(Author’s Note: This article is part of a larger book I am writing, and you will find references to different “sections”. I originally published this article on 4marks.com, which has since closed)
Abortion and Contraception – Brothers
The use of Contraception is a participation in the Culture of Death. Contraception has turned the culture of the world inside-out, and led to the numerous Demons that the world is facing today – pornography, divorce, rampant adultery, homosexual “marriage”, and abortion. Contraception was the door to these evils, and let the “nose of the camel” get into the tent.
Yet even people who claim to be conservative Catholics often fall into the trap of thinking that contraception is a “good”, and if more people “just used it” then abortion would go away. I have been told by Protestant friends that the “solution” to abortion is widespread contraception. I have also been told this by good, otherwise faithful church-going Catholics. Yet not only does this place the Catholic in opposition to the age-old teachings of the Church (against Tradition), making them just as much “cafeteria Catholics” as those who support abortion or homosexuality, but the conclusion that contraception combats abortion is also wrong.
First, I would like to go into the history of religious teachings on Contraception. The Catholic Church has taught from the beginning that contraception is immoral. It is a two thousand year old teaching. It was not just the Catholic Church, however. Everything Protestant denomination on Earth, prior to the year 1930 A.D., also taught that contraception was immoral. The Eastern Orthodox churches also taught this. In addition to every Christian religion teaching that contraception was immoral, this was also taught by the Islamic religion and the Jewish religion. All Abrahamic religions were agreed on this. All of the original Protestant reformers condemned contraception, including Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli.
In 1930, something changed. The world was then, as it is now, obsessed with “over-population”, eugenics, etc. Humanism was in full swing, which is the least “human” ideology of all. The religions of the world were under tremendous pressure to allow their adherents to use contraception. In 1930, the Anglican Communion, the Protestant denomination that was born because King Henry VIII wanted to break his marriage covenant with his wife, became the first Christian denomination to allow contraception “in certain circumstances”, such as monetary hardship on the family. In reality, though, once an exception is made, then it is no longer an exception, it is a rule.
The Holy Father Pope Pius XI, the head of the Catholic Church, responded with the Encyclical letter “Casti Connubii” – “On Christian Marriage”, which re-affirmed the traditional Christian teaching that contraception is always and everywhere wrong.
The Anglican Church had buckled. The Catholic Church stood firm. The rest of Christianity was to buckle in 1933. In 1933, the World Council of Churches, which represented pretty much the rest of the Protestant world and the Orthodox world, agreed to change its teachings on Contraception, abandoning their own teachings to conform with the opinions of the secular governments of the age.
Note also that the World Council of Churches once stated that “the world” set its agenda, rather than Christianity setting the world’s agenda (“Witness to Hope”, page 168, by George Weigel). Hence, to the World Council of Churches, “the world” (government powers, the United Nations, etc) was the keeper of the Truth; not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and not the two thousand year Christian Tradition. Is it any wonder that we are in such a mess today?
After the collapse of the World Council of Churches, when the rest of Christianity submitted itself to the world, the Catholic Church became the only church to still stand behind Truth, to stand behind the two thousand year old teachings on marriage, and the marital embrace.
During the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI was asked to re-examine the Church’s teachings on Contraception. As an ecumenical council, other faiths were invited to the “conversation” of the council, to the “dialog”. The Holy Father agreed that the Catholic Church would examine the issue anew, and submit its decision later. I do not know why the Holy Father even agreed to this step. This is an infallible Catholic teaching. It cannot change. And, as the Holy Spirit protects the teachings of the Catholic Church (Matthew 16:13-19), the teaching could not change even if the Holy Father was inclined to try.
On July 25, 1968 A.D., the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI, released his Encyclical letter on the issue of contraception titled “Humanae Vitae” – “On Human Life”. The Encyclical re-affirmed, yet again, the teachings that contraception was wrong, and also warned of what would result if contraception was widely accepted throughout the world – the degradation of marriage, the viewing of women as “objects” rather than Persons, the explosion of pornography, divorce, and abortion.
The world condemned the Encyclical, and the Holy Father, who had courageously stood by Truth. The majority of Catholic laymen rebelled against this Church teaching as well, and became “neo-Protestants” overnight, now letting themselves decide what is good and what is evil, rather than following the teachings of Christ’s Church (see Genesis 3:1-5). Many dissident Catholic theologians contradicted the Church, declaring it to be wrong, thus setting themselves up as a “shadow-Church”, or “anti-Church”. Many laymen, as well as priests, and not a few bishops, rebelled. We now had “two churches”, the age-old Church of the Magisterium, and the “new Church” of the dissidents. This battle is still being fought.
Yet the official teachings of the Church, as re-affirmed by Pope John Paul II and by Pope Benedict XVI, continue to proclaim the truth. Faithful Catholics, those attached to the Traditions of the Church, continue to follow the Truth, the Truth that contraception is wrong and immoral. The Church has stood, yet again, for the truth, though many of her members have fallen into this heresy of neo-Protestantism. This is where we are today.
Now with the history covered, let’s look at the reason that contraception is evil.
The reason all of Christendom, Islam, and Judaism stood against contraception is because it deforms the purpose of the marital embrace, the sexual embrace of husband and wife within marriage. As I explained in my section on Evil, evil can be understood as the choosing of a lesser good over a greater good (“Confessions” by Saint Augustine). While that section should be read in its entirety, I will briefly recap the idea here.
The marital embrace has two “goods” involved in it. First, the marital embrace is the means that God uses to create new human life, new immortal human souls. Second, the marital embrace strengthens the bond between husband and wife, where they become “one flesh”, where their spirits almost touch. Husband and wife feel a pleasure on Earth unlike any other during this “one flesh union”.
In short, as Catholic ethicist Dr Janet E Smith puts it, the “goods” of the marital embrace are “babies and bonding” (audio tape “Contraception, Why Not?”).
So what is evil about contraception? Contraception promotes the lesser good of bonding, of pleasure, over the greater good of babies, of procreation. Contraception does not only choose the lesser good over the greater good, but completely denies that greater good! Since choosing the lesser good over the greater good results in evil, a number of consequences result, which I mentioned before – adultery, pornography, etc.
The teachings of the other Christian communities used to agree with the Catholic Faith on this. But during the twentieth century, all Christian communities outside of the Catholic Church changed their teaching, now allowing contraception. What I am going to look at is the culture that changed between these two positions.
Before Christianity allowed Contraception, it was very much understood that the marital act, the one-flesh union of husband and wife led to new life. The culture of Christianity was such at the time that it was expected, indeed wanted, for a marital embrace to lead to new life! If life resulted, then that meant everything was going right. The man’s reproductive organs were working. The woman’s reproductive organs were working. And the baby was seen as a Blessing, a blessing from God, from the Holy Trinity. Indeed, if a couple could not get pregnant, it was seen as bad, as a curse, as shown in so many places in the Bible (Sarah, Elizabeth, etc).
Fast forward to today. Now, it is expected that contraception will block procreation in the one-flesh union. Whereas before when the one-flesh union led to Life it was considered a blessing, a good, now if the one-flesh union leads to Life it is considered a curse, an Evil.
It is now considered by those using contraception that if Life results, then something went wrong. This is a complete reversal of the Christian culture. It is turning the culture inside-out! And now, since it was not the couple who were having sex that “made a mistake”, but rather the contraception they were using, the man and woman no longer consider it their responsibility to care for their unborn child. After all, the baby would not be coming if the “stupid contraception worked.” “It isn’t our fault, it was the contraception! We obviously were using the wrong kind!” And, since it was “not their fault” that the pregnancy occurred, then an abortion is allowed in their minds.
Does the use of contraception decrease the number of abortions? No, it does not. As noted above, when a couple uses contraception, it changes the culture they live in. Even the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion “health research institute” closely linked with Planned Parenthood, admits that 56% – 58% of abortions are to women who were using contraception when they became pregnant.
This, along with the fact that the number of abortions increased after the 1965 “Griswold v. Connecticut” Supreme Court decision legalizing contraception across all U.S. States, shows that contraception does not decrease the abortion rate, but actually increases it.
Once people deny the meaning of the one-flesh union, the marital embrace, a Culture of Death ensues. We now call the Blessing of Life a curse. We call good evil, and evil good. We call light darkness, and darkness light. We call bitter sweet, and sweet bitter.
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
God created Man and Woman. He created them to bear life into the world, the Man through his act of giving in the one-flesh union, and the Woman through her act of receiving. This is the way our bodies are made by the Lord. A woman’s womb is made to be a field of rich soil that bears new human life into the world, where the seed from the man is planted and nurtured. In today’s culture too many women turn this rich field into a barren desert, or the man blocks or disables the seed, through condoms or sterilization. Worse, when the seed of life does take root, rather than nurturing that life, we destroy it. We change Life into Death, and turn the womb into a graveyard.
A lot of people in the United States, and throughout the world, are engaged in a battle against the Culture of Death. But we are fighting blindfolded if we think we can solve the abortion issue, and save unborn babies, if we spend our time defending contraception as a separate issue, or worse as a solution to abortion. If we do this, we are doing more to promote the Culture of Death than to defeat it!
As I said in the beginning of this section, “The use of Contraception is a participation in the Culture of Death.”