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    Dave Armstrong

The Bible vs. Contraception: “Be Fruitful and Multiply”

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Some things are so obvious that we take them for granted. We don’t feel that we need to “argue” them because we casually assume that everyone “knows they are true.” The old Frank Sinatra song comes to my mind: “Love and marriage: go together like a horse and carriage . . .”

But wait! Today they don’t always go together, and we see multiple thousands of couples living together without being married.

This seeming common sense “truism” has been largely lost, in terms of being the norm in our society. And of course, now even marriage as solely between a man and a woman is up for question.

Back to Basics

Marriage and procreation is another such “obvious” pairing that is increasingly denied today. What once was understood by virtually everyone (certainly all Christians whatsoever), now no longer is, and is rejected outright by more and more couples.

So we Catholics and homeschoolers and other conscientious parents concerned with educating children in traditional morality need to go back to the basics and cite inspired Holy Scripture in order to reinforce basic moral truths: sort of like learning our “ABC’s” all over again.

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The Bible is quite clear on this point, and – as in many cases, including even the very existence of God — assumes it’s truth: so much so, that it doesn’t bother to explain why it’s true. In fact, the very first command to human beings recorded in the Bible is “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28; RSV).

We might also note (taking into account common complaints and misunderstandings about Catholic teaching), that what the Church calls the “unitive” function of marriage is also alluded to early on in Genesis, where God says: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (2:18).

Marriage is not only for procreation; nor does it consist only of pleasure and companionship, but both. Yet procreation is the fundamental purpose and essence of marriage (and the “relations” within it): why it exists in the first place.

Be Fruitful & Multiply

The notion of fruitfulness and multiplying is repeatedly presented as a blessing in the Bible (Gen 9:1, 7; 35:11; Ps 107:38; Is 48:18-19; Jer 29:6; 30:19-20; 33:22; Ezek 36:10-12; Dan 3:35-36; Baruch 2:34).

The ultimate cause of this increasing is God, not man and his choices, though human beings indeed “work together” with God, always enabled by His grace (cf. 1 Cor 3:9-10; 15:10; 2 Cor 6:1; Phil 2:13):

Genesis 28:3 God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you . . .

Deuteronomy 7:13-14 he will love you, bless you, and multiply you; he will also bless the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the young of your flock, in the land which he swore to your fathers to give you. [14] You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.

Psalm 105:24 And the LORD made his people very fruitful, and made them stronger than their foes. (cf. 115:14)

Downside-Up

This is the natural order of things. We’ve come from that to a strange place where three or more children is considered “too many.” My wife and I ran into two nice ladies at our local Highland Games, and we mentioned that we had four children. One of them immediately shot back with, “oh, you must be Catholic.”

I didn’t think fast enough at the time. Instead of smiling sheepishly and saying, “yeah,” I should have replied, “we have four children because we’re married.” That would have been much more interesting and could quite possibly have led to a fruitful discussion (no pun intended).

It’s too bad that we don’t also have a popular song with the line: “lots o’ kids and marriage: go together like a horse and carriage . . .” But no doubt that would be scorned just as the coupling of “love and marriage” or “husband and wife” is. The world is turned upside down: in the wrong direction. The ugly fruit of secularism is apparent.

Thus, our task is to present traditional moral teaching to our children and anyone else, when the topic comes up, and to explain why we believe as we do: to defend what used to be patently obvious to one and all.

Read Part 2 Here: The Bible vs. Contraception: God Opens the Womb and Blesses Parents with Children
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About Dave Armstrong

Dave Armstrong
Dave Armstrong has been a full-time Catholic apologist since December 2001. He was received into the Church in 1991. His blog has been online since February 1997 and contains over 2,500 papers or web pages. Dave has been happily married to Judy since October 1984, and their four children have all been homeschooled. His books (that provide most of his modest income) can be purchased on his website: Biblical Catholicism. See full author page.
  • Skye

    Great article! When someone makes that comment “oh you must be Catholic” I actually take it as a complement. The fact that our religion is open to life and others know it is such a beautiful testimony to how we are choosing to follow God. As a Catholic I’ve made that same comment to either other Catholics or Mormons not to insult them but to show them that I appreciate their generosity and willingness to be open to God’s call on their family.

  • John Williams

    Good article! I am going to write down the bible references. I know a couple that recently had their 6th child. Unfortunately, she stated there was some people who were less than respectful regarding their openness to life. I feel blessed that Archbishop Joseph Naumann (Diocese of Kansas City in Kansas) offers to baptize children whose parents are open to families of 3 or more children. Also, I find it interesting the “positive” sign in the shape of a cross. To me, it serves as a reminder that procreation is not just luck, it is a blessing from God.

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