Humanae Vitae and Contraception


#1

Help! Seriously!

I am a regular in a pretty heated evangelical/catholic forum and I try my best to represent the Catholic Faith. If I don’t know an answer, I’ll go look it up before I reply. I try not to give my personal opinions, but the position of the church, since I’m there as a representative of the Church.

I’m going nuts because some protestant friends are asking me WHY the Catholic church teaches birth control is wrong, and I can’t find the answer, not really.

First, for the record, I obey the Magisterium, and don’t want any other Catholic to even think of disobeying the Magisterium, even if you think the Magisterium is mistaken. I practiced NFP when I was married, and I’m celibate now that I’m divorced.

I’ve been going over and over Humanae Vitae, and honestly, it makes no sense to me. HV starts out honestly in paragraph 11 by pointing out the obvious, which is that MOST OF THE TIME SEX IS NOT PROCREATIVE. But then there is this sentence at the end that says, “The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.” Huh? How can that be if we just agreed that most of the time it’s not procreative? I just can’t agree to any of the “therefores” that follow… they are unwarranted conclusions because this statement at the end of paragraph 11 is out of the blue with no fact or reasoning to back it up. There is no WHY.

So I have no answer really, to give to my Protestant friends, and it is maddening to me. And embarrassing.

Is there any previous document that is simply not being cited that Pope Paul is referencing, which perhaps gives reasons for this statement? Anything? Anything? Can someone teach me about Natural Law, and what it says/who says what concerning “teaching that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life”? Please keep it simple but DO give me the basics. I’m really desperate!


#2

Your paraphrasing regarding para 11 is not correct. It does not say most sex is not procreative. It observes that conception is not possible for much of the time. Procreative (as used by the church) does not mean “successful in procreating”. It means the act is of the form which can lead to conception.

The marital act - as natures provides it to us, is inherently procreative. [Semen is transferred from man to woman]. This is deemed to be the creator’s intent, and for that reason, the Church holds that the act should not be changed or manipulated or interfered with so as to remove that element. Condom’s, pills and the like eliminate the procreative element of the act, while leaving other elements.


#3

And I would be curious to know why pro-birth control Protestants don’t think it immoral or against natural or divine law. Anyone did a write-up to justify birth control before voting to permit it? Decades ago, they were also against birth-control I believe. Things went south after the sexual revolution. I only hope it is not the “it is my body and I can do what I want” to economics to God wants me to be happy type of essay.


#4

Yes, decades ago Protestants were also against birth control. The Lambeth conference in 1930 changed that.

Here are some conversations regarding that:

answers.search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0LEVrzW5c5WRQkAiVMPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–?p=Lambeth%20conference%20regarding%20birth%20control&fr=yhs-att-att_001&hspart=att&hsimp=yhs-att_001

I am aware that many Catholics practice birth control also. And yet, we have the means to become holier by adhering to the moral teachings of the Church. The means is prayer, sacraments, and putting the Lord first. Difficult? Yes…but what excuse do we have to disobey? Our Saviour Jesus Christ has done everything for us! He has provided the means to obey, and rewards us with His Peace.


#5

As a Catholic I struggle with the “natural law” aspect of the argument quite a bit. It is the teaching of the Church and I am willing to accept it on the principal of obedience, but the idea that it is somehow permissible to prevent conception using math and biometric monitoring, but that plastic is somehow completely out of the realm of natural law is just beyond me. Perhaps the source of my problem is that the arguments are often formed pure philosophy and I’m a data driven engineer. Still when under perfect use a condom is statistically less effective or at least comparable (2% chance of pregnancy in the first year vs. 0.4 to 5.0%) to fertility awareness methods it is very easy to see how someone could question the idea.

How do we as Catholic answer what the end measure we are to use to determine what is still open to procreation and what is not? In the end the ‘natural’ argument seems to be that we have a built in biological rhythmic system so we should just use that, and not “engineer” other methods. I can 100% understand why a person of another faith would innately view a practice of scheduling and self-restraint as being more of a devotion than a self apparent divine requirement.

Heck, lets not forget that this was a heavily debated subject in the Church that was just solidly decided within the past century by papal decree, so it doesn’t do much for our own intellectual honesty to act like protestants are just denying some blatantly obvious moral truth.


#6

The natural law, thus Natural Family Planning is God’s law. Humane Vitae is a beautiful document and should be studied faithfully by ALL Catholics. We are obligated to do so! I was very Blessed as a young mother to be given a copy of it when it first came out, by a priest and he told me to study it and write down any questions I had and we would discuss it afterwards. The Church has the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit in all things. God Bless, Memaw


#7

I agree.


#8

Gracie - There are a bunch of threads on this topic on page 1 of this sub forum. Give those a read and come back with questions.


#9

We have the Humanae Vitae explaining our Catholic position. Do Protestants have some publications that argue for artificial birth control? A vote does not explain the theology behind it. I am not arguing holier than thou either. I am just looking for the theological justifications for them for the u-turn to contraceptive sex.

If you think NFP is immoral, I am interested to hear why you think so. Just because a piece of rubber can produce the same effect does not demonstrate that NFP is immoral.
For me, NFP is working with God’s natural processes. He gave us this option. Using a rubber is working with man’s technology to frustrate God’s processes.

My intellectual honesty comes from trying to understand what new theology led to the u-turn for Protestants to permit artificial birth control. Early Church history indicates that contraception was opposed very early , 2nd century thereabouts by Church Fathers. All Christians until fairly recently agreed contraceptive sex is not permitted. You make it sound like it was a last century invention by the Church.


#10

Look to the bible for your answer, the earliest form of contraception was demonstrated in Genesis 38.9 . Onan spilled his seed on the ground so as to not impregnate his brothers wife. It clearly says “What he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord and he put him to death also.”.
I hope this helps!


#11

In exchanges with Evangelicals, Church encyclicals and words from previous popes aren’t likely to persuade them. The documents may help you understand the teachings better, but if you don’t really understand this yet, I’d question why you are entering heated debates about it.

When in exchanges with Protestant friends, I personally would rely more on Bible quotes, since the Bible is an authority they will accept. They don’t have to accept my understanding of those quotes, but giving them quotes at least helps them see the Catholic Church teachings as based on the Bible. So, with that in mind, here are some of the Bible verses I’d use:

God’s command to Adam Genesis 1:28 “And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply…”

God’s command to increase and multiply was repeated to Noah in Genesis 9:1 “And God blessed Noe and his sons. And he said to them: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth.”

Psalm 127:3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.

I’d encourage them to take a closer look at how the Bible views children. Over and over, the Bible refers to children as blessings. THAT is the basis of the Catholic teachings prohibiting contraception. Children are blessings!

These quotes will resonate with “quiverful-minded” evangelicals. However, the Catholic Church takes a more nuanced approach. We start with the recognition that God regards children as a blessings, and we recognize that God designed marriage and the marriage act (aka sex) for the creation of children. Yet God also designed it so that a fertile woman is not fertile at all times and not every marriage act will result in the creation of a child, so that is also taken into account in Church teachings. And while recognizing children are blessings, sometimes married couples still have good reasons for wanting to avoid pregnancy and children, (which is something that non-quiverful minded Protestants will recognize).

Kimberly Hahn wrote a book called, “Life Giving Love”, and it further details the Church teachings in a way that might be helpful to you. I would strongly encourage you to understand the Church teachings for your own benefit and for the benefit of your family and family life. Please for the time-being set aside any heated discussions about this and simply pray, meditate upon them and try to understand this.


#12

I don’t think it is immoral to use NFP, I more so question the commonly cited, even by yourself, concept of ‘using man’s technology to frustrate God’s processes’. There are a lot of uses of technology that could be argued ‘frustrating God’s processes’ that we view as positive. Lots of nuances exist within that discussion, but nuances are a pretty key driver to misunderstandings and frustrations with in this sort of discussion.

And while I don’t intend to dispute that the Church has a strong history behind it’s stance on ABC, the fact that Pope Paul VI built an investigative commission (and that the commission recommended some limited allowances) demonstrates that even the leadership of the Church had some questions about how well the particular tradition extended into modern times.

Protestant churches are numerous and tend to have a completely different set of fundamentals when it comes to such decisions. For instance when you don’t view Tradition as carrying much authoritative weight it isn’t hard to discount the views of Church fathers especially when it comes to technology and science related morality.


#13

Such as?


#14

C.S. Lewis

That this generation creates the next; ‘there is a paradoxical, negative sense in which all possible future generations are the patients or subjects of a power wielded by those already alive." But with new trends for limiting peoples,** ‘by contraception simply, they are denied existence; by contraception used as a means of selective breeding, they are, without their concurring voice,** made to be what one generation, for its own reasons, may choose to prefer. From this point of view, what we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a*** power exercised by some men over other men*** with Nature as its instrument.’

I fail to see how blocking a person coming into existence is really any different than abortion. The end result is the same. Someone that should have existed, does not.


#15

Abortion kills someone that God has already created and given a Soul. NFP is using God’s natural law but still leaving open the possibility for God to create. Huge difference. One is seriously sinful the other is NOT. God Bless, Memaw


#16

I did not make myself clear, Memaw. I support NFP. And NFP in no way blocks someone from coming into existence. A person who practices NFP never has to wonder whether the act performed would have resulted in the existence of a soul. The couple practicing contraception does not have that assurance.


#17

Thanks, I was commenting on what was in your post(14). God Bless, Memaw


#18

Both statements from 14, the one from Lewis, and my statement, are anti-contraception. Notice I said ‘someone that should have come into existence.’ NFP does not block someone from coming into existence, because how can someone come into existence, if the act is never performed?


#19

That’s because you’re mischaracterizing what NFP does. :wink:

NFP does not “prevent contraception” in any way. Any sex that an NFP-practicing couple has will be, by its very definition, “open to conception.”

Perhaps the source of my problem is that the arguments are often formed pure philosophy and I’m a data driven engineer.

That should make it even easier for you to understand, then! :thumbsup:

I don’t know what branch of engineering you practice, but let’s take a look at risk mitigation in the context of project management. When a risk is identified, a few alternatives are always possible: don’t perform the actions that give rise to the risk; absolutely remove the risk from the action which gives rise to the risk; or attempt to limit the possibility that the action will cause the risk. (These, of course, correspond to ‘abstinence’, ‘contraception’, and ‘NFP’, respectively.)

Sometimes, it’s just too expensive or infeasible to “remove the risk”, so only the other two alternatives are possible. In our case, that’s exactly what contraception is – the Church has defined that contraception (even when it’s not abortifacient) is morally illicit and sinful – and the ‘cost’ of contraception is the “wages of sin”, so to speak.

But, what about NFP? It’s like fitting a car with side mirrors and blind-spot detectors: you aren’t eliminating the risk of a collision, but merely giving the driver sufficient data to allow her to avoid a collision (if that’s her intent). Contraception – in this case, removing all other drivers from the road – just isn’t feasible, nor is staying at home and never driving. But, allowing a person to have the information that enables her to drive as she chooses? That’s a good thing.

How do we as Catholic answer what the end measure we are to use to determine what is still open to procreation and what is not? In the end the ‘natural’ argument seems to be that we have a built in biological rhythmic system so we should just use that, and not “engineer” other methods.

Yeah, that sounds like a reasonable approach.

Maybe in the future, there’ll be an ‘engineered solution’ that both allows a couple to discern how to space out pregnancies in their marriage and does not interfere with the procreative meaning of the conjugal act. Right now, there isn’t, and we’re simply asked to respect the Divine Engineer and His creation… :shrug:

Heck, lets not forget that this was a heavily debated subject in the Church that was just solidly decided within the past century by papal decree, so it doesn’t do much for our own intellectual honesty to act like protestants are just denying some blatantly obvious moral truth.

That’s kind of anachronistic and unfair, don’t you think? It was “decided within the past century” only because the Pill was only developed “within the past century”!


#20

That is an easy one. Is the act in accord with the fertility that God gifted the spouses with?

The marital act is an act of complete self giving, and of receiving, completely, the gift of the spouse.

It mirrors the relationship between Christ, and His Bride, the Church.

In the marital act, we give ourselves fully to our spouses. If we held back our fertility, as God gave it to us, then the act is withholding as aspect of our personhood. It becomes selfish, not giving.

Likewise, if we rejected our spouses fertility, exactly as God gave it to them, them I an rejecting the spouse. That is hardly a loving act. It would be similar to saying to them, " I love you, I want you, but I do not want your face, therefore, you must wear this bag over your face before I will accept you in the marital act" Needless to say, that would HARDLY go over well in any heathy marriage. :rolleyes:

But that is what some spouses do in regards to the gift of their fertility.:shrug:


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