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Dear Catholic.com visitor: Summer is here, and you may be thinking about a well-deserved vacation, family get-togethers, BBQs with neighborhood friends. More than likely, making a donation to Catholic Answers is not on your radar right now. But this is exactly the time we most need your help. The “summer slowdown” in donations is upon us, but the work of spreading the gospel and explaining and defending the Faith never takes a break. Your gift today will change lives and save souls for Christ this summer! The reward is eternal. Thank you and God bless.

Is sex outside of marriage OK as long as it reflects a loving relationship?

Question:

I was told by a priest that sexual intercourse between unmarried persons is acceptable so long as it reflects a relationship of love. Lots of people seem to believe this, but is it true?

Answer:

The only “relationship of love” that makes sexual intercourse acceptable is a marital one. The priest who told you otherwise wasn’t presenting Catholic teaching on the subject, but his own (erroneous) opinion.

In its Declaration on Certain Problems of Sexual Ethics, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed traditional Catholic teaching on the subject of sexual relations outside marriage:

Nowadays many claim the right to sexual intercourse before marriage, at least for those who have a firm intention of marrying and whose love for one another, already conjugal as it were, is deemed to demand this as its natural outcome . . . This opinion is contrary to Christian teaching, which asserts that sexual intercourse may take place only within marriage. (7)

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