Headscratcher #1: Condoms and infertility

Say you used NFP methods to chart your fertility cycle, and you knew when you were fertile and when you were infertile.

Now say you and your spouse used a condom one night just for fun – maybe it’s like a textured one or something – on a night when you knew from charting that you couldn’t conceive anyway.

Would that still be a sin? And if so, why?

Yes what you are describing is a disordered sex act. Every act should be ordered to correct and Holy sex. Fertility does not matter. Ask older people.:wink:

Why not just use it for the experience, but remove it before it matters?

Might be a better suited question for a priest.

I would say that is pushing it, and remember that feigned ignorance increases the factor of sinfulness.


Too many sex rules! AMIRITE?!? :smiley:


I’d expect a better sense of humor from someone whose username is “Hoosier daddy” :shrug:

That’s kind of like saying, “why not let me point a loaded gun at you – for the experience! – but remove it before it matters?”…!

Is it worth the risk of sin? What if you weren’t able to “remove it before it matters”, and therefore, committed the sin of having marital sex in a way that isn’t open to life? Would it have been worth it… “for the experience”? :nope:

Sorry, I am not on top of my game tonight.:wink:


Being against Abortion


being against birth control, which can prevent/significantly lower/end abortion.


Being against abortion, which ends lives before they come to term
Not being against birth control. which prevents life as well.

True, abortion is much worse than birth control, because once a child has been conceived, it has a soul, and to end it intentionally is clearly murder.
But birth control still prevents potential lives, and doesn’t make the situation better or any more moral.


Being pro Choice because of women’s rights.


Killing women in the womb.

That’s all great, but I don’t really see a “why” answer here.

If you know you can’t get pregnant at that point, you aren’t really interfering with procreation. There will be no procreation either way …

And since our hypothetical assumes that their purpose is some reason other than contraception, there’s no intent to interfere with procreation, either.

So why exactly is that a sin?

No method of family planning (licit or illicit, moral or immoral) is 100% effective. There might be an error in charting; the sperm might live long enough to fertilize the next egg down the pike; etc, etc. Or, as we always recognize, being ‘open to life’ means that if God were to will it, even in a way that seems miraculous, a baby could be conceived outside of all our expectations.

And since our hypothetical assumes that their purpose is some reason other than contraception, there’s no intent to interfere with procreation, either.

So why exactly is that a sin?

Contraception is an intrinsic evil (see the catechism, #2370). That means that intent doesn’t come into play; the action itself is always evil. Therefore, it is always sinful, even if we’re just ‘playing around with it’… :wink:

The sex act in marriage must be open to life. Use of a condom means not open to life.
Abraham’s wife Sarah was old and barren yet she conceived Isaac.
Elizabeth the wife of Zacharias was old and barren but she conceived John the Baptist.

Do not think you know God’s will by assuming an infertile woman cannot conceive. Nothing is impossible for God.

If someone doesn’t have the self control to do something that simple, then obviously no, they shouldn’t be doing it, but then if they have that limited self control then maybe they shouldn’t be in a relationship either.

My point is that to use a condom during foreplay is the same as oral sex as foreplay. I suppose it might be a temptation for some individuals to use oral sex as a means to an orgasm, but for many, they are able to stop, adjust, and have proper intercourse. Using a condom as some sort of foreplay is no different, it just depends on the individual’s level of self control and commitment to having fecund relations.

I guess that’s where I always have a problem with the ban against condoms, especially in this hypothetical where their use is more as a sex aid than a contraceptive.

If God wants someone to get pregnant, the condom isn’t going to stop him. So isn’t being “open to life” more about accepting that if you do get pregnant you’ll be OK with it? I always think it’s weird that the church thinks a piece of latex with a 5% fail rate to begin with is somehow capable of thwarting the plans of an omnipotent being :stuck_out_tongue:

But lets say, for the sake of argument, that we increase the fail rate even more. If you were to use a condom in the above stated scenario, but put a bunch of pinholes in it first to drastically lower - if not remove altogether - it’s ability to interfere with conception, would that still be a sin?

You could cut the tip off , so you keep the “stimulation” bit but render it useless as birth control since the semen ends up in the vagina.

As long as it’s not a spermicidal condom, then it’s use would be fully to enhance the act and in no way detract from the procreation aspect.

Artificial contraception is not sinful primarily because it is “thwarting God’s plans.” It’s much more about an interior disposition that is closed off to being who God designed us to be.

What we do matters. Sure, we can say that we are “open to life” should the condom prove to “fail”. But out acts belie our words in that case.

Let me ask you an analogous question. Say you discover that your next-door neighbor is planning on committing a murder. Say you call the police, have him arrested, and present convincing evidence that leads him to being charged and tried, thus saving the life of his intended victim.

Now say that, instead, you simply burst into his house and cut off his hands and feet while he’s sleeping so he can’t hurt anyone, thus saving the life of his intended victim.

Are these two acts morally equivalent in every way, simply because the outcome is the same?

That’s not an irony, even in the improper sense liberal modernity uses the word. You just cannot transcend your own habits of moral thinking and understand that Catholics are not consequentialists.

The unspoken assumption you’re bringing to the table here is that the moral character of an act is determined primarily by its consequences. Hence you are baffled that using NFP is permitted and contraception forbidden, even though both can have the same effect, of preventing pregnancy. This is called “consequentialism,” and its Western father was Jeremy Bentham, a liberal atheist.

Consequentialism is false and evil, as I demonstrated by the analogy I gave above, and it has been repeatedly condemned by the Church, most recently in JPII’s Veritaris Splendor. The consequences of an action are at most only one consideration when determining its morality.

A sin is an action which objectively fails to conform to the divine will, either expressed explicitly in Revelation or implicitly in human nature. To get what I mean by “implicitly in human nature,” understand that God designed man to have a reproductive system, and a reproductive system is literally by definition ordered toward reproduction. Since God is good, and since God “created the world and saw that it was good,” it follows that it is good for us to have a reproductive system and thus good for us to use it reproductively. By nature and design, that system includes periods of infertility, hence exploiting those periods of infertility when circumstances warrant it is not a moral evil. Deliberately thwarting fertility by means of contraception is a moral evil precisely because it thwarts the divine design.

If God wants someone to live, then a murderer isn’t going to stop that person from living, no? Therefore, what, we don’t need police forces, since God will magically intervene in the world to prevent murder from happening?

The problem with thinking this way is thinking that God only wants one thing. He doesn’t. He wants many things, which must be balanced. He doesn’t just want particular outcomes. He wants us to want those outcomes, simply because he wants them; that’s why he made us in his image, i.e., with free will and moral responsibility. He wants us to love him but more importantly he wants us to choose to love him, hence he does not coerce us into loving him, etc. God wants us not to murder, but more importantly he wants us to choose not to murder. God wants us to be fruitful and multiply, but more importantly he wants us to choose to be fruitful and multiply. Etc. That’s why there was a forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden – that we might choose, and choose meaningfully.

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