My friend and I were sitting around talking moral theology as we sometimes do. Specifically we were talking about the conjugal act as it refers to a husband and a wife. Now we both understand the teaching of the church when it comes to having sex with procreation in mind, but differed in our opinion on how a couple meets or does not meet the ‘unitive’ part of the requirement.
Say for instance there is a couple whereby both parties are Catholic, and they have a valid sacramental marriage in the Catholic Church. Now, after several years of being married, they obtain a civil divorce, but never seek an annulment. All Catholics here would agree that they are still married in the eyes of God. Even so, they now live in separate houses, and quite frankly they have fallen out of love and even dare i say ‘hate’ each other. However, once a week, they feel in order not to add adultery into the mix, they come together once a week for sex. They try to fashion their sexual schedule around non-fertile times, since they also practice NFP. Technically they are still ‘open to life’ thereby fulfilling the ‘procreative’ requirement. My question is, if they aren’t renewing their marriage covenant every time they come together for the conjugal act, and giving love to one another freely, then do they meet the unitive requirement of the conjugal act?
So, in short how is the unitive part of the requirement defined? Is the requirement fulfilled simply by the fact that it is husband and wife, or does there have to be mutual love and giving of ones self to another for the ‘unitive’ requirement to be met?