Wednesday, July 03, 2013


NOTE: "Winsdor" was the name of the plaintiff in the case which overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. "Griswold" is explained in the post.

In the wake of the two recent SCOTUS decisions relative to same-sex marriage, I made the following post on Facebook:

In his dissent, Alito defines the argument as a contest between two visions of marriage—what he calls the "conjugal" and "consent-based" views. He defines the conjugal view of marriage as a “comprehensive, exclusive, permanent union that is intrinsically ordered to producing children.” 
And therein lies the achilles heel. Conjugal marriages have not been "intrinsically ordered to producing children" for nearly four decades. The production of children has become something to be mechanically, chemically, or surgically controlled. Conjugal marriages thus become consent-based marriages, which is the fundamental premise of same-sex marriage and why same-sex marriage will ultimately be the law of the land, unless...

A good friend, conservative Christian, and frequent Facebook ally in the culture war, disagreed with my identifying the otherwise unquestioned embrace of birth control by traditionally married couples as the central culprit in the collapse of marriage as “intrinsically ordered to producing children” and thus a gateway to same-sex marriage.

Because most Catholics, let alone non-Catholic Christians, see no problem with contraceptive sex (so long as it is within marriage), I have great understanding for anyone who doesn’t see the connection between contraception and same-sex marriage.  Following is my response.


No worries. I know of only three people who agree with me, so you're in the majority. In any event, it's not my opinion. As a Catholic I would be a hypocrite and a liar and would have no reason to be a Catholic if I did not uphold my church's moral teaching which essentially states that we belong to God, all of us, body and soul, our sex lives too.

Since you're not Catholic, you don't need to worry about it. So you can stop here. However. for the record, our church teaches that God made man and woman to be fundamentally procreative.* Whether procreation occurs is ultimately up to God, not us. However, we have made it up to us by artificially controlling our fertility.

Up till 1930, every Christian denomination taught that the deliberate frustration of the procreative act was a violation of God's plan for our bodies. In fact, selling contraceptives to married couples was illegal in the U.S. until 1965 when those laws were declared unconstitutional in Griswold v Connecticut. The grounds? The "right to privacy". The first instance of this "right" in a judicial ruling.

It's interesting to follow it from there. The next instance where the "right to privacy" was invoked was in Roe v Wade, and the next: Lawrence v Texas wherein anti-sodomy laws were declared unconstitutional. In Scalia's dissent in this case, he predicted (in 2003) that the way was now paved to gay marriage.

Amongst Christians, the Anglicans were the first to allow for contaceptive use in marriages under very limited conditions. But within 30 years or so, every Christian denomination either allowed it or looked the other way. However, for all of Christian history, the chemical (the pill), mechanical (condom), or surgical (vasectomy) frustration of the marital act was seen as an offense to natural law and thus to God, who by design, created our bodies to make more souls for him to love.

Only the Catholic Church has held to the ancient teaching, found in written form as early as 50AD in the Didache - the earliest known Christian writing. HOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER, the majority of Catholics, including most of its ordained leaders, at least in the U.S. have chosen to ignore the ancient teaching and have gone the way of the Anglicans.

In fact, even as a Catholic, I was unaware of my church's teaching on birth control until late in life, and had been counseled on several occasions by pastors to go ahead and use it (so long as I prayed about it first!!)

In the end, my intent with this short essay is not to convince you or anyone else to change your mind about birth control, but to demonstrate the legal, judicial, and moral connection between the arbitrary control of fertility to where we are now with same-sex marriage. Whether we agree there is a connection or not, the fact is we are here, and gay couples are claiming the same rights as straight couples: the right to spousal happiness and sexual satisfaction apart from the obligation to procreate.

Thus, my ultimate recommendation - as stated elsewhere: the only way to advance the future of one man one woman marriage is for those marriages to keep their promises: till death do we part and to accept children willingly and lovingly from God - to do what is "intrinsically ordered".

(I am well aware of the financial limits and special circumstances which may call for the limits of family size, but ultimately the question we must answer is whether or not we trust God enough to take care of that. I did first.)

One last note. After the birth of our 10th child, who was born with many complications, the doctor wagged her finger in my face and said "no more children". The little girl in my profile pic is our 11th. Obviously I'm a bad listener.

* Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is "on the side of life," teaches that "it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par 2366)

"...every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil...” (CCC 2370)


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