Lamenting an “impoverished cultural view” which sees sex as a merely recreational activity, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a document this week aimed at addressing questions of sex, marriage, and contraception.
The Document titled, “Married Love and the Gift of Life,” acknowledges that, “God’s plan for married life and love is far richer and more fulfilling,” than the view offered by many today. In God’s plan, the bishops say, “sexuality is the source of a joy and pleasure that helps the spouses give themselves to each other completely and for their entire lives.”
In the Document, which was presented to the main body of bishops by Baltimore’s Cardinal William Keeler and the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, “the Church teaches that the sexual union of husband and wife is meant to express the full meaning of love, its power to bind a couple together and its openness to new life.”
“Married love differs from any other love in the world. By its nature, the love of husband and wife is so complete, so ordered to a lifetime of communion with God and each other, that it is open to creating a new human being they will love and care for together,” the document continues.
That being said, the document continues, when contraception is used, “when married couples deliberately act to suppress fertility… sexual intercourse is no longer fully marital intercourse. It is something less powerful and intimate, something more ‘casual.’
The use of contraception, the bishops said, not only denies part of the inherent meaning of sexuality, but it actually “does harm to the couple’s unity.”
The bishops admitted that many couples “through no fault of their own, have not heard (or not heard in a way they could appreciate and understand)” the Church’s teaching on the harms of contraception. “But as many couples who have turned away from contraception tell us, living this teaching can contribute to the honesty, openness, and intimacy of marriage and help make couples truly fulfilled.”
The document goes on to explore, in depth, the Church’s teaching on married sexual relations open to life and notes the benefits of natural family planning, which the bishops note is not simply based on a calendar date, but a series of scientifically observable signs in the woman’s body.
“Living God’s design for human sexuality in marriage can be difficult,” the bishops conclude, “But husbands and wives have not been left alone to live out this fundamental life challenge...The Church’s teaching on marital sexuality is an invitation for men and women—an invitation to let God be God, to receive the gift of God’s love and care, and to let this gift inform and transform us, so we may share that love with each other and with the world.”
To read the bishops’ document in full visit the USCCB website at www.usccb.org.