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Would you say that sex exists primarily for procreation and family not any kind of self-fulfillment? The pleasure aspect of sex being an accidental part of procreation used primarily for ego-building?

Not exactly. First of all, it should be understood that Holy Matrimony is an act of service to God for the sake of raising children who can love God, not a form of romantic fulfillment. Sexual union is an important element in the context of that service. The real issue is whether sexual activity is used to join the man and woman together in their mutual love for God or as a perversion [1] in which they use sensory satisfaction in an attempt to fill up their emotional emptiness.

So how do you tell the difference?

Well, consider for a moment the case of alcohol. Alcohol can be used socially, in a non-defensive way, with proper boundaries (never drink alone, never drink to intoxication, etc.). It can also be used as a perversion. Imagine the man, for example, who drinks heavily yet denies that he is an alcoholic and asserts that he can control his drinking if he wants. How do you tell whether he is an alcoholic? Just tell him to stop drinking completely for a month. If he refuses, or if he fails, then you know that he uses alcohol defensively, because the proof is in his unwillingness to do without it.

In a similar way, sexual activity can be used in Holy Matrimony as an expression of love for God to procreate children who can in turn love God, but it can just as well be a perversion. How do you test this? Just see what happens when procreation becomes an issue. If a couple wants to have sexual contact but doesn’t want the risk of pregnancy, then tell them to refrain from all sexual activity. If they refuse, but instead insist on some form of artificial birth control, or some sexual activity other than intercourse, then you know the sexual activity is a perversion and a denial of family. But if they agree, then you know that for the sake of love they can do without sexual contact as easily as they can do with it for the sake of love.


1. For the present purposes, a perversion can be defined as that which leads you away from the true depths of your emotional pain—and from the psychological healing that could happen if you were to work therapeutically with that pain—by distracting you with something apparently pleasurable.

Related Pages:       

The issue of lust

Saint Paul’s teaching


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What the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

2360 Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.

2361 Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death.

2363 The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.
The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.


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