An additional question: “When is oral sex allowed in a Catholic marriage?” is also answered in this post.

Not long ago, I got a comment on this blog that asked something like: If an act of sexual intercourse is free, total, faithful, and fruitful, can sex toys be used to stimulate either party to orgasm?

The reason given is a very valid reason - that men, by their nature, tend to reach orgasm very quickly, often before women. Thus the question of the use of sex toys was raised.

Now that’s a question that I had never before then answered, but I thought it was good enough a question to devote a whole post too, with some additions to the reply I gave then.

Generally, in an act of sexual intercourse that is free, total, faithful, and fruitful, it is hard to go far wrong.

Before he was elected Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla wrote in his book “Love and Responsibility” that in an act of sexual intercourse, the couple should strive to attain climax at the same time. This highest point of the sexual union between husband and wife should be shared by both.

This ideal certainly is hard to achieve, given that, as said above, men reach orgasm much quicker than women. It is therefore the husband’s responsibility to slow down and “read” his wife’s body language, which will tell him when she is about to climax.

This is one area when oral sex is allowed between husband and wife - to help the woman to climax at the same time as the husband.

However, in the event that the man does climax first, it is also his responsibility to ensure that his wife also climaxes during this act of sexual intercourse by physical stimulation.

Unfortunately I’ve found no further response to this, presumably because at the time “Love and Responsibility” was written, the development of sex toys was not so prevalent.

However, moral theology has equipped us with some useful tips to handle this question, until a more capable source is discovered.

The first principle is called “double effect”. This means that when a couple has sex, they do not have sex only for pleasure. Pleasure is an effect of having sex, the aim of which is for couple bonding and procreativity.

Certain bodily functions required for survival of the human race have pleasure attached to them. Eating, drinking, shitting, farting, sleeping, resting, etc, are all required for survival of the human race, and God has wisely attached pleasure to these functions. Having sex too is necessary for the survival of the human race, and also has pleasure attached to it.

There is nothing wrong with taking pleasure in any of these bodily functions. The trouble only begins when pleasure becomes the main reason we carry out such functions.

If we eat simply because eating is pleasurable, we get fat and unhealthy, and this leads to various illnesses. Modern day science tries to allow us to eat for the pleasure of eating through the invention of pills that allow us to eat without gaining weight. This is different from bulimia, which is another illness altogether.

It is hard to shit for the pleasure of shitting, but laxatives can be used. There is no need to go into what side effects this can have.

Likewise, when we have sex for pleasure, trouble occurs. Modern society tells us that there is nothing wrong with having sex for pleasure only. From using sex for pleasure only comes various tools that we use to strip the bonding and procreativity from sex.

Condoms and the Pill and other contraceptives attempt to remove the procreativity part of sex. Unknown to many, it also removes the bonding aspect. This is because it is impossible to separate the two. We can’t prove that contraceptives remove the bonding aspect of sex, since this is experienced on a level that is hard, if not impossible, to measure, but there is a direct correlation between the increase of contraceptive usage and the increase of marriages ending in divorce.

In other words, contraceptives place more than a mere physical barrier to a healthy sexual relationship; it places an emotional and psychological barrier as well, which is the level at which bonding is experienced.

Understanding these, it becomes essential then that if we value our relationship with the one that we’re having sex with, we won’t want to use sex solely for pleasure.

Thus, in answer to the question on the use of sex toys in the act of sexual intercourse, the couple must honestly ask themselves: Is pleasure the main purpose of using sex toys in an act of sexual intercourse?

Another related matter regarding the use of sex toys is the dignity of the human person. Now there are numerous kinds of sex toys limited only by the imagination. Some of these sex toys reduces the dignity of the persons having sex, many of which stem from sexual fantasies, such as the use of sadomasochistic tools, uniforms, and other tools.

One key aspect of the act of sexual intercourse is that both partners have to respect the dignity of each other as human persons, partners of opposite gender who complement each other in their differences. At all times should these differences be respected and given proper dignity.

The use of sex toys should never result in the lowering of dignity of another person. Understanding these, a mature couple should be able to make their own choices regarding the use of sex toys in their sexual relationship.

Ultimately, the Catholic Church is not going to send police priests into your bedroom (or wherever it is you have sex) and catch you in the act of violating church teachings. It is up to the individual or couple to make their own choices, while striving to perfect their conscience as best as they can, according to Church teachings.

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