PART III: LIFE IN CHRIST
Section Two: The Ten Commandments
Chapter 2: “You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself”
Article 6, The Sixth Commandment
III. The Love of Husband and Wife
The fecundity [fruitfulness] of marriage (cont’d)
§ 2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:
- “When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts, criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart” (GS 51 § 3).
§ 2369 “By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man’s exalted vocation to parenthood” (cf. HV 12).
§ 2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality (HV 16). These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every 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 (HV 14):
- “Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality…The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle …involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality” (FC 32).
Tomorrow – The fecundity [fruitfulness] of marriage (to be continued)
(Part III, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 6 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviations in today’s posting are noted below.]
- “cf.” – “confer ”
- “FC” – Pope St. John Paul II (Nov 1981), “Familiaris Consortio [At the Service of the Family]”
- “GS” – “Gaudium et Spes [Joy and Hope]”, Vatican Council II
- “HV” – Pope St. Paul VI (July 1968), “Humanae Vitae [Of Human Life]”