The Catholic Church’s stance against birth control has catapulted to the forefront of today’s news, as it is utterly shocking to modern day folk that anyone could be against birth control. The contraceptive mentality is held in high esteem, as it is considered wholly responsible and good across all walks of life.
Allow me to step back in time (and even out of time) to explain why I agree with the Church’s teaching against contraception within Christian marriage. Before the creation of the Earth, God created heavenly beings, the angels – bodiless souls with free will like our own human souls. As we read in the book of Genesis, then the Lord created the Earth, and created the first human, Adam, and from him, God created his helpmate, Eve. Adam and Eve were different from the angels in that they were souls bound in time and space to bodies on Earth.
The most common way God allows for the creation of new souls is through a male and female choosing to come together. There are other ways as well, like the devastation of forcible rape, or electively through advancements in modern technology (surrogacy, IUI, IVF, etc). But no matter which of these ways, God has chosen to restrict the creation of new souls to deliberate human acts. Even Christ Himself was not made incarnate without the deliberate consent of the Virgin Mary. Being God, the Lord doesn’t need to involve us humans in the soul creation process; yet, He does, and in effect He demands our participation. Enter, the institution of marriage.
Have you ever noticed the number of commandments that relate to marriage? Let’s review. Quickly, we think to “Thou shall not commit adultery” and “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife”, so that’s two. And, I make the assumption that in the commandment “Obey your mother and father”, God’s most perfect plan is that those two be married. Three of the Ten Commandments are explicitly related to marriage – the same number of commandments as God reserved about our relationship with Him. Marriage must be pretty important.
I believe that the importance God places on marriage also shows us the importance of soul creation, and this concept has been shunned by our world today. It is perceived as barbaric to expect that marriage be both unitive AND procreative. As the U.S. battles about the HHS mandate, and whether or not contraceptives and sterilization should be covered, we are ultimately debating whether or not infertility should be a basic human right (ask any infertile couple to comment about the wisdom of that one). Today’s climate is terribly hostile to procreation – the creation of souls. The Catholic Church’s stance against birth control is wildly counter-cultural… as it should be.
It is in marriage, open-to-life loving marriage, that God prefers to use Christians to create new souls for Heaven. When two Christians obey God’s calling to marriage, it should be with the deliberate act of offering God their bodies for the creation of as many or few souls as He sees fit. And the two also offer Him their family to raise any souls entrusted to their care for His Glory in Heaven. Marriage is a lifelong vocation, and God already built into each couple a way to cease soul production when He sees fit… not though man-made contraception or surgical sterilization, but through menopause. Crazy, I know, to suggest trusting the Lord with fertility for so long. He might go nuts and create too many souls (is that really possible?) I jest, but ultimately, we should consider it a privilege if God desires to create many souls from our own personal marriages.
I am convinced that God uses even miscarriages to populate Heaven, and I have a theory that with how many miscarriages there seem to be these days, that God is working to quickly populate Heaven with even more souls to pray for our fallen world. I am utterly thankful to the couples who continue to be open to life (and heartache) in the face of miscarriage because they are bearing such a cross in helping God create new souls.
There are indeed grave exceptions where some couples perhaps for or while or no longer can safely help the Lord create new souls, and this is understandable. But I pray that Christians will resist what the world has planned for their marriage, and instead focus on what God has planned for their marriage, especially with procreation. I pray that married Christians remember it is through their vows to each other and to Him that God hopes to find his greatest support in the creation of his new souls for Heaven. If married Christians turn their back on God when it comes to the creation of new souls, then what does it say to the world?
From Jesus’s High Priestly Prayer in the Gospel of John (17:14-21)
“I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth. I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”