Question about procreative union

I hope this question makes sense, but I’m just not grasping the logic of it. Not trying to be disrespectful, just seeking understanding.

We know that the Church teaches that all sex has to be open to life and that any sex that is not open to procreation is wrong, no exceptions. For this reason, things like birth control, condoms, and sexual acts that do not naturally lead to life are forbidden.

Can someone explain to me why these things are still wrong even if someone is already pregnant? Obviously the birth control/condoms wouldn’t be the issue, but I don’t understand why other non-procreative sexual acts are forbidden. There is already life there, and you can’t get pregnant while you’re already pregnant.


Not trying to be snarky, just genuinely curious, but does the Church base it’s doctrine over something that only has only been documented a handful of times? I don’t see this crazy freak occurancee as actually having anything to do with the purpose of the Church’s teaching on the matter, but correct me if I’m wrong. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I was just pointing out that it is possible to get pregnant while pregnant.:sparkling_heart: Regarding your question hopefully someone else can answer that.

But concerning Catholicism and contraception… I see you’re not Catholic, right?


Why is contraception wrong?


Here’s the short answer: contraception is wrong because it involves using the sexual faculty while actively frustrating the ends for which it exists.

In general, the good for human beings is determined by the ends inherent in human nature. So, for example, humans are ordered toward the end of self-preservation. Therefore, it’s good for humans to preserve their own existence. Humans are ordered to know the truth; thus it’s good to have knowledge of the truth. Humans are ordered toward peaceful living in society. Therefore, it’s good to avoid harming each other unnecessarily.

From this it follows that what is good for us in the sexual arena is the achievement of the ends of our sexual faculties. What is bad for us is the use of these faculties in a way that actively frustrates their ends.

Since the ends that nature ordains our sexual faculties toward are procreation and unitive love, what is good for us with regard to our sexual faculties is to use them only in a way that is consistent with these ends. This necessarily follows from the metaphysics of the good sketched above. To use our sexual powers contrary to their natural ends (e.g., masturbation, contraception, sexual activity among members of the same sex, pornography, fornication, adultery, etc.) is no more good for us than it is good for an oak tree to fail to sink its roots deep into the ground and take in nutrients.

And since it belongs to human beings as moral agents to pursue the good and avoid evil, it is immoral (morally wrong) to use any form of contraception.

Do you know about NFP?

The church does not forbid sexual relations between a husband and wife when the wife is already pregnant. Besides having a procreative function, sex also has a unitive function. (Catechism 2366-2372) That is, it’s a way in which a married couple bonds. If by God’s design it’s not possible for the wife to get pregnant (e.g., when she’s already pregant, when she’s past child-bearing age, or when she’s at an infertile time of the month), the unitive function still exists.

During times when it’s possible for the wife to conceive, God may want to bring forth life through their union. If they actively try to block what God may want to do, they offend God.

Actually, we don’t know that, because what you’ve written here isn’t accurate.

What the Church actually teaches is that the marital embrace must be ordered per se to both unity and procreation.

Because each act must be ordered to unity and procreation. We may not use our sexual faculties in a disordered way. It is precisely the incorrect formulation of “open to life” that leads to his question.


It is my understanding that the relevant standard is not “open to life” but “ordered toward procreation”. In other words, the act itself must be one which could result in conception under “normal” circumstances (both partners fertile at the time, no artificial contraception used, etc.). One can be “open to life” in the sense of being “willing to accept a child” even if they actively try to thwart it by use of artificial contraception or similar.

ETA: Looks like I was a bit late with my reply…

I returned to the Church this summer after 7 years away. I understand why contraception is wrong, and was using NFP for years before I even returned. My question wasn’t so much about contraception but why something that is both procreative and unitive in purpose remains purposefully procreative even when procreation isn’t possible (or, at the very least, insanely unlikely).

Thanks for the clarification. Not trying to be obnoxious, but isn’t that just an issue with semantics? Or am I missing something?

I understand that sex must be both procreative and unitive, but when the procreation has already taken place, or during a time when it is, at the very least, incredibly unlikely to happen, in a case where both married adults consent to it and to serve their unitive function, why is, say, oral sex prohibited? (Not talking about it as a foreplay or anything like that.)
Things like pornography, adultery, homosexual relations, etc… Are more clear cut and obvious why they are forbidden, but I’m having trouble grasping the logic of outright forbidding any sex that doesn’t lead to procreation when the procreation has already taken place.


Yes, something very important.

Focus on what it means to be ordered to procreation. You are skipping right over that, instead framing it as “sex must be unitive and procreative”. NO. The marital embrace must always be ORDERED TO procreation.

Think about what that means. Don’t skip over what the proper ordering to procreation means.

Because that is not ordered to procreation.

No, not sex that doesn’t lead to procreation. Sex that isn’t ordered to procreation.

What this means is the only proper use of our sexual faculties is in vaginal intercourse. Other uses of our sexual faculties are disordered as these acts are either ordered to NEITHER, or they are ordered to unity OR procreation but not BOTH.

The nuptial meaning and proper order of our sexual faculties is retained only in those acts that retain both.


Well I seem to just not be getting it so can you explain what “ordered to procreation” means? I’m genuinely not trying to be obnoxious but there seems to be a mental block here for some reason and I’m just not seeing the distinction.

By using a condom you are making a decision to block the natural process. You are making it disordered.
Remove the idea of being pregnant. I think that’s what’s messing with your head.

Thank you for coming on here and saying ‘This doesn’t make sense to me…’ There are a lot of people who have the wrong notion about a church teaching and never ask ‘what am I missing?’ Good for you.

1 Like

Here is how I understand this particular teaching: “ordered to procreation” means that the sex act must be performed in such a way that it may result in procreation in situations where procreation is possible, and in situations where it is not possible, or at least so unlikely that it is considered impossible (wife is already pregnant, wife is past child-bearing age…), the sex act must still be performed as if it were. In other words, the impossibility of procreation, regardless of reason, does not mean that anything goes. The oral sex example that you provided above would still be an incorrect use of the sexual faculties because if procreation were possible for the couple, that act could not result in procreation.

Terminology such as “leads to procreation” is problematic because it excludes those for whom procreation is not possible. The Church does not prohibit the marital act for couples who, for whatever reason, cannot conceive.

Does that help?

1 Like

An act is ordered to procreation when it is objectively procreative. Subjectively it may not result in procreation because of advanced age, sterility, pregnancy, or the infertile time of the cycle.

Objective = the design of the thing, what God intended it for. Our sexual faculties were designed for vaginal intercourse. Seeking an orgasm outside of that context is to disorder the act and the use of our sexual faculties as God gave them to us. We are not at liberty to use them any way we want to.

Subjective = the result of any specific marital embrace. Subjectively, a specific act of intercourse may not result in conception. But we haven’t disordered the act. This is the natural result of the act: no egg meets sperm.

Same sex acts, oral acts, manual stimulation-- they are all wrong for the same reason.

1 Like

This is all very nice, but it is built upon the principle that God created the sexual activity for one and only one purpose - procreation. The fact that its also pleasurable, is just a “byproduct”. The problem is that this is a religious argument, and as such it has no value when confronting a non-believer.

And, of course there is another logical error in it. Even if the “primary” objective would be procreation, from that it does not follow logically that one should always consider that objective each and every time. It may be that for health reasons (or other reasons) it is not advisable to aim at procreation. But the unitive function is very much advised even in such cases, to strengthen the bond between the couple.

I see no reason to view God as someone who is narrow-minded and demanding unthinking following of some principle.

Well, this is true. Pleasure isn’t the purpose of our reproductive organs. Pleasure is a result of the marital embrace, but not its purpose.

Some would say it is a natural law argument, which is not predicated on religion.

But, yes, it is also a religious argument, in that we have a creator who created our sexual faculties for a purpose outside our own self. You asked what the Church taught, and why, I responded to that.

If you now want to change your question to “ways to convince non-religious people that certain sex acts are wrong” that’s an entirely different thread. Because non-religious people also have a different understanding of what “wrong” or “immoral” or “unethical” means in the first place.

You still are not understanding the difference between ordered to procreation and “procreative”. You are still talking in terms of “aiming for procreation” and the “primary objective of procreation”.

No, no, a thousand times no.

What I am talking about is objectively being per se apt for generation, per se ordered to procreation. Per se meaning in and of itself.

Each act must be ordered to unity of spouses and ordered to procreation.

That is why you are here trying to learn why God ordered our sexuality the way he did. That he did is not in dispute. That you don’t understand it is the element that you should keep working on.

Just pointing out, you’re replying to two different people here. Komor’s argument is not at all where I was coming from in asking my original question.

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