The Secret’s Out: Devout Catholic Husbands and Wives Have the Best Sex

Catholic wedding

If you want great sex, trying marrying for love and committing yourself this person for life. It also helps if you worship the God Who made you in a Catholic Church every week. 

That’s the upshot of a spate of articles floating around the internet, including this one that mentions Patheos blogger Dr Gregory Popcak. It turns out that devout Catholic husbands and wives have the most satisfying sexual relationships of any group. 

Why?

Based on what we see on HBO, it would appear that the most satisfying sex must occur between people who don’t give a flip about one another. According to the media great sex is found in quickie relationships where one of person may even be paying the other to participate. Greatest sex probably occurs between groups of people or people who’ve slept with everybody in the telephone book before arriving at their latest coupling. Tossing in drugs to “heighten” the experience is also depicted as a useful way to get great sex. 

Of course, that’s not real life. The hook-up culture is as empty of emotional sustenance as a steady diet of styrofoam would be of nutrition. Eat enough styrofoam and you will die physically. Engage in enough meaningless sex and you will lose the ability to connect with the people you are “sexing,” and the sex itself will become more about sweat and release than satisfaction and happiness. 

This little lesson in human nature applies to just about everything in life. Is it more satisfying to eat in a crowded diner with strangers, or to spend the evening with someone you enjoy and who engages you? Is a movie more fun sitting in a theater full of strangers or alongside someone who shares your life and viewpoint and laughs and cries right along with you?

“It is not good for man to be alone,” the Lord God said after He created Adam. Adam was surrounded by all of creation, including the many creatures who populated it. But he was alone. When God made woman, Adam knew that this person was not just another creature, but “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” He recognized her as his partner; another living soul made in the image and likeness of God. 

Marriage2

Men and women are made for one another, in the best and most beautiful way. We are not insects who reproduce in a soulless exchange of genes. We are human beings who create life out of our mutual love and self-giving. Anything less always ends up dehumanizing us. 

Sex is a great gift to humankind, a gift with a purpose. We create life with it, and we also bind ourselves man to woman for life by the tenderness and trust of life-long fidelity and sharing that is true marriage. True marriage between a man and a woman is the simplest and best way to have a satisfying and productive life. Satisfying sex is not the purpose of marrying for love, for life and within the Church. It is a free gift and a natural by-product of this free commitment of two lives to one another. 

It doesn’t surprise me that devout Catholic wives and husbands who are living together in the sacrament of holy matrimony are also blessed with fulfilling sex lives. What does surprise me is that anyone ever doubted it. 

  • pagansister

    Golly, I guess I had lousy sex since I’ve only been married to the same man for 48 years and we’re not Catholic. :-) . Seriously, IMO, no matter what faith a couple follows or doesn’t follow, total devotion and love and respect for the other person can and should allow for the “best sex”.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      Not Catholic? Well, come on over. It’s never too late. ;)

      • pagansister

        Thanks for the invite, Manny, but in all honesty, I have too many disagreements with much of the established religions.

        • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

          I know. :)

    • Ryan Hite

      Why do they have to be catholic? I would assume any couple totally devoted to one another would have the best sex…

      • FW Ken

        People, it’s a survey. It says nothing about individual cases, other than those who were part of it.

      • Anonymously_Treading

        I have to wonder about the nature of the questions, and frankly I have my doubts about the way this survey may have been conducted, but oh well.

        I do agree with your thoughts, btw. Enjoyment of sexual activity is completely independent of any affiliation to religious dogmas and doctrines. It has to do, as you state, with the couple and the individuals within that coupled relationship.

      • pagansister

        I don’t remember saying they have to be Catholic.

  • FW Ken

    Fr. Andrew Greeley wrote about this phenomenon in The Catholic Identity. For several reasons, that book is worth reading.

  • Sus_1

    This was pointed out many times and in many different ways in the Pre-Cana classes we attended before getting married.

  • Dave

    Well, for one thing, devout Catholics don’t put a wrench in the works of the woman’s hormonal system, so that probably is a significant part of it. Also, Catholics put sex in its proper place. When it is basically elevated to the place of a God as many do, it will not satisfy.

    • Dave

      Bill, even though your comment was deleted, I was notified of it and saw it. My claim is not a bare assertion. There have been many studies done that show that artificial contraception decreases a woman’s sex drive and in fact can even influence her selection of a mate towards men that are not as genetically compatible. This is not to mention all the other harmful side effects on the woman and on the environment.

      • Anonymously_Treading

        Have you seen studies related to NFP and how that destroys spontaneity and subjugates sexual activity to thermometers, calendars, slides, etc and the effects of those on intimacy?? Not to even mention that those who practice NFP are wholly cognizant of the fact that many women can ovulate any times over the period of a month, which in and of itself does set up anxiety and fear of whether or not she indeed will conceive despite all the work listed above to precent same.

        BTW, would you cite those studies you mention related to women, artificial contraception (read –effective– contraception) and diminished sexual drives? I’ve seen just the opposite, but that’s just me.

        • Dave

          Sure, I can see how NFP can be difficult. I have lived it. I did not make up the survey – I was just trying to noodle out why the results were the way they were.

          I really don’t need to mention the studies. Google is your friend. Anyway, if you know anything about biology, a healthy woman will generally be significantly more “frisky” around the time of ovulation. The pill takes away ovulation. It’s not rocket science.

          BTW, not all devout Catholic couples even use NFP. If you take the time to learn it and use it correctly, though, there’s not much anxiety. Besides, NFP-using couples will generally be more open to life even if there is a “surprise”, so that reduces anxiety as well.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I saw this article this morning and i was wondering if anyone on Patheos Catholic would cite it. My thought this morning was obviously I wasn’t included in the survey. I would have brought down the average! :-P But I think the reasoning behind the claim is correct. Very good blog Rebecca.

  • http://www.catholicismforcutters.com/ Broken Whole

    Two quick thoughts—

    First:

    . True marriage between a man and a woman is the simplest and best way to have a satisfying and productive life.

    It may be the simplest way do a satisfying and productive life, but I don’t think that Catholicism teaches that marriage is necessarily always the best way. What about celibate religious? Surely their lives can be equally satisfying and productive. What about Catholics who chose to remain single and celibate for any number of reasons? Surely their lives needn’t be treated as “less than.”

    Second:

    It’s worth noting that this study was done by the Family Research Council, which has a vested interest in improving the image of religious conservatives. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the study is wrong—and Ms. Hamilton makes some reasonable arguments for an underlying logic for the results—but I still think that the study should be taken with a grain of salt (as should any study by an organization with a predisposition towards a particular outcome).

    • Dave

      Except for that that Family Research Council is a Protestant group and not very Catholic-friendly. But in general, you are right.

    • pagansister

      I tend to agree that surveys should be taken with a grain of salt—no matter what the subject matter.

  • Patty Beggs

    I am not Catholic, but Presbyterian but can agree with what you wrote ;) hee hee . I have been married for 35 yrs.and have a wonderful life – when we married we kept God in the center of our lives and married for love and respect for each other and committed our lives to each other for eternity. I always tell that to all the young couples and it worked we got over all the bad times and it only made the good times better.

    • FW Ken

      Thank you, Patty Beggs. Although I never married, I am deeply appreciative of the witness of my married friends and family. God has blessed you and I pray He will continue to do so.

      • Patty Beggs

        Thank you Ken, may God continue to bless you in all areas of your life.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    There was something that bothered me in the Greg Popcack article though. Quoting the hetrodox Fr. Greeley, he stated that “80% of devout Catholic Women agree that sex for pleasure alone is ok”.

    To me, that’s not devout. Sex is for procreation and unification by Church Teaching. Together.

    Now I would argue that sex that is open to life and specifically used for unification is *far* more pleasurable than sex for recreation alone, if only because it takes ALL of the worry out of the process, and that *might* be what was meant. But there is a more orthodox way to put the question.

    • Sus_1

      From what I understand from the Catholic Catechism, if you are married, not using birth control other than natural family planning, it is perfectly fine to enjoy sex any time whether for procreation and/or unification.

      There’s only a few fertile days a month. The rest of the time is unification. The biological clock stops ticking at some point in all women. That means from then on all the sex is for unification.

      Sometimes your comments come across as you don’t think anyone should enjoy sex at any time.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        More that there are a lot of things much more enjoyable than sex to do with each other.

        • Bill S

          Ted,

          You should read The Joy of Sex or something by Dr. Ruth. You really have no appreciation of how enjoyable sex can be. You sound like you had to force yourself to do it so you could have children.

          • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

            Bill, if you are stuck at that level of pimply-adolescent literature, you will never even begin to understand what you are talking about.

            I also suspect that you have never been in love. To any person who knows what love is, it is perfectly clear that there are plenty of things to do with each other that are as enjoyable as sex, or more so. To hear the woman I love speak her mind can be a thing of wonder, and refresh areas of my soul that sex does not begin to reach. To watch her move and live is in itself so beautiful and so good as to be worth one’s life. Sex is never as good as that. Would you give your life for a good fuck? of course not. But men and women who love would gladly give it for their love. In the greatest piece of music ever composed, Beethoven, following Schiller, declares that the experience of Joy is itself divine, and that yet it is accessible to every being – even the worm in the mud. He makes on exception: if you don’t know love or friendship -
            Aye, if even one soul alone
            May’st name for thine in the wide world;
            But if thou mayest not, then hide
            IN the dark and in the cold!

            (My own paraphrase from the German:Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele/ sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund’!/ Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle/ weinend sich aus diesem Bund.)

            • Bill S

              I’m making the simple argument that sex for pleasure, and specifically NOT for procreation, though it may be condemned by the Church (yes, “condemned” is not too strong a word for the Church’s attitude), can be a wonderful thing. I’m not trying to downplay other things that I enjoy with my wife of almost 40 years.

              • hamiltonr

                Bill, see my note above.

            • pagansister

              Fabio, your heritage is showing—-what a beautiful paragraph. :-)

              • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

                Not so much my heritage as my own experience. My background would, if anything, have led me to be rather cynical and negative about love and marriage, but the personal experience of being in love taught me better. That, and the fact that I was lucky; although I never married, I can honestly say that I am not ashamed of any woman I loved, All four of them, in their own different ways, were people you would want to know and be glad to be friends with.

                • pagansister

                  You’re a romantic, Fabio. A good thing. :-) The 4 women were lucky, IMO, to have been loved by you.

  • AshleyWB

    My marriage is not Catholic. Whether your church “recognizes” it is irrelevant to everyone except zealots with an insatiable desire to claim ownership of everything.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      Boy, what a stiff reaction. What are you afraid of?

  • kg

    I think I get the spirit of this comment, but I don’t think it’s correct to say someone’s marriage is Catholic and recognized as such by the church if they were married outside the Catholic church, without dispensation …

    • FW Ken

      Only Catholics are oblivated to marry in the Church. Marriage is regarded as a natural good independent of religion.

  • pagansister

    Large Smiley face reading your comment, Fabio. :-)

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      Thanks – and thanks twice over considering the rude, intolerant and foolish response I got from another source.

  • hamiltonr

    Note: This is from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding Church teaching on human sexuality. Emphasis mine.

    The Catholic Church, in its official teaching, has always taken a positive view of sexuality in marriage. Marital intercourse, says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is “noble and honorable,” established by God so that “spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit.” (#2362).

    The Church’s positive understanding of sexuality is rooted in the teachings of Jesus that were, in part, drawn from the wisdom of the Old Testament. Both the Book of Genesis and the Song of Songs describe the basic goodness of sexual love in marriage. In the New Testament, Jesus began his public ministry with his supportive presence at the wedding feast of Cana, a further indication of the goodness of marriage.

    Marital sexuality achieves two purposes. The Church affirms, first, its role in creating new human life, sometimes called the procreative dimension of sexuality. In giving birth to children and educating them, the couple cooperates with the Creator’s love.

    Second, sexual union expresses and deepens the love between husband and wife. This is called the unitive, or relational, aspect of sexuality.

    • pagansister

      All the above is well and good, but the only thing I have a problem with is the requirement that a couple must procreate. (if physically possible).

      • TheodoreSeeber

        The procreative aspect is the best part! That’s what gets me about modernists, they’re giving up the best part of sex for what, mere material wealth?

        • pagansister

          Theodore, no one should push procreation on a couple if they do not want to have children—it is a personal decision, IMO not that of any faith (or government for that matter)—-even though there are other faiths that also encourage making babies.(how many others have that in their marriage vows I don’t know). At one time, very long time ago, children died young, so having many meant that perhaps a few would survive to work the farm or continue the faith or whatever.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            I’ve never known that to be explicit in the vows of any faith, and it isn’t in the standard Catholic vows:
            http://www.catholicweddinghelp.com/topics/catholic-wedding-vows.htm

            Having said that, I still say that those who leave procreation out of love making, are cheating themselves.

            • pagansister

              If I remember correctly, the vows I heard in the last Catholic wedding I attended was a vow to agree to “accept all children God gives you” or words similar to that. I assumed those were standard vows for a Catholic wedding. The couple has since left the Church and joined another Christian denomination. They wanted and had 2 children then the husband had a vasectomy. The 2 children were only 13 months apart, and they didn’t plan them that close together. She was able to conceive very easily—thus the surgery! They didn’t want a larger family.

              • TheodoreSeeber

                Sounds like a couple who didn’t even agree with the vows they *added* to the standard wedding to begin with.

                It’s sad not to want children. It speaks to an attitude that like our friend Bill, values materialism over human life.

                • GoodCatholicGirl

                  It’s not sad to not want to get pregnant every time you make love. It’s not realistic and there is nothing wrong with making love for the act itself. To have sex for the sake of having sex, well yes, that wouldn’t be fulfilling but making love certainly is whether or not a child is conceived.

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    Without the child, where does this fulfillment come from?

                    The child is the fulfillment.

                    • GoodCatholicGirl

                      And if a child is not conceived (and not because birth control was involved)? Does that mean it was empty sex?

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      Yep. Sometimes we fail even at what we attempt.

                    • GoodCatholicGirl

                      You wouldn’t attempt to just make love? How will you feel when your wife is post-menopausal and can no longer have babies?

                    • pagansister

                      There is a lot of fulfillment in just being a couple and having each other. Adding another person in the form of a child isn’t always necessary or wanted.

                • pagansister

                  i honestly don’t think they added the line about accepting all children given to them by God. Knowing the woman, she wouldn’t have added that—I thought it was part of the regular marriage sacrament in the Catholic church. She was the 1/2 of the couple raised in the Church, and he was/is pretty much a non-believer. She had had many doubts about the Church for a long time, so leaving after the marriage was a long, thought out process. Her mother, still Catholic, told her she had no problem with her leaving, she was just happy that the children (and they) were continuing in a Christian denomination. I disagree it’s sad to not want children. Many couples are happy minus children—and should most certainly NOT have them if they don’t want to.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      It’s the “giving birth to children and educating them” part that a lot of people seem to miss.

      Sex isn’t just intercourse. Sex done right, goes on even after you’re dead, and takes decades to accomplish.

      • pagansister

        Who would be having sex after they’re dead?

        • TheodoreSeeber

          The one who has done sex properly, and whose children are now raising grandchildren.

          • pagansister

            OK, I think that made sense—-Theodore. Won’t ask you what “proper sex” is. :-)

            • TheodoreSeeber

              I should think the answer would be in my context- sex that is procreative enough to result in new functional adult members of the species. :-) Needless to say, this expands the definition of sex a bit- the orgasm is only the start of a multi-decade journey of love, hopes, and dreams.

  • Rosemary58

    “Best” and most “most satisfying” are not synonymous. There are those who can perhaps have the “best” sex but they are not satisfied. So devout couples don’t necessarily have the best sex; they have something better: true and lasting joy that comes from living for each other and not their own selves.

  • pagansister

    Perhaps Dr. Ruth learned from her experience in those camps MORE appreciation of family–if deprived of something at times, what one is missing becomes more important.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Actually, I’ve read her book. The only thing she gained an appreciation for was the orgasm.

      • pagansister

        And that’s bad? :-)

        • TheodoreSeeber

          It’s sad more than bad. If your only real use for sex is a transitory orgasm, then you’ve missed out on the best part of sex- the 35 years that follows that orgasm.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Why sad? It’s not a bad thing nor are the 35 years that follow although it would be nice if those years also included orgasm. I think I understand what you are saying – there is more to a relationship that simply making love but the physical aspects of the relationship are not bad things, orgasm or not.

            • TheodoreSeeber

              I’d hope that a parent would not be feeling Eros for a child when they are supposed to be feeling Storge!

              I’m saying the relationship isn’t fulfilled until there are at least three.

              • GoodCatholicGirl

                Eros and Storge are feelings unto themselves; only a perverted pedophile parent would feel Eros for their child. Eros belongs to the parents only.

                And if a child does not result because there is no egg to be fertilized? Does that mean the relationship is empty or that particular act of love was for naught?

                • TheodoreSeeber

                  It doesn’t mean the relationship is empty. But yes, it does mean that particular act of love had no lasting effect on the world. And I for one, find that sad.

                  And I say that as a member of a marriage that has had exactly *one* successful attempt at sex in 15 years, despite doing everything we naturally can to change that outcome.

                  • GoodCatholicGirl

                    Oh, my . . . the fact that you believe you’ve only had “one successful attempt” at lovemaking is disconcerting. You and your wife made love – that in itself should be enough. That you think every act of lovemaking should result in a child is also disconcerting and alarming, to say the least! How many children do you think you and your wife “should” have had over the course of 15 years?