Cooperating with the Creator: The Church and Birth Control

From Inside Catholic:

If you had collared me before I was Catholic and asked my opinion of Rome’s teaching on artificial contraception, I would have said something like this:

I understand and applaud the Magisterium’s opposition to abortion, since abortion kills people. But I’m not comfortable with the Church’s stodgy stand on artificial contraception based on Her opposition to ‘interference with nature.’ After all, we interfere with nature all the time when we dye our hair, pierce our ears, and use sun blockers to avoid the natural process of suntan and skin cancer. So it seems to me that the real question is not ‘Shall we interfere?’ but, ‘At what level are we comfortable interfering?’

This seemed to me a deft deflection of the Church’s “intrusive” teaching — until I started thinking about the challenge of biotechnology and genetic engineering. I began to recognize that my use of the word “interference” was a lousy blanket term for describing every sort of technological fiddling with nature and (as is especially the case with molecular biology) with persons. Both a gunshot and a penicillin shot “interfere” with human biology.

However, such interference springs from markedly different intentions and has markedly different results. Of course, other interference, like piercing ears or dyeing hair, is largely morally neutral. That’s why indiscriminately labeling everything from vaccination to fetal harvesting as “interference” and then appealing to “comfort levels” to determine what shall and shall not be done is — I came to realize — hopelessly inadequate.

The question of how to care for and love human life at its most basic level isn’t a matter of obeying the whims of human comfort, but of obeying the will of the Creator of human life. The more I pondered the momentous dangers posed to the dignity of the human person by biotechnology, the more perilous and premature my ephemeral “comfort” dodge appeared. It became obvious to me that matters pertaining to the most fundamental truths of human existence could not be left merely to one’s sense of comfort, but could only be decided on a much more solid basis: “What is good, and what is evil?”

I began to wonder, “According to revelation, just what is God up to in creating a human being?”

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