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How the Contraceptive Mindset Helped Pave the Way to Same-Sex “Marriage”

Zygote comes from the Greek word meaning yoked, joined together.

After looking at the comments left on my last post, Was Jesus Really Silent on Same-Sex “Marriage”?, I recognized the need to be more explicit on a point. Even though the gospels record only a few statements from Jesus regarding marriage, it is enough to undercut any claim by Christians that marriage should be redefined to include same-gender couples. Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:3-12 give a biological order that must be observed in the Christian definition of marriage: Unless “a man” and “his wife … become one flesh,” there is no valid marriage.

What I did not come out and say explicitly, although I have no doubt the majority of you understood, was how the marital relationship described by Jesus ( life-long, sexually consummated, male-female) yields good fruit – the conception, birth, and nurturing of the next generation. It is implicit in Jesus’ teaching about marriage. He told his listeners that if they wished to understand God’s vision for marriage, they had to look to how it functioned in “the beginning” and quoted Gen.1:27 and 2:24.

Sandwiched between those two verses is Gen.1:28 where after blessing them, God says to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.” New life is the natural end of a husband and wife’s union in the flesh. (Speaking from a purely biological point of view, it’s the only end.) By digging into Jesus’ words and following his lead to Genesis we find nothing but support for the traditional Christian definition of marriage: The life-long union of man and woman for the purpose of mutual support and the welcoming of new life into the world.

I say this is the traditional understanding of marriage among Christians. From it you can see why quotation marks often surround the word marriage when orthodox Christians write about same-sex “marriage.” Two elements necessary for a valid marriage are missing: male and female genital union and the resultant possibility of new life. One of the reasons (and please note, I do not claim that it is the sole reason) there can be a push for same-sex “marriage,” even among Christians, is that many of us have allowed a wedge to be driven between the unitive and procreative dimensions of the marital act – and that wedge is contraception.

Since 1930, when the Lambeth Conference passed a resolution giving sanction for the Anglican faithful to have recourse to contraception in some limited cases, the practice of contraception has swept through Christianity like a wild fire. One by one, denominations jettisoned the ancient Christian conviction that intentionally sterilizing the marital act, the sexual act, was a sin. The Catholic Church is the only witness left standing, and only a handful of her children practice what she preaches.

Like the rest of Western culture, the majority of baptized Christians no longer understand marriage as do Christ and His Church, and contraception has had a decisive role. Marriage and the marital act became solely about uniting the spouses, and the conception of children became optional instead of inherent in the sexual act. For the first time in history it was possible for Christian to lose sight of the what made the union of man and woman in Christian marriage so utterly incredible – making present the mystery of Christ and the Church, they shared in the conception and nurturing of children for the Kingdom.

When that understanding, that biological truth about the marital relationship, was lost, Christians became susceptible to the cultural push for same-sex “marriage.” If marriage is about the union of two people, then of course the deep emotional and sexual relationship between two men or two women, can be a marriage. They no longer understand that to be a valid Christian marriage, the necessary biology has to be present – only a man and woman become “one flesh” in a manner that produces new life. Acts between individuals of the same gender can be pleasurable, may create emotional bonds between the individuals, but the union between them can never reach the level of reality where it “takes on a life of its own.”

It’s such a basic biological fact; sadly, many of us have contracepted ourselves blind.


Christopher Eden has worked with evangelistic and retreat apostolates for 25 years.  He has served as a coordinator for RCIA as well as working in youth ministry.
  • hanley18106

    Cricket, cricket. (what my kids say when there is just silence…) Not surprising we have no comments on this article yet…given that most readers of even the “conservative” catholic websites think they are correct in supporting contraceptives. This isn’t a message they want to hear….

    • Mary Kochan

      or… silence implies consent…

  • L

    As the mother of 8 kids, I agree and accept completely the theology of the sacrament of marriage. However, when I read essays such as this, I am left wondering about marriages where the husband and wife would gratefully bear as many children as possible but, for whatever physical reason, cannot. Are these not considered valid marriages. Maybe I’m reading this essay wrongly, but it does seem to suggest that their union doesn’t rise to the level of marriage as it doesn’t bear the fruit of children. Must they adopt to validate their union? Or does the desire for children validate them.

    I don’t disagree with the fundamental assertion that contraception is an age old evil, however, unless this aspect of marital union is addressed I feel something important is missing and the argument for same-sex marriage cannot be wholly be dismantled.

  • Dear L, just a quick response to put your mind at ease: Our Church does recognize the marriages of men and women who find themselves infertile as valid, sacramental marriages. (I’m always touched at the way some of our great OT saints such as Abraham & Sarah, Elkanah & Hannah, Zechariah & Elizabeth struggled with infertility and conceived only later only through God’s miraculous intervention.) If a couple never conceives children, it doesn’t invalidate their marriage. Even the most fertile of couples do not conceive a child every time they become one flesh; those expressions of love that do not result in conception are not thought of as “less valid” than those that do. If I may be so bold as to speak for this author, the point he wants to make is that God has “ordered the sexual act toward” bringing new life into the world. There is no sin or invalidity when conception does not take place; sin enters the picture when we intentionally distort the sexual act as created by God, whether that be through acts of contraception or, if I may use the term, “misuse” of our genitals. Does that help at all?

  • wgsullivan

    John Paul II addresses this point in Theology of the Body. Some have broken it down to FFTF. Free, Faithful, Total, Fruitful. All four are essential. If the openness to any of these is not present, the act is not as God intended. Openness is the key. One may by no fault of their own, be able to pro-create. However if they are open to life the intent is true. Homosexual sex acts by their very nature are closed to life. That is why contraception and homosexual sex acts are in the same category. They are closed to life by intent AND nature.

  • guest

    There is a phoniness in NFP. No one is really open to having babies for 25-30 years. Most couples who marry in their twenties and have 2-5 children ( the common range) by the time they are thirty something ,or younger, do not want any more children. With 20 -25 more childbearing years to go, they need to choose whatever method of birth control they have confidence in. This is necessary for all good reasons of sanity, solvency, and general health, especially of the mother. Some NFPers even admit their fear once they have reached 4 or 5 children. One size of birth control cannot fit all; moreover, NFP lays heavy burdens on couples, especially the woman. She must ” get it right “every day of every month, a dicey and stressful exercise. It is a very bizarre fallacy to believe that acceptance of contraception must lead to acceptance of same sex marriage, abortion, and euthanasia. From my own experience, and those of others I know, this just isn’t true.

    • Ronk

      The article doesn’t say that the progression happens in an individual (it often doesn’t) but in a society over a period – 85 years (almost four generations) in this case.

    • Ronk

      What I find a “bizarre fallacy” is your claim that
      “NFP lays heavy burdens on couples, especially the woman. She must ” get it right “every day of every month, a dicey and stressful exercise.”
      Contraception imposes far greater burdens, every day, and imposes them ONLY on the woman.

  • Guest

    “Guest”, nice post.

    • goral

      This article is nearly 2 yrs. old. I don’t think it’s applicable any more. We moderns abide only by the most recent information. Let’s face it, most marriages don’t last more than 25-30 years. Why have children in a marriage that is most likely going to be shipwrecked?
      “Born Free, to follow your heart!” OK, one minor condition, you first have to be born. Let’s not get hung up on logic. For now, PP is right, NFG is just NG.

      • goral

        The N’s G’s and P’s got a little scrambled, perhaps in a Freudian way.