“…what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Mk 10: 9
The Bible Says
“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Mk 10:7-9
Jesus spoke these words in response to the Pharisees’ questions about divorce—in particular Moses’ allowance of a decree of divorce. The 40-50% divorce rate in the USA indicates that Jesus’ teaching that “no human being must separate” husband and wife is largely ignored.
“God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” Gen 1: 27-28
“Let the children come to me. Do not prevent them.” Mk 10:14
The joining of love and life in marital sexual intercourse—the marriage act—is a second God-ordained joining not intended for Man to separate by contraception.
Divorce & Contraception Violate God’s Plan
US Catholics divorce and contracept at about the same rate as non-Catholics. Annulment application is commonly offered in response to divorce. For most Catholics, their teaching on contraception has been nil. It is estimated that 60-90% of annulments world-wide are granted in the USA. Also studies indicate that almost all Catholic couples contracept before and during some part of their marriage.
The enclosed Total Fertility & Divorce Rates chart demonstrates a strong correlation between family size and divorce. Why did family size begin a steep decline in the mid-1800s? Andrea Tone, in Devices and Desires, A History of Contraceptives in America, describes how Charles Goodyear’s 1839 invention of rubber vulcanization transformed a small but thriving side-line to sausage making into a lucrative condom manufacturing industry that continues into the 21st Century. Contraceptive use is the only feasible explanation for the rapid decline in Total Fertility Rates (TFRs) during the 19th and 20th Centuries. Note that TFRs dropped by almost half in each Century, and they have hovered a little below 2 during the 21st Century.
The Pill Effect
The Divorce Rate increased 2.5 times following wide acceptance of the Birth Control Pill in the early 1960s. No-fault divorce laws and legalized abortion were further consequences of over 10 million women being on the BCP and millions more continuing to use barrier and other means to limit child-bearing.
Marital Sexual Intercourse
In God’s first words to us, He commanded us to “be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth”—a single command stated three times. He must have thought it pretty important. In humility and trust, He surrendered to His creatures the duty and power to initiate a new human life, while retaining His right to allow that initial effort to succeed. We call that sacred act of initiation “marital sexual intercourse”.
The “marital” adjective is important because it sets marriage as the legitimate condition for use of sexual intercourse. This is based on marital sexual intercourse’s essential purpose to populate Earth and Heaven—its procreative purpose. To guarantee that we would engage in marital sexual intercourse, God added a unitive second dimension by making marital sexual intercourse delightful, enjoyable, exciting and mysterious. The unifying dimension cleverly encourages the marital sexual intercourse-performing couple to stay together for their continuing pleasure AND for mutual support in raising their children—and also God’s. Thus a family is formed!!
Marriage publicly identifies the family as an institution formed by a man and woman engaging in sexual intercourse, and children that result from their union. Thus marital sexual intercourse is referred to as the “marriage act” or the “procreation act”—recognizing its essential and unique purpose of creating new human life with God. It is these procreative and unitive ends that “God has joined together [and] no human being must separate”.
Why is this so?
If the act which is primarily intended for procreation is counterfeited (neutered) by contraception, the act cannot achieve its intended and natural purposes—neither procreative nor unitive. A holy act has been hollowed out and made intrinsically evil. It should be expected that contraceptive-using-couples will feel dissatisfied, incomplete and expectant of something more. That missing more may be sought in another relationship, pornography, or other addictions. The stage is thus set for divorce.
The cultural chaos caused by divorce is due in large part to the effect of contraception on marriage. Separating the unitive and procreative ends of sexual intercourse redefines and destabilizes marriage. In God’s perfect plan for us, there would be no contraception, the average family would include many children, and divorce would be rare.
Has there ever been a time in history (or a culture) when both contraception and divorce were absent? What was that society like? Can a contraceptive and divorce free society be created? Can we humbly set aside our plan, and accept God’s plan for love, marriage, sex and children?
Conclusions Suggested by the Chart:
1. The “natural” Total Fertility Rate (TFR) may be as high as 7. With limited availability of contraception, the average American woman of the early 1800s birthed 7 children. Is that what God planned for average family size? The corresponding “natural” divorce rate is essentially zero.
2. The vulcanization of rubber by Charles Goodyear in 1839 jump-started the contraceptives industry with condoms and diaphragms. As contraceptives began to be readily available in the mid-1800s, TFRs rapidly declined.
3. The low TFRs during WWII (1941-1945) were followed by a jump in TFRs as millions of soldiers returned to marry and start families in 1945-1960. High divorce rates during and after WWII may be a result of long separations and mental and physical health problems of returning soldiers.
4. The advent of the Birth Control Pill (BCP) in the early 1960s and the universal acceptance of all forms of birth control soon fixed TFRs at about 2 (or less) for the 40+ years from 1970 to 2014. Divorce rates increase as TFRs decrease.
5. Rapid acceptance of the BCP in the 1960s corresponds with divorce rates more than doubling in 10 years.
6. While TFRs have held steady near 2 for the past 40 years, divorce rates have steadily declined to 1960’s levels possibly due to slow economic growth, fewer marriages reducing the pool of potential divorces, and aging couples’ greater tolerance of a less than ideal marriage.
7. Contraceptive use destabilizes and redefines marriage.
Source fertility rate data: http://www.gapminder.org/data
Source divorce rate data: U.S. Census Bureau: Statistical Abstract of the United States for 2001 (Table 117), available online at www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/statab.html; Current Population Report for 2000 (Table 3), available online at www.census.gov/cps; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Births, Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths: Provisional Data” for 2000 (in National Vital Statistics Report 49) and 2009 (in NVS Report 58) (Table 2), available online at www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/nvsr.htm
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The Staff and Trustees of One More Soul pray that
the joy of this Christmas Season saturates you and your family!
Everybody seems to love Pope Francis, including Time Magazine, which declared him ”Person of the Year” for 2013. Our new Pope is full of surprises, including interviews and off-the-cuff remarks that are sometimes mystifying and a challenge to interpret. Pope Francis has called for an EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY (Synod of Bishops) on “PASTORAL CHALLENGES TO THE FAMILY IN THE CONTEXT OF EVANGELIZATION”. A “Preparatory Document” is available at the Vatican web site.1 This Preparatory Document includes a questionnaire on “the pastoral challenges facing the family today”. AMAZINGLY, Pope Francis has invited all the world’s Catholics to email him answers to these questions, which I (Steve Koob) did. I didn’t save my responses, but here are a few thoughts on those survey questions especially relevant to One More Soul’s mission—encouraging openness to life, discouraging birth control, and promoting Natural Family Planning. All of the questions are from Sec. 7, The Openness of the Married Couple to Life. Nothing could be closer to our mission.
Q. What knowledge do Christians have today of the teachings of Humanae Vitae on responsible parenthood?
A: The average American Catholic has never heard a homily that clearly explains the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexual morality, especially the teachings on marriage from Humanae Vitae. Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of NYC, and at the time President of the USCCB, essentially confirmed this statement in a Wall Street Journal interview by James Taranto.2 Here is an excerpt.
Doesn’t the church have a problem conveying its moral principles to its own flock? “Do we ever!” the archbishop replies with a hearty laugh. “I’m not afraid to admit that we have an internal catechetical challenge—a towering one—in convincing our own people of the moral beauty and coherence of what we teach. That’s a biggie…” For this he faults the church leadership. “We have gotten gun-shy…in speaking with any amount of cogency on chastity and sexual morality.”
Later in this same article, the discussion continues:
Without my [Taranto] having raised the subject, [Cardinal Dolan] adds that the church’s sex-abuse scandal “intensified our laryngitis over speaking about issues of chastity and sexual morality, because we almost thought, ‘I’ll blush if I do.’”
Yet the archbishop says he sees a hunger, especially among young adults, for a more authoritative church voice on sexuality. “They will be quick to say, ‘By the way, we want you to know that we might not be able to obey it….But we want to hear it. And in justice, you as our pastors need to tell us, and you need to challenge us.’” [Emphasis added]
This “hunger” is confirmed by Mary Rice Hasson, JD, and Michele M Hill in “What Catholic Women Think About Faith, Conscience, and Contraception”3. Here is an excerpt.
Fifty-three percent of weekly [Catholic women] Mass-goers who accept parts but not all of Church teaching indicate some openness to learning more about the Church teachings on contraception….While 72% of Catholic women say the weekly Mass homily is their primary source for learning about the faith, just 15% of those who rely on homilies to learn about their faith say they fully accept the Church’s teaching on contraception. [Emphasis added]
I conclude that couples must receive the TRUTH, or they will assume that the Church’s teaching is optional or unimportant.
Q. Are they aware of how morally to evaluate the different methods of family planning?
A: I am confident that most diocesan marriage prep programs address “family planning” by cautioning against the use of unnatural methods and providing at least an introduction to modern methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP). A small but growing number of dioceses expect couples to take a complete course in NFP. The “serious reason” requirement for licit use of NFP might not be emphasized, thus fostering a “Catholic birth control” or “contraceptive mentality” that can poison a couple’s relationship.
Q. Could any insights be suggested in this regard pastorally?
A: I think that couples should be encouraged to accept all the children God wants to send them. Who better than God for this task of eternal consequence? The Church teaches that children are the SUPREME GIFT of marriage. I suspect that these ideas are rarely presented.
Q. What aspects pose the most difficulties in a large majority of couples accepting this [Natural Family Planning] teaching?
A: Abstinence is difficult for many couples using NFP to prevent conception. God’s clever design of woman makes abstinence during her fertile time especially difficult because peak fertility and peak libido typically coincide. Couples do not marry to continue the abstinence of their courtship.
Q. What differences are seen in this regard between the Church’s teaching and civic education [government promoted]?
A: Our government requires that virtually all health care plans provide FREE access to contraception, abortion and sterilization, in stark contrast to Church teaching on the intrinsic evil (never permitted under any circumstances) of these practices.
Q. How can a more open attitude towards having children be fostered?
A: In Called to Give Life,4 Jason Adams makes this profound statement: “Once I worried about what I would have to give up in having children; now I know that there is nothing I would not give up for my children.”5 Helping couples realize this common feeling would encourage additional children. Also, a quote from Hasson and Hill6 is illuminating:
Church-going Catholic women display greater openness to children than the average American. For Catholic women, the “ideal” number of children averages 3.5 (higher than the American ideal of two or fewer).
And if money were not a factor, the Catholic ideal would jump to 4.0.
Q. How can an increase in births be promoted?
A: Assuring that the majority of parish activities are family-friendly, including the Mass, would bring families together for mutual support and parish encouragement. The cost of Catholic education is a huge family financial burden, making homeschooling a necessity for many large families. Creative funding—such as the Diocese of Wichita’s extraordinary stewardship model7—would make a Catholic education available to all Catholic children.
One More Soul’s mission obviously supports the implied desire of Pope Francis to confront the Culture of Death with more life—the lives of children, especially from good Catholic families. The Church and society need strong functional families that can serve as “signs of contradiction” to the culturally approved realities of co-habitation, birth control, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and consequent abortion.
One More Soul needs your HELP! We’d love it if you…
- Go to Mass and pray for us as often as possible. The Mass is the “source and summit of our faith”.
- Purchase our great resources—like “First Comes Love”—and distribute them in your families, parishes, schools, and clubs of all kinds.
- Give “Called to Give Life” to priests and deacons.
- Make a tax-deductible donation to One More Soul, dated by December 31st. A generous anonymous donor has pledged $10,000 for matching. Your gift will be doubled!
Steve Koob and all the Staff, Trustees and those we serve for Jesus and His Church.
1. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/ rc_synod_doc_20131105_iii-assemblea-sinodo-vescovi_en.html
2. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240527023 03816504577311800821270184.html
3. http://www.eppc.org/docLib/20120828_Catholicwomen and contraception.pdf
4. Jason Adams, Called to Give Life, A Primer on the Blessings of Children and the Harm of Contraception, Second Edition, One More Soul, 2013, p90.
5. Jason Adams, Faithful Fertility, Discerning Just and Serious Reasons for Postponing Pregnancy, One More Soul, 2013, p11.
6. See Ref 3.
7. http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/catholic-education-stewardship-thriving-in-wichita o coming celebrations, in you serve.
The Theme of the Book
Sterilization Reversal – A Generous Act of Love is a compilation of 20 stories of couples who were sterilized and then sought sterilization reversal. It is the first book that discusses, from a Roman Catholic perspective, the destructive impact that sterilization has on marriage and the joyous spiritual and marital renewal experienced by couples after reversal. As such, Sterilization Reversal – A Generous Act of Love is a unique resource for clergy, religious educators and laypeople. It is an especially useful tool for the pastoral counseling of persons who have repented their sterilization. It is also a particularly effective means of informing people who are considering sterilization of the emptiness and heartbreak that often follow as well as the NFP alternative that nourishes the marital relationship rather than attacks it. (more…)
There is, among faithful Catholics, a dismay, and even an understandable anger at the events unfolding at the Supreme Court these past days related to gay unions. And even if the court were to uphold traditional marriage (which does not seem likely), or merely return the matter to the States, it seems quite clear where our culture is going regarding this matter, approving things once, not so long ago, considered unthinkable.
What then to do with our dismay and anger? It is too easy to vent anger, which is not only unproductive, but in the current state of “hyper-tolerance” for all things gay, angry denunciations are counter-productive. (more…)
Dear friends who usually get my homilies: I am sending
along a homily from my friend, young Father Jeffrey Montz.
He was ordained a priest a year ago, and is now the Parochial
Vicar at St. Frances of Assisi [New Orleans]. Perhaps, as
moving as the homily is Fr. Jeff’s note to me which I have
copied and attached to the end of the homily.
Here is Fr. Jeff’s Homily: In the year 2009, I was distributing
communion to the faithful when a young woman approached
and extended her hands to receive the Eucharist. Almost as
soon as I had placed the Host in her hands, she began moving
away and in the process she dropped the host. Standing over the
fallen Host lying on the ground, a slight giggle, shrug of the
shoulders, and re-extended hands, her body language said to
me, “Ooops, I dropped it. Can you give me another one?” (more…)
Homily by: Father Thomas Dufner.
July 22, 2012
Coon Rapids, Minnesota, USA
- Jeremiah says, “Woe to the Shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture.”
- In the last few weeks we’ve heard the true role of the prophet to lead and guide the people
- There were many false prophets who served only themselves.
- Typically, the true prophets faced opposition because their message was unpopular.
- From Amos to Ezekiel, and from Jeremia and John the Baptist, they spoke the truths that God wanted them to speak, popular or unpopular, welcome or unwelcome. They served the Lord.
Liliana Cote de Bejarano, MD, MPH
About 1.5 million couples in the United States opt for sterilization every year .1 According to the Guttmacher Institute, 9.9% of couples in the US use vasectomy as a contraceptive method, and more than 500,000 vasectomies are performed in the United States every year.2 The medical community and most family planning advocates consider vasectomy safe and simple. This pamphlet provides current research on vasectomy that indicates the procedure has a number of short- and long-term complications and is not a healthy choice.
What is required for fertilization?
Homilies from Called to Give Life
Here are sixteen homilies dealing with morality for married couples and with contraception in particular. They are offered here for the use of priests and others who might find them useful. The printable version of the homilies (see above) can be opened in Microsoft Word and saved or edited from there. For those who do not have Word, the html text on this page can be copied and pasted into any word processor.
Health Care for the Whole Person
Wednesday was a five hundred mile day with a brief stop in Pendleton in the middle of the drive. The trip took me to Saint Anthony Hospital for the blessing of a new addition to the hospital which includes a lovely, conveniently located prayer chapel. In reality the Chapel at Saint Anthony Hospital is more than a prayer chapel. It is a Presence Chapel, a Consolation Chapel, a Peace Chapel, a Hope Chapel, a Grief Chapel, a Healing Chapel. There a person encounters more than his or her own thoughts. There one encounters the living Presence of Christ Himself. There, in the Presence of Him who is the source of consolation, peace, hope, and proper healing, one encounters thoughts which are beyond one’s own. There one comes face to face with the Reality of all realities, the true, living and eternal God. Many hospitals have a chapel but only Catholic Hospitals have a chapel with a Presence. Catholic Hospitals are therefore different and the difference does not end at the chapel. (more…)
What does the Bible say about contraception?
The Second Vatican Councils statement on Divine Revelation teaches us that interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures must devote attention to “the content and unity of the whole of scripture, taking into account the tradition of the entire Church”1 Much more than a moral manual or a doctrinal concordance, the Bible is an inspired expression of the faith and life of the Church. In contrast to the legalism of the Pharisees, the revelation of Christ was/is comprehensive, describing the positive fulfillment of the demands of love. Our application of this revelation to the specific moral questions of our age, in this case contraception, involves submitting our actions to the standard of life-giving love established by God, both in his fathering of the chosen people of old, and in his redemption of the New Israel. (more…)