Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 14, 2005
Contraception blocks God too
Moral theology professor charts the Catholic way
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Not only is contraception a barrier between sperm and egg, it's a barrier between sperm, egg and God, said a leading Catholic authority on family life and sexuality.
"Contraception is shutting God out of the creative arena," Dr. Janet Smith told some 200 people who attended the Nov. 4-5 Catholic marriage conference in Edmonton.
"The fact is God creates each and every human soul individually. And only something that is divine and immortal can create something that is divine and immortal.
"And that is God."
A professor of moral theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Smith, 55, is the author of Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later and editor of Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader and many articles on ethical and bioethics issues.
Along with Archbishop Thomas Collins and Richard Corneil, moral theology professor at Newman Theological College, Smith spoke about theology of the body and the Gospel of life during the fourth annual marriage conference hosted by Catholic Family Ministries.
Smith has done a vast amount of research on the risks, dangers and effects of contraception - from the physical to the spiritual. She said contraception interferes with the natural process of creating life.
Men are not as attracted to women who use contraception because they are infertile, Smith said.
"A test was done with a group of men in a room who were shown slides of female super-models. They were asked to rate the women for their attractiveness.
Then something soaked with female fertile hormones was placed in the room while the men were shown slides of ordinary looking women. They found them more attractive than the models."
A farmer once told her it was all quite natural.
"You can put a cow in the same pen with a bull when she isn't fertile and he isn't interested. But put him in a barn a mile away with three metal fences in between and when she is fertile, he will find a way to get there."
Smith taught for nine years at the University of Notre Dame and 12 years at the University of Dallas.
Choosing to live a chaste life until marriage is the greatest gift a person can give his or her spouse, she said. It reveals a deep commitment and desire to get to know the other person.
People who go home every night to separate houses have a lot of time to think about the positives and negatives of relationships.
"All of the evidence shows they are the most happily married people. Sex before marriage completely confuses the picture. You get so attached to the sex, you refuse to make an honest evaluation of the other person because you want what you are getting," she said in an interview.
"I think your sexuality doesn't belong to you: it belongs to your future spouse.
"If my theory is right, those who have been chaste before marriage get to know each other better. They have a longer honeymoon period because they have done it right. They have more to rely upon.
"All of the good things you would want for any child outside of the womb, do for the child inside the womb."
- Dr. Janet Smith
"Marriage is hard no matter how careful you are in your selection. There are always incompatibilities," she said.
"And then the kids come and they get busier and busier, spending less time together. They might think they are growing apart. There are disappointments.
"But after 25 or 30 years, spouses say they are sorry for the disappointments. They thank their partners for staying when there was an opportunity to leave. They thank each other for their kids."
Entering university in the late 1960s, Smith was appalled by a rampant use of drugs and sex.
She thought that more than experimentation, there was an enormous amount of deceit and self-exploitation. People were getting profoundly hurt, she said.
Freshness and purity
Her studies took her to Toronto where she began speaking about pro-life in high schools. She met a group of devout, young Catholics and was exhilarated by their freshness and purity. They had a vision of what they were meant to do and be. They were committed to others.
Smith took her pro-life convictions to the streets with sidewalk counselling outside abortion clinics.
Her parents had taught her that every child was a gift. So why were these young girls getting abortions?
"It seemed to me they were largely in relationships that were not prepared for a baby. It made me think about contraception and that they thought it protects them from pregnancy, when it doesn't."
She looked at what the Church said rather than being guided by cultural prejudices. She thought the reasons the Church gave for its position were good and worth defending.
It's a baby
"I would say to a woman who is pregnant and to a man who has a pregnant girlfriend, they were already parents.
"All of the good things you would want for any child outside of the womb, do for the child inside the womb.
"If you suddenly find yourself poor and lost and you have a two-year-old, the solution is not to kill the two-year-old.
"The solution is to find some way to make it work. The child is small and only has you to rely upon. There are many organizations that provide help."