APOLOGETICS – Artificial Contraception
Prior to the Lambith Conference, in 1929, most mainline Protestant denominations decried the use of artificial contraception as a sin against the law of God. In this matter they were in agreement with the Catholic Church completely. However, our ‘separated brethren’, at this conference, decided to change this teaching and permit Protestants to practice artificial birth control. In so doing they changed the God-given restriction against the practice which had been in place for thousands of years!
Now, thankfully, some denominations have returned to the original teaching of God, and once again teach that the practice is sinful.
A doctrine is any truth taught by the Church which her members are required to accept. The truth may be formally revealed, a theological conclusion, or a part of the natural law. What makes it doctrine is that the Church teaches that it is to be believed. Dogmas are those doctrines which the Church proposes for belief as formally revealed by God. A number of Catholics seem to be under the impression that Vatican II changed a great deal of Church dogma concerning our morals. This is simply wishful thinking on their part, for dogma cannot be changed; it is the Word of God!
PRE-VATICAN II TEACHING OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
The Council of Trent: (1545-1563) “God instituted marriage from the beginning; and therefore married persons who, to prevent conception or procure abortion, have recourse to medicine, are guilty of a most heinous crime – nothing less than wicked conspiracy to commit murder!”
Some modern Catholics are not willing to accept Church teaching concerning artificial contraception. They “dance around” the subject, but their dancing shoes must come off, even if it means some toes will be stepped upon!
Contraception is first identified as a serious sin in Genesis 38:4-12. The son of Judah, Onan, was told, after his brother Er’s death, to lie with, and impregnate Temur, his widowed sister-in-law. He took means to make sure that she did not become pregnant, and for this sin God caused him to die! Obviously, God considers contraception a grievous sin, and as mentioned above, the laws of God cannot be changed! The death of Onan was the punishment God decreed for this sin, just as contraception in our modern world causes the death of sanctifying grace in our soul, and the resultant death of the soul, if it goes unrepented by means of the sacrament of Reconciliation.
In Genesis, 1:28 we are instructed that the purpose of marriage, as established by God, is to “Increase and multiply.” God didn’t tell Adam and Eve to just live together, He specifically said: “Increase and multiply.” It should be fairly obvious what He had in mind when He gave those instructions. Anyone who willingly ignores this meaning of His words by practicing artificial contraception is disobedient. This disobedience concerns a serious matter of faith and morals, and with knowledge of its seriousness, and freely committing the act, the three requirements for mortal sin have been met! As stated above, mortal sin results in the death of the soul!
In a decree Pope Gregory IX, in the year 1230, stated that a marriage subject to conditions, such as “I contract marriage with you, if you avoid the generation of children” is not acceptable. Artificial contraception was not permitted.
Pope Pius XI, on December 31, 1930, published one of the greatest encyclicals of modern time on marriage titled Casti Connubii. (CC) I will give a few quotes from this great document, but would suggest that all newly married and newly engaged couples secure a copy (Sisters of St. Paul,  549 3806) and read it completely. I’m sure you will be blessed with a beautiful and fruitful marriage, far beyond your expectations.
We read in CC: “To take away the natural and primeval right of marriage established in the beginning by the authority of God, ‘increase and multiply’ [Gen, 1:28], is not within the power of any law of man.”
Also from CC; “Since, moreover, the conjugal act by its very nature is destined for the generating of offspring, those who in the exercise of it deliberately deprive it of its natural force and power, act contrary to nature, and do something that is shameful and intrinsically bad.”
He goes on further: “Any use of the marriage act, in the exercise of which it is designedly deprived of its natural power of procreating life, infringes on the law of God and of nature, and those who have committed any such act are stained with the guilt of serious sin.”
Pope Pius XII, on April 1, 1944 issued a decree in which he said: “Whether the opinions of certain recent persons can be admitted, who deny that the primary purpose of matrimony is the generation and raising of offspring; the answer is in the negative.”
Pope Pius XII, in an allocution, Tra le verita, on January 20, 1958 wrote: “Among the married couples who thus fulfill their God-given mission, special mention should be made of those who after prudent reflection and common decision courageously undertake the proper upbringing of a large number of children.”
POST VATICAN II CHURCH TEACHING
Let us just take look and see if any dogma has been changed, “in the spirit of Vatican II.”
Pope Paul VI, Humanae vitae, 25 July, 1968 article 14: “…. it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it.” (a reference to Paul’s letter to the Romans, 3:8)
Also in article 14: “Equally to be condemned, as the Magisterium of the Church has affirmed on various occasions, is direct sterilization, of the man or the woman, whether permanent or temporary.” (a reference to CC). Article 14 continues: “Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.”
Article 16: “...Others ask whether it is reasonable in so many cases to use artificial birth control if by doing so the harmony and peace of a family are better served and more suitable conditions are provided for the education of children already born. To this question we must give a clear reply. The Church is the first to praise and commend the application of human intelligence to an activity in which a rational creature such as man is so closely associated with his Creator. But she affirms that this must be done within the limits of the order of reality established by God.”
Article 16 continues with a reference to natural family planning (NFP).
“Neither the Church or her doctrine is inconsistent when she considers it lawful for married people to take advantage of the infertile period but condemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly exclude conception.”
Article 18 of Humanae vitae is very important: “It is to be anticipated that not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. It should cause no surprise that the Church, any less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a sign of contradiction. She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical.”
Gaudiem et spes, December 7, 1965, article 51 states: “In questions of birth regulation the sons of the Church, faithful to these principles, are forbidden to use methods disapproved of by the teaching authority of the Church in its interpretation of the divine law (A reference to CC from pre-Vatican II). Let all be convinced that human life and its transmission are realities whose meaning is not limited by the horizons of this life only; their true evaluation and full meaning can only be understood in reference to man’s eternal destiny.”
Article 50 repeats the statement from pre-Vatican II, Pope Pius XII that: “…. special mention should be made of those who after prudent reflection and common decision courageously undertake the proper upbringing of a large number of children.” Here we have statements from the post-Vatican II era and the pre-Vatican II era in complete agreement with each other. How can anyone logically claim that Vatican II has changed Church dogma relative to artificial contraception?
Abstaining from sexual intercourse during the period of fertility each month is suggested by our Holy Mother Church as a licit means of controlling conception for married couples. Details and instruction in this method, known as natural family planning, are readily available from your local Catholic Churches. Pope John Paul II has spoken very highly of NFP, for it not only abides by the natural law and the law of God, it also enhances the love between husbands and wives.
Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in Familiaris Consortio, article 32 writes: “In the context of a culture which seriously distorts or entirely misinterprets the true meaning of human sexuality, because it separates it from its essential reference to the person, the Church more urgently feels how irreplaceable is her mission of presenting sexuality as a value and task of the whole person, created male and female in the image of God.
In this perspective the Second Vatican Council clearly affirmed that when there is a question of harmonizing conjugal love with the responsible transmission of life, the moral aspect of any procedure does not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives. It must be determined by objective standards. These, based on the nature of the human person and his or her acts, preserve the full sense of mutual giving and human procreation in the context of true love. Such a goal cannot be achieved unless the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced.”
He goes on further in #32 to say: “When couples, by means of recourse to contraception, separate these two meanings that God the Creator has inscribed in the being of man and woman and in the dynamism of their sexual communion, they act as ‘arbiters’ of the divine plan and they manipulate and degrade human sexuality –and with it themselves and their married partner—by altering its value of total self giving. When, instead, by means of recourse to periods of infertility, the couple respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and the procreative meanings of human sexuality, they are acting as ministers of God’s plan and they benefit from their sexuality according to the original dynamism of total self giving, without manipulation or alteration.”
Further in #32 we read: “The choice of the natural rhythms involves accepting the cycle of the person, that is, the woman, and thereby accepting dialogue, reciprocal respect, shared responsibility and self control. To accept the cycle and to enter into dialogue means to recognize both the spiritual and the corporal character of conjugal communion, and to live personal love with its requirement of fidelity. In this context the couple comes to experience how conjugal communion is enriched with those values of tenderness and affection, which constitute the inner soul of human sexuality, in its physical dimension also. In this way sexuality is respected and promoted in its truly and fully human dimension, and is never used, as an object that, by breaking the personal unity of the soul and the body, strikes at God’s creation itself at the level of deepest interaction of nature and person.”
Return to Top
Close this window to return to current Teachings page