On the heels of the presidential inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington, this year’s March for Life comes at a particularly important moment in U.S. history. Hats off to all those who have dedicated themselves to a dignified fight for the dignity of every human life. But have you ever wondered why over 40 years of pro-life efforts have barely put a dent in the culture of death?
There’s an inconvenient truth that many pro-lifers don’t want to face: we will never solve the abortion problem (let alone the overall culture of death and widespread gender chaos) until we address the contraception problem.
The Christian vision of sexuality as understood throughout the ages can be summarized very simply: marriage, sex, and babies belong together … and in that order. In his loving design, God has united these three realities in a tight knot to reveal in our flesh the truth of his own eternal covenant love and Fatherhood. Contraception not only loosens the knot of this fundamental and society-ordering nexus, it cuts the ties.
Separate sex from babies and you also separate sex from marriage – both in principle and in practice. So long as the natural connection between sex and babies is retained, we realize intuitively that sexual intercourse is the rightful domain of those who have committed themselves to raising children: that commitment is called marriage. Insert contraception into the tight-knot nexus of marriage-sex-babies and everything will start to unravel as follows.
The temptation to commit adultery is certainly nothing new. However, one of the main deterrents throughout history from succumbing to the temptation has been the fear of an unwanted pregnancy. That’s the tight-knot nexus of marriage-sex-babies doing its job. What would happen to rates of adultery in a given population if we untied that knot with contraception? Incidents of infidelity would be sure to rise. What happens when incidents of infidelity rise? Rates of marital breakdown and divorce rise.
It gets worse. The temptation to engage in sex before marriage is nothing new. However, one of the main deterrents throughout history from succumbing to the temptation has been the fear of unwanted pregnancy. Once again, that’s the tight-knot nexus doing its job. What would happen to rates of fornication in a given population if we untied that knot with contraception? They would certainly rise.
It gets worse. Since no method of contraception is 100 percent effective, an increase in adultery and fornication in a given population will inevitably lead to an increase in unwanted pregnancies. What happens when large numbers of women find themselves pregnant and didn’t want to be? Demand for a legal “right” to abortion logically follows as a way of “solving” this problem.
The common wisdom is that better access to contraception decreases rates of abortion. But even a cursory look at the data shows that in every nation that has embraced contraception, abortions have multiplied, not diminished. Once we’ve severed the knot uniting marriage, sex, and babies, we don’t like it when nature’s nexus reasserts itself. The initial impulse to indulge libido without commitment and without consequence now morphs into a demand to be “free” to do so, even at the cost of terminating an innocent human life.
While there’s an initial logic to the idea that contraception curbs abortion, when we take a deeper look we realize that trying to solve the latter with the former is like throwing gasoline on a fire to try to put it out. In the final analysis, there is only one reason we have abortion: because people who are not open to life are engaging in the behavior designed precisely to generate it.
It gets worse. Not everyone will resort to abortion of course – thanks be to God for that. Some will offer their children up for adoption, a heroic decision. In most cases, however, the mothers will raise their children on their own. This, too, can be heroic, but now the number of children who grow up without a father – which has already been increased by the rise in divorce – will be compounded. Certainly God’s grace can supply what is lacking and those raised without a father can lead healthy, holy lives. Still, as numerous studies (and common sense) indicate, the chances dramatically increase that “fatherless” children will: grow up in poverty; have emotional, psychological, and behavioral issues; suffer poor health; drop out of school; engage in pre-marital sex; obtain abortions; do drugs; commit violent crimes; and end up in jail. All of these social ills compound exponentially from generation to generation since “fatherless” children are also much more likely to have out-of-wedlock births and, if they marry at all, divorce.
As history clearly shows, when we begin untying the tight-knot nexus of marriage, sex and babies, we end up redefining all three. Babies become mere “clumps of cells.” Sex becomes mere pleasure-exchange between consenting partners (gender being irrelevant). And marriage becomes a demanded societal and governmental “stamp of approval” on one’s preferred method of sexual pleasure-exchange.
This is not some dire prediction of an apocalyptic future. This is the world we live in now. A world brought to you by … contraception and its many, many consequences.
For such a time as this have we been given Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. The Cor Project exists to inject this cure into the blood stream of the culture, but we need your help to succeed in our mission. Consider joining us.