In the first part of this series, I offered an explanation, from reason and the nature of marriage as complete consent, for why contracepting is a violation of the marriage bond. In this second, briefer, part II, I want to draw out some of the further implications of marriage as formed by consent.
Last week, we formulated a proper definition of contraception: the diminishing of consent in the sexual act so as to deny one’s fertility to the other. So, if you or someone you know has ever asked, “Why is natural family planning (NFP) not contraception,” here is your answer: There is no sexual act. You cannot contracept where there is no sex.
But isn’t abstaining from sex the same as contraception?
Not at all, because neither element of the definition is present. First of all, no sex means no opportunity for contracepting. If the act is one that does not have the potential for conception, then how can one act against (contra) it? In addition, neither party is denying the other. When a husband and wife agree to postpone sex, they are delaying the full expression of consent. Postponement is not a “No access, for now” sign. Postponement is the temporary ommission of the sexual act itself. This is, in fact, the normal state of things. No couple is engaged in sex for half of every day.
So, then gays aren’t guilty of contraception?
Correct, and I really don’t know who would suggest that. Nevertheless, this is important. Same-sex sex, also known as ‘homosex’ (not derogatory), is altogether incompatible with the notion of contraception. This is because full consent is not possible. Where full consent is not possible, it cannot be violated. Therefore, homosex is itself contrary to marriage.
No man can consent to another man having recourse to his fertility. The same is true of two women. This means there is a defect in consent between any two people of the same sex. Hence, as long as marriage is formed by consent, marriage is impossible for those who cannot give full consent, and this includes all same-sex couples.
Now, it should be possible for you to defend the Church’s teaching on the evil of contracepting, explain why NFP is not contracepting, and defend the Church’s teaching on same-sex sex without appealing to anything but reason and the nature of marriage as formed by consent.
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