Daily Series on the Catechism


Section Two:  The Ten Commandments

Chapter 2:  “You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself”

Article 6,  The Sixth Commandment

IV.  Offenses Against the Dignity of Marriage

Other offenses against the dignity of marriage (cont’d)

§ 2390  In a so-called free union, a man and a woman refuse to give juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy.

The expression “free union” is fallacious [misleading]: what can “union” mean when the partners make no commitment to one another, each exhibiting a lack of trust in the other, in himself, or in the future?

The expression covers a number of different situations: concubinage [a man and woman living together in illicit intercourse], rejection of marriage as such, or inability to make long-term commitments (cf. FC 81). All these situations offend against the dignity of marriage; they destroy the very idea of the family; they weaken the sense of fidelity. They are contrary to the moral law. The sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage, it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from Sacramental Communion.

§ 2391  Some today claim a “right to a trial marriage” where there is an intention of getting married later. However firm the purpose of those who engage in premature sexual relations may be, “the fact is that such liaisons can scarcely ensure mutual sincerity and fidelity in a relationship between a man and a woman, nor, especially, can they protect it from inconstancy of desires or whim [infidelity](CDF: “Persona Humana [The Human Person]” 7).

Carnal union is morally legitimate only when a definitive community of life between a man and woman has been established. Human love does not tolerate “trial marriages.” It demands a total and definitive gift of persons to one another (cf. FC 80).


In Brief

§ 2392  “Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being” (FC 11).

§ 2393  By creating the human being, man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other. Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.

§ 2394  Christ is the Model of chastity. Every baptized person is called to lead a chaste life, each according to his [or her] particular state of life.

§ 2395  Chastity means the integration of sexuality within the person. It includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery.

§ 2396  Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.

§ 2397  The covenant which spouses have freely entered into entails faithful love. It imposes on them the obligation to keep their marriage indissoluble.

§ 2398  Fecundity [fruitfulness] is a good, a gift and an end [effect] of marriage. By giving life, spouses participate in God’s Fatherhood.

§ 2399  The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).

§ 2400  Adultery, divorce, polygamy, and free union are grave offenses against the dignity of marriage.

Tomorrow – Article 7,  The Seventh Commandment

(Part III, Section 2, Chapter 2 – to be continued)

[Editor’s Note:  The abbreviations in today’s posting are noted below.]

  • “CDF” – “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”, Declaration (Oct 1976)
  • “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”
  • “FC” – Pope St. John Paul II (Nov 1981), “Familiaris Consortio [At the Service of the Family]”
Available in several languages


A Sunday Blessing

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord make His face to shine upon you,

      and be gracious to you.

May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you,

     and give you peace. †

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