Posted in musings, quotes

a brief thought on contraception

“Only by the hypocritical ignoring of a huge fact can any one contrive to talk of ‘free love’; as if love were an episode like lighting a cigarette, or whistling a tune. Suppose whenever a man lit a cigarette, a towering genie arose from the rings of smoke and followed him everywhere as a huge slave. Suppose whenever a man whistled a tune he ‘drew an angel down’ and had to walk about forever with a seraph on a string. These catastrophic images are but faint parallels to the earthquake consequences that Nature has attached to sex; and it is perfectly plain at the beginning that a man cannot be a free lover; he is either a traitor or a tied man. The second element that creates the family is that its consequences, though colossal, are gradual; the cigarette produces a baby giant, the song only an infant seraph. Thence arises the necessity for some prolonged system of co-operation; and thence arises the family in its full educational sense.” – G.K. Chesterton, What is Wrong With the World

Nowadays we have the promise of contraception to hold back these “earthquake consequences” of the intimacy between a man and a woman – the ability to prevent the occurrence of a baby tying the two together and piling upon them that shared responsibility. So a man and woman can share their moment of love and not fear that a baby will come to demand their cooperation and attention, and they can afterwards abandon each other for new love without a corresponding betrayal of the new person they’ve created.

But do we avoid this treachery against our potential children by betraying our own selves? Do we avoid the creation of splintered families by splintering our own souls? When we set aside the natural purpose of an act that we might solely pursue our own pleasure, or even the pleasure of another, we do ourselves a great disservice, and sin against ourselves; beyond that, we frustrate the great powers that could work through us and in us for the redemption and beautification of the world.

It is good not to beget a baby only to abandon him. It is good not to form a family when there is no intention or desire to endure with and labor for the good of that family. But it is not good to pursue the pleasure that is meant to accompany the formation of the family while simultaneously refusing the family; it separates the act from its purpose, like the ancient Romans vomiting so that they could continue to enjoy the pleasures of the table. It damages our souls like prolonged vomiting damages the body – slowly, subtly, but surely.

(caveat – there is so much more to be said on this topic and this isn’t intended to be a complete argument – it is just a thought, a consideration, a part of the bigger picture of human dignity and sexual ethics.)

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