Contraception is intrinsically evil

The Magisterium has many times taught that contraception is intrinsically evil. The use of contraception is a type of act that is inherently ordered toward an evil end, toward the deprivation of the procreative meaning of sexual relations. The knowing choice of any type of act that is inherently ordered toward this evil end is a grave sin; it is an intrinsically evil act.

No circumstance or purpose can ever make the use of contraception licit, since this type of act is intrinsically illicit, and therefore contrary to the unchanging eternal moral law of God. The use of contraception is not justified by a non-contraceptive intention, nor by a medical purpose, nor by a dire circumstance, nor by being used outside of marriage. The use of contraception is not morally neutral. The use of contraception is not only immoral within marriage.

The evil moral object of contraception is the deprivation of the procreative meaning from sexual acts. All intrinsically evil acts, in order to be actual sins, must be knowingly chosen (i.e. intentionally chosen, deliberately chosen). But this does not imply that your intention can make the use of contraception somehow not intrinsically evil, or not truly contraceptive. The intentional choice of an inherently disordered type of act is always immoral.

My writings on this topic:

Intrinsic Evil and the Moral Object – this article explains the three fonts of morality, and the basic concepts of moral object and intrinsic evil.

And here is a set of articles refuting common false doctrinal errors on the topic of contraception. Many of these errors are so thoroughly contrary to the infallible teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium that the errors rise to the level of heresy.

Contraception and Heresy – Part 1 – The More Common Heresies
Contraception and Heresy – Part 2 – On the Use of Contraception Outside of Marriage
Contraception and Heresy – Part 3 – On the Latin text of Humanae Vitae
Contraception and Heresy – Part 4 – The Moral Object of Contraception
Contraception and Heresy – Part 5 – Contra Jeff Mirus on Contraception

And here are two more articles, this time refuting the errors of Jimmy Akin, first on what makes an act intrinsically evil, and second on contraception as an intrinsically evil act.

Intrinsic Evil versus Proportionalism – A refutation of Jimmy Akin’s heretical errors on intrinsic evil and the moral object.

Modern Heresies on Contraception – A refutation of Jimmy Akin’s heretical errors on contraception and marriage.

I have also written several blog posts on this subject:
my blog post index

I was going to write yet another lengthy article or post on this subject, but that would be repetitious.

Errors on this topic continue to spread among the faithful, esp. online. The same false ideas, already refuted by myself and other faithful Catholics, are proposed and even taught, again and again. No matter how many times the Magisterium teaches on this subject, no matter in how many different ways, there are innumerable persons offering clever misinterpretations in order to nullify or distort that clear, universal, and infallible teaching.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and Bible translator

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6 Responses to Contraception is intrinsically evil

  1. John Platts says:

    I have known for a long time that the Catholic Church teaches that contraception is morally wrong, and I accept the Church’s teaching on contraception. There are Catholics who really want to change the Church’s teaching on contraception, but the Church cannot change its teaching on contraception since it is an infallible teaching. Sinful secular society has certainly misled Catholics into thinking that contraception can be good under some circumstances.

    The bad consequences of contraception use in our society include the following:
    – Increase in sexual activity outside of marriage
    – More extramarital affairs
    – More divorces
    – More unwanted pregnancies as a result of contraception failure
    – More abortions as a result of unwanted pregnancies resulting from contraception failure
    – Serious health problems and death in women who have used hormonal contraception

    Premarital sex and adultery can result in emotional scars and regrets, even if pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease did not result. Contraception cannot prevent or remove the emotional scars and regrets resulting from sexual activity outside of marriage.

    There are some Catholic theologians who claim that contracepted sexual acts do not consummate a marriage. Do you agree with this position, or do you have a different opinion?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Good points about the harm done by contraception. It was also recently discovered by researchers that using hormonal contraception doubles the transmittance of AIDS, helping to spread the disease.

      I agree that contracepted sex does not consummate a marriage. The act of consummation is essential to the fullness of the Sacrament. But contracepted sex is intrinsically evil and gravely immoral. An intrinsically evil and gravely immoral act cannot be an essential part of a Sacrament. Canon law describes the consummation of a marriage in this way:

      Canon Law 1061 n. 1: “A valid marriage between the baptized is called ratum tantum if it has not been consummated; it is called ratum et consummatum if the spouses have performed between themselves in a human fashion a conjugal act which is suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring, to which marriage is ordered by its nature and by which the spouses become one flesh.”

      This paragraph of Canon Law also incorporates and expresses the three meanings of the moral sexual act. The act must be marital: “to which marriage is ordered by its nature.” The act must be unitive: “a conjugal act…by which the spouses become one flesh.” The act must be procreative, i.e. the type of act “which is suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring.” An inherently non-procreative sexual act does not consummate a marriage.

  2. John Platts says:

    I believe that a person who has been artificially sterilized and has not had the artificial sterilization reversed commits an intrinsically evil act whenever that person engages in sexual intercourse since the sexual acts committed by that person are deprived of the procreative meaning and closed to new life as a result of the artificial sterilization procedure. Do you agree with this position?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Not necessarily. Suppose that the person chose direct sterilization (intrinsically evil and gravely immoral) prior to conversion to Catholicism. Then after conversion what are his or her options? It might be a grave sin of omission to choose to refrain from having the procedure reversed, but only if it is reversible, and only if the surgery is not too risky. Also, if the person so sterilized is now beyond the age of fertility (e.g. a women with her tubes tied who is now post-menopausal), the risks of surgery would outweigh the benefits. So in some cases it would be a sin of omission, and in other cases it would not be.

      What makes a sexual act non-procreative and therefore intrinsically evil is not the fact that new life does not or cannot occur, but rather the inherent ordering of a sexual act toward the deprivation of that procreative meaning. So in some cases, a person who sinfully chose sterilization, and who is now repentant, might morally have marital relations despite not reversing that sterility. The decision to reverse, or not, the sterility is a separate moral decision. The type of sexual act must still be natural marital relations; it must be that type of act ordered toward procreation, even if old age or injury or disease or a past sinful decision has made the attainment of that moral object unlikely or impossible.

  3. John Platts says:

    I do understand your point. Although the conception of a new human life is unlikely to happen, I can understand that a vasectomized man who is open to procreation of a new human life choosing to have natural sexual relations with his wife with the intention of allowing God to create a new human life. In such an act, even though the conception of a new human life is unlikely to occur, God can perform a miracle and allow the procreation of new human life.

    • Ron Conte says:

      There are three fonts of morality: intention, moral object, circumstances. Non-procreative sexual acts are intrinsically evil because they have a deprivation in the moral object. Intention is a separate consideration. So the point we are considering is the ordering of the act toward a good or evil end (the moral object). Such acts are intentionally chosen, but this differs from the intention (the end or purpose) for which the act was chosen.

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