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Dear Catholic.com visitor: Summer is here, and you may be thinking about a well-deserved vacation, family get-togethers, BBQs with neighborhood friends. More than likely, making a donation to Catholic Answers is not on your radar right now. But this is exactly the time we most need your help. The “summer slowdown” in donations is upon us, but the work of spreading the gospel and explaining and defending the Faith never takes a break. Your gift today will change lives and save souls for Christ this summer! The reward is eternal. Thank you and God bless.

Does Humanae Vitae state that birth control is only forbidden for married couples?

Question:

How can I convince my friend that contraception is forbidden not only within marriage but outside it? She says Humanae Vitae is against birth control only in marriage.

Answer:

Humanae Vitae is explicit in its teaching against artificial birth control, and yes, the context is marriage. But Humanae Vitae itself answers the question:

Hence, one who reflects well must also recognize that a reciprocal act of love that jeopardizes the responsibility to transmit life that God the Creator, according to particular laws, inserted therein, is in contradiction with the design constitutive of marriage, and the will of the Author or life. To use this divine gift destroying, even if only partially, its meaning and its purpose is to contradict the nature both of man and of woman and of their intimate relationship, and therefore it is to contradict also the plan of God. (HV 13)

These two sentences teach that anything that destroys the meaning of the “reciprocal act of love”—in this case contraception—is contrary to God. The Catechism calls these actions “intrinsically evil” (CCC 2370), meaning that it is evil in and of itself: It is always objectively evil, regardless of the context (within marriage or outside of it) in which it is carried out.

The Church also teaches that sex outside of marriage is contrary to the will of God and destroys the true purpose of the act (cf. CCC 2353). Therefore, if one uses birth control while engaging in sex outside of marriage, he is compounding one sin with another.

 

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