I have a friend who used contraception in high school to try to heal the relationship with her boyfriend. They had been dating for a couple of years. During this time, they had been able to support each other through different circumstances in life, and had grown as friends. I’m not sure of all the details, but after three years her boyfriend wanted to end their romantic relationship. It was difficult to gently restore the companionship that was born from their time dating. It seems it was even more difficult to work through feelings of abandonment or rejection after they decided to break up. Easy access to contraception and the desperation to not lose her friend led her to believe, “if I have sex with him, we will be bonded together and our relationship will be healed”. She chose to have sex, but their relationship wasn’t healed. The problems they faced in their relationship were heightened, not helped, by this choice. They were also personally wounded.
Contraception has made sex a more popular and easy solution to many problems. We all want to love and find union with others, but love is hard to identify when the difficulties of life hit us. For example, a wife struggles with postpartum depression and is ready to give up the effort needed for Natural Family Planning. The benefits of not using contraception can seem so small compared to the benefits of its use. Why should we continue to be faithful to this practice? Does avoiding contraception really do us any good? Is it worth the fight?
In a published dialogue entitled “A Moral Evaluation of Birth Control”, a student discusses her beliefs about birth control with Professor Fritz Wenisch. The article is beautiful because her initial points are not well formulated, and yet Wenisch takes each of her concerns seriously and respectfully. They begin with the foundation that abortion is wrong and should never be committed. There are contraceptives that work as abortifacients. For example, the IUD works under the same principle as abortion. It does not prevent conception, but prevents implants a zygote, whose genetic code is totally distinct from the mother and father. Thus, the child dies.
It seems many of our friends and family members are on the pill, and maybe you are yourself. Abortion is not often one’s intention when using the pill, and though it can work as an abortifacient, even when it doesn’t, even if there was a way for it to work perfectly and the woman’s body would always be tricked to thinking it was pregnant, it isn’t worth using. Why this is the case is what I would like to discuss.
The pill and other contraceptives interfere with the coming about of a good,the child, for the sake of a lesser good-worry free sex. This choice, to seek the lesser good, appears harmless yet, it is still wrong and harmful. . With an IUD, the child is living and dying, but with the pill, the child isn’t formed. Still it is a choice made by men and women, and our choices educate us on who we are. You gain the opportunity to have sex without the fear of pregnancy , but the personal rejection of human life is still bound up in this choice. These misguided choices prove to be detrimental for our humanity.
Man is educated, he can reject the opportunity of a human life for the sake of a lesser good. This leads him to believe in a dependence upon pleasure, security, and affection that makes him doubt his capacity to come out of himself and give himself to others.
Man begins to forget his power for self-giving love.
Professor Wenisch explains the sound logic behind this conclusion. He gives the example of a wealthy man who wants to donate money to a college student. The wealthy man is not obliged to give the money, but it is a good action he is doing. It helps him see himself beyond his own securities and as a good for another. One of Mr. Cash’s employers finds out about his money and persuades him to buy a pleasure cruise instead. There seems to be something wrong with his employer’s action. He interrupted the good of the student’s scholarship for the sake of a pleasure cruise. Analogously, the couple using contraception interrupts the good of the child for the sake of worry-free sex.
It is not wrong to interfere with the coming about of a good if the purpose of the interfering action is as significant as the good interfered with. Contraception is often chosen by the unmarried who want to avoid having children.In this case, the greater good of the child is being interferred with by a lesser good of a desire to feel united to the other or for pleasure. In other instances of contraception, the good of the child is being interfered with for the sake of the mother’s good. The good of the mother and the good of the child are equal goods, but is the good of the mother really at stake? Is contraception necessary for the mother’s good? If contraception isn’t necessary for the mother’s good then there is a more fundamental reason contraception is being chosen.
Wenisch gives an example of a man who is invited on a last minute ski trip, but he doesn’t own the proper clothes. He desires to ride down the slopes in the crisp air, but without warm clothes he would be risking his life. He goes to borrow clothes from his neighbor, but his neighbor isn’t home and so he steals the clothes. His neighbor is angry when he returns home and sees him wearing his clothes. The man explains, “I had to steal them to save my life.” His neighbor is not satisfied. His explanation doesn’t seem to be true. He stole them for the pleasure of the mountains. His life would be safe if he had stayed home or planned a later trip with his friends after he had time to buy the proper equipment. In a similar way, the mother’s life could be spared if they abstain from sex, even if just for the time she is fertile. This self-restraint may feel almost impossible, but it can be practiced. Freedom to engage in sexual intercourse when it’s best for the wife can be found. This option allows us to choose the good of the spouse, or family, without rejecting the life of the child.
This story reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend who had been engaging in sexual intercourse with her boyfriend for some time. I asked her if she had ever thought about stopping, and she said, “I don’t know if that is possible”. Her circumstances are distinct from those battling with contraception, but that same feeling of impossibility seems to be felt by couples in these particular circumstances.
The feelings of impossibility can be lessened with a remembering of one’s dignity. Contraception goes against who we are because it is a personal choice for worry free sex over the life of a child. This choice is an expression of a lie man believes about himself that he is made solely to gratify himself. His primary capacity is not to love another. His primary goal is to make sure he is affirmed, accepted, or numbed by pleasure. This is not love. Contraception is presented as an easy solution to many difficulties, but these hardships cannot be healed by contraception. We must believe we are made for more! No matter where we are, our capacity to love cannot be taken away. We have the freedom to begin to choose it, to begin to choose the child, or the discipline of Natural Family Planning, over the choice for worry free sex.