Marriage Sexuality, Catholicism, and Judgement

I was born and raised Catholic and am married in the Catholic Church. This post touches on a few issues but they are interrelated and have troubled me for many years. I am aware of what the Church teaches is sexually permissible and what is not in a Catholic marriage. I am aware for instance that oral sex/mutual masturbation is considered a mortal sin. This teaching is not something that is forbidden in the 10 commandments or mentioned in Jesus’ teachings but is created and enforced by the Catholic Church under threat of eternal damnation should the person die prior to repentance. If all man are judged under the same law, this would necessarily mean that nearly all people go to hell, as most who do not abide by this law do not repent since they either do not believe or agree with this teaching, including most Christians and even many Catholics. I cannot believe that hell is what God has in store for nearly all of humanity, and if He does judge all on this standard, how can one consider God to be the loving and forgiving God we are all taught? If He does not judge all people on this standard, than it would seem that Catholics are judge far more harshly and stricter than those who do not believe. And if this is the case, why would anyone want to be Catholic when it just means your judgment will be that much more strict and your punishments far worse than the non-Catholic?

I suspect you will get many answers about how God does not send us to hell, we send ourselves to hell but choosing to disobey. I think you will also get responses about how as Catholics we are held to a higher standard because we have the fullness of the truth. These are all true statements, but none of them addresses the heart of your question and I don’t have any answer for you.

I love the church and don’t regret a moment of my journey in conversion but there were some “holes” in what I was taught about our beautiful faith and because I was raised Protestant, I have difficulty reconciling the marriage bed not being defiled. I was raised believing that (essentially) anything a married couple did in their bedroom was pleasing to God because it renewed the martial bond. It has been difficult for me once I even realized that the Catholic faith has a very different view marriage and sexuality within marriage.

I’m very interested in learning in this thread.

Oral sex and mutual masturbation are not mortal sins as long as they are part of foreplay between a married man and woman, and lead to the man ejaculating into the woman’s vagina (openness to life).

Without getting into the specifics of the acts you refer to, the more disturbing and fundamental problem is your apparent disdain for the teaching authority of the Church, as if the Church were simply a human institution trying to be a big buzz kill for people.

Of course, the Church is the spotless Bride of Christ, and can never lead men astray in Her teachings on Faith and morality. Our Lord entrusted to the Church, and to the Church alone, the power of loosing and binding. Outside of this Holy Church there is no salvation, all men must in some way or another, enter into Her in order to be saved.

With that in mind, we can be sure that if the Church has always and everywhere taught a moral principle as binding on us, that this what God requires of us, and we know that His grace is sufficient for any struggle we have in complying ourselves to His loving plan for us.

We don’t get to remain true Catholics and gripe, moan, and complain about what the Church tells us is right and wrong about human sexuality. We live maybe 80 years, the Church has the wisdom of ages and the assurance of Divine protection from error.

I trust the Church, not my own disordered desires. If my desires conflict with what the Church teaches, I can be very comfortable in the knowledge that it is me not the Church which needs to change.


And of course, job #1 in discerning the Truth is to be precise about what the Church actually teaches.

The Church acknowledges tremendous latitude in legitimate exercise of marital sexuality, pretty much the only thing that is absolutely required is what this what this quote ends up with: ejaculation inside the woman’s vagina.

That whole attitude (and Christopher Wests writings) of anything goes as long as you finish the act properly doesnt represent marital love in its fullest and best context.

Magisterial teachings are not strict or unloving or anywhere close to a killjoy. They are the most fulfilling and liberating path that anybody could ever follow.

I hope that you continue to work through these internal struggles you have. Remember that God knows what is best for us better than we do. When you approach anxious conflict, you must always default to the knowledge that you, not the moral law, is the one that needs to change. When men do what is right in their own eyes, they bring both themselves and others to ruin. But obeying God is a painful, enlightening, wonderful experience that will turn you into a real adult. Peace :aok:

From this I see that you actually do not know what the Church teaches about sexuality within marriage. And calling it “mutual masturbation” is oxymoronic because masturbation implies one doing something to one’s self. So, if both spouses were masturbating themselves instead of each other, that might more qualify to be called “mutual masturbation”.

The Church teaches that oral sex and mutual stimulation are okay as long as they are not used in place of actual intercourse. So, doing both as a means of foreplay is acceptable as long as the man “finishes” inside the woman. So, it is usually discouraged for the man to receive oral sex because of the chance of ejaculating outside of the woman.

The Church’s teaching on sexuality has to do with keeping the body as a Temple of the Holy Spirit, which is talked about in Scripture, and using the Temple as it is meant to be used. Remember how Jesus tossed the tables and tossed out the money traders and tax collectors from the Temple?

Your view on the salvation of people and how it works is a little off seemingly misunderstood. When we sin, we are choosing ourselves over God, like someone choosing to rob someone’s house over working hard at getting a meaningful and legal job. It is our choices that send us to hell, just as a court judge sends people to prison, in reality, the people sent themselves to prison by their choice to disobey the law. The same goes for God. God gives us what we want because he loves us. So, if we are choosing against God, then God gives us eternal life without him. It is our choice. We are to conform to God. These rules and laws aren’t meant to be an impediment on living life, they are meant so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. Just like how we are allowed to eat junk food as much as we want if we so desire, but our actual quality of life won’t be as good as if we ate healthy foods instead, even if we don’t see healthy foods as desirable.

The Catholic Church doesn’t judge the state of any individual’s soul as to whether they are hell-bound or not, because God is the eternal judge. But we can give brotherly correction and fear for the state of your soul.

I pray that you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, stick around this forum, and do some reading to see what the Catholic Church actually teaches. It isn’t about judging others, it is about trying to free ourselves of sin and conform to God’s will, because God knows what is best for us much better than any of us do.

The key here is to recognize that sins are things that do harm, not just items on an arbitrary list. How can sex be harmful, even within marriage? Easy! It’s harmful if it changes into a mutual taking from one another instead of a mutual giving to one another. The difference can be subtle at casual observation, but the cumulative results long term are ENORMOUSLY different.

All those pesky rules really arise from one simple principle: marriage, sex and babies are created as a mixed together whole because they were DESIGNED to function as a whole. We westerners love to take things apart and ignore the deeper connections that exist. We like to think that since we’ve invented pills and condoms that sex doesn’t need to have anything to do with babies unless we WILL it to. But that attitude innately changes the encounter of sexual union and makes it at least partially selfish instead of giving. The damage accumulates over time.

When a couple lives a life of chastity (not to be confused with celibacy), their sexual union (and even play) builds their love for one another. When a couple intentionally alters what sex IS, they cannot avoid damaging it in the process.

The evidence is clear all around us! Look at the damage society has suffered since it declared sex, marriage and babies to be an ‘ala carte’ menu. You really think it’s coincidence?

Thanks for replies. First I do not have disdain for Church teaching and I do recognize authority. Second, I do not need to be reminded of Church teaching on marriage sexuality. I am aware of it as I stated in my original post. No one has yet answered my question. I cannot agree with this teaching because despite everyone’s attempt to put logic and reason to it, it doesn’t hold up. Still I am obliged to obey when the Church dangles eternal damnation in front of our noses. The far larger question however, is how men are judge. I have a very real problem with judgment inequality when those who want and try to serve God are ruthlessly judged while the rest of society is loosely judged.

No, you stated what you thought is the Church’s position. And if you read my post, you would see that what you think the Church’s position is on marriage sexuality is wrong.

Where do you see men judging other men? The Church’s teachings are from God, so it’s God’s judgement, not men’s.

Shouldn’t those who should know better be judged more harshly than the ignorant? Would you judge a child who is still not potty trained that peed in their pants the same as an adult who has been potty trained and is in control of their bodily functions who peed in their pants? How can someone who is ignorant be accountable for what they do not know?

We don’t understand in this life how spectacular and awesome heaven will be for those who strived hard to follow God as compared to those who just squeeked in and find themselves the least in the kingdom of God.
And that will be for eternity, for ever and ever, a thousand times a thousand years.

I think that the saints, who may have suffered greatly in their earthly life, would suffer it all over again and more when they see the reward that God gives for their efforts. They may even feel sad that they were not more generous toward a God that is so generous.

I am Catholic because I did not grow up in a Catholic home or a home with Christianity. There was darkness, sin, no hope. To come into the light of Christ after knowing such darkness is an incredible privilege of which I am so grateful. I give Him a kiss every day for that grace, and His Light is so very bright because I know what darkness is. I think that people who grow up in the Church are like fish in water who don’t know what wet is. How can they appreciate it? Maybe they find it hard and tedious but to the starving man, food is so precious! Someone well fed doesn’t know what hunger is, yet I would never wish them to go hungry to appreciate food!

These are sins against the Sixth Commandment. Sexual sin is, in totality, the sixth commandment.

Yes, that issue (if I understand you) troubles me too. A non-Catholic (perhaps a non-Christian) may be a wonderfully decent person, respectful of the law and of other people, generous of heart, a wonderful parent, a pro-life person, etc., etc. But he will be blissfully unaware of (obscure) Catholic rules such as “the man must ejaculate inside the woman”. [And even if aware, such rules come not from his faith, so why should he take any notice.] Thus he and wife may engage in other forms of sexual enjoyment. Clearly, such persons are not condemned to hell.

You’re still viewing the church fundamentally wrongly. You’re willing to grudgingly obey, but only because the church is a bunch of meanies just itching to send you to hell the moment you give them an excuse. That’s how I’m reading you.

The path you are on (based on this post anyways) leads inexorably to abandonment of the faith. Like I said before, if sexual sin is going to send you to hell, it is NOT because God is arbitrary and mean, but because sexual sin really does corrupt your soul and slowly destroy your ability to love authentically. I fully realize that it’s hard to comprehend this stuff. You don’t think that the rest of us feel the pull of what you’re struggling with? What you may not have considered yet is just how much you (and all of us) are products of our environment. Ever wonder how so many otherwise good and decent human beings 200 years ago could have been so OK with slavery? How many otherwise decent people today are pro-choice? People are influenced by their peers and environment in ways they simply don’t even recognize. Every aspect of our culture is saturated with the worldview that sexuality is about indulging yourself in pleasure. But that’s a funhouse mirror of the true meaning of sexuality. The pleasure is supposed to be a surface manifestation of the deeper union of souls that so fully images God that it holds the power to create new life. Please just consider the possibility that your problem is not so much that the church’s position doesn’t make sense as it is that you’ve permitted secular society to shout God down your whole life without giving Him equivalent access to your mind and soul to explain it to you.

An eye opener on the reality of sexual pleasure being divorced from its other meanings is clearly visible in the real world. Did you know that every nation on Earth in which contraception is both widely available and socially respectable has a NEGATIVE total fertility rate (i.e. below long term replacement level)? Every. single. nation. Not one country on Earth embraces contraception and has a native positive population growth rate. One can argue that perhaps a lower global population could have some benefits. But it’s hard to imagine an argument for a permanent social order in which each generation is smaller than the previous one. Contraception makes that pattern permanent. It’s literally a matter of survival of the human species in the long run.

It’s clear that you do have disdain. The Bible sets a much higher standard for harsher judgement and that doesn’t seem to bother you. The Bible says that those who don’t believe in the Real Presence are going to hell and that’s the majority of Protestants. Why is your concern not there? So this boils down to your desire to want mutual masturbation and oral sex. And where is that desire coming from? I don’t want to make any assumptions so I will just ask – is it to avoid creating life while still wanting to joy of sex? If not, what is it?

You seem to suggest that The Bible is totally valid but the Church is questionable. Do you not realize that the Bible came out of the Church? Why is the Bible’s commands considered legit but the Church is just dangling damnation in front of people? Jesus IS h is Church. His Church is the one that gave us the Bible. If they had the authority to do that, why not to give teachings of Christ? Remember, the Bible says that if everything Jesus did even just during the period between His Resurrection and Ascension, there wouldn’t be enough books in the entire world to contain it (John 21:25). If we limit ourselves to our understanding of the teachings of Jesus to just The Bible, we are missing out on extensive amounts of God’s Word. The Church is God’s Word (Jesus).

IMO, Protestant teachings on sex lack logic and are also quite a bit harsher than the Church’s teachings. Sure, they say anything goes in the bedroom of married couples (what kind of sense does that make???) but they also say that sexual sins are the worst sins. Was it Aquinas who wrote that the sexual sins are actually the least of the sins?

One of the most beautiful things about the Church is that her teachings bring us closer to God. It’s true that something is not a mortal sin if a person doesn’t know it’s a sin. So if a protestant is doing something in the bedroom with his spouse that he does not know is wrong, then it would not be a mortal sin. However, sin still takes us away from God. It’s such a gift that we have the teachings of the Church. The Church is here to help us and to bring us to God. If the things you want to do will take you away from God then that’s something that needs to be addressed. There is an underlying issue and the Church can help you figure that out. There is so much beautiful and deep theological writings. Or you could simply sit before the blessed Sacrament and pray for God to help your unbelief. Let the graces of the sacraments fill your heart with understanding. Be open to that.

Thank you for coming here and asking this question. It is a good question and is good that you came here! It is clearly depressing to think of a God that would set up a system of rules that seem unfair and that expect married people in love to not be able to express that love how they see fit in the bedroom without spending eternity in hell because of unreasonable rules!

First, I do not believe that “nearly all people go to hell” and here is why. The Catholic church teaches very clearly that there are concrete and very clear certain conditions that need to be met for a sin to be a mortal sin. That is, for a sin to be so grave that it would literally send a person to hell. An individual has to be aware that the sin is grave matter and choose the sin freely anyway. Per the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 1860) "Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability or a grave offense. Also may people are coerced into sins by others. There are women who have had abortions that are not guilty of a moral sin because they were influenced by others to have the abortion. Also we need to have trust in the mercy of God!

The Catechism further states “The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, through deliberate choice of evil is the gravest.”

So you see the Church in her wisdom recognizes that people sometimes succumb to passions and do not have necessarily full control or consent of their will. The church does point out however that deliberate choice of evil and sin of intentional malice towards another is very grave.

As far as human sexuality in the marriage bed, yes there are acts that the church forbids that even though people believe they may be okay between consenting adults are in some ways degrading to the human person. Some adults believe it is enjoyable to engage in bondage, calling one another names and various other “games.” In truth these acts are at their core not elevating but degrading to the human person, this is why the church is against them, it’s not to rain on anyone’s parade it’s to remind husbands and wives that the primary reasons for sex in the marriage is not to have an orgasm and to use your partner as a masturbatory tool but is a deeply profound act of love meant to be procreative and to unify you and to deepen your respect for each other. I hope this helps a little, God bless you.

FYI my wife is pregnant and this is my 5th child. It has nothing to do with willingness to bring forth new life. And I would be very careful of stating that most protestants are going to hell. That I know is against Church teaching. I have also had personal experiences and seen many cases of people that have passed and are clearly not in hell, albeit probably purgatory, and these are people that traditionally the Church or the bible would say are damned such as prostitutes. I believe there is overwhelming evidence that suggests that sinners aren’t necessarily damned. Of course only God knows, but the Church is clearly strict on its teachings.

[quote=Matthew 7:13-14]Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

At some point in their lives I would say all Catholics may have a problem with one or another teaching of the church.

The point is, I believe if you have faith, you soldier on, and do what the Church teaches. Put your problem with the teaching on the shelf and follow what the Church teaches. Find out why you think what the Church teaches is wrong, and likely it be malformed judgement on your part. Faith must take over where doubt begins.

The churches teachings are very logical. If you look at each one, you can trace it backwards to the 10 Commandments, the Gospel where Christ directly teaches, to the writings of the Apostles.

All men are judged by God, and He will be more critical in his judgement of Catholics because we have the fullness of the teachings of the Church instituted by His Son, carried on by Apostolic succession from Peter and access to the sacraments. The gospel mentions that we will be judged on our use of the gifts God bestows on us. One of these gifts is your faith as a Catholic. At the same time, with all this, following the Churches teachings is the pathway to salvation.


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