Dear Father:

Since it is a subject much disputed by self-styled "freed-up" people in the world, I think that it would be better for me to know what exactly is and is not allowed in regard to marital sexual activity. Obviously, extramarital activity in any form is immoral, but I am a bit fuzzy on what is permitted within marriage. I read a letter from someone inquiring about oral sex, which made me wonder. I would appreciate whatever information you can give me on the subject as well as any references.

Omnipotens Deus te benedicat,

Donald Patrick Goodman III


Dear Donald,

Thanks for the question. It does trouble a lot of people. The basic guidelines are in the Catechism (sections on the sixth and ninth commandments). In marriage virtually any type of foreplay would be morally permissable as long as it is mutually agreed upon and leads to integral sexual expression (i.e. ejaculation within the vagina). The Holy Father has a number of statements on the husband's duty in marriage to strive to bring satisfaction to his wife.* It is a bit too complicated to go into here, but very worth reading.

God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom


*I have subsequently received an email from a Marine arguing that a husband is "permitted to stimulate his wife to orgasm after the conjugal act has already reached its end for him in the normal and moral way, namely ejaculation in the vagina." He cites respected moral theologians who say it is not just permissible, but almost a duty.

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