Is using contraception a mortal sin?
Given its popularity among Christians, even Catholics, the answer could help determine the fate of so many of its users.
WHAT IS ‘CONTRACEPTION’?
To help us arrive at the proper response, let us first define what we mean by ‘contraception.’
In Latin coepi means ‘to begin.’ And in Latin contra means ‘against.’ Taken together, ‘contraception’ means literally ‘against the beginning.’
We can see how the etymology of the word makes sense. ‘Contraception,’ thus, means being against the beginning of new human life.
This too makes sense, since, by definition, contraception, as it is available in nearly every pharmacy in the country today, seeks to prevent human life from forming.
To see what the Bible has to say about using contraception, download for free my ebook, “7 Biblical Passages Against Birth Control… And How to Use Them to Defend Life,” by signing up to the right!”
Okay, now let’s add a little muscle to our bare-bones definition of ‘contraception.’
Pope Paul VI wrote a landmark encyclical in 1968 called Humanae Vitae (‘On Human Life’). In section 14, he lumped direct abortion and contraception—two forms of birth control—together. The Vicar of Christ defined contraception to be the following:
“[W]e must once again declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and, above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth. Equally to be excluded, as the teaching authority of the Church has frequently declared, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman. Similarly excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” (emphasis added).
So, the Birth Control Pill here would be included as morally illicit. Direct sterilization would be, as well. Condoms, spermicides, IUDs, and so on, all are also included as immoral, when used in the conjugal act, to prevent procreation.
BUT IS USING CONTRACEPTION A MORTAL SIN?
“For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: ‘Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent,’” reads Catechism of the Catholic Church 1857 (emphasis added).
Therefore, to be guilty of a mortal sin, the act must be a grave offense, the person needs to know it is grave, and the person must will to do it anyway.
So, that begs the question, does using contraception fall in the category of a grave offense?
Well, Pope Paul VI already answers that question above, putting contraception and direct abortion together as acts “absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth.”
Moreover, Catechism 2370 concurs on the moral depravity of contraception use. It states, “[E]very action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil” (emphasis added).
Catch that? The Catechism rightly calls using contraception to prevent procreation “intrinsically evil.” This means it is inherently evil and should never, ever be done.
What’s more, the Catechism makes a similar statement elsewhere, as well: “Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means… for example, direct sterilization or contraception” (#2399).
So, yes, to use contraception so as to prevent procreation constitutes a grave offense against God.
And so, is using contraception a mortal sin? Yes. Yes it is, if people know it is a grave offense and yet choose to do it anyway.
Now that you have read this article, you know.
Feel free to leave comment below.