Catholics believe that sexual intercourse is an act to be performed strictly by married couples. It is to be used for procreation and forming an emotional and physical bond between the couple. The Catholic Church promotes Natural Family Planning (NFP) as the only acceptable form of birth control.
Natural Family Planning, also known as Fertility Awareness, the Ovulation Method, the Sympto-Thermal Method, or the Billings Method focuses on avoiding intercourse during the times that a woman is most fertile. The woman tracks her most fertile times by using a calendar to record her menstrual cycles and also taking her basal body temperature and watching for changes in her cervical mucus. The Catholic Church advises the couple to avoid intercourse during a woman’s ovulation time if they are not looking to have a child. A majority of the world, including practicing Catholics, do not follow the Natural Family Planning method. The main reason for this is that the more modern world views sexual intercourse as a means of bringing pleasure to themselves or their partner and not just as a means of procreation and bonding between a married couple. In addition, there are many contraceptive methods available today and this is a more effective method to avoiding unwanted pregnancies.
The Catholic Church, however, has held steadfast to its view on contraception as far back as history has been recorded, but recently has showed a slight modification of their views regarding condom usage which will help eliminate the spread of HIV/Aids. Pope Benedict XVI has given a few interviews in recent years where he stated that the use of condoms by prostitutes who are HIV positive is “the first step in respecting the life of another even if the evil of prostitution remains in all its gravity.” With the increase of sexually transmitted diseases, abortions, and teen pregnancies in the world some modification to the Church’s teachings on contraception will most likely take place. At least that is the hope by many Catholics who are more in line with the more modern approach to contraception.
Recently, the President of the United States of America proposed legislation that would require all employers, including Catholic hospitals, churches, and other religious organizations, to provide free birth control to their employees. The Catholic Church has opposed this and insists that they will continue to do so. This is just one example of how modern times are challenging the beliefs of the Catholic Church on contraception.
The Catholic Church’s beliefs are based on the fact that God created sexual intercourse for the sake of creating life; therefore, the world should practice it in the way that God intended. On a man and woman’s wedding day, sexual intercourse is meant to be a physical display of the couple’s wedding vows. Practicing intercourse in any other form, or outside of the sacrament of marriage, is considered a sin because it goes against all that God intended. The Catholic Church states that using contraception during intercourse interferes with the production of a human life, and is believed by some Catholics to be as sinful as murder. These Catholics believe that by using contraception you are essentially killing human life before conception.
Many Catholics are beginning to adopt a more modern belief in regards to contraception in that it should be allowed as a form of protection against sexually transmitted diseases. However, the church has stayed strong on their teachings and will most likely not modify their stance on contraception for a very long time.