Foreplay and acceptable sexual practices in marriage

WARNING: THIS MAY BE OFFENSIVE TO SOME, although I am honestly looking for genuine answers here. Kiddies, stay out!

My Catholic friends and I are blunt with each other and we had a refreshing conversation recently on married sex. My friend had stated that any sexual activity in marriage is acceptable as long as the couple finishes with intercourse (in this case I am referring to engaging in sexual foreplay before going onto sex).

This seems ever so slightly suspect to me. I’ve always operated under the assumption that certain things such as masturbation, oral sex, and sodomy were always under all circumstances morally wrong. So to hear that any sexual activity is acceptable as a form of foreplay before sex seems suspect, although at the same time it doesn’t seem too extreme.

Could someone clarify?

Pax Tecum.

You might want to read Gregory Popcak’s Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving if you’re really interested in this topic. It comes highly recommended. Put bluntly, oral and manual stimulation in foreplay is OK as long as the husband climaxes to a procreative end. Of course, married couples should use discretion and stay away from activities that cheapen the act or are emotionally/physically demeaning.

FYI, this seems to be a hot topic over in the moral theology forum. Hope this helps.

While I am somewhat askance of Gregory Popcak, I will agree I have yet to meet a priest, traditional or otherwise, who would state there are certain sexual acts forbidden within Holy Matrimony, like you friend said, if they result with the conjugal act. That being said, in the practice of chastity, it would be best to restrain and be disciplined, especially in cases where the acts are otherwise not permitted. It can indeed make the act vulgar and cheap.

The dividing line, are you making love, or just making lust. If you can always keep these definitions in mind at all times, feel free to do what you want to within the context of the eventual, . Keep to your faith from the get go along the basics as to what you should know along confirmation and you would never even need to ask this type of question again brother.

I’m personally wary of the idea that “too much sexual pleasure” is an affront against chastity. Phooey. Smells too much like the caricature of puritan sex being a ‘necessary evil to make babies.’ The POINT is that sex must always be true to BOTH its functions (unitive and procreative). It can’t be unitive if one party is dominated or demeaned. To me, that rules out the anus as legit at all. The others are going to depend on the people and circumstances.

But I will say this. Orgasm isn’t just pleasure. It’s complex hormonal/emotional experience that serves to bond man and wife together. Good luck having your wife ever experience it if you don’t plan on using anything else besides your penis -ain’t going to happen. Seems to me that God made women and if He made women in such a way that they need more physical play than just penetration to climax then its an uphill battle arguing against him. Just make sure that BOTH functions of sex are respected and that nothing does demeans or dehumanizes the other.

I agree with manualman, just starting off by going all the way isn’t going to do it for her… that, if anything, seems to be kind of demeaning to the woman. I also have an exit-only policy in place for the other thing, so anal is just gross and degrading so that’s out too. Yuck.

Two validly married people.

Here is what is NOT allowed:

Porn or another person involved.


Anything that your partner is unwilling to do

As long as they do not do anything above, and the intent is for tab A to finish in slot B, the rest is up to the couple.

This topic always evokes a lively discussion around here.

I think this is about right…

Ultimately, it’s about embracing both the unitive and procreative purposes of sex. Something that your spouse doesn’t like goes against the unitive purpose. As long as you treat your spouse with love and respect, and are open to life (husband finishes inside his wife), the sex is meeting the only established criteria for moral correctness.

Now, the interesting part is trying to agree on what particular acts can be condoned as loving and respectful. Many reasonable people will disagree on where to draw the line.

I recently found a textbook on marriage morality written in the early 1960’s by John C. Ford SJ. The book carried an Imprimatur.

It’s called “Contemporary Moral Theology, Marriage Questions”

Here’s a bit about the author:

As a member of the Papal Commission on Population, Family, and Birth Rate during the 1960s, Ford was an unyielding defender of the traditional Catholic teaching on birth control that still reigns today.

Chapter 11 discusses various licit and illicit activities. Very good information, and terms that I think for some reason were not taught commonly following Vatican 2 until Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul.

I’m not an expert on Theology of the Body, but what the Pope taught was not neccessarily “New” theology, it was much needed “True” theology that needed to be presented.

Actually I had a Priest ask me once why so many people in the South, he was new to the area, were so hung up on sexual sins or obsessed if something was or wasn’t a sin. I believe my reply, after reading these boards for a while back then, was that it wasn’t just the South. Christopher West also has a good book call the “Good News about Sex and Marraige” which should answer most of your questions. Complete as the Church state but what happens up until that point is pretty open in my understanding.


From the catechism

2362 “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.” Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:

The Creator himself . . . established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment. They accept what the Creator has intended for them. At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation.   

The last sentence is what is hard because we can all have a different opinion of what is within the limits of just moderation.

Anal sex is allowed??? :eek:

If it is done between 2 consenting married people as FOREPLAY ONLY, then no, it is not a sin. (though it is gross)

There was a thread about this very topic a while back ago, and this post by a fellow CAF member pretty much closed the issue:

I have a copy of Fr. Herbert Jone’s “Moral Theology”. This was one of the most common Pre-Vatican II Moral Theology text books.

It is set up as a confessional aid for priests, so it’s indexed by sin or potential sin and describes any mitigating factors and how serious the sin is.

So when someone enters the confessional and confesses something, Father can just look it up and see how serious the sin is

There is a section on sodomy. Jone distingueshes between what is called ‘perfect sodomy’ and 'imperfect sodomy".

“Perfect Sodomy” is when it occurs between two members of the same sex or when the act results in the waste of seminal fluid. It is always gravely sinful.

“Imperfect Sodomy” is when neither of the above conditions are true.

Jone had this to to say about “Imperfect Sodomy”

“it is neither sodomy nor a sin if intercourse is begun in the rectal manner with the intention of completing it in the natural manner” (Jone “Moral Theology” 757)

So if one went into the confession in most of the Western World ( Jone was published in 8 languages), during the 1920’s-1960’s and confessed anal intercourse as a form of foreplay, the priest would either learned that it wasn’t a sin during seminary, or looked it up in Jone’s and send you on your merry way.

I don’t believe there are any authoritative documents on the subject. As a result, different religious figures, theologians, apologists, etc. have different opinions. It seems like the general consensus is “no.” The arguments against this act are generally based on natural law and the dignity of the person.

With no definitive answer, one really can’t say whether or not it is sinful.

Other arguments against this act is that it can cause infections in the female urinary tract, as well as painful fissures, hemorrhoids, and dysfunction of the anus.

I would have thought that this act would be disordered in any case, since the orifice was not designed for any purpose other than the elimination of solid waste from the body. The male organ was not designed to be inserted there, in fact, nothing was meant to be inserted there, which is why one can cause great damage to one’s internal organs by having anal sex.


It HAS been said not be sinful.

If you go to confession and confess having had anal sex as foreplay, the priest would have to tell you there was no sin. This is according to a book called “Moral Theology” that was officially used by priests worldwide in confessionals.

It may be gross, unhealthy, etc etc… but sinful, it is not.

Well the same can be said about the mouth not being made for that… but that doesn’t necessarily make it sinful, and no one here has a problem with it.

As someone else posted, as long as A is inserted into B and the act is both unitive and procreative, a couple is pretty much able to do whatever they want. The Church is wise in knowing that this is a private issue and gives the couple that privacy by not having any sort of “allowed/forbidden bedroom behavior list,” granted the unitive and procreative aspects are met, the rest is up to the couple and it is their own business.

Yes, but the mouth isn’t a processing chute for bodily waste, either. And the structure of the mouth isn’t damaged by oral activities.