Vasectomy

Is it required for a male who had a vasectomy to make amends by reversing the operation after confessing the sin?

If it were possible for the man to reverse the vasectomy by snapping his fingers, then it is required for contrition that the man would want to snap his fingers and reverse the vasectomy. However, in the real world, vasectomy reversal is costly, has medical risks, and is not guaranteed to restore fertility, so for those reasons the man may legitimately decide not to attempt a vasectomy reversal.

No it is not required. The “sin” is in the past and confession is what is required.

[quote=Texas Roofer]No it is not required. The “sin” is in the past and confession is what is required.
[/quote]

These two views appear to be contradictory in theory, though not in practice. I’m wondering which theory is more accurate. If a sin is against another, expiation will generally, but not always, require a reversal of the act committed, if that is possible. I am trying to come up with a similarly reversible sin against oneself… suppose a person wrote a blasphemous phrase on the inside of his closet door. There is minimal chance of another person being scandalized by it. The confessor could require the penitent to wash it off, but if not, it seems that it could also be left in place, as a reminder of the sin. I tend to agree with Texas Roofer over Just Lurking - in a world of fingersnap vasectomy reversals, a priest could require the penitent to reverse it as part of his penance, but it would not otherwise be automatically required.

The other wrinkle in that hypothetical world is whether the person is married. If he is living a celibate life, the deformity he’s created would do no more harm than the words inside the closet door. On the other hand, if he’s sexually active with his wife, it seems like the fingersnap would be required. Perhaps even if he is sexually active with someone other than his wife, but I’m not as sure about that one.

I do not believe that a priest could justly issue such a penance. The church does not require reversal. A priest could advise it but no not demand it.

You use the present tense when describing Church policy. I agree that the Church does not in our present reality require reversal, and a priest probably could not demand it either. My post dealt with the hypothetical world that Just Lurking proposed, where a vasectomy could be reversed with a fingersnap. In such a world, I think a priest could require it, and it might even be Church policy.

Consider the following real-world “fingersnap”: A woman commits the sin of having an IUD inserted in her uterus for the purpose of contraception, and then goes to the priest for confession. Would a priest ever consider absolving the woman while still allowing her to keep the IUD in place for future marital relations?

I’m not a priest, nor am I familiar enough with any costs or risks involved in IUD removal, so I’m not sure what a reasonable priest would do in today’s real world. However, it seems to me that there is little harm done if an IUD is left in the uterus of a celibate woman. So I think that would apply in both the “fingersnap world”, as well as today’s real world. As I noted above, if marital relations are contemplated, reversal might well be required.

Yes, I would absolve. I would obviously recommend to the individual that she might want to look into the cost, risk, etc. of such a procedure (as I would to a man) but I don’t feel its right to demand someone get an invasive procedure.

even if you are sorry and have the sin absolved, since a vasectomy is birth control, would you be commiting mortal sins every time you had relations with your spouse? wouldnt you then need to live a celibate life?

There is no mortal or venial sin in have relations with your spouse. The sin was having the vasectomy, not being a sterile being. Even people who are naturally sterile (post-menapausal women come to mine) may licitly enjoy the marital embrace.

Although I am not sure it is true for all types of the device, usually the IUD is going to be removed at some point anyway. I am not sure if a priest would ever do this but I think it would be possible to say that she has to refrain from relations until it is removed. Unlike a vasectomy which is a one-time event with a long lasting effect, the IUD acts over and over again with each cycle.

Isn’t this like a divorced and civilly remarried couple who repent of the sin of getting a civil marriage but are told to refrain until the first marriage is investigated and (hopefully) found null? The sin is not only in getting the civil marriage but in each time they have relations without a valid marriage. Each time they have relations, they would commit a new sin.

The “snap of the fingers” example that comes to my mind is when a woman has a contraceptive implant such as Norplant. The removal is simple and would be done eventually anyway. So, I could definately see that as a requirement in a Confession scenario.

Vasectomies are different for two reasons. First, they are permanent unlike Norplant or an IUD and second, reversal is often unsuccessful. The risks of surgery to only maybe return to the original condition may factor in.

The difference here is that each time they have relations, the commit adultery against their spouse. IF the first marriage is found to be null, they have no spouse and thus can take up life as a married couple.

The sin of getting a civil marriage is disobedience to the Church. It is the bishop who can dispense and allow a person to marry outside the church building. By getting a civil marriage they disobeyed the bishop. Once. This does not depend on a previous marriage. And it can be forgiven and they can have their marriage convalidated in the Church. But if they are already married, they cannot become a bigamist in the eyes of the Church and the Church will not recognize the civil ceremony as a marriage.

Eactly! With an IUD, there is also one sin in getting the IUD but then every time they have relations, they commit the sin of contraception.

Not so with a vasectomy. Getting one is sinful and it renders the man sterile. Sterility and contraception are different so there is no ongoing sin of contraception each time the couple has relations. A vasectomy is a one time sin.

even if you are sorry and have the sin absolved, since a vasectomy is birth control, would you be commiting mortal sins every time you had relations with your spouse? wouldnt you then need to live a celibate life?

I would think you would, especially if it could be reversed.

In my mind, they are both one-time events with daily actions. Every day, sperm is produced in the testicles, but can’t travel to the prostate because the path has been severed. And every day, the IUD makes the uterus inhospitable to both sperm trying to enter the fallopian tube and fertilized eggs trying to implant.

Maybe the “fingersnap” concept is a bit to imaginary to process, so let me posit a more realistic example.

Due to rising number of men who want to have “consequence-free” sex without worrying about the women trying to trick them into paying child support for 18 or 21 years, a medical doctor went ahead and developed a “reversible vasectomy” - instead of severing the vas deferens, it is blocked with a substance that can be easily dissolved provide the appropriate drug is ingested, or more likely introduced into the body via a suppository.

In this case, could the man get a “reversible vasectomy”, confess the sin, and then have sin-free marital relations without actually taking the reversal drug?

Just a note to say that removal of the IUD is generally simpler than the insertion. It’s a very simple procedure done in the doctor’s office and takes only a few minutes. Invasive? Yes, in the same way that a Pap smear is invasive but necessary.

Confessing the insertion of the IUD without going the extra step is not true repentance. And unlike the vasectomy which ensures sterility and nothing else, the IUD works by preventing the implantation of the embryo. How can you be remorseful and let that keep happening?

I see it a little differently since a) one is a permanent physical alteration (mutilation) of the body while one is not and b) the action of a vasectomy is sterlilization which happens with or without sexual relations while the IUD’s action is contraceptive or abortifacient and it only “acts” as a result of sexual relations.

I agree with (a) but I don’t see it as relevant to the outcome. If it is, I suppose that doctors could develop a “Catholic” IUD that is permanently attached via an operation (physical alteration/mutilation), so that the women could just confess once and get it over with.

For (b), the IUD doesn’t “act” as a result of sexual relations any more than the vasectomy. Every day, all the time, the vasectomy prevents sperm from reaching the prostate, whether the man has sexual relations or not. And every day, all the time, the IUD makes the uterus inflamed and inhospitable, whether the woman has sexual relations or not. In both cases, the physical changes that take place because of the one time medical event only have contraceptive consequences when sexual activity occurs.

A vasectomy is contraception under the definition of Humanae Vitae just as much as an IUD is. They are both deliberate acts to decrease or eliminate fertility. If you are going to compare vasectomy to being naturally medically sterile, then it makes just as much sense to compare an IUD to having a medical condition like endometriosis.

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