Is marriage without sex still vocation?


#1

Hello everyone. I just have a quick question: if I love a girl very much and I want to spend my lifetime with her, loving each other and serving the Lord, as well as enjoying some civil privileges (e.g. if I work oversea, she can apply visa to stay with me). But we don't look forward to having sex or nourishing any offspring. Can this still be considered a fulfillment of the Sacrament of Matrimony? In other words, does the marriage as a vocation require couple to give birth children?

Thank you!


#2

I'm not an expert but as far as I'm aware the marriage vows state clearly that you will accept children lovingly from God. Preventing the conception and birth of children is definitely forbidden, ie using artificial contraception or abortion. However, natural family planning (eg rhythm method - at least that's what we used to call it) is allowed and that involves abstaining from sex for certain days of the woman's cycle. So at least some abstinence within marriage is allowable.

However, I don't think deliberately avoiding sex entirely is a fulfillment of the sacrament. If for some reason sex isn't possible or would be highly dangerous medically, that's one thing. But choosing not to in order to avoid having children isn't.

As far as avoiding sex for spiritual reasons within a marriage, I'm thinking of the parents of St Theresa of Lisieux who, according to St Theresa's autobiography were very devout and wanted to have the sort of marriage you describe for reasons of chastity and holiness. But were told by their priest it wasn't acceptable and they should try to have a family.

I know you say in this (presumably hypothetical) scenario you love the girl and you want to be together, but I can't help wondering what would be the purpose of such a marriage other than convenience for legal, practical and public appearance purposes. To me - and I'm sure someone here will shoot me down in flames for saying it - that isn't a real marriage and the vocation element would lie elsewhere in your lives. Other than the legal benefits, why bother with such a sacred vow and life long unbreakable commitment? You can still work together as platonic friends and partners in the service of God without the sacrament of marriage if you are serious about sex not being be part of your relationship.

But that's just my view and I'm sure there are lots of way more clued up and intellectual people here who can quote chapter and verse of Canon Law who will set you straight. I'd be interested to know if I'm completely wrong about it.

Good luck with everything and whatever road the Lord calls you to take.

xx


#3

[quote="poptown, post:1, topic:302597"]
Hello everyone. I just have a quick question: if I love a girl very much and I want to spend my lifetime with her, loving each other and serving the Lord, as well as enjoying some civil privileges (e.g. if I work oversea, she can apply visa to stay with me). But we don't look forward to having sex or nourishing any offspring. Can this still be considered a fulfillment of the Sacrament of Matrimony? In other words, does the marriage as a vocation require couple to give birth children?

[/quote]

"The primary purpose of Marriage is the generation and bringing-up of offspring. The secondary purpose is mutual help and the morally regulated satisfaction of the sex urge."

This appears to be sententia certa, meaning that it is a theologically certain opinion. According to several sources, even such teachings "are to receive the submission of mind and will of the faithful. While not requiring the assent of faith, they cannot be disputed nor rejected publicly".

This is what is written. However, nothing can replace proper spiritual direction, both for the single person and for the two discerning the vocation. There may be exceptions that I may not know of, and only proper pastoral guidance may be able to provide the answers needed.

In the meanwhile, please receive my prayers through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and of St. Joseph, Her chaste spouse.


#4

[quote="Shelley11, post:2, topic:302597"]
I'm not an expert but as far as I'm aware the marriage vows state clearly that you will accept children lovingly from God. Preventing the conception and birth of children is definitely forbidden, ie using artificial contraception or abortion. However, natural family planning (eg rhythm method - at least that's what we used to call it) is allowed and that involves abstaining from sex for certain days of the woman's cycle. So at least some abstinence within marriage is allowable.

However, I don't think deliberately avoiding sex entirely is a fulfillment of the sacrament. If for some reason sex isn't possible or would be highly dangerous medically, that's one thing. But choosing not to in order to avoid having children isn't.

As far as avoiding sex for spiritual reasons within a marriage, I'm thinking of the parents of St Theresa of Lisieux who, according to St Theresa's autobiography were very devout and wanted to have the sort of marriage you describe for reasons of chastity and holiness. But were told by their priest it wasn't acceptable and they should try to have a family.

I know you say in this (presumably hypothetical) scenario you love the girl and you want to be together, but I can't help wondering what would be the purpose of such a marriage other than convenience for legal, practical and public appearance purposes. To me - and I'm sure someone here will shoot me down in flames for saying it - that isn't a real marriage and the vocation element would lie elsewhere in your lives. Other than the legal benefits, why bother with such a sacred vow and life long unbreakable commitment? You can still work together as platonic friends and partners in the service of God without the sacrament of marriage if you are serious about sex not being be part of your relationship.

But that's just my view and I'm sure there are lots of way more clued up and intellectual people here who can quote chapter and verse of Canon Law who will set you straight. I'd be interested to know if I'm completely wrong about it.

Good luck with everything and whatever road the Lord calls you to take.

xx

[/quote]

I'm pretty sure that he's trying to say that the Holy Ghost is leading them away from "knowing" each other just as he led John the Baptist away from having alcohol, not that he just doesn't want kids.


#5

Don't forget that the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph were truly married.


#6

Pauline - Indeed. I see exactly what the point is. But as I said above, if not in so many words, I would question that scenario as a true vocation of marriage as the Church defines it. I could be wrong, but I'm still questioning it and I stand by my statement, for what it's worth. Over to the academics.

Matt - that's true. It was a very different situation for the Holy Family, though. Yet an interesting point all the same. Hence over to the academics for me! I'm done on this one. :)


#7

What you describe is called a Josephite marriage (it takes its name from the kind of marriage Joseph and Mary enjoyed). It is possible but must be done with the approval of your pastor and under his spiritual direction. You must be willing to accept that he may have to recommend you abandon the Josephite component (continence) if he discerns that it is no longer beneficial to you.


#8

[quote="SonCatcher, post:7, topic:302597"]
What you describe is called a Josephite marriage (it takes its name from the kind of marriage Joseph and Mary enjoyed). It is possible but must be done with the approval of your pastor and under his spiritual direction. You must be willing to accept that he may have to recommend you abandon the Josephite component (continence) if he discerns that it is no longer beneficial to you.

[/quote]

I am happy to read this, very happy. Ever since the first post, this question had remained inside me, disturbing me, because I knew that there should have been a premise to allow two spouses to live like the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph. What an appropriate name!


#9

[quote="R_C, post:8, topic:302597"]
I am happy to read this, very happy. Ever since the first post, this question had remained inside me, disturbing me, because I knew that there should have been a premise to allow two spouses to live like the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph. What an appropriate name!

[/quote]

Thank you and many others so much. There are quite a few important things in our life whose meaning we have taken for granted. It's really meaningful to share this discussion with all of you.

However, from what I have seen, marriage as a sacrament seems meant for reproduction and raising the younger generation ... For Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, they also raised a child Jesus. Still, it's a fact that Blessed Virgin Mary remains virginity throughout her life. Well, my case is quite similar: I love her so much that I don't want to have sex with her ... I want to keep her virginity ...


#10

[quote="poptown, post:9, topic:302597"]
Thank you and many others so much. There are quite a few important things in our life whose meaning we have taken for granted. It's really meaningful to share this discussion with all of you.

However, from what I have seen, marriage as a sacrament seems meant for reproduction and raising the younger generation ... For Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, they also raised a child Jesus. Still, it's a fact that Blessed Virgin Mary remains virginity throughout her life. Well, my case is quite similar: I love her so much that I don't want to have sex with her ... I want to keep her virginity ...

[/quote]

I am glad you find encouragement here. The type of marriage you intend is a great grace and simultaneously a great trial. I am sure many blessings can be won by a couple who pursue such a relationship.

One further thought for your discernment:

Is it virginity you wish to preserve intact or chastity? These terms are often confused. The former is a more-or-less physical state (there is a certain spiritual component and a person who is raped is generally thought to maintain virginity). The latter is a spiritual state that is enjoyed not only by celibate virgins but also by married couples who enjoy normal relations with each other.

I don't wish to confuse the matter at all. You might even discern this last question after your marriage (together with your spouse and spiritual director, of course). For someone who is yet unmarried, virginity should definitely be preserved so the distinction is mute and your goal to preserve virginity indefinitely is laudable.

The purity of the act within the covenant of marriage changes the meaning of the question, however.


#11

It isn't biblical to marry and not have relations. Maybe it's a tradition of the RCC, (Josephite marriage) but it goes against Paul's admonishment in 1 Cor. 7 :3-5, a pretty clear teaching of Scripture.


#12

[quote="rebecca123, post:11, topic:302597"]
It isn't biblical to marry and not have relations. ...] it goes against Paul's admonishment in 1 Cor. 7 :3-5, a pretty clear teaching of Scripture.

[/quote]

I tried, but I cannot see in which way does it go against it.

If the vocation is truly that of Josephite marriage (and, by the way, the chaste marriage of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph is very biblical), then that "time" mentioned by st. Paul ("Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent") may be a lifetime, by mutual consent and by God's grace.

And by the way, our "RCC tradition" has always been as valuable in our eyes as much as the Scriptures are:

Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God

And this should not be any source of scandal for our Christian brothers in other communities: we have always simply kept the advice of St. Paul:

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.


#13

[quote="rebecca123, post:11, topic:302597"]
It isn't biblical to marry and not have relations. Maybe it's a tradition of the RCC, (Josephite marriage) but it goes against Paul's admonishment in 1 Cor. 7 :3-5, a pretty clear teaching of Scripture.

[/quote]

It does not go against it ( or else Mary and Joseph would have been guilty of sin)

But it is only permissible with the consent of both parties and under the guidance of their spiritual director.

And, at any point, either of the two spouses may choose to engage in the marital act to seek the marital act.

Thus a Josephite marriage can only be entered into when both parties agree and both parties are fully aware that the fasting from the marital act can end at time if one spouse seeks to do so.


#14

[quote="rebecca123, post:11, topic:302597"]
It isn't biblical to marry and not have relations. Maybe it's a tradition of the RCC, (Josephite marriage) but it goes against Paul's admonishment in 1 Cor. 7 :3-5, a pretty clear teaching of Scripture.

[/quote]

Rebecca,

Perhaps a simpler common-sense way of putting it: Is it mandated by God that a married couple engage in relations every time they meet?

If it is not mandated they engage in relations every time, then are they free to decide each day whether they will or not?

If they mutually decide to remain continent for a day, why not 2? Why not 10 or 100?

What is to prevent them from deciding to remain continent (providing they agree each day, of course) every day of their married life?

St. Paul's instruction, as has been stated, was to prevent one spouse defrauding the other. As he himself wrote, as long as they agree, there is no fraud.


#15

I love her so much that I don't want to have sex with her ... I want to keep her virginity ...

That does not follow. It is not the case that if you truly and fully love your spouse, you will not want to have sex with them.

I would discern your vocation seriously and speak with a Spiritual Director.


#16

[quote="poptown, post:1, topic:302597"]
Hello everyone. I just have a quick question: if I love a girl very much and I want to spend my lifetime with her, loving each other and serving the Lord, as well as enjoying some civil privileges (e.g. if I work oversea, she can apply visa to stay with me). But we don't look forward to having sex or nourishing any offspring. Can this still be considered a fulfillment of the Sacrament of Matrimony? In other words, does the marriage as a vocation require couple to give birth children?

Thank you!

[/quote]

The long and short of it is that a permanent intention against having children is an impediment to marriage. Even in a Josephite marriage, the couple cannot have a permanent intention against having children.


#17

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