Sex during monthly period?

While reading an apologetics article about the three categories of laws in the Old Testament (moral, judicial and ceremonial) I noticed that the forbidding of sexual intercourse during a woman’s period is mentioned in the context of obvious moral laws against homosexuality, incest and bestiality (Lev. 18:19 & 20:18). That seems pretty clearly to label it (sex during menstruation) as a mortal sin.

As far as I know (which may not be very far) the Catholic Church does not forbid sex for married couples during a wife’s period, and Natural Family Planning, which requires sex only during infertile periods to avoid pregnancy, almost seems to *encourage *this as it is a naturally infertile time. What is the Catholic Church’s rationale for her rules regarding sex during the monthly period, and how would the condemnation of this in Leviticus 18 and 20 not be placed on the list of universal moral laws–which carry over from Judaism into Christianity–if it is listed amongst other sins which clearly are mortal? Why isn’t sex during the monthly period a grievous sin?

Another important note, and one which supporters of homosexual tolerance in the Church often raise, is that if sex during menstruation is listed with incest and yet is not a mortal sin where the latter most clearly is, then the same argument can be used for homosexuality since it is mentioned in the same place.

Any answers appreciated!

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Sex between unmarried straight couples is also a mortal sin. So the argument being put forward for homosexual sex doesn’t hold anyway.

Christ came to fulfill the Old Covenant.
The New Covenant completes and goes beyond the laws of Moses.
For example, Moses had allowed divorce, but Christ says that it is now unaceptable. The Jews were not allowed to eat unclean meats, but now Christ has made everything clean through himself, and now it is acceptable. Main point is that Christ gave the Church full authority to make decisions regarding issues such as this. The apostles decided that it was not necessary that Christians follow the complete Jewish law for our salvation. So the Church has said that it’s acceptable…and it is. They have full authority to make decisions such as that.
That’s all I got. Hope this helps! :slight_smile:

Ancient Jews were desert people. There’s a connection between pork (and other unclean meats) and desert people, as well as between blood and desert people. Blood is always taboo in such cultures, as are the dead. This is different in our culture. The reasons are most likely to be different from just ceremonial. Dietary rules were not just for the fun of it, so it does look like there was a good reason for no sex in the period. Probably nothing related to family planning and fertility but rather something with health and maybe diseases. Don’t know. And it’s not like women tend to want sex during those days, while in the ancient societies men were quite in a position to demand sex from wives when they wanted. Don’t know what exactly, but there surely was a practical reason.

That is a really nasty indeed. Who in their right mind would want to have sexual relations at this time? It is a very unclean and unhygenic to say the least.

From St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, found on New Advent.

Things Annexed to Marriage and the First Payment of the Marriage Debt.

Whether it is allowable for a menstruous wife to ask for the marriage debt?

Whether a menstruous woman should or may lawfully pay the marriage debt to her husband if he ask for it?

I’m not sure about official Church teaching about having sex during the wife’s period, and I’ve never taken an NFP class but I have read the Billings Ovulation Method book and if I remember right, it says NOT to have sex during the woman’s period if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy because the wife may actually be ovulating and she wouldn’t be able to tell because the fertile mucus would be disguised by the blood. Wow, that was a long sentence. :o

In their right mind? Nobody maybe. In their worldly mind? Well, maybe in the shower… :rolleyes:

Okay that makes sense. I don’t know much about the details of NFP so I was just conjecturing. Thanks for clearing that up.

So it *is *a mortal sin then? A wife may not ask for it, but a husband can? St. Aquinas’ reasoning is often archaic and it definitely shows here, even though his logic is sound. I’m still a little confused; is it or is it not currently a mortal sin, and wouldn’t a wife simply state that it is to her husband if he ‘requests the marriage debt’ during that time? The statement
"If, however, the husband ultimately persists in his request, she must yield to his demand. But it would not be safe for her to make known “Indicare,” as in the commentary on the Sentences; the Leonine edition reads “judicare.”] her disaffection, lest this make her husband entertain a repulsion towards her, unless his prudence may be taken for granted" (Supplementum Tertiae Partis, 64.4) is particularly confusing. Is the husband mortally sinning is this instance, but the wife not?

From the Ask Father Question Box.

Menstruation and the Marital Act

Dear Father,

A previous post indicated that it may be sinful to have marital relations during menstruation.

My wonderful wife allows the marital act to happen any time I want, even during the menses, for all these years.

In confession, Fathers have always said “you do not sin by the marital embrace, even during her period.” What does the Church really say?

Thank you, Father. I will pray for you.


Father replies;

Dear Mark,

Perhaps you misunderstood the post that you say “indicated that it may be sinful to have marital relations during menstruation”. It is not sinful in itself; but it may become sinful, if the wife objects. Some women may not mind; for others it may be an unreasonable request due to the harm or disgust she may

With prayers, Fr. Auman

I am quite sure that the marital act during menstruation is NOT sinful.
As it happens, we have had this same discussion with our Priest, who said pretty much the same thing. In our case, she has some pretty painful menstrual cramps, that the marital act somehow provides some relief for. We both suffered some guilt for that, until Father assured us that there was no problem. Of course, I’m always ready to help out.

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Thanks cargopilot, but Fr. Auman’s answer still doesn’t indicate why it isn’t sinful when it is listed in the OT together with other grievous moral offences? Also, St. Aquinas’ seems to reason that it *is *sinful, but that the wife may *not *persistently object! So which is it?

Granted, but the parts of the Old Law which the Church is exempt from are the *ceremonial *and judicial aspects, which were specific to the Jews and ultimately fulfilled in Christ; but the *moral *parts of the Law are eternal, still upheld (and even enhanced) in the Church. Since the fullness of God’s Revelation was given to us in the time of the Apostles, there is always a foundation in Scripture or Tradition on which the Church bases her current doctrine; so if sex during menstruation is not a mortal sin, what is the rationale?

The wanting to when the wife does not want to or has desire, is what Aquinas seems to point out as sinful. Hence, it seems to indicate that he (Aquinas) then exhorts that the wife should not object always.

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:whistle: Kathy

Okay, it’s disgusting and messy, but I’ve had girlfriends who have liked it, and hey, who am I to argue?


Obviously the point isn’t regarding personal opinion (as that would make morality meaningless), but how the Church judges the moral law as still valid in Christianity. Since sex during menstruation just so happens to be conspicuously mentioned in the Mosaic Law among other grievous *moral *violations such as incest, homosexuality, and bestiality (and even pagan child sacrifice) doesn’t that also make it a mortal sin, an eternal moral precept? What is the Magisterium’s official doctrine and reasoning on this subject?

Wow, you sure seem to get into some personal topics with your friends, and they discus their intimate life like that? Poor husband. Well, maybe us guys are different. Maybe that’s why I trust only one female friend with GENERAL life things, nothing personal, and I trust only ONE male friend. To much yapping is not good.

Christ came to fulfill the law. That is precisely why as Christians we do not have to follow the old dietary laws and ritual cleanliness of the Jews. Just like it is not mandatory for Christian men to be circumcised (but it is still a requirement for Jews). So if a menstruating woman is no longer considered unclean, then relations during this time would also no longer be prohibited. For example, we do not have to perform the ritual baths and observe a Kosher diet that Orthodox Jews still do. Homosexuality, incest, etc. are still sinful and were recognized as such by the early Christians.

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Amen. Christ came to perfect the law of God.

how about in the bathtub? everybody gets clean and you make a lot of soapsuds…

couldn’t resist.

Got to jump in. I don’t think anyone is making a connection here.

I think that homosexuals may be offended that the Church recognises that a husband can have intercourse with a menstruating wife (oh dear!) but homosexual sex remains a sin.

Menstruation is a natural and normal biological occurrence in fertile women. This is nothing to be ashamed of and can never be compared to homosexual intercourse. Menstrual Basics
When I was a girl I could hardly wait to start and I haven’t changed my attitude since! I never mind menstruation. I guess many men don’t mind either or they would never get married!

Intercourse of marrieds during menstruation isn’t ‘dirty’ or sinful but the act of homosexual intercourse is.

Neithan? Is this what you are hedging about? Tell me if I am wrong? I have been know to be wrong many a times.

Here is the answer again in black & white.

Intercourse of marrieds during menstruation isn’t ‘dirty’ or sinful but the act of homosexual intercourse is.