I am in the process of getting baptized and being confirmed as a Catholic. At the same time I am engaged and my† fiance and I live together. We will be getting married next year. Should I wait to be baptized after we are married?
To be clear up front, I'm not a Catholic. I'm a Christian. I teach the Bible and not Roman Catholic doctrine. Sometimes there is no difference between the two, but sometimes there is large difference.
The Roman Catholic concept of baptism is to sprinkle water on a person. There is a rite where full immersion is done, but it usually has to be requested and many parishes don't have it available. See: The Spiritual Significance of Baptism.
In Roman Catholicism, since they baptize infants, they added a confirmation process to teach people their ways. In the Bible you find that people are taught first and then are baptized. Thus, infants are not baptized because they are not yet capable of learning. Learning is absolutely necessary because you cannot have faith without it. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). And a person needs faith before they can be baptized. "Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him" (Acts 8:36-38). Notice also that a confession of that belief is also required before baptism. "But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:8-10).
But there is one more prerequisite to baptism. "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"" (Acts 2:37-38). It makes no sense to be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins, if the person plans to remain in his sins. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). Thus, you are correct that being baptized while you continue to commit fornication is a foolish plan.
But equally foolish to to decide that serving God can wait until you feel like getting married. "For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2). One notable thing that you see in the early church is that Christians didn't treat salvation as a matter of convenience. When they learned the truth they were strongly motivated to be baptized immediately. "Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized" (Acts 16:32-33). The lack of any sense of urgency tells me that you don't really believe that having sex with your girlfriend is a sin. It tells me that you aren't really afraid of ending up in hell. "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off" (Romans 11:22).
The problem is that while you have plans for the future, the future is not guaranteed. "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil" (James 4:13-16). The proper response would be to move out, stop having sex until you get married, and be baptized immediately. That would show that you believe God and that you understand that what the Bible teaches is real.
Thank you for your response. I honestly believe everything you have just said. I do not live a perfect life, and I am trying my best to change. I also know with all of my heart that God is with me and always has been. I do not have the funds to move. We barely make it with both of our paychecks. I have two kids that I pay child support for, and neither one of us have anywhere to go. We are both willing to get married at the court house, and I will go through with my baptism. God has blessed me in many ways, and continues to let change take place in my life. But I'm not very educated on Scripture, so I'm not sure if God will bless our marriage if we do it civil, and then through the church later when we have the finances. Is that possible?
In the Bible, there is no church wedding. God recognizes marriages between two people who have the right to get married. What makes a marriage is the covenant -- the vow -- that the two of you make before witnesses. "She is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Malachi 2:14). Get married down at the courthouse and in doing so you will be obeying the command of God. "But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (I Corinthians 7:8-9).
Then take time to learn God's Word. It isn't a terrible burden. "So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17). I suspect that the more you learn about God from the Bible, the more you will realize that the Roman Catholic Church isn't practicing God's way. When you do realize that, I invite you to simply become a Christian, just like people have been doing for two thousand years. See: We Are Simply Christians Without Being Members of Any Denomination, You Can be Too!