Jesus was a sign of contradiction and so, too, are priests and couples who remain faithful to Humanae Vitae. Let's look at some of the criticisms. Catholics are accused of being puritans or having a puritanical attitude towards sex and marriage. Nothing can be further from the truth. In his catechesis Original Unity of Man and Woman Pope John Paul II takes us back to the garden of Eden. In Genesis when the Lord created the world he stopped back and said: "God saw that all he had made was very good." (Gen 1:31). This is the Catholic approach to the world, including sex and sexuality.....it is very good. We also read that "both the man and his wife were naked, but they felt no shame." (Gen 2: 25) Guilt and shame entered the world with original sin and now we have to walk in the darkness of faith.
In Genesis 2:21 we read: "The Lord God cast the man into a deep sleep and, while he slept, took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib which the Lord God took from the man, he made into a woman, and brought her to him. Then the man said, 'She is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, for from man she has been taken.' For this reason a man leaves his father and mother, and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh." Why is this important, aside from the fact that men have slept with one eye open ever since this event? (LOL). Theologians call this the unitive aspect of conjugal love. God never intended that there be any barriers in communication or intimacy in a married couple. Heart was created to speak to heart. If you remember the last post where Pope John Paul II teaches how we communicate with our bodies, does it not seem foolish to introduce a barrier to that communication? This is what contraception does. It blocks the full unitive aspect of conjugal love. Now, instead, a husband or wife can say You are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh EXCEPT for your fertility. With a contraceptive culture we have inverted the Lord's command to be "fruitful and multiply". Now Planned Parenthood is promoting a different philosophy: Blessed are the Barren.
Aside from the moral issues, there is also the spiritual aspect that underlies all church teaching on contraception. Do we trust the Lord to give us the financial resources/physical strength/ and emotional stamina that may come from living Natural Family Planning? Or do we say No, we are in control, but we still want you to bless us? Seems foolish doesn't it?
The second issue that Planned Parenthood is using as a drumbeat is the issue of contraception reducing unitended pregnancies and thus reducing the possibility of more abortions. This is a fallacy. In Evangelium Vitae Pope John Paul II rightly observed that the abortion rate is highest where contraception flourishes. Why is this? This is what we call the procreative aspect. If a man and a woman enter into sexual relations without any intent of producing a new life they are going against the procreative aspect of conjugal love. While not every act of conjugal love will end in a new child, the church still teaches that couples be open to the possibility of new life. It is also the contraceptive mentality. I liken this to Jesus saying that anyone who looks lustfully at another has already committed adultery in his/her heart. Tough teaching right? Take as a case point a couple who came to me for baptism prep early in my priesthood. They named the child "Hope." I asked why. They then shared with me how after their third child the husband had a vasectomy. Soon the marriage that once was so full of love began to experience difficulties. They argued a lot and were considering a divorce. Then, the wife said to her husband "I don't think the decision for sterilization is pleasing to God." The husband went through a reveral of the vasectomy and much to their surprise Hope was born shortly thereafter.
The teachings of the Catholic Church on marriage and family are teachings full of hope. They restore to man and woman the original intent of our creator for life and life. Do not be afraid to be a "sign of contradiction." You may be mocked by friends and even family but the heart of Christ was expressed in Humanae Vitae. Be Blessed. Be fruitful. Be Faithful and Be of Good Cheer! God is in charge. The church offers Hope.