Just for Catholics

Contraception and Birth Control

Question: I was wondering what your view on contraception is. The Roman Catholic Church holds that any and all forms of contraception (with the exception of periodic abstinence and breastfeeding) are contrary to God’s will.

Answer: This issue is closely related to the meaning of marriage and human sexuality. Did God create sex for the sole purpose of procreation, or is sex also his gift to married couples for their mutual enjoyment?

It is clear from Scripture that sex should be limited to the sphere of marriage. It is the sign of life-long and intimate union of the husband and wife. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24).

Moreover, the Bible emphasizes the duty and privilege of married people to ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ Children are a blessing from heaven. ‘Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward’ (Psalm 127:3). Sadly there are many who dislike to very idea of having children and this is clearly contrary to the divine plan.

The purpose of sex is not only procreation. The husband and wife have mutual obligation to fulfill their marital duties to each other (1 Corinthians 7:3, 4). They are free to enjoy their love and intimacy. ‘Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love (Proverbs 5:18, 19). Clearly sex is also intended for pleasure.

Every marriage act should be a joyful celebration of the union between husband and wife, but not every marriage act has a reproductive purpose (the woman is infertile during part of the cycle, pregnancy and after menopause). Therefore it is wrong to insist that ‘every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life.’ This erroneous teaching of the Roman Catholic Church creates a false sense of guilt in untold numbers of conscientious men and women.

Overall, I think that there is a legitimate use of contraceptives, provided that:

  • They are used to enhance the love and intimate sexual relation of the married couple and not to capriciously avoid their obligation to raise up a godly seed within marriage;
  • They are used responsibly within marriage to postpone or prevent pregnancy for just and serious reasons.
  • The methods used prevent conception and do not destroy a human life already conceived (such as the use of the progesterone pill and the coil, both of which are potentially abortifacients).

Thank God for His pure and holy gifts.

Copyright Dr Joseph Mizzi. Updated Sep 2011.
Permission is given to copy and distribute this article without textual changes.