A few weak men
To a large extent, the men of the inner circle of Jesus were weak. During His Passion, Jesus is betrayed, abandoned, and denied by his apostles. Only one of them returns to the foot of the Cross. In selecting the apostles, Jesus did not choose those whom the world considers the best and brightest. “…God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong….” (1 Cor. 1:27)
Pope Paul VI is commonly described as the “Hamlet Pope.” He was a gentleman, but painfully indecisive during a very tumultuous time in the Church. Arguably and possibly miraculously, the solitary boast of his post-Vatican II pontificate is the truly prophetic document entitled Humanae Vitae, “On the Regulation of Birth” (1968). After fifty years, only a few are familiar with the short document or recall the destructive dissent by much of the clergy that followed its release. But most of us—even non-Catholics—know at least vaguely the base-line teaching. Contraception violates “Church rules.” That’s a start.
The Lord’s first command—or rule, if you prefer—to Adam and Eve is to “be fruitful and multiply.” God designs the marital love of a man and woman to bring children into the world. Contraception frustrates and cheapens the love of a husband and wife. Contraception selfishly reduces the purpose of marriage to mere mutual pleasure. The logic of contraception is inseparable from the logic of homosexual behavior and of all perversions that separate the life-giving and love-giving components of sex. If mutual pleasure is the sole purpose of marital love, why not between members of the same sex? Contraception degrades human love, families, and entire cultures. Unrestrained fear of new life leads to hatred of new life.
The past 50 years validate the prophetic warnings of Pope Paul. The contraceptive pill, popularized in the 1960s as the means of women’s liberation, fueled the “Sexual Revolution.” This was a revolution that set into motion the collapse of the traditional family. The divorce rate today is at 50%, double that of 1970. Today, the second most-common “family” arrangement is children living with a single mother, at nearly 25%. Approximately 60% of US children living in mother-only families are living in poverty, six times the rate among two-parent families. Nearly 60 million unborn babies have been killed since 1973. The culture is now awash in internet porn, not to mention various forms of perversion.
Solid demographic statistical evidence couldn’t stop the hysterics of the “population bomb” propagandists. For a nation to survive, a fertility rate of 2.1 babies per woman must be sustained. In America, without immigration, the fertility rate has steadily declined to 1.6 children per woman (but reaches the 2.1 population break-even point when all forms of immigration are factored in). In Europe, where fertility rates are even more disastrously low, entire former villages are without people. The need for a workforce to maintain the economy explains why many of our rulers are promoting open borders to effectively steal workers from neighboring countries. The “population bomb” lies were so effective that whole nations are now entering into a demographic winter in which the sales of adult diapers will soon outpace those of baby diapers.
Finally, it is painful but necessary to note that the vast majority of clerical abuse of young people took place during the years of vigorous dissent from Humanae Vitae—dissent that reflected the influence of a calculated and profoundly evil redefinition of the purpose of human sexuality.
Here’s what Pope Paul VI predicted in 1968 if individuals and nations turn to contraception:
Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.
Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman…reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection…
Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.
Since then, we’ve seen China’s coercive one-child policy, and America’s foreign aid to Third World countries now comes with the strings, linked to mandatory contraceptive programs.
Contraceptive acts are mortal sins not merely because they violate a “rule,” but because contraception violates our dignity as human beings. God designed marital love to be a total surrender of self in generosity. But an act of contraception expresses fear of fertility rather than recognizing fertility for what it is: a beautiful mutual gift of love. Hence, Pope John Paul II teaches that to contracept is “to tell a lie with our bodies.”
Our sad experience over the last fifty years validates authentic Church teaching on human life. And the Church needs a few more good if weak men and women—like you and me—to, with God’s grace, shame the strong.
Don’t expect much help from our broken civil and ecclesial institutions. In many ways, we stand alone in our weakness. But in today’s fragmented culture, the most culturally subversive act is to have babies in faithful, loving, and at times challenging marriages.
Be faithful to Christ and “…God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19)
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