Dear Catholic Warrior...
Q. "My daughter is 18 and just now graduating from High school. In her junior year she had a confirmation sponsor who was male and 6 yrs her senior (she was 17 and he was 23. He is a devout and wonderful Catholic who taught apologetics at our Church. During that year they fell in love. They did not date then, but when she turned 18 they did. Her father and I and both of them had a long talk (they asked permission) and since he had had such a profound spirtual influence on her and I trusted him, we said yes. He has just graduated from college and lives in another town but visits frequently. The problem is that his family is totally against this. (one of his sisters is in my daughter's class and hates it) His mother thinks that I am awful for allowing them to date and I know that he must not tell them when he sees my daughter. The age doesn't bother me so much because I know and trust him so well, but his family believes that this is wrong. He says there is nothing in Catholic theology that prevents this because of age as long as both are adults. Like I said, they didn't "date" during the confirmation process.Is it wrong and what should he do?"
A. I want to start out by saying that I don't feel very qualified to answer this question as it doesn't have much to do with Catholic teaching per say, and that I don't have more information, but I'll do my best to answer.
First of all, I must agree with the young man involved here that there is nothing in Catholic teaching that opposes marriage just because he is six years older. In fact, I happen to know one good Catholic family where the couple is ten years apart.
So let's look at the pros and cons of this situation. First the pros: Both the young lady (your daughter) and young man appear to be in good Catholic standing and since they are both Catholic, should they marry, they would be able to support each other in their Faith and be in the same boat. This is a healthy situation. Another pro seems to be that this young man was responsible in starting this relationship by asking his girlfriend's parents permission to date. That is a rare and responsible action that is not normally seen today. Also, now that your daughter is 18, she is considered a young adult and is responsible for her actions, though that doesn't mean you parents don't have any say--especially while she is living at home.
Let's look at the cons now--really, I see only one. That is the situation with the man's family not being accepting of this relationship. It seems to me that they consider it wrong because of age, or perhaps of personal dislike, or wishing their son to pursue a different lady. I am guessing it's mostly the first. In that case, though I don't know if they're Catholic, it is necessary that there be communication between this young man and his parents. Let him talk to them if he has not already, and try to explain to them why he is pursuing this relationship and also that the Church doesn't forbid it. Also, if this man is living at home in his parents house, he should should be honoring of their wishes, and be communicative as to his happenings. The fourth commandment of "honor thy father and mother" here seems to be the issue. Although, his parents cannot decide what his vocation is (only God can), he should to the best of his ability be honoring towards them and to try to bring reconciliation and peace in the relationship.
What is important in any vocation is an openness to the Will of God. What does God want me to do? Does God want me in this situation? These are the questions that must be prayed through and each one in the relationship must make sure they are totally unselfish and open to what God wants for them.
I suggest getting a spiritual director if you don't already have one and you can discuss this situation with him more and give some more specifics. I hope my two cent worth was helpful! God Bless! ---The Catholic Warrior