All Contraception is Intrinsically Evil

Why Contraception Is Intrinsically Evil

The Church has clearly received and passes on the teaching that contraception is intrinsically evil, therefore wrong and forbidden in all circumstances. Veritatis Splendor (No. 80) describes an intrinsically evil act as follows: Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature "incapable of being ordered" to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are acts which, in the Church's moral tradition have been termed "intrinsically evil" (intrinsice malum ): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances, the Church teaches that "there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object.

With regard to intrinsically evil acts, and in reference to contraceptive practices whereby the conjugal act is intentionally rendered infertile, Pope Paul VI teaches: "Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good, it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (cf. Rom 3:8) - in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family, or of society in general" (Humanae Vitae No. 14, quoted in Veritatis Splendor No. 80).

As Humanae Vitae states: It is not right for spouses to act in accord with their own arbitrary judgment as if it were permissible for them to define altogether subjectively and willfully what is right for them to do. On the contrary, they must accommodate their behavior to the plan of God the Creator, a plan made manifest both by the very nature of marriage and its acts and also by the constant teaching of the Church (No. 10). There is an unbreakable connection between the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning [of the conjugal act], and both are inherent in the conjugal act. This connection was established by God, and man is not permitted to break it through his own volition (No. 12).

When the Church speaks thus earnestly, with the obvious intention of binding her people to believe and to obey in this obviously important matter, we correctly believe that she is not in error. It is absolutely wrong, scandalous and misleading to belittle as of small account the intrinsic evil of a contraceptive act, as the Peschke text does (1987 edition, p. 476; 1993 edition, p. 508). Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) on the Evil of Contraception

There is no need to repeat here what others wrote so well about the intrinsic evil of contraception (see e.g. G. Grisez II, pp. 512 ff.; J. Smith, pp. 68 ff.; J. Kippley, pp. 50 ff.). But to these I wish to add the argument of Thomas which says, in a nutshell: the prohibition against contraception under pain of grave sin is necessary to preserve the common good which God intends for the human race.

The licit use of sex has strings attached to it, according to the teaching of St. Thomas. God allows the use of sex only on condition that humans pay two fees attached to it. The first fee is legitimate and lifelong marriage. The second fee is non-interference in the natural outcome of marital intercourse. Humans are bound to observe these conditions - to pay these dues - which are essential for the welfare of mankind: The more necessary a thing is, the more it behooves one to observe the order of reason in its regard; wherefore the more sinful it becomes if the order of reason is forsaken. Now the use of venereal acts ... is most necessary for the common good, namely the preservation of the human race. Wherefore there is the greatest necessity for observing the order of reason in this matter: so that if anything be done in this connection against the dictate of reason's ordering, it will be a sin (Summa theologiae II, II, 153, 3).

In other words, to protect and preserve the welfare of the human race, it is necessary that God should put conditions on the licit use of sex; conditions which are sanctioned by grave obligations. God, to allow us to be holy as He is holy, and to preserve our common welfare, must forbid a use of sex which is (1) not according to reason, and (2) which gravely undermines the common good.

His first reason against the licitness of contraception, then, is its incompatibility with reason; in other words, it is itself intrinsically evil. That is one side of the coin.

His second reason for banning contraception is that its licitness would undermine the common good of the human race, which includes all of us. That is the other side of the coin.

We see in this second principle an obligation to pay for the gift of life and the education we have received by refraining from a use of sex which is not in accord with the common good of the race. We do this by agreeing to abstain from sexual pleasures except when their use serves to support the structures of family life and the social order which has made our lives and our education possible.

That is, we agree to have sexual pleasure only when a legitimate partner in marriage legitimatizes its use, and on condition that we do not interfere with the act to close its natural openness to generate new life. It is by this payment of the "dues of life" that we contribute to the continuation of the human race and help to preserve its necessary social structures. That is the price which God exacts from all who have received from Him the gift of human life, and of education to adulthood in proper surroundings. God exacts marriage, and avoidance of contraception in marriage, as the price man must pay for the use of sex; the obligation to pay the price is designed by Him to preserve the continuation of the race and its general welfare.

Thomas observes that fornication, adultery, seduction, incest, sacrilege (sex involving a consecrated person) are against the dictates of reason on the one hand, and against the common good of the race on the other. The same applies to those vices which Thomas calls unnatural, against nature: masturbation, that is, procuring the pleasure without copulation; also bestiality, homosexuality and finally "not observing the natural manner of copulation;" by this last the offender intends pleasure though acts from which human generation cannot follow (cf. Summa theologiae II, II, 154, 11).

To repeat: Thomas implies that the ban against contraception - against acts from which human generation cannot follow - is necessary for two reasons. On the one hand because it is not in harmony with reason, with man as the image of God; it is unnatural, unreasonable and contrary to our rational exigency which flows from our nature; and on the other hand, the ban is also necessary to uphold the welfare of the human race. Let us dwell on the latter a bit more.

The Ban on Contraception Is Necessary for the Common Good

The ban on mutual abuse of sex within marriage supports God's plan to populate the earth through sufficient offspring. Indeed, the preservation of the human species depends greatly upon human faithfulness in observing the prohibition against contraception. We see in the statistics of nations which now practice contraception excessively, due to perverted media propaganda and to misconceived government policies, that births of children in these nations are now insufficient to replace the adult generations. These populations are aging, and if the trend continues, they are all on the way to eventual extinction. The World Population Profile, 1994, issued by the Bureau of Census, U.S. Department of Commerce, February 1994, lists 60 countries with below replacement birth rates of 2.0 or less; that is, only 2.0 or fewer children are being born to replace two adults; and 6 other nations, including the USA, have a rate of 2.1. Actually, as James Miller, statistician at Human Life International points out, unless the women in these populations who reach adulthood and are able to bear children at all, have an average of about 2.3 children, the national population is in a state of demographic decline (see The Cairo Examiner, Autumn 1994, p. 4).

If so large part of the world population is already caught in a downward demographic spiral whose term could be extinction, even though the ban against contraception remains indelibly written on the human heart, how much more likely it is that the entire human population would implode back into the one original couple almost overnight if contraception were not indeed against the law of the Creator. For if contraception were not against God's law, then its practice could rightly be hailed as licit, even virtuous. Our Catechisms could state, in that absurd case, that parents practice virtue by contracepting. Priests could give this advice from the pulpit and in the confessional. Proud couples could boast of childlessness and pose as "better than thou" members of the parish and community. And the command of God to "increase and multiply" would be devoid of sanction. These are implications drawn logically from the argument of St. Thomas that those obligations of reason which are especially necessary for the preservation of the common welfare of the race are imposed upon the human race by God under the sanction of serious sin. For without the ban against contraception, the human race would very likely soon end its existence on this earth.

The institute of family life itself is also dependent essentially upon a universal law against contraception. For humans would lack a compelling interest to enter married life, and so to experience conjugal joys and pleasures therein, if sexual pleasure were licit without accompanying family obligations. But the basic cell of society is the family, and if that were to lose its raison d' etre, society would lose its source of demographic support. Moral approval of contraception would inevitably spell the end of society and of mankind.

Intercourse done in the natural manner is truthful communication which bonds husband and wife as conjugal partners via the language of the body. The ban on contraception, which is written indelibly into the human heart, allows this truthful communication to operate effectively to solidify family structure. Whereas a supposedly "licit" contraception would tend to alienate marital partners from each other because of the brutal lie in their bodily and spiritual communication. Even "licit" contraception, because of its in-built false communication, would subtly offend the perceived dignity of the partners resulting in mutual lack of esteem. Though perceived overtly as licit, it would still be contrary to truth felt in body and spirit, and so tend to unglue the bonding of contracepting partners. We see that divorce statistics exploded in the wake of Pill statistics in the USA. In 1960, before contraceptive Pills were available, there were 393,000 divorces; in 1975, after 15 years of Pill usage, there were 1,026,000 divorces, an explosion of divorce statistics by 260 percent during only fifteen years (see UN Demographic Yearbook, 1976, p. 639). This is not good propaganda for Pill usage.

"Licit contraception" - a contradiction in terms - would inevitably trivialize the deeper union of couples with nature and God. "Licit" contraception, if loosed upon mankind, would tend to deprive the loving family life where spouses are usually happy and supportive of each other, and where children enjoy a proper atmosphere for human upbringing.

By contraception a couple "cancels a plan which is a precise will of God; the plan of men whom God willed to create and which man vetoed" (Bishop C. Micci, see Kippley p. 136). The act of contraception, then, is an illicit veto issued by humans against the prearranged plan of God to create this and that individual. We cannot call this murder, since contraception does not kill what is not yet alive; rather we call it contraception because it counters and thwarts the plan of God to effectuate a conception on His own schedule, and according to His preferences and plans. Couples who procreate children with God, find union with God in the life-giving process to be a deep and comforting experience of oneness with Him and with nature. But contraception alienates couples from God and from harmony with nature, and leaves them with little joy and satisfaction in life.

In 1930 the Church of England pretended to lift the divine command which outlaws contraception; since then a large part of the developed world began to pretend that contraception is licit. And today all these "developed" nations, without one exception, lack sufficient children to replace adults. God's law against contraception protects nations from dying out only so long as they do not excessively disregard the ban.

Human Nature: A Built-in Law of Reason

Since it is God, as Humanae Vitae No. 12 states, who established "an unbreakable connection between the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning" of the conjugal act, man is obligated to honor this wisdom of God which he perceives in himself by the very fact that he is a created image of the Divine Wisdom. Man honors himself, his moral nature, when he makes his acts to conform with his being. But when man contracepts; when he severs the unitive meaning from the procreative meaning during attempted conjugal intercourse, he strikes a blow against his own nature; he manipulates his in-built reason to collide with itself; he does an immoral deed with his moral being; that moral being who is a created replica of God's uncreated Wisdom. Misuse of sex, therefore, is an abuse of the nature which we have received, in which we are obligated to be a created reflection of God. Contraception is moral suicide, is cannibalizing one's moral innards. By abusing our being we abuse the Creator who entrusted this being to our keeping.

The Law of Reason Excludes Masturbation

Both sexes also sense an instinctive aversion against masturbation. Adolescents who may initially experiment with their early budding sexual faculty, eventually sense that they now have a new responsibility; that sex is as big as adult life. The depression and loss of self-esteem in their own eyes which they tend to feel after self-indulgence powerfully supports the instinct against isolated masturbation. This instinctive aversion against masturbation also grows stronger and more pronounced with cultivation and acts of self-control. Adolescents who brace themselves firmly against the pull of the otherwise rudderless sex drive, grow gradually into civilized adulthood by asserting the government of reason over their drives.

Yet man also experiences an appetite for immediate pleasure obtainable through masturbation. He is confronted, dramatically at times, with the need to make a choice; a choice between satisfying his immediate appetite for pleasure, or to forego it in order to pursue the goal of governing and maintaining stewardship of self by following the law of reason. Nature sternly demands of both boys and girls that they achieve maturity by means of making formidable psychological and spiritual efforts to grow into men and women.

The advice of American columnist Ann Landers to masturbate, rather than to risk HIV infection by contact with a sexual partner, is short-sighted from the viewpoint of long-term human survival. Her endorsement of "masturbation as a safe, realistic alternative for everyone, from teens to the elderly" (AP, 1 November 1993) is tantamount to advising us to give up culture and civilization. In the long run, if masturbation were upheld as a viable and licit option to assuage the sex drive, and so to forego family life, the human race would likely follow the dinosaurs into extinction.

Contraception: Slippery Slope to Abortion

That an explosion of abortions follows a campaign for contraception is a well known fact, evident now in statistics from many nations. A spectacular epidemic of abortions has almost always followed instantaneously in the footsteps of national campaigns for contraceptive birth control. As Father Paul Marx, OSB, points out, basing himself upon layer over layer of statistics, (see e.g. "From Contraception to Abortion," HLI reprint) no country has so far succeeded to create in its population a contraception mentality, without likewise entrapping its population in massive abortion. Contraception is the spark and tinder, abortion is the conflagration which erupts therefrom. Fr. Marx, when addressing health ministers in Russia and the Ukraine, emphasized that abortion is the unwanted child of a contraceptive mentality.

The Logic of the Slide from Contraception to Abortion

Today, half a century after Japan had authorized contraception, abortion has become a tragic heritage of most families. The legal establishment of Eugenic Protection Consultation Offices, whose purpose is to "popularize and give guidance in the adequate method of contraception" (Eugenic Protection Law, Art. 20, 13 July 1948), was bait which seduced an unsuspecting Japan into the present tightly sprung abortion trap. (An article on birth control in Japan in Science, 19 August 1994, claims that approval of contraception in Japan followed by four years the approval of abortion, is in error. For example, 84,000,000 condoms were produced in 1949, following legalization of contraceptives. See e.g. Chikao Honda, p. 29. See also Yoshio Koya, p. 18).

The Japan Eugenic Protection Law which allowed contraception (Art. 20) authorized abortion as well (Art. 14). The latter provides that a "designated physician may exercise artificial interruption of pregnancy, at his discretion ... to a mother whose health may be affected seriously by continuation of pregnancy or by delivery, from the physical or economic viewpoint." To the initial consternation of health officials, abortion inundated the entire nation like a tidal wave; failed contraception was the rule rather than exception, and abortion became the main method of birth control. Statistics of duly registered abortions climbed quickly, from 246,104 in 1949, to 1,068,066 in 1953. Soon the actual number topped 2,000,000 per year, if those not officially registered are included. Recently the officially registered number is below 500,000 per year, but no one believes these statistics; doctors routinely report only a fraction of their operations, to reduce income taxes and to put on a good face for national appearances. The real number of abortions is declining somewhat in recent years - but only somewhat - from a persistent plateau of perhaps around one million per year.

Would more use of the Intra Uterine Device (IUD) perhaps reduce Japan's abortions, which are as conspicuous in the nation as is Mount Fuji? The IUD was never used in Japan as widely as other methods. The Mainichi Survey of 1992 indicates that among those who practice family planning, 9% used the IUD in 1973, but only 4.9% in l992; whereas 75.3% used the condom. It is not likely that the IUD will reduce Japan's abortion problem.

The IUD has practically gone out of business in the USA after more than 9000 women brought claims for serious and sometimes fatal damage from the Dalcon Shield IUD (International Review of Natural Family Planning, Fall 1984, pp. 181-188). Inserting an IUD a into a woman is an exceedingly cruel thing to do, as the American experience demonstrates. It is male chauvinism at its worst, making women to suffer these indignities while the men escape all harm.

In practice, the IUD has a failure rate of enormous proportions. For example, in China over 3,000,000 abortions in 1987 were reported as failures of the IUD (Studies in Family Planning May/June 1993, p. 195). It is with good reason, then, that Japanese women generally shy away from the IUD.

Statistics of unplanned pregnancies by users of IUD's, Pills, condoms and various other methods differ widely, but a typical report is that of Population Reports: unplanned pregnancies per 100 woman years for users of the IUD, 6; for Pill users, 3; for condom users, 10-15 (September 1990, p. 7). And very frequently, the unplanned pregnancies of those who use these contraceptives end in abortion.

John Paul II: Contraception Leads to Abortion

In an Audience with the Austrian Bishops, 19 June 1987, Pope John Paul II repeated that "no doubt may be permitted regarding the validity of the moral prescriptions expressed" (in Humanae Vitae). He pointed out that if a certain perplexity was understandable in 1968, as is mirrored in many episcopal declarations [including the notoriously erroneous statement of the Austrian Bishops themselves made in 1968], time has verified that the encyclical has "drawn upon the wisdom of the faith." The Pope then gave a pointed warning to the Bishops of Austria that the contraceptive and abortion mentality are related: It is ever more clear that it is absurd, for instance, to want to overcome abortion through the promotion of contraception. The invitation to contraception as a supposedly "harmless" manner of the relation between the sexes is not only an insidious denial of man's moral freedom. It fosters a depersonalized understanding of sexuality which is directed merely to the moment and promotes in the last analysis that mentality out of which abortion arises and from which it is continuously nourished. Furthermore, it is certainly not unknown to you that in more recent methods the transition from contraception to abortion has become extremely easy (L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 13 July 1987).

Contraception: A Lesser Evil than Abortion?

In the Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) issued on 25 March, 1995, Pope John Paul II points out that abortion and contraception are evil fruits which often grow from the same tree: But despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree...they imply a self-centered concept of freedom which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal freedom (No. 13).

What might be the mentality of the contraceptionist from which, as the Pope says, abortion arises? Obviously, users of contraceptives intend to avoid a baby. When a baby is conceived contrary to the plans, that child is an intruder upsetting their schedules and plans. The immediate tendency is to exterminate the intruder - who can offer no self-defense.

Likely there is also a deeper reason for the affinity of contraception to abortion. A person who breaks one of God's laws is guilty, in a sense, of breaking all of them. By rebelling against God in one serious matter, one excludes himself from God's friendship. A serious sin is a choice of some creature over God Himself. The choice once made, has profound consequences. One who contracepts willingly and knowingly, disobeying God in this serious matter, has corrupted his or her moral integrity. Killing a child is no longer unthinkable, after a person has taken the fatal step of contraception.

Some priests are wont to excuse contraception as "a lesser evil than abortion." But when contraception is already a mortal sin, what basis of comparison is there to a mortal sin of abortion? The one sin, like the other, if the sinner does not repent, invites eternal disaster: "Depart from me, you who are cursed, enter eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Mt 25:41). A "lesser" fire in hell, for contraception instead of abortion, is not an attractive alternative. Will the person who took the priest's advice to do the "lesser" evil, thank him as he is eased into the "lesser" fire?

There is always a possibility, of course, that the individual who contracepts, or the one who aborts, does not commit grave sin because of mitigating circumstances; because he or she lacked sufficient knowledge and ability to reflect, or the will was not sufficiently free of coercion. This is perhaps more likely in the case of contraception than of surgical abortion. The deliberate killing of a child by its mother, or by a doctor, and the approval of supporters, is a more dramatic and intense engagement with evil than an act of contraception. Proof for this is the fact that many couples who use contraception, perhaps with an erroneous conscience, accept an unplanned pregnancy and do not abort it; and so experience the happiness of bearing and rearing an accepted and beloved baby. Such experience indicates indeed that contraception is a less serious engagement with stark evil than is abortion. But the danger always lurks in the background that contraceptors too easily resort to abortion when their plans fail. The Mainichi Survey of 1992 in Japan, pp. 102, 108, indicated, for example, that among those women who already had four or more abortions, 83.3% approve abortion in case contraception fails.

But even in the case of abortion, surely many an inexperienced woman consents without sufficient reflection about its evil because her thoughts are so strait-jacketed by public opinion that she is in a state of invincible ignorance; of socially induced invincible ignorance. God waits patiently for that person to learn from experience, to become wiser and rise up to return home, as in the case of the prodigal son.

The 45,000,000 induced abortions, now said to be occurring annually (a recent UN estimate), indicate that a contraception Frankenstein feeds an abortion monster. To make headway against abortion, then, it is necessary to oppose contraception; to make headway against contraception it is necessary, in turn, to demythologize the myth of overpopulation and, finally, to engage in the apostolate of natural family planning. These subjects must be treated more adequately in another place.

Japan Outlaws Pill: Is Friendly to Natural Family Planning

Those who tried to legalize sale of the Pill in Japan, with the excuse that this might prevent abortions, have failed to convince the public that this would be a wise move. Parents who have so far generally kept raw sex education out of schools in Japan, have wisely reasoned that Pills on the market would tend to demoralize youth. Recently, another drive to legalize Pills in Japan ended in failure.

The Welfare Ministry decided in the early 1960's against legalizing the contraceptive Pill in Japan, due in no small measure to the advice of Dr. Yoshio Koya, who was then a powerful advisor to the government, who was also President of the Family Planning Federation of Japan at the time. I visited Dr. Koya from time to time, taking with me stacks of data provided by Dr. Herbert Ratner, public health official of Oak Park in Chicago. Perhaps no doctor in the world has so thoroughly discredited the Pill as Dr. Ratner did in those early days. Dr. Koya, for whatever other reasons he might have had, then worked to dissuade government officials from legalizing the Pill for birth control in Japan. He and other dissuaders told about damage to health inflicted by the Pill, not only to users but to their offspring and to future generations. Their opposition carried the day, and the government decision to ban the Pill has held until now (1966). [Update: Unfortunately the ban was lifted in 1999.]

All is not lost in Japan. Though small families tend to become smaller still - one child, or none, or no marriage at all - larger families are by no means extinct. Seventeen percent of children are born into families which already have at least two children. In 1993, 203,221 newborn babies were welcomed into the world by two or more elder brothers and sisters. By the slow turn of demographic realities, larger families tend to out-populate smaller ones and to inherit the nation. The children raised in larger families experience joys in humanity and home-life which industry cannot supply; their healthy and positive attitude toward life is a treasure for the nation.

Mother Teresa: Contraception Destroys Love and Leads Easily to Abortion

Allow me to close the chapter with memorable words of Mother Teresa, who sees that contraception destroys virgin love and leads easily to abortion. She spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, 4 February 1994. Several hundred of Washington's lawmakers and diplomats from 100 nations gave her three thunderous ovations; while President Clinton and wife Hilary, and Vice President Gore and wife, fiddled their thumbs. I know that couples have to plan their family, and for that there is natural family planning. The way to plan the family is natural family planning, not contraception. In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self, and so it destroys the gift of love in him or her. In loving the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other, as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily (see copy e.g. in The Catholic World Report, April 1994)

The Case of Dr. Kim Hardey
by Mark Sullivan
Reprinted with permission of Our Sunday Visitor, May 14, 1995

A doctor who will not prescribe birth control is a rare breed, indeed. Meet one doctor willing to take a stand. What is the biggest issue facing Catholics today? Is it abortion, or the breakup of families? According to Dr. Kim Hardey, the answer is birth control, because, as he sees it, it is at the root of problems such as divorce and abortion. Hardey knows a thing or two about birth control. He is part of just a handful of the 40,000 obstetrician-gynecologists who refuses to prescribe birth control for moral reasons. But Hardey was not always in this moral minority.

It took the tragic death of his 9-year-old son, Brad, to make him realize that by prescribing and practicing birth control he had not been living up to the Catholic life. Since then, he has put his career at risk rather than compromise this core moral teaching of his Catholic faith. "Prior to Brad's death, I was a good Catholic from all outward appearances," Hardey said in a recent interview. "Our family had been Catholic family of the year, I was president of the parish council, I was a eucharistic minister, a lector and a member of the parish's finance committee. My wife and I accepted everything that the Church taught except for the teaching on birth control."

Brad Hardey was struck by a car while he was on a school field trip, and in the aftermath of his death, his father began examining his life. He asked himself, "What is it about my life that made God feel that He should allow this to happen to me?"

Hardey saw birth control as the biggest obstacle between himself and God, and he decided to change it. Hardey's wife, Bonnie, had struggled with the birth control issue, but since her husband was prescribing birth control for his patients, she figured that he must know what he was doing.

However, after his "reconversion," Hardey and his wife took radical action and stopped using birth control that day. Then he decided to stop prescribing birth control to his patients, and he moved his practice from Dotham, Ala., to Lafayette, La., where he thought there would be enough good Catholics to support a "Catholic ob-gyn." So far, Hardey's gamble has paid off just fine. "I'm not doing any worse than if I were a new pro- choice or pro-birth-control doctor opening up a new practice in a new town," Hardey said. Hardey sees it as his mission to make the Church's teachings on birth control more widely understood and better accepted. But he also wants to set an example for other Catholic doctors, to show them that being faithful to Church teaching will not cause their practice to dry up.

Contraception is so widespread among Catholics that the severity of the offense against God has been watered-down to the point where people do not see the sin anymore, Hardey complained. "Catholic couples who practice contraception see it as an isolated decision for the bed-room," Hardey said. "They think it doesn't affect anyone else, but it does." According to Hardey, a couple's decision about birth control starts a chain reaction that goes through to their children and then into society. Following the Church's teachings shows your children that you have self-control, which you are also asking of them by teaching them to wait until they get married," Hardey said. Also it shows children the valuable example of obedience to Church authority, even though it requires sacrifice. Not obeying Church teaching, Hardey reasons, could lead children to believe that other Church teachings, such as that on adultery or premarital sex, can be disregarded as well.

Following the Church's teaching shows that you are serious about being Catholic and about your own salvation, because you are obeying Christ's teaching on birth control, so when Hardey speaks to a parish group, he begins by talking about what birth control has done to society.

He cites the strong co-relation between birth control and divorce. Catholics who follow the Church's teachings on birth control have a divorce rate of less than 5 percent, according to the Couple to Couple League, who advocate natural family planning.

Catholics who do use artificial contraception, mean-while, suffer the same rate of divorce as the rest of society, about 50 percent. Also, Hardey claims, 80 percent of all abortions stem from failed birth control. Sex outside of marriage is not "normal," and this has led to a rise in venereal disease, date rape and the "objectifi-cation of women," Hardey said.

And all of those facts don't take into account that using birth control puts the offending party in the state of mortal sin. Those who are aware of a mortal sin on their conscience are not allowed to receive Communion until going to confession. In fact, by receiving Communion in the state of mortal sin, is to commit a grave sacrilege, Hardey explained.

"Birth control makes you selfish and materialistic, which are characteristics directly opposed to Christian discipleship," Hardey said. "It keeps you from developing the virtue of self-control that helps you to have a better marriage and greater witness to God's power in your life."

If birth control is such a serious sin and common in many families, why don't the priests say more about it from the pulpit? "Priests have let the situation pass and have accepted that people will do what they want to do," according to Hardey. People don't see birth control as a big issue when, in reality, it is the biggest issue that Catholics face, because it touches so many areas of our lives."

Priests, when asked by a couple if they should use birth control, will answer no, he said. But most won't risk confronting a couple on the issue, for fear that it will chase them away from the Church all together.

Popular wisdom says that if a couple is going to Mass, it is a sign, that God is working in their lives to some degree and in time they will understand the fullness of Catholic teaching. But for many, going to Mass is the only formation they are getting, so if they don't hear about birth control at Mass, where will they? Unfortunately, some don't even know birth control is wrong, or even worse, they are waiting in vain for the Church to change its teaching.

Hardey realizes the difficulty of the task because people have been living away from the truth for so long. "It is important to gently, yet steadily, urge people back on the road to Christ," Hardey said. When people ask Hardey about natural family planning, he tells them that it does work for couples who need to space births.

The Catholic Church is a church of sinners, so it's rare to find a couple who has not practiced birth control at least at some point. "For years I thought I was doing something great," Hardey said. "I really thought I was being good giving out birth control to couples. There was a blindness that contributed to my deception."

"Clearly, the Church is right. If you want to change the world, you have to do something drastic, and that will happen one couple at a time. We need to turn to what God gave us."

Published by:
Humanae Vitae Research Institute

Nihil obstat
Rev. John T. Kohira
Aira-cho, Kagoshima-ken, Japan
30 November, 1995

Most Rev. Paul S. Itonaga
Bishop of Kagoshima Diocese, Japan
4 April 1996

The Nihil obstat and the Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions or statements expressed.

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