As I explained in part one, when the sacrament of holy matrimony is consummated, the husband and wife need to be open to the possibility of having a child. I also mentioned that because we live in a culture that is so birth control oriented, even some couples using Natural Family Planning use it with a contraceptive mentality, for inappropriate reasons. Now I want to discuss those reasons.
Remember that one of the three purposes of marriage is the procreation of children. To use Natural Family Planning for a definite or indefinite period of time because a woman does not think that she “is ready” to have a child may indicate that the couple should have put off their marriage. Perhaps further preparation and formation were necessary.
At the same time it is important to keep in mind that finishing college or the acquisition of another degree are not to be considered serious and legitimate reasons to use Natural Family Planning. If a young married couple wish to continue their studies, this is perfectly legitimate, however, college and further education are not motives for using Natural Family Planning. If a degree is important to the young married couple, it may be advisable to finish college and then get married, or the couple may continue their educational interests while at the same time being open to the transmission of life within their intimate life as a married couple.
Let us remember that the three ends of marriage are equal and that they form one single entity. Marriage is not a “license to have sex.” The marital act must always be open to the transmission of life.
When Natural Family Planning is used for selfish motives, although the method is different from artificial birth control, it is being used as a form of contraception rather than a moral or ethical means to regulate births.
Furthermore, convenience, such as economic status or career opportunities are not to be considered as serious and legitimate reasons to use Natural Family Planning.
Married couples who choose to live in a larger home and decide to stop having children in order to pay the higher mortgage payment must understand that economic status does not constitute a reason to stop having children. Wives, who do not need to work in order to pay the household bills but who simply desire to work, must understand that a career is not a reason to stop having children. Economics, such as the loss of a job or a time of economic turmoil in a country may determine the use of Natural Family Planning. However, Americans, who usually live very comfortable and even affluent lives, must not use economic status or career opportunities as the criteria for determining the size of their families.
I understand that everything that I have said is very controversial and is totally opposite to the mentality of the majority of Catholics in this country, perhaps even among the small percentage of Catholics who do not use artificial birth control.
What is love? Christian love calls us to be unconditionally generous with the God of unconditional love. Christian love calls married spouses to love each other with an unconditional love. Christian love calls each mother and father to love their children with unconditional love. True Christian love is what makes a marriage a good marriage, a happy marriage, and marriage filled with joy.
Married couples that are imbued with Christian love would never consider using artificial birth control or Natural Family Planning for selfish reasons.
Furthermore, husband and wife cooperate and participate in the on-going miracle of God’s creation. The fundamental task of marriage and family life is to be at the service of life. Responsible parenthood is lived out within the structures which God has established in human nature. God’s design is that the nature of sexual intercourse is both life-giving (pro-creative) and love-giving (unitive). Married couples are called, through holy matrimony, to cooperate with God the Creator in the continuation of the human race. Every husband and every wife must be in tune with God and what He wants. Too many Americans make all of their decisions, especially the size of their families, based on selfish motives. Christian marriage, by the very nature of Christianity and the very nature of the sacrament of marriage, calls a married man and a married woman to seek God’s holy will in their lives.
Thus, when married couples prudently discern the number of children for their family, most importantly, they must be in tune with what God wants for them: what God is asking of them. Every child is a gift from God. Some married couples are called to have a large family. Some married couples are called to have a smaller family. Some married couples cannot have children and within that great suffering, they find another calling subordinate to their vocations to marriage.
In order to be in tune with God and His holy will, a married man and a married woman must have a profound, intimate, and personal relationship with God. This relationship is fostered and deepened through a daily and well disciplined life of prayer.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is the perfect model of a creature’s relationship with God the creator. She listened attentively to what God was asking her through the angel Gabriel. At first she was afraid, but then she trusted. Trust is essential. Trust God. When we do not trust God, we take our focus off of Him and we turn inwards and our egos take over.
Back in 1968 Pope Paul VI warned the world what would happen if artificial birth control were to be made available:
“Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings — and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation — need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection” (Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 17).
Paul VI was correct. Was he not a prophet of his times?
Please keep in mind that many birth control pills act at least some of the time as abortifacients. This means that an abortion actually takes place. It is also true that birth control pills are causing cancer in women at an alarming rate.
The bottom line problem with many contracepting couples is that they do not want to have more kids. What is wrong with having the children that God has intended you to have? Why do we keep trying to control everything? We should attune ourselves to what God wants for us. Yes, there is such a thing as responsible parenthood, but great importance must be placed on openness to children, generosity, and God’s plan over our lives.
As a parish priest I have encouraged my families to be open to life. I have found that my openness to life is one of the most beautiful aspects of my life as a Catholic priest. Every time a young couple tells me, usually with a twinkle in the eye, that they are having a baby, I embrace them, congratulate them, and thank them for their love for life. When I baptize their new born baby, it is as if my spiritual paternity is being mystically consummated in the magical moment when that little baby becomes a child of God through the waters of baptism.
When we begin to understand the mystery of the sacrament of marriage and how it is a reflection of the marriage of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5: 21-33), we can then begin to understand why contraception is intrinsically evil.
Not every conjugal act produces a pregnancy, but because of the very nature of holy matrimony and the intimate life of married couples, every conjugal act must be open to the transmission of life.
Aside from the common forms of contraception that are used by married couples, another form of contraception that is more in use than I had ever imagined is sterilization. Catholic women are having tubal ligations and Catholic men are having vasectomies at an alarming rate.
Many Catholic men seemingly are falling into a trap by thinking that a vasectomy is a quick fix solution without serious consequences.
However, here is a list of the possible serious consequences of a vasectomy: life-long autoimmune problems, chronic testicular pain, decreased testicular function, chronic testicular inflammation, prostate cancer, testicular shrinkage, lung cancer, testicular cancer, erectile dysfunction and impotence, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gangrene of the scrotum, loss of libido, personality disturbances, adrenal gland dysfunction, hypoglycemia, narcolepsy, lymph node enlargement, and liver dysfunction.
As you can see, when humans fool around with nature, the consequences are disastrous.
Once again, I understand that everything that I have just said is very controversial. I understand that the majority of Catholics in America completely reject the Catholic Church’s teaching on procreation. However, please be open. Read Humanae Vitae. Read Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Read, study, pray, and embrace the truth about marriage, sexuality and family life. Remember what our Lord Jesus said in the Gospel: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8: 32).