The "contraceptive mentality" often directs and informs the moral aspects of a person's life. Like most severe ideologies, it is a sterile way of thinking that disregards evidence conflicting with one's belief system, thus leading to erroneous conclusions and destructive behavior. It ignores long-term consequences as it attempts to deal with short-term needs or situations. It eventually becomes habitual, and is very difficult to overcome because it is defined by a framework of unspoken (and usually poorly considered) assumptions that "everyone knows are true."
Most children at a certain point become aware of the fact that their parents use contraception. The teens realize that their parents have separated the sexual act from procreation; why shouldn't they do the same?
Catholic children rarely, if ever, hear from their priests that the use of contraception is a mortally sinful and physically dangerous act. Clearly, a great deal of the responsibility for the spread of the contraceptive mentality lies at the feet of the clergy. Young people see contraceptive advertising everywhere. Sex education classes in the public schools cover contraception, or at least one side of the story, in detail. The message is subtly but relentlessly drilled into their young heads: "Contraception is an essential part of the modern lifestyle. Everyone is doing it!"
Young married (or, many times, unmarried) couples become accustomed to using contraception, and eventually see it as absolutely indispensable to their lifestyle.
The contraceptive mentality spreads not only through a person's soul, but also through an entire society if it is allowed to do so, as we see in dying Europe and in Japan, where the fertility rate is well below the replacement level.
The root of the problem is simple to identify. The marital act has two purposes: babies and bonding. If either the unitive (bonding) or the procreative (making babies) aspect of the marital act is discarded, the other is irreparably damaged, and the very purpose and promise of both the act and the marriage itself remains unfulfilled.
If the procreative aspect of marriage can be discarded, why not the unitive? Everywhere it is accepted, legalized divorce follows the widespread acceptance of contraception. After divorce is introduced then we can see the legalization of abortion. This in its own turn is followed by the infanticide of disabled infants. And euthanasia, or "mercy killing" of the elderly and seriously disabled, is not far behind.
If the procreative aspect of the marital act can be discarded, it matters not who is united with whom. So we see today a push in the Western world for homosexual "marriage," where two men or two women may get "married" to each other. For people who accept contraception as a "right," it becomes particularly difficult to debate these anti-natural unions.
The point we must learn is clear: We can only contain evil by teaching people to be virtuous; we cannot defeat evil by simply ignoring virtue and trying to suppress the consequences of man's evil acts with technology.
The God Who creates is the God Who reveals, so there can be no conflict between science and the Catholic Faith [Fides et Ratio, 9]. This means that the teachings of the Church harmonize with the objective findings of science, including human psychology.
So it is no surprise that those who adhere to the Natural Law are much happier than those who do not. It is true that denying oneself a particular good, for a particular reason -- say, periodic abstinence within marriage for serious reasons -- is difficult, but over time, people who live by the law of God and nature find that they are happier, more content and free of worry.
This principle manifests itself in many ways. For example, people who abstain from sex before marriage and remain faithful and fruitful after have a divorce rate of about three to six percent; while more than half of those couples who are sexually active before marriage and use contraception will get divorced.
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, human fertility.
Evangelization for the Culture of Life, by both priests and people, is no longer just a great good. It is a necessity, if we are to survive.
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