Clarifying Contraception

I was just told that contraception is acceptable if one spouse in a marriage believes it is wrong but the other spouse insists on it, saying that without it, he or she won’t have intercourse. In this case is it morally acceptable for the spouse who believes it’s wrong to have intercourse with the contracepting spouse?

Name withheld

Fr. Rocky:  First, we need to be a bit more precise here.   Artificial birth control – contraception – is never acceptable. A wife, under protest, could cooperate with her husband’s amorous overtures even though he renders the act infertile. In this case, in view of the larger good for the family of keeping the marriage together and the husband faithful, the wife could cooperate with no sin on her part. Still, the husband commits a sin.

On the other hand, if the wife is the contracepting party, I do not see how the husband could cooperate unless the woman had been permanently sterilized against his will.

All other methods of contraception (the pill, the IUD, etc) are potentially abortifacient; therefore, invoking the principle of double effect would not allow this cooperation, because the evil effect of the death of a newly conceived human being – even if indirect and secondary – far outweighs the possible good effect.

“Monday Morning Short Answers to Big Questions” by Rev. Francis J. Hoffman
Rev. Francis J. Hoffman, "Fr. Rocky" is the Executive Director/CEO of Relevant Radio and a priest of Opus Dei.