Artificial Contraception is a Grave Sin

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Ok, so I opened a can of worms. It has to be said. Too many skirt around this issue as it destroys souls and families.

When we directly choose to go against the will of God and the sin is of grave matter, that sin is also most likely mortal.

See this post for what constitutes a mortal sin.

In a recent conversation with a priest friend, we were having a short but pointed conversation about the struggles of today’s families. He made a simple but profound statement,

“This is what you can expect when a couple brings mortal sin into their home.”

He is right. He was referencing the rampant use of artificial contraceptives among married couples today. When we enter into the sacrament of marriage, we pledge to be open to God’s will for our life. This includes being open to life.

Pope Paul VI starts his encyclical, Humanae Vitae, with this quote:

The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

2363 The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.

Stated simply, the use of artificial contraception eliminates one of the primary ends of a marriage by eliminating, even if temporarily, the transmission of life.

2367 Called to give life, spouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God.154 “Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children; they should realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love of God the Creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian responsibility.”155

When a married couple uses contraceptives they take deliberate steps to thwart the will and love of God and His action in their lives. This deliberate decision is where the act of artificial contraception becomes grave and mortal in most cases.

2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:

When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart.156

2369 “By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man’s exalted vocation to parenthood.”157

A question to pose that is most challenging for many married couples today is this, “Is the pursuit of larger homes, multiple expensive cars, expensive vacations and more, valid reasons for limiting the size of your family to two children by the use of contraception.” Of course, the answer is no.

When listening to many couples talk about their family size the most common reason heard is for limiting their number of children to one or two is, “Kids are expensive.” Yet, most are participating in the aforementioned materialistic actions. This does not mean that God and the Church expect a married couple to have a dozen children. There are natural ways that allow a couple to cooperate with God’s will and manage the size of their family.

2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.158 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:159

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.160

The key words here are “the falsification of conjugal love.” This falsification of marital love is ultimately the cause of discord in the family. Any marital relationship that is rooted in a lie will lack peace and true love.

Pope Paul VI starts his encyclical, Humanae Vitae, with this quote:

The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator.

In closing, I would like to share a simple, but profound thought mentioned to me by a now deceased and dear priest friend, “As a married person, your path to heaven is rooted in your ability to give yourself completely and totally to your wife and children. A detachment of our own desires and surrender to the will of God in our lives by total gift of self.”

JMJ, pray for us!

God is good,