Contraception robs humanity of new life

Father John A. Kiley

The secular world was heartened a couple of months ago by the headline that cited a substantial reduction in teenage abortions among those girls who had been fitted with internal contraception devises.

The study was performed by St. Louis School of Medicine at Washington University on 9,000 women who were at risk for unintended pregnancy. After respondents were provided with free contraceptive methods, Dr. Jeffrey Peipert and his colleagues noticed that only 6.3 per 1,000 represented teen births, whereas the national rate of unintended births among teens usually amounts to 34.1 per 1,000. Hence the inability to pay for contraceptive methods is suggested as the main reason causing unwanted pregnancies. Thus the free and liberal distribution of IUDs and other long-range contraceptives is viewed by some as the happy answer to the abortion controversy. One observer remarked that he could not understand why any “pro-life” zealot would not be in total favor of this development.

Reducing abortions is certainly a laudable goal, and more contraception but fewer abortions might be argued by some as the lesser of two evils. Actually neither contraception nor abortion is an acceptable response to contemporary sexual mores. There is, frankly, another issue here that is being completely overlooked. Even if women and their partners could be sexually active with absolutely no possibility of conception, the prospect would not insure that sexual intercourse would receive the reverence, the respect and the regard that this hallowed action deserves. Frankly, just the opposite would occur. Guaranteeing that no pregnancy will result from intercourse only further robs that activity of all accountability and all answerability. Intercourse will simply become intense stimulation with no need for commitment, no sense of obligation, no pledge of fidelity. Such carefree sex is hardly the goal that young women should be urged to pursue. This most passionate of human activities always merits a deeper meaning and a greater significance.

It is no accident that the ancient author of Genesis deliberately records that God intended to find a “suitable partner” for the lonely Adam. The relationship between Adam and Eve was not to be casual or accidental or off-the-cuff. The union of Adam and Eve was to be an appropriate relationship, a fulfilling union, a caring bond. In the New Testament, it is again no accident that St. Paul compares the union of Christ with his church to the tie between husband and wife. He calls the bond a “great mystery.” Certainly there is no deeper affection, no more meaningful embrace, than that of Christ with his church. Christ preached and organized, he suffered and died to establish his church effectively here on earth. His commitment was total. So the interaction between man and woman is modeled on this all-giving, all-encompassing love of Jesus Christ.

An authentic sexual relationship must always denote the “suitability” of this man for this woman. It must indicate their compatibility as well as their complementarity. It demands their resoluteness and sometimes their restraint. A sexual relationship is also a “great mystery.” There is nothing superficial or shallow about it. Authentic sexual activity requires concentration and commitment. And sincere sex has consequences. The secular world would like to divest the intimate relationship between the sexes of all suitability and all mystery. The secular world prefers sex to be mere entertainment, frivolous pleasure, inconsequential amusement. By robbing sex of its life-giving element, either through contraception or through same-sex unions, the secular world deprives sex of its deepest consequence and deprives the partners of the need to examine carefully and responsibly what they are about. Sex inevitably becomes a cheat and a disappointment: a promise never fulfilled, a summons never answered, a pledge never redeemed. God intended that human intimacy should fulfill one of mankind’s noblest opportunities – responsible self-giving leading to new life. Contraception robs humanity of both possibilities.