Volume > Issue > Contraception & Logical Consistency

Contraception & Logical Consistency


By Howard P. Kainz | September 2009
Howard P. Kainz is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Marquette University and a former executive council­member of the American Catholic Philosophical Association. A widely published author, his most recent works include Natural Law: An Introduction and Re-examination (Open Court Press, 2004), The Philosophy of Human Nature (Open Court Press, 2008), and "Sexual Mores, Ethical Theories, and the Overpopulation Myth" in The Heythrop Journal (May 2008).
“It is impossible to reconcile the doctrine of the divine institution of marriage with any modernistic plan for the mechanical regulation or suppression of human birth. The church must either reject the plain teachings of the Bible or reject schemes for the ‘scientific’ production of human souls…. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be ‘careful and restrained’ is preposterous.”
— Washington Post (editorial, March 22, 1931)
“If contraceptive intercourse is permissible, then what objection could there be after all to mutual masturbation, or copulation in vase indebito, sodomy, buggery, when normal copulation is impossible or inadvisable (or in any case, according to taste)?… If such things are all right, it becomes perfectly impossible to see anything wrong with homosexual intercourse, for example. I am not saying: if you think contraception all right you will do these other things; not at all…. But I am saying: you will have no solid reason against these things. You will have no answer to someone who proclaims as many do that they are good too…. Because, if you are defending contraception, you will have rejected Christian tradition…. For in contraceptive intercourse you intend to perform a sexual act which, if it has a chance of being fertile, you render infertile. Qua your intentional action, then, what you do is something intrinsically unapt for generation.”
— G.E.M. Anscombe, Contraception & Chastity (1979)

Recent statistics indicate that contraception is widely practiced, even by up to 80 percent of Catholics, in spite of its clear and constant condemnation by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Does this figure include practicing Catholics? Whether they are practicing or not would presumably be the subject of a different poll. Regardless, we are talking about self-identified Catholics who have most likely received the Sacrament of Baptism. Some implications, therefore, suggest themselves.

Many Christian couples, Catholics and non-Catholics, who practice contraception are also against “gay” sex and/or premarital or extramarital sex. Such positions, for such persons, are logically inconsistent. I would even argue that an anti-abortion position is likewise inconsistent.

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