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Paul Johanson wrote:

Hi, guys —

My wife and I are in a touchy situation that we need some help with. We were together for about three years before getting married. We are now living in the United States which is where I grew up. My wife is from another country and therefore had to come here with a fiancée or K-1 visa. This visa requires that we get married shortly after her arriving in the United States. Based on that, we had to have a civil marriage to fulfill these requirements and then plan to get married by the Church as soon as possible, hopefully later this year, especially since that would take more time.

We recently spoke to a priest who told us that it is OK to be sexually active together. He said that we are officially married but still need to receive the sacrament of Matrimony so, as long as we are planning to get married in the Church, living as a married couple, including sexual intercourse, is permitted according to him.

That said, just today we were talking to our pastor who told us something different. He said that sexual activity is not permitted until we have had the Church wedding.

Now that we been informed with two opposing pieces of information from two different priests,
we are confused and hope you can give us some more helpful information.

Thank you and God bless you.


  { If we have been civilly married but not sacramentally married is sexual activity allowed? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:


The second priest is correct. In order to receive Holy Communion you need not to be in the state of sin. Therefore since you are a Catholic not married in the Church you need to refrain from sexual relations or get married in the Church to receive Holy Communion.

The first priest may have meant well, but he is leading you in the direction of sin and that is a great problem.

The good news is that, with your situation, I am sure that you can find a priest to get you married in the Church as soon as possible and all will be well.

Fr. Jonathan

Eric replied:

Hi, Paul —

The second pastor is correct — you cannot have relations until you have a Church wedding, because the Church doesn't recognize civil marriages.

The whole reason that a Church wedding takes more time is to ensure you're properly prepared for marriage. The first pastor is gravely wrong and I would hesitate to trust his testimony on Church teaching.


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