One of today's questions caught my eye because I don’t recall being asked this anytime within the past year. A teacher who is planning to run for political office inquires: "Should a Catholic leader be making political moves to outlaw contraceptives- not just the 'maybe contraceptive, maybe abortifacients,' but things like condoms and other physical barrier types?"
Absolutely! A Catholic politician ought to support legislation that would prohibit the use, distribution or funding of contraceptives, including condoms. Political moves to outlaw contraceptives and to restore the proper meaning and context to human sexuality are essential. I then encouraged him to make this a central point of his "ministry" as a politician, as it will undoubtedly restore order to a sexually-confused culture.
Contraception is a social ill as well as a hindrance to spousal relations. It redefines the sexual act and thus puts it in the context of a recreational activity instead of a holy act of spouses meant for the purposes of procreation and union. Among other negative effects, when contraception creeps into a marriage, the children are not given and example of trust in God, self-sacrifice or service to others. On the other hand, they are give a message of self-gratification and this creates a skewed understanding of human sexuality.
Let's discuss human sexuality for a little bit. In our "over-sexualized" society, the very term "sexuality" typically refers to using ones sexual faculties to achieve orgasm or simply for recreation. This attitude has justified many deviant sexual behaviors such as oral sex and homosexuality.
In Her wisdom, the Catholic Church speaks much differently about the meaning of human sexuality. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2332-2335, it says:
Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.
Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.
"In creating men 'male and female,' God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity." "Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God."
Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator's generosity and fecundity: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." All human generations proceed from this union.
According to these definitions, sexuality only refers to the act in as much as it is within the covenant of marriage and open to life. It is through that union of husbands and wives that procreation is meant to happen.
More accurately, our human sexuality is God's writing on our hearts of how we are to love one another but not necessarily in a sexual way. Sexual love is a higher form of love, a vocation which is the responsibility of those who discern it, not the right of all people by the mere factor that our bodies have the capacity to experience it physically.
With this understanding, we can see how the deviant acts of homosexuality and masturbation, for example, are grave offenses against our human sexuality.
So, in order for a Catholic leader or politician to serve the Church as well as all of his constituents, he must accept the responsibility of ensuring that laws protect human sexuality and place it in its proper context.
Recommended reading: The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, a 1996 document of the Pontifical Council for the Family that describes recommended guidelines for sexual education within the family, which is its proper place.