On the topic of the use of contraceptives in the marital relationship, the Catholic Church stands firm in its teaching that it is intrinsically evil and not allowed.
CCC 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.157 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:1
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.2
Once we separate the procreative aspects from the unitive aspect of conjugal love, many variations of violation of God’s divine plan can happen. These acts manifest as an offense against chastity and against the dignity of marriage. In the past, this teaching seemed like an impossible to live out rule from the Catholic Church but in recent days, through the writings of Pope John Paul II in Theology of the Body, a better understanding of God’s divine plan is available. A refreshing look at marriage as a foreshadowing the ultimate union in heaven provides even greater motivation to stay clear of contraceptives and the contraceptive mentality.
The Church’s alternative to contraceptives is Natural Family Planning, although it can only be used when the couple has a grave reason to do so.
- More info on “Contraception, Why Not?” by Janet Smith
- MP3 on “Contraception, Why Not?” by Janet Smith
- A presentation on Sexuality by Janet Smith
- More info about Theology of the Body
- General Audiences: Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body
- CCC on the Sixth Commandment “You shall not commit adultery.”3
- Contraception, Gateway to the Culture of Death - William E. May
- Information on learning Natural Family Planning in Singapore
1: HV 14
2: FC 32
3: EX 20:14; Deut 5:18.