April 20, 2012
Contraception Perspectives in World Religions
Part 1: Introduction
Many topics that pertain to the sanctity of the human life are very controversial issues in religions all over the world. It is often debated whether or not humans should have the authority to control the rate of birth of our own species, based on our ability to stop fertilization from happening without abstaining from sexual conduct. Contraception is defined as the prevention of fertilization, during or after sexual activity. It refers to the use of contraceptives including (but not limited to) birth control, condoms, cervical caps, spermicide, IUD, diaphragm, oral contraceptive pills and the “morning after” pill. These methods of contraception are used for various reasons, for example, limiting the number of children a married couple has, for purposes of not damaging their living standards. Another reason for contraception may apply to couples who have a sexual relationship, but have no desire for children at that stage in their lives. A more severe and legitimate reason is when the physical condition of the mother may be harmed by pregnancy or childbirth. The circumstances in which contraception is used is often taken into consideration by religious leaders as they form their opinions based on their scripture, beliefs, and traditions. After researching three different perspectives, from three very different religions, on contraception, it was found that opinions on the topic range from circumstancial approval to absolute disapproval. These three religions are Roman Catholicism, Reform Judaism, and Buddhism. It is important for us to look at this topic from different perspectives to gain a better understanding of their reasoning, and to compare them making it easier for us to form our own opinions based on our own moral conscience, especially when dealing with issues that have such great importance like this one. The issue of contraception demands the public’s attention because it deals with the idea of human life, and our control over birth. It raises issues that we may not have considered concerning the issue, and it is extremely relevant in modern day western society, where it is portrayed in the media that it is socially acceptable to be sexually active at a younger age then in past generations. Part 2 : Discussion of Research
Roman Catholicism seemed to have a very strict opinion stating that “artificial contraception is wrong” for various reasons (BBC). Some of these reasons are that it “breaks the natural connection between the procreative and the unitive purposes of sex, it turns sex into a non-marital act, and it gives humans too much power over decisions about life and death, which should instead be in the hands of God (BBC). As it is stated in the Bible, God told His people to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). The use of contraception is seen as a direct violation of this command from God. It is within Roman Catholic beliefs that “human life is sacred” and that no one can “claim for himself the right to directly destroy” an unborn child (CCC #2258). Indeed, the Roman Catholic teachings are very clear in establishing that “sexual partners should always accept that new life may result from intercourse and therefore should not be prevented” (Bernard). These teachings were supported by Pope John Paul II who believed that “it is morally unacceptable to …use contraception …to regulate births” (CIN). The scriptural teachings promoted by the Roman Catholic Church are very similar to those also found in Jewish teachings. Judaism emulates the idea that the Earth was meant for humans. It is said in Jewish scripture that God did “not creat[e] it to be a waste, but design[ed] it to be lived in” (Isaiah 45:18). Despite this entry, Reform Jews, unlike Orthodox Jews “believe that artificial forms of contraception are allowable” (Bernard). Reform Jews are a less conservative branch of Judaism...