Ask Lisa: Catholicism and Contraception


Dear Lisa,

Although I like meeting people on CatholicMatch, I’m frustrated that some of them judge me for not agreeing with the Church’s stance on contraception.

I am a practicing Catholic and take my faith seriously. I believe I am a good person and a Catholic in good standing. But my conscience tells me that not being able to plan a family as you can afford one is irresponsible and something that a couple should decide for themselves, without a guilt complex being incurred by the Church hierarchy.

A lot of families today are on welfare and struggling because they have too many children. I don’t want to be one of those. I want to have a happy marriage. I’d like to hear your opinion on this issue.

– A Common Sense Values Member


Dear Common Sense Values Member,

Thanks so much for your important question and explanation of your beliefs. It’s always refreshing to dialog with someone who is passionate about what they believe.

Your valid concern about being a responsible parent and the Church’s position on contraception brings up a number of points to talk about, so I’ll address the most important point now to help you understand why the Church’s teaching is correct and why we need to follow it, and then I’ll follow up with more points next Monday.

First, the Church does not mandate couples must have endless numbers of children regardless of being able to provide for them. Children are not “things” that we acquire during marriage like we do furniture or nick-nacks. That would be a materialistic view of children and not one the Church preaches.

However, in helping spouses become good and responsible parents, the Church is 100% correct in condemning the use of “artificial birth control” as a means to plan a family precisely because artificial birth control methods eliminate God from the marriage covenant.

When a couple marries, they create a 3-way covanent: God, the bride and the groom. This union is a reflection of the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Since God has given a woman a natural system within herself to know when she is fertile or infertile, she can avoid pregnancy if necessary and God is still part of the equation. This system, which is widely and successfully practiced, is called the Natural Family Planning method.

When a wife takes the pill, has her tubes tied, the husband gets a vasectomy, or any of the other forms of artificial birth control, the couple has shut God out of their married life, even if they don’t know this, even if they don’t intend to do this. The artificial means makes it impossible for God to be included, which translates to the couple having said, “No” to God and removed His ability to act.

Getting married requires not just love, but responsibility. Responsibility to each other, and to God. He created marriage so that spouses would become one flesh and bring children into the world, so even though there are times when it is appropriate and for the good of the spouses to avoid pregnancy, every couple still has the responsibility to bring new life into the world. I encourage you to consult Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae vitae, regarding appropriate times to avoid pregnancy.

This is the number one reason why a couple should not introduce artificial contraception into their relationship. I would like to refer you to one of the most knowledgeable speakers/writers on this issue, Dr. Janet Smith, to learn more about why artificial contraception is not good for marriages. However, allow me to list a few of the other important reasons to avoid using artificial contraception:

  1. Artificial contraception harms a woman’s body. Depression is one of the prominent side affects of taking the pill, getting sterilized, etc., not to mention the harmful side affects of the pill such as increased risk of stroke, heart attack, ability to conceive after stopping, etc.
  2. Since the rise in numbers of women taking artificial contraception, divorce rate has also significantly risen.
  3. Contraception makes sex a “utilitarian” concept, one that is far removed from God’s original intent.

I hope this helps. Look for my article next Monday where I will cover more points. Feel free to continue the conversation at



  1. Adriel-1166810 January 4, 2015 Reply

    I completely understand and respect the view of the Church on contraceptive issues. I do have concerns, however. I have used natural family planning and it has been very ineffective for me, as my cycle is not regulated. As well, I am a cancer survivor and my body does not handle pregnancy well. The last time I became pregnant, I lost 25 pounds (I only weigh 115 pounds) and began developed a severe case of hyperemesis gravidarum at 6 weeks of pregnancy. I was hospitalized in ICU for two weeks when I began vomiting blood and had a very slim chance of survival. I had the option – die with the child, or terminate the pregnancy. How is one suppose to make such a call when medical issues and said spiritual views conflict with each other?

  2. Angela-890003 May 14, 2013 Reply

    I checked that I don’t believe in the church’s teaching on contraception because I find it extremely illogical to state that it’s acceptable to avoid pregnancy by natural methods but not otherwise? What? If it’s ok to avoid pregnancy, the rest is just semantics.

    • Almir-973839 May 25, 2013 Reply

      Semantics maybe, but would prevent unplanned baby ;0)

  3. Jessica-943679 April 22, 2013 Reply

    I agree Barbara. It is very easy to judge.

  4. Barbara-683472 April 21, 2013 Reply

    Being 60 I no longer have to worry about an unwanted pregnancy but I believe that we as the “Church” should not dictate how other couples deal with this private issue. Pregnancy should be the concern of a loving couple and what is best for their situation. The Church should be upholding their decisions as responsible individuals. There are enough obstacles in today’s world for strong and faithful families to deal with and being questioned about their Faith or lack thereof, should be reserved for more important issues. I know my ideas may seem radical and contradictory to Church teachings but I didn’t live to this age without changing my attitudes to this subject. I grew up in a very devout home and attended parochial school as a young person so I’ve experienced that closed-minded attitude about this subject but with age has come a better understanding and acceptance of the changes of this world.

    • Bob-945720 April 24, 2013 Reply

      Unfortunately, the Church doesn’t have this teaching because it wants to interfere. It simply teaches what God has revealed to it. That’s why it cannot change the teaching regardless of changes in societal wisdom. It would be wrong of the Church (including knowledgable laity) to remain silent if its members were doing things (and teaching others that it was OK or just a personal choice) that are seriously offensive to God. The teaching is actually quite beautiful and makes perfect sense (when given enough study). I had to accept that everything the Church teaches as truth was true before I became Catholic. This was because she claims that her teachings on faith and morals are guided by God. If one teaching is wrong, then the claim of the Church would be a lie.

      • Richard-595743 May 5, 2013 Reply

        Please cite the passage(s) in the Bible that explicitly and without any shadow of a doubt substantiate your points. Doing this is the starting point of a discussion to be taken seriously.

    • Jean-968214 May 9, 2013 Reply

      How do you address the fact that the majority of artificial methods of birth control (except the barrier methods) are abortifacient? They don’t prevent conception from happening, they prevent implantation and a viable pregnancy, effectively causing a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) before the conception is even known. Such methods of contraception must be rejected both on grounds of the violating the nature of marriage and our Catholic theology of marriage, and on grounds of violating principles of medical ethics (do no harm).

  5. Philip-886437 April 18, 2013 Reply

    It may seem that way at first glance but NFP is not contraception, nor is it intended to be.

  6. John-940655 April 17, 2013 Reply

    I’m surprised to see the idea of controlling pregnancy by a woman watching her biological clock. How is this method any different than contraceptives? Both methods achieve the end result of sharing sexual desires while reducing the chance of pregnancy.

    • Bob-945720 April 24, 2013 Reply

      This is a fair question. The key is that the NFP couple are not making a particular sexual act (made fertile by God Himself) infertile. They are just choosing to have sex when they believe that they are infertile (definitely permissible) and choosing to not have sex on a day that they believe to be fertile (that’s OK, too, because we are not commanded to have sex every day 🙂

      They are not trying to thwart the will of God, but merely taking advantage of the way He designed things. If is not intrinsically a sin to say you are not presently ready for another child, but it is a sin to alter the sexual union so that it is different than God intends it to be.

  7. Philip-886437 April 17, 2013 Reply

    Another aspect to the use of contraceptives is this: the sexual union between a husband and wife is modeled after Christ’s filial love for each of us, in that we are to present ourselves and receive the other spouse as a complete gift of self to the other. This complete outpouring of ourselves is done for the good of the other, not for ourselves.

    Contraceptives distort the sexual union and encourages objectification of and by both spouses. It therefore diminishes the fullness of the marital covenant to a utilitarian view. Pregnancy is not a “consequence” of marital life it is the fruit of marital life and we should embrace it as such. Christ frequently uses marriage images as signs of the sanctity and permanence of the Father’s love for his people.

    Condoms are a false promise of absolute protection from STD and pregnancy and it clearly is not. Pope Benedict came under severe criticism for being unwilling to compromise on contraception in Africa due to the HIV pandemic. Once again the wisdom and love revealed in divine teaching becomes evident. In the sections of Africa where condoms are used HIV continues to spread. How clan this be? People falsely accept the “protection” it provides and in turn engage in more risky behaviors. In the one section of Africa where condoms are not viewed
    as the panacea HIV rates are going down. Even the head of the biology department at Harvard had to acknowledge such even though as ” a liberal it pains me (him)” to admit the pope was right.

    Finally Dr. Theresa Deicher who is the first person to discover adult stem cells in the human heart and has secured approximately 28 patents related to adult stem cell development opines there is an apparent correlation between use of estrogen birth control medication and breast cancer rates skyrocketing.

    If we as people of faith truly acknowledge God as the source of all eternal love and truth, as Catholics we should follow church teaching even if we don’t quite understand it. The church has not done a particularly effective job of teaching why the magisterium teaches what it does. When we accept the eucharist we are authenticating our fidelity to Christ and his church. Conscience formation is wholly dependent upon being aligned with church teaching. If it seems
    antiquated or “out of touch” with modern “culture” its due to the our faith being based on divine truth which is eternally reflective of God’s loving nature. Fortunately for us, God’s nature doesn’t change with the times or trends because could cannot be anything other than perfect and eternal.

    Sorry I went so long. I encourage you to read Theology of the Body by John Paul the blessed or at least start with Men and Women are from Eden. This will all become very clear to those who do. Christ’s peace be with you all.

  8. Anna-706350 April 16, 2013 Reply

    A very good article. We need to talk about this more! Thanks!

  9. Diana-956573 April 16, 2013 Reply

    Merci! 🙂

  10. Diana-956573 April 16, 2013 Reply

    Very well said Lisa. Just recently, I did message someone here in CM regarding that. I have 6/7 regarding Chruch teachings. I said No about Contraception. I do believe in the teachings of the church regarding contraception but I feel like I am a hypocrite. I do/did teach family planning in my home country where in we discuss about the Artifical and Natural method . We encouraged the mothers to practice that and be responsible in planning a family. But the thing is “I do believe in the Chruch teachings but I am doing the other way that the church condemn”. That is a hard part in practicing my profession and practicing a Catholic faith. However, I am already in another country right now where I haven’t practice my profession yet but definitely, I will not choose the expertise that will hinder my practice as a Catholic. I am now 7/7. I will be searching and reading more related this topic. May God bless your heart. 🙂

  11. Patrick-955401 April 16, 2013 Reply

    I checked off that I do not agree with the Church’s teaching on contraception. An explanation is in order. I do believe the Church’s teaching on contraception, actually, but in some circumstances, I believe the use of condoms is acceptable. I know a woman in Rwanda who was raped repeatedly during the genocide. He husband and one of her twin sons was murdered. She is now HIV positive. Should this woman, and many others in her situation, want to marry again, should she and her husband not have the use of condoms to protect the other from the spread of HIV-AIDS?
    What about the male prostitute who has an STD? What if they leave the sex industry, find healing in Christ, and decide to marry?
    I know Pope Benedict XVI spoke of these issues. I believe we need to continue to dialogue about them.

    • Bob-945720 April 21, 2013 Reply

      Patrick, Interestingly, the condom is only about 84% effective against preventing the spread of HIV (CDC study published several years ago) while about 90% effective at preventing pregnancy. This is because the AIDS virus is about 50 times smaller than human sperm. There are small pores in the latex that allow some breakthrough, even of sperm. Just as condom use among singles increases the rate of abortion (fact), condom use among partners with AIDS increase its spread. The reason is that the false sense of security causes more risky behavior to occur. Pope Benedict XVI did not approve of condom use in that situation. He spoke of male prostitutes (possibly with AIDS) using them and said that such use might be somewhat loving on their part. In my opinion, the key fact missed by the media on this statement was that male prostitutes do not typically have female clients, so the contraceptive issue was not a factor. The condom affords little assurance to the repentant male prostitute who desires a wife. If the marriage is not naturally open to life it is not a real marriage. I guess I could understand a couple risking the transmission of a serious STD in order to have a child, but doing it just for “recreational” sex would be hard for me to fathom. That doesn’t seem much like a Christian marriage. Personally, I would avoid marriage in such an instance. The Church’s teaching on marital chastity, like its other moral teachings, is accepted by those who have faith that Our Lord is guiding His Church. If any of its moral teachings are wrong, then any of them may be wrong–Then the Church would be a sham. Please send me a note if you would like to discuss this further. Sincerely, Bob

  12. Gary-936836 April 16, 2013 Reply

    The fact that the Catholic Church has remained strong on the sexual teachings of the early church (which I now know IS the Catholic Church) is a compelling reason for my conversion. This is an unpopular teaching; saying that sex, which is meant for unity, pleasure, and children, may not be reduced to two or one of those, will definitely not be politically correct. If the Catholic Church has kept right on this issue, then I find the Church trustworthy overall.

    Often, the argument that it would be irresponsible for someone to have more kids is essentially a eugenics argument that only the wealthy should be having children. But since sex leads to children, and people strongly desire sex, we should therefore break the Church’s rules — especially if we’re too poor to believe God will provide for all the children HE chooses to give to us, or to other couples.

    It is a lack of faith. God chooses when/if you have children during sex. Can you trust God to not give you more than He will empower you to handle?

  13. Tara-916865 April 15, 2013 Reply

    Thank you! Though I’ve never been 6/7, I still struggled with accepting this teaching years back. I never even know ABC was against the church until I was around 20 or 21. You explained it well, and I can pass this along to anyone else who doesn’t quite get it. Thanks, Lisa!

  14. JoAnne-462525 April 15, 2013 Reply

    What about a person in their 50’s who is still fertile enough to have a child, but knows it would not be wise to do so. Should this person abstain from having sex with their spouse entil she enters menopause and is not longer able to have children? Would it be okay for her husband to use a condom?

    • Lisa-727959 April 15, 2013 Reply

      Hi, Joanne,

      Thanks for your question. Humanae vitae provides the answer you need for the first part of your question:

      “With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time (Item #10).”

      As for using condoms, that would fall under the umbrella of artificial contraception, and is not permissible. You should look into learning Natural Family Planning, even at age 50, because it will open up a whole new world for you that will help you know what to do.

      Sincerely – Lisa Duffy

  15. Naomi-825244 April 15, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for writing this article, Lisa! Nicely done. It has been my experience that most folks who do not agree with the Church on contraception think that it is okay to disagree with the church, and that they do not actually have a complete understanding of the nature of the church’s teachings and why she forbids contraception. Those of us who do know what the church teaches must be reminded not to judge and write folks off for their stance, but to practice respect and the spiritual work of instructing the ignorant.

    Just as an aside, there are very few people living in poverty solely because of the number of their children. I have several young friends with 4 or 6 children and they have had financial struggles, but the children have not plunged them into the depths of the impoverished classes. My own family has 8 kids and we were quite poor, though I didn’t realize this until I grew up. Would we have been better off if we had only 2 kids? probably financially, but certainly not spiritually. Were my parents irresponsible for remaining open to God’s will? Well, we never went hungry, we always had warm clothes and took baths every day. Sometimes Santa didn’t bring much but we were always happy and felt safe. We were never on welfare and only had had food stamps for 3 months while dad was out of work. I thank God for my parents and their witness to the Christian lifestyle, even when it is not easy.

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy April 15, 2013 Reply

      Amen, Naomi! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      – Lisa

      • Jennifer-939674 April 17, 2013 Reply

        Amen for Sure Naomi!! If God blesses us with children, He will Bless us with a way to provide for them. Wealth of the spirit is so much better then wealth of the wallet.

  16. Nigel-748943 April 15, 2013 Reply

    The purpose of sexual activity, between a man and a woman, is the creation of human life.

    Artificial contraception encourages promiscuous sexual activity; promiscuous sexual activity results in abortion.

    Artificial contraception is anti-christian, and anti-family.

    The Roman Catholic Church has the duty, and the right, to vehemently condemn artificial contraception.

    The Roman Catholic Church encourages a natural form of contraception, called the Billings Ovulation Method.

    I would like to ask Roman Catholic bioethicists, and moral theologians, to teach the world’s Roman Catholics, to acquire knowledge of the Billings Ovulation Method.

    Venerable Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humane Vitae, is, in my opinion, an infallible ecclesiastical document!!!

    Perth, Westrn Australia. AUSTRALIA.

Post a comment