Is contraception more evil than abortion?

I’ve been talking with my friend about Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular and I promised him I’d try to answer several of his objections. After some research a few of his questions remain unanswered to my satisfaction.

I’m posting each question individually. This is the fourth one:

4.) Is contraception more (objectively) evil than abortion because it prevents the creation of souls rather than just killing a person, after which presumably the soul goes to heaven?

In other words, we say contraception is evil because it takes God’s gift of fertility and throws it back in his face; it disinvites his participation and rules out the end that it was created for: procreation. So by ruling out procreation from the act of sex we are ruling out souls that presumably God would have willed to come into being. Are we not?

Thanks,
Brert

St. John Chrysostom said that contraception is worse than murder for that reason, because it is worse to prevent a soul from ever existing. The person who has been murdered can still serve God.

[quote=Rejoice]I’ve been talking with my friend about Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular and I promised him I’d try to answer several of his objections. After some research a few of his questions remain unanswered to my satisfaction.

I’m posting each question individually. This is the fourth one:

4.) Is contraception more (objectively) evil than abortion because it prevents the creation of souls rather than just killing a person, after which presumably the soul goes to heaven?

In other words, we say contraception is evil because it takes God’s gift of fertility and throws it back in his face; it disinvites his participation and rules out the end that it was created for: procreation. So by ruling out procreation from the act of sex we are ruling out souls that presumably God would have willed to come into being. Are we not?

Thanks,
Brert
[/quote]

The are both equally mortal sins. Mortal is mortal. Deadly to the soul.

To clarify, they are both grave sins, capable of being mortal sins, but their gravity does not automatically mean they are mortal.

Grave sins essentially mean very serious. Mortal sins mean a “sin unto death” (See 1 John) For a sin to be mortal it must be grave, but there are at least two other factors invovled.

Some sins are worse than others. I dont know which is worse myself because they are both grave a ranking of the two is useless to me.

I would say that abortion is more objectively evil. Contraceptives is a sin against chastity and is a grave offense. Thus it is a mortal sin. Still, its like asking if fornication which is a great offense is as grave of an offense as murder.

I don’t know about that saint making such a claim, but not everything saints say in their lives are true. One of the saints also believed that the soul did not enter the child until quickening, when the mother could feel the child move in her womb.

If you contracept, there is no way of knowing for sure that you have prevented a particular human from being created. But if you abort a child, you have decided to kill that identifiable person.

[quote=Rejoice]4.) Is contraception more (objectively) evil than abortion because it prevents the creation of souls rather than just killing a person, after which presumably the soul goes to heaven?

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It is late so I cannot give a long answer. However, one way of getting to the answer is looking at the intention of both of those mortal sins. One being the prevention of life from a conjugal (or sinful) union the other the destruction of life from a conjugal union (or a sinful union). They are both grave and so in order to judge it one ought to look at the matter involved. I would say that abortion is more grave since the intention that was once there to prevent life by contraception mutates into the intention to destroy it by abortion.

part of me wants to say that contraception is worse b/c no soul is created, but, if God wills a child to be born, it will happen. Abstinence is the only way to ensure 100% that pregnancy will not occur. even in that case if a couple fools around pregnancy could occur (even if its a 1/1000000000 chance)

contraception is clearly not as evil as abortion. What’s next? We are all mass murderers because we masturbate?

It would make sense logicaly if the Catholic church permitted contraception.While still opposing the greater sin abortion. If people knew more about Birth control there would be fewer abortions.

[quote=wjp984]contraception is clearly not as evil as abortion. What’s next? We are all mass murderers because we masturbate?
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The question that started this thread was posted in a serious manner concerning a serious area of discussion. It is not necessary to poke fun at the gravity of other such sins, especially when the question between abortion and contraception was made clearly. Your use of the pronoun ‘we’ is implying that everyone commits that sin (masturbation) and it is an unjust remark on your part. If you are going to respond to a thread seriously then do it. If you find that impossible then keep your remarks to yourself. At least refrain from using a pronoun that includes everyone in the performing of a sin that is mortal; which is always a serious matter not a joke.

[quote=JOHNYJ]It would make sense logicaly if the Catholic church permitted contraception.While still opposing the greater sin abortion. If people knew more about Birth control there would be fewer abortions.
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It’s just too bad that Proportionalism is not a system of thought accepted by the Church. If it was then your comment would be somewhat logical. However, the Church does not weigh out the evils and choose the lesser one to prevent the greater ones. Both contraception and abortion have been spoken of by the Church and both acts are of grave matter. There seems to be no logical course of thought that could change that.

And I’m sorry … but if more people knew about ‘birth control’ abortions would go down in number? Why would you want to convince people to trade one mortal sin for another? Both of these acts are evil and they can never lead to good. You cannot solve the problem of evil and defeat ‘the culture of death’ by introducing more evil into peoples’ lives; your solution would only make things worse. Sounds to me like a messed up logic.

To say that contraception is “more evil” would require one say that a couple living in perfect continency (abstaining from sexual relations) for whatever reason is also “more evil” than a couple who decide to abort a child. This makes no sense at all.

[quote=Palamite]To say that contraception is “more evil” would require one say that a couple living in perfect continency (abstaining from sexual relations) for whatever reason is also “more evil” than a couple who decide to abort a child. This makes no sense at all.
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You must have mis-read something because I don’t see where you are coming from with your point. Abortion is being said to have the most grave matter of the two mortal sins. And perfect continence and contraception are two totally different things and should not be compared with each other as if they were. For a couple to be practicing perfect continence is not evil, let alone more evil. On the other hand the use of contraception is always evil.

jegow,

You must have mis-read something because I don’t see where you are coming from with your point. Abortion is being said to have the most grave matter of the two mortal sins. And perfect continence and contraception are two totally different things and should not be compared with each other as if they were. For a couple to be practicing perfect continence is not evil, let alone more evil. On the other hand the use of contraception is always evil.

No, I think I’ve read quite accurately what was being put forward here - and this is why I’ve concluded that it’s reasoning is faulty. Anyone not trying to procreate 24/7 is “preventing souls from being conceived” according to the logic of the post that started this thread.

[quote=Rejoice]4.) Is contraception more (objectively) evil than abortion because it prevents the creation of souls rather than just killing a person, after which presumably the soul goes to heaven?

[quote=Palamite]No, I think I’ve read quite accurately what was being put forward here - and this is why I’ve concluded that it’s reasoning is faulty. Anyone not trying to procreate 24/7 is “preventing souls from being conceived” according to the logic of the post that started this thread.
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[font=Arial][size=2]No, I don’t think you did. To not be trying to procreate 24/7 is not[/size] the preventing of souls from being conceived. Contraception is an attempt to prevent the possibility of conception in the women and thus to try and prevent the coming about of a child (a body/soul composite). By not always making conjugal unions all day is not called prevention – it is called self control or self mastery. You did misunderstand the question in the beginning of the thread. I have posted for you. These are the two main points to the question that come out when you read it. There is nothing in the question that has anything to do with having conjugal unions all day long. It is about contraception and abortion and which one is objectively more grave according to the matter involved.[/font]
[list]
*]Is contraception more (objectively) evil than abortion
*]because it prevents the creation of souls rather than just killing a person
[/list]

Thanks for all of the answers so far. I do appreciate everyone’s help. Regarding the notion that contraception prevents abortion, the data do not support it. Please read this excerpt (of article at beliefnet.com/story/183/story_18348_1.html)

By Brian Saint-Paul

The fatal flaw in the pro-condom argument is both simple and devastating: Condoms aren’t working to stem AIDS in Africa.

Take, for example, a March 2004 article in the medical journal “Studies in Family Planning.” Titled “Condom Promotion for AIDS Prevention in the Developing World: Is It Working?,” the piece was a meta-review of the scientific literature on the question. The results shocked condom advocates. In the article, researchers Sanny Chen and Norman Hearst noted, “In many sub-Saharan African countries, high HIV transmission rates have continued despite high rates of condom use.” In fact, they continued, “No clear examples have emerged yet of a country that has turned back a generalized epidemic primarily by means of condom distribution.”

No surprise, then, that Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South Africa–the nations with the highest levels of condom availability–continue to have the highest rates of HIV prevalence. How could this be? After all, we’re told that condoms are 90 percent effective. And that’s precisely the problem. This claim–so prevalent in condom-promotion literature–is actually a tremendous strike against using condoms to reduce AIDS. Think of it: Assuming that the 90 percent figure is accurate, that means that 10 percent of the time, condoms don’t offer protection against transmission. Condoms provide a false sense of security to those who use them. Being convinced of condoms’ effectiveness and feeling invulnerable, users will simply continue–or actually increase–their high-risk behavior.

But while condoms clearly won’t solve the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa (or anywhere else), there is an approach that will: abstinence. Indeed, in African nations–where HIV/AIDS is transmitted almost exclusively through sexual contact–abstinence is the obvious solution. Better yet, it has been proven effective. Uganda at one time had the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world. Starting in the mid to late 1980s, its government instituted a program to teach abstinence before marriage and fidelity to one’s partner afterwards. It only reluctantly advised condoms for high risk groups (like prostitutes), whom they knew would not accept the other two approaches. Billboards, radio announcements, print ads, and school programs all promoted the virtues of abstinence and fidelity to prevent HIV/AIDS. The results were astonishing. In 1991, the prevalence rate of HIV was 15 percent. By 2001, it had dropped to 5 percent. It was the biggest HIV infection reduction in world history.

Among pregnant women, the drop was even more dramatic. In 1991, 21.2 percent of expecting mothers tested positive for HIV. By 2001, the number had plummeted to 6.2 percent. Compare this with the 2001 numbers from Kenya (15 percent), Zimbabwe (32 percent), and Botswana (38 percent). All three countries focus on condom distribution, and all three countries continue to see their rates rise.

“Reduction in the number of sexual partners was probably the single most important behavioral change that resulted in prevalence decline,” noted Edward Green, an anthropologist at Harvard University’s School of Public Health who studied Uganda’s program. “Abstinence was probably the second most important change,” Green added, in testimony before a House subcommitte on African affairs. “It is a very indicting statement about the effectiveness of condoms,” he told Citizen Magazine. “You cannot show that more condoms have led to less AIDS in Africa… I look at the data and I see that what might be called a more liberal response to AIDS–more and more millions or billions of condoms – has simply not worked, especially in parts of the world with the highest infection rate, Africa and the Caribbean.”

But what about allowing condoms for faithful married couples where one partner is HIV-positive? Isn’t that reasonable? Actually, it’s not reasonable at all. Love requires sacrifice. And a person who claims to love another would never knowingly put his beloved in danger. But that’s precisely what this approach does. Imagine if I get drunk one night and drive my wife around town. That’s not a loving act. And it doesn’t suddenly become loving just because I tell her to put on her seatbelt. When an HIV-positive person has sex with someone who’s free of the disease, he puts that person at grave risk. That’s not love; that’s selfishness. In a marital situation where one spouse is HIV-positive and the other negative, the loving thing to do is to abstain from sex. In those cases, love must be shown in other ways, such as the self-sacrifice that abstinence requires. It’s not easy, but real love rarely is.

[quote=Rejoice]Thanks for all of the answers so far. I do appreciate everyone’s help. Regarding the notion that contraception prevents abortion, the data do not support it. Please read this excerpt (of article at beliefnet.com/story/183/story_18348_1.html)

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:amen:

I would vote that abortion is definitely more evil, since it is murder. As far as preventing a soul that is supposed to exist, here is something to think about. Why does the Church say that contraception is a sin against the sixth commandment? If you were somehow murdering people that didn’t exist in the first place, it would be a sin against the fifth commandment. I agree, it is a well documented fact that many saints wrote things that were not correct.

The idea of preventing the existence of babies that are supposed to exist, this is really a profound question. I don’t see how we could possibly be capable of doing that, even if we are practicing contraception. For example, let’s say that God has a plan for me to conceive a baby tonight. I don’t realize what God has in mind, I am very tired, I have a headache, etc., etc. To make a long story short, I didn’t get pregnant like God planned, so I am guilty of murder???

Another interesting thought is that many of us have parents, grandparents, or great grandparents who themselves were “illigitimate.” In other words, they came into existence because their parents commited a sin. So now we exist because some ancestors who weren’t supposed to be born gave us life.

The whole thing is just beyone our comprehension. I guess God know what he’s doing.

jegow,

No, I don’t think you did. To not be trying to procreate 24/7 is not the preventing of souls from being conceived. Contraception is an attempt to prevent the possibility of conception in the women and thus to try and prevent the coming about of a child (a body/soul composite)

And again, by this “logic”, not having sexual relations at all would also be preventing a “soul from being conceived.” In fact I’d say it’s even more decisive, since abstinance always succeeds where birth control can very well fail.

By not always making conjugal unions all day is not called prevention – it is called self control or self mastery.

Apples and organges - you’re confusing a discussion on “preventing souls from being conceived” with one on the excellence of continence.

You did misunderstand the question in the beginning of the thread. I have posted for you. These are the two main points to the question that come out when you read it. There is nothing in the question that has anything to do with having conjugal unions all day long. It is about contraception and abortion and which one is objectively more grave according to the matter involved.

I understand the question - you just need to take logic 101. That you view the act of contraception in and of itself to be sinful is irrelevent to it being a sin against “preventing a soul from being conceived” - since continence does this as well.

because it prevents the creation of souls rather than just killing a person

And again this is an absurdity, unless you’re going to call monastics sinners. Anything but uncontracepted, vaginal intercourse at the right time of the month (including continence/celibacy) would have to be construed as “preventing the creation of souls”.

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