Could the Catholics Be Right on Contraception and Reproductive Technology?

By Julie Roys

(I was raised in an evangelical home and taught that contraception and reproductive technologies are okay, as long as they don’t destroy live embryos. But lately, I’ve been re-thinking this position.  Some of this is due to the strength of Catholic arguments I’ve read that stress the deeply spiritual symbolic meaning of sex and reproduction.  Also influencing me has been considering the disastrous fruit of contraception and Artificial Reproductive Technologies. Below are my recent thoughts concerning on the latter.)

 She’s the “child of a stranger” – the product of an anonymous sperm donor at Baylor University in the early 1980s.  For years, Kathleen LaBounty has searched for her “missing family” – for her biological father and potential half-siblings.  She’s contacted some 600 men who attended the school her father reportedly attended and received 250 responses.  But to date, Kathleen LaBounty still doesn’t know her father’s identity. 

LaBounty’s situation highlights a problem associated with a booming industry that’s gradually redefining the family.  Professionals call the industry Artificial Reproductive Technology, or ART.  But, Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family calls sperm donation and artificial insemination “disembodied procreation.”  And, he asserts that the growth of this industry is spawning one of the most significant social and cultural trends of 2012.

Stanton is right.  In the past decade, the use of ART has doubled, creating family situations God never intended.  Many so-called “test-tube babies” never know their fathers.  Those from especially prolific donors have dozens or even hundreds of half-siblings.  And some, in violation of God’s design, are raised in homes with same-sex parents.

ART has made it possible to mix and match children and parents in any combination imaginable.  In truth, it’s taken contraception, the separation of sex from procreation, to the next level – the separation of children from their biological parents.  And, like contraception spawned the hook-up culture, now ART is spawning alternative families.

For decades, evangelicals have dismissed as too Catholic the theology that God intended sex – or the act of marriage – to be inseparable from procreation and vice-versa.  Yet, maybe we evangelicals need to re-think this one.  Maybe we need to adopt a theology that submits to the natural order, instead of defying it – one that makes Kathleen LaBounty’s situation more rare, not increasingly common.  



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4 thoughts on “Could the Catholics Be Right on Contraception and Reproductive Technology?”

  1. Proverbs 3:5-6(NIV)
    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

    …except for when it comes to deciding when you should have children and how many…

    As Christians, I think we tinker too much in the ways of the Lord when it comes to procreation. If we don’t trust the Lord when it comes to something big like this, how can we say we trust Him at all? A total hot button issue, but I am, and have always been, with the Catholics on this issue.


  2. I think the term “disembodied procreation” says it all when it comes to removing the identity of one or both biological parents from the process. Science has indeed gone too far, and there is no sign of it slowing down. Not when there is money to be made. It is wrong, not only spiritually, but from a humanistic point of view. How can we not assume that every child has a right to know who his or her parents are?

    I know you are addressing ART, and its harmful consequences. But you lose me when you bring in Catholic teaching on sex and procreation. Having grown up the son of a “bastard” child who grew up in a Catholic culture, I’m not interested at all in anything the good old boys in robes have to say about procreation – whether in the lab, the street or the back of a car. They can say all they want about the “deeply spiritual symbolism” of sex, but I assure you that the unwanted, unplanned children who are left to fend on their own in countries like Brazil are not symbolic. They are as real as their suffering.

    Luke – in his gospel – takes it as a given that we are to “consider the cost” before undertaking the building of a tower. Surely a human life is to be given at least the same consideration. The unborn don’t have an opportunity to consider the cost of our actions, but we do. I believe that every one of us – including married couples – should carefully consider the cost of every intimate encounter and act responsibly. I’ve taught my children the biblical admonitions against pre-marital sex, and have made it clear that they are as valid today as when they were written. But I’ve also begged them to consider the consequences of any sexual encounter and the need to act responsibly.

    Sorry – you hit a raw nerve.

    1. Anonymous,
      I’m sorry you feel the way you do. Though you say you may have “grown up in a Catholic cultre”, the fact is that though you may have lived with people who carried the name without practice says nothing about the teaching of the faith. If, after “x” amount of years, you reject the faith, then say so, but don’t resort to cheap, inaccurate shots.
      Sorry, you hit a raw nerve.

  3. I find this topic interesting, in particular since I am Catholic. Isn’t it interesting the discussions we have concerning the living out of the marital vocation? This piece discusses the legitimacy of the pro-creative aspect of the vocation without the unitive, and then we have the discussions of the legitimacy of contraception; the unitive without the pro-creative.
    It’s really this simple: we are created in the image of God. God is unitive and creative together; in fact He is the perfection of it. THis is how we are ordered from the beginning. Adam and Eve were told to “be fruitful and multiply”, so too was Noah. This was the concern of Pharo; how the Hebrews grew in number. Jerusalem was refered to as the woman (the continuance of the role of Eve)whom the prophets ended up refering to as the “harlot”. Jesus also points to this in the story of the woman caught in adultery, of which John finalizes the description in Revelation.
    The Church is the bride of Christ; the “new Jerusalem”/woman, the one through whom we multiply as is written in the book of Acts on Penticost. This is God’s design, and it’s no wonder that when we operate outside of that order we become a confused people.

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