By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK
Is the Trump victory, with the accompanying new wave of sexual morality and respect for life, the first hint of a societal sea change born, ironically, of contraception? It turns out that religious people have more babies and thus pass on the faith while secularists are self-obsolescing.
It’s “news” that seculars are dying out because they use contraception, the UK Catholic Herald featured in a recent report.
Except that it isn’t news.
In “Secularism faces global decline thanks to contraception, study claims,” the Herald reports on a story published in The Times of London, entitled, “Atheists Doomed by Their Faith in Contraception.”
As the Herald noted:
“The study said that secularists have tended to have fewer children since the 19th century.
“Secularism will decline worldwide while religion grows, according to a new study in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science. The study, reported in The Times, observed more than 4,000 students in Malaysia and the United States over a period of time, and found that the more religious they were, the more children they would end up having. According to the researchers, the proportion of secularists in the world population will ‘slowly diminish,’ while the number of religious believers will rise.
“The chief reason, the study concluded, was that ever since the 19th century, the non-religious have been much more likely to use contraception. The authors wrote: ‘It is ironical that effective birth control methods were developed primarily by secularists, and that these methods are serving to slowly diminish the proportional representation of secularists in forthcoming generations.’
“The authors defend what they call a ‘contra-secularization hypothesis,’ meaning that secularism will decline ‘throughout the remainder of the 21st century, including Europe and other industrial societies.’
“The Pew Foundation has projected that the proportion of ‘religiously unaffiliated’ people in the world population will decline from 16 percent today to 13 percent by 2050.”
Having fewer secularists and atheists means having fewer of them who vote. Perhaps the populist movement symbolized by Trump, with its acknowledgment of family life and faith-friendly morals, may continue to grow in strength.
And it should not be news that if you have fewer children your family bloodline will become extinct. The evidence is already in that nations like Italy may disappear because they fell for the “population bomb” myth. Merely repeating the fact that all the people in the world can fit within the state of Texas makes the point well that population control “apostles” peddle a lie.
The worldly “wisdom” that concern for the planet is borne out by bearing a maximum of two children might appeal to emotion, but it is bad math. To merely maintain population levels, a couple must bear at least three children. Early deaths through accident and disease as well as infertility prevent some from reproducing and a third child in each family provides insurance against this — if the parents are to be replaced.
Even more important for the Church is the deleterious effect that contraception is having on the lives of the faithful in carrying out the will of God. It is God’s will that life go on. God’s will for life is abundant as is His “prodigal” love for humanity through salvation offered in Jesus Christ.
God created the first man and woman out of nothing. He commanded all of us through them to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis). From the beginning it has been the Father’s will that the world serve human life without human-imposed limits and “that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).
The truth is that with the creation of man and woman God also created their life-giving powers, not to be frustrated but to be respected as sacred and shared generously within marital love. Love between man and woman is generous and seeks to spread itself, like God’s love.
Large families are a special sign of God’s desire that we have life and have it abundantly. Large families will determine the future of the Church, just as they determine the future course of parishes where they fill leadership roles and give birth to religious vocations.
The priest population is changing as more and more priests influenced by John Paul II and Benedict XVI have accepted the teaching of Humanae Vitae and followed through on its logic and truth in their priestly life and ministry. The encyclical excludes the use of contraception in its call for each and every marital act to be open to new life.
As a result of these new vocations, more Catholics in the pew are hearing the good news of Paul VI’s courageous defense of the truth about love in marriage. Contraceptive families may avoid Mass at certain parishes because of discomfort over hearing the teaching about Humanae Vitae. Or, they may feel discomfort about abstaining from Communion in these parishes.
Of course, as we know, many dissenters in matters of sexual morality also dissent from the teaching about abstaining from Communion in a state of serious sin.
Dissenters who don’t avoid Mass before their children receive the sacraments certainly number among the many who disappear from the pews after the conferral of Confirmation. Avoidance behavior is the easiest way to deny the truth.
Using contraception is going through the motions of marriage and hoping for the best. It is saying over and over again with the body, “I love you but I hate your fertility.” The conscience cannot ever still that small persistent voice that repeats, “Love gives all or nothing.”
In the human person the spiritual and physical form an indivisible unity; denial of either aspect through contraception leaves the human person frustrated, unhappy, and unfulfilled in marriage.
Although speculation can in some ways be unkind, true caring seeks to penetrate to the heart of a pastoral difficulty in marriage so as to help the man and the woman live out the truth and beauty of marriage.
We all know that five children or even two children can be a generous expression of marital love. At the same time, we are called to accept the truth that woman does not exist merely to serve man’s physically felt needs whenever they unilaterally occur. Periodic abstention from the marital act is the answer if medical advice or other reasons determine husband and wife have grave reason to abstain from conceiving another child. Love means saying no to one’s own felt needs for the good of the other.
The Church’s mission in the Gospel must reach to the heart of and convert every family to the truth about love. As John Paul II taught, “As the family goes, so goes the Church.” Our generous families, whether large or small, will determine the eventual death of contraception as more children learn the truth about love.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.