I can't obey

I have really struggled with the church’s teachings on sexual issues, I really have. I get it and understand it all intellectually. One slight problem…

I have no sexual self-control. I have struggled with this for years, through tears and agony, repentance and prayer, everything. I just cannot stop. I have a girlfriend I am considering marriage with, and we are sexually active. Before I came back to the Catholic Church I always saw marriage as, among other things, the way out of my sexual immorality.

Then comes the teaching on contraception. Now it seems like no matter what, I will always be in sexual immorality until I’m too old to reproduce. I’m not having more than one or two kids, end of story. I’m not gonna abstain from relations with my wife half the month following a “nfp” system that might not work. I admit this is sin, but I also admit that I’m weak and can’t rise above it.

So with all that in mind, what’s left for me? I suppose I just pass on communion and confession till I’m too old to reproduce and become infertile?

You have used the word “can’t” when you should have used the word “won’t”.

Keep praying for grace and strength. Commit to walking the narrow road that leads to life.

Your sexual drive can become the doorway to your transformation. Until then it is the false God of pleasure and like any addiction will OWN you until you confront the simple fact that your life is not about you.

You cannot excuse yourself from the moral teachings of the Church even if they are difficult. God always gives us sufficient grace to overcome temptations. Sometimes, as it seems in your case, an addiction to the sin might mitigate your culpability, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. You cannot commit despair in which you have no hope of overcoming a sin because that is a mortal sin as well. You need to get a confessor to help you with this.

Also, Holy Matrimony’s purpose is to have children, mutual aid to spouses, and to remedy concupiscence. The word “Matrimony” is derived from “matris munus” which means office of a mother. You shouldn’t put a limit of just one or two children without grave reason.

Non serviam

Well, it might be too soon to be so definite. You haven’t even met those two kids yet. You might like them enough that you would like their brothers and sisters.

Absolutely! We should never limit God- quite honestly we believe a lie Satan is all too willing to feed us. Our trust is in Him not ourselves- we are not God, nor are we capable of anything without Him- but with Him all things are possible.
My prayers for you,

That would be super… to say yes to God’s little gifts…


Find a phone number and make the call.


Be open to life by keeping company with the lonely, the single, the unsuccessful, the people with “wrong” body language, as well as with other couples having from 0 to umpteen children. I mean it. Do these things NOW. Both of you. Find out from all of them SOMETHING about the CATHOLIC and Christian life. Don’t fail to intercede together. Talk about everything BUT sex. Maybe you have other areas in life that are unbalanced, which your peers can help you with meantime. Undoubtedly vice versa.

“It isn’t about what it’s about”. (Or may be, partly.)

Also resurrect your respective childhood hobbies and devote half a room each to them. To take a hypothetical example, if you were told to stop making models because your parents didn’t like a house full of bits (in fact a house can be kept tidy like that) and if the lady was told to stop oil painting because the canvasses invade the tea table, it reveals some interesting things about the state of your other relationships as well as the ways you think time has to be spent.

If you were both told to stop reading (non fictional) books because it showed up your parents’ educational problems, you need to resume developing your minds while you have the chance. Understand how God works through geography and words and share that understanding with the others. Some people should harness their skills in gardening or cooking or with animals. These things are a magnet to people as well.

If your teachers poured shame on you you might feel inhibition about learning. Repudiate it. There is no place in Scriptural Christian living for that kind of shame.

My grandmother had shame heaped on her because of racial reasons, learning difference, other disability, poverty, a split family and several changes of religion. She battled against it heroically and I have learned to battle against the continuing effects of it heroically.

Catholic sexual ethics are harsh, but still less harsh than any other system of sexual ethics in existence, including (and perhaps especially) complete and totally permissiveness, which is the harshest on human dignity and happiness of all of them.

I think you already know the answer to the question. You won’t be able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist (or, if you have no intention of honoring yourself or your spouse, encountering Him in Confession) until you’ve decided to give over your life to God. He will remain absent from you, and this will hold true even if you were to decide to receive communion anyway.

I would pray and meditate on this daily. If you don’t trust in yourself - which you shouldn’t - then you should at least trust in God. Do you believe that God is benevolent? Do you think he would command something that is evil or opposed to the joy of his creation? So many people have said what you have said, and yet in the end they chose & received a holy life. I hope you’ll do the same. You have so much to look forward to, if you permit it.

We are living what you are afraid of going through. We obey. It’s extremely difficult, but it’s not impossible with God’s grace.

I thank you all for your kind and understanding responses. It was refreshing to read your charitable words, and not to have to face outright hostile condemnation.

I will sit out from the sacraments for a while, as I have been doing lately anyway. Hopefully God can do some kind of work in me to encourage me to be obedient.

I think its the contraceptive issue above all others that makes me loose all hope in ever being obedient. I could even see myself passing on the sex until the wedding day, if it wasn’t for that black cloud of contraceptive sin hanging over my head…its to the point where I’ve considered getting married, “doing it” unprotected until our first child is born, and then getting a vasectomy followed by praying for a contrite heart and going to confession. I know this is not exactly a God-honoring approach, but I don’t honestly see myself ever being able to be any kind of “abstinent”. I’m also not in any kind of financial shape to be able to afford more than one child so…yeah.

Maybe sterilization followed by contrition and confession, and some kind of penance, is really the only course I can take given who I am, sinful though it may be in the big picture. I don’t know. Pray for me. Maybe by some miracle God can do a work in my heart and change my mind on this.

For now I’m in sin. I may very well go to Hell, but I hope not. I will entrust my self to the mercies of God regardless, and if I end up damned, well, I guess it is what it is.

Quick question:

You say you understand the teaching “intellectually”…but you don’t say if you actually agree with it.

Do you agree with the teaching and think it is correct, or not?


Do you agree with the teaching and think it is correct, or not?

I agree with most of it. I am convinced premarital sex is wrong, even though I partake in it. I will never excuse that sin or rationalize it. I accept that sex belongs only within the bonds of marriage.

There is one thing I take issue with; the notion that every sexual act must be open to life. A marriage must certainly be open to life. Married sexuality must obviously be open to life. But each individual sexual act? That to me seems intellectually and morally indefensible. As much as I want to submit my mind and will to the teachings of the church, my reason tells me this notion is absurd. I’m not one to very easily forsake my own reason.

I can think of probably at least a hundred scenarios where it is seemingly self-evident that non-abortifascient contraception would be morally justifiable. Such as, another pregnancy could kill the woman, another child would not be able to be financially supported, etc. Basically the reasons the church recognizes to use NFP, I find just as much valid reasons to use barrier methods.

On that point, I also can’t for the life of me figure out why the Church considers NFP morally different than barrier methods. NFP is a practice of engaging in sex with the intent of preventing the conception of a child. It is self-evidently a form of contraception. How this differs morally from withdrawl or barrier methods is elusive to me.

Despite all of this, I recognize that the Church is the teacher here and I am not going to use my own views as an excuse for participating in sacraments while lacking full communion with the church though disobedience to some teachings. Though I do earnestly hope and the pray the church will wise up and change its perspective on non-abortive contraceptive practices.

By the way, I know many Catholics will say, in response to those serious reasons I elucidated, that we must be abstinent. I simply can’t live that out, i’m sorry. If, in my very marriage, its Hell or abstinence, I guess I’m going to Hell.

Praying for you. Keep trying to God’s will. Many blessings and much peace will come to you.

what’s the difference between abortion and a miscarriage? What’s the difference between euthanasia and natural death? What’s the difference between contraception and NFP?

We are made up of a soul and a body, and spouses are called to cooperate in God’s creative powers, so there are three people in a marriage, You, your spouse, and God. For this reason, sex is very good when shared between a husband and a wife, but that is the key word, “shared”.

With NFP, you are, hopefully both becoming more aware of the human body to use it naturally to avoid conception, and becoming more aware of God’s presence within your marriage. With contraception, you are manipulating the nature of your body, and telling God that you do not trust him or his plan for your life.

I know it’s hard, we all run from God sometimes, but strive for God’s plan for you.

You actually don’t disagree with the Church’s teaching, you just don’t understand what the teaching actually is, and that is why you are having difficulty accepting it. Let’s start with your first premise that the Church teaches “that every sexual 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.

Do penance for your sins. Give up small things and train yourself, starting with baby steps. Tell God that you mean business, that you’ll begin training in self discipline. This will help you in your life, when you hold your tongue when someone upsets you, when you do something nice for someone who is hard to like. Begin in small steps and progress forward in the virtues. Also choose a devotion and decide to do it for 9 days like a novena. Can you do a Divine Mercy chaplet? Offer it for others struggling today. When you get up in the morning, can you unite yourself with our Blessed Mother, and say today I will honor Jesus in the first Joyful Mystery. The next day, the second Joyful Mystery, and so on. Getting closer to the Blessed Mother is a very smart thing to do.

When you look to the future and say “I can’t do it”, you are sabotaging yourself. Of course you can’t do it. The grace you need for today, cooperate with that. You don’t know how many days you will have or what cross might come your way. All you can do is work on today and gain confidence in God’s willingness to be there and strengthen you.


There are times in marriage whenyou may have to practice abstinence. What if your future wife is ill? What is she is pregnant and on bed rest or has a complicated pregnancy? What about after delivery when she is healing?

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