Change I Can’t Believe In: Converting For the Wrong Reasons


Published: January 29, 2009

Growing up, many of us have either consciously or subconsciously changed certain aspects of ourselves in order to appeal to the affections of a love interest. Some of us decide to straighten or cut our hair. Others try a new wardrobe or a new style. Some go further and cut out curse words or change their viewpoints in order to be more alluring.

How about changing religions?

For most of my life, despite being Protestant, I have carried what some would consider a “Catholic persona.” In fact, when I mention I am Protestant to people, many say that they had always thought I was Catholic. Knowing my history, it’s easy to see why. I have attended Catholic schools since fourth grade, I have a network of Catholic friends from high school and college and I have studied Catholicism

Part of my “Catholic” history comes from a girl named Colleen. Colleen was an extremely devout Catholic whom I dated for over two and a half years. To me, she took being Catholic to a whole new level. She attended daily mass, said the rosary a couple times a week and frequently regaled me with tales and stories about the saints. In fact, she almost took me completely away from my personal faith.

For over 15 years, I have been attending my home church, which is located one town away from the house where I grew up. My former girlfriend was a Catholic all her life and went to the local parish. Despite my attachment to my church and the principles it practices, I was drawn to what Colleen had to say on spiritual and moral issues. From abortion and the death penalty to family values and current events, she captivated me with her sincerity and purity. She always redirected her thoughts and opinions toward God and the views of the Catholic Church. She had a very strong hold on me and used it to show me more about what she believed in. Of course, the fact that she was extremely attractive didn’t hurt either.

The deeper our relationship became, the more questions I had about myself and my faith. Whether she knew it or not, Colleen made me question almost every single thing I believed in. I even questioned the basic rituals my church performed on a weekly basis. While I continued to question, our conversations turned to more serious topics including our future together. We even went as far enough as to talk about marriage and future children. Once she told me she wouldn’t raise children unless they were Catholic, I started to think about converting.

I started to read up more about Catholicism, even thumbing through the Catechism of the Catholic Church a few times. I attempted to pray the rosary and defended Catholicism in arguments with my Protestant friends. While studying more about the saints, I even bought (and still carry) a Saint Teresa of Avila card in my pocket, which has a piece of cloth touched to her relics. I went to a few Catholic masses and thought to myself, “What if I had this type of service every single Sunday?” Colleen helped answer my questions and encouraged me to further explore Catholicism. However, I struggled throughout these services, knowing in the back of my mind, this was not where I was supposed to be.

At the time, I thought I was converting for the sake of our future. However, after the relationship ended a few months later, I realized what I was doing. At the sight of a beautiful and genuine woman, I temporarily sold myself to her and her beliefs. I listened and immediately questioned myself without first questioning her beliefs. I was willing to change for her, but I felt so uncomfortable. I absolutely loved going out with Colleen at the time, but I did not like the person I was becoming. I was becoming a copy of a Colleen Catholic, rather than a true, believing Christian.

I’m not saying no one should convert for his or her love interest, but if you are to convert, I advise you to do so with the best of intentions. Convert to whichever faith or religion you wish, as long as it adheres closely to what you believe in. A significant other may last for a while, but your beliefs and values will carry you further. When it comes to your beliefs, morals and faith, you have the right to be selfish.