Interior Integration for Catholics

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Dr. Peter discusses how to evaluate the moral qualities of different sexual expressions within Catholic marriage, including oral sex, anal sex, the use of sex toys, fetishes, the use of Viagra, sensual biting, breath play, and a host of other sexual activities, along with recommendations for determining if certain sexual practices are good for your marriage.

Show Notes

  1. Opening Questions (connect to vignettes)
    1. Cindy wants to know, "Is oral sex okay in marriage? -- My husband every now and then likes it if I give him a blowjob, just for some variety in our sex life and he says there's no moral problem with that and it turns him on, but I'm not sure what I think and feel about that."    

    1. Barbara asks "In episode 61, in the story of Jeff and Joanne, you seemed to say that the husband's kissing of breasts was wrong, that it was disordered.  But I like it when my husband kisses my breasts during foreplay, and it really helps me to be sexually stimulated -- so is that off-limits in a Catholic marriage?"
    1. Bill raises the question "I really get turned on when my wife bites me, it helps me to have sex with her, I find I don't have to use Viagra then -- is that ok, or is it better for me to use the Viagra?  I don't want to not be able to have the fullness of sexual intimacy with her…"  

    1. The last two episodes brought up questions. 
      1. These were not the actual questions, but questions like them came up.
      2. Today we're going get into this more deeply -- and into how to think about the moral quality of sexual acts in Catholic marriage.  
  3. Intro: Welcome to the podcast Interior Integration for Catholics
    1. In this podcast, we confront the tough questions we Catholics have in our day-to-day lives, we confront head on our struggles in the natural realm, the psychological difficulties that keep us from fully loving our Lord and our Lady in a deep, personal, intimate way. 

    1. This podcast helps you focus inward on your interior integration -- to help you bring together the different parts of yourself into unity and harmony with God.
    1. 'Together, we are on a journey toward deep transformation in our mindsets, our heartsets and our bodysets, a radical transformation at the core of our being so that our souls can one day enter into contemplative union with God. 

    1. I’m clinical psychologist Peter Malinoski and I am here with you, to be your host and guide.  

    1. This podcast is part of Souls and Hearts, our online outreach at, which is all about shoring up our natural foundation for the Catholic spiritual life, all about overcoming psychological obstacles to being loved and to loving God and neighbor
    1. This is episode 69, released on May 24, 2021 

    1. And it is titled:   Good and Bad Sex in Catholic Marriages: What are the Moral Limits? 

    1. How far is too far? That all depends on the direction you are going!
      1. Augustine -- evil as a privation of the good.  Evil is what happens when there is a vacuum because there isn't any good around.  

      1. So if you are attempting to just avoid evil -- makes sure there's no evil in your sex life, you're trying to make a privation of the privation of good.  

      1. It's much better to reorient and seek what is good, what is best, whatever that may mean for your sex life.  Even if you may have to give up some things from which you derive pleasure.  

      1. Not to condemn the physical pleasure of sexual intimacy -- Not at all
        1. Bring that into an ordered hierarchy
    2. Lot of confusion about the morality of different sexual expressions
      1. Lack of clear guidance on this, almost like a conspiracy of silence when it comes to really getting into specifics.  

      1. Lot of terrible advice from all kinds of Catholic sources as well.  It may be well intentioned, but it causes harm.  

      1. I could be making mistakes here too -- a lot of this is new territory and not well defined.  -- And to that end, I invite feedback, especially if I teach anything that is in error.  Please get in touch with me at or at 317.567.9594 on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 4:30 PM and 5:30 PM Eastern time in conversations hours.  
        1. Citations -- Catechism, Church documents, Canon Law, Denzinger's Compendium, Ludwig Ott Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma

Don't email me and tell me that a confessor you went to ten years ago said that anything goes sexually in your marriage and God doesn't mind at all as long as it all leads to vaginal intercourse in the end. That's not helpful.   
  1. Learning to reflect and consider thoughtfully our sexual intimacy.
  2. Ways of approaching sexual morality
    1. Some people want a list List of Dos and Don’ts
      1. List of approved sexual activities and a list of activities that are not approved.  
        1. Simple, easy to understand, doesn't require much reflection -- is the activity on the good list or the bad list?
        2. And there is a bad list -- actually, a pretty long one
          1. Acts that can never be ordered, never be oriented to procreation by their very nature
            1. Examples
              1. Anal sex -- anatomically, anal sex cannot lead to procreation.
              1. Oral sex performed by a wife on a husband in which he ejaculates
              1. Fetishes in which some body part becomes the focus of sexual interest, like feet or ears or navel or an external object like shoes or underwear

          1. Acts that cannot ever be oriented to the bond of marriage because they are degrading to the human person
            1. Emphasis on "consenting adults"
              1. Issue of mutual hedonism.  -- very worldly
                1. Using the spouse for mutual masturbation
                1. Using the spouse as a sex toy

            1. Examples
              1. Impact Play -- spanking, flogging, paddling -- power and domination
              1. Bondage -- restraints, dominance and submission -- use of leather belts or handcuffs.
              1. Voyeurism -- watching porn together
              1. Roleplaying -- power dynamics -- teacher /student
              1. Erotic asphyxiation (EA) is the official term for breath play. From  This type of sexual activity involves intentionally cutting off the air supply for you or your partner with choking, suffocating, and other acts.  People who are into breath play say it can heighten sexual arousal and make orgasms more intense.  But it isn’t without its risks — and lots of them. It can turn deadly if you don’t take the proper precautions.

        3. Does not capture anything like the complexity

    1. Catholic Understanding of the morality of human acts
      1. Check out with the catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1749 to 1761 for an excellent discussion of how to evaluate the morality of any given act, including sexual acts.  Very much worth reading
      1. We are going to do a brief review of how to evaluate the morality of acts, specifically sexual acts
      1. And I promise we won't get to technical or philosophical, will keep this clear
      1. CCC 1750 The morality of human acts depends on: - the object chosen; - the end in view or the intention; - the circumstances of the action.  The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the "sources," or constitutive elements, of the morality of human acts. 

      1. Catholic Diocese of Lincoln put out a nice summary on the Three Parts of the Moral Act for their Catholic highschoolers
        1. Object = the action or inaction chosen -- the what -- for example, using Viagra or kissing breasts, or the husband stimulating the wife's genitals with his toungue in oral sex.
        1. Intention/Motive -- the reason for doing the action or not doing an action
        1. Circumstances - -- stituational factors which may affect the morality of an action -- who, what, where, how.  

      1. All three of these, the object, the intention, and the circumstances must be evaluated to determine if a moral act is good or evil. 
        1. All three must be good for an act to be moral.   

      1. Analyze the object first, then the intention, then the circumstances
      1. Object can be good, bad, or neutral
        1. Not just the physical action -- putting handcuffs on --   Prostitution.  

        1. A bad object can never be justified even with the most laudable intentions or exceptional circumstances
        1. Intrinsic evil is determined by the object -- suicide.  Asphyxiation
          1. The act itself is immoral -- no circumstances or intentions can change that

      1.  The reason or intention
        1. A good or neutral action can become bad because of a bad intention
          1. E.g. almsgiving is a good action, but it can be done with the wrong intentions or in the wrong circumstances
          1. Objectively evil acts are often done for good reasons --in 2007, young Chilean prostitute who auctioned off 27 hours of sex so that she could give the money to help disabled children.  

          1. The goodness of an act can be diminished or totally lost because of bad motives
          1. Can be mixed motives
            1. Parts

          1. The end does not justify the means
            1. End is the goal, my reason for doing it
            1. Means = the object, the way I get to that goal.  

      1. The circumstances == everything else that is morally relevant
        1. Who is doing it
        1. Where, when and how is it done
        1. Doing something in the wrong way, in the wrong place, at the wrong time
          1. Husband and wife sharing sexual intimacy where their kids can witness them.  

        1. Circumstances can make
          1. a good action bad
          1. A good action better
          1. A bad action worse
          1. A bad action not as bad

        1. But circumstances can never make a bad action good.  
          1. Every intrinsically evil action will stay evil, regardless of the circumstances
          2. Remember, for an act to be good, all three elements must be good
            1. The act itself
            1. The intention behind the act
            1. The circumstances surrounding it
            1. All must be good for the act to be good.  

  1. Impact of parts and blending
    1. Starting in Episode 71, much more about parts
    1. Parts trying to get needs met
  4. Ways that sex can be un-Catholic -- from episode 67 Catholic and UnCatholic Sex in Catholic Marriages
      1. Why does this thing bring me to orgasm -- why am I attracted to it.
        1. If we can't symbolize it in works, we're likely to enact

    1. The intention / motivation / orientation
      1. To get my needs met
      1. Sex will not resolve deep unmet attachment needs or deep unmet integrity needs (Episode 62)
        1. Just like food won't or drugs won't
        1. That's not what sex is for.

  5. Examples
    1. Open to procreation
    1. Oriented toward the marital bond -- the authentic union of the spouses.  

    1. Culminating in vaginal intercourse or does it get derailed?
      1. Situational factors -- e.g. premature ejaculation.  

    1. Example of Viagra -- Bill -- no problem
By Father Rocky Hoffman
Jun 14, 2011
Is the use of viagra morally acceptable by the Catholic Church?
The morality of the use of any medicine depends on the object, the intention, and the circumstances.
Assuming that the Viagra medicine has only one purpose, to facilitate the marital act, then it can be taken licitly only by married people who are open to life.
If people are not married, and/or are not open to life, then it would be morally impermissible to take Viagra.  If the married couple is beyond child-bearing age, but otherwise are open to life, then it could be morally licit to use Viagra if it helps keep the love and affection alive between husband and spouse.
But what we must reject is the instrumentilization of sex for pleasure.  That’s a dead end and leads to isolation.  The marital act always needs to be understood from the perspective of gift of self, and not a gift for self.
  1. Example of manual stimulation -- rubbing the genitals
  2. Example of kissing breasts
    1. Can be a very legitimate part of foreplay, very pleasurable and 

    1. Jeff from Episode 61 --  This needy exile is now very regressed and begins to suck vigorously on her nipples.  This part has just reduced Joanne to her breasts, Jeff's needy exile part doesn't see Joanne as a whole person at all.  Remember, this needy exiled part of Jeff is starved from maternal affection.  Jeff never nursed as a baby, was fed by a bottle, and he is now getting carried away by the illusion that his need can be met by this kind of sexualized pseudo nursing.  This is thrilling to this part.
  4. Example of sensual biting  otherwise known as odaxelagnia, can be roughly defined as this: The act of creating or enhancing sexual arousal through biting.
    1. Dominance
  6. Example of sex toys
    1. Definition:  an object used to provide or increase sexual pleasure, as a dildo or vibrator.
    1. Vibrators. Suction toys. Dildos
    1. Marketing hype is all about maximizing pleasurable sensations -- not about 

  1. Example of the husband performing oral sex on his wife
  2. Cindy's example of performing oral sex on her husband.  
  1. Diagnostics -- looking at the fruit.  
    1. Direction moving toward, direction moving away -- what is the trajectory over time?
      1. Is more order coming in?
      1. Do the sexual acts support the whole canopied marriage bed -- not just the eros, the sexual excitement.  

    3. Can God be present?
      1. Or does what happens on the marriage bed need to be furtive, secret, hidden from God
        1. Sunlight -- the best disinfectant
        1. Bring this into the sun

      1. Issue of shame.  
        1. Let's deal with the shame then
        2. If sex, even good, ordered sex, brings up shame, this is an opportunity.  

      1. Prayer
  2. Latitude -- space for making mistakes
    1. If there is good will, good intentions, willingness to make sacrifices for our spouse's good and our own good.  

  3. Pilgrimage
    1. Human formation
      1. We all need help
      1. We all need structure
      1. We all need support.  

    1. Relaunch discussion.  
      1. Get on the waiting list --  more than 100 on the waiting list so far. Not all of them will join.  We are taking about 80 new members in, we're keeping it manageable -- we don't want to lose the Catholic touch.  
      2. Waiting list, first chance.  By June 4, landing page.  
      3. Join with your spouse
      4. Mark your calendars  Tuesday, May 25 from 7:30 to 8:45 PM meeting about the RCC reopening, Q&A.  -- that meeting will be on our landing page -- register for it.  We will be getting that link out to our waiting list members -- with a lot more information by May 18.  Landing Page --  
        1. Initial Measure Kit -- gathering several different questionnaires that will be in the IMK so that each person will be able to make their own individualized plan for human formation. After we receive the IMK there will be a 15min phone or zoom conversation about your personal plan. 
        2. Individualized Human Formation Plan
        3. Companions:  are pairs (men with other men and women with other women) who briefly check in daily with each other to offer encouragement and accountability in their daily human formation practices. 
        4. Companies are a group of eight RCC members who will meet weekly to support each other on this journey. 

    1. Conversation hours Tuesday and Thursday May 25, 27, not June 1, but June 3, 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, 24, and 29 -- 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM Eastern time -- 317.567.9594.  

  4. IIC 69A  Basic Check In Experiential Exercise
  5. IIC 69T  Questioning IFS
  6. Patroness and Patron  
  7. Blurb for Transistor: Dr. Peter discusses how to evaluate the moral qualities of different sexual expressions within Catholic marriage, including oral sex, anal sex, the use of sex toys, fetishes, the use of Viagra, sensual biting, breath play, and a host of other sexual activities, along with recommendations for determining if certain sexual practices are good for your marriage.  

What is Interior Integration for Catholics?

In the Interior Integration for Catholics podcast, together, we seek fundamental transformation in our lives through human formation, via Internal Family Systems approaches grounded in a Catholic worldview. Join us as we sail through uncharted waters, seizing the opportunities for psychological and spiritual growth and increasing resilience in the natural and spiritual realms. With a clear takeaway message and one action in each weekly episode, you can move from dreading what is happening to you to rising above it. Join us on Mondays for new episodes. You can also check out the Resilient Catholics Community which grew up around this podcast at