There has been much said and reported on recently regarding the HHS mandate that Catholic organizations and institutions along with like-minded employers involved with healthcare start providing contraceptives to those who request it. With this in mind, I thought it would be good to go deeper into why the Church believes such things are wrong. This ties into my previous Pro-life post, in which I touched on this briefly.
To reiterate, all of what the Church teaches on sexuality stems from the sacrament of marriage/matrimony. It is the definition of marriage, specifically the “openness to children” criterion, which affects all that was touched on in “Pro-Life”. Homosexuality, contraception, and abortion are the big issues involved. Each act of intercourse between husband and wife should be open to the possibility of conceiving a child.
Some would say, “Ah ha! That’s why so-and-so Catholic has 12 children!” or ask, “So no sex unless we want children?” To answer that question, I say yes and no. Yes, we should be open to the possibility, but no, not just when reproduction is the only aim. Couples should “renew” their vows often, and God created us in such a way to make this possible.
As we all know, men are fertile 24/7. “When the moment is right”, they are good to go. Women, on the other hand, are typically fertile for a relatively short period of time each month, roughly a week for those with consistent schedules. It is the beauty of this design that allows us to say, “Yes, we’re open”, but God can say, “Not this time.” This is how methods like rhythm method were developed. Since that particular method is highly inaccurate, others have been developed and are used by many women today, like the Sympto-Thermal Method or the Creighton Method (we use the latter now after using the former). Essentially, using the signs God “programmed” into women, it can be determined how likely a pregnancy is to occur. This is called Natural Family Planning (NFP for short).
Objections now might be, “Wait, that’s still a form on contraception!”, but it is in God’s hands, not ours. A pregnancy is possible during an infertile time, but it is unlikely and vice versa. Catholicism essentially teaches that using things like condoms or pills essentially say to God, “I give you my all, except for what happens in the bedroom.” It is also worth noting that the phrase “protected sex” is contradictory, because what are you protecting yourself from and why do you need protection from your spouse?
What has happened in our society is a redefining what sexual intercourse is. Because of the “sexual revolution” in the 1960s, sex has become purely recreational; it feels good. Naturally defined, sex is meant as a means to reproduce; it’s the natural order of things. As people created in God’s image, this holds true as well, but it takes on a higher meaning. Sex, as God defines it, is meant to affirm the sacred union between husband and wife. That is the cake; the feeling and stimulation is the icing. Far too many people think sex is all about the icing, which leaves them spiritually and emotionally sick.
Contraception was not designed by some great medical persona believe it or not. Nor was it originally designed to prevent pregnancy. All it does it allow us to give into our sexual appetites and ignore self-control, because with it we avoid the “consequences” of sex. Christopher West notes in his book, “Good News About Sex and Marriage” that contraception not only violates the openness to children, but the other marriage criteria. For example, with fidelity, he writes:
“Being faithful to one’s spouse does not only mean refraining from adultery. It means living what you promised at the altar through thick and thin, no matter how difficult, no matter how challenging, no matter how much sacrifice is required. Couples who succumb to sterilizing their acts of intercourse have consciously or unconsciously decided that fidelity to their vows is too demanding. Consciously or unconsciously, they choose to be unfaithful to the promises they made at the altar.” (pg. 111)
Essentially, contraception allows to us to be like animals, giving in to our base desires. However, we are called to practice self-control (Gal. 5:22-23), part of the fruit of the Spirit. This is part of how we are made in God’s image; we can decide to ignore those desires. Paul himself wrote to the Corinthians, “I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize,” (1 Cor. 9:27) and even earlier said, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” (1 Cor. 6:12f)
I leave you with some notable figures that predicted (some could even say, prophesied) about what would happen to a society that embraced contraception along with a recent article from Business Insider:
“Artificial methods are like putting a premium on vice. They make men and women reckless... Nature is relentless and will have full revenge for any such violation of her laws. Moral results can only be produced by moral restraints… As it is, man has sufficiently degraded woman for his lust, and artificial methods, no matter how well meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her.” – Mohandas Gandhi
“The World is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the World from suicide.” – T.S. Eliot
“Carried to its logical conclusion, the committee's report (to allow marital contraception) carried into effect would sound the death-knell of marriage as a holy institution, by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptive would be ‘careful and restrained’ is preposterous.” – Washington Post editorial written in response to Anglican Church and Federal Council of Churches, USA, decisions to allow contraception in marriage in 1930.
“Surely it should need no demonstration to show that willful sterility is, from the standpoint of the nation, from the standpoint of the human race, the one sin for which the penalty is national death, race death; a sin for which there is no atonement.” – Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, State of the Union address, December 3, 1906
“The abandonment of the reproductive function is the common feature of all perversions. We actually describe a sexual activity as perverse if it has given up the aim of reproduction and pursues the attainment of pleasure as an aim independent of it.” – Sigmund Freud