June 8, 2002
Oral Sex in Marriage
"Now, Lord, You know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose." Tobit 8:7
Many Christian marriages are breaking up, as if their unity in Christ was no more binding than the attachments of a secular marriage. Moreover, many Christian marriages are struggling to survive. One practice that contributes to the weakening of marriages is oral sex as part of foreplay in sexual relations. By oral sex, I am referring to oral-genital contact between spouses. There is no authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church permitting or forbidding oral sex as part of foreplay preceding normal marital sexual relations. Pope Pius XII taught: "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" quoted in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2362). The question is: "Is oral sex as foreplay 'within the limits of just moderation'?" There are reasons to maintain that it is not and is therefore damaging to true marital love.
First, oral sex is not natural. It is contrary to natural law. If oral sex is OK, then are anal sex or nasal sex also OK? There must be some natural parameters to sexual expression. Otherwise, we have little reason not to permit homosexual activity or even sex between humans and animals. Something must be natural, and therefore other things unnatural.
Second, I have been asked to counsel over a hundred married couples about oral sex as foreplay. After some time of discernment, not one has maintained that oral sex was a true expression of love. The motivation behind oral sex is often lust. The spouse is not the focus of the sexual foreplay; rather, sexual stimulation is the focus. It could almost be said that one spouse is having sex with sex rather than with the other spouse. This focus on sex rather than on the spouse is a poison to love and marriage.
Pray about this: "A man will reap only what he sows. If he sows in the field of the flesh, he will reap a harvest of corruption; but if his seed-ground is the Spirit, he will reap everlasting life" (Gal 6:7-8).
Nihil obstat: Rev. Robert J. Buschmiller, February 1, 1996
Imprimatur: Most Rev. Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 5, 1996