Contraception and Sin

I normally do not directly write a reaction to what I read on other weblogs, but something prompted me to write this one. In the process, I learned something deeper and more visceral about the nature of sin.

The Mystic Cowboy made a parenthetical comment against the Roman Catholic position on contraception:

I have no sympathy for the Roman Catholic stance on contraception - moral relativism, hell, it’s cruel and irresponsible, especially in an overpopulated world.

I am not exactly sure why he slipped this opinion in the middle of a piece on moral relativism from a postmodern perspective, but it demonstrates a lack of understanding of the Church’s position on marriage, sex, and sin. I suspect that he is mixing worldly pragmatism with theology.

First and foremost, the Church believes that the relationship between a husband and wife is a sacred union. Sex, from the Church’s point of view, is not for recreation. It is an expression of the union of a loving and giving relationship, plus, it is for procreation. Anything that interferes with the full, open, and giving union of a husband and wife on a spiritual, emotional and physical level is a sin. Contraceptives are just one of the many interferences of this union. (Pregnancy is seen as a gift. It is one of the results of the full and open union between two loving and giving people.)

On another level, sin, in its simplest form, is a choice that a person makes that goes against the will of God. Natural Law is part of God�s Law. The mechanism of sperm/egg fertilization is nature�s way, and thus God�s way, of initiating new human life. Contraception, by definition, is against (contra) the inception of a zygote/embryo/fetus, and thus against the initiation of life. To go against nature, in effect, is to go against God�s will, or God�s method of bringing life into the world.

To interfere with this mechanism is an act of man�s will, not God�s, and therefore, a sin. There is no moral relativism in this reasoning whatsoever. If you make a choice against God, then it is a sin. Simple as that. What you do with the result of that choice is another matter.

So, you decide to use contraception. Okay. You have your reasons. They are valid and practical reasons. But contraception is still a sin. You are going against nature; you are going against God�s will. You are interfering with the process of giving yourself fully and completely to your spouse. (If you are not married, well, we already know what the Church says about that. The sex maybe great, but there is still an interference between giving yourself fully and completely to your partner.)

One may be tempted to say that the theology of the Church has no practical application to the serious problem of overpopulation. Well, it does, but most people do not like the answer. People throughout history want to have their cake and eat it too. (It is tempting to add that this is even more so now days.)

First, the Church says that a man and a woman must be married before engaging in sex. Second, and more importantly, the Church expects people to develop the virtue of temperance. (Funny how you do not hear much about virtues in the postmodern world.) Temperance, in the classical sense, is where a person applies moderation and self-restraint to his or her urges and impulses. (Temperance in the modern sense has been corrupted by the connotation of teetotalers and alcohol.)

Neither of these two points are followed very closely in the world, especially the second one. So how does one “fix” the results of these sins? The pragmatist says contraception.

Pragmatism is about the practical solution to problems. If avoiding pregnancy is viewed as a problem, then contraception is one solution. I personally feel that it is the easy way out the problem. Perhaps that is why so many people choose that option?

In the end, we just have to accept the fact that we are all sinners. Thank God for His mercy.

DISCLAIMER: The statements made in this journal entry are my interpretation of Church doctrine. I am not an official representative for doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. I attempt to follow it to the best of my ability.

Referenced from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, specifically paragraphs 2362, 2363, 2337, and 2370.

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