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Why Contraception Will Never Be Permitted

 

Alright Sistas! Let’s talk about contraception and theology.

People opine a lot that someday there can be a development of doctrine that will permit the practice of contraception, but they don’t understand the reason why contraception can never be permitted.  Catholic moral laws are most fundamentally rooted in love.  That is probably the single most misunderstood part of moral theology.  It’s about love.

And this is not loving.

marriage, man and woman united as one, is the most 1) fundamental and 2) intimate social unit.  Scripture describes how the Father, the First Person of the Trinity, conceives the Word and begets the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, gives all of Himself to the Son except to be Father. Did you catch the eternal fecundity in God, conceiving and begetting?

From the Father and the Son together – as one substance – breaths forth the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, which is Love Himself.  In God there is perfect unity, perfect giving, perfect receiving, perfect love between three Persons, so much so that they are One God.

Families are a reflection of that perfection.

Anything that compromises the openness to communication and personified love for each other and for children cannot, therefore, be permissible. What is revealed by God is infallible, and Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, said that loving God and your neighbor is the basis of the whole law.

You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.  And the second is like to this:  You shall love your neighbour as yourself.  On these two commandments depends the whole law and the prophets.”  Matthew 22: 37-40

Father Benedict Ashley O.P. addresses contraception in his book, “Living the Truth in Love” and says that contraception, just as anything else that degrades the sexual act to an act only for recreation, “depersonalizes love.” (221-222) It is intrinsically immoral to render the beautiful and loving gift of the sexual act between a husband and a wife sterile by mechanical, surgical, or chemical means in order to merely obtain for one’s self sexual pleasure unrelated to procreation. That is what we call selfishness. Ahem, selfishness is a vice, and vices do not lead to real happiness.

This wonderful, loving truth is what makes the nasty demons roar their ugly lies.  Why?  Because the destruction of the family is Satan’s most effective weapon.  Break families and you break people, then you break society.  God made us to belong, to be loved, to be known – and we are desperate without it.  Satan is against love and unity, a cosmic war on the family.

Therefore, if a doctrine developed that permitted contraception, it would be a doctrine that directly contradicted the very basis of the entire moral law from God for how man is to live and find happiness, and for how man is to achieve an eternal life of bliss.  Doctrine cannot contradict the infallible revelations of God. God is Love. God is Unity. God perfectly communicates Love.

God is not, “Come here baby and let me hold you and use you, but first I need to medicate myself against you or wrap myself up in plastic so I don’t really touch you because you might do something to me that is unplanned.”

However, it should be noted that it is permissible to know and communicate the natural cycles of the body between married couples, and to choose to abstain from the procreative act during fertile periods, so long as the couple does not completely become closed to raising a family in love.

OK, bring it home then.

When I see my husband, the love of my life, stare at our baby boy as if he would pour all of himself into that child if only it were somehow mystically possible, and when I even begin to think of the damage it would do to that child were our sacred marital bond ever broken, I understand the Blessed Trinity, One God as three Persons, a little better and I am lifted Heavenward.

Contraception robs you of that.

 

The thief comes not, but for to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

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About Stacy Trasancos

Stacy Trasancos, Ph.D. is a scientist turned homemaker raising seven children with her husband in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. She is pursuing a MA in Theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, and she is Editor-in-Chief at Ignitum Today and Catholic Stand, and a Senior Editor at Catholic Lane. She writes about popular science, dogmatic theology, and mountain life at her website.

April 24, 2012 - 11:12 am

Dave - Two questions/comments.

1. The teachings seem to really elevate marriage/procreation(fecundity), man and woman, etc. Where does that leave the Priest or the Religious who are celibate/chaste who do not beget children?

2. How about the married chaste couple who can’t have children or can for that matter who want to be chaste – How does that fit in with the teachings as you understand it?

April 24, 2012 - 11:37 am

Stacy Trasancos - Hi Dave,

The short answer (to the best of my ability, I’m still a student) is 1) that choosing celibacy is not a contraceptive act where anyone depersonalizes the sexual act, and 2) remaining chaste and married for necessary medical reasons is acceptable. Being chaste in marriage just to perpetually avoid children would not be healthy communication though, and closes off full intimacy in a marriage.

A longer answer from scripture about virginity:

Marriage is necessary because procreation is necessary, but St. Paul in the beginning of the Church praised celibacy and virginity because it imitated the life of Christ, freeing people to pursue more spiritual efforts.

“But he that is with a wife is solicitous for the things of the world: how he may please his wife. And he is divided…But she that is married thinks on the things of the world: how she may please her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:33-34)

In the early Church there were many men and women who heeded this advice since they believed the return of Christ was imminent. As early as the fourth century dedicated celibacy became institutionalized in the Church for the consecrated religious, vowing a life of chastity, poverty and obedience in Western and Eastern Churches.

In the seventh century the Eastern Church relaxed the vow to chastity and permitted the clergy to marry, only priests who were not also bishops. Today most Protestant clergy are allowed to marry. However, for the Latin clergy of the Catholic Church the vow to chastity has never been relaxed.

The reasons for mandatory celibacy are twofold: 1) Priests are supposed to be more ascetic than other non-ordained religious or laymen, and 2) priests offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice and in doing so, symbolize the Risen Christ. Celibacy symbolizes the eternal, resurrected life that Christians hope for in eternity in Heaven where we will form one family with the angels and Holy Trinity. “Do not therefore err, because you know not the scriptures nor the power of God. For when they shall rise again from the dead, they shall neither marry, nor be married, but are as the angels in heaven.” Mark 12:24-25
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April 24, 2012 - 12:09 pm

Richard - David, in relation to your question: “Where does that leave the Priest or the Religious who are celibate/chaste who do not beget children?” we can trace the practice of celibate/chaste men and women back to Holy Scripture; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 : “I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.” (From USCCB daily Mass readings). From the early Church both married and unmarried priest. In 385, Pope Siricius abandoned his own wife and children in order to gain his papal position. He immediately decreed that all priests could no longer be married – but had a hard time implementing that decree. There were also women who held the ‘title’ of ‘deaconess’ and ministered primarely to women.
From what I know of Church history from the very early on the monks and hermits, and the women who later followed their practice, all took personal vows to be celibate/chaste. Many of the married women Saints vowed to live chaste lives, some went on to establish convents/monasteries after the death of their spouse, many men did the same. There are many Orthordox Catholic churches in communion with Rome that still allow married priest, but if their spouse should die they cannot remarry, the Orthodox Bishops cannot be married.

April 25, 2012 - 6:48 am

Dave - Stacy and Richard,

Thank you for your replies.

The practice of chastity is not just for the single, although it would seem to be unusual for married couples to remain chaste and stay together, although the absence of examples in your replies especially Richards does not prove my statement.

My wife and I are unable to have children and are living a chaste life (we are also “middle aged”) and I feel the closest I have ever been to my wife. I suspect in our sex hyped up world without “consequences” (i.e. a contraceptive mentality) might find our relationship rather strange … but it seems perfectly natural or maybe with a touch of Grace thrown in.

I think my concern about topics regarding marriage and contraception often lack chastity and purity of heart “topics” which seem to me to have a deep resonance with the idea of “friendship” and being a friend in Christ.

And it seems that maybe couples who are “done” with the child begetting thing might consider the chaste life as part of their marriage in the “later” years.

I don’t know maybe I am naive but again my relationship with my wife as a friend seems so very Christ like …

April 25, 2012 - 7:13 am

Stacy Trasancos - Dave,

I see what you are saying. This is my understanding of what you described – you are not *contracepting* since you are not sterilizing a sexual act so that it is only for recreation. You chose to live chastely but in doing so you are not also closing yourself to children. You should talk to a priest to be sure, but from what I understand there’s nothing wrong with that at all because you are not choosing to close yourself to life.

“Being open to life” I think, also means a lot more than just engaging in the sexual act. It could also mean that you accept and use whatever gifts God gives you – like caring for an elderly parent, or adopting, or caring for the poor, or serving your community, or even caring for each other.

Richard?

Thanks Dave! Remember, I am not an authority, I’m only a student (and I imagine I will be for the rest of my life!)

Blessings,
Stacy

April 25, 2012 - 11:11 am

C - You certainly seem to write from the heart and I am not being obtuse to say that I just couldn’t disagree with you and your interpretations more. This is one of the main reasons why we’ve left the church.

April 25, 2012 - 11:20 am

Stacy Trasancos - C,

Thank you for your honesty. Could you be more specific if you want to discuss it?

It would help me to know what part of this teaching caused you to leave the Church. I’m curious.

Thanks,
Stacy
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April 25, 2012 - 12:36 pm

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April 25, 2012 - 12:48 pm

Richard - David, you wrote: “My wife and I are unable to have children and are living a chaste life”, that is great as you are being faithful to each other, and by ‘chaste life’ it is not an implication of a ‘celibate life/marriage’ which is more in line with what I mentioned above with the Saints. Saint Augustine wrote “But God forbid that the nuptial bond should be regarded as broken between those who have by mutual consent agreed to observe a perpetual abstinence from the use of carnal concupiscence. Nay, it will be only a firmer one, whereby they have exchanged pledges together, which will have to be kept by a special endearment and concord—not by the voluptuous links of bodies, but by the voluntary affections of souls. For it was not deceitfully that the angel said to Joseph: Fear not to take unto you Mary your wife. Matthew 1:20 She is called his wife because of her first troth of betrothal, although he had had no carnal knowledge of her, nor was destined to have. The designation of wife was neither destroyed nor made untrue, where there never had been, nor was meant to be, any carnal connection. Believers in Christ are taught not to think carnal connection the chief thing in marriage, as if without this they could not be man and wife, but to imitate in Christian wedlock as closely as possible the parents of Christ, that so they may have the more intimate union with the members of Christ.”
The closeness you feel toward your wife is reflected back to Mary and Joseph, that might be something to think about.

Stacy, when you wrote ““Being open to life” I think, also means a lot more than just engaging in the sexual act” you gave very good examples in caring for the poor, elderly and even adopting, even working for something that is good as in giving time to helping in a soup kitchen.

As for me, I’m single/divorced and for the past 13 years have lived both a chaste and celibate life. I have chosen to take a higher ‘bridegroom’ and my intimiacy to Him is through prayer, scripture and the Sacraments.

April 25, 2012 - 2:44 pm

Dave - Stacy and Richard,

Oh this is fantastic! I “felt” this was right but didn’t have the words, examples, or St. Augustine’s words. I think it is very important in today’s “broken” society (has there ever not been a broken society?) that for those of us who do not fit the “norm” recognize the place we have in the Church and live that in and with Christ.

Thank you and God bless!

April 25, 2012 - 3:03 pm

Stacy Trasancos - Dave and Richard,

Wow!

That information Richard offered is pretty amazing! Richard, how did you know just what to say??? Oh yeah, that last sentence explains it all. You are awesome! Thank you.

In Christ,
Stacy
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April 25, 2012 - 3:27 pm

Richard - David, I’m just glad I was able to help. I knew the Church had some teachings toward being married and leading a chaste life, and the quote from Saint Augustine just fit. I remember reading one of the Saints and they said ‘keep your eyes on Mary’, I realize now that Mary and Saint Joseph are the perfect couple to look at.

Stacy, don’t know about the ‘awesome!” When I did my searching for info on this I came across an Encyclical from Pope Pius XI on ‘Chaste Marriage’ that I’m going to read, it was written back in 1930. I think it is still revelant to us today in living holy lives.

April 26, 2012 - 3:45 am

Misty - Beautiful layout of this subject! I really do think that if more people understood the wholly positive YES of conjugal love that we’re called to, they would more easily understand and accept the NO of contraception. You are so right in saying that this teaching is about love!
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May 1, 2012 - 3:05 pm

Margaret S - Stacy, this is incredibly insightful. My deepest appreciation for it.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to send this link to another blogger who is struggling with an offshoot of this.

A lot of the commentors who were beating her down should be directed to read this.

I’d like to link some of Richard’s commentary as well, but I don’t really know how to do that, so hopefully they read these comments.

Wish more people like you abounded in the blogosphere.

The blog entry I’ll be linking to will be below in case you wanted to follow people who comment upon reading it. It’s called “My Darkest Secret” and it deals with her struggles with contraception.

http://www.mybrokenfiat.com/1/post/2012/04/my-darkest-secret.html

She and her family need lots of prayers, but more importantly, good direction. This link of yours is a good start.

May 1, 2012 - 3:23 pm

Stacy Trasancos - Margaret, THANK YOU! If you want to quote Richard, I’m sure he won’t mind. I will keep them in prayer. Thanks for spreading the Good News! Realizing this changed my life. Glad to share!
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May 1, 2012 - 3:57 pm

Richard - Margaret, feel free to quote what I shared, and I’m going to check the link to the other blog you provided.
Richard

May 6, 2012 - 3:30 am

Gammy Sparkles - I never could quite understand how Catholics, Any religious group, Jewish folks, in specific, (not to mention the rest of us) voting for Democrats – Do folks not understand the Demos kill our liberties, the ones that give all of us the freedom to Choose which church, how to live in our families, etc.? Democrats have lead the poorest cities, states for decades. They have created race division – entitlement mentality, and much more.
Am sad folks dont see that so often. Thing that was also part of why the tea party started. Just folks wanting fiscal responsibility, less taxes, less government, stronger national security! If we dont have that we dont have a nation left to preserve the liberties we cherish! Gammy Sparkles here!

May 8, 2012 - 8:09 am

Matt - Stacy, thanks for writing this. Contraception is such a complicated and very misunderstood topic, and you’re absolutely right – Satan is tearing down society one broken family at a time. I’ve been swirling around trying to think of ways to explain this to others. No need, as you’ve done it for me. :) Well done.

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