I’m active on a non-Catholic (evangelical Protestant) discussion/debate forum, and the issue of contraception vs. NFP has come up again. I’m posting here what I posted there, since I know that the issue is far from understood or received universally among Catholics. I sincerely believe that lack of Catholic fidelity to the Church’s teachings against contraception is one of the most serious problems we have today. Contraception erodes or destroys the very foundation of a Christian marriage, opening the door to every other possible problem and contention between the spouses. Marriage must be firm in Christ, or it is vulnerable to every assault and attack of the evil one. And as marriages fall, and fail, so go the children, and the culture, and the world.
Contraception is a cancer to marriage: it destroys the sacred nature of a sacred union.
There are two prime goods in marriage:
1) the good of the union of the spouses, characterized by complete fidelity until death.
2) The good of procreation, specifically of children although sometimes the fruitfulness of the marriage can result only in other ways.
Contraception attacks both of these goods:
1) Contraception attacks the union of the spouses by admitting a barrier between the two in the moment of the most intimate and personal self-gift of the one to the other. The self-gift is blocked by the barrier of contraception – whether a physical barrier, or chemical, or surgical, or by withdrawal, or by whatever means. The self-gift is blocked, the self-giving is denied, and the conjugal union becomes a lie – a charade – a pretense of true union. The conjugal union becomes the using of one another, rather than the union of one another. Thus contraceptive love-making is inherently unfaithful love, denying as it does the full gift of self in love.
2) Contraception attacks the procreative good of marriage by refusing the welcome of children. Even if contraception is used not in a complete refusal of children, but only to manage or space the birth of children, still contraception attacks the union of the spouses as explained above. Thus never can contraception be good for a marriage. It can never be “victimless”, or benign. At best, it makes of the spouse an object and not a full person as God created him or her. The fullness of the person has been denied or rejected by the contraceptive act.
Contraception breaks the God-created and necessary link between life and love. In God, life and love are inseparable, both being of the essence of God as He is in Himself. God is life necessarily (He is the “I AM” – He must BE – His existence and life is one with His divine essence.). And, God is love, necessarily. God is love in Himself, eternally He is the perfection of love in His inner dynamic life in the Holy Trinity.
Thus God is life and love in an eternal union in one. And man is made in His image. When man separates what is one in God, man denies his very nature. Thus in contraceptive love-making, man does not make but rather counterfeits love. When man excludes or seeks to exclude the possibility of conception in the conjugal union by blocking fertility in the conjugal act, he denies his creation in God. He denies the meaning of marriage and of love. He denies his very being, and he becomes a counterfeit of himself.
Fertility Cycles. Not every conjugal union will result in conception, and God so designed the woman with fertility cycles so that children can be planned in prudence and in love. To be a true sharing in self-giving, every conjugal union must be the true and full gift of the husband to the wife, in all his masculinity, fully received by her, and also the full and true gift of the wife to her husband, in all her femininity, fully received by him – whether in times of her fertility or not in her times of fertility. God is the creator of the cycles of fertility, and the wife is fully woman, and fully wife, at all times whether fertile or not. Each conjugal union must be the full self-gift of each to the other at the time of the union, or the meaning of marriage is being denied and God is being denied in the union.
Abuse of NFP. Can God be denied in a marriage that applies NFP and never uses contraception? Sadly, yes. If NFP is used not to space and plan children, but to avoid them, then the plan of God is being denied and the marriage is being abused. NFP can be abused by morally wrong intent, and if it is then the abuse is sinful. But contraception is always sinful. Every act of contraceptive union is an abuse and morally wrong in itself, regardless of intention although evil intention can make it worse. As a means to a prudent and loving end, NFP can and ought to be a good, but as a means to any end whether a good one or an evil one, contraception is always gravely wrong. The end (the intention even if good) can never justify morally wrong means to that end. The end never justifies the means.