marital sex : LUSENET : Catholic Pages Forum : One Thread

Is engaging in oral sex with our spouse a sin? What are the general guidelines regarding marital sex within the laws of the church...what is allowable and what is not as long as both parties are of course comfortable and agreeable?

-- Anonymous, April 18, 1998


You know intrestingly enough I had a conversation with a good orthodox theologian about this the other day. Please bear with me because the answer isn't as dry and pat as most people would like.

The answer has its root in scripture in Genesis:

6 And Judah took a wife for Er his first-born, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judahs first-born, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, Go in to your brothers wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother. 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brothers wife he spilled the semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he slew him also. The Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, (New York: The National Council of Churches) 1997, c1994.

Now, many modern day scholars will try to say that Onan was killed for refusing to raise up offspring for his brother's wife (bear with me this does have a bearing on the answer) but 2000+ years of solid Catholic (the reasons for the 2000 plus years is a screw up in the western calander on the birth of Jesus) AND many more years of orthodox Jewish tradition are against this. The reason is in Deuteronomy, This is where the sentance is set for such an act.

5 If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family to a stranger; her husbands brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husbands brother to her. 6 And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his brother who is dead, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. 7 And if the man does not wish to take his brothers wife, then his brothers wife shall go up to the gate to the elders, and say, My husbands brother refuses to perpetuate his brothers name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husbands brother to me. 8 Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak to him: and if he persists, saying, I do not wish to take her, 9 then his brothers wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot, and spit in his face; and she shall answer and say, So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brothers house. 10 And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, The house of him that had his sandal pulled off. The Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, (New York: The National Council of Churches) 1997, c1994.

Notice the discrepency between the two acts, in Deuteronomy, the sentance is having the man humiliated in public and given a nickname such as "numbnuts" Where as in Genesis, the sentance is death.

One more thing we must look at is the original word for "displeasing" used in Genesis is the same word that is used when sexual sins such as laying with an animal where the sentance is death.

(please bear with me folks, I know I said this was the long way around) Now, with this in mind we must look at what Onan did that was most dipleasing to God. Simply put the law in Deuteronomy shows that it was not that big of a sin not to raise up offspring for one's brother, it was not on par with laying with a woman who was not your wife, now on par with having sex with an animal. Both of these acts would warrent the stoning of the offending individual or individuals. We must conclude that the act of spilling Onan's seman was the act that was evil in God's sight. (now we are getting to the meat of the answer. Sorry it took me so long to get here.) Now this is not PC to say in today's modern Church, however as I have said, we have a 2000+ year teaching in our Chruch on this who's arguments hold wanter when viewed through scripture.

Now what does this have to do with oral sex? Simply put the problem comes in with the teaching that ever sexual act by a married couple must be open to life. Oral sex does not allow the transmission of life therefore it is a misuse of the sexual act when the act is culminated orally (whew... who thougth a good Catholic boy like me would be writing this kind of stuff.) However an argument could be made that the act could be done as long as it ended up in the martial act with full transmission allowing for the possiblity of life.

For other sexual acts within marriage, one must apply the rule "Is it open to life?" If the act cannot possibly end in the possible transmission of life then one must deem it unacceptable.

To futher muddy the waters, we must also make some notes on intent. Example if a married couple are engaged in the martial act and he accidently disengages and discharges the act would not be sinful because their intent was to culminate the act in full union with the possibility of life.

In the same fashion, if a couple uses NFP to prevent the possiblity of ever having children then the circumstances are sinful because the couple is actively misusing NFP for a purpose in which it was not intended.

I would suggest reading Pope Paul's document Humana Vitae and Pope John Paul's Evangelium Vitae (Encyclical on Human Life), and Veritatis Splendor (on moral theology). Also consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The very last thing that I will caution is that there is a ground swell of acceptance for a lessing of the Church's teaching on Sexual morality. Realize that the Church will not change her teachings on popular opinion. Many of the Church's teachings are hard i.e Divorce and Remarriage. I would recommend that you fully research to find out what the Chruch teaches and why. It can be enlightening experience to read Church history along with scripture and realize why these teachings that seem so hard are in fact on solid theological and scriptural grounds.

Finally I would like to point out one more things. Before 1930, every christian denomination believed that all forms of artifical birth control were sinful, we can point to the moment in time when the Anglican Church caved in to social pressure and over the years the rest of the denominations followed suit. This shows when morality starts to slide it does indeed cause ripple effects. However the Catholic Church, thank God, has stuck to its guns on morality.

Your Brother in Christ

John Gibson

-- Anonymous, April 18, 1998


I am unclear as to your referral to Natural Family Planning (NFP).

"In the same fashion, if a couple uses NFP to prevent the possiblity of ever having children then the circumstances are sinful because the couple is actively misusing NFP for a purpose in which it was not intended."

Isn't NFP utilized as an effort to naturally prevent unwanted pregnancies? In this way, contraception is performed naturally without pills, etc., and other means (some of which are harmful to the woman or actually force a miscarriage after conception). What purpose does NFP serve then, particularly in the eyes of the RCC? Isn't this method of "birth control" condoned by the Church?

-- Anonymous, April 21, 1998

The key word is "EVER" NFP is acceptable to space births for good reasons. It would be abused if it was used to prevent pregnency with the intent to never have children.. One of the primary purposes of Marriage is children.

-- Anonymous, April 22, 1998

Thanks Rich,

I am formulating a longer answer with quotes from Church teaching on areas where NFP could be used in a sinful manner.


-- Anonymous, April 23, 1998

John, that sounds good. The two that I use in teaching The Sacrament of Marriage are Humanae vitae and Casti Connubii.

-- Anonymous, April 23, 1998

Thank you for your answer, Rich. Not to dispute it . . . but I would like to add some information a Theology teacher told me. From his knowledge, NFP is correct within the Church because it does not artificially shut out life. Even while using NFP, the couple is "open to life," allowing God to initiate life through natural means. However, this would appear to throw the said marriage into question, since a couple could (according to the information in this answer) conform with the Church's standards on contraception but avoid one of the primary purposes of marriage: procreation. In short: If NFP still allows God to work through the marriage, is the couple still "expected" (by the RCC) to have children in the future willfully (by consciously terminating NFP efforts)?

-- Anonymous, April 30, 1998

Hi Rosemarie,

You are correct that a statement of intent NOT to ever have children, can be used as a basis for a "Declaration of Nulity" NFP is accepted by the Church as a means of spacing children, with "JUST REASON" but never for the total exclusion of children. see The Universal Catechism paragraph 1652, 1664, 2366-2371

Rich Pohlman S.F.O.

-- Anonymous, April 30, 1998

So on the issue of oral sex...I'm assuming it is okay then granted that the couple end in full marital intercourse. This seems to be a very big issue with men and considering I am married to a non-Catholic, appears to be a big issue from a worldly standard. I have believed that it is alright to perform oral sex with the end result in marital intercourse, though from a personal level I always feel so guilty about it and I do not enjoy it. This is something I do for my husband and nothing more. If I knew that he wouldn't object so much I would totally avoid it, but I feel I must continue. But I cannot help but think of the physical implications of this type of sexual foreplay. And bear with me as this is most difficult to relate. But whenever the idea comes to mind, I cannot help but think that I receive our Lord into my mouth in Holy Communion and thus just as in eating...this sexual act seems so crude to relation to our spiritual side. Has anyone else thought upon this?

And aside from the fact, that I am totally embarrassed to relate that...I felt it needed to be discussed with other fellow Catholics. If any Catholic women are out there I would appreciate your comments on this issue.

Thank you.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 1998

I am replying to Susan's last statement simply because she shared something very intimate and made herself very vulnerable in doing so. She has a valid question and should not be left hanging without an answer from someone. I would like to see some other Catholic women get involved in this discussion since responses from men (either married or celibate) may tend to be biased based on their own feeling toward the acts being discussed. Hang in there, Susan. I am in total sympathy with you.

-- Anonymous, May 22, 1998

Dear Susan - I have not perused the full bulletin board in detail until recently, and came upon your question and not many answers. I feel somewhat hesitant, because I'm not sure I know the correct Catholic response to the question, although I'm learning. But, I can give my perspective as a Catholic woman who loves her husband and who also participates in oral sex with him. First, instead of feeling disgust, you might think about the fact that God designed him in a specific way for a sacred purpose, so instead of feeling embarrassed, you might think of oral sex as a way of contributing to your marital union in a very special way, and one that is very pleasing. My husband and I sometimes have oral sex, in connection with intercourse. I take a lot of pleasure in it, because it makes my husband happy, and really contributes to our enjoyment of our lovemaking. There's nothing wrong with that, I have to believe! I hope that helps some. Patty

-- Anonymous, June 28, 1998

Marital sex

I don't know the "right" answer either (whether it's acceptable by the Church or not). Until I do know, though, my husband and I will continue to participate in oral sex. I enjoy it very much {especially when I'm on the receiving end :-)} as I'm sure he does. We are God's gift to each other and I believe God intended us to give ourselves completely to each other. I don't think you should do it, though, if you don't enjoy it. Try talking to your husband about what you find uncomfortable about it. Maybe if you both perform it on each other at the same time it would be more enjoyable. Just a thought.

-- Anonymous, July 06, 1998

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