Monday, August 29, 2011

A Holistic View: Catholic Sexuality (Part 2)

Perversions of sexual intercourse strip the act of its very meaning and joy, and create bitterness and sorrow among those who pervert intercourse. An act which was created by God to solidify the bond between a man and a woman and to cooperate with God in creating new life is altered by sexual perversions; intercourse twisted from its natural ends separates those who engage in such behavior and is an act of rebellion against God Himself.
The most common perversion of intercourse is birth control (also known as contraception). Millions of people – even millions of Catholics – practice various forms of contraception, and harm themselves and disobey God's law by doing so.  
Very few people understand the deleterious effects of contraception. Even those that do follow the teachings of the Catholic Faith regarding contraception often do not understand the reasons why they do so.
But the philosophical reason why birth control is wrong is simple. Birth control changes the very nature of the act of intercourse for the worse.
For as discussed in the previous post, intercourse is an act of full, free, and complete self-gift between a man and a woman. Both partners give of themselves to each other completely in the sexual act.
Contraception inhibits that free and full gift of self. The gift of fertility is deliberately withheld if contraception of any kind is practiced. Both partners cannot give freely of themselves if they choose to engage in contraception. And each partner in a contraceptive relationship desires each other less, and seeks to use each other for sexual gratification more.   
It is telling that all forms of birth control inhibit desire in some way. Whether through birth control pills, which chemically reduce female (and male) desire, or condoms, which are quite literally barriers preventing direct touch between a man’s genitals and a woman’s genitals, or other forms of contraception - intercourse becomes less enjoyable through the use of birth control in any form.
The joy wrought by intercourse becomes limited to mere pleasure-seeking. Instead of total self-gift between a man and a woman, contraception causes a man and a woman to seize what pleasure they can while engaging in the act of intercourse, and slams the door on the possibility of the completion of a deeper mystery. The very biological purpose of intercourse becomes shameful and a curse to practitioners of birth control; users of contraception attempt to alter biological reality.
(Natural family planning is not the same thing as contraception. Intercourse during periods of natural infertility is not morally problematic. Intercourse during periods of artificially created infertility, as created by contraception, is morally wrong. God created periods of natural infertility in a woman - working with Him, rather than against Him, is not problematic.)
The Bible praises fertility on numerous occasions. Numerous Biblical passages (i.e. Genesis 1:28, Genesis 38:9-10, Psalm 127) praise fertility and condemn contraception.
Another Biblical passage that does not directly talk about contraception per se is nevertheless instructive in revealing the sinister nature of contraception. The story of Ananias and Sapphira, told in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5:1-11), shows the harsh penalty for those who seek to deceive God and other human beings - as users of contraception attempt to do. 
Ananias and Sapphira were early Christian converts who sold a piece of land and laid the proceeds from that sale at the apostles’ feet for distribution. A praiseworthy act, right?
But the couple withheld part of the sale price, and attempted to deceive the apostles into believing that they gave them all the money from the sale.
But the Apostles were not so easily deceived. For their offense, they were chastised by St. Peter – and both were stricken dead before the apostles for their deception.
Thepunishment of Ananias and Sapphira for withholding part of their gift of money to the apostles, and presenting it as a full gift is a terrible warning to couples who withhold the full gift of their own bodies from each other. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying to the representatives of the apostles regarding a mere financial transaction. How much worse is it for a man and a woman to conspire against God and each other, in claiming to give themselves completely to each other through the act of intercourse, while at the same time withholding from each other God’s gift of fertility?
A man and a woman who use contraception lie to themselves and to God through their actions. They lie to themselves by holding back part of the gift (fertility) that is the sexual act. They lie to God by deliberately thwarting God's gift of fertility. And these lies have dire consequences for those who accept them and for society.

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