Question: Is the usage of sex toys allowed during sexual intercourse?

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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30 Responses

  1. Hi wow,

    Thank you for sharing your opinion. It is unfortunate that you would let a few simple rules get in your way of your search for God.

    God bless,
    Catholic Writer

  2. Hi Wow,

    If you knew that these laws put down by God was for your happiness and your happiness alone, then you really wouldn’t mind them. Take your time to discover what God has created and made to govern the happiness of his children and you will discover joy everlasting.

  3. That’s a good answer…

  4. I have erectile dysfunction as a result of prostratectomy (cancer) with no erections and seminal fluids. But I am somewhat capable of reaching climax. I am having very much difficulty in finding out what I ‘can or cannot do” sexually as a catholic. This type of question is unique and one that no one seems to want to talk about in cluding priest. We are lost and want to do the right in the eyes of god, Some direction is very much desired as sexual desire still knocks st the door. What to do? I have been under penile rehab for 15 months with no avail except for an occasional erection via injections. I am usually in the flacid state when mother nature calls. Mutual stimulation, oral, vibrators viable avenues or not? Thank you.

  5. Hi Marc,

    I’m no religious or theologian, so I won’t guarantee that if you follow my advice, you will be right by the Church. But in the light of the absence of proper advice from a priest, I would follow the rule of thumb that says that mutual stimulation, oral stimulation, and vibrators can be used only in the context of a full act of conjugal love.

    Fortunately, where ejaculation is not possible, there are other ways of showing love that does not involve sexual intercourse. The act of sexual intercourse should not be reduced to simply satisfying one’s sexual desire. As humans, we have the unique ability of self-control that enables us not to give in to our otherwise animalistic instincts.

    Hope this helps!

    God bless,
    Catholic Writer

  6. Dear catholic writer,
    You fail to mention what i am particularly looking for. You say, since fortunately I do not have ejaculate then there are other ways of showing love. Do you have any suggestions as to what these other ways might be from an intimacy and sexual need context?

  7. Hi Marc,

    What are you particularly looking for?

    As for other ways of showing love, recall the times when you used to show love to your wife before you were married, and during times when sexual intercourse was not possible e.g. when she was fertile (if you were practising NFP), when she was sick, when she was pregnant or just after giving birth, etc.

    The term ‘sexual need’ is a misnomer, for sex is never a ‘need’ for human persons like us. You won’t find such a term in Wikipedia, for example.

    ‘Sexual desire’ is a more appropriate term. It is not a need because we won’t die if we don’t get it.

    Hope that helps. If I’m still missing the point, please make it clear for me what exactly you are looking for.

    God bless,
    Catholic Writer

  8. Thank you. I guess I’m looking for ways to fulfill my marital obligation to my wife. I’m thinking maybe I just need to be affectionate, close, do favors for her and spend time together quietly for intimacy and IC when the time is right when ever I have a sufficient erection. I agree, sex is not necessary especially at age 64, but the call is there continuously and more strongly as one lives close with his mate. Some self sacrifice and prayers will be needed which is acceptable. My focus needs to be on loving and not sexual gratification as some diehards with ED tend to lead you to believing.

    Thank you for your time and understanding. Appreciate your frankness and steadfastness on this issue with me.

    God bless you in all that you do,
    Marc

  9. Thanks Marc. You have shared wisely and correctly.

    May God bless you in your marriage as well, and help you into through this new stage of your life together with your spouse.

    God bless,
    Catholic Writer

  10. ”The term ’sexual need’ is a misnomer, for sex is never a ‘need’ for human persons like us. You won’t find such a term in Wikipedia, for example”,

    ”Sexual desire’ is a more appropriate term. It is not a need because we won’t die if we don’t get it”.

    Did you mean that sexual intercourse for couple is not a need?

    I think it’s a need for couple, bec. having sex is one way of expressing your love to your partner.

    If sex is not a need, why do people married?

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