Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Humanae Vitae 11-13; Yikes!

Despite the fact that F4F is now well over, I would still like to finish up going through the rest of Humanae Vitae. The problem is, I honestly don't know how to discuss the next part of the encyclical.  It is a part for me that is so self explanatory that I don't know how to explain it.  Imagine for a moment you have a relative who asks you to help them with a website. So you tell them the website to enter, and they ask how to enter it.  It's someone that knows how to type. I didn't know how to make it any more clear to them, because I don't understand what it is that they don't understand.  If that makes any sense to you at all, then you see my dilemma for this next part.

So many people have a hard time understanding this part. But it's so clear to me that I do not know how to explain it. It is not because I'm smarter.  I think it's just because I've been exposed to the ideas for so long that it makes sense in my head, though for many others it seems no different than "Catholic contraception". So I don't know how to explain it.  But I'll try.

This is the part where Pope Paul VI starts to tell us that while we must not purposefully interfere with conception occurring when sex occurs.  However, he states that it is permissible to have sex even when the act is foreseen to be infertile through the natural timing of the cycle, or because of natural infertility during breastfeeding, or due to age, or fertility problems. The important thing is that the act be ordered toward procreation, whether a child results or not.  If it is at a time that the couple should not, for whatever reason, conceive a child, then they should refrain from sex. They should not have sex and interfere with a child being conceived.

Right. So if all that matters is whether or not a child is conceived, then I suppose I can see that it would all look the same. If you don't have sex during fertile times or if you contracept, then the chances of conceiving a child are small.  Either one leads to the same result.

But it's not the same thing. The only thing that I can think to say is that when we know that body language often speaks more powerfully than any words ever could. The language of the body during sex is to say that "I am wholly yours, I give all of myself to you, withholding nothing." To "speak" those words during sex in an infertile time is to still "speak" truth.  To "speak" those words while contracepting is a lie.  Because you are withholding your fertility. You are speaking the language of giving of yourself and receiving your spouse, but you do not really mean it. Your body language says "I give myself," but the action says "except my fertility". Your body says, "I receive you," but your actions say "except your fertility."

You do not have to conceive a child every time you have sex, or any time you have sex, in order to be true to what sex is. So long as when you do have sex, you say with Christ, "This is my body, given for you (you, my spouse; you, my child; You, my God, the Author of Life)".  Because that is what sex that is inherently unitive and procreative says.

All right. That's all I got.  So, help! Anyone with better insights, please speak up!  Anyone with questions, also please speak up, but let's hope one of the people with better insights can explain it to you!!


  1. Your paragraph explaining how you are still giving your whole body to your spouse when engaging only during what seems to be the infertile times is different from withholding fertility through contraception is the way I understand it, too.

    Also, another thing I have used is the fact that abstinence is a lack of action and therefore NOT a sin. it is not sinful to abstain from having sex. There is no decree that a healthy, married, fertile couple MUST engage in sex ALWAYS with the INTENT to procreate. However, the couple must understand and not thwart the process of conception through artificial means.

  2. This is GREAT! I'm forwarding to my hubby to read over (he's not Catholic, but understands & respects the views regarding life / contraception/etc).

  3. CM, I think you said this very well. Particularly the part that Michelle references.

    Another thing to consider, the use of artificial birth control is a message both between the spouses and between each spouse and God.
    I would never accept a man who insisted that I use birth control, (which at my age, wouldn't matter anyway!) because he's telling me that my body, the body God created, wonderfully and fearfully made, must be altered to suit his needs. No more than I would get breast augmentation to suit his druthers, would I use birth control... so offensive is that mindset.

    Good job on this!