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Questions and Answers

On the subject of purpose of marriage (procreation), how does it affect a married couple whose children have grown and the wife is no longer of child-bearing age? Is sex between the couple a sin? I am a Catholic and my husband is a non-practicising muslim. This would make it a bit tricky explaining to him why sex is not allowed anymore, as he is not bound by the Catholic faith. But even if both of us were Catholic or Christian, do we need to refrain from sex under pain of sin? I brought up this question because I could not find a similar situation mentioned there. There were questions re couple thinking of marrying at an elderly age, but none covering couples who were already married.

Outline of the Answer
• The Meaning of Behavior
• Lust
• The Possibility of Protection Against Lust
• Love and Purification
• No Excuses

 
Many individuals fail to understand the essence of the Christian faith because they think about life issues in practical, worldly terms. Hence they concern themselves more with outward behaviors—and to what extent they can get away with them—than they are concerned with working out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12b) by directing every aspect of their inner motivation to protecting their souls from spiritual doom. The answer to your question, therefore, does not require some statement about intercourse per se; instead, it requires us to examine a deeper issue, the issue of lust.

  
Lust

We know that lust is a sin because it is one of the seven deadly sins. Lust is a sin precisely because it makes a person into an object; that is, it sees another person in terms of whatever pleasure that person can bring to you. Whereas love wishes good to someone,[1] lust seeks your good at the use of someone. You can use a person in actuality or in your imagination, but, either way, lust, being the opposite of love, is an act of hatred—and that obstructs a person’s salvation.

Knowing this much about lust, let’s ask a question: How is it possible to have intercourse without making it into an act of lust?

How is it possible? Well, let’s find out.

  
The Possibility of Protection Against Lust

When a man and a woman engage in intercourse within Holy Matrimony and with an openness to procreation,[2] it is possible for them to engage in a supreme surrender of the physical to the spiritual and to a supreme yearning for the holy. This awareness of the possibility of procreation, along with a profound spiritual surrender, keeps God as the focus of their ecstasy, and that holy focus on God banishes lust from the experience.

But notice that possibility is one thing and actuality is another thing.

For example, Christ told us to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind (see Matthew 22:34–40). Many Christians know this intellectually, but how many of those who call themselves Christian actually do this? How many of those who call themselves Christian actually maintain a constant awareness of the presence of God and pray constantly with their whole heart and their whole soul? More often than not, prayer becomes a form of duty rather than love from the heart. Consequently, with constant prayer lacking, more often than not sexuality in marriage becomes a form of lust, especially when the man demands it as an act of marital “service.”

So, in seeking an answer to the question, “How is it possible, to have intercourse without making it into an act of lust?” ask yourself yet another question: Is my deepest desire the purification of my whole heart and whole soul, or do I seek merely the satisfaction of bodily pleasures?

  
Love and Purification

The opposite of hatred (and lust) is love, yet before we can enter into the pure love within the Kingdom of Heaven we must be purified of all that is not genuine love.[3] Therefore, endeavor to make your mortal life a life of spiritual refinement, directed to doing everything you can to grow in love and to avoiding anything that contradicts love. This is important because after you die you will have to pay for everything you have ever done that has contradicted love.

 
No Excuses

At the moment of your death, you will find yourself standing before Christ in the light of divine truth. Every act of your life will be accounted for. Truth will be absolute. There can be no excuses, no deception.

  

Esau sold his birthright for a serving of stew (Genesis 25: 29–34), and many Christians today are just as willing to sell their birthright—their baptismal birthright—for an orgasm.

  

So when you stand in the light of that divine truth, will your baptismal promises be a shield for you or will they be hanging from you uselessly in tatters?

In this regard, keep in mind that right now your soul is your responsibility. You will be held accountable to the answers to those questions you asked yourself above.

Even if your husband is not Catholic, you, as a Catholic, still have the obligation to live a holy life and witness the Catholic faith, no matter what the cost. You have the obligation to not let your husband tempt you into sin, because, if you do, you will have to answer to Christ Himself, and there will be no excuses.

Yes, you may be afraid of the cost of choosing the holy path, but the cost you pay now to protect yourself from lust will be hardly anything compared to the cost you will have to pay later.

 
The Immaculate Conception of Mary

The act of supreme yearning and surrender to the divine has been expressed in beautiful theological precision by the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich in her vision of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Mary was conceived in a moment of ecstasy between Anne and Joachim—an ecstasy surpassing any physiological sign, an ecstasy without lust, an ecstasy without sin. 

  

The Life of Jesus ChristI saw Joachim and Anne embrace each other in ecstasy. They were surrounded by hosts of angels, some floating over them carrying a luminous tower like that which we see in pictures of the Litany of Loretto. The tower vanished between Joachim and Anne, both of whom were encompassed by brilliant light and glory. At the same moment, the heavens above them opened, and I saw the joy of the Most Holy Trinity and of the angels over the Conception of Mary. Both Joachim and Anne were in a supernatural state. I learned that, at the moment at which they embraced and the light shone around them, the Immaculate Conception of Mary was accomplished. I was also told that Mary was conceived just as conception would have been effected, were it not for the fall of man.[4]

  

Read some of Jesus’ teachings about sexuality as
revealed to Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich

 

Who wrote this web page?

 

Notes.

1. St. Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica. I-II, 26, 4.

2. Please note the word “openness” in the phrase openness to procreation. This is not to say that every sexual act must produce a child but that every sexual act should express a desire to conceive a child. Without this desire to conceive a child the sex act is merely an act of lust. Hence the fundamental meaning of sexuality is in its procreative function—rather than as something done for fun or sport or entertainment or to soothe feelings of loneliness. To cast away the fundamental meaning of sexuality (as in masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, artificial birth control, etc.) is to fall into grave sin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses it this way: “. . . every action which . . . proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil ” (CCC 2370).

3. Keep in mind this analogy: fire does not burn itself—only that which is not fire is burned by fire. Thus, in the spiritual realm, God’s love burns and torments whatever is not love. The fire of Purgatory is God’s love purifying and burning out of repentant souls every worldly attachment that is not love, until they become pure love. And the fire of Hell is God’s love that burns and torments unrepentant souls who are “not love” because in this life they have chosen lifestyles defiant of love, thereby refusing the opportunity to become love.

4. The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations of the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich. Volume One, pp. 137–138. Text in public domain. Page citation from the edition by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc.

 

What the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

2351 Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.

 


 
Recommended Reading
 
A treasure of a resource for psychological and spiritual healing. Information gathered from my websites (including this webpage) is now available at your fingertips in book form.

 

Falling Families, Fallen Children by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Do our children see a mother and a father both living in contemplative love for God with a constant awareness of His presence and engaged in an all-out battle with the evil of the world? More often than not our children don’t see living faith. They don’t see protection from evil. They don’t see genuine, fruitful devotion. They don’t see genuine love for God. Instead, they see our external acts of devotion as meaningless because they see all the other things we do that contradict the true faith. Thus we lose credibility—and when parents lose credibility, children become cynical and angry and turn to the social world around them for identity and acceptance. They are children who have more concern for social approval than for loving God. They are fallen children. Let’s bring them back.

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