"Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of contraception which they judge to be most efficacious?" These are the words of Pope Paul VI written thirty-four years ago. They are in section 17 of his encyclical dealing with the regulation of birth, Humanae Vitae (July 1968). He was prophetic about government imposition as well as other consequences with regard to artificial means of preventing birth.
Before we even consider the federal government's intrusion into our faith, we should know why the Pope, indeed why the Church, teaches that artificial birth control is immoral. I wrote about this issue last October. Once again it is timely to go over this matter. I will mostly paraphrase the Encyclical's words. You can read it on line at the Vatican's web site here or on EWTN's web site here.
Marriage is not a product of evolution; nor is it a government invention. It is the institution created by God in order to bring mankind into His design of love. Husband and wife become united in love for the purpose of mutual perfection and of collaborating with God in the begetting and educating children. (no. 8) We're talking about fully human love; this means love involving the senses and the spirit. Conjugal relations are not just instinctual and a matter of feelings. Love is an act of the person's free will. It looks for the good of the beloved. The spouse is not just happy for what he or she receives from the other, but loves for the beloved's self. The husband is happy that he can enrich his wife with the gift of himself and vice versa.
This love is not used up by husband and wife but is destined to continue through the raising up of new lives. Love is fruitful and continually growing. If not, it is selfishness, not love. "Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents." (no. 9)
So, marriage and conjugal relations are dependent upon the dignity of persons. More on this next week.