ABCs - Which Commandments are broken?


Teens in our parish youth group asked which commandments artificial birth control break.

The obvious is Thou Shalt Not Kill, of course, and they got that it applies for abortion and birth control pills, but were not able to extend the reasoning to condom use, tubal ligation, vasectomy or hysterectomy (I think they’re confusing hysterectomy with tubal ligation, though).

One teen said it goes against the first, fourth and seventh commandments as well, which I thought was interesting. When asked why, he said the First, because it makes you act like you’re better than Him, by cutting off the potential for life you’re acting like God. The Fourth, he said was because it’s disrespecting the family tree. You’re choosing to prune the branches which is an insult to the parents who chose to give you life. The Seventh, because you’re stealing from your spouse and both extended family trees, a future. He brought up how extended ABC use can mess up fertility cycles over all so that when you do want kids the woman’s body can’t handle it and that would be an example of a husband stealing from the wife.

I just took the discussion in, amazed. Is the teen right about the first, fourth and seventh in addition to the fifth commandments being broken?

None of them were able to tie condom use, which doesn’t have an impact on a woman’s cycle, or vasectomies/tubal ligations to the commandments. They just didn’t buy the argument of it being a form of killing and I couldn’t explain it in a way they understood. Any ideas of how to get that lesson across?


Maybe you could associate it with Onan’s sin and what happened to him.:smiley:
Or what might happen when a condom fails and one of these teens has to tell his/her parents about their new baby (he/she might be killed).:smiley:

On a more serious note, a failed condom could cause one’s own death from AIDS.

But I really don’t see the point in calling any of these non-third-party deadly sins killing. When we are judged, we won’t be in any less trouble because we were able to point out that someone else killed with abortificients. God is just.

Your teen, by the way, is brilliant.


What was really impressive is that this wasn’t a group discussion or class. It was a conversation which sprang up while several of them were waiting for others to arrive for an event they were going to go to. I was there as an outsider, having driven my daughter to meet up with them (all the more reason to say very little).

The kids were doing a good job explaining why the various methods were wrong but when he asked which commandments they went against that’s when most of them got quiet. The one kid spoke from the heart but as I was listening I could see the weakness in his positions. That’s why I thought to post here. I think he was onto something with the other commandments but I hadn’t heard those tied to ABC before.

Today my daughter and I were talking about the discussion and I was telling her the honor thy parents link could go either way as there are some parents who regret having children or who have since been convince the earth is overpopulated. They’re the ones who take their teens to the clinics to get ABCs and tell them that the church is old-fashioned. If you went with the honor thy father and mother position there it would be an argument in favor of using ABCs.

I couldn’t find an argument against the First and Seventh arguments, which surprised me.


How about the 6th commandment against adultery? To use contraception is to use your spouse in a lustful, selfish way.

It seems like the teens are focused on killing, but even if all forms of artificial contraception had no chance of killing a newly conceived baby they would still be immoral. Contraception destroys the unitive and procreative aspects of the marital act, turning it from an act of giving to an act of taking. That’s why condoms and other forms of non-abortificant contraception are immoral.

Focusing on the ways that contraception is an abuse of our God-given gift of sexuality rather than limiting the discussion to the abortificant properties of contraception might help them to better understand why contraception (as well as any type of sex outside of marriage) is wrong.


Yes, Sixth, adultery, nice catch! It opens the door to getting them to see the distinction between sex expressed thru lust and sex expressed thru love.

It’s so difficult answering the simple direct questions without overwhelming people with the Theology of the Body responses, though, but without that background understanding a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response is lacking and easily rejected.


Theology of the Body for Teens - seems your youth group is VERY ready for this book/course :thumbsup:


How about the First, to love God above all else? ABC is rooted in self-love, rather than love of God.


It’s a violation of the Sixth Commandment. From the Catechism:

2366 Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is "on the side of life"150 teaches that "it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life."151 "This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act."152

2367 Called to give life, spouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God.153 "Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children; they should realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love of God the Creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian responsibility."154

2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:

When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart.155
2369 "By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man’s exalted vocation to parenthood."156

2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.157 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:158

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. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.159
2371 "Let all be convinced that human life and the duty of transmitting it are not limited by the horizons of this life only: their true evaluation and full significance can be understood only in reference to man’s eternal destiny."160

2372 The state has a responsibility for its citizens’ well-being. In this capacity it is legitimate for it to intervene to orient the demography of the population. This can be done by means of objective and respectful information, but certainly not by authoritarian, coercive measures. The state may not legitimately usurp the initiative of spouses, who have the primary responsibility for the procreation and education of their children.161 In this area, it is not authorized to employ means contrary to the moral law.


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