The marital act

Please, can you help me to define the marital act?

Is it penetration, male orgasm, ejaculation only?
… or there is something more to it?

What are boundaries of the marital act?
Petting of hair, gentle touching, kissing, … are these love-giving acts part of the marital act?

The full marital act would include penile penetration into the vagina and male orgasm into the vaginal canal. There are many other foreplay acts that are allowed in the Catholic church too but it always has to end with the man ejaculating into the woman.

This is the most practical and accurate answer, in my opinion. Thanks. :thumbsup:

There are some (rigorous) moral theologians who frown upon foreplay, but the bottom line that the marital act has to end with vaginal penetration, ejaculation, and the open possibility of fertilization. What happens before is a matter of taste and preference, with a wide range of normal variations permissible across couples.

Yes exactly! My husband and I heard this from our priest (who is VERY orthodox). A couple can do any type of foreplay they please as long as it is mutually agreed upon and not degrading in any way to either party and as long as the man ejaculates into the woman. Also, contraception must never be used of course.

That is, broadly speaking, my understanding of the Church teaching.

The one qualification is that foreplay needs to be foreplay (i.e. preparing the couple for intercourse), not substitutional acts that are desired for their own end, and merely appended to intercourse in an attempt to make them licit.

God Bless

Thanks, in the previous posts line of thinking … when/where is the beginning of the marital act?

The very definition of foreplay is preparation for the actual marital act. A man may not need a lot of foreplay to get him ready for intercourse but many women (especially those of us who have had a couple kids) need some stimulation and romance prior to actual intercourse so that it is enjoyable and not painful.

I think it depends on what you are talking about exactly.

I think of everything my husband and I do together leading up to actual intercourse as the marital act because it is all done for unity and in the end, for procreation.

However, I think the more scientific answer would be only actual penile/vaginal intercourse is the marital act.

You are absolutely correct.
There is stuff happening prior to the intercourse. Is it part of the marital act?

What is the marital act definition? What is the Humanae Vitae definition/understanding of the marital act?

This is what I am trying to understand.
Does anybody know for sure?

That I do not know for sure, I’m not sure the Church even has a specific judgment on when the actual marital act “begins”. Hopefully someone on here will know for sure. I checked the catechism but couldn’t find anything definite.

This is a BIG issue.
Who can tell us what is the marital act?
What definition of the marital act is Humanae Vitae based on?

Why is this a big issue? Why do we need to know?

The Church has told us what we need to know; each act of love making must be consummated by coitus, with the husband finishing the act inside the wife.

Beyond that, we are left to our own judgement as to what is prudent.

God Bless

I agree, the Church has given us some very good specifics. The man ejaculates inside the woman, no contraception, everything is mutual and unitive and procreating…why must we know the exact moment at which the marital act “begins”? Like I said before I just consider foreplay part of our marital act because it is my husband helping me to become ready for intercourse which is very self giving and loving in my opinion.

Take NFP. A married couple is in the abstinence period. They are in bed. They hold, kiss, touch, … are they involved in the love-giving (unitive) aspect of the marital act or not?
If yes, then they are not suppose to separate it from life-giving aspect.

Is that correct?

Hmm that is interesting. If they hold, kiss, and touch with absolutely no intention of having intercourse then no that would not be sinful. Then every time we kissed our grandmother or touched a stranger’s hand we would be expected to finish the marital act? Umm eww. I think we as intelligent humans have to use some intellect and prudence here.

If these touches and kisses are being used as foreplay then that is great and well when they end in the conjugal act. If there is no intention of having sex then they are just ways of showing affection. The problem lies in when a man ejaculates in a foreplay event such as oral foreplay.

I suppose it wouldn’t even be sinful really if a woman gave her husband oral foreplay but he did not ejaculate but that is not very prudent right? Because he will most likely get so aroused that he would have a great need for ejaculation. My husband and I personally cannot do much more than kiss and hold hands during abstaining periods because my husband has a very high sex drive and I do not want to bring him to that point where it is difficult for us to stop.

What decides when kissing, hugging, holding, touching, … is part of the unitive aspect of the marital act when it’s not?
Is it a double standard?

No, that’s just normal affection between a married couple, assuming that it is limited to what you say. If it ends in arousal and orgasm without intercourse, then it’s called a “sin” :wink:

The “marital act” is a euphemism for natural sexual intercourse (that is, vaginal, with no artificial impediments to conception).

Not at all, like I said in my previous post we as intellectual human beings have to use our brains and prudence in knowing if what we are doing is too much or not. If you are just laying in bed with your husband and cuddling and have no intention of having intercourse then that is not sinful. If we had to finish the marital act with everyone we kissed or touched that would be crazy right? You kiss relatives and touch strangers. You have to use your God given common sense. Giving your husband a peck and holding his hand is not technically leading to the marital act although it could eventually. That is why there really isn’t an exact “beginning” to the marital act. Maybe a husband and wife are just cuddling one night but they get overcome by romantic and sexual feelings and end up having sex…but maybe they don’t, maybe they just fall asleep. You have to use your intelligence. The only truly sinful thing would be for the man to ejaculate outside the woman’s vagina or to force himself on her or she on him or to do anything the other doesn’t agree with. All other things would just be imprudent.

To my way of thinking, “common sense” decides. You seem to want to imply that a couple cannot kiss, hold each other, hug, etc., unless done so as part of a complete act of marital intercourse. Cuddling in bed after a long, exhausting day with no intent to take things further is hardly wrong - it’s a normal part of married life.

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