Today’s topic is my favorite topic: contraception. The question was from an elderly woman who asks:
"Do you think if the Church relaxed its rule on Birth Control there would be less abortions?
"After all every time a married couple shows their great love for each other one doesn't become pregnant.
"Surely, to space ones children and limit the number they can provide for emotionally, and economically is acceptable.
"Good, Faithful Catholics would use it for only this purpose."
You have raised some honest, good-faith questions about spacing births and the use of contraceptive devices for this purpose. I hope to be able to address your concerns sufficiently.
The Church is firm in her stance against artificial contraception, and she recommends the use of Natural Family Planning for the spacing of children. NFP consists of recognizing the fertile periods in a woman's cycle and abstaining during that time if avoiding conception would be prudent. A couple who practices NFP must be careful to have a serious reason for spacing their children, and they must always be open to the possibility of conceiving.
It is true that in God's design of a woman, he created only a certain time frame each month when pregnancy can occur. However, the use of contraception does is not valid because of this fact. When couples attempt to "play God" while using contraception, they are denying both their responsibility as parents, the vows they made in marriage, and their trust in God's divine plan for their lives. This is called the "contraceptive mentality." The lies of this philosophy dictate that man and woman ought to be able to decide when or whether to have a child. It is only logical that what follows the widespread belief in this philosophy is not only contraception use, but also abortion.
In his 1968 document Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI affirmed this point. “These acts, by which husband and wife are united in chaste intimacy, and by means of which human life is transmitted, are, as the council recalled, "noble and worthy," and they do not cease to be lawful if, for causes independent of the will of husband and wife, they are foreseen to be infecund, since they always remain ordained towards expressing and consolidating their union” (paragraph 11).
Contraception is not, and will never be, 100% fool-proof. Pregnancy happens when contraception is used at alarming rates. If a couple is using birth control and pregnancy occurs, the temptation to abort becomes greater.
Furthermore, all chemical contraceptives act as abortifacients should breakthrough fertilization occur. An abortifacient renders it impossible for a newly conceived child to implant in his mother's womb.
Statistics show that Catholic couples use contraception just as frequently as non-Catholic couples do. The solution to the problem is clearly not to condone contraceptive use by serious Catholics, but to educate about NFP and a proper understanding of human sexuality and the marital act.
In the same above-mentioned encyclical, Pope Paul VI issued the following recommendation for the use of NFP.
“Now, some may ask: in the present case, is it not reasonable in many circumstances to have recourse to artificial birth control if, thereby, we secure the harmony and peace of the family, and better conditions for the education of the children already born? To this question it is necessary to reply with clarity: the Church is the first to praise and recommend the intervention of intelligence in a function which so closely associates the rational creature with his Creator; but the affirms that this must be done with respect for the order established by God.
“If, then, there are serious motives to space out births, which derive from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms immanent in the generative functions, for the use of marriage in the infecund periods only, and in this way to regulate birth without offending the moral principles which have been recalled earlier” (paragraph 16).
As I said above, those who know me well know that contraception is my favorite topic. I am firmly convinced that it is the widespread use of contraception that has lead to all of the social ills of our day. In the news, especially in the past month, we read more and more about homosexual “marriages,” cloning and embryonic research, murders of pregnant women, post-abortion justification and/or regret, Benedict XVI’s condemnation of moral relativism, STDs and STIs, etc.
Could the answer really be as simple as resolving the great lie being told through the marital act when contraception and the contraceptive mentality rule in lieu of the promise of God’s plan for our human sexuality?
The Magisterium of the Church has done their part in promulgating "Humanae Vitae." The time has come for our Bishops and Priests to implement these teachings prayerfully with sincerity and urgency.
Next week, I will have much more time to put into more thoughtful dissections of current news stories. I am greatly troubled by the widespread activities of the gay movement. At the same time, I am greatly inspired by the words of Pope Benedict XVI. A Catholic News Agency story highlights his words from Monday’s presentation. Original text available in Italian from the Vatican website.
When a translation to English is published at the end of the week, I will be providing a deeper look at his words.