Can A Catholic Use Birth Control For Health Reasons

Can A Catholic Use Birth Control For Health Reasons

Can A Catholic Use Birth Control For Health Reasons

Q: You said in a previous answer that the Church condemns artificial contraception because it violates our need to safeguard the intrinsic meaning of the conjugal act, namely, both the unitive and procreative dimensions. But then why allow women over 50, for whom there can be no procreative dimension, to be married? Jesus hates legalism.

A: In speaking of the intrinsic purposes and meaning of human sexuality, the Church looks to what God himself has set forth, and upholds that.

In our younger years, is clear that God has joined together for the married couple, the desire for sexual union, and procreation. His design is both beautiful and reasonable, since the pleasure of the marriage act and the unity it helps foster, assists the couple in becoming closer. This very unity in turn helps to them to be the effective parents that the marriage act is also designed to bring about through procreation. And so both purposes are beautifully and reasonably linked.

God has also set forth that, as couples age, their fertility decreases and, after age 50, for the woman, childbearing becomes rare, if ever. This makes sense given the kind of stamina needed to carry and raise children. Nevertheless, the couple’s ongoing unity remains important for the sake of their children, as well as grandchildren and the marital act can continue to assist that.

The key point, in speaking of the “intrinsic meaning” of human sexuality, is that the Church reveres what God has set forth. God’s own design is the key element of what we mean by intrinsic meaning. This is also why the Church permits, for serious reason, the use of Natural Family Planning which respects and makes use of the fact that, by God’s own design, a couple’s fertility runs in a recognizable cycle.

As for your note about legalism, it would seem to be exactly 180° out of phase. You are correct in asserting that Jesus resisted legalism. But the legalism Jesus rejected was legalism which sought to set aside God’s law, and what God has clearly established.

In terms of human sexuality, the Church exhorts the faithful to wholeheartedly except what God has set forth, and not to engage in legalism and minimalism, as a way to set aside what God has established (e.g. Mk 7:13).

With this in mind, it would seem that those who seek to justify contraception are more connected with the kind of legalism which Jesus scorned.

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