August 10, 2009

A theological reason for contraception's immorality



This post is almost entirely inspired by a tape recording of a talk given by Christopher West. The title is "A weed in the garden of Eden: A hypothesis on Original Sin." I was unable to find a transcript of this talk, but you can find it as a bonus in his tape series "A Crash Course in Theology of the Body," which can be obtained HERE for $10. I highly recommend everything that Christopher West has produced.

This is a theological "proof" of why contraception is wrong. I'll start with some very basic principles and quotes, and move on toward my conclusion.

First, basic Baltimor Catechism principles.

God is Love, and Life. He's a bunch of other things too, but He is definitely these two.

The Trinity is the ultimate, highest, and most central mystery in Christianity.

Satan's creed can be summarized as "I will not serve."

God created us to know, love, and serve Him.

And maybe others, I'll bring them up as I go along. Those are the most important ones.

So first, it is important in this proof to understand Satan's motives, as much as we can. We know that Satan "would not serve", or that his sin was of pride. More specifically, Satan fell because he knew that God would divinize human beings, leading even angels to serve us, through the Incarnation. Because spiritual beings are higher than physical beings, and angels are certainly greater in power than we are, this pride can sort of be understood. Therefore, Satan wishes to cease us from being divinized - he wants to stop, hinder, and undo the Incarnation.

He does this by keeping us from fulfilling our purpose as human beings - to know, love, and serve God. Our purpose, however, can be stated many different ways. Genesis puts it clearly. "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply..." (Genesis 1:27-28). God made us in His image - we are His image, or we are (or are meant to be) symbols of Him. We are meant to actively symbolize our Creator. As Male and Female, we are built with the purpose of symbolizing the deepest mysteries of our Creator in our whole being - body and spirit. Pope John Paul II says that "The body, in fact, and it alone is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery [of God]...and thus to be a sign of it." (A talk given February 20, 1980). Since God intended us to be a symbol of Himself, the devil wishes to keep us from being this symbol - or, to keep us from being "in the image and likeness of God."

Any sin is an anti-sign. Instead of using our bodies to signify God, we signify something else. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says "...every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil..." (CCC 2370). What this paragraph does not explain, however, is why this act is evil. I shall attempt to do so.

The central mystery of the Christian faith is the Trinity. From the Trinity we all proceed and toward the Trinity we are headed. Because our bodies "make visible what is invisible: the spiritual and divine," our bodies symbolize the Trinity especially. However, we can look closer at Genesis to reveal that a certain part of our bodies, more than any other, symbolize the Trinity. Directly after saying in God's image, we have "Male and Female He created them." This leads me to believe that part of our image and likeness is our masculinity and femininity, and all the comes with it. In other words, our sexuality is both a symbol of the Most Holy Trinity and part of our being in the image and likeness of God. This is not a radical statement - Church fathers, theologians, and popes have been saying this for the whole 2,000 years the Church has been around. Allow me to give a very brief overview of how the nuptual union is a symbol of the Trinity.

  • The Father and the Son exchange love between each other so strong and so perfect that this love is actually the third person of the Trinity - the Holy Spirit (Remember God is Love?) The Husband and Wife, in their love for each other, produce a third person - their child.

  • The names Father and Son are not an accident. "I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, eternally begotten of the Father" (Nicene Creed).1 To beget means "(esp. of a male parent) to procreate or generate (offspring)." ( The human father certainly begets his child.

Because the mystery is infinite, and because the nuptial union is the sign of it, we can conclude that this is a sign of infinite depth. I cannot possibly convey all of the ways in which the nuptial union signifies the Trinity. Those two, however, are the most important in my argument now. Furthermore, because the Trinity is the centralmost mystery, the nuptiual union is (at least) a very important sign, or an extremely important way in which we fulfill our purpose as human beings.

Now, back to Satan. What does he want? He wants to change the symbol (Greek Symboline - bring together, unite) into an anti-symbol, the diabolical (Greek Diaboline - to seperate). He wants to turn the symbol on its head. Suppose the nuptial union is intentionally sterilized (an intended 0% chance of pregnancy). What happens? Translated into what it symbolizes, the "perfect" love of Father and Son is no longer fruitful, and there is no Trinity. The love is no longer perfect, and no longer a Person. In effect, contraception turns us into this anti-sign, this diabolical tool which goes against our very nature as human beings.

Furthermore, if the human father does not beget, then in the symbol, God the Father is sterile, and the Son is not "eternally begotten" - the Incarnation does not happen. That, if you remember, is Satan's ultimate goal. So not only does contraception go against our nature as human beings (and, consequently, against God's plan - the definition of an immoral act), it is exactly what Satan wants. Clearly contraception is a grave evil. Christopher West, in the talk referenced above, hypothesizes that an intentionally sterilized act of intercourse might even be what the original sin was.

So, there you have it. As concrete of a reason why contraception is immoral.


1. The Latin is even more clear, giving "natum" (birthed).

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home