Guest Post by Adrian Urias. This is a note that was posted by my friend, Adrian, on his Facebook page. He granted me the permission to go ahead and post it here. I felt he did a great job of outlining his own position on the matter, and his journey is pretty much the same one I had on the issue, except mine started with the acceptance of Natural Law. I was planning on doing a post on this anyways, but since Adrian beat me to it (and wrote it much better), I decided to have it here as a guest post. I’ll maybe provide my own post some time in the future where I make the connection to natural law a little more explicit. You can find his website here.
I have been engaged in many conversations lately about contraception. I think I’ve thought through it enough to actually throw it out on Facebook (I have tests I make ideas go through before I adopt it personally with full confidence and conviction, and putting it up on Facebook is one of those last stages. I’m weird, I know). So here is how I came to these conclusions.
It started with marriage. As some of you may know, I wrote an article for knowitstrue.com attempting to defend traditional marriage. At the time of my writing this, it is currently the article with the most comments on the website. So I thought to myself, how can I go about making such an argument? I read around, looked at some articles, some in books, some in magazines, and some online. I took what I thought were good points and meshed them into what is now that article. I also considered criticisms and I constructed my article with those in mind to sidestep some pitfalls. So what you see was that product of all that. Looking back, I would reconstruct the argument differently to make it stronger (I never stopped studying), but basically, what I came up with was this, and this is important:
1. All married couples have sex.
This seems obvious. First, marriage is complete when you consummate it, that is, at the first act of sex. Secondly, failure to consummate is grounds for void marriage. Not divorce. If a partner refuses to have the first act of sex in a marriage, the other partner can completely nullify the marriage. It wasn’t even valid to begin with, so it’s different from a divorce. Thirdly, marriage is a comprehensive union. Everything needs to be shared. This includes bodies. That means sex. Fourthly, if there was not a union of sex, then a divorce on grounds of infidelity would be no grounds at all. But it is grounds for divorce, therefore, there is an understanding of sexual exclusivity in marriage. But that implies marriages are sexual, hence, they have sex.
2. No same-sex couple can have sex.
This gets into the nature of sex. What is sex? In order for there to be sex, there needs to be sex organs. No sex organs, no sex. The sex organs for humans are the male penis and the female vagina. These sex organs have a proper function. There is a right way to use them. The proper function for these sex organs is to meet. If they do not meet, then it isn’t sex proper. I like quoting Francis Beckwith who said, “You can eat an ashtray, but that wouldn’t make it food.” What he is saying is that you can do many things with your sex organs, but that wouldn’t make it sex. There is still a right way to use your sex organs. Now, in the case of same-sex couples, there is no proper function for two-penises and two vaginas. There is just no right way to use two of them. They can stimulate each other, but that wouldn’t make it sex. Therefore, no same-sex couple can have sex with each other.
3. Therefore, no same-sex couple can be married.
This logically follows from the first two premises.
Now, buried somewhere in this argument against same-sex marriage is also an argument against contraceptives. The formulated argument was worded thus to avoid as much religious language as possible so to convince even the non-believer. Since it is secular reasoning, it appeals to everyone, regardless of religion stance. So, in my second premise, I say sex has a nature. But included in that nature, is a teleology. That is, an end. Sex has a design. That end is children. In my article, I mention this, but I didn’t make the divide in argument so clear. That is one of the things I would change in that article. Anywho, sex is not like any other physical act because it has the ability to produce children. Imagine if sex did not produce children. Sex would just be a rubbing up against someone. It would be like a massage or even a leaning on someone on a crowded bus. At worst, it would be like poking your finger into someone’s ear. In this light, it would be difficult to see what exactly is wrong with rape, if really you aren’t doing anything worse than giving someone a wet-willy. The ability to procreate through sex is one of, if not THE biggest reasons why rape is so wrong. But I digress. So, it isn’t just some weird coincidence that when we have sex, we have children. No one has sex, then has a child, and say, JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH! WHERE DID THAT COME FROM!? We understand that children happen that way. So, the teleology of sex is children.
But Adrian, where does contraception come into all this?
Well, lets begin by taking a look at condoms, perhaps the most common form of contraceptives. What is a condom? It’s a piece of rubber that acts as a barrier between the man and the woman. If sex is supposed to be a union of man and woman, and a condom literally prevents that union, can we say that sex with a condom is really sex? No, we can’t. It would be like trying to bite into an apple with a rubber covering over it. Also, if you used a condom on your first night of marriage, then you didn’t actually consummate the marriage that night since consummation requires union. Are we starting to see the problems?
I was really encouraged to hear my atheist philosophy professor blast condoms as being one of the stupidest things he’s heard of. “Why would you want to reduce such a wonderful feeling?!” He said to me. I mention this to point out that this has been reasoned to without any Biblical reference. Through logic and reasoning, we can see why contraceptives are wrong. But here is where some of the force might be lost if we continue to reason without Scripture, for the non-believer can simply say, “Ok, using contraceptives is against human nature. So what?” We can still push the argument successfully through, but it loses some persuasive power at this point against the non-believer. So, since most of my conversations about contraceptives have been with believers, I now take a theological approach from here.
Now, most of what I have said so far is just very Biblically obvious. Of course men and women are supposed to be together. Of course marriage is only between men and women. Of course sex leads to children. Of course parents are supposed to raise their children. Of course homosexuality is not in human nature. Of course! But now, when we get into contraceptives, suddenly, this is not so obvious. Why? I’m not sure, but a few months ago when I started wrestling with this, my friend Stephen Weltz, said that up until 1930’s, every church was against contraceptives. It’s just the Catholic church for the most part (he is Catholic, and so is Beckwith and Robert P George from whom I got the core of argument against same-sex marriage from, so interesting correlation there). So fun fact there.
So what does the Bible have to say about marriage? Marriage is a covenant. It is not a contract. A contract involves an exchange of property, whereas a covenant involves an exchange of persons. Jesus dying on the cross is symbolic of the marriage covenant. Jesus is married to the church. But how does a marriage covenant work? It is a blood covenant. When the male enters the female, there is blood because she is a virgin. The blood traditionally signifies the first marital act. In the same way, Jesus being married to the church, also gives a blood covenant, and it’s his blood on the cross that creates the new covenant. So Jesus on the cross actually represents something more feminine than masculine, the submissive one who sheds blood. But anywho, it’s a marriage covenant. There is the exchange of persons.
Now, we have to understand how important marriage is to God. God has said that he hates divorce. That’s strong. But we understand how much God longs for marriage when we look at the history of covenants. The covenant with Adam was marriage, Noah was the household, Abraham was the Tribe, Moses was twelve tribes, David was Israel as a nation, and then God COMES BACK to marriage when Jesus marries the church of not just Jews, but Gentiles as well (notice the increase of people as history goes on). I suspect God came back to marriage because that is the covenant before the entrance of sin. So God does a marriage covenant AGAIN! The church as his Bride.
Every covenant has an act where that covenant is renewed. For Jesus and the church, the renewing of that covenant is communion. When we take the body and blood, we are taking part of that act where Jesus officially married the church. When we partake in communion, what happens? We have new life. In basically the exact same way, when we renew the marital covenant with our spouse through sex, we have the chance for…new life! Otherwise known as children! Therefore, taking contraception to avoid new life is the equivalent of taking communion and spitting it on the ground!
I mentioned that marriage was the covenant before the entrance of sin. This takes us way back into Genesis, an incredibly difficult book to interpret. But hey, lets give it a shot. Since marriage involves people and now apparently God, we realize there is a much deeper connection between the man and God. For Christians, we know that God is a Trinity. This is sometimes known as the Divine Family: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yet there are not three Gods, but one God. In the same way, when a man and his wife are one flesh in the marital act, there is one being, but two persons. But, lets say in sex, a child is conceived. In this case of one flesh, how many persons are present? Three. Three persons, one being, just like the Trinity! In this way, we reflect the image of God, in complete unity.
Another bit about Genesis, and I’ll move on. One of the first things we learn about God is that God is a creator. That like the first sentence of the Bible. Is it a coincidence then that the first command God gives us humans is to create life? In this way again, we reflect God, by creating life.
Isn’t contraception then a smearing of God’s image?
Now, let me get this straight with many of you. I am not too happy about my discoveries about this. And I’m not even sure I can call them discoveries. I’m just recovering certain theological positions that everyone agreed with 100 years ago, and just siding with what the Catholic church has been saying for a long time in those 100 years. Contraception goes against God’s plan. But like I was saying, I’m not thrilled about this. I mean, I’m thrilled I’m learning about who God is (Trinity), who we are (reflections of the Trinity), and what marriage is (the complete self-giving love of the persons in the Trinity). I’m excited about that! But honestly, I would like to have sex with my wife as much as I can without the chance of children. I would like to use contraceptives, but it doesn’t seem Biblically permissible. I mean, that means, when I get married, I must be open to the possibility of children on the very first night! That’s a lot to ask for!
It seems like I’m wrestling with God. I mean, Jesus is Lord, but does that mean he has to be Lord of my body? My wife’s fertility? The timing of my children? Then you run into passages like 1st Corinthians 6:19-20 and Romans 12:1-2, which reads, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” and “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
That last part. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world. That’s it, isn’t it? We are so brainwashed by society that tells we can decide when we have children, and we can decide what we do with our own bodies. Do you see how when right teaching is taught, when there are no teachers professing what God wants from us, when we don’t have knowledgeable preachers preaching, do we see how Satan gets a foothold into our lives, and we don’t even recognize it? He has surrounded us for so long, we drowned him out. And we accept it. But enough of my preaching.
Each person of the Trinity gives themselves fully to each other. In the same way, a wife should give herself fully to her husband, and he to her. Contraception is you holding back. To my future wife, whomever you are, wherever you may be, I love you so much, and it’s possible that we might not have even met yet, but I’m already thinking about us. This is for you! Let’s not hold back.