Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CAtholic Church Teaching on Contraception

(Part II of a series)

In the face of the omnipresence of the contraceptive mentality, it is important to understand what contraception is and how it is so harmful and ultimately destructive. 

The marital act has two important purposes: unitive and procreative (Humanae Vitae 12), which we may also call "bonding and babies". If either the unitive or procreative aspect of the marital act is discarded, the other is seriously damaged; the very purpose of both the marital act and the marriage itself will remain unfulfilled. This is a serious disorder that is thereby inflicted in the heart of marriage, in the most intimate aspects of human love, and in society, therefore, as a whole.

Prevention of children has reached a high level of technological expertise in our day. Sexual sterilization of the man or the woman (which, as a form of mutilation deprives a person of the generative faculty, is immoral) is fairly easily achieved through surgery. Additionally, there are two general classes of artificial and immoral means of birth prevention (also erroneously known as "birth control"---which promotes neither birth nor control): those that are contraceptive in nature and those that are abortifacient (meaning "abortion producing").

Contraceptive devices place a barrier between the sperm and the egg. These include the condom, the cervical cap, and the contraceptive sponge. Abortifacients cause abortions by means of chemicals that work in several ways, including preventing the blastocyst (often improperly called the "fertilized egg", but which is actually already a tiny human being) from implanting in the uterus. Abortifacients include the birth control pill, the Norplant and Jadelle insertables, the Depo-Provera shot, and the Intrauterine device, or IUD.

Because any form of contraception involves the willful crippling of one one of the body's natural functions---that is, procreation---the Catholic Church teaches that this is intrinsically disordered. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthiands 6:19), and any mutilation of its functions is gravely sinful, the same as putting out an eye or cutting of a thumb.

From the time of its founding, the Catholic Church has universally condemned contraception. Athenagoras, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, Barnabas, St. Basil the Great, Caesarius, Clement of Alexandria, Ephraem the Syrian, Epiphanius, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, Hippolitus, Lactantius, Minucius Felix, Origen of Alexandria, Tertullian, and the assembled bishops at the First Council of Nicea in 325 AD were some of the early Church Fathers who wrote and spoke against contraception.

The various Protestant denominations formed, their founders and leaders also condemned contraception in the most forceful terms imaginable. For example, John Calvin called contraception "monstrous", and John Wesley said it was "very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections".

Until 1930, all Christian churches were unanimous in their fearless opposition to all of the artificial means of birth prevention, but during this year, Resolution 15 of the Anglican Bishop's Lambeth Conference accepted contraception for the first time "where there is a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood." Interestingly, the use of contraception was considered so disordered at this time that even the secular press and psychiatrists (including Sigmund Freud)spoke out against it. Mahatma Gandhi made exactly the same eerily accurate prophecies that Pope Paul VI would make three decades later in Humanae Vitae when he said that
Artificial methods are like putting a premium on vice. They make men and women reckless...nature is relentless and will have full revenge for any such violation of her laws. Moral results can only be produced by moral restraints. If artificial methods become the order of the day, nothing but moral degradation can be the result...As it is, man has sufficiently degraded woman for his lust, and artificial methods, no matter how well-meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her.
In other words, God always forgives, man sometimes forgives, but nature never forgives.

As the great beacon of truth for the world, the Catholic Church stands firmly against contraception. She knows that She cannot change the immutable law of God, but can only recognize it and teach it. The Church is also the guardian of our understanding of the Natural Law, which is written in our hearts and in creation. Since the Natural Law was given to us by God, the Church does not have the authority to change its fundamental moral principles. (The Church, of course, does clarify certain matters in the light of new knowledge, but the fundamental precepts of the Natural Law in Church teaching remains unchanged.)

Some prominent groups that dissent from Church teachings claim that "most people use contraception" and the Church must adapt to the modern world (something that we hear a lot of so-called Catholics are saying. Is there really a place of "intelligent dissent" in the community of faith which is the Church in terms of fundemantal truths? I don't think so). This argument is absolutely irrelevant. The sinfulness of an act is not determined by popular vote; it is determined by the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church.

Many who use contraception claim that they are "following their own consciences". However, it is only permissible to follow one's conscience when that conscience is properly formed and the conclusions reached are in accord with the teachings of the Church (a bombshell). As Pope Pius XII said, "the conscience is not a teacher, it is a pupil". We are never permitted to choose to commit an evil act as a"cting according to our conscience".

"The conscience is not a teacher, but a pupil" --Pius XII.

Up next: Why contraception actually leads to MORE, not LESS, abortion...

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