Is Using Viagra Immoral?

Dear Grace,
I know that the Catholic Church prohibits artificial birth control because it “goes against nature.” What is the Church’s position on Viagra? I think it goes against nature just as much as artificial birth control does.



The Church has not condemned the use of Viagra, but your question is interesting and occasions an opportunity to make an important distinction. Artificial contraception, as you must know, is the intentional prevention of conception or impregnation through the use of various devices, agents, drugs, sexual practices, or surgical procedures before, during, or after a voluntary act of intercourse. Viagra, on the other hand, is a drug that helps males to overcome a pathological condition preventing them from engaging in the conjugal act with their spouses. Destroying or denying a good (conception) is quite different from enhancing or strengthening a good (as by use of Viagra).

Is it wrong for a married man to be assisted by medical treatment to have sexual relations with his wife? Surely it cannot be. Scripture tells us that God, out of His infinite and powerful love, created man and woman for each other. He then said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gn 1: 28). God had a beautiful plan for marriage. And in order that they would be able to fulfill that plan, God created them with a natural desire for each other. This desire is good and noble when it is satisfied in the way that the Creator intended. Sex is a sacred and holy gift from God to a husband and wife because this is one of the means by which they can fulfill the two purposes and meanings of marriage — to be unitive and procreative. Let us not make the mistake, though, of placing all of the focus on sex. Sexual performance is not the end-all in marriage and really has little to do with the spiritual aspect of marriage.

Use of drugs such as Viagra to help overcome pathological conditions can certainly not be immoral. The difference between use of such drugs and artificial contraceptives is that contraceptives do not help overcome a pathological condition. Being fertile is not a pathology. There is quite a difference. Viagra does not go against nature — it assists nature. Artificial contraception does not assist nature — it goes against nature.

I assumed, of course, that you were referring to married men in your question. If, however, you were asking about all men using Viagra, then that would change the answer. The Catholic Church has always taught consistently that sexual intercourse “must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes grave sin and excludes one from sacramental Communion” (CCC #2390.

You can see, therefore, that because we believe firmly that sex outside of marriage is immoral, then the use of Viagra — a drug specifically used to assist males to be able to have sexual intercourse — would most naturally be condemned as immoral if used by single men. This teaching by the Church regarding no sex outside of marriage is often not a popular one and creates a tremendous challenge for many single persons today, but the reality is that it is a beautiful teaching, for it comes from God, and therefore we know that it comes from His loving heart and is, thus, for our ultimate good and true happiness.

© Copyright 2004 Grace D. MacKinnon

For permission to reprint this article, or to have Grace speak at your event, contact Grace MacKinnon at grace@deargrace.com.

Grace MacKinnon holds an MA in theology and is a syndicated columnist and public speaker on Catholic doctrine. Her new book Dear Grace: Answers to Questions About the Faith is available in our online store. If you enjoy reading Grace’s column, you will certainly want to have this book, which is a collection of the first two years of “Dear Grace.” Faith questions may be sent to Grace via e-mail at: grace@deargrace.com. You may also visit her online at www.DearGrace.com.

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  • Lemurtide

    Wait, so nature wants elderly men who produce a lot of genetically defective sperm and who won’t live to care for their offspring into adulthood and who’ve lost their sexual function as they’ve aged to have that restored? If God intended 60 and 70 year old men to have the sexual function of much younger men then why do so many have this “pathology” and if having your reproductive capacities diminish as you age is a “pathology” then shouldn’t older women who use fertility treatments be moral too? After all, the body will naturally miscarry embryos with strong genetic defects, and if elderly men are likely to create such embryos then giving them viagra increases the chance of miscarriages in the same way that artificial implantation does. Also, is menopause a pathology, or is it only a pathology when men lose their potency as a result of aging?

  • Melcon

    does a 55 year old woman want a baby at this point in her life?

  • Melcon

    through health ins. the catholic church is paying for viagra ,but dosen’t want a woman to protect herself. shame on you

  • Christymomof3

    Yes, I would welcome another if God saw fit to send me another, to befriend my grandchild, perhaps. You guys are not paying any attention to her answer. Please read it again, in humility

  • Olesenf

    Do you really believe that most mean who use Viagra want children? 

  • Olesenf

    Do you really believe most men who use Viagra want children?

  • Melcon

    if you want to be 70 years old raising a teenager more power to you.most 70 year olds need care themselves by then!

  • Seanmaceochaidh

    Disease is a result of original sin(I think). Erectile dysfunction is a result of disease not ageing. We are all entitled to try to achieve full bodily health and function. Viagra does this. Surely the taking of /prescribing of Viagra is not the problem; illicit sexual intercourse is the problem. Saying a doctor or pharmacy which dispense Viagra are co-operating in evil if an unmarried man has subsequent intercourse is like saying God is responsible if a man who does not need Viagra has illicit intercourse, which is not correct.

    It is preposterous to think that God allows impotence in older age to stop sex or allow us to pray more. That is an irrational thought process that sees sex as a necessary evil, as opposed to something sanctifiable, which JP2′s Theology of the Body clearly explains.

  • Seanmaceochaidh

    BTW just in case people think I am liberal, I am against doctors prescribing the pill and abortifacients and do not do it. In the Viagra situation though, where the doctor is not breaking a working system but fixing a broken one, therefore doing nothing wrong as far as that, why are they formally co-operating in an illicit act if they advise the patient against it?

  • Mvanleir

    What a crock…the reason we are having this conversation is because men make the rules. lets be clear. I am a bleading heart liberal who does not believe in contraception of any kind except abstinence. Viagara is disgusting and immoral. It is rarely used for young men. Old men having sex without the goal of procreation is immoral, right? No, only young women having sex without that goal are immoral, right? Yeah…like I said, men make the rules…and their arguments don’t hold water. The sad part is if you had dealt with this issue in a way that was equitable for women, you may have had the chance of getting the pro life message accross.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3TT4ZBAMVCTTLDVAWSK5N5M4OI Bill From LA

    This is just hilarious. There have been no reports of child-molesting priests needing Viagra.  So it much be inconsistent with the teachings of the church.  Of course, the church hides its pedophiles while it tells women what to do, so who knows?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3TT4ZBAMVCTTLDVAWSK5N5M4OI Bill From LA

    Some of them probably do.  But not in the way you mean.

  • Ed Walker

    Erectile dysfunction is natural birth control. Viagra frustrates God’s design that certain males be barred from reproduction. In the words of Humanae Vitae, frustrating the design of the Almighty is a violation of Natural Law, which you would realize if you thought about it carefully.

    It is wrong to force me to pay for that through insurance.

  • CatyCatholic

    did you read the article above???

  • CatyCatholic

    What if, per chance, you were a young married man that needed this to help?? 

  • catycatholic

    most often no, but she still might want to have realtionships with her husband right??

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