“The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude.” has intended for them. *** At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2362)

In a previous post I attempted to explain Saint John Paul II’s wonderful “theology of the body” in a very concise manner. See


However, in this post I feel compelled to point out a misuse of the theology of the body that never would have been sanctioned by Pope John Paul II. Hopefully, those theologians who were proposing illicit methods of foreplay between husband and wife – under the guise of the theology of the body – have stopped discussing such matters and have repented for having done so. If this is true, I thank them for their courage and faithfulness.

There have been a number of discussions on the internet in recent years (at Catholic websites), flowing apparently from the publication of books and tapes on the theology of the body, as to whether sodomy as foreplay to natural intercourse between husband and wife is permissible, and some theologians have maintained it is (although some are beginning to caution that the practice is nevertheless not sanitary and could be emotionally debasing). The author of this note is personally saddened that a Catholic man could even conceive of sodomizing his wife under any circumstances. Two of the greatest moral theologians in the Catholic Church, both of whom are Saints and Doctors of the Church, have expressed the opposite opinion, namely, that such conduct is mortally sinful.

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  1. Thomas, you might be interested in my book The Catholic Marriage Bed, which discusses this same topic. The book takes the point of view of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, condemning all unnatural acts, even in marriage.


      1. If you were to suddenly take your sandwich and start smushing it in your ear, well, there might be some objective consensus that something is wrong…an example from Chesterton or was it Lewis??


  2. Thank you! I’ve discovered that there are an insane number of Catholics out there who sincerely think that as long as you’re married, you can engage in any kind of sicko sexual activity you want, and it’s morally all right. Where do they even get this idea? Saint John Paul II must be turning in his grave…


  3. So are we saying that kissing of the breasts, clitoris, penis, et al, with or without coming to climax, is mortally sinful as ‘other unnatural actions’?

    In the other areas of God’s morality, the intent is central, so if this kissing [as a means of touching?] is to help to bring to sacramental co-climaxing unity, why is this kissing immoral or unnatural? I missed this explanation, sorry. The discussion seems to have changed from ‘the place’ of consummation to the ‘means of pleasure stimulations’, either with or without release. These are two different moral realities. What is the moral, biblical reason, that makes kissing (oral gift-faculty) unnatural with or without climax, versus place and/or climax??

    I missed this connection in the discussion as well: it seemed to go from anal contact as the other circumstances and then became both oral and anal in the next paragraph? Why could the other circumstances have simply referred to the anal and not the kissing – or perhaps others, but without kissing?

    I could not find the ‘list’ indicated in this line: St. Thomas Aquinas, in discussing “the sin against nature” (under which heading he understands the whole ensemble of deviant acts listed near the beginning of my previous paragraph) – help please and thank you!



    1. The clear conclusion from the article is that both consummated and unconsummated oral and anal sex between husband and wife
      is mortally sinful. If the Church were to forbid kissing and the touching of breasts as foreplay then I
      would probably become a Methodist! As to the other things you mention, I would avoid foreplay that attempts to mimic
      coitus, and generally would keep with the spirit of CCC 2362. There’s plenty of pleasure here without the sin!


  4. I think that those who are describing acts between married couples pre-intercourse ( foreplay ) are mistaken in their views of oral and anal stimulation.
    The mouth is simply the beginning of the gastrointestinal tract and the anus is the end of the gastrointestinal tract. There is nothing evil or unchaste regarding these parts of the body.
    Perhaps people may find the idea distasteful, but as a former RN who dealt with intake and output, fluids and foods, of the body of a patient – never did we do anything to make a person feel embarrassed about any part of their body.

    I cannot think that this is an ” infallible ” teaching. Associating anal stimulation with evil is, in my opinion, ridiculous. I think it stems from its association with homosexuality. That is something different entirely.

    Every part of our body is beautiful. We are made in the image and likeness of God.


    1. Clearly every part of the body is good and holy, so holy that it – the body – will be raised up on the last day. But each part of the body
      must be used according to its intended purpose, so I don’t think you would put your peanut butter and jelly
      sandwich in your ear, and if you did people would not be wrong in suggesting something is wrong! As C.S. Lewis once wrote: ““If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once. But, of course, when people say, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,’ they may mean ‘the state into which the sexual instinct has now got is nothing to be ashamed of’. If they mean that, I think they are wrong. I think it is everything to be ashamed of. There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips.”


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