Today, contraceptives are as common as the water we drink. However, that wasn’t always the case. Not so long ago, back in the dark ages when no one knew what “women’s health” was, contraception use in this country was uncommon. In fact, few realize that merely 80 years ago all Protestant denominations agreed with the Catholic Church’s teaching condemning contraception as sinful. The cultural tides have turned, however. We’re 40 plus years beyond the sexual revolution, after thousands of years of oppression, women are free and everyone feels liberated and happy. Oh wait, they don’t?
To which the Catholic Church replies: “of course you’re not happy!” According to Catholic theology, sex is sacred and possesses duel theological realities: procreation and unity. Contraceptives obstructs both realities from coming to fruition. Contraception blocks procreation for obvious reasons – after all that is its intent – but unity? How is that possible when so many loving couples use it? Well, One of the reasons the family possesses such an esteemed love is because when a husband and wife perform the marital act with an openness to life they are saying with their bodies, “I love you so much that I want there to more people like you in this world.” Contraception says, “I like you, but not that much.” Contracepting couples may feel in love but the sad reality is that they’re missing out on so much more.
Pope Paul VI, a man fully aware of the theological reality of sex and the dangers of contraception, had all of this in mind in the very midst of the sexual revolution when he wrote Humanae Vitae. So it should come as no surprise that time has proven his writings on the subject matter prophetic. Pope Paul VI warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:
- General lowering of moral standards
- A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
- The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men.
- Government coercion in reproductive matters.
Unfortunately, all four results have been realized since their prediction in 1968. Contraception did become widespread and, as a result, the families of America, the bedrock of our culture, crumbled. As author Mary Eberstadt puts it:
For all of the contempt that is poured upon Humanae Vitae and the Church’s continued official defense of Paul VI’s teaching, the 40 intervening years since its publication have done nothing if not provided heaps of empirical data validating the Pope’s dire warnings about a contraceptive culture.
“Four decades later, not only have the document’s signature predictions been ratified in empirical force,” says Eberstadt, “but they have been ratified as few predictions ever are: in ways its authors could not possibly have foreseen, including by information that did not exist when the document was written, by scholars and others with no interest whatever in its teaching, and indeed even inadvertently, and in more ways than one, by many proud public adversaries of the Church.”
This is the great irony, says Eberstadt – that the evidence marshaled forth in condemnation of a contraceptive culture has been provided almost entirely by secular or explicitly anti-Catholic researchers, men and women who are “honest social scientists willing to follow the data wherever it may lead.”
Consider, she suggests, the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Geroge Akerlof, who, in a well-known 1996 article, “explained in the language of modern economics why the sexual revolution…had led to an increase in both illegitimacy and abortion.”
Then there is the work of “maverick sociobiologist” Lionel Tiger, who has in the past described religion as “a toxic issue.” And yet, for all of that, Tiger has shown his ability to honestly “follow the data,” linking “contraception to the breakdown of families, female impoverishment, trouble in the relationship between the sexes, and single motherhood.”
“Tiger has further argued – as Humanae Vitae did not explicitly, though other works of Catholic theology have – for a causal link between contraception and abortion, stating outright that ‘with effective contraception controlled by women, there are still more abortions than ever….Contraception causes abortion.'”
And the list goes on.
Today, relativism and a general lack of ethics runs rampant; divorce, cheating, single parents and teenage pregnancy all abound; depression is higher than ever; using women’s bodies to sell products is marketing’s bread and butter; and it goes on and on.
Then of course we have number 4, now firmly met by the recent HHS mandate that requires companies to provide a product (contraceptives and sterilization) for free, including Catholic employers even though this is in direct violation of religious freedom, all in the name of “women’s health.” The same “women’s health” that is sapping the soul of America. The same “women’s health” that frees consenting adults from a fear of commitment, leading to teen sex, casual sex, cheating and divorce. The same “women’s health” that has reduced the radiance and mystery of the feminine to a mere plaything for our modern epidemic of man-children. Maybe contraception isn’t really about women’s health, maybe its the disease.
Instead, we should be focusing on real women’s health. On actually stepping in and offering a helping hand, a listening ear, and an open heart. Our attention should be directed towards the crisis pregnancy centers of the world, new technologies that seek to work with a woman’s naturally physiology instead of fighting against it, patient teaching, public education and, most of all, we need to show society how to treat women like people again and show women the utmost respect because, my God, they deserve it.