The rationale for getting the vasectomy procedure done can range between a few common points.
Common thinking behind getting one is that a couple has done their part in having at least two children. They have, more or less, earned the “right” to call it quits on having anymore.
Another normal thought process in our present age is that getting the vasectomy done would be justifiable for newlyweds too. Why fuss with having to change diapers and to pay for college tuition? Just sit back, relax, enjoy each other’s company. Get the “snip snip” and take an extra vacation or two every year.
Do these situations or any others make getting the vasectomy done a morally permissible thing to do?
CLERGY CAUSING SCANDAL
Some Catholic clergy these days advise their congregants getting the vasectomy procedure would be morally permissible.
Of course, such advice remains morally reprehensible.
The Catholic Church has always condemned contraception use. Purposely sterilizing one’s self, obviously, falls under the category of this grave sin.
I know of plenty of cases where Catholic clergy have told Catholic laymen that getting the vasectomy completed would be justified. If you have ever been advised by a clergy member to go ahead with getting the vasectomy procedure, then you were told wrong.
Such counsel from moral authorities such as priests, deacons, and even diocesan employees registers as scandalous behavior.
WHY GETTING THE VASECTOMY DONE IS A BIG MORAL NO-NO
The human body consists in many different parts. The ears function by listening. The hands allow for touching and holding. The stomach exists to digest food. On and on we go.
We can reason to the purpose for the different body parts by examining how they function naturally.
By getting a vasectomy, a man is purposely mutilating a reproductive part of his body to render it unable to function as it should.
This means every time thereafter that he has sex, he is engaging in an unnatural act.
If left alone prior to the vasectomy, his body would be capable of procreation. Once he has conjugal relations with a fertile woman, he can become a father.
By getting the vasectomy’s “snip-snip,” a man has rendered all his future sex sterile. And such sterile sex—whether it be by sterilization, contraception, or homosexual acts—remains unnatural and immoral.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes it clear sterilization, for non-therapeutic reasons remains a grave sin (#2399, cf. 2297).
Pope Pius XII broke it down this way:
“Direct sterilization—that is, the sterilization which aims, either as a means or as an end in itself, to render child-bearing impossible-is a grave violation of the moral law, and therefore unlawful…
“[W]hen sterilization began to be much more widely used the Holy See was obliged to declare openly and explicitly that direct sterilization, permanent or temporary, whether of men or women, is illicit in virtue of the natural law, from which the Church herself, as you know, has no power to dispense” (Allocution to Midwives, October 29, 1951).
RESPONDING TO TWO ALL-TOO-COMMON OBJECTIONS
On the contrary, many people are quick to point out, not all sexual acts result in children. Even if a couple has no sterilized members, they will not produce children with every marital act they have. Thus, is this not proof that the marital act need not to produce kids? Doesn’t this prove vasectomies are morally permissible?
The answer remains that everyone who engages in the marital act ought to remain open to the possibility of new life being created.
Just because not every marital act results in a child does not negate the primary purpose of that act is to, in fact, produce children.
The Church does not teach that the only purpose for the conjugal act is to produce children. Far from it. Rather, the Church teaches the primary end for the marital act remains procreation.
By definition, anyone getting a vasectomy has thwarted the primary purpose of the conjugal act. In other words, they have perverted the act and turned it into something else.
The other objection heard here most frequently is the example of a post-menopausal couple or an infertile couple. In those cases, those couples remain physically incapable of producing children. Therefore, can we not conclude a couple with a vasectomy is doing nothing wrong in their inability to physically create any children?
No, we cannot draw a moral equivalence.
In the comparison to an elderly or post-menopausal couple, one big distinction must be made. A woman’s body naturally stops releasing eggs all on its own. When this occurs, it means her body is acting the way it ought to.
Any marital acts following this change to the wife’s fertility are still completely morally licit. After all, the conjugal act has a secondary purpose of unifying the spouses and curbing concupiscence. These are still noble ends to pursue.
This is not the same as engaging in the act when fertility could be naturally available but is rendered sterile on account of getting the vasectomy (or a tubal ligation).
The post-menopausal couple does what comes natural. The sterilized couple has rendered their sex unnatural. Huge difference.
And lastly, as to the comparison to an infertile couple, a couple remarks can be made.
The couple that cannot physically get pregnant due to a complication in their reproductive system or elsewhere suffer from a physical condition. This condition means one or both bodies are not functioning in the way nature intended.
This situation differs greatly from the one created by getting the vasectomy procedure. The former cannot produce kids by no fault of their own. The latter brought on their condition willfully. The former can will to have kids and be unable. The latter wills for no kids and engages in a perverted act to prove as much.
For anyone interested, it may be possible to get a vasectomy reversal. These are not uncommon.
For more information on where to obtain one and whom to talk to about one, I encourage you to visit here for a list of doctors ready to help you.
Have you been advised by clergy that getting the vasectomy procedure would be morally permissible?
I encourage you to leave any thoughts you have on this topic below.