Q. 3: Is it Moral for the Wife to climax outside the Natural Marital Act?

Neither the husband, nor the wife, may act, in any way, so as to deliberately climax outside of natural intercourse. This doctrine was taught by Pope Pius XII in his speech to the Address to the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility (19 May 1956).

“By the force of this law of nature, the human person does not possess the right and power to the full exercise of the sexual faculty, directly intended, except when he performs the conjugal act according to the norms defined and imposed by nature itself. Outside of this natural act, it is not even given within the matrimonial right itself to enjoy this sexual faculty fully. These are the limits to the particular right of which we are speaking, and they circumscribe its use according to nature.”

“What has been said up to this point concerning the intrinsic evil of any full use of the generative power outside the natural conjugal act applies in the same way when the acts are of married persons or of unmarried persons, whether the full exercise of the genital organs is done by the man or the woman, or by both parties acting together; whether it is done by manual touches or by the interruption of the conjugal act; for this is always an act contrary to nature and intrinsically evil.”

It is not true, as many persons claim, that the wife’s climax, being (as they say) unrelated to procreation, can be obtained by any means, outside of the natural marital act. This idea was condemned by the Magisterium in the above words of Pope Pius XII. Such an act is “contrary to nature” and “intrinsically evil”. Even married persons do not have the right to the “full exercise of the sexual faculty”, meaning sexual acts to climax, other than in natural marital relations.

The Pontiff condemns climax outside the natural act, for the wife, just as for the husband. The wife is not exempt from this rule against climax outside of natural intercourse (as so many persons claim). It doesn’t matter if the “full exercise of the genital organs” is done by the man, or the woman, or both acting together — it is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral.

Notice he does not accept the idea that climax for the wife is moral when done about the same time as the natural marital act. This point is absolutely clear, since the Pontiff says that, outside the natural marital act, the husband and the wife are under the same rule as unmarried persons: no completed sexual acts at all. If completed acts for the wife were moral, when they occur just before or just after natural marital relations, then the Pontiff could not compare her situation, morally, to that of the unmarried.

Furthermore, the Pontiff says that this rule applies even when it occurs “by the interruption of the conjugal act.” In other words, the act remains intrinsically evil if it occurs just after the conjugal act is interrupted. It is very clear that an act of masturbation on the wife or the husband is still gravely immoral, when it occurs about the same time as the natural marital act. For the Pope condemns such an act, even when it is done just after natural marital relations.

Neither does he consider all the sexual acts of the spouses to be “one act” in the marriage bed. If he accepted that idea, then again, he could not compare the spouses, outside the natural act, to be in the same moral situation as the unmarried. Instead, he teaches that any sexual act to completion, for either spouse, other than the “natural conjugal act,” is “always an act contrary to nature and intrinsically evil”.

Therefore, the claims of Christopher West and Gregory Popcak on this point were rejected by the Church many years ago. The approval that they preach for sexual acts to completion on the wife is gravely contrary to the eternal moral law and contrary to Church teaching. Neither the husband, nor the wife, may perform any type of act on the wife, in order to bring her to climax outside the natural act. Such claims represent an approval for a gravely immoral sexual act, already condemned by the Magisterium.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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