I am aware birth control is a sin unless the intention is a health reason, not to prevent pregnancy. I also know all about natural family planning and how it is used. I was wondering though, what happens when someone is a bulimic, a drug addict and/or alcoholic and therefore cannot or doesn’t have the will power or health to do NFP or even worse, doesn’t have a consistent temp or even a consistent period? Not having marital intercourse is not a feasible option in this example for several reasons and especially when intoxicated or blacked out. If the disease is so severe that pregnancy needs to be avoided while attempting to recover (in this example, she was abused and is actively going to a catholic therapist to recover). Are artificial birth controls (not ones that cause abortions but say preventative barrier methods) taken for the health of the baby and mom ok? If it’s not, what do you do when having a baby is dangerous (moms lack of health/nutrients make it difficult for her to survive as it is and then add baby also would be in danger)? She would love another child but must repair first.
Thanks for any help, please don’t judge her too harshly. She is diagnosed with PTSD.
Birth control used to treat a hormone imbalance, for example, is licit because the primary intent is not to prevent conception but to treat a medical condition. The contraceptive properties are seen as a side effect.
In the case you are describing, the woman using contraception would not be using it as a treatment for an illness with contraception as a side effect, but as a contraceptive. Which is a mortal sin.
The woman mentioned has two options. Option 1) Abstain from sex until her physical and mental health have improved and pregnancy is preventable by using NFP or she is in a position to carry, birth, and rear a child. Option 2) If her husband is aware that she objects to the use of contraception on moral grounds but HE decides to use contraception (condom, for example) then the wife would not be committing sin by having sex with him so long as she does not purchase the device or help him to apply it. The husband, however, would be committing a mortal sin. So, basically, the wife cannot condone or encourage the use of contraception in any way, but she can accept it’s use by her husband if she must.
Short answer: no. Relative circumstances, even serious ones, do not justify contraception.
husband is alcoholic also. Both were sexually abused as children and both engage in blacked out sex often. If there is no way to prevent pregnancy sans moving into separate houses and the intention is not that they don’t want a baby but that that getting pregnant is dangerous for mom and baby, you just are suppose allow it? It seems like God wouldn’t look down at this as sin (as she has already had 4 babies in 5yrs). I would hope the mentality of this couple and their wanting to do the right thing is taking into account. Is it still a mortal sin? Should I just have her go to the local Priest (he’s pretty liberal so she wants to make sure she is doing the right thing). They are a younger couple and are wondering if they should just take precaution while recovering for the sake of their family of 6.
Like I said the relative circumstances you describe are very serious. Theoretically, (and I mean theoretically only) such circumstances might mitigate the couples culpability for sin if they did engage in contraceptive sex. But it sounds like they are looking for permission to do this. We can’t give it. In such circumstances, telling someone to pick up their cross usually sounds insipid, but the truth is it’s the only product in the store so to speak.
thanks for the thoughtful responses:)
So wait, they’re both alcoholic with histories of abuse (which can’t be made any better by the frequent, non-consensual sex), at least one of them has PTSD and there are children involved? Whether or not they can use condoms are the least of their problems. This couple has serious issues and need to see counselors/therapists (individually and as a couple) right away, and, I’m sorry to say it, it’s probably prudent to move the kids out of that house.
No, there are no exceptions to this moral principle. The Church is well aware of the idea that people may think that they have the exception to the rule but there is no exception to contraception. For good reason. Evil cannot be done to achieve good.
It sounds like this couple needs a lot more help than simply giving them the green light to use contraception with a clear conscience! They need lots of prayer!
How about they stop focusing on sex and work on becoming whole people again?
They are called to live chastely, which in marriage requires continence and respect for the other person. If they are harming each other, and themselves, by engaging in drunken black-out sex, they aren’t being unitive – one of the two moral aspects of sexual intercourse. They are co-dependent, enmeshed, sharing an addiction, and the problem here isn’t sexual relations. It’s that they need to straighten themselves out!
The culpability is mitigated, but in a misguided way, such as when Pope Benedict addressed condom use back in 2010: "Benedict said that condoms are not a moral solution to stopping AIDS. But he said in some cases, such as for male prostitutes, their use could represent a first step in assuming moral responsibility “in the intention of reducing the risk of infection.” " Can we apply that principal here? Somewhat yes, because it’s in the interest of protecting another. But then again, this couple does not have a wholesome relationship in the first place because they are not whole people. They need to cope with their trauma, not focus on their sex life.
I’m going to go so far as to say their sex lives makes a mockery of sacramental marriage, if what you say is true. This couple isn’t even trying to live their covenant if they aren’t respecting each other’s bodies.
This still isn’t not addressing the root of the problem. Black-out sex has no respect for oneself or one’s spouse. Sex isn’t what they should go to a priest about. They need to call their local AA chapters and consider making a plan for the kids if one or both of them goes into rehab!
As far as that goes. She is diagnosed with PTSD. The point is they are attempting not to intentionally sin (you do not have free will in addictions). That is a big difference because they would like to still be able to receive the grace from communion to battle their pull to alcohol and yes the health of mom and baby are a big deal. The kids are not in any danger since both parents are being helped and both under doctors care and others like us who have interceded to help. The heavy drinking started a year ago, after she lost her job and then they lost the house (which is when I came into the picture). Kids are healthy and happy with good manners. I was under the impression I was asking about the morality not if this couple should have the state come get their kids to put them in often abusive foster care. The other responders made it clear this couple should not use any kind of birth control and that was all I was needing to know. I thank the other posters for answering the question and leaving out their diagnose of people they don’t know, who are already being treated, out of it.
God Bless. ~Tina
Honestly this is a really easy question. The answer is that no, you may never have sufficient reasons to contraception. It is sinful. One should not penetrate another in a procreative manner if people could be harmed.
I know many many condom and pill babies. My sister was the result of a condom failure. Birth “Control” is a lie.
You don’t have free will when *exercising *an addiction. It can become an act of will, fueled by grace, to resist acting on impulsive behavior (else there would be no recovering addicts).
There is freedom in surrendering to God. I believe that there are graces from the Eucharist, and believe in that strongly. But I believe that they aren’t living a sober lifestyle and using each other, based on what you wrote.
**If this couple is still acting on their addictive behaviors with each other’s bodies and calling it marital intimacy, sex and birth control are *not *the issue. **
How long have each been under care and no one has addressed the proverbial elephant in the room? Are they being honest with their program, sponsors, medical professwionals, families, and other interventionists?
This couple, even under doctor’s care, are not free to “give themselves to each other” under the influence. They are not free to receive physical intimacy. Their consent is impaired, their giving of their bodies isn’t by their own will, but that it is spurred by the addiction.
How on earth can that be healthy?
(I’m not armchair diagnosing or discussing the children at this point – just the nature of the relationship you describe.)
“I’m going to go so far as to say their sex lives makes a mockery of sacramental marriage, if what you say is true. This couple isn’t even trying to live their covenant if they aren’t respecting each other’s bodies”
Nice comments:( You make a mockery of Christianity. It’s my first time on here and it will be my last. I hope God judges people like you the way you judge an abused couple who are struggling to live the way God wants.
*and I’m leaving this thread so talk to yourself. This is the most grotesque example of Christian love I’ve ever seen. The prayers for the couple comment was what I envisioned anyone who wanted to answer more than the question of “is it moral”.
If the couple is routinely drunk enough that they blackout, then I am perfectly justified in asking if this is an appropriate situation for children to be in, both physically and morally. These parents are modeling self-destructive behavior for their children . I’m not suggesting that the kids be sent to “abusive foster care,” just that it might be better for the kids to stay with a trusted relative (for example) than with parents who can’t control themselves. Please note that I also suggested that the parents get professional help. I’m not going to apolgize for pointing out red flags when I see them. I’m not going to apologize for trying to get at the root of the problem and look out for the safety of everyone involved instead of focusing on a small surface problem like you wanted me to.
Lots of people, like you, seem to think that love means never telling other that they are wrong, but the fact remains that there is something deeply wrong with this couple’s relationship and ignoring it will not make it go away. Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do is tell people what they don’t want to hear.
I was coming from a place that, for all your time of involvement with this couple, would have researched this. ** I apologize heartily. **
I wish you weren’t defensive and would answer the questions I asked. I hope you show my comments to them and all of their interventionists.
I’m going to type this out anyway, for the edification of anyone else who may stumble upon this thread:
The whole point of an intervention is to have a supportive atmosphere to kick-start recovery by showing the subject how his/her addiction has affected other people, and to try to hold a mirror up to the consequences of their choices. But in a relationship that shares addiction, they need to be whole people before they can be a couple.
I’ll reiterate that black out sex isn’t normal, healthy, unitive – although, as you pointed out, is *obviously *procreative.
Recall Lindsay Lohan’s father and his wife/girlfriend and the kind of relationship they have: they use drugs/alcohol, then each other. Wash, rinse, repeat. Or Jeff Conway (RIP, btw) and his significant other – who tried to sneak him pills while in rehab! ***Any ***good rehab program, in- or out-patient, especially under a physician’s supervision, directs, no, requires the client to suspend physical intimacy during treatment and for a period after discharge, as to not replace the addiction with objectifying another person to “fill the gap” the loss of a drug/alcohol leaves behind. And for a dual-addicted couple with histories of trauma, the timeline may be different for both of them.
To continue a mature discussion, I invite you to me that my statements hurt, but** I also invite you to refute my comments or answer the questions I posed**. If you only wanted prayer without commentary, that should be under the Prayer Intentions Forum.
I’m not going to give you my personal history on the Internet, but I’ll take to PM how I know of what I speak and what “Tough Love” is, and what addicts need to do to learn self-discipline. Addicts in the throes of addiction don’t see what recovery can be for them and their spouses. Acting/being sober around/for the kids is NOT addressing the hollow and destructive “coping” skills they’ve been employing by using or drinking – especially when there is sex with each other they can’t even remember.
Again, sex life is NOT a priority until the addiction has been addressed both separately and within the context of the marriage. But go ahead, refer them to the “liberal” priest without a thorough background of the (enmeshed) addictions. He won’t have an accurate picture with which to give advice, will he? That is the quintessential way to be unfair to his Pastoral Supervision – setting him up, in a way. I can’t condone that.
**The TRUTH is always the most compassionate way. **
Why would a person not want them to have a healthy relationship?
That, to me, is a mockery of Christianity.
I would say a temporary separation is in order. She needs to work on her health and mental issues first, and then go for making a working marriage.
I am confused.
First off. Welcome to the forums. I see you are new!
Second. This is a Catholic forum. Those of us that are Catholic are morally bound to give a Catholic answer. And we cannot moral or by the rules of the forum encourage others to sin. We could be banned. There are many many secular outlets that would provide for ABC in the situation you describe. Some would even consider it the moral good. But here, and as Catholics we are bound by God’s compassion and love. And that compassion and love dictates that ABC is not used for any reason. This is the moral code we believe in when we receive God Himself into our bodies and say Amen.
I agree with you that I hope God judges me to the same standards of which others are judged by me. We actually pray that standard of fairness and justice be applied to ourselves. So, I submit to my God and ask for His Mercy. I also amend my sinfulness and strive to achieve a state of Grace. The Church affords us all this path to heaven through the sacraments and the moral teachings of Jesus Christ, My Lord and My God…
You mentioned that this couple both want to receive the graces from the sacraments to get better. I assume both want to pull themselves together and stop drinking (intoxication is also a sin), etc.
Aside from counseling, etc, from a spiritual angle, those in recovery from any serious habitual sin can take certain steps to gain spiritual strength.
The first is *frequent confession. *Not only are the sins absolved, but confession confers special graces to help with temptation.
Second is frequent reception of the the Eucharist, not only on Sundays but on any other day of the week it is possible for them or one of them to get to Mass. If there is more than one Catholic Church, the schedules of all of them should be known so Mass can be attended whenever possible. Ask for an extra-long lunch hour a couple of times a week if Mass is at noon, or if one can go to work a little early so as to be able leave in time for an evening Mass if needed. The two can take turns caring for the children in the morning so the other can go to Mass early. The ideal, with a situation this bad, would be for a while Mass every day.
Eucharistic adoration: quiet time before or after Mass, or at a time when one would go to Mass if one could, praying in the Real Presence of Christ.
The Rosary: 5 decades during a time set aside for this, in front of the tabernacle when possible, in front of a crucifix at home (there’s one at the end of the Rosary!). *Other *Rosaries when commuting, etc, if possible. (There are onlineMP3 audio rosaries, audio Scriptural Rosaries which can be downloaded to a smartphone or MP3 player ($10) and also illustrated Scriptural Rosaries on Youtube. A cassette converter for $7 can be plugged into the player at one end and the cassette part into a player so the sound comes out theough speakers.)
And spiritual reading: the Bible, Spiritual Combat (Dom Scupoli) or A Sinner’s Guide (available online), saints’ lives, esp Matthew Talbot (who I am not sure is canonized but who definitely was a drunk who became a saintly Catholic).
PM me if you need any links to any of these resources.