Abstaining from Intercouse While Married


I am pretty new to CAF and I have been learning because I am seriously considering the Catholic Faith. Is abstaing from intercourse in marriage to avoid a child wrong or sinful? Will I be condemned to Hell for it? Because from what I am understanding : No birth control while married for family planning. NFP is acceptable. If I don’t trust it, then I can abstain as long as my spouse agrees. Is this wrong?


The only moral way to avoid getting pregnant is to abstain. NFP allows you to find the times in your cycle when you’re not fertile anyway, so it wouldn’t matter. But you would still have to abstain when fertile. And, as you mentioned, if you don’t trust NFP, the only other option is complete abstinence. So, you’ve got it! :thumbsup:


I would qualify this as right, depending on why you are avoiding children. Avoiding children should be for just/serious reason: financial, health, etc…not just because.


Not to be difficult, but does it really matter why? What are considered sinful reasons to avoid?

So far what I have gotten from Catholics is:

  1. Abstain till marriage(most other Christians too)
  2. When a person gets married (the couple is told how to have sex ex:no birth control, must ejaculate in the vagina)
  3. If a married person wishes to be celibate, (they must have a good reason why?)

Am I getting this ok?


You can avoid/space children for a time for a just reason. You can choose to do so by abstaining through periodic continence or total abstinence.

I think, though, that you **completely **underestimate the role of sexual intimacy in a marriage. You seem to have a very nonchalant attitude in this area, and you should not. Total abstinence for an extended period of time requires heroic virtue. The normal course of marriage includes sexual intimacy.

And, any sort of abstinence must be my **mutual **consent. So, if you wife were to want relations, it is your duty not to refuse and vice versa.


No! If you are not ready for a child, emotionally, financially, whatever reason…abstaining from sex during the fertile part of your cycle is perfectly fine!!! You don’t have to have a hundred kids to be a good Catholic! :slight_smile:


I understand that has to be a mutual understanding (which it is). I understand that sexual intimacy is important to some. Forgive me, but I do not take this non-chalantly/but extremely serious. My husband and I don’t feel that responsibility of unwanted children is worth the price for pleasure. Him and I can control our urges.


Yes, it does.

The purpose of marriage is the procreation and raising of children in the faith. Marriage is a vocation to family. That is the natural outcome of marriage.

A just reason must conform to objective moral criteria. It must be a serious reason, and not born out of selfish desire-- for example, wanting to travel, have a boat, save up a bunch of money, excel in business, etc. Those motives do not conform with objective moral criteria, that being the fact that marriage is ordered to procreation.

The purpose of sex is the procreationg of children and the mutual affection of spouses. The only proper use of the sexual faculties is within marriage.

The Church does not tell us “how to have sex”. The Church teaches us God’s divind law. God created sexuality with purpose and order. The Church teaches us good from evil, ordered from disordered, and the meaning of our sexuality. Sin has darkened our intellect and weakened our will-- therefore, we ourselves often seek what is disordered. The Church teaches the Truth of Christ regarding our sexuality.

Sexual intercourse is the normal expression of spousal love. It is an integral part of marriage. Its natural end is children.

Not in my opinion.

Have you read any of John Paul II’s materials on sexuality, or those of Christopher West who does a good job of making those writings more accessible to the average person? Have you read encyclicals such as Casti Connubii, Humanae Vitae, and Familieris Consortio in addition to the Catechism entries on the Sacrament of Marriage and the Sixth Commandment?


Why do you not want children? Children are the natural end of marriage.


My husband wants to buy a bigger house. I am on the pill for medical reasons. He(is athiest) doesn’t want to do NFP, so the other option for me is abstinence, which he is fine with. That is my way of comprosmising without being condemned.



I hope your husband’s heart will be softened over time, especially by your example. God bless you for seeking the truth and understanding.

Your mixed marriage situation is particularly challenging, and certainly you have many things to consider regarding children if your spouse is opposed to having them. This is an area where counsel from a priest can help you discerning.

Regarding NFP, you say your husband doesn’t trust it. Does he know anything about it? If not, get literature on it.

Even non-Catholics use fertility monitoring. The book by Toni Weschler “Taking Charge Of Your Fertility” is completely secular and explains the sympto-thermal method very well (although she has no opposition to barrier method contraception during fertile times… which of course is against the moral law). But, from a purely scientific standpoint her book is excellent.

You can also get literature on the Creighton and Billings methods.

You should learn a method anyway, take a class. Knowledge is power, as the saying goes. There may come a day when he or you desires to resume relations, so it would be helpful for you to already know NFP.


Marriage is NOT for the purposes for procreation. There are many infertile people around - should they not get married because they can’t procreate? This makes no sense. You may not want to have children for a myriad of reasons - none of which you need to explain here.


I’ll look into that book. Thanks for the advice. I have been skimming over Christopher West’s books?


Yes, love is part of marriage. The ultimate expression of marital love comes through the creation of new life as co-creators with God. Remember, marriage reflects the love of the Trinity-- which is totally self-giving and life-giving.

But, I understand what you mean by love and yes that is part of marriage.

As for cuddling and such, of course that is an expression of love and affection, but not the typical culmination of marital love. Sexual expression is the normal expression of marital love-- again mirroring the life-giving and self-giving love of the Trinity.

However, in your case, with your husband being an atheist this does change the dynamics. His view of the purpose of marriage is not likely to reflect the understanding that a Catholic has.


Of course it is. The Church teaches this clearly and repeatedly.

You misunderstand what the Church teaches if you believe infertility of an individual negates the procreative purpose of mariage.

No one needs to explain them here, but they are accountable to God. And, the Church absolutely teaches that one must have a just reason in conformity with objective moral criteria.


I am just trying to do right. This is a big struggle for me. No one that I know of is a devout Catholic. I was told that if a couple knows that they are not fertile, then they shouldn’t get married. I wonder if that is true? Part of me wishes I was still ignorant to the teachings of the Church. My life with my husband was soooo much happier. He got very angry and said “I didn’t invite God, but I will do what you want me to so you can stop crying. I thought God was for the unity in marriage?” I am very shy so the Mass’ I have been going to are not as friendly as the Protestant Churches. I would like to speak to a Priest, but I don’t know how, I am scared of them(lol, I know that sounds silly). If i see a nun at the store I go the other way. I don’t want to be a cafeteria Catholic. If I am going to do this. I want to do it right.


I am trying to work with what I got. Thanks for understanding.


Again, God bless you. And, just take it one step at a time. You cannot know everything. You can learn one step at a time. Read, read, read. And, remember that the purpose of all that the Church teaches us is to get us to Heaven.

No, it’s not true.

Your husband sounds like he wants you to be happy. That is good. There are others on this board who coverted to the faith from being an atheist and had their spouse leave them. Try reaching out to the posters known as rpp. Look him up and private message him. He converted from atheism, and his wife left him. Your husband sounds like he wants to make it work. That’s awesome. rpp has lots of great advice and went through a lot of struggles-- talk to him.

Remember the Brady Bunch episode where Marcia has to give a speech, and pictures everyone in their underwear? (I’m not advising picturing your priest in his underwear…) I’m just saying: Remember, priests are people too. They put their pants on one leg at a time, and they sin too.

And God will bless you for that.


Hi Carjack! 1ke is giving you great advice. God bless you in your quest to do right! I’ll keep you in my prayers.

A quick thought: in response to

I was told that if a couple knows that they are not fertile, then they shouldn’t get married. I wonder if that is true?

This is not true, but my understanding is that if a couple knows they are *impotent *they shouldn’t get married. (I read it in the Christopher West book.) A subtle, but important, distinction. :thumbsup:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.