Marriage consomation

why is it immoral not to consomate a marriage now?

joseph and mary didn’t consomate theirs and it was a mutual agreement.

The Church does allow for a Josephite Marraige. But it should be under spiritual direction and the agreement that if even one party changes their minds, the other must as well.

I think one really must look at the purpose of marriage. And even in the case of the Holy Family it was to be married and raise a child. Mary certainly did not choose a celibate marriage without first being the vessel (Ark) of the New Covenant.

Can. 1061 §1. A valid marriage between the baptized is called ratum tantum if it has not been consummated; it is called ratum et consummatum if the spouses have performed between themselves in a human fashion a conjugal act which is suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring, to which marriage is ordered by its nature and by which the spouses become one flesh.
§2. After a marriage has been celebrated, if the spouses have lived together consummation is presumed until the contrary is proven.’

Since no other person besides Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit we can be safe to realize that this family is not like any other. Their marriage was consummated through Christ Himself. Mary and Joseph became one through Christ. Because matrimony allows two people to become one consummation is the sign of this unity. Also, in matrimony vows are taken whereby the couple freely agrees to accept any children God wills for them. This vow can only be realized through the marital embrace. It has been this way for centuries, not just now. If for some physical reason a marriage cannot be consummated then pastoral judgment must be sought to discuss what can be done.

Can you point to the source of your information?

The Church does not teach it is immoral not to consummate a marriage.

The Church *does *teach that a spouse may not withhold the marital embrace from the other.

A marriage in which both parties freely forego relations for some greater good is fine. But, the marital debt must be rendered if either party desires to take up the conjugal life. It is an absolute debt.

Really? I thought the consummation was important so that they can be open to life. Could they get married in the church, or is it only for people who decide later to not have relations? How would they go through pre-cana?

1 Corinthians 7:1-3 (NIV)

Concerning Married Life

7 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

It is something the Church can give specific permission for I think.

Here are some articles and threads.

So, if you had a couple who both had disabilities which made them each unable to consumate a marriage, it would really be “invalid”, despite their agreement to love, honor, cherish in richness in poorness, sickness and health, till death do them part?

Yes, even if only one of them had such a disability.


how does that differ from impotence then?

I’m a bit confused. abstaining throughout the entire marriage is fine, but if one person can’t physically consomate the marriage, then it’s not fine?

Okay, let’s say said couple with one/both with some kind of disability which prevents consumation of the marriage. They proceed to get married in the Church. What do they have?

If it’s not a “valid marriage”, what is it?

Would the Church tell this couple just not to marry? How would that be handled?

The links that HoosierDaddy provided addresses that. What I gleaned was that you have to freely give consent to abstain, so you have to be able to do it in the first place.

Interesting. I can’t imagine going through marriage preparations in the church for such a marriage though. I wonder if they would give you extra counseling or something.

side note: I’m insanely curious now as to why that guy lied about being disabled.

They have an invalid attempt at marriage. The Church would never knowingly permit them to go through marriage preparation, a ceremony, an exchange of vows, with one or both of them impotent.

[quote=“Code of Canon Law”]Can. 1084 §1 Antecedent and perpetual impotence to have sexual intercourse, whether on the part of the man or on that of the woman, whether absolute or relative, by its very nature invalidates marriage.

§2 If the impediment of impotence is doubtful, whether the doubt be one of law or one of fact, the marriage is not to be prevented nor, while the doubt persists, is it to be declared null.

§3 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 1098, sterility neither forbids nor invalidates a marriage.


A person who is impotent is incapable of exchanging the marital embrace. That is not the same as a person who abstains by choice. They are capable. And, they must begin conjugal relations if the other spouse wants to do so.

They cannot get married in the Church. Antecedent impotence is an impediment to valid marriage.

Such a couple would not proceed past the premarital investigation.


In practice though:

§2. If the impediment of impotence is doubtful, whether by a doubt about the law or a doubt about a fact, a marriage must not be impeded nor, while the doubt remains, declared null.

My pastor said that in practice though, the Church usually gives the couple the benefit of the doubt, which is why the Church usually allows elderly couples, who may not be able to consummate, to marry.

Medically at least, today there are so many possible treatments for impotence that there is at least a faint possibility that in most instances consummation would be possible, at least once.

Doubtful impotence was not the case presented. The question was about two disabled people who cannot consummate the marriage.

Really? Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit