Contraception: An Objective Evil
by Donna Shute
Need a sign of hope for the future of the Church? Here it is. This paper was written by a 15-year-old, home-schooled "petite femme. " Pray for this generation who will be called, like 16 year old St. Joan of Arc. to fight for the faith even to the point of suffering and, perhaps, death. Ed
"Contraception is sinful because the conjugal act is of its very nature designed for the purpose of procreating children. Therefore, those who deliberately interfere with the natural act of procreation do that which is essentially immoral and contrary to the will of God." [The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism, Fr. John Hardon, S.J.]
"Marriage and conjugal love are ordained by their very nature to the procreating and educating of children. Offspring are clearly the supreme gift of marriage, a gift that contributes immensely to the good of the parents themselves." [Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, no. 50, in AAS 58 (1966) 1070-72]
"Thus, relying on these first principles of human and Christian doctrine concerning marriage, we must again insist that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun must be totally rejected as a legitimate means of regulating the number of children. Furthermore, as the Magisterium of the Church has taught repeatedly, direct sterilization of the male or female, whether permanent or temporary, is equally to be condemned. Similarly, there must be a rejection of all acts that attempt to impede procreation. This includes acts that precede intercourse, acts that accompany intercourse, and acts that are directed to the natural consequences of intercourse." [Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae]
The Catholic Church's stand against contraception is one of the most controversial issues of the day even among Catholics. The problem in the U. S. is that popular is often equated with right. Nothing could be farther from the truth. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Right is right, though all the world is against it, and wrong is wrong, though all the world is for it." It's a distressing thing to acknowledge that many (so-called) Catholics in the U. S. practice contraception. The charitable assumption is that they are simply ignorant of the teaching of the magisterium, but some may, in reality, be acting in willful rebellion.
Contraception is "any action deliberately taken before, during, or after intercourse in order to prevent conception" [The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism, Fr. John Hardon, S.J.] and is an inherently sinful act. But why is it so seriously sinful? The marital act was created by God to serve two distinct and yet inextricably intertwined ends: unitive and procreative: that is, to unite the married couple in their love, and to be open to the creation of new life. In Genesis 1:28 God issued this command to our first parents, Adam and Eve: "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it." God wants us to "be fruitful." Openness to life is an integral part of the marital act.
Pope Paul VI noted in Humanae Vitae that "a violation of the interior order of the conjugal union, which is rooted in the very order of the person, constitutes the essential evil of the contraceptive act." This is serious. To violate the interior order of sexual intercourse is to take something God-given and desecrate and profane it. And if contraception is a profanation of something fundamentally holy, then it is an act of sacrilege. ["Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily, persons, things, or places consecrated to God." Catechism of the Catholic Church #2120]
Contraception not only desecrates the sanctity of the marital act it also cheapens the value and dignity of the human person. Sticking a woman on potentially dangerous drugs such as the Pill, or throwing a condom to a man treats humans (who are made in the image and likeness of God) as if they are no better than animals. This is further evidenced by sterilization. What do we do to our pets when we don't wish them to reproduce? We have them spayed or neutered-popularly referred to as "getting them fixed". Today men and women are "fixed" like animals for their own selfish anti-life purposes. But why? Why "fix" something if it ain't broke? We are above the animals. All contraceptive drugs, barrier methods, and forms of sterilization demean the sanctity of human life and the sanctity of sexual relations.
What does the Bible have to say about it? St. Paul came out very strongly about the sanctity of marital relations: "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled." (Hebrews 13:4) Contraception is defiling the marriage bed by denying the procreative nature of sex and shoving God out of the equation. Whenever we push God out of the picture, shake our finger at Him and say, "No! This is my life and we're doing it my way!" we are cruising for a bruising.
It is interesting to note that the one place in the Bible (Genesis 38:7-10) where someone intentionally acts to prevent conception, God strikes him dead on the spot. It is not my life: it is not my body. We belong entirely to Him at whose name every knee must bend. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (I Corinthians 6:19-20) Romans 11:36-12:1, says "To him [God] be the glory forever!... Therefore... offer your bodies as living sacrifices... this is your spiritual act of worship."
As David Currie points out so aptly in Born Fundamentalist. Born Again Catholic, our glorifying God with our body includes our reproductive organs! We have been "bought with a price" and we simply don't have the right to tell God when we are going to bear children. This is what contraception says to God: "Look, God, I know you love me and want what's best and I know you're omnipotent and take care of me and all that great stuff, but you know, I just can't handle another kid right now, so with all due respect, butt out, okay? I know what I'm doing."
It reveals a severe lack of trust in God, a pitiable lack of faith. In essence, to use contraception is to play God, to pretend to have the power of life and death. On the other hand, large families are often a sign of parents who are generous with God, mindful of his blessings, and filled with trust in His infinite goodness and providence; they allow God's loving hand to intervene when He sees fit.
Another reason why contraception is gravely immoral is that it breaks the eighth commandment. It is a lie. In Humanae Vitae Pope Paul VI points out that sexual intercourse is a language all its own. He says it is meant to say, "I want to become completely and wholly one with you and accept the possibility of enjoying the good of procreation with you." In other words, the language of the marriage act speaks of both of the aspects of sex: unity and procreation. But when one partner or the other or both are sterilized or using artificial birth control, their bodies are saying one thing and their minds are saying another. The language of their bodies says "I love you-I want to be completely one with you-I want to be open to creating new life with you." However, in their minds, they are saying, "I love you only insofar as it benefits me-I want to be one with you. to give you my all and accept all of you-oh, except for your fertility-and I do not want to be open to the possibility of having new life spring from our union." When you say one thing and mean another, it is a lie.
The same thing goes for using the language of conjugal love inappropriately. An essay by Mary Rosera Joyce in Why Humanae Vitae Was Right explains that having sexual intercourse while using contraception is like telling someone "I love you" after having stuffed his ears with cotton so he can't hear you. "In verbal communication lying is an act which prevents the conception of truth right within the very act of presenting something as true. In coital communication, contraception is an act which prevents the conception of life right within the very act of presenting that which conceives life." [Why Humanae Vitae was Right, pp. 109]
Contraception is a deliberate twisting of the language of love. Like sodomy, bestiality, masturbation, premarital sex, and extramarital sex; it is taking something sacred, sexual intercourse, cheapening it and turning it into a lie. Who are we to wield the keys to the door of the womb? That is God's prerogative, and His alone. Being pro-life does not just mean being anti-abortion. It means protecting the sanctity of human life from all that threatens to degrade it, and that includes contraception. So where are the people God intended to send to find a cure for cancer or AIDS or bring about world peace? Some say they were aborted. This may be true. In fact it probably is. But maybe, just maybe, we prevented them from being conceived in the first place. Maybe they were never allowed to exist.
Contraception leads to many other evils in society as well, because once human dignity ceases to be valued and people think they have the right to play God, there is no end to the damage that follows. Contraception leads to abortion because those who resolve to prevent a child from existing are not likely to respect the child's right to life after he or she does exist. The use of contraception implies that life is not a basic good. And if life is not a basic good, and the marriage bed can be defiled, there is no reason not to employ sexual activity merely for the satisfaction of sexual desire. Where contraception is accepted as a good instead of the objective evil that it is, other perverse acts (abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, masturbation, divorce, fornication, adultery) will come to be accepted as well. As it says in Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, it's a slippery slope with no handrails, (pp. 207)
Children are a blessing. "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3-5) However, this culture treats children as if they were a disease! Every new child brought into existence can glorify God for all eternity in heaven. Parents have the greatest mission imaginable: to populate heaven with souls! Contraception is an objective wrong and life is always an objective good. The issue at hand is trust in God. As it says in Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths." To trust Him and acknowledge Him means to hand everything over to Him, everything within us. God opens and shuts the door to the womb. We need to place our trust in Him.