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Sexually Confused Carol wrote:

Hi, guys —

I basically have two issues I've been trying to resolve for months and months.

First, my husband and I are not on the same page when it comes to sex (he's a lot more liberal about it). I want us to have a chaste sex life that's in good standing with God and the Church. We've had endless discussions, sometimes arguments, about how to resolve this. He absolutely does not want to change or alter his views, and I feel the same way about mine.

Secondly, and somewhat ironically, I am having a very difficult time trying to decipher what belongs in a chaste lifestyle and what doesn't. We will do some things during sex (even if it's only for a few seconds) and I'll be questioning the appropriateness of the act, and then afterwards,
will feel like we've done something that is wrong, though I'm not 100% sure.

Let me help with some background:

I'm a practicing Catholic who:

  • attends Mass every Sunday; as well as sometimes during the week
  • goes to Confession regularly
  • tries to pray the Rosary every day
  • does some spiritual reading every day, etc.

but despite researching for the answers and praying for help (which has helped tremendously),
I still have a few unresolved battles within myself during sex. I understand the basic immoral acts during conjugal love, things like anal sex, homosexual relations, oral sex (although this one seems a little foggy to me).

Precisely, these are the things I'm still confused about:

  1. Sometimes my husband wants me to play with my breasts during sex, he finds it gratifying to watch.
  2. Sometimes we use a variety of positions, some are very provocative.
  3. Sometimes my husband will bring me to orgasm before sex, using his hands.
  4. Sometimes we spend a long time in foreplay, including pleasuring each other by hand (without bringing him to climax until we are having sex), and
  5. Sometimes he insists that I allow him to perform oral sex on me.

Side note — I've considered asking a priest these things, but I felt it could be inappropriate for me (a woman) to ask a priest, who is trying to lead a celibate life, such sexual questions.

Thank you for your help!


  { While copulating with my husband are these things OK or am I being too scrupulous? }

John replied:

Carol —

In terms of specific dos and don'ts, the Church teaches just about anything, that is not contraceptive, is permissible.

As far as a woman being brought to orgasms by oral or digital stimulation, (aside|before) intercourse, that is perfectly fine. A woman's climax has nothing to do with the conception.
The same obviously doesn't hold true for a man. His wife may stimulate him in any number of ways, but his climax must take place during intercourse, so as not to purposely contracept.

A married couple is pretty much free to do as they please within those guidelines.

I would avoid anything that is degrading. Some couples get into role playing scenarios and those can easily cross the line. Anything that pretends to be forced or anything where the husband and wife aren't focused on each other but on the thrill of some outside fantasy, falls outside the bounds of being chaste.

Nevertheless, it sounds like what your suggesting falls within a perfectly healthy sex life for a married couple.


Paul replied:

Dear Carol —

Your sincerity in trying not to offend God is admirable. I would like to summarize an answer with these moral principles:

  1. All acts between spouses, sexual or non-sexual, should be motivated and informed by love, and not by selfishness.
  2. One can never separate (pleasure from purpose) or (union from procreation). This would mean that all intentional sexual arousal can be enjoyed but must end in semination in the female reproductive tract — in other words sexual intercourse.
  3. All of the acts you specifically mention would be okay under one condition: that both of you consent and that it is not displeasing to either of you.
  4. Your question on oral sex would also include all other kinds of pre-intercourse stimulation: that all sexual activity is permitted as long as it is foreplay (as mentioned in b.), and is not displeasing to either spouse.

If there are some permitted activities that are pleasing to him but not to you, and you can't seem to bring the issue to a peaceful resolution, then maybe it would be a good idea to seek counseling from your priest or from a good Catholic counselor.


John replied:

Carol —

One last point I forgot in my previous reply is perhaps the most important:

Sexual union between husband and wife is a covenantal act. It actually is the ongoing renewal of the Sacrament of Marriage. It is Holy. It is a total self-giving of each person to each other.

Pope St. John Paul II wrote extensively on this topic and the Church over recent decades has developed much clearer understanding of the unitive aspect of marital relationships. It's admirable to want to do the right thing and it maybe better not to think of it as a set of dos and don'ts.

Yes, there are some things couples can't do; and we've discussed them but it's even better to begin to understand the sacramental nature of your loving relationship. This will only improve what sounds like an already healthy love life.

As time allows, I'd recommend you try doing some reading on the subject.

The Theology of the Body is a good place to start.


Carol replied:

Hi guys,

Thanks so much for such quick replies!

Maybe I am being simply too scrupulous.

After reading these answers, it's making me wonder if maybe the problem is that I haven't been realizing the pleasure factor is OK within the appropriate scenarios.

I'm starting to question if I should feel guilt while feeling pleasure during our conjugal love and mating sessions.

Thanks again!


Mike replied:

Dear Carol —

I forget the name of the priest but in the 90s, I watched an EWTN program by a bearded priest on an EWTN series program. Paraphrasing from what he said (and how I replied in other answers):

You see, God created both man and woman, with a kind of hierarchy of pleasures to be used according to His Divine Providence.

Used in the way that the Lord has ordained for both men and women, pleasure is not only OK and very good, but intentionally built into both men and women.

When our Lord created us, he attached certain types of pleasure to things we do.

  • What am I talking about?

Well, whether you are at work or at home, I am sure there are a number of times you have to go to the bathroom during the day and it has nothing to do with grooming yourself. In our family we call this:

Taking a mother nature break.

I don't think there is one reader of this web posting that will disagree that there is a big pleasure in taking a mother nature break.

  • Why is pleasure attached to going to the bathroom?

Because if we didn't go to the bathroom, the toxins in our waste would kill us and we would die.

  • How about eating and drinking?

Surely everyone will agree that, for most of us, this is a pleasurable activity.

  • Why?

Because if we didn't eat or drink, over time, we would die.

What we see during our daily lives are various levels of pleasures attached to certain activities that both men and women do, including:

  • holding on to our (boy|girl) friend during a date.
  • petting during a date.
  • getting our back or feet rubbed by our (boy|girl) friend or spouse
  • kissing our <(boy|girl) friend> or (our husband or wife)

Of all the pleasures attached to all the activities we do, probably the greatest pleasure is that of sexual activity.

  • Why?

Because it has the potential each time to bring a new life into the world!!

A new life made in the image and likeness of God, made for a specific purpose in life.

    • Make sense?

Anonymous Bravo commented:

HI, guys —

In his initial reply to Carol, John said:
As far as a woman being brought to orgasms by oral or digital stimulation, (aside | before) intercourse, that is perfectly fine. A woman's climax has nothing to do with the conception.

The Catholic Post says it is not allowed.

  • What gives??



John replied:

Dear Bravo —

I stand by my answer.


Paul replied:

I'd just like to throw in my two cents on Bravo's comment and the question:

As far as a woman being brought to orgasms by oral or digital stimulation, (aside | before) intercourse, that is perfectly fine.

Since some people may find the above parenthetical term 'aside/before' a little ambiguous, let me try to apply reason to it. Manual stimulation of the wife — as foreplay — is fine. It helps ready the body for intercourse. It seems to be fine also after intercourse, particularly if the wife has not yet climaxed.

Assisting in this can be seen as an integral part of the marital act however I question whether manual stimulation to orgasm of a wife completely aside from, or unrelated to the marital act, is moral. This seems more to be simply an act of masturbation rather than an integral part of the marriage act.



John replied:

Hi, Paul —

That's fine. I can see your point.

Actually, I probably meant to write "(before or after) intercourse" as opposed to "(aside|before)".


Bob replied:

Dear Bravo,

It could be that the Catholic Post was reacting to the notion of this kind of stimulation apart from the coital context, which would be prohibited. 

Secondly, it is errant to suggest the women's orgasm has nothing to do with fertility and conception — with God there are no accidents, only designs. 

Science has shown that the female orgasm aids the movement of sperm by a spasm of the cervix, which dips into the pool of sperm at its base, thereby aiding its journey, thus increasing fertility. 

Also, the orgasm releases hormones that aid in the bonding between spouses, not to mention the satisfaction of the release of sexual tension and discomfort. It is simply part of God's plan and not providing women to have this release during lovemaking, is essentially leaving her incomplete and that is not good for marriage.

So, all acts of sex must be:

  1. in the marital and coital context
  2. be open to life and
  3. use common sense, dignity and fundamental love.


Bob Kirby

John replied:


Thanks for clarifying the biology with respect to the female orgasm assisting in conception.

The point I was making is that a female orgasm doesn't cause ovulation and therefore needn't occur during intercourse so if a woman is stimulated to orgasm prior to, or post intercourse, it's not inherently contraceptive, as it would be if a male reaches climax outside of orgasm. 


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