I am having a hard time explaining the Catholic stance on contraception to certain folk. This particular person is a Protestant, but even pointing out the references in scripture doesn’t seem to affect their opinion. How does one explain it in a way without using Catholic doctrine or biblical references. I know the answer is natural law, but I feel I lack the words to describe it. How do people go about explaining it in very simple words. For the sake of this discussion, lets keep this on just “the pill”. Every other form of contraception seems to be easier to explain away. Yet the pill comes across as difficult to explain away in today’s culture.
There are others who can better explain the moral law, but I’ll just mention a few things.
I would first point out that the Catholic Church’s position on contraception is exactly the same as that of all the founders of the Protestant Reformation—Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, who all held fast to the doctrine opposing artificial contraception. Not only that, but the Protestant position on contraception continued to match the Catholic doctrine for over 400 years. It was only in 1930 that one denomination, the Church of England, caved in to the push for contraception, allowing it for grave reasons for married couples. Soon, most other denominations caved in as well.
Secondly, marriage is about the union of man and woman and the formation of families—unity and procreation. When one of those ends is deliberately thwarted, as it is with contraception, the union suffers. The man and woman no longer give themselves freely but put limits on their union. That’s bad for marriage. (I would note here that IVF also breaks the union by separating the unitive aspect from the procreative aspect.)
Thirdly, the actual results of the widespread use of contraception have been uniformly a disaster for society. I would recommend Mary Eberstadt’s book “Adam and Eve After the Pill,” for a documentation of this.
Finally, more and more Protestants are again coming to view contraception as morally wrong. See for example, this NY Times article.
I would also point out to them that if they are Christian and truly want to give everything to God, wouldn’t they let God decide when they should have children, since He knows better than they do? And that if God wanted to allow them the choice, and has provided a safe and natural means, that we should choose his way (the natural way), over the man made way? Shouldn’t we put God first?
At the very least you could tell them about how the majority of birth control pills work and have the potential of aborting a baby. Though, if they are of the liberal Christians that think abortion is okay, then you would have a tougher time with it.
question on this though. If they take a pill that prevents them from ovulating, doesn’t that take away the potentiality of fertilization and the egg not implanting?
Interesting. I have found the opposite. You can come up with logical arguments about the pill increasing cancer and heart disease risks. You can discuss the possibility of a fertilized egg being unable to attach to the uterine wall due to a woman being on the pill (morally, an early term abortion). However, it is much harder to explain why using a condom is a whole lot different than using NFP to avoid a pregnancy.
Most birth control pills work in 3 stages (which can be found on their websites):
- Attempt to stop ovulation
- Thicken the mucus in an attempt to prevent sperm from getting to the egg
- Thinning the lining of the wall of the uterus to prevent implantation
Unless the specific pill does not cause the 3rd stage, the potential is always there. They are not 100% effective in any case at any stage.
Besides, my point with that argument is that at least you could see the immorality of most birth control pills, so that if the pill does fail, it doesn’t risk killing a baby. I would rather have someone insistent on taking birth control, take one that has no risk of killing a baby.
I have a roundabout way of answering but here goes, bear with me.
My mother was an educated Catholic who loved her popes. She would say to me that the pope was great but he was still someone’s child, still human and prone to error as humans are. But then she would go on to say that the Magisterium does not hop on to the latest fashion, idea, or remedy for good reason: Humans being are easy to influence, deceive, or excite.
One day while driving to our friends’ home, she said she felt grateful that the Church did not jump into secular thought on matters of contraception. She spoke of natural law, proper use of a “faculty”, working WITH God and nature rather than gross interference. (I wish she had been a scientific researcher; maybe the approach to women’s health would be more lifegiving and healthful by now.) After using the metaphor of a country field and how you rest, cultivate, fertilize, and nurture the soil, our car pulled up the driveway to our friends’ home where we met their 32 year old cousin in a wheelchair who had had a stroke from using birth control pills.
Driving home my mom said, "Do you prefer a government that gives in to majority pressure or a magisterium that may move slowly but is cautious about what we put into our bodies?
She sounds like a wise woman. She seems to have known rather intuitively what it has taken a lot of us decades to figure out: Massive large scale medication of women for no other purpose than to enable sex without pregnancy can have a lot of adverse consequences. (As it has–not only medically, but socially.)
This doesn’t answer your question directly, but one thing you can tell your Protestant friend is that it’s only been fairly recent history that Protestants have been OK with contraception. Protestants used to condemn contraception just as vociferously as Catholics. In fact, the harshest condemnations of contraception I’ve ever read came from Martin Luther.
It wasn’t really until 1930s that Protestants began to flirt with contraception. In 1930 the Anglican Church held the “Lambeth Conference.” At that conference the Anglican Church reiterated that contraception was morally evil, but said that in cases where the wife’s health would at risk in the event of pregnancy, then recourse to contraception was not sinful. This sent out shock waves among Protestant churches, with many, many harsh denouncements of the Lambeth Conference coming from all over protestantism in America. Remember that the Comstock laws of the 1860s came out to make condoms and contraception in general illegal. That was protestant-dominated America that enacted those laws.
But the Lambeth Conference became a slippery slope and Protestants gradually caved into contraception, such that the history I just told you is unknown to most Protestants today…
In all sincerity, what reference in scripture?
None of these seem to be helping… I thank you for your continued prayers.
The Church teaches that the primary end* of the sexual act is to bring new life into the world. To simultaneously engage in the sexual act and block its life-giving potential is a perversion of the act he has designed.
*There remains debate in the Church about whether or not procreation is the primary end or if it is equal to the unitive end.
Hope that helps. Sorry if it didn’t.