November 12, 2019

The Most Beautiful Teaching Torn Asunder

The Lord is beautiful in all His ways. Everything that he does is perfect beyond the imagination of anyone. As He tells us: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways . . . for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Our God is many things; He is Love, Life, Truth, Beauty, Goodness, the beginning and consummation of all that is good. [1]

Now the most beautiful aspect of His plan for us is the union of life and love. God who is Love and Life gifts us with an experience of both love and life in the sexual union of husband and wife. In the conjugal embrace of husband and wife, the Life of God and the Love of God, two aspects of the same divine reality, are inseparably joined. One cannot love as God loves unless one is open to new life springing forth from that love, that is, authentic love requires a willingness to be a co-creator with God. Conversely, life is only full and rich if it springs from a personal and free exchange of love. [2]

So our God stands at the intersection of love and life and offers us the two most precious gifts, but only on condition that we accept both for they are really just different expressions of one Divine Reality, God Himself, who is Love and Life. If we seek love without life, we are not only deprived of life, we are actually deprived of love because our gift of self is no longer complete and this opens the door for love to become usury. If we seek life without love, then that life lacks the richness and splendor of the love that makes life beautiful. Seeking love without life or life without love is like seeking to touch water and not get wet. Either you touch the water and experience wetness, or you refrain. But it is impossible to experience one without the other because they derive from the same source: the drop of water. So it is impossible to experience the fullness of love or life without the other, for both are expressions of God.

The unbreakable union of life and love embodied within the Trinitarian life of God Himself [3] is a sublime and beautiful mystery that we can contemplate for all eternity. But in our folly, we have rejected this beautiful teaching as a culture. We accept and practice contraception, that is, we make love while withholding our fertility. Sexual union means I am all yours; that message is implicit in the act. [4] But a couple who comes together sexually while practicing contraception is not fully coming together because they are withholding something, their fertility, from each other. In other words, they are lying with their bodies, and their action is neither unitive nor procreative, loving nor life-giving. Contraception is usury pure and simple; it is using another person for your enjoyment and failing to experience the sublime heights of God’s Love and Life. The beautiful and majestic “I am all yours” which echoes the very offering of Christ from the cross [5] becomes the selfish “You are all mine.” Anyone who doubts this or thinks this is overly harsh should compare the divorce rates of those who practice contraception and those who live the fullness of life and love by refraining from contraception. [6]

Similarly, having a child through in vitro fertilization or any other technique where the child is not conceived as the fruit of precious married love is using a child because instead of the child coming from love, the child comes from scientific exploitation of the means of life. Anyone who doubts this should read about what has happened to children conceived outside the womb; in short, they have been frozen, used for experimentation, and are even referred to as “spare,” meaning they can be implanted or killed at the will of others who decide their fate. [7] Life not springing from love, i.e., in vitro fertilization, is nothing more than the slavery and usury of unborn children, which leads to death, not the fullness of life.

Both contraception and in vitro fertilization are grave offenses against God and do serious damage to the human person made in the image of God. Oh the folly of human beings trying to separate that which is inseparable. You can try and separate love from life via contraception, but you will only achieve usury and a higher risk of divorce. You can try and separate life from love via in vitro fertilization, but you will only achieve the slavery of unborn human beings and the exploitation of the means of life. No matter how we try, we can never have love without life, or life without love. It is a time we wake up to this truth and stop pretending! I am sick of counterfeit love and life; how about you? As we approach Easter, let us return to the only fountain of Life and Love, Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

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[1] Cf. St. John 14:6.

[2] This teaching of natural law has been repeated many times by the Church.  Cf., intra alia, soon to be saint Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 12; cf. also Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, 11.

[3] The Father loves the Son eternally, and the Son loves the Father eternally.  So strong is their love that the life of the Holy Spirit proceeds from that love.  The union of love and life is implicit in the very being of the Blessed Trinity.

[4] Anyone who doubts this should give flowers to someone they dislike and who dislikes them and see whether the person is not confused.  Giving flowers means I like you, so why give flowers to someone you dislike.  Making love means I am all yours, so why make love to someone if you are not all their’s.

[5]“Take this all of you, and eat of it: this is My body which will be given up for you.  Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of My blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.  It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.  Do this in memory of Me” (Eucharistic Prayer IV, Daily Roman Missal).

[6] “Let us recall that whereas contracepting couples divorce at the rate of about 50%, couples using natural family planning almost never divorce” Janet Smith, Contraception Why Not, https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/controversy/common-misconceptions/contraception-why-not.html (last visited March 25th).  Natural family planning is a wonderful alternative to contraception that maintains the union of life and love present in the Creator.  Cf. http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/natural-family-planning/what-is-nfp/index.cfm (last visited March 25th).

[7] Cf. https://www.geneticsandsociety.org/article/17-million-human-embryos-created-ivf-thrown-away (last visited March 25th).

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Written by
Michael Vacca

MICHAEL VACCA is a devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Therese of Lisieux. He graduated from Hillsdale College with a B.A. in English and Political Science, holds a J.D. from Ave Maria School of Law, and is a licensed attorney in Michigan. He currently serves as Director of Ministry, Bioethics, and Member Experience for Christ Medicus Foundation CURO. He worked for the Pontifical Council of the Family in Rome, where he advised the Church on pro-life and pro-family issues and advanced Catholic social teaching throughout the world. Michael is the Managing Editor of the International Center on Law, Life, Faith, and Family, which produces and provides resources on these issues, www.icolf.org. He is a founding board member of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, and currently serves on the board of the Casa Vitae Foundation. He is author and coauthor of various articles on bioethics and law, including: Michael Vacca, A Reexamination of Conscience Protections in Healthcare, 62 MEDICINA E MORALE 78 (2013) ; Jane Adolphe & Michael Vacca, Best Practices: Laws Protecting Human Life and the Family Around the Globe, 2 AVE MARIE INT’L L. J. 1 (2012); Michael Vacca, Talk About a Human Rights Violation: How Heterologous Assisted Reproduction Harms Children and Violates International Human Rights Law, 7 AVE MARIE INT’L L. J. 53 (2018); Michael Vacca, Natural Law as Guardian of the Human Person, 4 BAKU ST. UNIV. L. REV. 149 (2018); and Michael Vacca, Education and Religious Freedom in the Toledo Guiding Principles: A Comparative Analysis Between the Holy See and the United States 36 ARIZONA JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE LAW 2 (2019). He is also a co-editor of two published books, ST. PAUL, THE NATURAL LAW, AND CONTEMPORARY LEGAL THEORY (2012) and EQUALITY AND NON-DISCRIMINATION CATHOLIC ROOTS, CURRENT CHALLENGES (2019). More than anything, Michael is grateful to know the love of Jesus Christ and for his beautiful and holy wife Sarah.

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3 comments
  • Hard to tell a young Catholic couple that wants a baby and have tried for years to not try everything they can to conceive. Personally know a couple that tried for five years and went through hell and back but was eventually successful and have two beautiful children now. Who draws the line?

  • Hard on the Catholic couple that wants a baby but cannot conceive. Many do turn to in vitro procedures. Personally know of a couple that struggle for almost five years before they conceived. Spend thousands of dollars before they were successful. They have two fine children now. Difficult to tell them that they are wrong.

Written by Michael Vacca
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