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August 07, 2006

Comments

I would go with the abstinence, if I was in your situation. Why? First, the marital act is something that ordered by God, but with a purpose, procreation. So good job on having children. But now, there is no need on basis of the order of God, to procreate. You are already on that path, so may God bless you with that.
To do this now, seems almost unnatural. Though I am not sure that to do is or is not a sin, I am inclined to say that in any other circumstance, even if you couldn't have children, its a right you aquire to do the marital act. Jimmy pointed out marital strain. NEVER, NEVER let your HOLY matrimony fall into a situation of physical dependancy. I don't know how old you are, but I imagine that you are not an 18 girl, and that your hormones are going at 100 mph, so occasion of sin, regardless, is some thing you make in this situation if you let become an issue.
And health-wise, they say its "safe"but that is could cause a premature birth. (I really can't go into details.)
But the most important thing here is the baby's formation. The baby is a sponge even in the womb.
Do you want your baby to start being affected by the moral actions you choose? See, its just I can't find a way to explain it to you without saying something potentialy offensive. So I'll stop at this. Children take after their parents, in both genes, qualities and defects. So here is the question: What would St. Joachim and St.Anne do?

Jason

Nice response Jimmy.

Anonymous, your comments may be in violation of Rule 20, and definitely seem more than a little misguided to me.

Remember, sex has two purposes, not just one, unitive and procreative, and even where the procreative purpose is moot (such as during infertile periods, after menopause, and during pregnancy), the unitive aspect is still a good reason for conjugal relations.

Besides -- the questioner's specific medical issues aside -- sex during pregnancy, especially late pregnancy, actually does serve a procreative benefit. It helps prime the woman's body to give birth. Women who engage in late pregnancy sex are less likely to need to be induced than abstinent women (source).

Sex as a trigger for full-term delivery is a good thing; if you mean to imply that sex during pregnancy correlates with premature delivery, I am not aware of any evidence to support that.

other anon

look it up.

Brother Cadfael

Anonymous #1 -- I suggest you get a copy of Christopher West's book, The Good News About Sex and Marriage. Everything about your post suggests that you believe sex is...well, just...dirty. You are wrong, and appear to have some seriously misguided notions about "holiness."

not at all. Just people are making it a dirty act.
So don't go about assuming that I am some whacko that thinks sex is the devil. What is true is that people forgot what sex is for. Read closly on my first post. I even said if you're infertile you have the right to intercourse with a spouse.

Brother Cadfael

OK, let's look at your first post:

"But now, there is no need on basis of the order of God, to procreate. You are already on that path, so may God bless you with that. To do this now, seems almost unnatural. Though I am not sure that to do is or is not a sin, I am inclined to say that in any other circumstance, even if you couldn't have children, its a right you aquire to do the marital act."

You have referred here to sex during pregnancy as "almost unnatural," and you're unsure whether or not it is a sin. Sounds like you're calling it dirty to me.

"But the most important thing here is the baby's formation. The baby is a sponge even in the womb.
Do you want your baby to start being affected by the moral actions you choose?"

What are we to gather from that comment, other than sex itself is dirty?

Matt McDonald

"Remember, sex has two purposes, not just one, unitive and procreative, and even where the procreative purpose is moot "

This is precisely what Anonymous #1 was recognizing and you Other Anon is completely ignoring. Using a prophylactic device invalidates the unitive nature of the marital embrace and thus is immoral. The recommendation of looking to the saints for guidance is right on.

Perhaps there is some sort of treatment which could reduce the possibility of infection?

Mike

During pregancy, however, nature has provided a sort of de facto hinderance to the procreative possibility of that particular sexual act- the impossibility of a second pregnacy occuring after fertilization and implantation has already occured. In this setting, I don't see how insemination contributes to the marital act: If there is no egg to be fertilized, then the sperm themselves have no real purpose.

Brother Cadfael

Matt,

Perhaps I'm missing something, but you seem to be suggesting that "other anon" was advocating the use of prophylactics. I don't see that he was.

"The recommendation of looking to the saints for guidance is right on." Agreed, but I don't think we have any writings from St. Anne and St. Joachim to go by, and anonymous #1 is simply assuming that they abstained from sex during pregnancy because it's "almost unnatural" and "may be a sin." Sounds like bootstrapping of the highest order to me.

Some Day

Actually, I read the "The life of the Blessed Virgin Mary" as discribed by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. Thers is stuff to read about them. And I know many Saints like St. Lous IX of France only had intercourse a set number of times only to have the children he is obligated to procreate. His wife agreed with the pact. So there are examples. So, sex is not in itself a sin, but when and why and how is what can make it a sin. During pregnancy? Please.

Matt McDonald

Br.

I'm assuming that when Anon#1 says "Though I am not sure that to do is or is not a sin" he is referring to intercourse between a husband and wife, during pregnancy, and using a prophylactic device. I don't think he is suggesting that intercourse during pregnancy is immoral.

Since the discussion is regarding sex with a condom during pregnancy, I assume when Anon #2 says "Remember, sex has two purposes, not just one, unitive and procreative, and even where the procreative purpose is moot (such as during infertile periods, after menopause, and during pregnancy), the unitive aspect is still a good reason for conjugal relations. " he is speaking in that context. If I've misread him, I apologize. If that's not the case, then what exactly of Anon #1's statement is he criticizing?

"What would St. Joachim and St.Anne do?" We have no writings on this, but I assume he is suggesting to seek inspiration in how much they might sacrifice in order to avoid moral error.

"This is precisely what Anonymous #1 was recognizing..."

Your interpretation of Anonymous #1 is possible, but hardly certain, since s/he (a) doesn't mention prophylatic devices at all and (b) doesn't say WHAT s/he thinks is "almost unnatural." You're just guessing.

"Using a prophylactic device invalidates the unitive nature of the marital embrace and thus is immoral."

That is certainly true of an intact condom; the question under discussion is a perforated condom.

"The recommendation of looking to the saints for guidance is right on."

Unfortunately, the lives of St. Anne and St. Joachim offer little insight into what their views on perforated condoms would have been. Like "WWJD?" asking "What would SS. Anne and Joachim do?" is merely an invitation to imagine the most pious and rigorous possible stance, which is not always the same as the most morally sound one.

Other Anon

Maureen

I'm a total bystander on this issue, but I'll butt in anyway.

As long as the mother isn't fragile, and the pregnancy isn't at a fragile point, I've never heard any doctor say that women shouldn't have sex during pregnancy.

(This was the advice during certain points of Victorian times, but that was part of the same package with "all pregnant women should have complete bedrest for nine months". And it was a big strain on marriages.)

I don't think it's fair, either, to suggest that because two people married to each other want to have sex, they have a "physical dependency".

Furthermore, one gathers that their husbands' desire for them while pregnant is a big self-boost to pregnant ladies' self-image. Also, one gathers that a lot of husbands think their pregnant wives are very sexy. The two factors put together are probably one of those gifts from God to help couples stay together during the stresses and strains of pregnancy and hormones.

Those who don't find the idea appealing obviously don't have to do it. But it seems silly to tell other people not to do something that is licit and healthy, and which they enjoy doing together.

I wish all blessings for the reader, and I hope this solution or something similar works out and is safe for her and her husband.

Brother Cadfael

Matt,

Perhaps anon #1 can chime in, but I don't read him the same way that you do. My guess is that he would regard any use of a prophylactic as unnatural (because it is). Thus, when he says that "it" is "almost unnatural" he almost certainly is referring to sex during pregnancy, not sex with a prophylactic. In other words, sex during pregnancy with a prophylactic would be unnatural (because of the prophylactic), so it would not make any sense for him to say that it is "almost unnatural."

Paul

"And health-wise, they say its "safe"but that is could cause a premature birth. (I really can't go into details.)
But the most important thing here is the baby's formation. The baby is a sponge even in the womb.
Do you want your baby to start being affected by the moral actions you choose? "

I found that the post by anonymous #1 was very confusing and hard to understand. Perhaps she can clarify her position.

My wife and I were never told by our doctor that sex during pregnancy could harm anything. In fact sex late in the pregnancy actually gets a woman's body ready for delivery. I am sure that there are cases where complete abstinence is advisable but this is not the norm.

I advise that anybody who thinks that sex during pregnancy is somehow unnatural or can harm the morals of the baby in the womb learn more about what the Catholic Church teaches about sex.

MenTaLguY

One thing that bears consideration is whether becoming accustomed to using the perforated condoms during pregnancy (presuming it were morally neutral in itself) might still be an avenue of temptation. They don't come out of the wrapper pre-perforated, and there is a likelihood of some being "left over" after the baby is born.

Rafael

I thought arccording to moral theology from the earlier centuries, it was immoral to engage in marital congress. The woman has life growing inside her and her body should be respected. They should abstain for nine months. It does not destroy love or marriage. It is reasonable. Maybe lust plays a role in wanting marital relations during pregnancy.

Paul

It is unreasonable to expect a married couple to abstain from sex during pregnancy when there is no good medical reason. The couple may use abstinence as a time to grow closer together if they chose but it would not be immoral to have sex.

Suggesting that lust has something to do with marital relations only because your wife is pregnant is complelty absurd. This sounds like prudery and is very offensive.

Chris

Look into the writings of Dr. Robert Bradley, famed for coming up with the "Bradley Method" of natural childbirth. We used this method and my daughter was born completely drug free (which says a great deal about my wife!)

Anyway, as others have said, sex during the late part of pregnancy has been shown to be an ingredient in helping move labor along and ultimately helping a safe, healthy birth to happen. The only situation in which it would not be advisable, so far as I can tell, is in a case of incompetent cervix, where there is a danger of dilation and delivery coming too early. Part of this can be counteracted with proper diet - a diet that is well balanced, for one thing, and includes a great deal of water, as well as tons of protein, can help to strengthen membranes and maintain hydration through the entire body, thus lowering risks. Not nearly enough people know about this, but if you google the bradley method, you can find their website where they have a spreadsheet that can help you figure out whether you're getting the appropriate diet to keep the little one developing wonderfully as well as keeping mom's body functioning as God designed.

Bekah S.

Here is a site with some information on treating bacterial infections while pregnant:
http://www.gentlebirth.org/Midwife/vagInfections.html#Vaginosis

I would not recommend use of a perforated condom. I'm not sure it would be an effective method of avoiding continual reinfection. In addition to some of the methods suggested at the site, I would make sure to use impeccable hygiene before and after marital relations (email me if you need more details, I'd rather not be too explicit on our hosts space here). Support both immune systems by using lots of fresh garlic in cooking, lots of vitamin C (which has been shown to strengthen the amniotic membranes anyway), and even using grape seed extract if signs/symptoms indicate an episode of infection.

Hope you can carry a healthy term pregnancy. Many prayers!

NaturalCatholicMama

I would definitely double-/triple-check this doctor's advice. What is the bacterial infection in question? Most can be easily treated with remedies ranging from the completely natural (increased probiotics (like natural yogurt) or garlic consumption) to the medical (prophylactic antibiotics - often used with Group B Strep, for example). It has also been found that semen has antibacterial properties.

Previous posters are correct that semen is extremely valuable in helping labor begin naturally at term. In fact, if a woman is to be induced, she is given a prostaglandin (from the PROSTAte GLAND) suppository - made from horse semen, if I recall correctly. Which is the more desirable method?

Lastly, I would definitely question the suggestion of condoms, as doctors like to throw BC pills and condoms at any malady they can. Rarely is it the best, or even a decent, option. Demand to know the alternatives!

NaturalCatholicMama

Forgot to add that condoms themselves are a means of introducing all manner of bacteria.

Sharon

If I were you I would go to the website of NaPro Technology and ask one of the doctors there for their advice.

http://www.fertilitycare.org/nptech.html

Rafael

Out of respect for the new life growing in the womb, abstinence during pregnancy is very reasonable. It seems too many Catholics have fallen into modernism.

Eric

"For the spouses to truly be united in marital congress that is open to procreation, at least some insemination must occur. Without insemination, one does not have a completed marital act."

This just makes no sense to me.

Insemination is proper to the procreative aspect of intercourse. In pregnancy, there is no possibility of a procreative aspect. Or, if you would, the procreative aspect is already in a state of continual satisfaction, given the wife's pregnancy.

How much more procreative can you be, than pregnant?

The condom couldn't possibly detract from the procreative function of the act, because the act has been denuded of its procreative aspect by pregancy.

It seems to me that if the procreative aspect must be present, then sex during pregnancy must be illicit. But, that's not the case.

I'm curious, Mr. Akin, if your conclusion is a matter of deduction, or if there are any official Church teachings on sex while pregnant?

Some Day

OK. I am bored already with these modern, hippy do whatever you want ideas. But since this blog is not reaching to conclusion, and most importantly its doing no good to anybody's soul, then just cut it. I am the famous Anon#1. And I am not a girl as someone said. Any clarifications I am glad to explain if you ask. I didn't want to put by blog name because I am not one who has first hand experience, and never will, as I intend to become a priest, God willing. So in essence, I cannot be one to know, well by personal experience. But on morals I can speak about. So any questions, no problem.
God Bless, and I mean no offense to anyone, I only seek the best for the souls.

Rafael

Good analysis by Eric. You would have to conclude that Sex during pregnancy is illicit.

Eric

But Rafael, isn't the procreative aspect satisfied by the pregnancy?

Some Day

But not as a result of the act.

Francis DS

"Remember, sex has two purposes, not just one, unitive and procreative, and even where the procreative purpose is moot "

Eric - Nice observation. I think I agree.

Would you be willing to apply this same position during periods of infertility? Is using a condom acceptable during those times?

Francis DS

Correction. Below is Eric's quote that I wished to quote:

"The condom couldn't possibly detract from the procreative function of the act, because the act has been denuded of its procreative aspect by pregancy."

Honora

Jimmy, is someone out there making up this question?

Of course it's not wrong to use a condom if au naturel poses a threat to that baby-- and hopefully any priest worth his salt would say so. Put a pregnant woman on meds to alleviate a risk of infection?? Are you serious, people? Hopefully, any doctor worth his diplomas would refuse such an assinine request. Are we to think that fulfilling the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law is more important than a pre-born baby's health??

I am presuming most of those who posted here were not ever enormous with child, else they'd know one isn't overly concerned about psychic wounding or going blind from a wee abstinence OR a wee condom during pregnancy.

Marriage is a lifelong partnership entered into by two, witnessed by the community, blessed/sacramentalized by the Lord via His persona Christi, BUT.. it is between those two. They decide together, as best they can. It is their vocation, they are not slaves.

Honora

PS My son was born nearly 6 wks prematurely, at 5 lbs. 4 oz. We nearly lost him. Did I make that mistake of late-pregnancy intimacy again?

Not a chance. After a certain point in pregnancy, it was cold shower time.. we can all abstain (sacrifice) for the greater good of a new Creation of His.

Scott W

Of course it's not wrong to use a condom if au naturel poses a threat to that baby-- and hopefully any priest worth his salt would say so.

Since absitnence is possible and morally acceptable, abstinence must be used if there are risks. You as much say so in your PS.

Put a pregnant woman on meds to alleviate a risk of infection?? Are you serious, people? Hopefully, any doctor worth his diplomas would refuse such an assinine request.

Any doctor worth his salt should be sympathetic to the needs of the patient, including moral concerns. Just saying it is asinine does not make it so.

Are we to think that fulfilling the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law is more important than a pre-born baby's health??

Practicing abstinence makes this a non-starter.

I am presuming most of those who posted here were not ever enormous with child, else they'd know one isn't overly concerned about psychic wounding or going blind from a wee abstinence OR a wee condom during pregnancy.

Lack of direct experience in pregnancy no more invalidates the ability to use correct moral reasoning than not having murdered anyone disqualifies me from sitting on a jury of a murder trial.

Marriage is a lifelong partnership entered into by two, witnessed by the community, blessed/sacramentalized by the Lord via His persona Christi, BUT.. it is between those two. They decide together, as best they can. It is their vocation, they are not slaves.

Correction, marriage has three--husband, spouse and God. Using condoms is objectively wrong and nothing in the arguments above overthrow that.

scott w.

Arrrg. Forgot to close my italics tag. That'll learn me to use the preview button. :)

italics off

karal

Many are forgetting that the conjugal act is a renewal of the SACRAMENT of marriage - you are recipients of sanctifying grace when uniting yourselves to one another. The conjugal act is a "sign or symbol" of the ecstatic union of the soul with God... read some of Teresa of Avila's advice to her brother who felt arousal during ecstasy...

Think of the SAFETY of the child vs the union of the spouses. Which is more grave? Forget the condom altogether as a perforated condom is the only acceptable option & this would risk infection anyway, as has been said, the condom itself is an infection risk.

God bless.

Paul

Thank God you are going to be celibate your whole life Anon#1.

Rosemarie

+J.M.J+

>>>Any doctor worth his salt should be sympathetic to the needs of the patient, including moral concerns. Just saying it is asinine does not make it so.

I think Honora is referring to the fact that many meds are harmful to the developing baby, and so contraindicated by pregnancy. That's why she says it is "asinine" to put a pregnant woman on meds to alleviate a risk of infection.

In Jesu et Maria,

momof6

Excellent analysis, Jimmy. Thank you as always.

To provide some real time input to this discussion, I am currently pregnant, and we are not abstaining, since we have no medical reason to do so. That being said, if we had to, we would, as we are more than our genitals.

And let's not forget, there is a lot of "natural" abstaining that goes on during pregnancy. Especially when you are sitting around in 90 degree heat feeling like Two-Ton Tessie.

It is so frustrating to me to hear these types of things from the medical community, however. "Just use a condom" instead of finding a real, medical solution to help this couple.

An old, experienced mom

I agree with the ladies here who advise against the condom use altogether. Unless he is going to be using sterile gloves to open the package and put it on, which would probably ruin the whole romantic atmophere, it will not be germ-free!

Is there an infection that you and your spouse are giving back and forth to each other? If so, he should get to the doctor and start on antibiotics, asap. And if you and your husband are careful to be as hygenic as you can, you would probably be as protected having relations naturally as you would be with a perforated condom.

I would suggest that perhaps you two abstain for a few months, until the baby is at a 'safe' point in his development, such that if your relations trigger early labor, he will have a greater chance of surviving premature birth.

Brother Cadfael

Some Day,

Congratulations and thank you on your chosen vocation! (Or, I should say, on the vocation for which you have been chosen.) It is, of course, not necessary for you to have "personal experience" to speak with expertise on these matters. Sometimes, as in the case of John Paul II's Theology of the Body, one can see things more clearly from the outside looking in.

The only remaining question from this post that I would have for you is one related to your original post. Were you intending to say that sex during pregnancy is "almost unnatural" and possibly sinful, or did you have another meaning in mind?

And knowing your chosen vocation, I would recommend most highly not only Christopher West's book (the Good News About Sex and Marriage), but also his CD series (Naked Without Shame). It is 10 CDs and is about $3.90 including delivery charges. West seems to have his finger on the pulse of John Paul II in this area, and his is the most effective work I've seen in making the Theology of the Body accessible to all. For one who will not be acquiring "personal experience" but who may will be on the front lines counseling those who are, I would regard these resources as invaluable.

Matt McDonald

"For the spouses to truly be united in marital congress that is open to procreation, at least some insemination must occur. Without insemination, one does not have a completed marital act."

This is part of the unitive element of intercourse, so the lack of procreative possibility in pregnancy or infertility does not render condom use licit.

"Many are forgetting that the conjugal act IS a renewal OF the SACRAMENT OF marriage - you are recipients OF sanctifying grace WHEN uniting yourselves TO one another. The conjugal act IS a "sign or symbol" OF the ecstatic UNION OF the soul WITH God... READ SOME OF Teresa OF Avila's advice to her brother who felt arousal during ecstasy..."

This is absolutely and utterly false. The marital act does NOT confer sanctifying grace, while it could build grace as "good" action. The marital act is not part of the sacrament, nor is it necessary for the sacrament. If you wish to assert such things then provide a magisterial citation to support it.

thomas tucker

I agree with Eric. There is no procreative aspect here- the woman is already pregnant. Just as in the case of infertile couples, procreation is not possible, but sexual relations are. In addition, I don't know where the Church has said that the unitive aspect of relations is synonymous with insemination- the unitive aspect is partly emotional/psychological and partly physical but where does it say that insemination is required for this aspect?

Brother Cadfael

Eric,

The marital act itself has certain objective characteristics, and insemination is one of them.

Thus, a contracepted act may be a shadow or an image of the marital act, but it is essentially a different act. That, in my understanding, is why Jimmy is correct when he says:

"For the spouses to truly be united in marital congress that is open to procreation, at least some insemination must occur. Without insemination, one does not have a completed marital act."

You said that "[i]nsemination is proper to the procreative aspect of intercourse." Technically, insemination is proper to the act of intercourse, not simply to an aspect of it.

The right question at the outset is whether or not a contracepted act is, in fact, a marital act. The seemingly mundane answer is that no, it is not, because it is missing one of the objective criteria for the marital act.

During pregnancy (or any other infertile time), the act itself remains a procreative act, whether or not the couple has any procreative intentions.

Brother Cadfael

"I don't know where the Church has said that the unitive aspect of relations is synonymous with insemination- the unitive aspect is partly emotional/psychological and partly physical but where does it say that insemination is required for this aspect?"

No one, to my knowledge, has said that the unitive aspect is synonymous with insemination. I believe you need to be asking a different question. Before you can analyze the different aspects of an act, you have to figure out what the act itself is.

A marital act is substantially and essentially different from a contracepted act due to the fact that one of the objective criteria of the act is missing.

thomas tucker

How is an act "open to procreation" if procreation is impossible?

thomas tucker

BTW, there are certain conditions in which insemination is impossible ( retrograde ejacualtion, after orchiectomy, etc.) but the marital act is still licit and unitive even though it is not procreative.

Brother Cadfael

Consider the act itself and not simply when it is used.

To use a poor analogy, a golf swing is only known as a golf swing because it is used to play golf. If the game of golf did not exist, grabbing a stick and swinging it would constitute a golf swing. Now a golf swing is still a golf swing whether or not their is a ball sitting in front of me. It still has all the objective characteristics of a golf swing, despite the fact that I know I will not be hitting a golf ball (which is probably a very good thing). The act itself is meant to be used to hit the golf ball, but it is still a golf swing when the golf ball is not present.

Brother Cadfael

It appears I have made a poor analogy even worse with a glaring typo:

It should read "If the game of golf did not exist, grabbing a stick and swinging it would NOT constitute a golf swing."

Perhaps I should have just hit the delete button!

thomas tucker

In your analagy, what is the marital-sexual counterpart to hitting the golf ball, and why? Is it coitus, ejacualtion, insemination, acheiving pregnancy, or something else?

Brother Cadfael

Good question. The analogy begins limping immediately because the golf swing has a single purpose -- hitting the golf ball -- and the marital act has a twofold purpose -- the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. (See CCC 2363.)

Thus, I believe that in my analogy, the counterpart to hitting the golf ball would be the union of the spouses and/or the achievement of pregnancy.

thomas tucker

Well, going back to the original question, since pregnancy has already been achieved and is not possible to achieve further, and union still takes place (unless you define union very narrowly as insemination) then it would seem to be licit for the couple in question to use a condom.

Inocencio

thomas tucker,

How can union take place when a barrier is between husband and wife?

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Brother Cadfael

There is no marital act -- therefore it would not be licit for the couple in question to use a condom.

Union is not defined as insemination. Insemination is one of the objective characteristics of the marital act. The marital act has union and procreation as its two ultimate ends.

Union can occur without the marital act, much like procreation can. The act is not defined by the presence (or lack thereof) of one or both of its ends.

thomas tucker

Ah, sorry to be obtuse, but here's where I lose you.
What defines the marital act then?
Yes, insemination may sometimes be a characteristic, but sometimes it is not ( as in the examples I mentioned above.)It apparently is not a sine qua non unless you want to say that there is no marital act when the male cannot ejaculate. Do you mean to say that?

Brother Cadfael

Thomas Tucker,

I do not in the least regard you as obtuse, and on the contrary, I find your questions quite challenging. I am not familiar with the examples you cite, and am not at all certain how they would be regarded.

Regarding impotency, Canon 1084 does state that "[a]ntecedent and perpetual impotence to have intercourse, whether on the part of the man or the woman, whether absolute or relative, nullifies marriage by its very nature." "Sterility," on the other hand, "neither prohibits nor nullifies marriage . . . ."

These provisions do not directly answer your question, but do they at least suggest that no marital act takes place when either party is impotent?

In the meantime, I will try to locate a suitable definition of marital act for you. I do not have a complete one at hand.

thomas tucker

Yes, they do, and I take that to mean that penetration is required for the marital act. But insemination??

Some Day

See, I will research some more on natural marital acts during pregnancy, but I am inclined it is an unnatural act, as the end of marriage is not a non-sinful way to have sex. It is to procreate and sanctify themselves together and then their children. But since the procreative aspect is already fulfilled, there is no point of doing so. But then I know that it is a right of a marriage to have relations even when they are infertile. I also gather from unintelligent nature, animals, that even their instinct is to not mate during pregnancy. I don't want to compare mothers and animals, but sex is an act of the flesh, ergo more in the animal instinct of humans, as in a way we are rational animals (yes I know its a low way to look at people, but for the purpose I will use it.) But as for condoms, preforated or otherwise, that is completely unnatural, as Adam didn't have a pack when created, so that is obvious. No arguement for that. The rest, I'll look it up more closely.
God Bless You All (and your babies)

Stickey Wicket

"Without insemination, one does not have a completed marital act."

Without the possibility of pregnancy, one does not have a completed marriage act. If the sperm cannot cause a pregnancy, then the marriage act is not open to the possibility of pregnancy as is the case when the woman is already pregnant, or in the infertile period of the monthly cycle, or past the age of menopause. AND LOVE IS NOT SEMEN AND SEMEN IS NOT LOVE!!!!!!!!!

This whole discussion shows just how incoherent and misguided the official teachings on birth control and natural family planning really are. It's just another example of how unfortunate it is that Ratzinger became pope. Now they won't officially allow birth control for years and years to come.


Louise


The "marriage act" is essential for the sacrament to be valid, I believe. The vows are the spoken part, and the marriage act is the physical part. (similar to the spoken words of baptism, and the water) A marriage is not complete until it has been consummated. That's why those who are unable to complete the act are unable to marry.

And I don't know if it confers "sanctifying" grace (a point that was disputed earlier) but certainly it confers some grace. It is the renewal of the sacrament.

We receive the sacrament of the Eucharist regularly. The renewal of this sacrament of marriage is just grace on a smaller scale.

Louise


In response to Thomas Tucker, I was also wondering: might there be there a distinction between "not having insemination" and "blocking insemination"?

Because we can certainly draw a moral distinction between an individual marriage act where the man somehow just never ejactulates and eventually gives up, and a marriage act that ends in "withdrawal" so as to prevent insemination. (or condom use, they are about the same)

The first is unintentional (and I don't know if it counts as a completed marriage act or not, but it is not immoral because it was not intended) and the second is intentional and clearly prohibited.

Jason

Just reading through the comments on this post, one cannot miss the absolute mess we have in the Church in terms of clear teaching and clear catechesis on the sacrament of marriage, teaching on contraceptives, and the sacred nature and value of sex.
Consider too that the posts here are all from Catholics who are actually interested in knowing their faith. Imagine this same conversation among those uninterested and how much less they must have to offer in terms of their own understanding.
Oy

Some Day

Stickey,
get out of here with "how unfortunate it is that Ratzinger became pope."
Even if it was Alexander VI I would still have fidelity to the Pope. And you hate Benedict XVI for his good things. Get outta here with that.

Louise,
The marital act is not the sensible act that validates a marriage. You can get married and vow to not have relations. Mary and Joseph did, and it was a marriage. But I am not sure what makes the Sacrament of Marriage valid. I think presence is the physical aspect. Just like in Confession, it is only valid with proximity, as in not over a phone. But nice guess.

Rafael

In response to Eric, the procreative aspect is not present because of the pregnancy, therefore the sex would be illicit. The act is unitive, and procrative. Since, the procreative aspect is not there because of the pregnancy, you would have to wait until after the pregnancy, when the procreative aspect is present again.

Rafael

The condom debate is unbelieveable. Condoms are never morally accepted under any circumstances. There are only two options: Marital congress or total abstinence.

Brother Cadfael

As I understand canon law (caveat: a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing), a valid but non-consumated marriage can be invalidated by Rome for good cause. Thus, the consumation would not validate the marriage, per se, but would operate to make the marriage indissoluble.

And Stickey: "Now they won't officially allow birth control for years and years to come." Technically, you may be correct, since it will be "years and years" until the end of time. The Magisterium has admitted that it has no authority to allow birth control, officially or unofficially, and infallible teachings of the Church do not change.

Rafael

It just seems to me that it is common sense that when your wife is pregnant, she is pregnant with child, so you should abstain. The argument that that is unreasonable is ridiculous. What abou the years of abstinence before marriage?

Brother Cadfael

Rafael,

Your argument is reasonable if, and only if, procreation is the only end or purpose of marital relations. It is not.

Abstinence outside of marriage has little to do with the subject, because such abstinence has an entirely different purpose (ie, it is not directed to either the unity of the spouses or the procreation of children, the two purposes, or ends, of marital relations).

thomas tucker

Stickey and Jason- this is all theological reflection and discussion. If you want to be anti-intellectual, go ahead. But somewhere else please.
Rafael- the question of condom usage is still debated by theologians so I don't think it's quite as black-and-white as you want to make it ( see articls about the debate over condom usage in AIDS patients.) Along those lines, I have read that the Vatican has allowed post-coital contraceptives in rape victims because it is not a marital act. FInally, the prohibition against contraceptives IN MARRIAGE is not because it is unnatural but because it severs the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage.

PUES QUE

so you're argueing that "oh I'm married so I can have sex all day if I please."
Common, sanctify your marriage.

Some Day

...have read that the Vatican has allowed post-coital contraceptives in rape victims because it is not a marital act...

NO, NO, NO, that Vatican has and will never allow that. That is an abortion. After conception.
Please

Jason

Hey Tucker, it isn't intellectual conversation, it is the ramblings of the confused masses with some intellegent comments mixed in. If you wish to participate in the intelligent portion of the conversation, you can start by not calling folks 'anti-intellectual'.

thomas tucker

You know what, Jason? You are right. I apologize.

thomas tucker

SOme Day- read this article. I have read this in other places too. There is a lot of theological speculation about these matters- they aren't so simplistic. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/03/23/health/main608255.shtml

Some Day

It is not as complex. What is, is that how there Princes of the Church that would say things contrary to the Church. Condoms are bad no matter how you put it. If they say it to a prostitute, its like saying to a terrorist, "oh if you are going to kill him, do it quick."The evil is still achieved. As for AIDS in marriage, well abstinence is the only way to go.

Inocencio

thomas tucker,

FInally, the prohibition against contraceptives IN MARRIAGE is not because it is unnatural but because it severs the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage.

Humanae Vitae states:

The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches as absolutely required that in any use whatever of marriage there must be no impairment of its natural capacity to procreate human life.

At least that seems to say that part of the prohibition against contraception is the unnatural impairment of the marital act's natural capacity.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Stickey Wicket

"The Magisterium has admitted that it has no authority to allow birth control, officially or unofficially, and infallible teachings of the Church do not change."

It is not infallible, they have changed other things in the past that were just as firmly held, and they will almost certainly change it some time in the forseeable future. It just takes time.

Brother Cadfael

Thomas Tucker,

Thanks for the link. I particularly got a chuckle out of the following quote:

"The U.N. agency said that condoms are 90 percent effective when used correctly and that the other 10 percent fail because they are used incorrectly."

When did Yogi Berra start working for the U.N.?

Two cautions on the article in general, though.

The first, obviously enough, is that the MSM comes at this with an agenda, and does not even pretend to acknowledge some of the subtleties of Catholic moral theology. They will go to great lengths to promote controversy in this regard where none genuinely exists, and they are positively giddy over the thought that the Vatican might (at least in their wildest dreams) approve of condoms in some circumstances at some time in the future.

The second is that the example you cite is from Charles Curran, who has been trying to spread his notion that dissent is good for the Church and permissible for years now.

Bottom line, I would not consider something coming from Curran through CBS on a matter of Catholic moral theology to be even the least bit reliable.

Some Day

Like what Stick?
Please stop writing if you want to be the Pope and make the Church like a store-front Protestant.

Brother Cadfael

Innocencio,

With all due respect, you have added the word "unnatural" to your summation of humane vitae.

Brother Cadfael

Stickey:

"It is not infallible, they have changed other things in the past that were just as firmly held, and they will almost certainly change it some time in the forseeable future. It just takes time."

You are simply and verifiably incorrect in this assertion. And while I can't help but believe this is futile, I will challenge you to provide a single example.

Some Day

I second that challange.

Some Day

In fact Stickey, you shouldn't even write here anymore.

Stickey Wicket

"I will challenge you to provide a single example."

Usury, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, slavery, and torture. And what about the Syllabus of Errors? Was that infallible?

Susan Peterson

There is a lot of confusion in this thread. I wish Jimmy would jump in and do some clarifying.

Here are the opinions which have been presented here

1. Married couples shouldn't have intercourse during pregnancy at all. Why not...."out of respect for the child" "because there's a baby there" "because she is already pregnant so there is no reason to have sex" etc. Pretty much this person is saying, while denying, that sex is something essentially unclean but the uncleanness can be excused or ameliorated under certain circumstances, such as when the married partners intend a pregnancy. This is not the teaching of the church, although one must admit that there were certainly strains of this attitude in the Christian tradition. Current Catholic teaching is that sex during pregnancy and for infertile couples and after menopause, where any natural infertility is not being artifically blocked but there is a natural lack of fertility, still fulfills the unitive purpose (and the relief of concupisence) purpose of marriage and is not only permitted, but a good thing.

2. Position two accepts the above. But it holds that the "unitive" purpose of marriage is not just about love, affection, emotions, feelings of togetherness and interdependence, but is about the physical union of the man and the woman, and for this union to be complete there has to be physical contact between the penis and the vagina, and sperm has to be deposited in the vagina. (There is a question about some medical conditions which cause sperm not to be deposited even though no barrier is used. This question does not appear to have been addressed satisfactorily by those who hold this view.) This is the point of view of traditional moral theology.
This is the point of view from which Jimmy answered the question.

3. Then there is the point of view taken here by Thomas Tucker. He sees semen as necessary for the procreative aspect of marriage but not for the unitive. This is because he is thinking of unitive more in a psychological sense. This way of thinking would, for instance, possibly allow the use of condoms when one partner has AIDS...especially if one partner was already infertile so that there was no question of a contraceptive use of the condom. I am not sure if this way of addressing the issue has been conclusively found to be unorthodox. However, I would want to ask if the emotional union doesn't rest on the physical union, and if the presence of some latex between them doesn't actually affect the psychological meaning of the act as well. That said, personally I would say that if it were really true that the use of a condom would help prevent the transmission of a bacterial infection which could cause premature labor (which apparently has not been conclusively or even very suggestively demonstrated) it would be reasonable to consider this licit. I think one could find moral theologians generally obedient to the magisterium who would agree with this. However, what Jimmy said is still the more traditional position.

4. Then there are a few commentors above who took advantage of the fact that there is confusion and disagreement about these issues here to reject totally the teaching of the church in these matters. I think we can safely ignore them.

By the way, I think I have heard it said that marital intercourse is a means of grace for married couples....but I don't know where I heard it or what the status of that is. Christopher West certainly talks about it as the ratification or restatement of the marriage covenant, and as such, a holy act.

Susan Peterson

Rafael

Brother cadfael in response, I disagree. I didn't say procreation is the only aspect in marital relationss. It is BOTH procreative and unitive. Relations during pregnancy is illicit because only the unitive aspect is present. The procreative aspect is not available because of the pregnancy. Marital act has to have BOTH the procreative and unitive aspect at ALL times in every act. The marital embrace cannot have just a procreative aspect by itself or just the unitive aspect by itself. You are saying marital relations during pregnancy is ok even though it is only unitive.

thomas tucker

Well- those issue have all been handled, and that is getting far afield from the question at hand.
Brother- I agree with you regarding Curran and regarding the mainstream media, but I have read other articles about the "nuns in Africa allowed to use contraceptives" situation unrelated to him. My understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) is that artificial contraception is prohibited in the marital union, not necessarily other sexual unions.

Brother Cadfael

Stickey,

You cite 5 or 6 examples. We can certainly deal with them all, but one at a time will probably be best. Let's start with torture, unless you would like to start with a different one.

What is the infallible teaching on torture that you think has changed?

Inocencio

Brother Cadfael,

Since Humanae Vitae is talking about artifical contraception is that somehow natural?

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Brother Cadfael

Rafael,

I didn't say that you said procreation is the only aspect in marital relations. I said that your argument is only reasonable if procreation is the only end or purpose of marital relations. I agree with you that the premise that would make your argument reasonable is false.

To follow your logic, sexual intercourse within a marriage would be disallowed whenever there was no chance of procreation. (If you think there is another logical end to your argument, I'd love to hear it.) That is most certainly and definitely wrong (ie, it is not what the Church teaches).

The error you are making is in failing to distinguish between the act itself and the purposes for which the act is taken. Catholic moral theology does clearly distinguish between the two.

Brother Cadfael

Inocencio,

Is artificial contraception somehow natural? I don't see any way that it could be. Why do you ask?

Rafael

Thomas tucker, It doesn't matter how many theologians debate the condom issue. The Magisterium has spoken and said that all condom use is immoral. Even in a marriage when a spouse has AIDS. The soultion would have to be abstinence. The Church has not changed its position on condom use and AIDS. It doesn't matter what theologians say or how many PHD's they have. They cannot proclaim truth. Only the magisterium can.

Susan Peterson

And the magisterium has not yet spoken to clarify this issue.
SFP

Rafael

Thomas Tucker, The pill is different from the condom. The pill can be taken only for medicine. If there is a medicinal value, the pill can taken only for that purpose. You say that the pill is given to rape victims in hospitals. It is used in rare circumstances. I'm not an expert, but i believe it only given if there has been no implantation. Beyond a certain point, the pill cannot be admisnisted to a rape victim I believe.

Rafael

Susan Peterson- The Magisterium has spoken on Condom use in Humane Vitae. It has not changed its position and it will not no matter what a theologian or cardinal says.

Stickey Wicket

"you shouldn't even write here anymore"

Some Day, unless you are a moderator for this forum, I don't think you should attempt to be the judge of that. I don't know how it works - it may be the case that Jimmy regularly deletes comments that he finds to be innapropriate and in that case, he may delete mine. But I think you should leave decisions like that to the people who are in charge of this blog.

"Let's start with torture, unless you would like to start with a different one.

What is the infallible teaching on torture that you think has changed?"


Actually, I think usury is better to start with. As far as I know, there was nothing that made the papal bulls condeming usury any different from the ones that condemned artificial birth control which I believe were Casti Connubi and Humanae Vitae as well as the ones issued by Pope John Paul. I believe these were all teaching documents of a doctrinal nature. And Humanae Vitae was declared to be not infallible if I remember correctly. In addition, the papal bulls against usury were backed up with more scriptural support than the papal encyclicals that banned artificial birth control. So I think it's the same for both birth control and usury.

Rafael

Sticky wicket, you are confused about infallibility. Infallibility comes from either directly from the Pope or through Church tradition, such as dogma and doctrine. The Popes have spoken infallible only twice, in the immaculate conception and assumption. Humanae Vitae is infallable because it restates doctrine and the 2,000 year teaching against contraception. Most things are infallible because of dogma and doctrine. Birth control falls under doctrine, just like abortion.

Stickey Wicket

"Humanae Vitae is infallable because it restates doctrine and the 2,000 year teaching against contraception. Most things are infallible because of dogma and doctrine."

But I think that the natural law arguments about not separating the unitive from the procreative functions are more recent than 2,000 years old. Before there may have been teachings that sex itself was sinful because if was a part of original sin. So if birth control teachings are infallible, there would have to be some way of deciding why they are matters of doctrine, but the others are not.

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