Busted Halo
August 9th, 2009

What does the Church Teach about Oral Sex?

Some surprising answers to a common question



One of the most common (and frequent) questions Busted Halo gets from people is, What exactly does the Catholic Church teach about oral sex? It is an understandable question that is not easily answered with a simple yes or no response. The fact is, the Church’s teachings can’t be compartmentalized into questions on only one form of sexual expression. In order to understand what the church says about oral sex, one must first be aware of the Church’s teachings on the nature and purpose of all sexual expression.

First and foremost, the Church reserves all sex for marriage. This is not simply a way to restrict our natural sexual impulses, but rather to use them for what they were properly intended, namely for procreation of children and to build unity between husband and wife. Even Pope Benedict has spoken openly of his concern that limiting the Church’s attention on sex to “just moral prohibitions” can lead people to “have the impression that the church’s real function is only to condemn and restrict life. Perhaps too much has been said and too often in this direction—without the necessary connection to truth and love.”

While you won’t read any definitive lines in the Catholic Catechism when it comes to oral sex, the church does draw some directives from its traditional teaching on sexuality to provide some guidance. Many people are surprised to hear that even within marriage, the church makes a distinction between oral “sex” and oral stimulation. If we define oral sex as orally stimulating the male partner to orgasm, then the church would prohibit that even for married couples.

Getting Specific

Two books that offer specific directions about the Catholic Church’s teaching on oral sex are Christopher West’s Good News about Sex and Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions about Catholic Teaching (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 2000) and Vincent Genovesi’s In Pursuit of Love: Catholic Morality and Human Sexuality (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1996).

Christopher West is a popularizer of the “Theology of the Body” based on Pope John Paul II’s book Love and Responsibility. He has written several books and articles on the subject, and in Good News About Sex , which is a practical summary of this theology, West offers some instances in which oral stimulation (stimulating genitals but not to the point of ejaculation) is perhaps acceptable within marriage:

  • Foreplay: If it is used in the act of foreplay that leads to sexual intercourse where the male climaxes into the female, then oral stimulation is certainly permissible for a couple to engage in within marriage.
  • The Big O: If a man was able to orgasm during sexual intercourse but his wife did not, he may bring his wife to orgasm after intercourse in whatever way he chooses (manual or oral stimulation). West writes, “Since it’s the male orgasm that’s inherently linked with the possibility of new life, the husband must never intentionally ejaculate outside of his wife’s vagina. Since the female orgasm, however, isn’t necessarily linked to the possibility of conception, so long as it takes place within the overall context of an act of intercourse, it need not, morally speaking, be during actual penetration.”
  • No substitutions, please: Oral sex or stimulation can never be used as a replacement for sexual intercourse, but oral stimulation can be used to lead a couple to vaginal intercourse. Pope Benedict also points couples towards discovering love within sex instead of settling for substitutions for the real thing, stating: “No mechanical technique can substitute the act of love that two married people exchange as a sign of a greater mystery.”
  • Men: No sex 4u: The reverse, however, is prohibited. A man’s orgasm is always tied to his fertility so therefore the church states that oral sex that would end with a male orgasm outside of sexual intercourse is not permissible.
  • Intimacy Over Arousal: Not every single sexual act, per se, need be procreative, but within a “sexual session,” if you will, there needs to be openness to procreative activity. So there can certainly be oral stimulation throughout sexual activity within marriage, but if one is using oral sex simply to avoid pregnancy yet achieve orgasms, then one is limiting their sexual union to merely give arousal rather than intimacy.
  • Premature ejaculation?: For something to be sinful there needs to be both intent and full knowledge of that intention to do evil. If one were to get very turned on and orgasm prematurely, that indeed is not a sinful act. Accidents happen. One needs to be mindful of their intention to sin.
The Author : Mike Hayes
Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • JohnnyVoxx

    Even Freud discovered through his secular research that when human beings separate sex from procreation they become perverse and disordered. No one can deny that the natural purpose of sex is procreation. The Catholic Church has had it right from the beginning and nobody should think they can divorce sex from diapers. The truth hurts at first, but eventually it will set you free.

  • Andrew M

    Who cares about oral sex the dirty fucking molesting priests are fucking children. Wake up you idiots and think about things!

  • soree

    I wish someone would tell me if it is a mortal sin for a husband and wife of 60 years of age to enjoy oral sex, not forplay of oral stimulation. We can’t have children anymore.

  • Michael Nolan

    It seems strange to me, this catholic theology of sex being soley for reproduction. If a person were infertile should they never have sex? Is it not also perfectly valid and pure simply as a medium through which to express love?

    • James Witter

      yes I feel the same…. Sex does not have to just be about conception, but it is a way for the husband and wife to express love to each other not matter how they climax be it penis in vagina or by oral sex or manual stimulation… we are married and as far as I am concerned the church has no right to tell us how to make love to our spouse…..As long as it does not involve another person and most certainly no anal sex I feel everything else is permissible in the marriage bed

      • Conor Gannon

        Curious. What makes anal sex different?

  • Josephine Harkay

    I was incredibly surprised when as a young woman I heard about oral sex in humans; I did see animals lick their own or each others’ genitals. I believe every married couple can have a very satisfactory sex life without it; besides, what about hygiene?

    • Lost Sheep

      There are more bacteria in the mouth than elsewhere.

    • Michael Nolan

      quite the opposite for me. as a young teen I didn’t exactly have a concept of a full blow job but I thought it only natural that there would be kissing of the genitals and such.

      sure, you can get along with out it fine, but I don’t see any inherent evil in it either.

  • Joseph

    What is all this talk of overpopulating the earth? What is this assertion based on? If you want to make factual statement please provide references. The world is not being overpopulated. There are vast swaths of land that are wholly unpopulated. There is so much unpopulated land on earth that if the entire population was arranged into family groups of four, each family could be given a quarter acre in Texas and the entire rest of the planet unpopulated. Just because you live in a metropolis doesn’t mean we all do.

    • Michael Nolan

      and yet in china there are many people whose living space consists of a bunk bed. Also deforestation is significant. It’s not all just about living space.

  • Reynauld

    we sure can’t waste one little sperm cell while we’re overpopulating the world..face it..the Catholic church has always HATED sex..witness the idiotic celibacy rule for priests..who make up these stupid rules for everyone else

    • gooder1


      You are approaching this subject from a purely secular perspective: relax and pray about it. Ask Jesus to prove to you that the Church is correct. Or better yet, challenge Mary to prove to you that the Church is correct on this issue. I guaranty that you will receive an answer. It might not be the one you want to hear, but she will receive from her Son all the graces you need to get your answer.

    • boypalaban

      hate instead yourself for being an idiot…who still believe that the world is overpopulated

  • James Crowley

    This is idiocy..and one more reason why the Catholic Church has no credibility.Gotta always be open to overpopulating the world. The Catholic doctrine reduces a man and wife to nothing but breeding animals..nothing divine in that.

    • Salvelinus

      Fyi, the world is underpopulated. Western Europe has negative growth and the US is on its way… this sounds like a Margaret Sanger eugenics talking point

      • BobTrent

        The true perspective should not be “the world is overpopulated” or “the world is underpopulated” but “the world is underpopulated … with Christians.”

      • JuliePurple

        Cute! LOL!

      • JuliePurple

        ?? How on earth do you come up with the earth being underpopulated? Negative growth does not mean underpopulation; it means, in this case, that finally some people are geting a bit of sense.
        Whence your information?

      • Joey Dugan

        Why are people concerned about over-population? Marshall McLuhan the great 20th century intellectual, suggested the thought began with the inventions of electronic communication, which put people in instantaneous intimacy with people all over the world….All of a sudden China’s problem was our problem in America….before that, they might as well be on Mars, it took so long to communicate with them. This sudden feeling of closeness with the whole world made us feel “Crowded” and over-populated”. This notion has been promulgated by the eugenicist class (google the Club of Rome think-tank), In truth, we are living at a time when there is a great surplus of food world-wide for the first time, and the ability to transport it. If we became more vegetarian, and used the land more efficiently, we could easily feed 30 billion people. Only1-3% of the earth’s surface is inhabited! The real challenge is to live in better harmony with the land, eat real foods (not junk), and limit pollution…it can be done, but our economic system needs a major over-haul, as Pope Francis has pointed out.

      • JuliePurple

        Joey, do you really think that improved communications is the source of overpopulation? I simply shake my head in disbelief.
        Besides that, do you think that people are going to change their habits just because it would help ease the pressure on the food supply? People are selfish. They’ll do what they want, and think of all kinds of justifications for it. A world with 30 billion people would be a planet whose natural beauty and animal species would be virtually obliterated. It would be a prison ship wherein people are fed, but must live in aesthetic squalor. Okay, so if 1 to 3% of the earth is inhabited, think about what that means. How much of your house do you occupy at any one time? 1/1000%? So I guess you don’t need the rest of it, right? You only need about 18 square feet of space. So, just for starters, why don’t you house an additional 100 or more people in your personal dwelling? They would fit.
        National parks, wilderness areas, habitat for endangered species? Sorry, no can do. Humans need to breed like rabbits and fill it all up.
        And that’s the most selfish, right there. Indiscriminate breeding, without thought for the welfare of the planet.

      • disqus_4Jy24XjH8I

        In squalor? That is what they want for us (globalists) and it’s called Agenda 21.
        That’s why the church is compromised and filled with vindictive homosexuals, who hate women, and are violating the faith.

      • JuliePurple

        I’m sorry, Disqus.4, I don’t know which part of my post you’re referring to.
        As for who comprises the church, I’m guessing it’s probably like most of the population in that there are some really good people who only want to help and do everything they can for people, there are some real nasty folks who just want to hurt and control people, and everything in between. Mind you, this is just a guess, because I don’t have enough objective information to make a more accurate statement.

      • JuliePurple

        Disqus4, I neglected to mention a point regarding what you term “vindictive homosexuals”. Gay men don’t hate women any more than I hate women. We simply are not physically attracted to them in a romantic sense. The only vindictiveness I see about them is in other people’s attitudes towards them.

      • disqus_4Jy24XjH8I

        Of course you wouldn’t admit your own hatred of women. But I have seen it all my life, as has every straight woman I meet. You need to be a little more honest. Gays hate women because they perceive women as competition (we aren’t), but that’s how they see that.

      • JuliePurple

        Wow, Disqus4, you sure hang out with the wrong group of people. The gay men I know certainly do not hate women. One of my oldest and dearest male friends is gay, and he doesn’t hate women, and neither does his partner. None of his gay friends do, either, as far as I know. They have all been very kind to me. Why on earth would I hate women? I don’t get it. I really don’t. We share so much and can sympathize with each other so well. You must be putting your own feelings onto everybody else, because I just don’t see it. Look, I’ve been happily married for 29 years. I didn’t hate women OR men before I got married, and I don’t now. Yes, I have met one woman who doesn’t like women, and who treated them poorly. One. And she is a sad case, indeed. But most of the women I know don’t hate either men or women. What part of the country do you live in? Perhaps it’s a regional thing? Or job related… what work do you do? I’m an artist living in rural upstate New York. Most folks around here don’t differentiate between women and men when it comes to likes and dislikes; either they’re nice folks, and like most everybody, or they’re a$$holes and are mean to everybody. Fortunately, there are more of the nice ones.

      • disqus_4Jy24XjH8I

        Maybe I’ve known more gay men than you (unfortunately) You just need to understand that a lot of straight women are reacting to what has happened to them. And if that wasn’t you, well then, I am glad for you. Just don’t whine when somebody else’s experience is different than yours.
        Gay men are MEN and as such, do not understand womens problems, although everybody ‘hip’ likes to act like they do.

      • JuliePurple

        Disqus4, I wasn’t whining; I was writing a correction to a statement that was unfair and unkind. Not all gay men hate women. I do not hate women. Of course gay men are men and as such don’t understand women’s problems completely. But as human beings, we can sympathize and empathize with people who have different experiences. The gay men I have known have been sympathetic and generally pretty nice. I wonder if it’s to do with urban vs. rural? Are you living in an urban area? That could account for a lot. Then again, I know some city folks, both straight folks and gay folks, who are really nice. Actually, most folks I have met are pretty nice. Most.
        When you say “a lot of straight women reacting to what has happened to them”, what do you mean? Happened to whom? To the gay men? To the straight women?

      • disqus_4Jy24XjH8I

        Well at least you aren’t screaming ‘my way or the highway’ anymore.
        I have known many, many straight women who have had run-ins with arrogant gay men. That’s all. You’re just going to have to accept that it has happened. Your displeasure won’t make the past go away on this.
        Perhaps tell your gay brethren they are not the only thing that counts on this earth.
        Nothin’ more to say.

      • JuliePurple

        Wait up a bit… would you please point out which part of my postings caused you to say I was “screaming ‘my way or the highway'”?
        I never said that there weren’t any straight women who have had run-ins with arrogant gay men. Of course it happens, and I have no expectation that my opinions about it will change anything. However, your blanket statement seemed to imply that the negative actions were the only kind that happened, and that’s just not true. (By the way, was that what you meant by “a lot of straight women reacting to what has happened to them”? That they’ve had run-ins with arrogant gay men? And I’m curious as to whether there were more of those than run-ins with arrogant straight men. Could it be just men in general?)
        Trust me, my gay friends know very well that they are not the only people who count. Society at large makes this very clear to them. People like homophobes, racists, status snobs, and the like are all too common across the world. Those who are the object of their ill will don’t need reminding that unkindness of all sorts exists and will, if given a chance. overrun the rest.

      • Em Ma

        There are more living organisms on earth than humans and the the fact you think we are selfish for raising our families is hilarious. The Pope should stick to what a pope should do like for example lead the Church and stop worrying about global warming which in itself is a hoax.

      • Reynauld

        agreed that whites need to get our birth rates up..while these third worlders need a serious dose of birth control

      • boypalaban

        an idiot like you needs to be controlled…you must be prohibited to breed…you are a disgrace to humanity…

      • BobTrent

        “Third worlders” are just as much children of God for whom He sent His Son to pay for their sins just as much as you.
        The government administrations seem determined to move America toward being a “third world” country. Will you still say that?

      • Mike Francis

        Didn’t take long for the racists and the Obama Derangement Syndrome victims to crawl out of the woodwork.

      • BobTrent

        It is not the business of Christians to determine just how many people constitute overpopulation. Some small islands probably are overpopulated. But that can change via technology such as desalination to provide more useful water from the vast expanses of unusable (for drinking, cooking and washing) salt water surrounding the island. Many regions do not and cannot produce sufficient food for themselves but commerce and trade take care of that.
        Even if it should come to that, it is not immoral to die of natural disasters, famines (mostly caused by human greed and stupidity), epidemics, volcanoes, hurricanes, etc. It is, however, immoral to commit murder with the excuse of controllong population, or for other excuses. It is also immoral to commit vices that include interference with the process of procreation.

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