Chastity within marriage


:rolleyes: This is a little bit embarrassing, but I am getting married in a few months and I do wonder, what does it mean to be chaste within marriage. I know that the Church specifies that every act has to end in intercourse, so that clearly masturbation, etc. are gravely sinful! Obviously, you should not be using each other for pleasure, but is it wrong to do some things that you both find more pleasurable or is that using sex improperly? What are the guidelines for knowing if you are living chastely within marriage?:blush:


Get a copy of Christopher Wests’ book “Good News about Sex and Marriage”, which teaches about JPII Theology of the Body.

It should answer your questions and congratulations on your upcoming wedding.


i have heard that all sexual acts should satisfy 2 requirements:

  1. Openness to life.

  2. Union between husband and wife.

so as long as you are open to life and your acts are bringing you and your spouse together (emotionally and spiritually) you are in the clear. Things like oral sex and other forms of foreplay are just that: Foreplay! As long as the end goal for both of you is “the act from which new life is created” your fine. The goal I think is to not “use” each others bodies for pleasure only. While pleasure is a wonder part of sex (a great gift from God!) it is not the only reason for sex. If you are being open to life and growing together with your spouse it’s totally fine to get a little “crazy” and experiment.


Please don’t ever think that you can’t experience pleasure with your husband (and vice versa) without guilt!! Sex is not only procreative, but unitive. And part of uniting us through sex within marriage is by giving and receiving pleasure. It is a loving expression when mutually given and received, in a loving and caring way.

Now - if you are talking about self gratification, the use of one spouse by the other for purely selfish pleasure, then that is certainly sinful and never appropriate.

It’s important to know and understand the difference. You don’t want to live your married life in a state of guilt over pleasure you experience with your husband.




Get a copy of Christopher Wests’ book “Good News about Sex and Marriage”

I’ll second this suggestion! Even better, attend one of his seminars!

Congratulations and best wishes!


Offering one’s self exclusively to one’s spouse as a living sacrifice in a spirit of mutual self-giving will give more practical meaning to chastity within marriage.


My question is a little different than the one previously posted.

I’m not Catholic, but my boyfriend is. Obviously, I know and believe sex should wait until marriage. He brought up that he intends to practice not for pleasure.

My thought on that was always not to achieve just physical pleasure through sex. Per say, the way one would use a prostitute. To me, sex in marriage is so much more than that, including an emotional intimacy that no others share, as well as a joy and gratefulness to God for giving us this blessing.

When I consider birth control, I think of achieving said emotional intimacy (which I believe to be crucial in a marriage) without bringing a child into the world. I realize that sex only for pleasure is wrong, but why is the emotional part through sex? To me, anyone who is truly married (for lifetime partnership, and every good reason) would want that emotional connection. If the couple isn’t ready for a child (but will have them later), why should they deny that emotional connection in their marriage?

Thank you to any considerate Catholics who can straigten my thoughts!


You have good questions. I strongly recommend that you and your boyfriend read the above mentioned book by Christopher West. Your boyfriend is incorrect if he believes that it should just be about procreativity.

If the couple has grave reasons to avoid a pregnancy either for a time or permanently, the only option that allows the act to be unitive and procreative is to abstain during fertile times. They do not have to abstain all the time.


thank you so much.

i’m not sure whether the question is that he is misinformed or that i was confused. like i said, i’m not catholic.

my next question is, why would having sex during infertile times be any better than using contraception? to me, they achieve the same purpose.

if you feel comfortable, would you either post to me or message the ways a couple would practice NFP? or direct me to a book/website? i’m looking for complete information.


Go to the Couple to Couple website at You will find all the information you need about NFP (natural family planning).

#11 you can learn the art of NFP on that site, but if you want the book, go to The book is better than the nfpandmore site, but the site is very similar to the book.

why would having sex during infertile times be any better than using contraception? Well, sex during the infertile times is morally acceptable because when you use contraception, you are impeding the natural way of the act. Mmm… how should I explain it…

When you contracept, you are artificially avoiding a pregancy, and when using NFP, you are still open to having a baby, but you know you are in the infertile time, so you are avoinding NATURALLY.

Contraception prevents what God Himself designed. We play God when we use contraception. For example, when you as the woman take the pill, you are treating feritility as a disease. You take a pill for a headache, you get a shot for avoiding the flu. With contraception, you are not treating a disease, you’re preventing the natural process of a human body. You are preventing your body to act as God designed it to act.

When you’re in the infertile phase of your cycle, you are still open to the natural part of life, but are physically incapable of becoming pregnant. Abstinence during the fertile times of your cycle are better than avoiding what God planned for your body. You should look at your fertility as a gift from God, not as a disease you pop a pill for or get a shot for.

Hope I didn’t confuse you.


I recommend reading Christopher West’s book. I just spoke about this same thing with my priest, and I came back with a very different view of sex in marriage.

He told me that as long as both your husband and you agree there is nothing wrong with the foreplay, as long as it ends in ejaculation in the vagina- pardon if I’m too explicit :o - then, it’s not a sin.

I decided to go talk to a priest after a post I saw here about manual stimulation if the woman didn’t orgasm. I can’t believe I had the guts to talk to the priest, but he said, as long as your husband is present, and he isn’t against you doing it, it’s ok, but it’s better if your husband does it.

Just remember that as long as the act ends as it’s supposed to, ejaculation in the vagina (sorry, I hate to be this graphic :o ), then you’re not sinning.

I mentioned the book “Good News About Sex and Marriage” to my priest, but he has never read it, I guess he’s heard of it because as soon as I said Christopher West, he said he had to get that book to see if he can offer better advice.

So, as long as you’re not being pressured to doing something, as long as you don’t feel uncomfortable, and as long as you both consent to it, then it isn’t sinful, as long as it ends how it’s supposed to end.

Hope this helps you a bit.


I am sure you didn’t mean it this way, but to say
as long as the act ends as it’s supposed to, ejaculation in the vagina
This implies that this is the end of the act and it can’t continue and that she is left to her own devices (no literal meaning intended).
This doesn’t have to be the end…



Well, it’s not the end really, but I hope you know what I meant… :o


but to say
as long as the act ends as it’s supposed to, ejaculation in the vagina
This implies that this is the end of the act and it can’t continue and that she is left to her own devices (no literal meaning intended).

Maybe it’s more correct to say that it is the end of the “procreative” aspect of the marital act for the man… but not the necessarily the end of the “unitive” part for the couple :wink:


Chastity means being chaste. Chaste means modest and decent.

Now, according to the Church it means to be loyal to your vows to preserve yourself only for your spouse. This means not to pursue sexual gratification outside of the marital act (masturbation, looking at pornography, or lusting after others).

In essence, we are to see our sexuality as a gift to our spouse.


*I would say I would have to disagree with the priest you spoke with. Manual stimulation by the woman who failed to achieve “orgasm” prior to the “marital act” (male climax), is performing “Self” gratification. This is not right. The climax of husband and wife should be together. True, this does not always happen. But as a loving husband and wife they should work together to achieve this unity. In most cases, the husband should be mindful of his wifes needs. He should slow it down for himself and work towards helping his wife achieve her pleasure. And as she is achieving her climax, the husband should complete the martial embrace, and they can achieve pleasure of the martial embrace together.


Being why the Church cannot tell us exactly what can be done or what can’t when it comes to the marital embrace, except when it comes to masturbation, adultery, pornography, sodomy, things that aren’t open to procreation… it’s too complicated, some things are acceptable as longs as the couple is open for procreation and those things are for foreplay only. And yes, I do agree that the woman doing manual stimulation is a sin, but if it’s part of the marital embrace, I don’t think the priest was wrong. Either way, what you said about the man slowing things down so both can climax together… that’s easy to say but hard to achieve. Many men can’t do that, most women can’t climax during coitus, and for a man to try and finish when his wife is close to finishing, well, I don’t think it can be that successful. Anywho, I think I’m done with this conversation, it makes me uncomfortable talking about this with people other than my DH. I used to be very open about hings when I was in college, but that’s only because I was away from the Church and was studying to become a sexologist… something I will never do. And I have God to thank for that! God bless all, and hope the OP gets her questions answered!


1 Corinthians 7:2-5

2Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

3Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

4The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

5Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.


I thought being “chaste” in marriage referred to keeping the marriage bed undefiled (i.e., only having sex with your spouse).

What sex is considered improper? I thought God created sex and made it pleasurable?

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