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Amy Anonymous wrote:

To my fellow Catholic brothers or sisters,

I have a personal question to ask.

My husband and I are Catholics who had a civil marriage in January of this year. As we are from different countries, it was going to be a struggle to get my family or his family over for the church wedding, therefore we are still discussing on where to get married.

We are looking forward to have our union blessed in the house of God as soon as we are can but right now we are in a bit of dilemma.

  • Are we able to consummate our marriage because technically we are husband and wife?

This has caused me a lot of inner conflict. We are both looking for a definite answer as we really want to make love to each other but don't want to feel guilty if we shouldn't.

Thanks a lot for your understanding.

— Newly Weds

  { Can we consummate our marriage because technically we are married from our civil marriage? }

Paul replied:

Dear Amy,

To a Catholic, a civil marriage does not mean a valid marriage in the eyes of God.

It would follow that, as a rule, not only is consummation morally wrong (there is no valid marriage to consummate), but also is cohabitation.


Bob replied:


One more thought to maybe help you understand the rationale for the abstinence.

Even though the sacrament of Marriage is actually ministered to each other, it is not the priest who marries you, there is an important role the Church plays in the sacrament. Because the union is a sacrament, the Church witnesses and supports the union in the context of the community so as to mark its character as outwardly oriented. In essence, you are not married for simply your own sakes but for the good of all the Church and the world.

Secondly, if you were to conceive — and all acts of consummation should be open to life — that could bring scandal to others, much the same way that cohabitation does.

  • Could you imagine being pregnant at your second wedding?

Embarrassing to say the least.

So, in the end, though you do marry each other, you need to keep the sacrament in the context of the community which Christ Himself established, so as to celebrate and strengthen your sacred bond.

Your patience will not go unrewarded. It may be difficult, but it will be so worth the wait.

Then you'll have a story to tell your children when they question you about sex outside of marriage . . . or any talk on sex. You can witness to them in a powerful way, as well as to other adults. Those are precisely the kind of qualities that Christ wants our marriages to shine forth with: goodness and virtue.


Bob Kirby

Amy replied:

Dear Paul and Bob,

Thanks for your answers and explanation.

I guess we should wait then and I shouldn't pressure my husband anymore. I don't want both of us caught in sin until we get married in the Church.

Thanks again,

— Amy

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