Catholics and contraception
Unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles - William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V Scene I
Natural sex relations with a spouse without anything interfering with God's miracle of conception creates a deep bond between a husband and wife, lowers risk of divorces, and increases intimacy. Quite frankly, the sex is better, and it is much healthier for the woman, the man and the environment.
The Christian teaching on contraception was fully formed by the 4th century in the work of Augustine, in that the deliberate prevention of life was a sin. What many Evangelicals don't know is that Martin Luther, Wesley, Calvin and all Protestants were together on this thinking until 1930. There was unity among Christian denominations on social matters. It all changed at the Anglican Conference at Lambeth in 1930. This was the first major break in Christendom on social morality. The "Eugenic" movement was the pressure group spearheaded by Planned Parenthood founder, Margaret Sanger, that pushed it through in 1930, after being defeated in 1908 and 1920. The following quotes from their journals show their ill founded reasoning.
"Before eugenicists and others who are laboring for racial betterment can succeed, they must first clear the way for Birth Control ... to assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit..." (Margaret Sanger. "Birth Control and Racial Betterment." Birth Control Review, Volume III, Number 2, Feb. 1919, page 11.)
"Parenthood should be a licensed profession and only those fully equipped should be allowed to become parents ... Dr. Hart believes that the race has deteriorated and that this deterioration can be stopped only by scientific methods of reproduction..." (Birth Control Review, Volume VIII, Number 12, Dec. 1924)
The Anglicans accepted birth control on condition it would only be used under situations that were serious. Of course that was like opening Pandora's Box. Within 30 years, all other denominations accepted birth control. All except one - the Catholic Church. Not surprisingly, the same process is happening with same sex issues.
The founder of Planned Parenthood, the world's largest abortion provider was the first to push contraception
Margaret Sanger, the eugenicist, atheist, who wrote the above article, founded Planned Parenthood after she successfully lobbied for contraception. Abortion was on the horizon.
Planned Parenthood is responsible for the majority of the 44,000,000 North American Abortions in the last 30 years. Those who think there is no link between contraception and abortion might be surprised at how entwined these issues are. The pill was supposed to reduce abortion. The opposite has occurred. In fact, abortion facilities provide contraceptives free of charge to their clients because they know that it is good for business. About 50% of all abortions are due to contraceptive failures. The abortionists know that contraceptive failures will occur and that the woman, with or without her partner will seek an abortion. In fact the US Supreme Court cited failed contraception as a reason to legalize abortion. (Planned Parenthood vs. Casey)
Before I (Hugh) found the Lord, I went down this road. Both abortions I was involved with were a result of failed contraception, one was an IUD and the other was the pill. My experience with abortion is here.
Sixty years after exonerating contraception at Lambeth, the Anglican Church declared gay sex to have no moral consequences. Other Christian Churches have been following their lead with roughly the same pace as they did contraception.
Sigmund Freud, who had little sympathy for religion of any kind, regarded the separation of intercourse from its procreative end as a model of sexual perversity. The founder of modern psychoanalysis wrote: “. . . it is a characteristic common to all the perversions that in them reproduction as an aim is put aside. This is actually the criterion by which we judge whether a sexual activity is perverse - if it departs from reproduction in its aims and pursues the attainment of gratification independently . . . Everything that . . . serves the pursuit of gratification alone is called by the unhonored title of ‘perversion’ and as such is despised.”10
Contraception launched a lifestyle of sex outside of marriage. Today 67% of youth are sexually active before marriage. Teenagers are about as good at contraception as they are at making their beds, doing their homework and doing their chores. In 1966, 6% white babies were born out of wedlock, now it's up to 25%. In 1967, 22% of black babies were born out of wedlock, now 66% of black babies are born out of wedlock. Most psychologists are in agreement that children with both parents stand a better chance of growing up well adjusted. Sex before marriage means broken hearts and broken bonds. Mother Teresa said:
Contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gifts of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.
The link between contraception and the legitimization of homosexuality is plain. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who is a supporter of gay sex says in the book, "Theology and Sexuality" (ed. Eugene Rogers, Blackwells 2002). In the conclusion of this address, he asserted:
In a church that accepts the legitimacy of contraception, the absolute condemnation of same-sex relations of intimacy must rely either on an abstract fundamentalist deployment of a number of very ambiguous biblical texts, or on a problematic and nonscriptural theory about natural complementarity, applied narrowly and crudely to physical differentiation without regard to psychological structures.
In the 1968 document "Humane Vitae," everybody felt like a bomb hit society. The Catholic Church was reaffirming its stance on contraception. In Section 6, Pope Paul VI makes several predictions. He said we would see:
- Lowering of morality,
- Disregard for physical and emotional well being of women by men,
- Government would use contraception for coercive purposes,
- Women would begin to treat their bodies as if they are machines.
Without exception, every one of these predictions (prophesies) have come true. It was a prophetic document in the midst of thousands of "sunny day" predictions about the how contraception was going to make marriages better, society better and make life more enjoyable. He was like Jeremiah crying out about the sins of his people when they didn't understand where they had gone wrong.
The "condom sense" strategy that is being taught to high school students ignores a basic precept of human behaviour (especially men's). Getting people to think about condoms in the middle of sexual arousal is counter intuitive and quite frankly unsuccessful. Yet condoms provide a false sense of security because the couple will say "we have protection." The truth is that men just don't like using condoms and when both partners are aroused, the lust takes on a life of its own, and their intentions to use condoms are often thrown by the wayside. Even if they do have "safer-sex", once they feed the lust, there is a much greater chance that they will practice unsafe sex at some point. That is why chastity is a better strategy, because it does not feed the lust the way that contraception does. The National Post reported that 25% of women 15-25 years old have venereal warts. The virus passes right through condoms. Condoms often break and are often used "improperly".
Although condom packages say they are 95% effective. Their studies are conducted in labs. We don't know very many people who have sex in labs. Real world studies of condom use and their success show us that a couple who have regular sex using condoms stand a 16% chance of pregnancy in any given year. If we got on a plane and they said, "Fasten seatbelts, by the way this plane has an 84% chance of reaching its destination." We would get the heck off the plane!
We live in a culture where condoms can be handed out in schools and bibles can't. That says a lot about how far "progressive" we have become.
Condoms are a "band-aid" solution that compound the current problems and don't address the real problem, our immoral behaviour. Fr. Bob Bedard says "I would get laughed out of most high school classrooms if I simply stated that the answer to STI's is chastity, not condoms." Condoms are based on lust, chastity is based on love. Chastity means no sex outside of marriage.
In the clinical trials for the pill they tried to make a pill for men and women. One man got slightly shrunken testicles and they completely abandoned all further tests with men. In the experiments for the pill, 3 women died and all they did was adjusted the dosage. Women still die from the pill. Sure it is a tiny percent but with 16 million women on the pill (in the US) even a small percentage is a women is a lot.
50% of women stop the pill in the first year because of side affects. The pill creates depression, lowers libido, makes women more irritable, and creates weight gain. The reason is that it makes the woman's body think it is in its first few weeks of pregnancy. And women in their first weeks of pregnancy have depression, lower libido, are more irritable, and gain weight. In a pregnancy these side effects go away. The side effects of the pill go on indefinitely.
The pill is an abortifacient. The inside cover of the pill package says it works in 3 ways, (1) it stops ovulation, (2) if there is a breakthrough ovulation, the pill changes viscosity of mucus to inhibit travel (3) it will prevent the attachment of the fertilized egg (the little 1 day old baby) to the uterus wall.
Some say NFP is not effective. Those couples are thinking of the old rhythm method that was 27% ineffective. In the British Medical Journal, Sept 18, 1993 a doctor reviews the evidence and demonstrates a .004 failure rate.
Some say "there is no difference between Natural Family Planning (NFP) and contraception." That is a compelling argument. In fact the Church says that NFP should not be used for selfish reasons.
Having said that, we suggest there are significant differences to NFP and contraception. If they are the same then why not do NFP?" The reply we get is "it demands a radical lifestyle change." Perhaps that is a clue that there is a big difference between NFP and contraception.
- Blocks God out of the procreative act
- Treats natural gift of life and fertility like they were burdens
- It prevents bonding by violating procreative meaning of sex. Pope JP II says sex should be an act of total self giving. Withholding fertility means withholding something that belongs in the sex act. With contraception introduced into sex, it is not an act of total giving.
Many couples who refuse NFP are afraid. They are afraid of the abstinence. Women are
afraid men will get grumpy during the abstinence time. Men are afraid they
will feel deprived
7-12 days per month. Again the statistics show a different story. NFP
couples have a near 0% divorce rate and claim high levels of intimacy. The sex is better!
The big difference between Natural Family Planning (NFP), which observe cycles of the woman's body, and birth control, is that NFP is not closing the door to God's gift of life. Birth control is a refusal to God. It is closing the door. Couples that practice NFP are open to the gift of life, couples who use contraception are not.
God says "I want to be there during the fertile time but I gave you 3 weeks of great sex." There is absolutely nothing immoral about this. God built us that way. NFP couples report better communication. A man who uses NFP says "I'm willing to have a baby with you." Women find this a lot more romantic than "I want to have sex with you."
God reveals himself in Creation. The Church's position on contraception is based on a concept known as "Natural Law." This is a principle that says "use things in accordance with their nature." For instance, tomatoes grow better when they are treated like tomatoes, and they are watered and given light according to their natures. Today we live in a culture that separates sex from its original purpose ... sex is fun... contraception allows that, but not without serious consequences to the lives of the couple and to society at large.
The purpose of sex is babies and bonding. Some will ask, "but what about pleasure?" Pleasure is not the purpose of sex. It is a motive and a consequence. It is a pleasure to eat, sleep, and exercise but that is not the not the purpose of those things. The purpose is they are necessary for our survival. If you don't want babies and bonding don't have sex. So sex is a pleasure if used in the right place in the right way. In today's culture "sex" is more important than life. This is backwards. Today, if a woman gets pregnant, she is shocked as if something went wrong. Actually it means something went right with sex. If she gets bonded she's shocked as if she was not supposed to get bonded by sex.
A sperm has no immortal soul, the ovum has no immortal soul. But at conception God creates a new soul that never existed before and will live forever. Despite what the New Age may claim, the Catholic Church asserts that there are not a bunch of souls out there looking for a body. The soul is born at conception and is a new act of creation. God made it from nothing. It is amazing. Sex opens up this arena that God has created.
Approximately, 60% of abortions are entered into because of failed contraception and that includes Church going Christians. Almost zero abortions result from NFP, because the couple is obedient to God and are willing to accept this gift of a life if an unintended pregnancy occurs. When people are contracepting, they already have one foot in the door of the abortion clinic, because they are closed to life when it happens. I (Hugh) know this from my own experience.
An Evangelical emailed us:
"... [God is] providing the right for husband and wife to choose the timing of their child’s conception, a right you recognize by labeling that human-right as natural family planning. You have no moral right to claim that an alternative method of controlling the timing of contraception of children is immoral.
Most certainly parents are "co-operating with the love of God he Creator" when they conceive. They have a responsibility regarding the "regulation of births" (Catechism 2368). However, for them to use contraception to do that is to overstep their role as co-operators and would be an attempt to control God. God has not given us the "right to choose timing" if that right to violate the very nature of the sexual act. There is a big difference between a responsibility and a right. The Catechism explains the difference between NFP and contraception:
2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.158 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, ... whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil
Whew! That's strong language. The Church has to be absolutely clear on this given the immensity of harm that has resulted in contraception. The devil never makes anything up by himself, he's not very creative. He takes good and beautiful things of God, like sex inside of marriage and distorts them. The Catechism goes on to say:
Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.160
Apart from moral problem of contraception, the pill sometimes results in abortion by preventing the little human from attaching to the wall of her mother's womb.
Well, God does ask a lot from us. Jesus is radical. I'm sure my Evangelical brothers and sisters would agree that Jesus' vision for our lives is probably a lot different than our vision for our lives. It takes a lot of courage to surrender to Jesus' vision for our lives. No one said that the spiritual path would be easy. But the rewards are huge. People who say "yes" to God generally live very fulfilling lives, even though it is not always easy. God will not give us any more than we can handle. Many Christians say "I trust Jesus on everything" except on matters of fertility. This is the place where we should trust him unconditionally. To some people He will give large families, to others He will give small families, some people will be called to celibacy (Mat 19:10-12, 1 Col 7:6-9, 1 Col 7:24-35, 1 Col 7:38-40). He has a desire for each one of us.
Fertility is an opportunity to trust Jesus absolutely on something that is important. This is where the "rubber meets the road." It's easy to trust Jesus on little issues in my life but on something like fertility whoa, now that's asking a lot. Yup, that's right it is. Many Christians take birth control "just in case" Jesus can't figure out what size of family we should have. This is perhaps a lack of trust. Jesus asks a lot from us and wants us to trust him on all matters, even fertility.
We in North America are selfish. Our problem is that we don't want anything to interfere with our "quality of life." If someone has more than three kids they are approached by strangers who ask, "don't you know how to control yourself?" Many of these same intelligent people who criticize parents of large families, complain that our immigration laws are too open. These yuppie culturally sophisticated people fail to understand the simple relationship between the drop in family size and our need to increase immigration to avoid serious demographic problems.
Many couples are DINKS (Double Income No Kids) when they could be SILKS (Single Income Lots of Kids). Perhaps our "quality of life" will drop if we end up with more kids but we invite people who are worried about that to go to an old age home and find old ladies who had large families. Ask them if they were glad they had so many children. We doubt very much that you will find an old woman who says "I wish I had fewer children." In our old age the important thing will be our families, not how many cars we owned.
Condoms in the First World, Europe, North America etc.
This "condom sense" strategy ignores a basic precept of human (especially men's) behaviour. It is based on the idea that the solution to widespread sex is more sex (using condoms). The concept of contraception is a "band-aid" solution that doesn't address the real problem, and it compounds the current problems. Fr. Bob Bedard says "I would get laughed out of most university classrooms if I simply stated that the answer is chastity, not condoms".
The truth is that men just don't like using condoms and when both partners
are aroused, their intentions to use condoms are often thrown by the wayside.
Even if they do "successfully" use the condom, once they feed the lust with
"safer-sex" there is a much greater chance that they will practice unsafe sex.
That is why chastity is a better strategy, because it does not feed the lust
the way that contraception does.
Some might say that they are worried that the Church has a lot of power to teach morals. We believe God intended to establish a teaching body that would not change its understanding of morality with every change in the socio-economical wind. We believe God promised Peter that he would protect the Church from errors in teaching. A look at my own miserable life before becoming Catholic is all the evidence I need to assure me that it is better to trust the Church with morals than to my own feeble reasoning which is riddled with self-rationalizations.
God made it pleasurable to eat, but we wouldn't put a plastic bag down our throat to stop from getting the nutritive value of food.
In that way contraception is to sex, what bulemia is to food.
Theology of the Body - a quiet sexual revolution that is bringing the children of chaos back to becoming children of the Light
Pope John Paul II did a fantastic series of lectures on human sexuality. These lectures from his Wednesday audiences have brought a renewed love of the Bible and an incredible movement of the spirit to purify people's sexual lives, and to convince us of the true meaning of love, sex, marriage and openness to life. Christopher West is doing a great job of teaching this. www.tobinstitute.org
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is holistic, natural and healthy
Women these days want to avoid dumping chemicals into their bodies. They want a holistic lifestyle. The pill, IUD, or any other artifical contraception are full of unhealthy and unnatural chemicals. The amount of estrogen in our water supplies is ruining fish stocks, and many think it is part of the the gradual emasculization of men we've seen in the last 40 years.
- Contraception in the Bible
- The Early Church Fathers and contraception
- Contraception in Africa and the third world, the UN and the Catholic Church
- Pope Benedict's comments on condoms in Africa
- Gay Sex in the Bible
CREDITS: Thanks to John Pacheco for many of the points in this article Another reference is the audio recording, "Contraception, Why Not?" by Janet E. Smith, PhD produced by "One More Soul"