Catholic Help With Marriages And Families
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The Catholic Contraception & Sex FAQ
Plain Answers For Embarrassing Sex Questions
I remember when I first got married, I had a lot of questions about sex that I was way too embarrassed to ask a priest. Back then, we didn’t have the internet where I could hide the question anonymously.
For newlyweds in a similar situation, I thought I’d answer some of the most embarrassing questions here, so that they wouldn’t have to spend hours digging through religious books on marriage (most of those books won’t answer these questions honestly anyway).Most of these answers have not been clearly defined in an official Catholic document. The ideas behind them, however, have.
Despite all the specific questions you might have about sex, most of them can be answered with this simple statement—you’re fine doing most things in the bedroom so long as it remains between the two of you and so long as it leads to normal sex. I don’t think I have to define normal sex, I’ll just assume you can use common sense to know what I mean.
Aside from that, I’d just say that sex is fun because God made it fun. So there’s no shame in enjoying it. But at the same time, we must keep it on a leash. Like all of man’s appetites, it can rule us if we don’t rule it.
Needless to say, this article will contain some adult material. I don't really hold back here at all, so if you're squeemish about these things, I would find something else to read.
**All if this concerns married couples, and only married couples. The rules between unmarried couples are much more simple--stay out of the bedroom until you're married.
- Is it okay to use contraceptives?
- Is it a mortal sin or a venial sin to use contraceptives?
- If a woman is using birth control for medical reasons other than preventing pregnancy, it is okay to have sex?
- Are both spouses guilty of a mortal sin if one chooses to use a contraceptive against the others will?
- Can a spouse refuse to have sex if the other partner is using contraceptives?
- If a man has a vasectomy, does he need to reverse the procedure before having sex again?
- Is “pulling out” considered contraception?
- Is oral sex considered a kind of contraception?
- Is oral sex for a man wrong if he doesn’t ejaculate?
- If a woman is pregnant, and simply can’t get “re-pregnant” is oral sex okay in order to avoid penetration?
- Is it a sin if a man accidentally ejaculates during foreplay?
- Is mutual masturbation a mortal sin?
- Is oral sex for a woman wrong if she climaxes?
- Is it wrong for a woman to masturbate after the man ejaculates?
- Is it okay to use sex toys?
- Is it okay to use sexual stimulants?
- Is it okay, if the man and woman both consent, to watch pornography?
- Is it okay for a husband and wife to film themselves having sex?
No. It isn’t.
It is a mortal sin.
The problem here is not with the idea of ‘contraception’. Contraception is intentionally impeding the procreative aspect of sex. Since the reason for the medication is not to impede procreation, then there is no sin. This subject is addressed in Humanae Vitae.
But some problems do come up when you consider that all birth control pills on the market right now used to regulate things like menstrual cycles also have abortifacient properties. In other words, they keep fertilized eggs from implanting.
If a child was conceived, and if that child was ‘flushed out’ because of the effects of the pill, we wouldn’t necessarily call that abortion, because it was not intended. But nonetheless, some people find this morally questionable. Perhaps there’s question of negligence on the part of the married couple, who do something knowing that it could harm another human being. But since that human being doesn’t actually exist yet, it still wouldn’t be considered a sin.
At the same time, we have to remember that it is possible for a conceived child to implant in the walls of the uterus, even when the mother is taking birth control pills. Not only that, but many fertilized eggs are naturally miscarried without the parents even knowing about it. So there’s the argument that continuing marital relations while on the pill is really just leaving the fate of a possible fertilized egg up to God, because we can’t say for certain what will happen to the child once it is conceived.
Right now, the Church has no definitive answer to the question. But we can at least say that sex is not directly prohibited when a woman is taking birth control pills for therapeutic purposes. We can also say, from looking at other related doctrines, that there are probably no moral objections.
At the same time, couples should look into alternatives to birth control. Many OB's now a days tend to dish out birth control as the ultimate cure for everything female. Talk to a Natural Family Planning doctor and see if something less 'chemical' will help you. You can find a listing of NFP doctors here: http://www.omsoul.com/nfp-only.php
The final answer, right now, would be that a couple could continue to have sex, even if the woman is taking birth control pills.
No. If a man decides to have a vasectomy against his wife’s will, she may still have sex with him and not be guilty. Likewise, if a woman is taking birth control pills against a husband’s wished, he may still have sex with her and remain guilt free.
The church recognizes that both the man and the woman have a right to a reasonable amount of conjugal pleasures in marriage. Therefore, it is unlawful for either to refuse each other such pleasures for an extended period of time except for certain circumstances. For example, if the man is not working to support the family, if either one has certain health issues, or if either one of them is unfaithful.
We must recognize that this does not mean that either one can “demand” sex. Sex is a mutual embrace of love between a married couple. It cannot be taken by force. Even if a woman unjustly deprives her husband, it is not within his right to take it. But again, it can be a sin for one spouse to unjustly hold back for a long time.
Using a contraceptive hasn’t been identified as one of the reasons a spouse may withhold. That’s not to say it isn’t a reason. It just means there has been no doctrine to define it. For now it is enough to say that it isn’t sinful to have sex when one uses a contraceptive against the other’s will.
If you’re struggling with this issue, you might consider this: by using a contraceptive, your spouse is putting a wall between you. By refusing to have sex, you’re only adding mortar to that wall and reinforcing it. The loving act of giving oneself to a spouse is always preferable to using sex as a punishment.
If a man is truly sorry for having the operation and has gone to confession, he may have sex again without fear of committing a sin.
Yes. When a man ejaculates, the life giving seed spews forth. If you keep this seed from following its natural course (by blocking it, spilling it, or chemically destroying it) you violate the natural use of sex. Pulling out is equivalent to using a condom.
For a man, yes. Well, at least if he ejaculates. It would be the same thing as “pulling out.”
No… usually not. A man and a woman may engage in this kind of foreplay, so long as it leads to normal sex. But if the couple is just ‘fooling around’ (in other words, if the man doesn’t plan on ejaculating), they are more likely guilty of putting themselves in the occasion of sin. Just as before marriage, such acts would be inviting temptation. And realistically, most cases like this would lead directly to sin. Very few would be able to keep from going all the way.
No. It would still fall under abusing the natural use of sex.
No… honest accidents are not sins. But if this happens often during a particular type of foreplay, then it might be considered a venial sin if the couple doesn’t avoid it.
Somewhat. If a man ejaculates, then this is very clearly a mortal sin, as he is spilling the seed. In spirit, the act of mutual masturbation eliminates the loving embrace God intended for man and woman. It puts oneself in the drivers seat, and degrades sex to a purely physical act. But sex is not a merely physical act of love. It is a supernatural act where man and woman embrace in body and soul.
Not in most cases. If is a part of foreplay, and leads to normal sex, then no. Also, if the man has already ejaculated and wished to further please the woman, then it is perfectly acceptable. If it neither party plans to have sex, this might be considered an occasion of sin.
It is reasonable for a woman to expect pleasure from sex. In cases where a man will not spend the proper time and energy to physically fulfill a woman’s needs, it is permissible for her to do so herself.
Sex toys (vibrators, etc.,) are permissible so long as they lead to normal sex.
It should be added here, though, that sex toys and other such 'experimentation' ought not to be taken lightly. As a couple gets through their first year, they will undoubtedly fall into a sexual routine. There's nothing wrong with this. The thing that must be avoided, is falling into a relational routine.
If you feel that your sex life is lacking, it is more probable that your relationship itself is having problems. Spicing up the bedroom is a very short term answer for this. Try praying, try going out, try laughing together.
Personally, I would not suggest sexual experimentation (meaning using toys and such as stimulants) unless the marriage is stable and has been for more than 5 years.
Lubricants and other stimulants are permissible so long as they lead to normal sex.
Watching pornography brings another party into the marriage. It is a mortal sin.
So long as it stays between the husband and wife (both when filming and when watching), then it is not a sin. It can, however, lead to disorder in the bedroom. Sex is an activity that unifies two people, but it can become a divider if either spouse begins to see the other as a ‘toy’ and uses them for purely physical pleasure.