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Rachel wrote:
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Hi, guys —

This question is a bit personal, but I don't mind it being used on the web site as I'm sure there are other women who have this question on their mind, but are afraid to ask.

I'm married and my husband and I have a pretty active sexual life, as we are newly weds, but there are quite a few times that I don't find sexual release from intercourse with my husband.
Of course, he does and I enjoy the act, but I don't always receive a sexual release on my end.

I know that self-pleasuring (i.e. masturbation) is a mortal sin and that sex is about what you can give, and not receive, but sometimes this can become very aggravating, especially if it's been a few times and I still don't receive anything on my end.

I've brought this up to my husband once or twice, but all it does is make him feel bad that he cannot fully please me. Sex isn't so important in our relationship that, if we don't have it the right way, we'll break up, but it's also very binding between a couple and it's upsetting him that he can't bring me to a sexually fulfilled end.

So my question is:

  1. If, after sex, a woman has not found her release, is it still considered a sin for her to be sexually pleasured to release?

  2. I know that all acts of sex are to end in an open-to-life way (i.e. vaginal), but is it sinful for the woman to find release after her husband has finished either from him or from herself?

I'm sure this is a very touchy question and it's one I've been struggling with.  I have attempted to find an answer to this question and would really appreciate any feedback.

I'm trying to live my life in accordance with God and the Church and I've come a long way, but this is one issue I struggle with and I don't know what to do.

  • If the answer is Yes, do you have any recommended prayers to help push away temptation so I can take the issue into my own hands . . . figuratively speaking?

Thank you,

Rachel

  { If a woman has not found her sexual release, is it still considered a sin for her to be pleasured? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Rachel —

Although I'm single, let me take a shot at an answer.

First let me commend you and your husband on striving to live as a Christian couple.
You appear to have a mature Catholic attitude on the issue which is to be applauded.

You said:
So my question is:

  1. If, after sex, a woman has not found her release, is it still considered a sin for her to be sexually pleasured to release?

  2. I know that all acts of sex are to end in an open-to-life way (i.e. vaginal), but is it sinful for the woman to find release after her husband has finished either from him or from herself?

I'd be interested in what my colleagues think, because occasionally I get criticized for being too harsh and too much by the book.

I'm wavering between Yes and No but tend to think this is not a sinful act.

  • Yes Justification: Because your release is not part of being open to new life.
  • No Justification: Because the goal of you and your husband copulating in bed is:
    • to bond as husband and wife and
    • to be open to new life.

In order to ensure any nuances aren't being missed, I'd suggest you bring this to a local confessor known for his faithfulness to the Church's teachings.

These [issues/struggles] are all part of our human nature:

  • due to the effects of original sin, and
  • due to the fact that a man was created for woman and a woman was created for a man, so they would bring forth new life in accordance with Christian morals

In our life, pleasure has its purpose but we have to use it within the guidelines God has provided.

If we don't, we can get caught up in extreme and addictive sexual activities that are hard to break. (though Confession is always there for us.)

I want to share two prayers with you. One I say after Confession.

Lord God, you created my body out of nothing. You created it with all its senses: taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing that come with it.

Although my mind and body may not understand the reasoning behind living a chaste lifestyle or by nature be drawn away from it, I pray you will bless my body {make the sign of the cross over your body} and make it chaste according to your Divine Will.

I ask this in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Here is an ad-lib prayer I created for married Christian couples who are sexually active:

Lord God, you created my body and that of my spouse's out of nothing. You created them with all its senses: taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing that come with it.

Because we have decided to be open to new life during our marital acts, and if it be your will, be co-creator's with you in bringing forth new life for your glory, may you bless us both with THAT intense sexual pleasure that comes with this self-giving act, at the right time, at the right pleasure levels so that both of us will receive a mutual release of sexual pleasure in accordance with your divine will for:

  • bonding as a husband and a wife
    and
  • bringing forth new life into the world.

May our marital acts of love bring us closer together as we openly communicate with each other and understand each other better, both in mind and body.

During our periods of continence, may you bless both our bodies so that we will:

  • be able to enjoy each others physical presence and activities (See note below) in accordance with a Christian couple's life and
  • see, in our spouse, a life-long marital friend, rather then an object.

We ask this in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Note below: Normal physical activities between Christian couples during periods of continence would include:

  • hugs and kisses
  • a back massage . . . if you can get it : )
  • a foot massage . . . if you can get it : )
  • any thing I missed.

Suggestion: During periods of marital continence, you can say the single's prayer, I say after Confession.

One last reminder: Criteria for mortal sin:

  • Knowledge (knowing it is a sin.)
  • Full Consent of the Will
  • Serious reflection. (It was no accident.)

If one is missing, there is no mortal sin.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Criteria for a mortal sin from the Catechism: CCC 1857-1860

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother." The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the [imputability] of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The prompting's of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

In this American culture, saturated by sexual overtones, many people struggle in this area.

Nevertheless, don't do dumb things like receiving Holy Communion after a lapse from the sins of the flesh without first going to Confession! There's a priest there every Saturday.

Don't be scrupulous, just mention it.

Hope this helps,

Mike

John replied:

Hi, Rachel —

I believe the Bishops have done some work clarifying this question, but I don't remember the name of the document.

It's my understanding that since a female orgasm is not directly involved in the procreative act,
it is perfectly fine for a husband to assist his wife to achieve satisfaction, either prior to or, after intercourse, so long as it is part of unitive act which includes an open attitude towards life.
In fact, it would be considered uncharitable on the part of the husband not to do so.

This is different for men. The male orgasm is directly related to conception, hence a couple's intent must always be for the male to achieve orgasm in his spouse's vagina. That does not preclude the married couple from engaging in other forms of foreplay or stimulation.

Finally with respect to the woman helping herself. Without getting graphic, there is a blurry line here.

During the marital act, auto stimulation is bound to take place in one form or another, even if not for a prolonged period of time so if after intercourse a woman is assisted by her husband in stimulating her to release, that's one thing. If it's a matter of her outright masturbating in a selfish manner, that's another.

Hope this helps,

John

Richard replied:

Hi Mike,

On any questions about sexual behavior, you can safely refer readers to this web page by moral theologian Germain Grisez on what sexual acts are acceptable for Christians:

Grisez is one of the most noted orthodox moral theologians in the United States. Now retired, he taught at Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg. That web site presents his multi-volume work on moral theology, The Way of the Lord Jesus.

— RC

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