The "quieting of concupiscence" (remedium concupiscentiae) is one of the secondary ends of the sacrament of matrimony (cf. Casti Connubii §59), but what exactly is it? How does it "quiet" or "remedy" concupiscence?


1 Answer 1


St. Thomas describes how it works in Summa Theologica suppl. q. 42 a. 3 (on how matrimony confers grace) ad 4:

A remedy can be employed against concupiscence in two ways.

  1. on the part of concupiscence by repressing it in its root, and thus matrimony affords a remedy by the grace given therein.
  2. on the part of its act, and this in two ways:

    1. by depriving the act to which concupiscence inclines of its outward shamefulness, and this is done by the marriage blessings which justify carnal concupiscence;

    2. by hindering the shameful act, which is done by the very nature of the act because concupiscence, being satisfied by the conjugal act, does not incline so much to other wickedness. For this reason the Apostle says (1 Cor. 7:9): "It is better to marry than to burn." For though the works congenial to concupiscence are in themselves of a nature to increase concupiscence,* yet in so far as they are directed according to reason they repress concupiscence, because like acts result in like dispositions and habits.
    *i.e., engaging in the act makes them want to engage in it more, like how eating makes one want to eat more (if not restrained by reason)


Matrimony confers graces to allow one to practice

  1. continence (with the help of matrimonial grace).
  2. the marriage act without sin, because of the

    1. marriage goods (sacrament, children, fidelity)

    2. directing the act according to reason,

which honestant the marriage act (justify and dignify it).

St. Augustine says married couples use evil well; they use the concupiscence in the act (an evil) for a good purpose.

  • Augustine and Aquinas appear to contradict each other somewhat. Does adding the point from Augustine support your Thomasian answer, or is this provided as a contrasting view? Jun 20, 2020 at 15:37
  • @KorvinStarmast "Augustine and Aquinas appear to contradict each other somewhat." I don't see any contradiction. In #2.2, St. Thomas says "repress concupiscence" not "eliminate concupiscence". Only continence completely avoids the evil of concupiscence in the marriage act (cf. his ranking of the degrees of chastity).
    – Geremia
    Jun 20, 2020 at 17:52
  • If I am reading you clearly, they both consider sex to be fundamentally dirty or bad, and sex requires something else to mitigate that. Is that about right? Jun 20, 2020 at 18:15
  • @KorvinStarmast "they both consider sex to be fundamentally dirty or bad" No, they're not Manichean or Albigensian dualists (who thought the body was evil), nor are they Pelagian (Pelagius denied concupiscence in the act; cf. St. Augustine's work against Julian, a Pelagian). The act itself is not evil; the concupiescence that accompanies the act in fallen man is what is evil.
    – Geremia
    Jun 20, 2020 at 18:35
  • @KorvinStarmast St. Augustine and St. Thomas realize the marriage act is not always sinful and can be meritorious, but it must be "excused" by the marriage goods (because of the evil of concupiscence inherent in the act; this wasn't the case before the Fall).
    – Geremia
    Jun 20, 2020 at 18:36

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