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  #1  
Old Mar 27, '13, 3:37 pm
brickshouse brickshouse is offline
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Default Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

Hi, this is my first post on the forum. I have enjoyed reading a wide variety of topics here but have not seen an answer to the specific question that motivated me to register, so if anyone has an "official" Church answer to this or a convincing perspective of some kind, I would much appreciate reading it.

My wife and I are married 20 years and are pregnant with our 6th child. We are very much in love and consider ourselves relatively conservative on the Catholic spectrum after having returned to the Church 10 or so years ago. We don't partake in birth control, even NFP, no masturbation, pornography, etc, etc. The thing is, there is a complication during this pregnancy that precludes us from having intercourse, so between that and the fact that we know she is going to have the baby via c-section and need some weeks of recovery after that, it's going to be many months during which we cannot have sex. That is an unprecedented dry spell in all our years of marriage by a longshot, and frankly, although I realize it's a small problem in the grand scheme of all that goes on in peoples' lives, it's kind of stressing me out, and I am wondering, since we're in a valid Catholic marriage, never have and never will seek to control fertilization, and since she couldn't possibly get pregnant while she is already pregnant anyway, would it be in conflict with Catholic doctrine to "take care of each other" via different means without actual intercourse? Sex has always been a beautiful and important part of our closeness with each other, and even though it's not intercourse, any sort of release would be so appreciated, I have a hard time thinking of it as anything but a benefit to our relationship during this time. On the other hand, maybe this is just supposed to be a time of sacrifice and abstinence, and I'm open that possibility if it's truly the letter of the law.

Advice or perspective?
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  #2  
Old Mar 27, '13, 4:47 pm
nodito nodito is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

I'm sorry for your wife's pregnancy complications and I wish her a healthy rest of pregnancy. But, yes, it would be sinful for you to bring each other to orgasm outside of the complete marital act.
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  #3  
Old Mar 27, '13, 4:54 pm
aemcpa aemcpa is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

It may be a unprecedented length of time during your marriage, but it is presumably not unprecedented during your relationship. Think back to your dating, courtship and engagement, and try to recover and renew that sense of romance and anticipation.
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  #4  
Old Mar 27, '13, 5:40 pm
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1love 1love is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

I asked a priest about this and he explained that it would be like masturbation. There is no marital union taking place, you are just using each other for pleasure. I think the person above me is wise to point out that this will be one little blip in the entirety of your lives together and it is a great time to "court" each other once again. Love each other enough to keep the other away from mortal sin or even temptation to it. Having had pregnancy complications and a c-section myself, I can certainly relate to the frustration of this time. I'm sorry your wife is having trouble and pray for a good birth resulting in a healthy mom and baby.
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  #5  
Old Mar 27, '13, 8:10 pm
brickshouse brickshouse is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

Thank you all for your answers and kind wishes. I asked my priest at Confession today and told me pretty much the same thing. I do understand the general concept at work here as masturbation, and plan to obey the ruling, but I have to say, I wonder where one is expected to draw the line at what constitutes and individual versus a mutual pleasure, and the idea of what makes this kind of sin a sin, given the circumstances.

To me, the number one key factor in why sexual intercourse is the only approved version of sexuality is the command that we be open to the creation oflife in our marriage. We "check" that box every day, and personally, I think NFP is every bit as bad as mechanical birth control in terms of violating this edict. If the intent is to avoid creation of life, then NFP is no different than traditional birth control because it is a case of people having the hubris to think it's ok for them to overrule God on the issueof life. We're already pregnant, so creating life in addition to what's already brewing is notan option for us to choose or violate, so that certainly can't be the issue that causes this to constitute sin.

So the next issue in terms of priority I would imagine is purity of heart and of loving, valuing, and respecting one's spouse, and while I think it's possible to have non-intercourse activity that violates those ideals, I don't feel that way about this kind of activity with my wife. I only love her, only think about her, and miss her, and I like to think that anything we do together strengthens and reminds me of that. If it was something we ever wanted to opt for instead of sex, I would see the problem.

Meanwhile, there are "good" Catholics everywhere being told by the Church that NFP doesn't require the "grave circumstances" that were originally required for people to participate in it, and these people play God at will, so it's kind of like I'm getting penalized for being open to life with incredibly rigid definiitions, while people who are not open to life can do as they please. I guess I would feel a little better about my situation if the Church was more consistent in it's teachings.

But again, thanks for all your kindness and input on this subject.
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  #6  
Old Mar 27, '13, 8:18 pm
1ke 1ke is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
would it be in conflict with Catholic doctrine to "take care of each other" via different means without actual intercourse?
Yes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
Sex has always been a beautiful and important part of our closeness with each other, and even though it's not intercourse, any sort of release would be so appreciated, I have a hard time thinking of it as anything but a benefit to our relationship during this time.
It is masterbation, a sin against the sixth commandment. Climax outside of intercourse is a disordered use of our sexual faculties.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
On the other hand, maybe this is just supposed to be a time of sacrifice and abstinence, and I'm open that possibility if it's truly the letter of the law.

Advice or perspective?
Sexual intimacy is only properly ordered when it is expressed in a completed act of intercourse.
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ke's universal disclaimer: In my posts, when I post about marriage, canon law, or sacraments I am talking about Latin Rite only, not the Orthodox and Eastern Rites. These are exceptions that confuse the issue and I am not talking about those.
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  #7  
Old Mar 27, '13, 8:24 pm
1ke 1ke is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
To me, the number one key factor in why sexual intercourse is the only approved version of sexuality is the command that we be open to the creation oflife in our marriage. We "check" that box every day,
It is not your relationship that must be "open to life" in some vague way. It is that each act of intercourse must be properly ordered.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
and personally, I think NFP is every bit as bad as mechanical birth control in terms of violating this edict. If the intent is to avoid creation of life, then NFP is no different than traditional birth control because it is a case of people having the hubris to think it's ok for them to overrule God on the issueof life. We're already pregnant, so creating life in addition to what's already brewing is notan option for us to choose or violate, so that certainly can't be the issue that causes this to constitute sin.
Again, the only proper use of our sexual faculties is in the context of completed intercourse. Climax outside of this is a disordered use of our sexual faculties.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
Meanwhile, there are "good" Catholics everywhere being told by the Church that NFP doesn't require the "grave circumstances" that were originally required for people to participate in it, and these people play God at will, so it's kind of like I'm getting penalized for being open to life with incredibly rigid definiitions, while people who are not open to life can do as they please. I guess I would feel a little better about my situation if the Church was more consistent in it's teachings.
What other people do or don't do, and other peoples' fidelity to the Church, is not relevant. The morality of what you propose is not based on how many people fail to follow Church teaching. God's law is the same for everyone.
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ke's universal disclaimer: In my posts, when I post about marriage, canon law, or sacraments I am talking about Latin Rite only, not the Orthodox and Eastern Rites. These are exceptions that confuse the issue and I am not talking about those.
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  #8  
Old Mar 27, '13, 10:13 pm
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Reverie Reverie is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
To me, the number one key factor in why sexual intercourse is the only approved version of sexuality is the command that we be open to the creation oflife in our marriage.

Being open to life is not the only factor involved with marital sex. It must also be unitive. It has to be both or it is disordered and selfish.

I know abstinence sucks. Fortunately for you, it's probably temporary. For many, it isn't.
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  #9  
Old Mar 28, '13, 8:33 am
brickshouse brickshouse is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

1ke, my frustration is not with what people do, it's with what the Church is telling them is ok to do.that it's ok to be clear and micromanage on a situation like mine that has very little spiritual danger if one considers all factors (we're committed, in love, not thinking about anyone else or any negative imagery, open to life, just mechanically challenged right now), yet they are willing to tell people it's OK for their hearts to be in such a place where it's ok for their own fears to overrule God's wisdom. To me, it represents the biggest reason for the weakening of faith in the Church in general, that NFP is being approved and implemented in such a way that deliberately violates the very reason we are supposed to be open to life, all so people can be a little less stressed out or buy their smaller, self-architected family more **** they don't need. And to take my situation to it's most detailed degree, what exactly would we have to do for a sexual act to be considered unifying? How far in is "in", can we just aim the stuff in there and have that "count"? What about all those people who's wives don't orgasm during sex? Is their sex "unifying"? It's like we're stuck in the details on that one, yet we've got the entire INTENTION wrong with NFP.

Anyway, sorry to rant, I'm done now and thank you all for your patience. I had a good Confession last night and plan to wrap all this up in a box, be a good sport about it, and give up my suffering to God for the health of my 2 year old son as well as my wife and the new baby.
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  #10  
Old Mar 28, '13, 8:49 am
1ke 1ke is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
1ke, my frustration is not with what people do, it's with what the Church is telling them is ok to do.
I do not think you accurately represented what "The Church" says in regard to NFP. Your assertion regarding grave/serious/just reasons is that the Church no longer teaches such, but this is not true. All Church documents-- Catechism, Casti Connubii, Humanae Vitae, etc-- say the same thing.

You choose not to use periodic continence, and that is fine. It is not fine to impose your choice on others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
that it's ok to be clear and micromanage on a situation like mine that has very little spiritual danger if one considers all factors (we're committed, in love, not thinking about anyone else or any negative imagery, open to life, just mechanically challenged right now)
The Church can only teach what is true. The Church, and no one here, seeks to "micromanage" you. Clearly you do not like the answer that seeking orgasm outside of intercourse is masterbation and grave matter against the sixth commandment, a disordered use of your genitalia. I am sorry you do not like that answer. It is the only one that can be given, because it is the truth.

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Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
, yet they are willing to tell people it's OK for their hearts to be in such a place where it's ok for their own fears to overrule God's wisdom.
Hmmm. No. The Church does not say this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
To me, it represents the biggest reason for the weakening of faith in the Church in general, that NFP is being approved and implemented in such a way that deliberately violates the very reason we are supposed to be open to life, all so people can be a little less stressed out or buy their smaller, self-architected family more **** they don't need.
Again, while it is quite clear you have strong opinions on this, none of what you have written is *actual* Church teaching regarding NFP and its use or non-use. In fact, the Church teaches that serious reasons must be in conformity with the objective moral order and not be self-centered.

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Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
And to take my situation to it's most detailed degree, what exactly would we have to do for a sexual act to be considered unifying?
A completed act of vaginal intercourse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
How far in is "in", can we just aim the stuff in there and have that "count"?
No.

I really encourage you to talk to your pastor. Becoming beligerent with those who are seeking to assist you by answering your queston is not very Christian. Clearly you do not like the answer. Again, that does not *change* the answer.

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What about all those people who's wives don't orgasm during sex? Is their sex "unifying"?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
It's like we're stuck in the details on that one, yet we've got the entire INTENTION wrong with NFP.
We?
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ke's universal disclaimer: In my posts, when I post about marriage, canon law, or sacraments I am talking about Latin Rite only, not the Orthodox and Eastern Rites. These are exceptions that confuse the issue and I am not talking about those.
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  #11  
Old Mar 28, '13, 10:32 am
brickshouse brickshouse is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

Obviously I'm not thrilled with the answer to my situation, but I agree with it and am obeying it. I don't think I've been beligerant and I've thanked those who have responded in the thread more than once for their contributions, and apologized for expressing frustration, but thanks a lot for telling me that expressing my opinion is "un-Christian". That's mighty Christian of you. I did not accuse any individual of attempting to control or micromanage my situation. I simply noted what I see as a disparity with what the Church teaches and how they teach it on 2 separate issues related to sexuality, and feel that Church policy is clear and detailed on my issue, and much less so on what I believe is a much more dangerous and important one. Perhaps my diocese is particularly liberal in it's teachings, but I can say with certainty that what they are teaching our kids is that "periodic continence" is just fine for anyone who wants to avoid having more kids than they are comfortable with. If that's not every bit as much a violation of "open to life" as a condom is, then 2+2 must not equal 4. Hopefully, my diocese is unique in how screwed up it is, but that's another debate, I suppose.

Anyway, I appreciate how nice everyone but you has been in this thread.
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  #12  
Old Mar 28, '13, 11:16 am
brendenseth brendenseth is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by brickshouse View Post
Obviously I'm not thrilled with the answer to my situation, but I agree with it and am obeying it. I don't think I've been beligerant and I've thanked those who have responded in the thread more than once for their contributions, and apologized for expressing frustration, but thanks a lot for telling me that expressing my opinion is "un-Christian". That's mighty Christian of you. I did not accuse any individual of attempting to control or micromanage my situation. I simply noted what I see as a disparity with what the Church teaches and how they teach it on 2 separate issues related to sexuality, and feel that Church policy is clear and detailed on my issue, and much less so on what I believe is a much more dangerous and important one. Perhaps my diocese is particularly liberal in it's teachings, but I can say with certainty that what they are teaching our kids is that "periodic continence" is just fine for anyone who wants to avoid having more kids than they are comfortable with. If that's not every bit as much a violation of "open to life" as a condom is, then 2+2 must not equal 4. Hopefully, my diocese is unique in how screwed up it is, but that's another debate, I suppose.

Anyway, I appreciate how nice everyone but you has been in this thread.
I take offense to how you're being about NFP, clearly you don't understand the true teaching of it. NFP is totally open to life, and how dare you ridicule the church on this matter. Life can always happen with it, where as artificial birth control it cannot. Just because you don't like to hear the truth does not give you a right to deny it. For example me and my wife have gone through something recently that hinders our ability to take care of more than one child at the present moment. I've struggled with this issue and NFP has not only made our marriage closer but it has brought me closer to God. So please stop being so close minded, understand that not everyone really wants what you have.
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  #13  
Old Mar 28, '13, 11:26 am
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1love 1love is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

I hope you are able to find some peace with NFP! I understand what you're saying about it being akin to chemical birth control, but it's really not. I don't want to get too detailed here but I chart my cycles and they can be pretty bizarre. Phase III is often too short to support pregnancy, so I have made diet/nutrition changes and taken supplement (mainly omega-3) to help balance out my cycle, and it did work. That is one very moral and helpful way to use NFP.

Another: my fertility returns quickly. VERY quickly. Ecological breastfeeding does not help. In ten years of marriage we've had seven chuldren - and that is WITH trying to prevent pregnancy sometimes. After my high-risk pregnancy and c-section, I was told to wait at least a year before conceiving again, so we used NFP to prevent pregnancy. I got pregnant the week before my daughter turned one. We were following all the rules...God decided it was time for another. I have conceived on cycle day 27 which is completely bizarre. A friend recently conceived on cycle day 5. It happens. The miracle of NFP is looking back on your charts and seeing that even if you followed the instructions to the letter and have long, long, painfully long periods of abstainance, you must still be open to life because you might stoll get pregnant.

It is also very useful in trying to conceive!

I hate to see you show such disdain for NFP; like I said I do understand why, because there are probably many people out there who do not have grave reasons for preventing pregnancy but do it anyway. That doesn't mean everyone uses it that way, though.

My heart goes out to you...really it does. My husband has said the exact same thing. "Obviously we are open to life so it's okay to ______" but every act of sexual intimacy must end in intercourse. That isn't to say you can't kiss and snuggle with your wife during periods of abstainance but be careful not to tempt yourself.
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  #14  
Old Mar 28, '13, 11:49 am
brickshouse brickshouse is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

The fact that someone will say, "Not everyone wants what you want" shows the level of sin the church has led people to, that we actually BELIEVE that life is supposed to be about what WE want. That's the antitheses of what it means to be open to life, so believe in God's wisdom with regard to what He gives us. I never "wanted" 5 kids and never particularly thought we could handle them, but I know it's not about what we "want", it's about what God knows we need, and I love my kids all the more because I know it was important to God that they be here regardless of the many fears and issues my wife and I have had to deal with...

But make no mistake, I am not judging any individual for what they believe are "grave reasons" to control birth, but as a church, we are collectively either naive or intentionally fooling ourselves if we think that charting is any different ideologically than using a condom. Charting is just less effective, but the heart is still in the same place, and condoms break sometimes too, and no birth control is 100% effective. My the same token that one can say that despite charting and attempts at control, God can override our wishes, you can say that God can break a condom. In both cases, we are attempting to take control of something that is almost always supposed to be left to God. If you think your reasons are truly "grave", that's between you and God.

I can only speak for what my parish teaches, and they are teaching that NFP is fine if you want to control how many kids you have or the space between each one with little to no discussion or even acknowledgement of the idea of "grave" reasons.

I'm not here to break up the party and I'm perfectly peaceful about NFP. It's just one more byproduct of Vatican II designed to make God's religion more palatable to Protestants and Catholics at risk of leaving because they aren't hearing what they want to hear, and it's a big part of why our Church is in such terrible shape right now.
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  #15  
Old Mar 28, '13, 12:10 pm
brickshouse brickshouse is offline
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Default Re: Pregnancy, Sex, and Sin Question

And for what little it's worth, 1Love, I think your medical risks and the doctor's orders to avoid pregnancy for a year is a very legit "grave" reason to intentionally avoid pregnancy. Serious health concerns, real risk of actual starvation, those are grave things. I totally get that.
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