Quiz: How Well Do You Know Valid, Sacramental, and Invalid Marriages?

Because Marriage existed as a part of God’s natural plan for human beings before Christ elevated it to the level of a sacrament, it can be hard to understand what makes a marriage valid and sacramental, valid and merely natural, or invalid all together. A lot of what happens when the Church thinks about particular cases has to do with how competent the parties were to give their consent to the promises they made at the wedding. However, sometimes we can make a fundamental judgement about a marriage’s validity using some universal principles about the eligibility of the parties themselves. The following examples consider only the latter situations and they all assume the integrity of both knowledge and consent of the parties involved with respect to the goods of marriage. With that said, I invite you to test your knowledge of matrimony by taking the quiz below! The answers to each question can be found at the bottom of this post, so don’t scroll down until you’ve answered all the questions!


1.) Linda was baptized in the Episcopal Church and Bob was Baptized in the Lutheran Church. They met at a blackjack table in Las Vegas and knew from that moment that it would be true luhve forever between them. They went (while sober) immediately to the “Lil’ White Chapel” and proclaimed their vows to each other with an Elvis impersonator officiating. Their marriage is:      

(A) Invalid (B) Valid and Natural (C) Valid and Sacramental

2.) Jack met Kim while mutually taking a skydiving class. Kim is a professed Buddhist now, but was baptized as a Catholic when she was a child. Jack was Baptized as a Presbyterian, but no longer practices his faith. They hit things off and after a year of dating decide to get married in Jack’s Presbyterian church to please his family. Their Marriage is:

(A) Invalid (B) Valid and Natural (C) Valid and Sacramental

3.) Tony’s parents thought it best to let him decide for himself what religion, if any, he should belong to when he got older. As time went on, Tony never really found an interest in any faith tradition, and so remains unbaptized and unaffiliated. Tony met Melissa in the park one day and it was twoo wuv fowevah. Melissa was Baptized and raised as a devout Catholic and still practices her Faith. She insists that they get a dispensation from her bishop and meet with her pastor to prepare for marriage before they exchange vows at the courthouse. Their marriage is:

(A) Invalid (B) Valid and Natural (C) Valid and Sacramental

4.) Septimus and Octavia met at a “Celebrating Roman Heritage Conference.” Being devout worshippers of the old gods, they were never initiated into the new “Cult of the Nazorean.” They viewed one another excellent candidates for the procreation and raising of offspring according to the noblest ideals of Roman culture. They express their intent to wed one another and raise their noble offspring in the presence of the priestess of Vesta. Their marriage is:

(A) Invalid (B) Valid and Natural (C) Valid and Sacramental

5.) Angela met Michael at a performance of the Broadway hit, “Hamilton.” Inspired by their mutual love of both Hip-Hop music and American History, the romance between them began to blossom. Angela was baptized and raised as Lutheran, but isn’t terribly attached to her church. Michael is a practicing Catholic and once the time for his proposal comes around, tells Angela that he would like to be married in the Catholic Church at his home parish. She agrees to this and all the conditions of the Church. Their marriage is:

(A) Invalid (B) Valid and Natural (C) Valid and Sacramental

6.) Bruce and Amy were both Baptized and raised as Catholics, but fell away from their faith at some point in high-school or college. Their relationship took off when they were relaxing in the lodge together after captaining competing sleds in the Iditarod race. A year later, they wanted to get married and commit to each other, but they both agreed there was no need for that superstitious old-time religion. They decide to be married by a judge down at the courthouse. Their marriage is:

(A) Invalid (B) Valid and Natural (C) Valid and Sacramental


















1.) Bob and Linda have a marriage that is both valid and sacramental because any valid matrimonial contract between two baptized persons is always a sacrament. Because neither party is Catholic, they are not bound to express their marital promises to each other in a Catholic rite, therefore assuming that Elvis asked the right questions and they answered them with knowledge and consent, they have contracted a sacramental union.


2.) Jack and Kim have an invalid union (that is, no marriage at all) because Kim was Baptized as a Catholic (The Church considers a person Catholic if they were baptized in the Catholic Church, regardless of what they may believe or practice consequent to that) and has not formally renounced Catholicism, so any attempt she makes at marriage is governed by the Church’s Canon and Liturgical laws for its validity. (Canon 1058 in the above link) Since they attempted marriage in the Presbyterian church, their marriage is invalid under Canon Law.


3.) Tony and Melissa have valid and natural marriage because Tony is not baptized and is therefore not able to contract a valid sacrament (since Baptism is the gateway to the rest of the sacraments). Since this marriage is only able to be natural and is taking place under the conditions placed on a dispensation, it doesn’t need to take place in a Catholic rite because it isn’t a sacrament.


4.) These two are pagans who seem to have a basic understanding of the goods of marriage and freely consenting to them. Their marriage is perfectly valid and natural. This is the reality of marriage before Christ elevated it to a sacrament and it endures in this form for the unbaptized.


5.) Angela and Michael have a valid and sacramental marriage because they are both baptized and the Catholic party is following the legal requirements of the Church that their union take place in a Catholic rite with the conditions of the Church imposed on the non-Catholic party.


6.) Bruce and Amy have an invalid union for the same reason as #2. Being Catholics, any attempt they make to get married outside of the the Church’s canonical requirements is invalid because they are bound by the Church’s law.


There are a number of principles at work here, so I’d be happy to talk about them in the comments section below. Let me know how you did!








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