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Questions and Answers

What about marriage then, as a holy union, especially when procreation is not possible?

Outline of the Answer
• Not for Everyone
• A Gift from God
• Several Possibilities
• Adopting Children
• Children’s Need for a Complete Family
• A “Marriage” of Convenience?

In speaking about Holy Matrimony, first it’s important to understand one thing: Christ taught us plainly that Holy Matrimony is not for everyone. 


[His] disciples said to Him, “If that is the case with a man and his wife [1], it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom it is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so [2]; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” [3]


—Matthew 19:10-12

A Gift from God

This tells us that Holy Matrimony is a gift from God. Although some persons do not receive that gift, and although some persons pass it by for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, anyone who can accept the gift must also accept the strict conditions under which it is given. Christ’s own words show us, therefore, that Holy Matrimony is not some sort of civil “right,” or some sort of way to avoid feelings of loneliness.

Several Possibilities

Now, to get to the intent of your question, several possibilities can be considered in regard to the meaning of procreation not being “possible.” It could be that a person is incapable of functioning reproductively because of a birth defect or physical injury. It could be that a husband and wife discover that they are infertile. It could be that a post-menopausal woman is considering matrimony again after having been divorced (with the marriage annulled) or widowed. Or it could be that a woman who has been single all her life now, in her later years, has met a man who suggests Holy Matrimony.

Adopting Children

Well, in the first case, a person physically incapable of reproduction could, as long as there are no other impediments to Holy Matrimony, enter into matrimony with the plan of forming a family by adopting children. And, in the second case, adoption would also be a possibility for an infertile couple already bound by the sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

Children’s Need for a Complete Family

In the third case, it can be asked whether either the man or the woman has any children still young enough to benefit from a holy family with both a mother and a father; if so, a new matrimonial union for the person with the children would be a benefit to the children.

A “Marriage” of Convenience?

As for the fourth case, it should be asked how Holy Matrimony in this case would serve God. If the only purpose of taking the sacrament were to provide personal pleasure and companionship, then how would that be of service to God? We are told, as Christians, to seek the spirit, not the flesh, and to avoid the great sin of lust. Now, you are free to do what you want to do, and you can make up your own religion if you want. But if you want to live a genuine Christian life, then at least do what we have been instructed. You simply cannot be Christian if you look for emotional fulfillment in another person: 


If anyone comes to me without hating [4] his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.


—Luke 14:26

What, then, should such a person do? Well, consider that a chaste single life under those conditions while pursuing an individual or communal life of prayer and service to others in the greater family of the Church might serve God far more than a “marriage” of convenience.


To be able to endure feeling rejection and loneliness, to continue on in humility, and not to think that you deserve far better is a real blessing, especially if you can feel this way for the honor of God, and if you do so willingly.


—Thomas à Kempis
The Imitation of Christ,
Bk 2, Ch 9: “Of Emptiness”
(Trans. by William Creasy)

And, in lieu of procreation, those persons could turn their attention to the Kingdom of Heaven and work for the salvation of those souls already born.


In all that has been said above, one basic fact should stand out: Holy Matrimony is a spiritual responsibility, not a personal right. Sadly, most persons today see the meaning of their lives in terms of happiness; even many Catholics have fallen into this trap, and even many Catholics have forsaken the Cross for the sake of their own self-satisfaction; they have grown lukewarm in faith, accepting the ways of the anti-Christian culture around them without question.


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.



 Read about Jesus’ teachings on marriage


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1. That is, considering that remarriage after divorce is adultery (Matthew 19:9).

2. That is, they were born with a physical defect making them incapable of the sexual faculty.

3. That is, anyone who is capable of marriage and who chooses to get married (rather than renounce marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven) has to accept the fact that remarriage after divorce is adultery.

4. Hate as used here does not mean “to wish harm to.” Instead it means “to remove your emotional dependence on.”

Related Pages:       

 The issue of lust in marriage

 Saint Paul’s teaching


 Back to the list of questions


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