The Journey series
Catholic Marriage and Abortion
This week's Mustard Seed is off to a slow start. I've done much praying but, with less than three hours until my posting deadline, I'm just starting to write.
Catholics are maligned these days for their old fashioned teachings on marriage and chastity. We hold that sexual acts outside the life-long covenantal union of one man and one woman is sinful. We hold that artificial contraception and abortion are also sinful. On what basis do we hold so stubbornly to traditions?
To an egocentric secular society, all is born of desire. One can be who and what they choose. They can do whatever they want as long as it doesn't harm anyone else. For Catholics, all depends on obedience to God's will. Secularists believe they are the best judge of what is good for themselves; Catholics believe God is. A society which treasures pleasure, power, prestige and possessions will come to different conclusions than one which seeks truth, beauty and goodness.
As with all things, our beliefs are based on our understanding of the Creator and the created. We believe all things were created as they were for a reason and discern purpose from nature. God created complementarity in sexuality, we see this as proper. Children are a natural result of sex, we see this as proper. Children require years of nurturing which is best achieved in a stable environment, we see this as proper. Stable environments take time and commitment to develop and maintain.
Catholic marriage is a commitment to build a stable environment open to children. The chastity of husband and wife will ensure there are no extramarital pregnancies to resolve. Avoidance of artificial contraceptives will necessitate greater understanding and respect for the wife's reproductive cycle, hence for her sexuality in general. Any pregnancies within the marriage will be viewed as gifts from God. A stable environment will already be in place. Children may be unplanned, but not unwanted. Once conceived, the child is a person created in the image of God — to be loved.
When sex is viewed absent this context, anything goes. Whatever pleasures a person is fair game as long as the other person consents. The commitment need last only as long as the act. All is reduced to the physical. Contraception is valid because it reduces the risk of the act becoming anything more. Abortion is a convenient way of removing unintended consequences, obligations, and intrusions. "It wasn't my plan."
The greatest gift is to be. The sexual act is a participation in being. We unite with our spouse to provide the physical accidents into which God breathes the substance of humanity. There is no denying that pleasure is a consolation from sex but pleasure must not become its end. Sexuality properly practiced within marital union yields fruitfulness and joy. Illicit affairs trade a few moments pleasure for heartbreak, hardship, and guilt. Catholic teaching on marriage and family may seem stuck in the past but, in truth, it looks to the future rather than restricting itself to the present.
Next week: As Long as it Doesn't Harm Anyone.
2/18/2021 03:31:14 pm
Thank you,Peter! Well worth waiting for. Too bad more people can't read and believe this..so wonderful and sensible. I love this meaning of marriage and the family..no matter who may think it is old fashioned!
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Peter T Elliott