Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

5/25/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

One consequence implied but not expressly mentioned by Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae vitae was the logical link between the acceptance of contraception and homosexual sex.  In her essay on the subject entitled "Contraception and Chastity," however, the Catholic philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe saw it clearly:  "If contraceptive intercourse is permissible," she wrote in the early 1970s, "it becomes perfectly impossible to see anything wrong with homosexual intercourse."


By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (

5/25/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: contraception, Humanae vitae, homosexuality, human sexuality, Pope Paul VI, Elizabeth Anscombe, Andrew M. Greenwell

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Ideas have consequences, as the title of Richard Weaver's famous book points out, especially if the ideas become acculturated and internalized and so part of the conventions of a social body. 

One such idea is the idea that artificial contraception, which is to say the intentional severance by technical means of the sexual act and procreation (which are naturally united in an unhampered normal sexual act) is a good.  This necessarily means that sex artificially unmoored from its procreative aspect is a good, and this further necessarily implies that any sex, including sex naturally unprocreative such as homosexual sex, is good.

The Church, of course, teaches that artificial contraception is never, under any circumstances, a good.  Intentional and knowing use of artificial contraception is, in each and every case, an intrinsic evil.  The general reason behind this is that it is wrong, against the natural moral law and the nature of the sexual act, intentionally to sever the procreative aspect of human sexuality from the unitive aspect of human sexuality.  (See generally The Catechsim of the Catholic Church # 2366- 70 and Humanae Vitae (On Human Life) No. 12, 14)
But that idea has been rejected by Western societies--frequently by supposed Catholics themselves--and the Church appears to be the lone voice crying out in the wilderness.  But as John T. Noonan wrote in his book on the history of contraception, the "idea that offspring were to be avoided," and sex nevertheless justified as good, was an idea that was to have morally and socially "dangerous" consequences.

Once the idea that artificial contraception was a good had become acculturated, we found ourselves in a "contraceptive culture."  What naturally follows is that all cultural structures--the media, schools, advertisers, social services--promote that culture so that it becomes internalized, habitual, a second nature to the individual in that culture.

Once the contraceptive culture has also become internalized by the people, they form what has been referred to as a -contraceptive mentality.  When that occurs, not only has culture as a whole adapted to see contraception as a good, making it a social convention, but it has become internalized, habitual, on a one-by-one basis and we have trouble even seeing outside the conventions of the day. 

The natural law can thus be silenced, as it was in slave-holding societies where the population had developed a slave owning mentality, or in Nazi Germany, where there was an anti-Semitic mentality, or, in the example that St. Thomas Aquinas gives, among the Germanic tribes where thievery was considered morally acceptable.  (S.T. IaIIae, q. 94, art. 4, c.)

This contraceptive mentality views as normal the separation of sexual intercourse from procreation.  It never even enters the head of someone with a contraceptive mentality that there is something despicable in severing the unitive aspect of sexual intercourse from its procreative aspect by artificial means. 

Not only does someone with a contraceptive mentality not see or even intimate the evil, he or she may perversely see himself or herself as exercising responsible parenthood or responsible sexuality by using artificial contraception.  The ability to access authentic conscience is dulled, and--without grace--ordinarily unreachable.  Reason alone has a hard time breaking through a contraceptive mentality because reason's quiet voice is both drowned out by the load noise of lust and muffled by the walls of social convention.

The last step in this progression is when the idea that has become acculturated and internalized becomes a legal right.  Then the full public force of law is behind the idea, forcing it on one-and-all.  We have reached such a nadir in this country, where we view contraception as a right, one even to be funded by the common treasury, one even imposed upon religious consciences that hold to the natural moral law and traditional religious teaching which considers it an intrinsic evil.  Such a society has become habituated to evil.  It is a vicious society.
It was, and is, naďve to think that a contraceptive culture and contraceptive mentality do not have social consequences.  These were quite foreseeable.  It did not take a prophet, merely a logician, to see that inviting artificial contraception into the stream of moral normality would result in serious moral dislocations regarding sexuality.  Once marital sex may be severed from procreation and considered good, it logically follows that any sex between anyone is considered a good.

In his encyclical Humane vitae, Pope Paul VI reaffirmed the Church's traditional teaching that the intentional use of artificial contraception was intrinsically evil.  But he also asked the world to reflect on what would be the consequences of accepting artificial methods of birth control: "marital infidelity," "general lowering of moral standards," loss of "reverence due to a woman," and an increase of governmental power "to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife" are among those consequences he identified.

One consequence implied but not expressly mentioned by Pope Paul VI was the logical link between the acceptance of contraception and homosexual sex.  In her essay on the subject entitled "Contraception and Chastity," however, the Catholic philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe saw it clearly: 

"If contraceptive intercourse is permissible," she wrote in the early 1970s, "then what objection could there be after all to mutual masturbation, or copulation in vase indebito, sodomy, buggery . . .  when normal copulation is impossible or inadvisable (or in any case, according to taste)?" 

And if such sexual conduct is acceptable to couples, she observed, then it follows that homosexual sex must be acceptable.  "[I]f such things are all right, it becomes perfectly impossible to see anything wrong with homosexual intercourse."

It does not happen all it once.  There is a sort of social inertia that slows the logic down, but in a few generations the logic plays itself out.  "I am not saying: if you think contraception all right you will do these other things; not at all.  The habit of respectability persists and old prejudices die hard."

But it remains true that once the premise is accepted--that sexual intercourse and procreation are separate things, not intertwined, and can therefore be separated by technical means with moral impunity--Anscombe recognizes that one will "have no solid reason" to argue against homosexual sex.   "You will have no answer to someone who proclaims as many do that "homosexual sexual acts "are good too."

The Christian teaching regarding human sexuality is well-reasoned and well-integrated.  You cannot throw one part out as inconvenient or not to your liking without ruining the entire structure. 
For this reason, once artificial contraception was admitted as a good and rejected as a moral evil, all Christian sexuality was implicitly rejected.  "Because, if you are defending contraception," Anscombe says, "you will have rejected Christian tradition" on the matter and accepted the morality of the heathen. 

Indeed, the Christian tradition against contraception that Anscombe mentions was deep enough to have escaped the intellectual scalpels of the Protestant reformers who had no scruple in carving out large parts of Christian tradition.  The Catholic Church's traditional teachings were carried over by the Protestant reformers, largely as a result of their traditional interpretation of the incident involving Onan found in the 38th chapter of Genesis. 

For example, in his Commentary on Genesis, John Calvin says that a woman who "drives away the seed out of the womb, through aids," is "rightly seen as an unforgivable crime."  Similarly, Luther in his Lectures on Genesis called contraception "unchastity," equivalent to sodomy, "more atrocious than incest and adultery."  In his Notes on the Bible, Wesley called contraception one of those sins that "dishonor the body," are "vile actions," and "very displeasing to God."

The fact is a contraceptive people, a contraceptive culture, and persons with a contraceptive mentality have rejected Christian moral tradition.  A contraceptive people, a contraceptive culture, and persons with a contraceptive mentality have "no solid reason," to argue against the proponents of homosexual sex and same-sex "marriage."  They have "no answer" to a same-sex couples who want their sex--a sex which is similarly infertile as the couple who uses contraception--to be considered a good.  

This inability by persons with a contraceptive mentality that are part of a contraceptive culture to craft an answer or give a solid reason to homosexuals who insist on their sex as good and their unions as good explains the collapse of opposition to homosexual sex in general and same-sex "marriage."

The chickens of the contraceptive mentality have come home to roost. 


Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Marriage & Family

'Baby Jesus': Crying newborn discovered abandoned in church nativity scene Watch

Image of


A newborn baby was found abandoned in a New York church nativity scene. Just hours after entering the world, the church's custodian discovered the full-term infant wrapped in purple towels crying in the Queens' Holy Child Jesus Church's nativity scene. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

Couple heartbroken after doctor performs abortion without mother's consent Watch

Image of Dr. Rifaat Salem is being sued for malpractice after implanting the wrong embryo into a woman, then aborting it without the mother's consent (KTLA).


When David and Melissa Pineda had trouble conceiving, they turned to Dr. Rifaat Salem for fertility treatment. Following the implantation of embryos, Melissa was called in for a check up. What she wasn't told was that she had been implanted with a stranger's embryos ... continue reading

5 unbelievable times children taught us to be better human beings Watch

Image of People aren't born cold-hearted. They learn how to respond to situations from their friends, family and society as a whole.


Children are bundles of energy and their perspective are so new and original we can't help but be surprised by what comes out of their mouths -but what about their actions? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - There are thousands of children around the world who offer ... continue reading

'Bring Back the Holidays' campaign promotes family values Watch

Image of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods came together to launch a Bring Back the Holidays campaign.


T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods have joined forces to launch a "Bring Back the Holidays" campaign to support family time around the holidays. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Each year companies compete to provide the best Black Friday "door-buster" sales earlier ... continue reading

7-year-old shows compassion to hate-crime victims in touching act of kindness Watch

Image of Seven-year-old Jack Swanson donated his piggy bank to the Islamic Center of Pflugerville in Texas following hate crime (KXAN).


Following a hate crime at a Texas mosque that involved smeared feces and torn pages from the Koran, seven-year-old Jack Swanson decided to donate his life savings of $20 to help. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The hate crime included torn pages from the Koran and ... continue reading

The shocking thing a New Jersey mall is doing this year with Santa Watch

Image of Cherryhill Village Mall has gone from offering children free sits on Santa's lap to charging $35-50 for photo and video packages, with no 'free' option.


Cherryhill Village Mall, located in southern New Jersey, has decided to offer photo and video packages for families who bring their children to see Santa. The catch? Families must pay an entrance fee of $35-50, with no free option for those with children who don't want ... continue reading

Mother's heart breaks when 3-year-old ginger son asks 'Why don't people like my horrible hair Mummy?' Watch

Image of Noah Gilbert, 3, was bullied on a public bus for having red hair (Mercury Press).


Southampton mother, Lauren Russel, witnessed her 3-year-old son being bullied by teenagers over the color of his hair. Furious and heart-broken, Russel took to Facebook to write an emotional message asking users to spread awareness of bullying and to show her son that ... continue reading

Blind 7-year-old banned from using walking cane at school Watch

Image of Seven-year-old Lily-Grace Hooper was told she could not use her walking cane at school, despite being blind (David Hedges).


A Brussels primary school banned a blind seven-year-old girl from using her walking cane at school in a shocking move after claiming she could trip other students or teachers. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lily-Grace Hooper had a stroke when she was only ... continue reading

Toddler burned to death in oven: Shocking story of severe neglect Watch

Image of J'zyra Thompson was found burned to death near the oven in her home, where she was left unsupervised with three siblings ages three to five (Facebook).


In a heart-breaking and gross display of child endangerment, 19-month-old J'zyra Thompson was found burned to death near the stove in her home Tuesday morning.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Thompson was left alone with three siblings aged three to ... continue reading

UPDATE: Two policemen shoot and kill Autistic boy strapped in carseat Watch

Image of Jeremy Mardis, 6, was shot and killed by two officers who did not know the boy was strapped in the front seat of his father's vehicle (Facebook).


An eyewitness has come forward to describe the encounter between Christopher Few and the murder of his 6-year-old son, Jeremy Mardis, at the hands of Marksville officers. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mark Jeansonne, Few's attorney, viewed bodycam footage from ... continue reading

All Marriage & Family News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • St. Andrew: Saint of the Day for Monday, November 30, 2015
  • President likens Syrian refugees to pilgrims on Mayflower in ...
  • Who Needs Advent? I do!
  • Prayer For Courage HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Monday, November 30, 2015
  • The Miracle Prayer HD Video
  • BIGGER THAN ISIS - There's a hidden power behind ISIS and it's so big ...

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 33:14-16
14 "Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall fulfil the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
4 DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your paths.5 ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
25 'There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations ... Read More

Reading 2, First Thessalonians 3:12--4:2
12 May the Lord increase and enrich your love for each other and for all, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 29th, 2015 Image

St. Saturninus
November 29: St. Saturninus Bishop of Toulouse and Martyr ... Read More