Confused about Church teaching on sexual activity and contraception

So I’m a devout Catholic and I very much trust the Church’s teachings. I want to understand them better, though, so I have a few questions! Some of the following gets a little strange, so bear with me… :stuck_out_tongue:

The Church teaches that certain sexual acts are perverse and immoral because they aren’t what God intended, or they are contrary to what He intended. On one level this makes a lot of sense to me. But recently I’ve been thinking about it more, and there’s some things that are puzzling me. Firstly, take head hair. Presumably, God created the hair on our scalp for a reason. After all, if our sexual organs were created for a purpose, wouldn’t it be fair to say that all the natural parts of our body were created for a purpose? And yet, the Church doesn’t say it is wrong for people to shave off all the hair on their scalp. How come? Doesn’t shaving off your head hair go against God’s plan for your head hair?

Secondly, take the skin covering the different parts of the human body. Now, is it sinful to get a massage? No, it is not. It isn’t sinful to get pleasure from the stimulation of the skin covering the various parts of your body (back, shoulders, etc). And yet, it is sinful for the sexual organs, or the skin covering the sexual organs, to be massaged or stimulated for pleasure. Why is this? Why does stimulating the sexual organs go against God’s plan any more than stimulating the back does?

Finally, I am a little confused about the Church’s teaching on birth control. What doesn’t make sense to me is the fact that on the one hand the Church says each and every marital act must be open to life, whilst at the same time it is perfectly fine for a Catholic couple to engage in the marital act when the woman isn’t fertile. I can see why artificial contraception is immoral. I just don’t see how it’s consistent to say that natural contraception is acceptable. When a couple know or are pretty sure that the woman is infertile at the time, but engage in the marital act nonetheless, isn’t their sexual union in that instance solely about love and pleasure? In fact, doesn’t their specific desire to have sex whilst avoiding pregnancy at that particular time mean their sexual union is intentionally avoiding the creation of new life? How is that okay?

So there we go! I would really appreciate any and all help with these questions, and thank you in advance!

Let’s start with your premise that the Church teaches “that each and every marital act must be open to life.” NOT TRUE. Now this may seem like nit picking but it is important to actually use the language that the Church uses, i.e. that every sexual act must be “ordered to procreation”. That is not the same as “open to life”. Why? Well, you need to understand why NFP is “ordered to procreation” even during infertile times (and YES, NFP during those times is contraception and the Church does not condemn that, only “artificial” contraception), while artificial contraception (AC) is NEVER “ordered to procreation”. God created our bodies to work in a certain way, in His “order” of things. As long as we are cooperating with that “order” of things, we are not in sin. It is when we interfere with His natural “order” that we sin. Part of that “order” is the way a woman’s fertility is based on a regular cycle. Cooperating with that cycle, even by abstaining from intercourse during fertile times is not sinful. How could it be? We certainly are not “required” to have sex at any particular time. That essentially is all NFP is. On the other hand, barrier methods put a “barrier”, as the name implies, between the man and the woman and artificially interferes with God’s intended “order” of things. Therefore sex with AC is not “ordered to procreation”, not ever. Additionally, hormonal contraceptives artificially change a woman’s body chemistry and so interfere with God’s intended “order”, rather than cooperate with it.

Now, is it sinful to get a massage? No, it is not

Actually, it may be, or a minimum, under individual circumstances, it may at least be a “near occasion of sin”. It depends upon the individual persons’ motivation and reaction.

It isn’t sinful to get pleasure from the stimulation of the skin covering the various parts of your body (back, shoulders, etc).

What do you mean by “get pleasure”? Here again, it may in fact be sinful, or at least a near occasion of sin. Why is the "skin covering the various parts (back, shoulders, etc) being “stimulated”? To relieve tension? To relax tight muscles? Tension and tight muscles are not "intended’ by God, so restoring the body to its healthy function is not improper. However, if the “pleasure” is sexual in nature, get your tushy off the message bed and don’t EVER go back.

And yet, it is sinful for the sexual organs, or the skin covering the sexual organs, to be massaged or stimulated for pleasure. Why is this? Why does stimulating the sexual organs go against God’s plan any more than stimulating the back does?

“Stimulating the sexual organs” results in something other than just 'pleasure". (I won’t go further, in deference to decency). Moreover, the purpose of a massage is to return the body to a healthy function. The purpose of massaging the sexual organs is . . . ahhhh, something else.

Why do we have hair? According to the medical people, hair actually has several “purposes”. Human hair performs several functions. It protects the skin from environmental influences i.e. the cold… It responds to external input and translates this information into neurological impulses that are interpreted as sensory stimuli by the brain. Scalp hair is also the only part of the human body that can be readily and consciously modified to change an individual’s external appearance. So it also serves as an important means of allowing individuals’ to socially communicate.

Do we really need hair to keep us warm anymore? I personally do shave my head and I would answer that question with an unequivocal “NO” for me personally. So that purpose has ceased to exist. Moreover, the “sensory stimuli” received from hair, necessary when we lived in the wild and needed to be aware of potential threats, also is no longer necessary. That leaves the last point of “social communication” by appearance. Shaving the head does not defeat this purpose.

In addition, your premise is here again somewhat flawed. Not every part of our body necessarily serves a purpose for our entire life. For example, an appendix no longer is necessary. Moreover, as we age, certain parts cease to function and their removal may be necessary to maintain good health. That is in keeping with the natural order.

Well Clem. You’ve got some solid replies right now. Pretty done actually. But now Trident’s here to give you his thoughts too. Why? Well for the sake of reinforcement I guess. And also because I’ve got nothing else going on right now and your questions seemed interesting.

So lets attack the one that’s last first. Why use NFP instead of a condom? Because NFP is using the options God gave us. And because it’s the one that brings suffering into the mix. Look. If you’re a guy and you want your girl, but the time of month is fertile. Well. You’ve got a dilemma. You can either have a kid or suffer some self-control. Both things are good from God’s point of view. But if you’re a condom Catholic then the whole lesson about putting things in proper order. And suffering. And being patient. Well all those things are gone. So there’s that to think on.

Then of course there’s your shaving and massaging that’s going on. Well the image in my mind is sort of peculiar. I mean I think you know that hair grows back. I think you know there’s a practical reason for it. But that that reason isn’t really that important. Not on the scale of things. I mean you can survive without hair. Not a big problem. And if you change your mind, it grows back. Not your mind. The hair.

So unless you’re Samson. Unless you’re that big guy with the anger-management problems brought about by too much hair. There shouldn’t be a problem with growing your hair or shaving it off. Because it serves a function. But not a vital one. Not like the stuff below the belt. You won’t find many guys removing those just for fashion’s sake. And then expecting them to grow back. I don’t know if that’s the comparison you were after.

And massages are just to relieve strain, pain, and stress. So that you can get back to work. Or whatever. It’s not supposed to be so that you drop off into a fantasy of getting rubbed down by the cheerleading squad. So there’s a big difference between getting healed and getting gratified. A big difference. Because one is necessary. And the other is optional. And that option is supposed to be to link you in better with your spouse. So yeah. Not with the cheerleading squad.

I’m a bit tired today so I don’t know if this helped. But I’m serving it up to you anyway. If for no other reason than to make the answers you’ve already gotten just look that much better.

Peace Clem. Good luck.


SMOM, as always, a set of thoughtful posts!

Trident, your delivery in your first paragraph cracked me up. You’re a total card! :slight_smile:

Thanks alpha! Hope your day’s going great! :slight_smile:

LOL, but I think maybe you made my responses pale by comparison. Well done.

Right back at you! :slight_smile:

You’re too kind. But I mean you went for the depth. And I just sort of cheated and fooled around with stuff. So we’re all good. Shoring each other up and all that. But thanks for the high-five! :yyeess:

-Trident :slight_smile:

Thanks so much guys! This really helps! I appreciate your taking the time and energy to help me understand these issues better. :slight_smile:

Hey you bet Clem. Any time. :wink:

I like how you think and express yourself, Trident. :slight_smile:

Thanks Zelie! :slight_smile:

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