America operates with a ‘contraceptive mentality’

Father John A. Kiley

A few years ago I visited a cousin in Florida. As I sat by her pool, I took advantage of several copies of the Smithsonian Magazine placed on a nearby table.

Noticing that I enjoyed this informative publication, my cousin has sent me a subscription to it every Christmas since then. I continue to enjoy the variety of historical, cultural and geographical topics featured monthly. This past month I opened the magazine to throw away those annoying re-subscription inserts that clutter up all reading material. One, however, especially caught my eye. It was a tear-out for a men’s cosmetic that would blend graying hair with a guy’s natural color. The announcement read: “Best news for boomers since the birth control pill.”

How the mighty have fallen, I thought to myself. A sedate, even moderately learned, magazine succumbs to the sexual revolution. Instead of suggesting cruises to the Galapagos Islands or promoting tours of Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian is now advancing contraception. Apparently nothing, not even national institutions like the Smithsonian Institute, is impervious to the pan-sexualism that pervades today’s society. Is nothing sacred?

That a reference to contraception can become an eye-catching commercial in a family magazine clearly shows how much birth-control has been accepted by modern American society. The ambitious Generation Xer that thought up this ad for his senior executives probably expected it to be merely clever, not controversial. After all, although all pertinent official religious documents continue to condemn birth control, contraception is clearly a significant part of American Catholic life. It is estimated that only three percent of married couples practice Natural Family Planning. The other 97 percent constitutes a lot of people — and they are all not Protestants, Jews or non-believers. For the most part, I would wager that religion does not even enter into the picture. America is sold on artificial birth control.

In the plan of God and in the teachings of the Scriptures and the Church, sexual relations and the possibility of new life have been fundamentally linked. The Book of Genesis has two accounts of creation. One celebrates the glory of procreation: Increase, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. The other celebrates the conjugal love of spouses: This one at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. The possibility of children and the expression of sexual love have been linked from the start. Pope Paul VI’s decisive words in his 1968 encyclical “On Human Life” must be recalled here: Each and every act of intercourse must be open to the transmission of life. The pope does not say that every act of intercourse must result in the transmission of life. (Statistically 6 out of every 100 acts of intercourse result in new life.) He is not suggesting dozens of children for every family. The pope writes that every act of intercourse must be open to the transmission of life. A Christian couple must always be straightforward about the possibility of new life. A believing couple must be welcoming toward new life.

Today’s reproductive technology can easily enable a couple to separate sexual activity from child bearing. The procreation of children need no longer be linked to the mutual enjoyment of the spouses. The division of sexual relations from procreation has led to what popes have called the “contraceptive mentality.” Much of the difficulties found in marital relationships today stem from this anti-life mentality. The contraceptive mentality scorns the prospect of a new birth, making sex a totally individual pursuit. Such self-centered love sadly and quickly degenerates into mere recreation. Excluding the possibility of new life from sexual intercourse effectively eliminates responsibility from sexual relations. What should be a serious and considerate but still enjoyable and fulfilling activity degenerates into mere fun and games — as the American entertainment industry well testifies.

The contraceptive mentality — the severance of sex from new life — leads clearly to recreational sex. If children are no consideration, then sex apart from stable family life — casual sex — is readily acceptable. If the possibility of new life is eliminated, then gay and lesbian sex becomes tolerable. The ultimate and foulest result of the contraceptive mentality, of course, is abortion. Denying the possibility of children during intercourse has lead to the denying of an actual child in the womb. Abortion is the triumph of technology over life and of the individual over the family. Boomers beware!