Lots of people think the Catholic Church is crazy for claiming that contraception is immoral.
I would have, except no one had ever presented contraception to me as an issue before at all until the Church did. And when I read her reasons for rejecting it, I was without an answer. She provides dozens of reasons, but what was most compelling to me was the argument that contraception makes it impossible to be truly “naked and without shame”:
Naked. Completely exposed. Nothing held back. All of me given to the other. Sexual intercourse is the physical manifestation of the love between husband and wife, a love that declares and promises “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” In intercourse the husband and wife give themselves to each other completely, binding them together in a physical and metaphysical way. It is an act of mutual self-donation, complete gift, nothing held back…supposedly. But contraception denies the “nakedness” of the sexual act, for contraception necessarily implies changing the body of one spouse or withholding part of the body of the other. A pill which changes the physical makeup of a woman’s body to render her infertile robs her of the opportunity to give herself completely; she now gives an altered version of her body. A barrier method imposes a “barrier” between the union of husband and wife. By withholding part of one’s body from the other, contraception clothes the couples’ “nakedness” in artificiality and renders void the gift. Now, the gift is of only part of me, or of an altered version of me.
Without shame. The Hebrew word for “shame” denotes an embarrassment resulting from unmet expectations. Contraception, by its nature, introduces certain unhealthy expectations and conditions to the sexual act. “I accept you as long as you’re infertile.” Contraception destroys the reception of the gift of the other; it changes the message of sex from “I accept you” to “I accept this part of you.” It is no longer a reception of the other person; it is now the reception of the part of the person that I want.
But wait—withholding fertility does not really affect the gift of self to the other; if both consent to the withholding, a true gift is still made. Yet, sex is the physical manifestation of the love between husband and wife; to accept merely a spiritualized understanding of the gift of self in sexual intercourse is to deny the very meaning and purpose of sex itself. A spiritual intention does not suffice for a physical manifestation; sex itself is a declaration that the physical matters. To reject my spouse’s fertility is to reject part of my spouse. To put a barrier between physical union is to put a barrier between spiritual union.
Every Christian church had rejected contraception until the 1930s; less than 100 years later, every church has accepted it and even ceased to consider it an issue—except for the Catholic Church. This startled me; how could 2000 years of Christians consider contraception equal to adultery, and now we don’t even blink at the thought of it? Was my understanding of the life God had designed for his people really rooted in Scripture and Christian principles, or had I unknowingly accepted the philosophies of the world?