Marriage

Question

From reading your articles, I infer that marriage is only permissible if the female is capable of bearing children at the inception of the marriage. I note an implied need for the husband to be able to intromit.
What about virginal marriage?

What about marriage past menopause or post-hysterectomy or post-vasectomy or after acquiring impotence due to prostate cancer treatment?

What about the companionate aspects of marriage?

There is more to sex than intromission and ejaculation, and orgasm is possible with NO physical contact. It is a spiritual experience, and I imagine it is similar to the ecstatic experiences of the saints.

I would certainly like to hear responses to these questions.

Roberta

Answer

Dear Roberta,

Thank you for your questions. While I must confess that I need to spend some more time reviewing the questions and answers on this site, I would be surprised to find an answer suggesting that if one or both spouses-to-be were infertile, they would not be able to marry. This is certainly not the case in the Catholic Church, and I am pretty sure it also is not the case with civil marriage. In any case, one does not necessarily need to be fertile to marry validly. As you so correctly pointed out, if fertility were a requirement for valid marriage, an elderly man and woman would not be able to marry.

However, it is true that the Catholic Church, in her treatment of the Sacrament of Marriage in the Code of Canon Law (church law), does consider “antecedent and perpetual impotence, whether on the part of the man or of the woman” to be an impediment to valid marriage(see Canon 1084). If the man and woman are not able to consummate the marriage, the marriage should not take place. This is based on the teaching of Jesus in the bible, when he refers to Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 in Matthew 19:5-6a: “Have you not read that the creator from the beginning made them male and female and that he said: this is why a man must leave father and mother, and cling to his wife, and the two become one body? They are no longer two, therefore, but one body.”

Regarding virginal marriage, there have been cases in the history of the saints, where spouses, after having consummated the marriage, and indeed, had children and raised a family, have entered into a mutual agreement to live celibately. However, this agreement to live as brother and sister was only carried out after having lived a valid sacramental marriage for some time. This arrangement, when prompted and affirmed by the Holy Spirit, is completely legitimate.

May God bless you.

Fr. Blaise Berg

Answered By:

Fr. Blaise Berg, STD
Rev. Blaise Berg, STD, President and Treasurer of the CANFP Executive Board, is Assistant Professor of Dogmatics at St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, CA. Fr. Berg earned a BA from the University of San Francisco, an MBA from California Polytechnic University, a Baccalaureate degree in Sacred Theology, S.T.B at the Pontifical Gregorian University Rome, a Licentiate Degree in Sacred Theology, S.T.L. from the JPII Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. and a Doctoral Degree in Sacred Theology, S.T.D. from Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. He has served on the CANFP Board since 2003.

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