Monday, July 4, 2005
Discussion topic: Contraception

This is Alex's views on the weekly discussion topic:

Besides those reasons already stated, contraception destroys the marital act in two additional concrete ways:

1) One of the most beautiful aspects of sex is fertility--the ability to create life with your spouse through the marital act of love. Contraception would eliminate procreation, holding back the fertility and therefore making the act an incomplete gift of self--a lie. No, the "l" in "love" does not stand for "latex." By holding back fertility, one attempts to diminish the act of love that God created for us--he insults God. He also insults his partner because he is telling her he loves her with all of himself, when in fact he is holding back the most beautiful aspect.

2) The second reason is that contraception is most responsible for making premarital sex as commonplace as it is today. Without the fear of having a pregnancy, or getting sexually transmitted diseases, couples (particularly teenage couples) can have sex any day of the week with little or no pressure and all of the pleasure. And none of the comittment, I might add. After contraception was widely legalized, divorce rates skyrocketed:"

Basically, there are two reasons. Contraception allows for marriage to become less child-centered and more focused on the emotional side of marriage. Therefore, people don’t stick together for the child. They stop seeing marriage as intrinsically linked to kids. When problems arise, people think it’s better to divorce — even if they do have kids — because they see marriage in primarily emotional terms.

Second, the introduction of the pill allowed more women to stay in the workforce after they married in ways that they would not have before. Prior to the pill, women typically would have married, had children and stopped working. Thus, after the contraceptive revolution, married women became more career-focused and economically independent. Women thus felt freer to divorce because they had more economic and social resources."(source:"

Studies also show that those who have premarital sex are most likely not to get married and if they do get married; they are more likely to divorce than those who have not had premarital sex."

These are both quite alarming statements--are marriages in society taking a bow to sex? The uprise in teen pregnancy seems to suggest this, as does the legalization of contraception, abortion, and same-sex unions (in some countries). Celebrity marriages don't seem to boost the popularity of marriage, either. Let's face it--sexual prudence is unpopular. But it is necessary if we are to have stable societies and maintain the institution of marriage as it needs to be maintained.

Premarital sex is a knife in your future spouse's back. I would know--I've felt this knife. It hurts. And contraception puts this knife in everyone's hands. That's a dangerous thought.


8 comment(s):

del_button July 4, 2005 at 9:01 PM
Matthew said...

No problem, Alex. Thanks for writing them to begin with.

del_button July 5, 2005 at 3:06 PM
alyosha mcbain said...

So according to your logic, a married man whose sperm cannot produce children is not entitled to have sex...married women who cannot produce ova are also not allowed to have sex then as well, I guess. Typically idiotic thinking by a Christian on the subject of sex.

Further on in your essay you say that the economic independence now enjoyed by women makes them less likely to stay married. You are obviously afraid of the implications of this statement. Perhaps your fear of women's empowerment needs to be looked at a little bit.

Your thinking (if I might slander the word by referring to your prudish blatherings as such) on the subject of premarital sex is ludicrous and reminiscent of eras past. The sexual drive that is embedded in the DNA of all humanity is a powerful drive. To suggest that the supposed increase in premarital sex is tied to the proliferation of birth control is simplistic in the extreme. The human animal needs sexual contact to survive in a comfortable and productive state of mind. This desire has been with us all since the dawn of humanity, and cannot be willed or prayed out of existence.

Your timidity and level of sexual priggishness are the only things remarkable or thought-provoking in your essay.

del_button July 6, 2005 at 7:27 PM
Anonymous said...

Amongst Alyosha's anti-Christian ravings there is a notable error that needs to be addressed.

The Church views infertility in different ways depending upon the person's (and the couple's) awareness of that infertility. Since this is a comments section I'll give the extremely shortened version.

If you discover, before you marry, that you are infertile (that is 100%... zero chance of ever having children), then you cannot be married in a Catholic ceremony, because part of your marriage vow is openness to children, and you are physically unable to fulfill that part of your marriage vows. People known to be infertile cannot marry in the Catholic church.

If you discover, before you marry, that you are infertile, but you don't tell anyone (either you don't tell your future spouse, or you tell him/her but then the two of you don't tell the priest), then your marriage is null because you were, in a way, lying (according to the Church... the government requires a divorce, of course).

If you marry in good faith, and then later discover that you are infertile, then your marriage vows are intact: at the time you pronounced them, you had every intention of carrying them out to their fullest. That you turned out to be infertile is God's will, not of your doing. You of course may have all the sex you want with your spouse. (The Church does not view sex as purely a procreative act. It is not a sin to have sex with your spouse if you cannot procreate by act of God; it is only a sin to alter the sexual act to render it sterile when it would not otherwise naturally be so.)

If you have yourself sterilized after marriage then, obviously, you are breaking your marriage vows and it is a sin to do so.

In closing, there are other avenues open to Catholic couples who do not feel ready to have children (Natural Family Planning). The hitch is that these methods require commitement and discipline from the couple: you can't just take a pill and forget about it. As an aside, couples that practice NFP tend to have very low divorce rates because they are forced to communicate and cooperate regularly, which makes for a better marriage.

While I'm at it I might as well address a couple of other of Alyosha's points.

> Further on in your essay you say that the economic independence now enjoyed by women makes them less likely to stay married.

Well, I think that's a simple statement of fact. Disliking the consequences of that change in society doesn't mean he wants to roll back economic independence for women. One of the weak points of feminism is its insistence that nobody, anywhere, should ever criticize its policies or any of their consequent outcomes. I can approve of economic dependence for women while still being dismayed at its effects upon marriage. Alyosha's knee-jerk reaction tells me more about her insecurity than it does about Alex's views.

> The sexual drive that is embedded in the DNA of all humanity is a powerful drive. To suggest that the supposed increase in premarital sex is tied to the proliferation of birth control is simplistic in the extreme.

Umm... what were you thinking when you wrote that? Sexual drive is indeed extremely powerful, which is exactly why when you remove equally powerful deterrents to irresponsible sex (pregnancy / STDs), people tend to go nuts and have... lots of irresponsible sex. Men and women had the same sexual drive in the 1950's (and the 1900's, and the year 1000) as they do now. The only difference was the consequences of "just doing it" have largely been eliminated. No consequences, no deterrent, change in behaviour. Seems pretty straightfoward to me. I must be misunderstanding your point, because no matter how I re-read what you wrote it comes out... well, stupid.

del_button July 7, 2005 at 1:01 PM
Anonymous said...

The Church's refusal to marry an infertile couple seems harsh from a secular point of view, because all that matteres from that point of view is (a certain kind of) love and individual freedom.

From the Church's point of view what matters is God's Plan, in the grand sense and in a personal sense. To the Church, marriage isn't just an arrangement or the culmination of an emotion... it's a vocation: one of the ways in which you can serve God and advance His Plan. If you are infertile then you can't choose that vocation, because the main reason for that vocation (but not the only reason) is to participate with God in creating life. If you can't do that, then God didn't give you the qualifications for that vocation, and you have to ask Him what else it was that He wants you to do... what other vocation He has in mind for you.

That's one of the things I like about the Catholic Church: it's not in the business of making everybody feel good. It's in the business of (as best it can) informing people of what God wants of them, which isn't always what people want to hear, or what fits in with the plans they've made for themselves.

The society I live in holds "love" up as its highest value, but the love they keep talking about is devoid of duty, responsibility, or sacrifice. I believe that Jesus was talking about a different kind of love, one that sometimes means you don't get what you want.

del_button July 7, 2005 at 6:45 PM
Philothea Rose said...

Bruce is incorrect in his assertion that the Church does not marry infertile couples. The Church will not marry a couple if the man is IMPOTENT, not infertile. There is a huge difference. Impotency is when it is physically impossible for a man to have an erection. The reason the Church doesn't marry impotent couples is because according to Church teaching, in order for a marriage to be valid, it MUST be consummated by the sexual act. If one or both parties are completely incapable of having sex, then the marriage can't be consummated, and therefore, the marriage cannot be valid.

Infertile couples can marry in the Church because their infertility is not as a result of their manipulation of the sexual act nor is it because they manilpulated or destroyed parts of their body to cause their own infertility. If infertility is a natural occurence, then of course it is not fault of the couple. The Church will not refuse a naturally infertile couple to be married.

del_button July 13, 2005 at 12:23 PM
Anonymous said...

Dear Bruce,

I would like to see the actual words and reference that says that individuals who are infertile cannot marry.

First of all, infertility can not be determined with 100% accuracy. Even men who have had vasectomies have been known to father children. Rare as it may be, the possibility does exist.

By refusing to allow such a couple to marry you are denying a couple to attempt to have children and ultimately denying God's ability to provide the couple with children. Are people no longer allowed to have faith in God's power?

Look at Sarah and Abraham from whom the tribe of Isreal, God's people, came into being. Look at Elizabeth, Mary's cousin. Her husband was struck dumb for not believing she could conceive and was unable to speak until he finally wrote on a tablet after the child's birth, "He will be called John". (See Luke Ch.1). John the Baptist would have never existed if the couple's infertility had prevented their marriage.

Mary herself was a consecrated virgin, she had no intent to consummate her marriage with Joseph and yet she was allowed to marry. God help us if a foolish law would have prevented the Incarnation of Jesus.

del_button July 13, 2005 at 12:56 PM
Anonymous said...

Philothea Rose is correct. I was sloppy in my language: the Church's requirement for marrying is a couple is that they be physically capable of having sex. Infertility is not an impediment. It is impotence that is the impediment. Sorry for the confusion.

The rest of what I wrote, however, is valid if you read it in the spirit of this new information. If a couple marries and then they later become incapable of having sex (due to some accident, or the onset of impotence) then the marriage is still valid. If, however, a man is impotent (for example) but does not tell his bride-to-be, or the two of them know but do not tell the Church, then the marriage is null because he (/they) could not make the necessary vows in all truth.

As for "anonymous," I apologize: you are of course (mostly) correct: infertility is not an impediment, as Philothea Rose pointed out.

However, when you say,

> Mary herself was a consecrated virgin, she had no intent to consummate her marriage with Joseph and yet she was allowed to marry.

I'm sorry, but comparisons with the Holy Family irritate me. It's not your fault: it's one of my hot buttons :). Mary was, of course, a special case. The laws of the Church transmit the will of God for people in general. If a Messenger from God appears to you tomorrow and says, "Marry this person, but never consummate the relationship, because He has greater things planned for the two of you," then that's what you do, regardless of what the Church says. God will, of course, sort things out with the Church, as He did with Joseph.

The Holy Family is the special case of all special cases. I look to them as examples of trust in God, but I don't pretend to be on a level where special instructions given to Them can apply to me. :)

del_button July 13, 2005 at 2:48 PM
Anonymous said...

Dear Bruce,

I'm glad to hear you agree with my views in general. I have to ask why looking to the example of the Holy Family troubles you so. We may not be saints, but that doesn't mean we cannot aspire to be saints. Look at St. Joseph's example. He was not conceived without sin, but he managed to live a holy life. If you consider the sacrifices he made, his lifestyle was nothing short of heroic. He also did not intend to consummate the marriage. Your point that God instructed them to do so is well-taken. However, it doesn't take into account that while God may not always speak to us as He did to Mary and Joseph, he still speaks to our hearts. Jesus asks us to "Love one another, as I have loved you." In my humble opinion, I don't think he would be opposed to couples loving one another as Joseph and Mary did.

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