Ecclesiam res et talia sermocinamur -

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

On Contraception

One Mr. Patrick Waffle has left an interesting comment on Paul's "Griswold Delenda Est" post.

Says he:

I am very sympathetic to your points in this post, but I have a serious problem with your statement that the Catholic church teaches "that the purpose of human sexuality is inherently and inextricably tied up in the procreative nature of the act." I dont merely want to rise the old and threadworn objection about what this means for married couples past menapause (Although this genuinely troubles me). I am also bothered by your vague language. What does "tied up" mean? That the only purpose of sex is procreation? Or that procreation is somehow mysteriously connected to marital sex in a way we cannot understand? Is your language the language that the Church uses? Is it in the Bible? (I cant find it there) Id appreciate your help.Thanks

I'll try to address Mr. Waffle's concerns, including his quibble over colloquialisms.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2363) says:

The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.

The conjugal love of a man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.

The CCC goes on to explain conjugal fidelity and fecundity in more detail. The paragraphs on fecundity (2366-2379) are of most interest to the discussion at hand. This is too large a passage for me to post, but it can be found here (scroll down just a bit).

The overarching theme of the Catechism's content regarding the marital act is that it is fundamentally (there's our "tied up" that concerned Mr. Waffle) both procreative and unitive (this is said explicitly in 2369). Paragraph 2370 addresses how contraception makes it impossible for husband and wife to be fully united. By contracepting, a couple refuses to give themselves totally to one another.

Paragraph 2379 deals with Mr. Waffle's trouble over sterile couples. Married couples who cannot bear children "should unite themselves with the Lord's Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others." The post-menopausal couple about whom Mr. Waffle is so concerned might not be able to adopt, but they could, for instance, spend extra time with their grandchildren or, if they have none, with children who do not have relationships with their grandparents.

I would further say that, yes, Mr. Waffle, full understanding of the marital act is beyond the grasp of our finite minds, as it is meant by God to be a picture of his infinite love for His Bride, the Church. The mystery of children springing forth from the perfect expression of a couple's love for one another is not something we can understand.

Paul's language may not have been technically "Biblical" in the sense of "being quoted from Scripture," but it conformed (albeit in the rather colloquial way of blogs) with the divine law. I do hope my more detailed pinpointing of Church teaching on the conjugal act has helped clear up any uncertainties or confusion.

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Blogger Patrick Waffle said...

Thanks for the help. I agree that marriage is a great mystery that far exceeds the capicity of language to describe it, and was just trying to pin down exactly what yall meant by "tied up." Works for me.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Der Tommissar said...

Just remember the motto of Catholic Contracepting Couples:

"Nothing should come between our love, except for this little piece of latex."

5:49 PM  

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