Is Matrimony a Single Act?


The act of Christian marriage is one and indissoluble. You can’t marry more than once while both partners are alive. There is one sacrament and one consummation.

I’ve been thinking recently, what if the whole marriage really just counts as one big long consummation, so that each marital embrace is in fact the same marital embrace, being one aspect of the whole entity of a marriage.

This would allow the Church to be more open to the idea of non-abortive contraception, as long as the marriage itself, taken as a whole, was open to life. Far from diminishing the significance of each sexual act, this would increase its’ significance, as it is not just one disconnected event in the life of a couple, but an essential component element of the whole marriage seen as a lifelong event.

I wonder if this argument has ever been advanced, and what the counter-arguments to it might be?


This is called the principle of totality or proportionality. It has already been proposed and rejected by the Catholic Church. (In fact, it is the reasoning used by the Anglicans at Lambeth.)

Janet Smith covers this topic in her writings and talks, and does an excellent job of explaining why it is wrong-headed.

You are not covering any new ground here, simply proposing views of marriage and the sex act that are incompatible with divinely revealed truth.


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