Sexual Matters in Marriage part II : LUSENET : Catholic Pages Forum : One Thread

So after the question of oral sex, then I am wondering about foreplay that results in the complete pleasure to the woman? I know that for a man to finish before full intercourse is wrong but what about the this has happened during intercourse due to foreplay; sometimes intended so to help my husband in his own desires. Sometimes a woman does not *finish* per se at the end of intercourse and I've heard it permitted that her husband can help her to do so. But I wonder about beforehand..would that be presumptious to allow the wife to finish within sexual foreplay before the husband does? This is a very complicated question and most mortifiying to bring to confession. I have assumed it was alright but I have been in doubt.

Thank you.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 1998


It's true that, in some senses, church teaching is not particularly clear on these issues of what is acceptable sexual conduct within marriage. There is no Church guidebook that says this is fine, this is fine, that's a no-no, you can't go around doing that, etc.

Persona Humana, the 1975 "Declaration on Certain Questions of Sexual Ethics" by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the Vatican department Cardinal Ratzinger now heads) simply states that all genital acts must occur within marriage (but it doesn't follow from that that all genital acts occurring within marriage are OK!) and that all sexual activity within marriage must be open to the transmission of life.

That gives us some hints as to what is and is not morally acceptable.

But, we really need to think more about the whole span of what the Church teaches us about love in marriage. It's worth remembering that Humanae Vitae isn't just about contraception, and that Church Teaching on contraception isn't just Humanae Vitae.

Pope Pius XI in the 1930s wrote an encyclical called Casti Connubii reiterating the age-old prohibition on birth control in response to the Anglican Communion's Lambeth Conference of the same time which suggested that it was permissible for Anglicans to use birth control.

Casti Connubii places the prohibition on contraception firmly within the realm of the question of chastity within marriage. It is unchaste for a married couple to use contraception. So, there we have the first hint of what we have to consider when we discuss sexual relations within marriage -- marital chastity.

Humanae Vitae in 1968 then added to that basis for prohibiting birth control by relying on the principles of the Natural Law. The natural "ends" of marriage and the "marriage act" are procreative and unitive and these two are inseparable. Thus, we have the next building block: sexual relations within marriage have to open to the transmission of life (ie, no contraception or deliberate sterilization) and they must be unitive, they must bring the couple together strengthening their love. It might be then, that sexual conduct that consisted primarily of self-stimulation would not be unitive.

Finally, Pope John Paul II has added further to the body of thought on this issue in his teaching on marriage, both in Familiaris Consortio (1980) and in his series of catechesis in 1984 and in subsequent encyclicals like Veritatis Splendor (1992) and Evangelium Vitae (1994). The Holy Father relies on his "personalist" philosophy to further develop our thinking on these issues. He says that the act of lovemaking must involve the total giving of one's self to the other: one's fertility, one's love, one's future. This means that true lovemaking can only occur within marriage where a couple is open to life and has vowed to remain together in monogamy until death.

Now, if you take all of that together, you've got a lot more to go on when you come to consider concrete issues like whether oral sex as foreplay is morally acceptable.

Taking oral sex:

-- is it chaste? It's difficult to answer. Does it feel wrong because it's wrong, or because sex is made to be so sordid in today's society and we're feeling guilty for something that we shouldn't feel guilty about?

-- is it open to life? No, not on its own. But, as a part of lovemaking that is open to life, perhaps it's OK.

-- is it unitive? Well, here you have to wonder. There is always a problem where one party is giving and the other is receiving. Is this unitive, or just selfish on the part of one and selfless? Are you really uniting "as one flesh"?

This is where the Natural Law also becomes relevant. Certain parts of the body are not naturally designed for sexual conduct, others are. Should we be using those parts that aren't for sexual pleasure?

Whole person -- Finally, are you giving your whole personhood to the other in the act, is the man giving the wife all his love and receiving all hers, or is it one-way?

These aren't easy questions, and I don't profess to know the answers, and I don't think the Church has made a final decision. But, it's more grist for the mill. We need to think on a wider plane than just "is it open to life?". In your own concrete situation, you have to ask "is it a mutual sharing of our love for each other?", "is it chaste for us to do this?", "does this unite as one?".

Thoughts anyone?

God bless, Paul McLachlan

-- Anonymous, May 08, 1998

Hi Susan,

I am not a Moral Theologian so I hope that there is on here somewhere incase what I say is wrong or misleading. I think that practical reality steps in at some point here. Certain Moral questions need to be considered. Like 1. Is the sexual act within Marriage? 2. Does it limit fertility or prevent conception in an artifical way? 3. Is the act immoral in circunstances or place? To go beyond this may be heading into unnecessary moral examination. A very good book on human sexuality is "Original Unity of Man and Woman- Catechesis on the Book of Genesis" by John Paul II

-- Anonymous, May 05, 1998


I believe one of the greatest struggles for a Catholic is to merge the present "conscience" of society with the time-honored dictates and doctrines of the Church. To my mind, the personal conscience is the resolution, in which personal standards are formed that hopefully remain within the guidelines and wishes of the Church while strong enough to withstand society's "abuse." Anymore, it seems even more difficult to hold up personal beliefs and standards in the modern "just do it" philosophy. Personally, I refrain from such sexual acts as oral sex because I do not recognize any sacredness in such an act, particularly since the couple is not acting in a loving union to create life. However, I know wonderful individuals who do participate in these acts and find fulfillment and love through these actions. Equally, I know others who refrain and enjoy very satisfying, full relationships that do not lack at all because of the absence of oral sex. Since the Church is slightly mirky on this point (i.e. oral sex is permissable as long as sexual intercouse follows), a confused individual seeking the guidance of the Church may be left a little bewildered. Although I cannot speak for the Church, I believe it would agree with the ancient adage: "To thine own self be true." I would reflect on your personal feelings in this matter, and share them with your spouse. And I hope your relationship is loving and supportive so he can work with you to form a more fulfilling sexual relationship and an even happier marriage.

I hope I helped! Rose.

-- Anonymous, May 07, 1998

As I read some of the responses, one seemed to place ones own conscience before that of Church teaching. As John Paul II has said dissent from Church teaching is not acceptable. In Veratatis Splendor he say's "Opposition to the teaching of the Church's pastors cannot be seen as a legitimate expression either of Christian freedom or of the diversity of the Spirit's gifts...."

-- Anonymous, May 08, 1998

Sexual Matters in Marriage, Part II

It's been years since I've read Humanae Vitae, but I do recall a line in there wherein the Pope admitted that ultimately, things came down to a matter of conscience.

-- Anonymous, June 19, 1998

Hi Dana,

If you could I would like the paragraph number.

To make a statement like this "It's been years since I've read Humanae Vitae, but I do recall a line in there wherein the Pope admitted that ultimately, things came down to a matter of conscience". Can mislead others. I have just read the document and did not see this. Maybe I missed it? Thanks

-- Anonymous, June 21, 1998

Response to Sexual Matters in Marriage, Part II

:-) ok, Rich, I'll go dig up my copy of Humane Vitae, but please be patient, I'm studying for three mid-terms and hoping to get away this weekend...I'll get back to you, though, because I do remember this...unless of course, I was in my randier youth and looking for an out! :)

-- Anonymous, June 22, 1998

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