Headscratcher #1: Condoms and infertility

The condom makes the act non-reproductive in type, whereas NFP does not. That the consequence is the same (that in each case, the couple does not conceive) does not make the moral status of the act the same.

To put it a bit more crudely in a more extreme example, it would also be non-reproductive in type for a couple to watch porn, masturbate, and then “complete” the act together. Here the couple might conceive as they would in natural sex, but the moral status is not the same in any case.

You are interfering with an act that must be procreative whether its consequence is procreation or not. (For that reason, a couple practicing NFP must still be open to children. By practicing NFP, one should not be conceiving of oneself as blocking procreation.)

Intention is not simply about what one professes to aim at. By virtue of undertaking certain acts we undertake a certain intent, whether we profess that intention or not. Contraceptive sex essentially avoids procreation.

This distinction is made elsewhere in Catholic moral theology. Craniotomies (where a child’s head must be crushed to get it through the birth canal) cannot be performed, even when the mother’s health is at risk. This is because it is impossible to crush the child’s head without intending to crush the child’s head; even if I say I am just trying to save the mother, I can’t separate my action from the intent to kill an innocent child. By contrast, the removal of a cancerous uterus can in some cases be morally permissible for the sake of the mother’s life, even if it is foreseen that it will result in the death of the child, because the act of removing the uterus can be sufficiently separated from the intention to kill the child.

Sorting out intentions can be difficult. There are cases on a number of issues where two acts can have the same consequences, but one of the two cannot be performed without an evil intent.

I should note that it doesn’t follow that the other acts, in which the act is separable from an evil intent, are always moral. For the act and the intent to be separable does not imply that they are separated. A woman who feels relieved that she has a cancerous uterus, because she wanted to abort her baby anyway, will have an evil intent, and in having her uterus removed will be committing an evil act.* She can’t notionally change her intent by thinking to herself, “I will make myself think, for the time being, that I don’t want to abort, so that my intent is good”; in practice, we cannot always change our intentions. In this case, she may have a culpably malformed conscience that prevents her from taking a moral course of action. All of this has to do with subjective conscience, of course, and it is not something we could in general presume to judge. But the principles are worth considering.

*Whether her doctor’s cooperation is evil will depend in turn on his own intent and his knowledge of her intent.

You are playing God though. Mary got pregnant in the most infertile of ways. To be open to life is to trust God without disrupting the natural order. Women are born with cycles that arise over time. Men are not born wearing condoms.

Besides, the whole question is based on a premise where someone is trying to look for ways around Church teachings, which means they aren’t truly seeking the Lord with their heart and soul. That is the bigger issue here. Kind of like parsing what is and isn;t meat on fridays, rather than erring on the side of absitence as a way of honoring God, rather than trying to squeeze in spam because it may not be meat.

People aren’t born wearing modest clothing, but we are required to wear modest clothing.

I’m seeing business ideas here.

What is the disposition of a couple who spends an entire month charting and planning when to have sex to avoid pregnancy? They are focused much more on avoiding a pregnancy than a couple who uses a condom.

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