Two types of attacks against Catholic doctrine on contraception

This past Friday, Jimmy Akin continued his attack on Roman Catholic doctrine against contraception, expanding on his previous comments.

There are two types of attacks against Catholic doctrine on contraception: those from outside the Church, and those from within.

From Without

Sinful secular society, especially through the mass media, ridicules the teaching of the Church against contraception, speaking as if contraception were necessarily always moral, as if the use of contraception were a virtue or a moral obligation. And since we Catholics continually live within this society, we are continually subject to the dangers of its influence.

Some Catholics have given in to this influence. Instead of following the true teaching of Christ through His Church, they follow the false teachings of sinful secular society. Most do not even realize that they are following secular teachings. They have been immersed in secular society, living secular lives, for so long that the ideas of that society seem to them like their own ideas. As a result, they openly (or in some cases secretly) reject the teaching of the Magisterium against contraception in its entirety. They commit the grave sin of heresy. They commit the grave sin of using contraception. Many also commit the grave sin of abortion by choosing to use abortifacient contraception. They are poor lost souls on the path to Hell.

From Within

This type of attack on the teaching of the Church takes a more clever approach. Instead of saying that the teaching of the Church is wrong, some Catholics within the Church distort and misrepresent the content of Roman Catholic teaching. (I am not here referring to minor disagreements among the faithful as to the exact interpretation or application of a particular teaching.) This type of attack presents itself as either a sound theological opinion, or as a factual expression of magisterial teaching, yet it is nothing other than a type of calumny against the Magisterium, which in effect accuses the Magisterium of teaching falsehoods, but also claims that those falsehoods are truth. Their approach is sometimes subtle, sometimes scholarly, often gravely harmful.

Does the Magisterium teach that contraception is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral? Yes, but certain false teachers within the Church continue to use various clever or not-so-clever arguments to thoroughly misrepresent the teaching of the Magisterium on contraception. They distort, misinterpret, misquote, and re-work the teaching of the Church until it is remade in their own image. In truth, the teaching of Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium is a reflection of the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ, our Lord and God. But these false teachers chip and hack away at the teachings of the Church until it becomes a reflection of their own sinful lives.

Christ spoke against those who teach even relatively minor doctrinal errors to His sheep.

[Matthew]
{5:17} Do not think that I have come to loosen the law or the prophets. I have not come to loosen, but to fulfill.
{5:18} Amen I say to you, certainly, until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota, not one dot shall pass away from the law, until all is done.
{5:19} Therefore, whoever will have loosened one of the least of these commandments, and have taught men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever will have done and taught these, such a one shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

But he spoke much more strongly against those persons who, on the pretext of teaching truth through religion, instead teach grave doctrinal errors to the followers of Christ.

{23:15} Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you travel around by sea and by land, in order to make one convert. And when he has been converted, you make him twice the son of Hell that you are yourselves.

{23:24} You blind guides, straining out a gnat, while swallowing a camel!

{23:27} Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed sepulchers, which outwardly appear brilliant to men, yet truly, inside, they are filled with the bones of the dead and with all filth.
{23:28} So also, you certainly appear to men outwardly to be just. But inwardly you are filled with hypocrisy and iniquity.

{23:33} You serpents, you brood of vipers! How will you escape from the judgment of Hell?

The Pharisees perverted the teachings of the Faith. They misinterpreted, distorted, and re-imagined the teachings of God in Sacred Scripture, to the effect of leading many faithful souls away from important truths on matters of faith and morals, and into grave doctrinal error.

Jimmy Akin does the same.

In one post, Akin claims that the Church has no teaching on the morality or immorality of contraception outside of marriage; he claims that contraception might be moral outside of marriage.

In another post, he even claims that contraception within marriage is not always immoral, but might be justified if contraception is not intended, or in certain situations.

This set of claims by Akin have the effect of nullifying the teaching of the Magisterium against contraception. The Magisterium teaches that contraception is intrinsically illicit, and that no circumstance and no purpose can cause an intrinsically illicit act to become moral.

Yet Akin tells his readers that they should consider that the Church’s teaching against contraception may or may not apply outside of marriage. If that teaching does apply to sexual acts outside of marriage would it mean that contraception is immoral outside of marriage, as well as within? Not according to Akin. For he states that contraception even within marriage might be justified by intention or circumstances. This implies that, even if the teaching of the Magisterium against contraception applies outside of marriage, the use of contraception outside of marriage might nevertheless be justified by intention or circumstances.

The result of Akin’s set of claims is that the use of contraception becomes only certainly immoral when used within marriage with a contraceptive intention. But natural family planning (NFP) is also immoral if used with a contraceptive intention. Akin does not seem to realize that his position on contraception makes contraception appear essentially no different than NFP. For he treats contraception as if its morality depends only on intention and circumstances. NFP is not intrinsically evil, and so the morality of NFP depends on having a good intention (not a contraceptive intention) and good circumstances (so that the reasonably anticipated good consequences outweigh any reasonably anticipated bad consequences). But, in Akin’s position on contraception, there is no fundamental moral distinction between contraception and natural family planning.

And it gets worse. By justifying contraception in some cases, Akin in effect denies that intrinsically evil acts are always immoral. The Magisterium teaches that contraception is intrinsically evil, and that intrinsically evil acts are always immoral. Akin claims that contraception may sometimes be moral, thereby implying that intrinsically evil acts are sometimes moral. This suggests the further grave moral error that other intrinsically evil acts might also be moral in some cases. Other acts that are intrinsically evil include: murder, abortion, euthanasia, genocide, slavery, rape, adultery, fornication, perjury, robbery, theft, calumny, blasphemy, etc.

As I’ve said before, Akin’s belief and teaching on the subject of contraception is heresy. Many Catholics consider Akin to be a faithful Catholic apologist, as I used to think also. But after reading his severe doctrinal errors on salvation and then on contraception — presented to the faithful as if these were either Church teaching or at least compatible with Church teaching — I’ve changed my mind.

The heretical and schismatic teachings of Jimmy Akin

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