Contraception: Why Not?

I’m looking for the best arguments against contraception. Can you lay out a few of your top reasons and perhaps a few books that make the best case?

I’m conversing with a close Protestant friend who’s considering a vasectomy after his fourth child. He’s a faithful Christian, and wants to be thoughtful in this decision, but his elders are pointing him to 1 Corinthians 10, “everything is permissible” and just asking if he can do this “in faith.”

I’m hoping to share a more thoughtful challenge to his decision making process. As he is a Protestant, arguments from Scripture are especially useful.

Thank you!

You should encourage him to read Humanae Vitae, and to note the footnoted scripture.

Just as a general rule, especially when talking about sin, I find it best not to find arguments against something bad but for something good. For example, try not to find reasons why contraception is bad but why full and total communion with one’s partner is SO good. Only then can an argument be made to the sin and evil of contraception.

To this end, a review of Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body would be extremely helpful. You can find that here: ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2TBIND.HTM

God made man and woman in his image. So the basic call of man and woman is to image God. God is a trinity, so how can they image the Trinity?

In the Trinity, the Father gives himself completely to the Son and the Son gives himself completely to the Father and the mutual exchange of perfect love between the two is the Holy Spirit.

I think when man and woman unite in sexual intercourse, it is the closest reflection of the Trinity, where the man and woman give themselves completely to each other, not withholding anything from the other, and the mutual exchange of love between the two can be so deep that nine months later you may have to give it a name!

I think contraception is “withholding” oneself from one’s spouse, and therefore does not “image” God when man and wife unite. It is a distorted image of God, and therefore, sin.

I would check out earlier Protestant sources. All Protestants rejected contraception until the 1930’s. Make the point that modern Protestantism is out of touch with its roots. What denomination is he? Research what his own denomination has said on the subject in times past. You will find some interesting material at this link:
catholic.com/library/Birth_Control.asp
Notice how SHARPLY Luther and Calvin condemned contraception! Or practices which avoid conception.

God bless,

C.

Here’s a good article that explains the explicit and the implicit scripture about contraception:
ccli.org/nfp/morality/bible.php

Here’s another about historical Protestant teaching: touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=20-04-020-f

Yes, it’s true but abstinence is also withholding oneself from one’s spouse. I don’t abstain. I’m not a fan of Humanae Vitae which I’ve been checking out. I think it’s too liberal.

Contraception, WHy Not?

Janet Smith explains why the Catholic Church keeps insisting, in the face of the opposite position held by most of the rest of the modern world, that contraception is one of the worst inventions of our time.

Casti Connubi

Let me put it this way. The act of sexual intercourse between a man and his wife is a reflection of the Trinity. It’s like this, when they’re meeting in sexual intercourse, it is as though they are “creating an image” of the Trinity, or painting a picture of it. Now, if they contracept during this act, they paint a distorted picture of the Trinity.

When they’re abstaining (not having sex), they aren’t painting anything. So mere abstinence doesn’t paint a distorted picture of the Trinity, because there is no picture being painted.

In a sense, we can get very quickly to the heart of the issue with a terrible question: “Vomitoriums: Why not?”

Supposedly, the Romans, to maximize the pleasure of eating, would vomit up their food to make room for more.

By mortally divorcing the natural purpose of sex from the pleasure, we engage in the same kind of abandon.


In fact, 4 times, contraception is expressly prohibited in Scripture, at the plain language level. On 3 of this occasions, the text is nasty. I know of no Bible which correctly translates the verses. Here is the story.

Beginning around 400 B.C., the girls of the Roman Empire began to use three different teas to stop ovulation – a plant called silphium, Queen Anne’s Lace, and asafoetida (sp?) sometimes used as a spice today in Worcestershire Sauce. Silphium was the most effective, almost magically disrupting the woman’s cycle without serious side effects. Siphium grew wild in North Africa. What we now call Tunisiua grew rich selling silphium. An ancient Carthaginian coin features a naked girl holding a silphium plant with one hand while she pointed to her crotch with the other.

After silphium and other contraceptives were imported into the Roman Empire, wholesalers would sell bundles of the plants to fortune tellers as leaves for contraceptive teas.

So, it’s interesting, isn’t it? To this day we can go into drug stores, buy contraceptives, and then up at the cash register are horoscopes for sale.

Back to the story: All the girls in the cities of the Empire were aware that the fortune tellers sold contraceptive teas. They’d rush down to the fortune teller, pay for a fortune about their latest love match, and then buy some contraceptive tea.

At any rate, one girl would never say to the other, “I’m going to get some tea for sex later!”

Instead, they euphemized the discussion. They would say, “I’m going to go buy some pharmakeia” – “drugs.”

So, the Greco-Roman word for “drugs” became the euphemism for contraceptives in the Roman Empire.

If I leave the pharmakeia root untranslated in the following verses, you can see, now, where the Bible expressly and nastilky condemns use of contraceptives…

19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness,
20 idolatry, pharmakeia, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions,
21 occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21.

21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their pharmakeia, their unchastity, or their robberies. Revelation 9:21. Notice how “pharmakeia” is paired with a sex word, unchastity.

8 But as for cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, the unchaste, pharmakeus, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort, their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death." Revelation 21:8. Again, it is paired-up with a sex word, “unchaste.”

15 Outside [the heavenly city] are the dogs, the pharmakos, the unchaste, the murderers, the idol-worshipers, and all who love and practice deceit. Revelation 22:15.

But in my opinion the wife and husband have to be talked-to together on this subject. Additionally, Natural Family Planning works! I use it, and it’s wonderful.

Peter, that’s very interesting. Can you point me to a source that supports this argument? I’d like to learn more about it.

I wrote the article. It was published in the May/June, 2001 issue of The Catholic Answer magazine.

I think that if you need sources, you’d like something contemporary – something from the era verifying that pharmakeia is a euphemism for contraceptives.

Probably the best contemporary source is the Didache. Chapter 2 reads in pertinent part, "[Y]ou shall not practice magiae, you shall not practice pharmakeia, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born " “Magiae” were anti-conception curses. Pharmakeia of course were contraceptives, and then abortion and infanticide are prohibited. You can see what the writer was doing – “climbing the ladder” from pre-conception to infanticide.

This might be the most informative contraception thread I’ve ever read!

Thanks Mr. Dawson!

[quote=WesleyF] The act of sexual intercourse between a man and his wife is a reflection of the Trinity. It’s like this, when they’re meeting in sexual intercourse, it is as though they are “creating an image” of the Trinity, or painting a picture of it. Now, if they contracept during this act, they paint a distorted picture of the Trinity.

When they’re abstaining (not having sex), they aren’t painting anything. So mere abstinence doesn’t paint a distorted picture of the Trinity, because there is no picture being painted.
[/quote]

Wesley:

I think this doesn’t stand up when taking NFP into consideration. If hte marital embrace, like the Trinity, is a reflection of total and complete giving to one another, then practicing NFP would have to be sinful. I understand that at the time a couple practicing NFP to avoid pregnancy chooses to embrace, the act is unaltered, and each participant is sharing completely that which they have to offer at that particular time. However, is that marital embrace of a practicing NFP couple truly a comlete self giving when they are only engaging in the act when the wife is not fertile? It is a deliberate withholding of a particluar part of oneself when choosing to abstain only during fertile times.

To continue on your painting analogy…you say that abstinence is simply choosing to not paint a picture, so that the picture of the Trinity cannot be distorted. But practicing NFP is like intentionally choosing to paint a picture only when there is no red paint available.

–Rico

Arguments from analogy may support an argument or give a new perspective, but they certainly aren’t watertight. We can look to analogy to gain new insight, but I wouldn’t go much further with that. Moreover, the Trinity is a huge mystery. The life of the family is most certainly modeled on the life of the Trinity, but to directly compare the two, even to the point of providing a prohibition against contraception, is going too far.

As I hinted at before, to make a sound argument against contraception, it is necessary to find out why marriage and sex is so good. It is necessary to understand what our bodies mean and what they are for. What does it mean to give oneself? Why is sex giving oneself? Why does sex even exist?

These are the questions that will lead to an educated opinion on contraception.

I can see what you’re saying and it is interesting about a couple making the image of God. However, as human beings made in the image of God, children’s souls cannot be distorted by the fact that their parents contracepted. Contraception does not distort your children’s souls although it will affect whether or not the couples are good role models of Christian love.

I have read quite a lot on the church’s teachings on this topic. I understand the teachings, even if I question them at times. From a practical standpoint, however, when I am being romantic with my wife, my thoughts are for her pleasure and my love for her. If I am thinking about ‘church’ or ‘babies’ during this time, I am not going to ‘perform’ very well, if you know what I mean.

Try as I might, I cannot see how using contraception differs from mutual masturbation.

On the other hand, the authentic marital act is actually a form of devotion and a renewal of sacramental vows.

I disagree with your opinion, interesting though it is. I think contraception if it’s truly a contraceptive and keeps egg and sperm apart can make sex unprocreative and therefore a bit like a French kiss. It’s just putting part of the man’s body inside part of the woman’s body but it doesn’t or can’t create life so it hasn’t any deeper meaning. However, if the contraceptive is abortifacient then it can kill.

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