This article is going to offer four very clear reasons why artificial birth control (e.g. condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, intrauterine devices, oral contraceptives, patches, sterilizations, spermicide (only), sponge, and injections) is always immoral and unnecessary. As with my other articles, I will build my argument upon the natural law, sacred Scripture, and the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Concerning artificial contraception, very few people realize that up until 1930, all Protestant denominations were in agreement with the Catholic Church’s teaching that using artificial contraception was an sin. It was not until after 1930 when the Anglican church, swayed by growing social pressure and a shift in public opinion, announced that contraception would be allowed in some circumstances. And it was not long after that self-inflicted crack in the doctrine did the Anglican church completely caved in by allowing contraception across the board. Since that time, all other Protestant denominations have followed suit. Today, the Catholic Church alone proclaims the historic Christian position on contraception.
INTRODUCTION – Artificial Birth Control Attacks God’s Natural Order for Created Things:
As in my article The Best Reasons to Save Sex for Marriage, we also begin here with the premise that everything that God created has a distinct and unique purpose to itself for the benefit of all of creation. From the trees, to the elements, to the metals, to the animals; each thing of creation has its own purpose and these things are also a part of a community of things purposed by God for the betterment of the whole, and, ultimately, the salvation of humankind. In other words, all of these distinct and unique things created and purposed by God are ordered to glorify Him.
Concerning the purpose of conjugal love (sex) – it was created by God for procreation of children and the well-being of spouses in marriage. Therefore, sex outside of marriage always violates the purpose for which the body and sex were created and ordered by God. Likewise, artificial birth control is immoral because it inveighs against the natural order God’s design. It is unnecessary because God has already ordered the natural means for spouses to manage the size of their family and the frequency that they will bring new children forth.
It is difficult enough for us to always honor the purpose and order of those things truly created by God, but at least if we take the time to consider their Creator we might be able relearn and recommit ourselves to use what God have given us rightly. For when we truly trust that God is Holy, we simultaneously trust that the purpose and order of things that He has made are also holy.
So what does it mean that artificial birth control is not a part of the natural order; meaning that it was not created by God? The first answer to this question leads to three logically conclusions. (1) The first thing it means is that artificial birth control has no divine purpose or order; (2) That is does not have a divine purpose or order means that it is not ordered to God; that is, it is absent His protective grace; (3) Because artificial birth control does not have God’s protective grace means that it is harmful to His creation; and (4) Because it is always harmful to creation means that artificial birth control always hurts and never helps.
Of all the things on earth not created by God, but used by men, artificial birth controls falls in to the category of devices that can never glorify God, which means that artificial birth control is intrinsically (always) evil when the intent of its use is to prevent life from being conceived; that is, there is never a time when artificial birth control is good or holy thing to do when the intended use it to prevent life from being conceived. For example, the television was not created by God, but there are ways that we can use that form of media to glorify God. That is to say, that there is nothing about the television that is evil in and of itself, but people can use it for good or evil. The same can be said about the automobile, hair combs, and socks. In contrast, because artificial birth control, when used as a means to prevent life from being conceived, violates one of the very first commands of God that we ‘to be fruitful and multiply’ (Cf. Genesis 1:28) the use of it can never honor the purpose or order for which God created humans.
The remainder of this article will highlight the three other reasons why artificial birth control is both immoral and unnecessary.
The Female Body already has a Natural Method of Birth Control Built-In:
If a woman or married couple wants to space out their children, avoid becoming pregnant, or find the best time to achieve pregnancy then the best way for her/them to do so is to pay attention to the rhythm of the woman’s menstrual/fertility cycle. The female body already has a natural God-given method for determining the best time to achieve pregnancy or to avoid it – no artificial birth control measures needed. ‘Natural Family Planning’ (NFP) is the familiar term used to describe this process.
“NFP is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman’s cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.
“NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife.”( Standards for Diocesan Natural Family Planning Ministry, p. 23)
Basically, Natural Family Planning relies on these four generally reliable findings:
- An egg (ovum) can live inside a woman’s body for 12-24 hours. However, in calculating the fertile time we use 48 hours in case more than one egg is released.
- Sperm can live in a woman’s body up to 5 days after intercourse,though more often 2 days. Conception is more likely if intercourse occurs anywhere from 3 days before ovulation until 2-3 days after ovulation.
- Since the exact time of ovulation cannot be predicted, we add 2 to 3 days to the beginning and end; and(4) A woman’s fertile time (“unsafe days” if she wants to prevent pregnancy) is thus about one-third of her cycle.
A study performed in 2001 Divorce Rate Comparisons Between Couples Using Natural Family Planning & Artificial Birth Control (http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/193/36/) found that couples who regularly use Natural Family Planning have a dramatically low (0.2%) divorce rate; experience happier marriages; are happier and more satisfied in their everyday lives; have considerably more marital relations; share a deeper intimacy with spouse than those who contracept; realize a deeper level of communication with spouse; have relatively large families with many children; are appreciably more religious and attend church more often; incorporate prayer more in their daily lives; rely strongly on the teachings of the Church, the Bible and Almighty God; are personally happier; have strong traditional, social, and moral views; preserve the family unit more responsibly than the other groups;. are unlikely to have ever had an abortion; are unlikely to have ever cohabitated; are unlikely to work full time; and are unlikely to be supportive of and to engage in sex outside of marriage;
Therefore, not only is NFP a way for married couples to follow the divine order of things, but it is also healthier on the body, and is very beneficial to the success of the marriage.
Artificial Birth Control is not even Guaranteed to always work and is Dangerous:
According to AmericanPregnancy.org every method of artificial birth control (e.g. condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, intrauterine devices, oral contraceptives, patches, sterilizations, spermicide (only), sponge, and injections) has a failure rate. For example, if you use male condoms as your artificial birth control method then nearly 1 out of every 5 times that you use the condom it will fail (i.e., around 16% of the time, sperm will somehow escape from the condom and potentially lead to pregnancy). The female condom has even higher failure rates (21%); Spermicide (26%), Sponge (20%), Sterilization (.2 to .5%), oral contraceptives (5%), injections (.1%), intrauterine devices (.8 to 2%).
Recent studies have linked long-term use of the birth control pill to memory loss and other serious health concerns. The more intrusive artificial birth control methods, such as injections and intrauterine devices, do have a lower failure rate, but the side effects (e.g. depression) and the harm that these injections and devices can cause the body are dangerous – potentially fatal. Inveighing against the natural order of things oftentimes does have a fatal consequence.
And again, sex is for marriage and sex inside of marriage is for the procreation of children and for the well-being of spouses. Therefore, I cannot think of any moral reason why a married couple would be using artificial birth control anyway, more especially any these methods that are not guaranteed to work anyway and can lead to death.
Artificial Birth Control Objectifies the other Person and Leads to Promiscuity:
In 1968 Pope Paul VI wrote these prophetic words on the likely consequences if artificial birth control were accepted as the norm:
“Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings, and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation, need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.
“Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife” (Humanae Vitae 17).
Little needs to be added here on my part, because Pope Paul VI words have been fulfilled. Artificial contraception has quickly led to the objectification of woman. She has been turned into a lowly object of inconsequential sexual gratification of men. For his part, man has forgotten the purpose for which God created woman and she has no recollection of what she was created for. And both species have no knowledge that the ordered place for conjugal love is marriage, because artificial birth control has allowed them to imperfectly enjoy a benefit of marriage without the consequence of having to be responsible for the other reason why God purposed sex for marriage (that is, the procreation of children).
Moreover, who can present a sound case against the second prophetic statement of Pope Paul VI – that governments would begin to favor and impose artificial birth control? Liberal governments throughout the world are placing condoms in the hands of mere children, and young girls are being taught in public schools that oral contraceptives (birth control pills) are a rite of passage into womanhood. If we fail the follow the natural order of things so will our governments.
For these four reasons, artificial birth control is always immoral and unnecessary when performed with the intent to prevent new life from being conceived. God has given married couples all of the tools that they need to manage their obedience to the command ‘to be fruitful and multiply’. And persons outside of marriage are privy to the only natural birth control method that is 100% safe and effective – abstinence.
Your personal happiness and the success of your marriage depends on the health of your relationship with God, and the health of your relationship with God depends on your willingness and commitment to live your life as He has called you to. In the instant case, your commitment to only engaging in conjugal love inside of marriage and only using natural methods of birth control is your key to your long-term happiness.
Part 1 of a 4 part series. Join Dr. Martin Brenner for this first of a four-part series on the moral evils of contraception (RealCatholicTV).