by Brian Clowes
What is the Contraceptive Mentality?
A mentality or mindset is a set of beliefs and assumptions which directs and informs the moral aspects of a person's life. Especially in our age of mass communications, mentalities of entire populations can be manufactured, propagandized and then lived out by large numbers of people - even without their being aware of it.
A beneficial mentality is what might be called a "battle mentality," where people are willing to sacrifice comfort, possessions, or even life itself in order to achieve a higher goal such as the good of another or the good of society. A "service mentality," likewise, can define a person who consistently places the spiritual and temporal needs of others, especially those in need, before his own desires. Both of these praiseworthy mentalities will prevail throughout a truly Christian civilization.
On the other hand, a negative or harmful mentality is a habitual attitude that is based on error or selfishness, for example, and which can then disregard truths or realities that conflict with one's customary and often unreflective behavior. Harmful mentalities lead to dangerous and disordered behavior; long-term consequences are usually ignored, when pointed out, as the person is mainly concerned with short-term needs or situations.
Harmful mentalities have been manufactured today on a large scale and they continue to be increasingly disseminated with deliberate intent, at every level of society, and with catastrophic consequences. This is particularly true with the lies of the massively funded "culture of death" (so-named by Pope John Paul II) - whose malicious propaganda now permeates just about every country on earth. Large numbers of people have become so saturated with lies that very harmful attitudes and mentalities have resulted. One important example of a dangerous and widespread erroneous mindset that is crippling and de-constructing contemporary civilization is the "contraceptive mentality."
The Contraceptive Mentality Relentlessly Spreads.
One of the identifying marks of any moral evil is that it can spread effortlessly, like a bucket of filthy motor oil poured into a pristine pond. Because of our wounded nature, we must vigilantly guard and fight against the world's seductions that appeal to our own sinful tendencies, or else we ourselves can easily fall into these without even being aware of our slow descent into error and corruption.
The "contraceptive mentality" has been increasingly drilled into the hearts and minds of people everywhere. In fact, the entire world is swimming in a sea of contraceptive advertising and propaganda: in magazines, on television, at the movies, on the radio, on billboards, and in our schools. Sex education classes in public schools usually cover all of the contraceptive methods in detail. The message is insidiously and relentlessly drilled into people's heads: "Contraception is an integral part of the modern lifestyle. Everyone is doing it and it is your obligation to do it if you are a responsible person."
As contraception has become more universally accepted, a corresponding and terrible downward spiral has occurred. In countries where contraception is common, generations have grown up aware of the fact that their parents use contraception; and unfortunately, contracepting parents tend to beget unchaste teenagers, as Father Paul Marx, the founder of Human Life International, liked to say. And especially since the unleashing of "the Pill" on the world in 1960, the disintegration of moral values on every level has been astonishing.
The contraceptive mentality has inflicted its poison deep into family life and into the Church through vocal dissenters, as well as those who are ignorant. If young people know that their parents have separated the sexual act from procreation (which is what contraception does), why should they not do the same? If the faithful rarely (if ever) hear from their priests that the use of contraception is seriously sinful and physically dangerous, how will the people ever hear the light of truth?
Amidst such an atmosphere of nearly universal error, our children grow into adulthood and are increasingly molded with the false mindset that using contraception is "being responsible." The tendency has developed where married (or, many times, unmarried) couples thus become accustomed to using contraception, and even eventually see it as an integral part of their "lifestyle" - which will always be irresponsible and selfish as long as they are contracepting. Unfortunately, most "modern" couples in the Western world would no sooner give up contraception for natural fertility regulation than they would give up their cars in favor of bicycles, even though the latter course in both cases is healthier for both the society and the individual.
Catholic Church Teaching on Contraception.
In the face of the omnipresence of the contraceptive mentality, it is important to understand what contraception is and how it is so harmful and ultimately destructive. The marital act has two important purposes: unitive and procreative (Humanae Vitae, #12), which we can also call "bonding and babies." If either the unitive or the procreative aspect of the marital act is discarded, the other is seriously damaged; the very purpose and promise of both the marital act and the marriage itself remain unfulfilled. This is a serious disorder that is thereby inflicted in the heart of marriage, in the most intimate aspects of human love, and in society, therefore, as a whole.
Prevention of children has reached a high level of technological expertise in our day. Sexual sterilization of the man or the woman (which, as a form of mutilation deprives a person of the generative faculty, is immoral) is fairly easily achieved through surgery. Additionally, there are two general classes of the artificial and immoral means of birth prevention (also erroneously known as "birth control" - which promotes neither birth nor control): those that are contraceptive in nature and those that are abortifacient.
Contraceptive devices place a barrier between the sperm and the egg. These include the condom, the cervical cap, and the contraceptive sponge. Abortifacients are chemicals that work in three ways, including preventing the blastocyst (what some people improperly refer to as the "fertilized egg") from implanting in the uterus. These include the birth control pill, the Norplant and Jadelle insertables, the Depo-Provera shot, and the intrauterine device, or IUD.
Because any form of contraception involves the willful crippling of one of the body's natural functions - that is, procreation - the Catholic Church teaches that this is intrinsically disordered. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), and any mutilation of its functions is gravely sinful, the same as putting out an eye or cutting off a thumb.
From the time of its founding, the Catholic Church has universally condemned contraception. Athenagoras, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, Barnabas, St. Basil the Great, Caesarius, Clement of Alexandria, Ephraem the Syrian, Epiphanius, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, Hippolytus, Lactantius, Minucius Felix, Origen of Alexandria, Tertullian, and the assembled Bishops at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD were some of the Early Church Fathers who wrote and spoke against contraception.
As the various Protestant denominations formed, their founders and leaders also condemned contraception in the most forceful terms imaginable. For example, John Calvin called contraception "monstrous," and John Wesley said it was "very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections."
Until 1930, all Christian churches were unanimous in their fearless opposition to all of the artificial means of birth prevention, but during this year, Resolution 15 of the Anglican Bishop's Lambeth Conference accepted contraception for the first time "where there is a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood." Interestingly, the use of contraception was considered so disordered at this time that even the secular press and psychiatrists (including Sigmund Freud) spoke out against it. Mahatma Gandhi made exactly the same eerily accurate prophecies that Pope Paul VI would make three decades later in Humanae Vitae when he said that
Artificial methods are like putting a premium on vice. They make men and women reckless. ... Nature is relentless and will have full revenge for any such violation of her laws. Moral results can only be produced by moral restraints. If artificial methods become the order of the day, nothing but moral degradation can be the result. … As it is, man has sufficiently degraded women for his lust, and artificial methods, no matter how well-meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her.
In other words, God always forgives, man sometimes forgives, but nature never forgives.
As the great beacon of truth for the world, the Catholic Church stands firmly against contraception. She knows that She cannot change the immutable law of God, but can only recognize it and teach it. The Church is also the guardian of our understanding of the Natural Law, which is written in our hearts and in creation. Since the Natural Law was given to us by God, the Church does not have the authority to change its fundamental moral principles (the Church, of course, does clarify certain matters in the light of new knowledge, but the fundamental precepts of the Natural Law in Church teaching remain unchanged).
Some prominent groups that dissent from Church teachings claim that "most people use contraception," and that the Church must adapt to the modern world. This argument is absolutely irrelevant. The sinfulness of an act is not determined by popular vote; it is determined by the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Catholic Church.
Many who use contraception claim that they are only "following their own consciences." However, it is only permissible to follow one's conscience when that conscience is properly formed and the conclusions reached are in accord with the teachings of the Church. As Pope Pius XII said, "The conscience is not a teacher, it is a pupil." We are never permitted to choose to commit an evil act, or to justify our evil act as acting "according to our conscience."
How Contraception Actually Leads to More, Not Less, Abortion.
Attempts to solve difficult ethical problems with technology alone, without the light of God's truth, will always reap harmful fruits. Contraception is perhaps one of the most vivid examples of this important reality because it actually leads to more, not less, abortion. While this seems to be a contradiction since contraception is designed to prevent conception (and theoretically to make abortion "unnecessary"), since the use of contraception requires a disordered outlook on human life and sexuality, this "contraceptive mentality" of selfishness, disregard for the preciousness of human life and the dignity of marriage, always leads to an increasing "need" for abortion. Let us review the two main reasons why contraception actually increases the prevalence of abortion.
The first reason is that contracepting couples have espoused an attitude and behavior that adopts a purely unnatural or technological "solution" to the "problem" of preventing pregnancy. When the contraceptive method fails, the couple easily feels automatically entitled to another unnatural and purely technological solution - abortion. The whole human dynamic of life-giving love, in a context of the covenant of marriage, becomes degraded, mechanized, de-personalized, and trivialized such that when there is an "unplanned" pregnancy, the couple feels failed by their artificial "system," views the baby not as a gift from God, but as an impersonal intruder, and so they seek another mechanical, degrading "solution" for this "system failure" - who is a human being.
This is the "contraceptive mentality" in its frighteningly stark and destructive reality. Here we can see clearly that contraception promotes the evil attitude that children are merely "objects" or commodities of someone's "wanting" or "not wanting," subject to the tyranny of their parents' whims, "choices," "lifestyles," or convenience. It is easy to see how the deep-seated selfishness and utilitarianism - often unto murderous abortion - that are always present with contraception-minded people, are a grave threat to all authentic human love, marriage and society. The contraceptive mentality poses a significant threat to the future peace, harmony and sustainability, on all levels of any society where it takes root.
The second reason that contraception leads to more abortion is that it simply does not work. It is documented in the United States, for example, that well over half of all women seeking abortion were using contraception when they became pregnant. There are two million contraceptive failures each year in the USA, primarily among teenagers.
Every one of the more than one hundred nations that have abortion-on-demand began by legalizing contraception. Since contraception fails so often, it automatically leads to a demand for abortion, even if it is illegal. Well funded and agenda-driven international population control groups, with the assistance of native pro-abortionists, then step in. They manufacture powerful propaganda about pitiful (and false) stories of hundreds or even so-called thousands of women who are all allegedly dying because of "back-alley"/illegal abortions, and these death peddlers then demand that abortion be legalized. Of course, the same people who were doing abortions before it was legal then do them when it is legal.
Malcolm Potts, former Medical Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, accurately predicted four decades ago that "As people turn to contraception, there will be a rise, not a fall, in the abortion rate."
The Contraceptive Mentality Also Leads to Other Evils.
Because of the importance of the contraception issue, before God and man, contraception can serve as a truly "keystone issue" for many people when they come to the point of deciding whether or not they desire to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. The contraceptive issue usually very much determines a person's opinions and attitudes on all of the other life and family issues. When Catholics contracept, they are usually well aware that they are in defiance of Church teachings; and while the first step is always the hardest, they can soon reject Church teachings in other areas of morality as well. And once a person, Catholic or non-Catholic, has adopted the aberrant contraceptive mentality, other disordered views and behaviors follow in their wake.
It is easy to point out some examples of the terrible cascade effect that inevitably results after the two essential elements (unitive and procreative) of the marital act are separated. After all, if the procreative aspect can be discarded, why not the unitive? Thus, it is easy to see that both high rates of divorce and abortion rapidly follow the widespread acceptance of contraception. Another deadly step in the downward spiral after widespread contraception and abortion is the infanticide of handicapped infants. And euthanasia, or the "mercy killing" of the elderly, is never far behind.
And lastly, for our purposes here, we can see also that if the procreative aspect of the marital act can be discarded, then it matters not who is united with whom. Thus we are seeing an epidemic sexual license and promiscuity among all age groups, and this is now degenerating even more severely such that there is an increasing push, even through the United Nations on a global scale, for the so-called legitimacy of homosexual "rights" and relationships and even "marriage" - where two men or two women may get legally "married" to each other. Not surprisingly, the acceptance of homosexual "marriage" by several nations has now led to polygamists demanding the same rights. After all, if two men can get married, why not a man and several women - or a woman and several men?
All of these current aberrations have their roots in the contraceptive mentality - which contradicts the Natural Law and which adopts the unnatural and disordered separation between the unitive and procreative purposes of the marital act, in the context of a potentially fruitful marriage between one man and one woman. Understandably, it is very difficult for people who are against abortion but for contraception to debate against these obvious and vast consequences that result from the acceptance of the single evil of contraception.
We Are Happier When We Follow God's Divine Law.
The solution to all of this is obvious. We can only contain today's evil and disorder by teaching people that the following of God's law, as expressed in Natural Law and as taught by the Church, is the only way to stable families, communities, and nations. We cannot maintain a healthy and strong society by simply ignoring Natural Law or virtue or by trying to suppress the consequences of man's disordered actions with technological and even murderous "fixes" - that only serve to increase vice and deepen the degeneration.
Contracepting people offer many rationalizations and defense mechanisms for the unnaturalness of their self-imposed sterility, but the separation of sex from procreation never delivers the so-called "happiness" that is propagandized. Contraception is intrinsically disordered and in conflict with the very essence of what it means to be human: made in the image of God, made to love and be loved in exclusivity, made to love and be open fruitfulness in fidelity. The truth of the matter is that the contraceptive mentality entrenches people in selfishness and, as such, contracepting people cannot truly love or attain true happiness. One very interesting and concrete illustration of this is that people who abstain from sex before marriage, and remain faithful and open to fruitfulness after marriage, have a divorce rate of about three to six percent, according to a range of studies; those who are sexually active before marriage and use contraception have a divorce rate of more than fifty percent.
Another sad phenomenon that reflects the natural consequences of the contraception lie is that women who have been on the Pill or similar steroids for many years, and who then finally decide that they are "ready" for a child, discover that they cannot conceive. Every year, thousands of these women are stunned to find that their fertility has been permanently damaged, and they feel compelled to resort to hugely expensive and unreliable assisted reproductive technologies in pursuit of the children they rejected years before.
God is Love: love gives itself to the beloved, and is made to be fruitful; therefore, the human person can only be happy - in this life and in the next - when he learns to love and be open to fruitfulness, according to his dignity as a human person made in God's image. Our Lord Jesus established the Catholic Church not to place limits and restrictions upon us, but to teach us how to live on earth in accordance with our dignity as persons created in the image of God and to thus one day live forever with Him in Heaven.
What is the Remedy to This Catastrophe?
As priests, you will have the power to promote God's plan for a Culture of Life and Love, wherever you are, in any part of the world. If you preach against contraception, people of good will listen because they naturally thirst for the truth. If they embrace this truth, they can recognize that procreation is good, and will repudiate the "contraceptive mentality" which rejects God's plan, and they will have the opportunity to learn to love authentically. Marriage and family life can begin to flourish; as children are increasingly welcomed and love, stable societies can be restored.
But they must hear this from you, the priests. By not preaching against contraception, you will be giving an unspoken approval of it; you would be, in a very real manner, contracepting the truth by acting as a barrier between God's truth and His people. As Pope St. Felix III so famously proclaimed, "Not to oppose error is to approve it; not to defend the truth is to suppress it."
By preaching the fullness of the Gospel of Life and refuting all aspects of the contraceptive mentality, not only will your people be much happier and more fully human, but you will be happier as well. You will spend much less time in marriage counseling and mediating family conflicts, and much more time in performing baptisms and marriages that can last a lifetime. Your parish, and the souls of your people, will be serene.
Our fundamental mission is to establish the Culture of Life by "making disciples of all nations." We cannot do this by simply eliminating something that is evil; we must bring it about by embracing what is fundamentally good - in this case, authentic human love, fidelity in marriage, and openness to fruitfulness within the context of committed married love.
Evangelization is no longer just a great good. It is a necessity if we are to survive.