The 1930 Lambeth declaration whereby the Anglicans declared contraception acceptable was unprecedented in Christian thought.
Christianity has always been a call to heroism, a call to holiness, and a call to be the very best version of ourselves. Jesus said: “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect!” And: “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it!”
At the same time, He also says: “But my yoke is easy and my burden light!” The path to heroic virtue may be difficult but buoyed by the graces that Christ has made available, Christians can soar.
Oftentimes, the Catholic Church is accused of having a thick and unrealistic rule book that bans normal pleasures. In other words, the Church is a long list of “Do nots” and “Nos.”
What people rarely realize is that the Church only proscribes a “No” in order to be part of the greater “Yes.” That “Yes” is a yes to our mission on Earth — to become saints and to heroically fulfill the mission that God has entrusted to us in His plan for the salvation of the world.
The sexual acts is one of the greatest gifts our Lord gave to humankind. John Paul II, in his Theology of the Body, said that sex is the second most sacred event performed by humans — after the consecration of the Eucharist. Through sex, mankind is invited to become co-creators with God.
Accordingly, the Church has taught that this most blessed action should have five actions surrounding it. These qualities of sexual love are modeled off of the love shown by Christ on the Cross:
1) It should be freely chosen (Liberty).
2) It should be understood (Knowledge).
3) It should be a complete self-gift (Unitive).
4) It should be permanent (In Marriage).
5) It should be open to life (Procreative).
These are the five characteristics that sex — one of the most treasured gifts of God — can and should share with the love that Jesus showed on the Cross. It certainly is not easy to imitate Christ.
Christ gave Himself fully, understanding what He did. He held nothing back and allowed his gift to be permanent (and oft-present through the Eucharist). And he died that we might have life.
Independent of Christian thought, it is self-evident according to the Natural Order that reproductive organs are designed for the purpose of reproduction.
The Early Church Father Lactantius said in 307 AD:
“God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of life; so too, the genital [’generating’] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring.”
The Church teaches the Natural Law as it has always been known.
Contraception steps in between the true and deep love that should exist between spouses.
In rejecting it, the Church is giving a shallow No but a much deeper Yes. It is saying yes to the deeper, more profound Love — an imitation of the greatest Lover of all, He who died on the Cross for us all. In inviting us to that Love, the Church shares with us the graces to walk the narrow road that leads to eternal life.