Birth Control / Uncategorized

Humanae Vitae Part 1 – Is birth to be controlled?

As some of you may already be aware, I’ve decided to focus my upcoming blog posts on the issue of artificial contraception. This is not to focus on the HHS mandate or religious liberty but on the dignity of the human body and how our health physically, psychologically, and spiritually can be effected by artificial contraception. Today’s blog is the first in a series where I will look at the Catholic Church encyclical Humanae Vitae beginning with numbers I Problems and Competency of the Magisterium and II Doctrinal Principles. . .

Birth control – what’s the big deal?!

Here’s the thinking of the majority of people on a basic level when it comes to birth control: people should be able to have sex when they want, it’s not anyone else’s business. However, they shouldn’t get pregnant if they are not ready to take care of a kid; therefore, since we have the technology, it makes sense to have a means to control pregnancy so people are free to do what they want, especially if they are married.

It all makes sense, right? Let’s look at this a little more in depth. . .

As mentioned in my last blog, which discussed the pill and just a few of the impacts it has on the body, I will now dive into the well known encyclical Humanae Vitae taking it a section at a time to help us better understand what the Church teaches about artificial contraception by looking to what the Church has actually said since the beginning of the artificial contraception debate.

I Problems and Competency of the Magisterium
First, Humanae Vitae is a Catholic Church encyclical by Pope Paul VI in 1968 on the regulation of birth as new technologies were being widely developed and adopted to provide artificial means of controlling birth.

Although Humanae Vitae may have been written nearly fifty years ago, what the Church said is still relevant today – especially as we find ourselves in the middle of the big debate surrounding the HHS mandate.

Humanae Vitae begins by identifying some of the feared hardships the world faces:

  • Resources may not be able to catch up with the fast growing population in developing countries
  • Rapid growth across the world may have significant impact on unemployment while education and living are expensive

Having set the tone for the feared difficulties in the culture, the encyclical goes on to emphasize the importance of understanding women’s role in society and the married life in relationship to the “conjugal acts” of married love.  Keep in mind the context and time in which the encyclical was introduced, women’s rights and the sexual revolution were prevailing ideas that were,  and continue, shaping the culture.

From here Pope Paul VI begins to discuss the new developments where man was making “stupendous progress” in controlling and organizing forces of nature so that man was now able to control all aspects of his own body, mind, emotions, social life, “and even over the laws that regulate the transmission of life.”

As society continues to change and new difficulties are faced, there are important questions that must be asked surrounding norms in marriage. Especially those that are often taken to the point of being heroic acts on the part of the couple. Breaking it down: shouldn’t people have the option of birth control, especially within the marital love of man and wife where there may be risks due to health or financial/societal problems? Furthermore, would not the use of birth control to have a rationally planned out family make sense? (Means justifying the end.)

These questions beg for our Church, our moral compass, to answer them. We cannot just look at this case by case subjectively. Humanae Vitae was written because the Church recognized it had to take the time to dive deeper than before into the sacrament of marriage in order to understand the role artificial birth control plays.

This is part of the reason why we have the Church, so that questions which pose moral difficulties to the culture can be answered. Pope Paul VI wrote, “…that it is time to go to natural law and divine Revelation to find the answers.”

So then, when answering the questions of sexuality and our human control over it, the Church had to look at humanity and the mission man is called to. That is the natural human life on earth and the supernatural life that is to be sought in heaven.

II Doctrinal Principles
In a cultures where efforts are being made to justify artificial contraception there are two things which have to be looked at very carefully:

1. Married life

2. Responsible parenthood

Now that we have looked at the feared challenges of modern culture, and recognize that many answers are needed from the Church surrounding sexuality and artificial contraception, we will next look at God’s loving design for marriage. This will help us understand why it is so important that we have an informed voice on the issue of artificial birth control. .  .

Read Part 2



For the Dignity of the Born and Unborn,




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    Aug 16, 2012


    Very much looking forward to this! I have yet to really dwindle on Humanae Vitae despite the HHS mandate, though I have been meaning too.

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      Jun 17, 2015


      The sexual reltvuoion, which is unimaginable without the pill, has had a profound effect,on relations between the sexes, human happiness, and a host of uncompromising social problems.If it was so liberating, why are its supposed beneficiaries, especially women, unhappier than before? Why did the very effects that Pope Paul VI predicted in his prophetic1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, come to pass—an increase in infidelity and divorce, the objectification and degradation of women, abandonment of women and children, cohabitation, sexual promiscuity and increased abortion rates?the sexual reltvuoion has harmed women and children, undermined marriage (especially for the lower social strata, so widening the class gap in poverty and education across generations), led to a massive increase in pornography, and left enormous numbers of children to grow up without one or both of their biological parents (with negative impacts in terms of poverty, health, mental health, school success, and other measures of child well-being).Contraception enables a climate of apparently consequence-free sex. Marriage is delayed so young people do not invest in sexual partners as they did when having sex implied the man’s commitment to marriage if pregnancy resulted. Young men lost their traditional path to settling down and adult responsibility. Shotgun weddings became a thing of the past. Abortion rates and single parenthood skyrocketed.

  • Humanae Vitae – The Design for Married Love | Timmerie's Blog

    Aug 23, 2012


    [...] this sensitive topic, we go back to the beginning of what the Church has said. Last week in my blog Humanae Vitae – Is birth to be controlled? I began with part I Problems and Competency of the Magisterium and introduced us to II Doctrinal [...]

  • Humanae Vitae Part 3- Responsible Parenthood & Observing Natural Law | Timmerie's Blog

    Sep 18, 2012


    [...] our faith . . .This is the third part of my series on Humanae Vitae so here is a quick refresher: Part one we looked at the Church addressing the fact that artificial birth control is an issue that must be [...]

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    Jun 17, 2015


    One of the difficulties of being Catholic in this world is that our beleifs are strange and incomprehensible to those who lack the grace (or desire) to understand them. Some of our lifestyle choices make us even more of an enigma to others. One such choice is the use of natural family planning (NFP). NFP-using Catholics are at risk of being mocked or judged not just by the secular culture, but also by other Christians (including Catholics). One reason for the ridicule is that there is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding NFP, even among some NFP-using Catholics. There a misconceptions about NFP.Perhaps the most important point is that NFP is not “Catholic birth control.” Many people accuse Catholics of being hypocritical by preaching against artificial contraception and yet still practicing NFP. People assume that the intentions and outcomes for people using artificial contraception are generally the same as for people using NFP. However, since when do intentions and outcomes alone define the morality of an act? If I intend to procure money to buy a new car, and I do indeed buy that new car, does it not matter if the way that I procured the money was to steal it from somewhere, or to earn it through hard work? Of course it does! adadadIn the same way, the method of avoiding pregnancy matters. The reason that contraception is immoral is that it interferes with the normal functioning of the female body and the natural connection between sexual activity and procreation. People who use contraception want to be able to engage in sexual activity while actively thwarting its procreative power.On the other hand, NFP works within the natural order. It makes use of the natural fertile/infertile times that God designed instead of trying to interfere with them. If you are fertile and are trying to avoid pregnancy, then you abstain until you are not likely to be fertile. You don’t try to make a fertile time into an infertile time. You don’t try to engage in sexual activity that should be procreative while artificially rendering it non-procreative.