Am I living in sin when my wife has had a tubal ligation?

My wife and I mutually decided for her to have a tubal ligation after the birth of our third child. Early on in the preganancy, my wife wanted to have an abortion but ultimately, and rightly, chose not to do this. Our marriage was shaky during the pregancy and the night before our son was born, my wife attempted suicide. Her doctor induced preganancy and my wife and I decided on a tubal ligation. I knew this was wrong, but I did not want to face the possibility of having to face another possible abortion or another heart-wrenching possiblity of suicide that would cost me my wife and child. We have both been to confession, but I’m curious if we are living in sin when it comes to expressing our love through intercourse. Is there still a problem?

Having a tubal ligation for the purpose of sterilization is grave matter. Since you willfully agreed to the procedure knowing that it was wrong you may have committed a mortal sin (although your consent may have been diminished somewhat by the circumstances you describe). However, since you’ve both confessed, you can rest assured that you’ve been forgiven and go on about your lives as normal.

Christopher West offers this additional insight in his book Good News About Sex and Marriage (p. 129-130):

There are many women (and men who have had vasectomies) in the same boat with you. Some of them don’t find peace until they have their sterilizations reversed. If you have the means and you’re not a high-risk patient, that’s an option I’d certainly recommend. Since reversal surgery can be costly (insurance rarely pays for it), and any surgery involves some amount of risk, it isn’t a moral necessity. Nevertheless, genuine contrition and repentance are a moral necessity.

One way of showing that repentance is by abstaining from sex for a set time each month as if you were practicing NFP. Many people in your situation find that approach very beneficial as they seek to grow more and more in a true understanding of marital love. You could also devote time to spreading the Church’s teaching on these issues as a way of preventing others from making the same mistakes.

Above all, trust in God’s merciful love. Nothing we’ve done in our lives is beyond the scope of the redemption Christ won for us.

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