What Does Jimmy Akin teach on Contraception?

Initially, Akin taught the correction position on contraception, that its use is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral, even outside marriage. In 2004, Akin simply taught that contraception is a grave sin:

“The sinfulness of contraception has been infallibly proposed by the Church and its gravity is grave.” [Contraception Is Mortally Sinful: An Infallible Teaching]

Simple, clear, and correct. In 2005, Jimmy Akin answered a question on the use of contraception outside marriage:

“There are no qualifiers in this about this situation only pertaining to the case of married couples. What your friend is doing is disrupting the way God designed human sexuality to work.

Specifically, your friend is doing two things:

1. Separating the procreative aspect of the sexual act from the act itself (i.e., contracepting), and
2. Separating the sexual act from the marital context in which it is meant to occur (i.e., fornicating).

Your friend’s behavior thus is “coming between [them and] God”–and in two ways. They are compounding the sin of fornication by adding to it the sin of contraception.” [Contraception Outside Marriage]

Again, this is the correct understanding of Church teaching. Using contraception outside of marriage is the commission of two sins: fornication and contraception.

However, at some time in 2005 or 2006, Akin’s view changed to a radical distortion of Church teaching. Here is a post from 2006:

“I would be happy if B16 or a future pope issued an encyclical that said ‘All of the principles contained in Humanae Vitae 14 apply to extra-marital sex as well as marital sex.’ ” [Contraception & Extra-Marital Sex]

In the same article, Akin whines that he is not expressing his own view. But at the quoted sentence indicates, he does in fact think that contraception has not been condemned outside of marriage. And this is stated outright in another post that year:

“What I said was that ‘as Humanae Vitae 14 is worded, it is condemning the use of contraception within marriage and not really going into its use outside of marriage.’ ” [Conjugal Relations]

And a later post in 2010 makes this point absolutely clear:

“I am sympathetic to the desire to find in recent Magisterial statements a ban on contraception regardless of the circumstances. Indeed, I used to hold that this is what the documents said (in part because I was using faulty translations…. Over time, and in consultation with various Latin experts and experts in moral theology, I came to realize that this view is incorrect and that in its recent statements the Magisterium has limited itself to treating the use of contraception within marriage.” [The Meaning of “Marital Intercourse”]

As a matter of dogma, every intrinsically evil is immoral regardless of intention and circumstances. This doctrine is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in Veritatis Splendor. And the Church also teaches that contraception is an intrinsically evil act. Akin’s claim that contraception is not condemned “regardless of the circumstances” is absolutely false.

A second claim in the above quote is that the Magisterium has only condemned contraception within marriage. And that assertion is also false. See my articles:
* 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
There is no translation error in Humanae Vitae, and there are magisterial documents condemning contraception outside marriage. Furthermore, the teaching of the Church against contraception is infallible under the ordinary and universal Magisterium. Therefore, Jimmy Akin teaches the grave moral error that contraception is only condemned as intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral within marriage.

Why did he change his view on this important subject? He gave only a vague reason of having spoken to moral theologians and Latin translators.

Why is this important? The error of claiming that contraception is only condemned within marriage excludes from the Church’s moral condemnation a very large number of uses, perhaps even a majority of uses of contraception. In addition, most persons who hold this view, that contraception is not condemned outside marriage, refuse to acknowledge that many forms of contraception are abortifacient. So they implicitly end up approving of abortifacient contraception and the deaths of innocent prenatals.

What does Jimmy Akin say about abortifacient contraception? Not much. Since his views on contraception have changed (about the year 2006), we don’t know. It is amazing to me that Catholics who present themselves to the world as prolife have so little to say about the primary source of abortive prenatal deaths: abortifacient contraception.

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

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4 Responses to What Does Jimmy Akin teach on Contraception?

  1. If so many Catholics are wrong about contraception in non-marital relations, then I would want the Pope to issue a new encyclical condemning contraception outside of marriage. What would be wrong with him doing this?

    • Ron Conte says:

      It is already Church teaching that contraception is intrinsically evil, and the Church has never limited this condemnation to its use in marriage. Because this is a relatively new claim, the Magisterium has not yet responded. But there are already some documents which make this clear (as I explain in my posts at Catechism.cc).

  2. Dora says:

    If the pope said that gays using condoms was admirable because it showed concern for the other party, then which would be the graver sin, the fornication itself, or the contraception (let’s say a condom)? Where there is no commitment, is it somewhat charitable to spare a woman from unwanted pregnancy?

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