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Contraception Unraveled the Family

“Sex is a profound force, having to do with life, the forces of creation which make man God-like. He shares in the power of the Creator, and, when sex is treated lightly, as a means of pleasure, I can only consider that woman is used as a plaything, not as a person. When sex is so used it takes on the quality of the demonic, and to descend into this blackness is to have a foretaste of hell…” – Dorothy Day

When God created man in his image, He gave him elements of Himself to mirror His divinity and goodness. God, Himself being three persons in unity, also reflected this reality in His creation using the complementary nature of the sexes to fulfill the commandment to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. For humans living under the natural law, marriage is the natural process by which male and female are joined together in one flesh for the purpose of procreation—the ultimate reflection of the Imago Dei.

Marriage is so sacred an institution that Jesus Christ himself reinstituted it as a sacrament during his ministry, and the subsequent shift that occurred in the ancient world as a result of the adoption of Christian sexual ethics revolutionized family life the world over. Now we live in the aftermath of a second sexual revolution, one that has seemingly undone two millennia of sexual ethics by unraveling the intimate and inextricable nature of marriage, sex, and children.

The Fundamental Link Between Sex and Children

There had always been dissidents stirring the waters surrounding Christian sexual ethics, but so fundamental was the link between sex and children that the natural law kept these deviants in check. Promiscuity was an untenable way of life because sex meant children, and marriage was the best way to ensure that parents raised these children in a stable environment. Thus divorce was discouraged, if not completely disallowed, and abortion was viewed as a heinous act: the murder of an innocent in the womb.

Enter Margaret Sanger and her American Birth Control League. Sanger—a eugenicist and abortionist—saw a pathway for sexual liberation that could finally break this link in the form of contraception. She targeted the divided Mainline Protestant congregations in the wake of the Fundamentalist-Modernist split and, over time, won converts to her agenda by playing on Protestant fears. One by one, these churches relinquished the Gospel for sexual liberation.

Science Accomplished Sanger’s Life Work

A good number of churches resisted this line of accommodationism, both Catholic and Evangelical Protestant. That resistance could not withstand the coup de grace that was approved by the FDA in 1960, made available to married couples by Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965, and finally codified for unrestricted public use by Eisenstadt v. Baird in 1972: the Pill. A new, reliable technology could finally dissolve the link between sex and children, relegating marriage and all of its Christian imagery to the dustbin of history. And for those times when contraception failed, “safe, legal, and rare” abortion from 1973 henceforth could bridge the gaps.

Science had finally accomplished Sanger’s life work. The churches didn’t stand a chance. By the end of the 20th century, nearly every visible Protestant denomination adopted a lax or neutral position of birth control, and despite the Catholic Church’s doubling down of Christian sexual ethics in Humanae Vitae, nearly 90% of American Catholics either use or consider use of contraception morally acceptable.

Sexual Liberation at the Cost of the Family

The sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s ushered in an era of unimaginable sexual liberation at the cost of the family. Marriages continue to collapse as liberal divorce laws capitalize on the new arbitrariness of childbirth. Homosexuality has been given equal standing with marriage because the chief end of sex has become pleasure, not raising children for the promulgation of a stable society.

Now that human beings have found a way to subvert the natural law by divorcing marriage, sex, and children, we have tricked ourselves into thinking we are free of the consequences of breaking the natural law. Instead, those consequences are manifesting themselves in newer, more destructive ways. Like the compounding interest on a growing debt, our society delves deeper into depravity. We have lost sight of the purpose of sex to the point that we now wish to dissolve the biological laws of gender and recreate them to fit our culture of sexual deviancy.

Worst of all, we trick ourselves into thinking that our reservations—the guilt surrounding abortion, the emptiness of homosexual lifestyles, and the alienation we feel as a result of the collapse of Western family life—are nothing more than the last vestiges of repressive social norms instead of what they are: the last desperate appeals of our conscience to stop this dissent into madness.

Author: Thomas Osborne

Thomas Osborne is a traditionalist convert to the Catholic cause, conservative in the realm of politics, and a wayfaring cultural emigrant in the modern world.

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