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What does the Church say about Contraception?

What does the Catholic Church teach about married love?

Marriage is an intimate, lifelong partnership in which husbands and wives give and receive love unselfishly. The sexual relationship expresses their married love and shows what it means to become "one body" (Gen 2:24) and "one flesh" (Mark 10:8, Matthew 19:6). The sexual union is meant to express the full meaning of a couple's love, its power to bind them together "the unitive aspect of marriage "and "its openness to new life" the procreative aspect.

What does this have to do with contraception?

The Church believes that God has established an inseparable bond between the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage. The couple has promised to give themselves to each other, and this mutual self-giving includes the gift of their fertility. This means that each sexual act in a marriage needs to be open to the possibility of conceiving a child. Thus, artificial contraception is contrary to God's will for marriage because it separates the act of conception from sexual union.

A couple need not intend to conceive a child in every act of intercourse. But they should never suppress the life-giving power that is part of what they pledged in their marriage vows.

Are couples expected to leave their family size entirely to chance?

No. Serious circumstances "financial, physical, psychological, or those involving responsibilities to other family members" may affect the number and spacing of children. The Church understands this, while encouraging couples to take a generous view of children.

What should a couple do if they have good reason to avoid having a child?

A married couple can engage in intercourse during the naturally infertile times in a woman's cycle, or after childbearing years, without violating the meaning of marital intercourse. This is the principle behind natural family planning and Fertility Based Awareness Methods (FABMs). For further information about FABMs and where to seek personal instruction from an accredited body please see here

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The explanations on this page have been taken from the US Bishops Conference website For Your Marriage. Used with permission.

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