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Home Spiritual Concepts Spiritual Concepts
Spiritual Concepts

The Complicated Convenience of Contraception

OK let’s be honest. A life without contraceptives would be a difficult life for many of us to live. Seriously, why does the church insist on tormenting all of humanity with such ancient rules and constraints? I have to say, after approximately forty years of rebuffing the church’s admonitions I’ve finally come to see the wisdom behind the admonishment. Or more precisely, her natural and protective instinct behind her loving reproof.

I was sitting in a Moral Theology class one day and my professor ever so eloquently explained it this way: In marriage what the church desires for the husband and wife is the experience of pure, unadulterated, complete conjugal unity whereby “the two become one flesh” (Mark 10:8). Artificial contraceptives inhibit this experience by obstructing the total reciprocal gift of self. The sincere gift of self comes from self-mastery and is free from constraint, wherein man exemplifies the image of God in the moment of communion. A love withheld is not love in its purest form and will not permit us to reach the fullness of our humanity.

 Maybe you’re thinking, this all sounds like a nice fantasy. Or maybe you’ve heard this before and perhaps it hasn’t resonated with you as it did with me that day. If this is so, we are free to live our lives according to our choosing, and the beauty of our faith is that Christ will always wait with open arms for our return. However, despite our personal lifestyles we must respect that in order to be authentic the church must always mirror the life and words of Jesus Christ. Jesus withheld nothing and gave himself wholly in order to give us the gift of eternal life. The church, born through his suffering, death and resurrection, believes in the dignity of the human person because we were each created in God’s image and likeness. Since we are images of His likeness, why would His children, grace-filled human beings, need to rely on devices created by other human beings to control our capacity to conceive? If Jesus was able to give us his whole body, his whole self for our salvation, couldn't we model a small version of that in the way we love the most important partner in our lives - our spouses?

 Why would God make the human body fertile if He wanted man to block its reproductive faculties? Even if you have trouble conceding to this, surely you can understand why the Father of Creation would abhor something contra-creative. And even if a moral standard is difficult to adhere to it doesn’t make it unfair or unachievable. Whether or not a life without artificial contraceptives is personally attainable for you or me should not determine the validity of the precept. It certainly is attainable for many. 

 More than sixty years ago C.S. Lewis asked the following question: “In what sense is Man the possessor of increasing power over Nature?” His answer is quite riveting:



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