Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

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)

Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!Donatewww.catholic.com/support-us