Busted Halo
January 6th, 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

      • Reynauld

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

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