Contraception and Marriage: if it were true

A loose-knit group of Catholic commentators has decided to proclaim a radical revision to the teaching of the Magisterium on contraception: the claim that contraception is only intrinsically evil when used by a married couple.

What happens when contraception is used by a couple who are not married? The group can’t agree on an answer. Some say contraception is moral outside of marriage. Others say it is morally neutral. Some say the Church has not answered the question on contraception outside of marriage, so we don’t know if it’s moral or not.

If it were true that contraception outside of marriage were moral, or morally neutral, or at least not yet condemned by Church teaching, then all of the following things would also be true:

1. divorced and remarried Catholics could use contraception and would not be required to confess the sin of contraception before receiving Communion;
2. a couple who received an annulment would thereby be absolved from many years use of contraception, since they were using it outside of a valid marriage;
3. a Catholic hospital could dispense contraception to any and all couples who were not in a valid marriage;
4. most uses of contraception in the world today would be moral, or at least not contrary to Church teaching;
5. the Church and Church-sponsored groups could dispense contraception to prostitutes and unmarried couples, to decrease the spread of disease;
6. a collection on Sunday could be taken up to fund a program dispensing contraception to prostitutes and to unmarried couples to decrease the spread of disease;
7. a priest in the Confessional, counseling a penitent who repeatedly falls into the sin of sex outside of marriage, could recommend the use of condoms (or perhaps handout condoms in the Confessional !!!);
8. sex education classes in Catholic schools could teach youths how to use condoms and could claim this use is not prohibited by the Church, unless they are married;
9. the Church could not oppose government programs to promote or dispense contraception to reduce the population or to stop the spread of disease, except if the contraception were given to persons in a valid marriage;
10. any couple with an invalid marriage could use contraception, with the claim that the Church does not object;
11. numerous teachings of Saints and Popes would need to be revised, since those teachings clearly condemn contraception regardless of marital state,
12. and finally, all other intrinsically evil acts would be subject to the same type of narrowing qualification — contraception would only be intrinsically evil when used in marriage; abortion would only be intrinsically evil when this condition is met; genocide would only be intrinsically evil when that condition is met, and so on.

But it is not true. The teaching of the Church already clearly condemns contraception, regardless of marital state.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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