Even though there are people who believe that the Catholic Church should change its teaching against contraception, the Catholic Church is correct in teaching that contracepted sexual intercourse is always intrinsically evil. The Catholic Church cannot change its teaching against contraception because this teaching has already been taught infallibly, because contracepted sexual intercourse always violates natural law, and because contracepted sexual intercourse is always evil in the eyes of God.
Even though all of the major Protestant denominations currently consider the use of contraception to be morally acceptable within marriage, there was a time when all of the Protestant denominations considered the use of contraception to be morally wrong. In fact, every major Protestant denomination had considered the use of contraception to be morally wrong until the Seventh Lambeth Conference in 1930 when the Church of England decided that the use of contraception by married couples could be justified if there was a sufficiently serious reason to limit or avoid parenthood. This decision had led to the acceptance of contraception by all of the other major Protestant denominations.
In order to understand why the choice to engage in contracepted sexual intercourse is always morally wrong and always gravely offensive to God, one needs to understand that God is the creator of all human beings and is the author of life and death. Here are some verses from Sacred Scripture that show that God is the creator of human life and the author of life and death:
- “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
- “See now that I, I alone, am he, and there is no god besides me. It is I who bring both death and life, I who inflict wounds and heal them, and from my hand no one can deliver.” (Deuteronomy 32:39)
- “Please, please, God of my father, God of the heritage of Israel, Master of heaven and earth, Creator of the waters, King of all you have created, hear my prayer!” (Judith 9:12)
- “Has not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10)
Here is a story from the Old Testament of the Bible that shows that contraceptive behavior is gravely offensive in the eyes of God: “Onan, however, knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he had intercourse with his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground, to avoid giving offspring to his brother. What he did greatly offended the Lord, and the Lord took his life too” (Genesis 38:9-10). Onan was punished with death by God because Onan had deliberately prevented conception from occurring whenever he engaged in sexual intercourse with Tamar through the withdrawal method. It was not the mere refusal to satisfy the levirate that warranted punishing Onan with the death penalty, since the penalty for merely refusing to satisfy the levirate is to have one’s shoe taken off and to be spat in one’s face according to Deuteronomy 25:8-10. Likewise, those who engage in sexual intercourse while using an artificial contraceptive such as a condom, a diaphragm, an IUD, or the birth control pill also seriously offend God because these acts, like Onan’s sin of withdrawal, involve engaging in acts of sexual intercourse while simultaneously preventing these acts from resulting in the conception of a new human being.
When couples engage in contracepted sexual intercourse, they are choosing to deprive sexual acts of their procreative potential and deciding that an unborn child should not come into being as a result of their contracepted sexual acts. Thus, the decision to prevent bringing about a new child through the use of contraception is at odds with the will of God because the decision on whether or not a child should come into being as a result of sexual intercourse rightfully belongs to God alone and also because God is the creator of all human life. Furthermore, many of the contracepting couples are choosing to avoid contraception through abortifacient forms of birth control, such as the birth control pill, and the choice to engage in sexual intercourse while using abortifacient forms of birth control also offends God because abortifacent forms of birth control have the additional mechanism of preventing implantation of a newly conceived embryo from occurring.
Here is what the Catholic Church has taught regarding the use of contraception:
- In response to the Seventh Lambeth Conference in 1930, Pope Pius XI taught that “any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin” (Casti Connubii, n. 56).
- Pope Pius XI had taught that “each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life” in Humanae Vitae (n. 11).
- Pope John Paul had taught in Donum Vitae that “contraception deliberately deprives the conjugal act of its openness to procreation and in this way brings about a voluntary dissociation of the ends of marriage.”
- In his Address on Responsible Procreation, Pope John Paul II had taught that “Contraception is to be judged objectively so profoundly illicit that it can never, for any reason, be justified. To think, or to say, anything to the contrary is tantamount to saying that in human life there can be situations where it is legitimate not to recognize God as God. Users of contraception attribute to themselves a power that belongs only to God, the power to decide in the final instance the coming into existence of a human being.”
- Pope John Paul II had also taught in Evangelium Vitae that “The close connection which exists, in mentality, between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious. It is being demonstrated in an alarming way by the development of chemical products, intrauterine devices and vaccines which, distributed with the same ease as contraceptives, really act as abortifacients in the very early stages of the development of the life of the new human being” (n. 13).
In order to show that Protestants also previously believed that contraception is morally wrong, here are some quotes from the major Protestant reformers that show that these reformers considered the use of contraception to be morally wrong:
- Martin Luther once proclaimed that “the purpose of marriage is not pleasure and ease but the procreation and education of children and the support of a family … People who do not like children are swine, dunces, and blockheads, not worthy to be called men and women, because they despise the blessing of God, the Creator and Author of marriage” (Christian History, Issue 39, p. 24).
- Martin Luther also said that “Onan must have been a most malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin … Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed.”
- John Calvin said the following in his Commentaries on Genesis 38:8-10: “The voluntary spilling of semen outside of intercourse between man and woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall to the ground is doubly monstrous. For this is to extinguish the hope of the race and to kill before he is born — the hoped for offspring.”
- The Synod of Dordt said that the act of Onan “was even as much as if he had, in a manner, pulled forth the fruit out of the mother’s womb and destroyed it.”
The Catholic Church is correct in teaching that contracepted sexual intercourse is always morally wrong, despite widespread acceptance of contraception by all of the major Protestant denominations and despite widespread disobedience of the Catholic Church’s teaching against contraception by Catholics. First and foremost, the Catholic Church’s teaching against contraception has already been taught infallibly by the Catholic Church, and therefore free from error, free from the possibility of error, and unchangeable. Second, contracepted sexual intercourse is always contrary to the law of God, always contrary to natural law, always seriously offensive to God, and always evil in the eyes of God, regardless of the intention or the circumstances, and as such is always morally wrong. Third, contracepted sexual intercourse had been considered to be morally wrong by every Protestant denomination between the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s until the Seventh Lambeth Conference in 1930. Fourth, the choice to engage in contracepted sexual intercourse is at odds with the will of God on the matter of whether a child should be conceived as a result of sexual intercourse. Finally, the widespread acceptance of contraception by Christians has led to many seriously bad consequences, including the danger to the souls of those who have used contraception, the breakdown of the family, an increase in the divorce rate, abortions of unborn children conceived as a result of contraceptive failure, an increased willingness to engage in sexual activity when the conception of a new child is not desired, an increased willingness to pursue extramarital affairs, and an increased willingness to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage.