Catholic Church

Why Are You Using Contraceptives?


Writing an article about contraceptives is undoubtedly a difficult task. Certainly this is a very personal and controversial topic. Many reading this may find themselves in disagreement. My intent certainly isn’t to anger you or pass judgment if you are using contraceptives. Rather, I feel obliged to propose what you may not have considered when you made the decision to use contraceptives in your relationship.

First, let’s define some terms so that we can get on the same page. The word contraception literally means against (contra) conception (ception). Therefore, a contraceptive is a chemical, device, or procedure used by a person that is intended to prevent conception of new human life. There are basically three different forms of contraceptives. They are barrier methods (condoms, diaphragms, etc.), hormonal methods (the pill, IUD’s, the patch, etc.), and sterilization (vasectomy, tubal ligation, etc.). Barrier methods work by preventing the sperm and egg from uniting. Hormonal methods work by altering the hormones in a woman’s body and thus resulting in three biological changes. First, by preventing ovulation (egg release) by making the body think it is already pregnant. Second, by thickening the cervical mucus so that sperm movement is impeded. Third, by changing the lining in the uterus so that if fertilization does occur, implantation is nearly impossible. Sterilization methods work by altering bodily reproductive functions to prevent eggs or sperm from being released.

I realize that this audience is diverse, so I am presenting several arguments against contraception that will appeal to a variety of people. However, the arguments are not exclusive to each group, and it will benefit the reader to carefully read through the article in its entirety.

For the pro-choice person:

Pro-choice advocates may argue that contraceptives are necessary to prevent abortions that result from unwanted pregnancies. Ironically, statistics tell us that just the opposite is true. Contraceptives have led to an increase in abortions. Surely you are wondering, “How could something that is intended to prevent pregnancy cause an increase in abortions?” Contraception has fooled couples into believing they can have sex without consequences. More than ever, couples are having sex that aren’t prepared to raise children. When their contraceptive fails, they become pregnant and may seek an abortion. Therefore, when couples use contraceptives then any resulting pregnancies may end in the violent act of abortion. When sex is a total self gift with openness to life, it results in a deeper love between members of the couple.

For the pro-life person:

The pro-life person must ask the question, “When does human life begin?” Science shows us that human life begins at conception. At the moment of conception all genetic material is present for the new human life. After conception, all that is needed is time, nutrition, and a proper environment (this is all we really need to survive as adults too). If you are pro-life, meaning that you are against the killing of unborn children, then you need to know that hormonal contraceptives act as an abortifacient should fertilization occur. I’m not just talking about emergency contraceptives (Plan B) here. In fact, fertilization often does occur when hormonal contraceptives are used and the newly conceived life is denied the ability to implant on the uterine wall.

For the Christian:

Christians may argue that the Bible doesn’t specifically say that one cannot use contraceptives. This is true. The Bible also doesn’t say that you can do whatever you want as long as it isn’t forbidden in The Bible. The Bible does say that Jesus said and taught many things that weren’t recorded in the Bible. You need to know that until about 1930 all Christian churches forbid the use of contraceptives. Then, one by one nearly every church reversed their teaching after feeling pressure from church members. In Romans chapter 12, Paul tells us, “Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may discern what is the will of God…” Many Christians conformed to the culture of contraception. God designed the nature of the marital act to be unitive AND procreative. When the procreative (openness to life) aspect is removed, you are not trusting God but violating the nature of the marital act as God intended it.

For those not yet married:

Couples having sex that aren’t married are opening themselves up to a variety of risks. One of the biggest risks that I see is being with someone who is fine with sex outside of marriage. Does that mean that once you are married (or even just “committed” to each other) that your partner will magically be committed to only having sex with you? Or will he/she continue to be OK with non-marital sex (affairs). I know it’s hard to wait until marriage. But, using contraceptives or having them available will only make it harder to wait until the right time.

For women:

Health risks including disease have been directly linked to contraceptives. WebMD lists the side effects of birth control pills. Side effects include nausea, weight gain, mood changes, abdominal pain, chest pain, severe headaches, and blurred vision. Furthermore, the latter symptoms may indicate liver disease, heart disease, stroke, or blood clots. A study noted on www.cancer.gov reveals that women who were “current or recent users of birth control pills” had an elevated risk of breast cancer.

For men:

Hormonal contraceptives force the female body to believe it’s pregnant. As a result there are many side effects (see above). One of the effects not mentioned above (for women) is decreased libido. Need I say more?

For the naturalist/environmentalist:

A quick Google search reveals that about 5 billion condoms are sold each year worldwide. Think of all that latex filling landfills and polluting the environment! Not to mention the wasted resources used for their production. Additionally, artificial hormones produced for hormonal contraceptives are contaminating the environment.

For Catholics:

In 1968 Pope Paul VI wrote the encyclical Humana Vitae (Human Life). In the encyclical he noted that “[Artificial contraceptives] could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.” He continues to say that the man will lose respect for the woman and use her to “the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.” Does this sound like something you want in your relationship? Although many couples may think contraceptives will help their marriage, it would be foolish to argue with the objective and basic wisdom in Humana Vitae. Infidelity and divorce rates have increased tremendously since contraceptives have had widespread use!

Fortunately there is a fantastic alternative to using contraceptives! Natural Family Planning (NFP) has been carefully studied and proven as a healthy, safe, natural, and effective method to appropriately space children for a just reason. NFP is simply fertility awareness. The method uses natural signs from the female body to determine times of fertility. After taking an NFP class, my wife and I decided that fertility awareness is something every couple should have. Now we volunteer our time to teach others so that couples may experience the same benefits we do. With great certainty, NFP has helped our relationship by improving our communication, trust, and respect! Additionally, times of abstinence provide opportunities for us to express love in a variety of ways. Natural Family Planning is a tremendous opportunity for couples to grow in love and understanding for one another.

I encourage you to find out more about NFP and then sign up for a class today. There are a variety of organizations and methods that can provide training. I recommend the symptom-thermal method that cross checks a woman’s biological signs to verify times of fertility and infertility. My wife and I volunteer for the Couple to Couple League and classes are available online.

I truly hope that this article opened your heart and mind to some possible alternatives to using contraceptives. I would be happy to entertain any discussions or questions and I can be reached by e-mail at jelaliberty@gmail.com.

We’d love to hear from you on this issue. Please join in the conversation and respond to submissions@freedomsdiscourse.com.

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