven’t been making many babies and families since the 1960’s.

  3. Brendan-824174 November 14, 2012 Reply

    That was a great posting. I think the reason most of us are on this site is because we want to meet someone with similar beliefs. Everybody has had a different religious journey, and it has made them who they are today. Myself you can talk catholic all you want, but the measure of a true christian is how you treat others. Have a great day.

  4. Phil-672135 November 14, 2012 Reply

    As someone who was blessed with a solid upbringing by two converts, I am very thankful for the lessons that I learned about faith, family, and john paul II’s theology of the body. While I don’t profess to have lived the 7 faith questions to perfection my entire life, I believe they are a very effective tool to measure where a person is at in terms of their personal journey. I’m much to flawed to try and “out-catholic” anyone, but it does disturb me when someone is so closed off that they won’t even consider a life without “pre-marital sex and/or contraception”. I’m not sure this gets to the heart of this article, but these are merely my thoughts on the issue.

    • Marita-847688 November 14, 2012 Reply

      When you said “consider a life without “pre-marital sex and/or contraception” are you saying people shouldn’t consider living their lives in holiness and chastity or did I misinterpret what you are saying? I’m confused.

  5. Cynthia-875784 November 13, 2012 Reply

    I like to think I’m very accepting of others and very tolerant. But – I spent 33 years with a man who, while Catholic, rarely went to mass with me. I didn’t like it then and I don’t think I’d like it now. If I’m going to share my life with someone, shouldn’t it be with someone who shares my faith? You mention the 7/7. For me, the deal breaker is chastity. Why date someone who doesn’t believe as I do regarding that subject? Suppose we hit it off really well. Either I give in to sin and have sex with him or he learns to accept my decision to wait for marriage. That would take a very special man indeed. Better to know up front than risk heartbreak for either of us.

    Maybe I missed the point of the article, but those are my 2 cents.

  6. Stephen-725391 November 13, 2012 Reply

    Yeah, I’ve tried to expose the “Catholic Guilt” that I see as rampant here only to get shot down. Father Tobin’s book – How to Forgive Yourself & Others – states it this way:

    “All of us who in childhood [now on CM] were so unfortunate to receive a ‘lot’ of “shoulds” [and should nots] from parental and authority figures [a lot on CM] were set up to ‘not’ enjoy life too much.”

    Finally, someone has pointed directly at one of the problems I see in the older Catholic crowd of singles that is getting in the way of having some of the happiness that God has always intended us to have.

  7. Lois-765906 November 13, 2012 Reply

    I agree about being fearful, even if it is not expressed. That is why I said whoever might be interested in me did not have to be super-Catholic. I have seen the tendency to “sit in judgment” and feel that on-line sites tend to allow us to view potential dates in the abstract. This is an artificial construct. I met one guy on line here who was very interesting but, after a while, things did not continue and I do believe it was because he was scared of being burned again (as he had in his prior marriage). Before even meeting for the first time (at least this is what I have heard from people my age), we tend to assign a negative label to the other and “keep looking”. For what are we looking? Perfection is something we will not find in THIS life, only the next. 🙂

  8. Ezrah-891754 November 13, 2012 Reply

    Beautiful Article :)!

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