Most of us are familiar with the stance the Church and other Christians take on abortion, but did you know that the Church is even against contraception? Before we dive into the reasons why, something needs to be made abundantly clear. The Catholic Church and all of its members are not here to judge anyone. Even though our culture today has become confused as to what the difference between disagreeing and hating is, the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church) has not gotten lost. As Catholics we believe the only person that can judge people is God, the Just Judge. The rest of us can only judge actions, determining if they are wrongly or rightly ordered. But what is wrong and right? Wrong is the choosing of sin. The Catechism defines sin as “offense against reason, truth, and right conscience” (CCC 1849). A simple definition of what is right is the decisions we make when we choose God and the virtues that He graces us with over our own desires and temptations.
Now that we have the basic understanding of what the Church believes in terms of judgment, and right and wrong, let’s jump in. The purpose of the consummation of the marital act is twofold: procreation and union.
Procreation is the producing of children. Contraception, obviously, goes directly against this aspect of the sexual act. In one of his Theology of the Body speeches, Pope Saint John Paul II told an audience in Ireland,
Marriage must include openness to the gift of children. Generous openness to accept children from God as the gift to their love is the mark of the Christian couple. Respect the God-given cycle of life, for this respect is part of our respect for God himself, who created male and female, who created them in his own image, reflecting his own life-giving love in the patterns of their sexual being.
It might sound cheesy and cliché, but children are one of the greatest gifts we receive on this earth. To be given the responsibility of creating new life, and shaping those new beings to be reflections of God’s Perfect Love is an overwhelming but wonderful gift. When we deliberately take the possibility of conception out of the picture, we throw one of God’s greatest gifts to us right back in His face.
The other purpose, union, is all about helping the married couple grow in a deeper love for each other, while maintaining their relationships with God as their central focus. Contraception, though on the less conspicuous side with this aspect, still violates this purpose as well. In the Catechism, the Church tells us,
Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality (CCC 2370).
What the Magisterium is telling us here is that in the sexual act, the man and woman express through their body language that they give of their entire being to each other, loving each other unconditionally, and that they will be there for each other, as spoken in Catholic vows across the world, “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” Contraception takes that message in the sexual act, and twists it, saying, “I love you a lot, but not unconditionally,” or “I give myself to you, but not entirely. This piece of me, this piece that is willing to share children with someone, no matter the situation, is staying with me; I don’t have that level of trust and love in you.” Thus, it damages the relationship between the couple, weakening their union when their marriage should be being strengthened.
I hope this answered some questions, enjoy the beginning of the school year and God bless!