Expressions of love during fertile time


I read with interest Fr. Gonzalez’ reply to C+S from 1st Feb.  My wife and I are Christians who had intercourse for the first time on our wedding night and had no sexual relations with anyone else prior to meeting each other. My question relates to his reply. If a husband and wife have had all the children that they wish for (or in my wife’s case can safely/medically can have – she has had three cesarean sections due to medical problems) and that couple decide to practice natural family planning instead of a vasectomy or tubal ligation, is Fr. Gonzalez suggesting that during the wife’s fertile period of her cycle, she or her husband may not enjoy sexual satisfaction by mutual loving manual or oral stimulation that does not involve vaginal intercourse by the man?  If this is the case, I request that Fr. Gonzalez provide the biblical and scriptural evidence to justify a view that I respectfully disagree with.


Dear Steve,

Thank you for your comments regarding my reply to the question posed by C & S dated 2/1. I congratulate you and your wife for desiring to follow Christian moral principles in your marriage.

In answer to your request for clarification to my reply: If a couple is practicing Natural Family Planning for moral reasons, the husband and wife may share loving intimacy during the fertile periods as long as their intimacy does not lead to sinful behavior. What I mean by sinful behavior would be if the sexual acts become masturbatory. This would be the case with the behavior you describe as “enjoy(ment) of sexual satisfaction by mutual loving manual or oral stimulation that does not involve vaginal intercourse by the man.”

If I understand you correctly, you are referring to mutual masturbation. If this is the case, Catholic doctrine condemns this behavior as intrinsically wrong. However, according to various reliable moral theologians, within marriage some sexual acts short of complete intercourse can still be chaste. Of course, like intercourse, such acts are chaste only insofar as spouses seek in them, not pleasure alone, but the wider good of marital communion in which pleasure is a subordinate element.

Marital sexual acts short of intercourse are good in themselves if they a) are necessary or helpful to marital intercourse and/or b) express and foster marital affection. Still, even if good in itself, an act short of intercourse can be bad due to a wrong intention or some circumstance. Thus, such acts become bad if they either a) are intended to bring about complete sexual satisfaction apart from marital intercourse (e.g. masturbatory acts) or b) are in some other way at odds with the good of marital communion.

Various forms of sexual stimulation including verbal and physical expressions are certainly acceptable to spouses to prepare them for sexual intercourse. And even during fertile times for the couple practicing NFP, interaction leading to moderate sexual arousal can bring about a continuing experience of one-flesh communion and prepare indirectly or remotely for eventual marital intercourse. Thus, when abstinence from intercourse is appropriate, married couples sometimes rightly express and foster their affection by sexually stimulating interaction.

However, it is very necessary to remember that any act of the wife or the husband intended to bring about his ejaculation outside her vagina would be seriously immoral since it is not directly ordered to marital intercourse and thus is not a marital act but rather simply an act of masturbation. Masturbation is condemned by the Church since it violates what is meant to be an interpersonal renewal of the marital covenant. Spouses bringing each other to orgasm completely apart from completed genital-genital intercourse is mutual masturbation and falls under the same condemnation as solitary masturbation.

The above clarification expresses the teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. However, in your question you requested “biblical and scriptural evidence to justify” this view. Catholic doctrine is founded not only upon Scripture but also upon Sacred Tradition. It is from both of these fonts that the Deposit of Faith is formed. However, the teaching expressed above is also taught by several Protestant sects based purely upon Biblical roots. I would refer you to the book, The Bible and Birth Control by the Protestant author Charles D. Provan (Zimmer Printing, Monongahela, PA, 1989) in which he lists 9 reasons that, from the Protestant point of view, condemn artificial birth control and, in a related manner, also masturbatory practices as those described above. The Scriptural references given are:

Genesis 1:27-28 “Be fruitful and multiply”

Psalm 127:3-5; 1 Chronicles 25:4-5 & 26-4-5 “Children are a blessing from God.”

Hosea 9:10-17 & Exodus 23:25-26 “Childlessness is unfortunate”

Genesis 38:8-10 & Deut. 25-5-10 “The Onan Incident”

Lev. 20:13-18 & Genesis 38:8-10 “Penalties for Sexual offenses”

Lev. 24-19-20, 21:17-20, 22:20-22, 24-25 “Castration as a blemish”

Hebrews 7:9-10, Job 10:8-11 “Seed as semen or children”

Romans 1:25-27 “Natural function of women”

1 Timothy 2:11-15 “Childbirth & salvation for women”

Fr. Gonzalez

Answered By:

Fr. Marcos Gonzalez
Fr. Marcos Gonzalez, born in Cuba and raised and educated in Los Angeles, received his priestly formation at St. John’s Seminary, in Camarillo, and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1994. He currently serves as Pastor for St. Andrew Parish, in Pasadena, CA. He is Past Vice President of the CANFP Executive Board.

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