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Hi, it's me again, asking those pesky questions about Catholic sexuality!

I appreciate all the responses on my last post. Now I have another question. Where must married Catholics draw the line when it comes to lingerie, etc?

More specifically...

Lingerie - Are there certain outfits that are just too "slutty" for the woman to wear? (Not talking about "lingerie" for men, that seems obviously wrong since it is almost exclusively used by gay men). There are some very pretty, simple pieces of lingerie and then there are outfits that leave nothing to the imagination.

Sex toys - I'm not talking about vibrators, dildos, or anything that would replace the man's penis going into his wife's vagina. But there's a lot of other things out there that seem like a grey area, like penis rings, handcuffs, flavored lubricant....where does one draw the line?

Couple toys - My husband recently bought us a pack of playing cards with cartoon depictions of couples having sex in different positions on them. It's supposed to be humorous but some of the drawings are a little graphic (definitely gonna hide them from the kids). There's also games where you talk about silly sex things with your spouse--where do we draw the line?

Shops that sell lingerie/sex toys - Is it sinful to patronize these stores or even go into one in the first place? A lot of them sell pornographic videos and weird fetish stuff.

Thanks for putting up with me on this forum.
(03-27-2020, 06:50 PM)SacraCor714 Wrote: [ -> ]Hi, it's me again, asking those pesky questions about Catholic sexuality!

I appreciate all the responses on my last post. Now I have another question. Where must married Catholics draw the line when it comes to lingerie, etc?

More specifically...

Lingerie - Are there certain outfits that are just too "slutty" for the woman to wear? (Not talking about "lingerie" for men, that seems obviously wrong since it is almost exclusively used by gay men). There are some very pretty, simple pieces of lingerie and then there are outfits that leave nothing to the imagination.

Sex toys - I'm not talking about vibrators, dildos, or anything that would replace the man's penis going into his wife's vagina. But there's a lot of other things out there that seem like a grey area, like penis rings, handcuffs, flavored lubricant....where does one draw the line?

Couple toys - My husband recently bought us a pack of playing cards with cartoon depictions of couples having sex in different positions on them. It's supposed to be humorous but some of the drawings are a little graphic (definitely gonna hide them from the kids). There's also games where you talk about silly sex things with your spouse--where do we draw the line?

Shops that sell lingerie/sex toys - Is it sinful to patronize these stores or even go into one in the first place? A lot of them sell pornographic videos and weird fetish stuff.

Thanks for putting up with me on this forum.
Anything that hides more than it reveals. This is the problem with porn. It realistically comes down to the pron vs. nude art question. Pornography hides more than it reveals. Nude art shows the body and the full beauty of the body in its right relationship. If a lingerie "costume" is not revealing to your husband the full beauty of your body, then it transposes into sluttiness.

I cannot see any justification of sex toys. At all. Or games about sex. Sex is a serious commitment, not to be taken lightly.
(03-27-2020, 06:50 PM)SacraCor714 Wrote: [ -> ]Hi, it's me again, asking those pesky questions about Catholic sexuality!

I appreciate all the responses on my last post. Now I have another question. Where must married Catholics draw the line when it comes to lingerie, etc?

More specifically...

Lingerie - Are there certain outfits that are just too "slutty" for the woman to wear? (Not talking about "lingerie" for men, that seems obviously wrong since it is almost exclusively used by gay men). There are some very pretty, simple pieces of lingerie and then there are outfits that leave nothing to the imagination.

Sex toys - I'm not talking about vibrators, dildos, or anything that would replace the man's penis going into his wife's vagina. But there's a lot of other things out there that seem like a grey area, like penis rings, handcuffs, flavored lubricant....where does one draw the line?

Couple toys - My husband recently bought us a pack of playing cards with cartoon depictions of couples having sex in different positions on them. It's supposed to be humorous but some of the drawings are a little graphic (definitely gonna hide them from the kids). There's also games where you talk about silly sex things with your spouse--where do we draw the line?

Shops that sell lingerie/sex toys - Is it sinful to patronize these stores or even go into one in the first place? A lot of them sell pornographic videos and weird fetish stuff.

Thanks for putting up with me on this forum.

So, I think New England sun is wrong. But if stuff makes you uncomfortable, and you already own the playing cards, throw out the ones that you find too graphic. Sex is supposed to be fun.

And seriously people who are not virgins need to give the Song of Songs a read. Lingerie is good and fine. Vibrators and other sex toys used to be called marital aides and that's what they are. Although you sound uncomfortable about patronizing certain shops. I probably wouldn't want to either; we vote with our dollars. 

There are online vendors of lingerie and stuff who cater to Christians. They are worth looking for.
If I may, I think we find the Catholic balance between these two preceding opinions. The presumption here, of course, is that we're speaking of marital intercourse.

Sex is serious (because it is sacred) and it is meant to be pleasurable. These are not opposed.

I would object to the term "fun". "Fun" is opposed to "serious" and "sacred". Enjoyable is not. "Fun" implies frivolity. "Enjoyment" can be something light or serious, because it is about joy, not frivolity.

That aside, if sex is serious and meant to be enjoyed, when it cannot be enjoyed properly, then there may be a place for "marital aids". In the same way, if there is some problem with having children a couple will often see out a doctor's opinion and use (hopefully moral) techniques, drugs and procedures to aid in conception.

Procreation is the primary purpose of sex. Mutual love and enjoyment is a secondary end. If one can legitimately see out help to the primary end, there is no issue with doing so to have one of the secondary ends, provided it does not impede or diminish that serious primary purpose.

The question we should be asking is whether such "marital aids" are useful or necessary to both take sex seriously, and also enjoy it. And if they seem to be useful or necessary, then ask the question, "why?"

I would fear that those who use such things as described will easily start seeking out pleasure as the primary purpose of sex. It's the addiction effect of drug use. Keep pursuing what is more and more pleasurable and eventually once you get used to it, you have to keep going further and further. Eventually, that will almost certainly lead to sin.

While wanting to have intercourse with one's spouse to have pleasure is not wrong in itself, certainly it is not the highest motive, and if one were to not look at more noble goals and ends, such an approach will quickly become selfish. And, no, seeking the pleasure of another is not a truly noble motive. It is more noble that self-satisfaction, but it is not a much higher goal. One of those would be to show mutual love, to strengthen the bond, to help prevent sin in another, etc.


I think certain "marital aids" might help achieve this for some couples, but I worry that most of them turn sex into a measure to pleasure at all cost, and devalue it seriousness and sacredness as a result. Enjoy it, yes, but there is a value in temperance here, which will help to see sex for what it really is, and not merely as a kind of drug "licitly" used by married people to get as "high" as possible.
The marital embrace is supposed to be unitive and creative.  I assume the topics in this thread do not impact the creative side of sex, but I think they do touch upon the unitive element.  The question to ask is whether those sex aids help unite you to your spouse, in a biblical sense, so to speak.  If they do, then they may be okay.  If they distract you from uniting with your spouse, not in a physical sense, but in a spiritual and sacramental sense, then no, they're not okay.  I hate to borrow a line from Francis, but you will need to use your conscience on this one, guided by the Holy Ghost.
(03-28-2020, 07:25 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: [ -> ]If I may, I think we find the Catholic balance between these two preceding opinions. The presumption here, of course, is that we're speaking of marital intercourse.

Sex is serious (because it is sacred) and it is meant to be pleasurable. These are not opposed.

I would object to the term "fun". "Fun" is opposed to "serious" and "sacred". Enjoyable is not. "Fun" implies frivolity. "Enjoyment" can be something light or serious, because it is about joy, not frivolity.

That aside, if sex is serious and meant to be enjoyed, when it cannot be enjoyed properly, then there may be a place for "marital aids". In the same way, if there is some problem with having children a couple will often see out a doctor's opinion and use (hopefully moral) techniques, drugs and procedures to aid in conception.

Procreation is the primary purpose of sex. Mutual love and enjoyment is a secondary end. If one can legitimately see out help to the primary end, there is no issue with doing so to have one of the secondary ends, provided it does not impede or diminish that serious primary purpose.

The question we should be asking is whether such "marital aids" are useful or necessary to both take sex seriously, and also enjoy it. And if they seem to be useful or necessary, then ask the question, "why?"

I would fear that those who use such things as described will easily start seeking out pleasure as the primary purpose of sex. It's the addiction effect of drug use. Keep pursuing what is more and more pleasurable and eventually once you get used to it, you have to keep going further and further. Eventually, that will almost certainly lead to sin.

While wanting to have intercourse with one's spouse to have pleasure is not wrong in itself, certainly it is not the highest motive, and if one were to not look at more noble goals and ends, such an approach will quickly become selfish. And, no, seeking the pleasure of another is not a truly noble motive. It is more noble that self-satisfaction, but it is not a much higher goal. One of those would be to show mutual love, to strengthen the bond, to help prevent sin in another, etc.


I think certain "marital aids" might help achieve this for some couples, but I worry that most of them turn sex into a measure to pleasure at all cost, and devalue it seriousness and sacredness as a result. Enjoy it, yes, but there is a value in temperance here, which will help to see sex for what it really is, and not merely as a kind of drug "licitly" used by married people to get as "high" as possible.

Our disagreement over "fun" seems primarily to be semantic (indeed perhaps I should have said, joyful or something), and neither of us seem to outright condemn marital aids, and neither of us think they're never problematic.

Although I cannot but disagree with your prediction that those who use any of what she mentioned above will inevitably (or even more likely than not) start seeking out "escalations" until the escalation goes below their prior moral standards.

It is one thing to say that pleasure is not the primary purpose of sex, and it is another to imply that activity which is meant to pursue pleasure in sex is somehow morally problematic. The view of some Scholastics (that sex should involve just enough pleasure to erect the penis/ dilate the vagina, but no more pleasure than that) does not hold a privileged place in the Catholic Tradition. There are broader Aristotelian principles here, about spontaneity and variety in legitimate decisions.

I think we have, basically, a question about how we pursue pleasure in the Good in general. Augustine had the view that when we pursue pleasure in a legitimate good, we encounter the good, recognize the good, and enjoy that good. But I don't think we have to be going through that process intellectually every time we are attracted to anything; in fact, it seems to me that all the above often happens at once.

Perhaps we are disagreeing only obliquely, but I just want to come down on the side of not over-intellectualizing sex in the act; and I want to come down on the joyful and, yes, happy nature of the act. 

And I know people misrepresent this book, but any Puritanical view of sex (not saying you have one) cannot be reconciled with the Song of Songs.
By the way, for anyone interested, I think Pieper's book "On Love" is a very good treatment of - and legitimization of - Eros (and not just in the context of sex).
(03-31-2020, 11:05 PM)19405 Wrote: [ -> ]
(03-28-2020, 07:25 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: [ -> ]Sex is serious (because it is sacred) and it is meant to be pleasurable. These are not opposed.

Perhaps we are disagreeing only obliquely, but I just want to come down on the side of not over-intellectualizing sex in the act; and I want to come down on the joyful and, yes, happy nature of the act. 

And I know people misrepresent this book, but any Puritanical view of sex (not saying you have one) cannot be reconciled with the Song of Songs.
I spent the majority of my life with my wife (thirty-two years now), apart from the framework within which traditional Catholics appear to place sexual pleasure and erotic intimacy. I grew up immediately after Vatican II to be taught as you know a more "liberated" response to our "drives." Entering the TLM side of the arena, in "late middle age," I've noticed that a firm and sin-based rule-bound approach applies according to likely nearly every trad I've encountered.

This makes me muse, given the heavily post-Tridentine nature of the moral theology and pastoral discipline that until recently was the norm, how much we may forget that many of our ancestors likely enjoyed themselves (it was that and/or drink) in ways that the nineteenth-century to mid-twentieth century Catholic stalwarts would have disdained. And which prevail among those in the traditional camp now. This discipline has always been on the books, but not necessarily imposed. If we could ask our medieval ancestors, would they reveal attitudes that Trent found intolerable?

The Irish journalist John Waters (recently interviewed by E. Michael Jones, as an aside) wrote well before his own sort-of-reversion that the Irish had revelled in their sexual expression much more than their descendants, schooled after the mid-nineteenth-century and post-"Great Hunger" (aka famine) "Devotional Revolution" could have contemplated. After the deaths of so many, the survivors were summoned to repentance, to eliminate excesses of their "pagan" past. (Roger Buck examines this in his study of French incorporation of the Sacred Heart at the same time, roughly.) This strain of piety was popularized by Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII, along with a determination to end sexual "indulgence."

Prof. Emmett Larkin developed this thesis back in the 1972, tracking how Jansenism seeped into the Irish clergy trained overseas in France due to British persecution, and how in turn the main seminary established (with the "help" of the Crown) at Maynooth indoctrinated into the priests and their flocks throughout the Irish and in turn Catholic diaspora the far more censorious strain of what we characterize as stereotypical "Irish Catholic guilt" as in Joyce's terrifying "Hell sermon" inspired by Jesuits in Portrait, as heard by Stephen on retreat--when he "reverts," for a while.
This isn't directly related, and feel free to boot me from here if this doesn't belong, but in a Catholic worldview, what is there to be said about people who hate, or at least dislike sex and sexuality?
(04-01-2020, 10:12 PM)Fionnchu Wrote: [ -> ]
(03-31-2020, 11:05 PM)19405 Wrote: [ -> ]
(03-28-2020, 07:25 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: [ -> ]Sex is serious (because it is sacred) and it is meant to be pleasurable. These are not opposed.

Perhaps we are disagreeing only obliquely, but I just want to come down on the side of not over-intellectualizing sex in the act; and I want to come down on the joyful and, yes, happy nature of the act. 

And I know people misrepresent this book, but any Puritanical view of sex (not saying you have one) cannot be reconciled with the Song of Songs.
I spent the majority of my life with my wife (thirty-two years now), apart from the framework within which traditional Catholics appear to place sexual pleasure and erotic intimacy. I grew up immediately after Vatican II to be taught as you know a more "liberated" response to our "drives." Entering the TLM side of the arena, in "late middle age," I've noticed that a firm and sin-based rule-bound approach applies according to likely nearly every trad I've encountered.

This makes me muse, given the heavily post-Tridentine nature of the moral theology and pastoral discipline that until recently was the norm, how much we may forget that many of our ancestors likely enjoyed themselves (it was that and/or drink) in ways that the nineteenth-century to mid-twentieth century Catholic stalwarts would have disdained. And which prevail among those in the traditional camp now. This discipline has always been on the books, but not necessarily imposed. If we could ask our medieval ancestors, would they reveal attitudes that Trent found intolerable?

The Irish journalist John Waters (recently interviewed by E. Michael Jones, as an aside) wrote well before his own sort-of-reversion that the Irish had revelled in their sexual expression much more than their descendants, schooled after the mid-nineteenth-century and post-"Great Hunger" (aka famine) "Devotional Revolution" could have contemplated. After the deaths of so many, the survivors were summoned to repentance, to eliminate excesses of their "pagan" past. (Roger Buck examines this in his study of French incorporation of the Sacred Heart at the same time, roughly.) This strain of piety was popularized by Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII, along with a determination to end sexual "indulgence."

Prof. Emmett Larkin developed this thesis back in the 1972, tracking how Jansenism seeped into the Irish clergy trained overseas in France due to British persecution, and how in turn the main seminary established (with the "help" of the Crown) at Maynooth indoctrinated into the priests and their flocks throughout the Irish and in turn Catholic diaspora the far more censorious strain of what we characterize as stereotypical "Irish Catholic guilt" as in Joyce's terrifying "Hell sermon" inspired by Jesuits in Portrait, as heard by Stephen on retreat--when he "reverts," for a while.


If you really want an eye-opener, check out Hildegard von Bingen on sexual pleasure. Proof that celibate people are not unaware of the legitimacy of sexual pleasure, and it would be a strange pairing with a precautionary principle on sexual expression.
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