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January 4, 2005 Volume 2, Number 22

Someone asked for studies to show that the use of contraceptives leads to a breakdown of marriage. This article is one of the better articles that I’ve seen:


The predictions found in Pope Paul VI’s encyclical affirming the Catholic Church’s constant teaching that artificial contraception is wrong have been confirmed by the social sciences which show that ignoring the Church doctrine on sex and marriage is harmful to individuals and society. These are the findings of a Nobel Prize winning social scientist.

Writing in the current issue of Touchstone Magazine University of Virginia professor W. Bradford Wilcox writes that when the encyclical, “Humane Vitae,” was published in 1968 it was surrounded with controversy. In it Pope Paul said widespread use of contraception would lead to “conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality.” The Pope said men would no longer respect women but would treat them as a “mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.”

“Humane Vitae’s” publication was met with vigorous protest by many prominent American clergy who were also academics. They said the Church’s continued ban on contraception proved that Church authorities were indifferent to the plight of “real people.” Thirty-six years later Wilcox says that an examination of the effects of the contraceptive mentality on society shows that it is those who dissent from “Humane Vitae” that are indifferent.

Wilcox, an assistant professor of sociology at UVA, cites research by six scholars which shows contraception to be responsible for a significant rise in divorce and illegitimacy, both of which lead to other social ills like heightened rates of criminal behavior and increased high school drop out rates. Wilcox also argues that the poor are especially susceptible to the harms caused by the contraceptive culture. Wilcox notes that the research is not partisan. “The leading scholars who have tackled these topics are not Christians, and most of them are not political or social conservatives”

Robert Michael, of the University of Chicago, believes that sudden widespread use of artificial contraception and the availability of abortion is responsible for “about half of the increase in divorce from 1965 to 1976.” Wilcox cites George Akerlof, a Nobel prize-winning economist, who provides an economic explanation for why widespread use of artificial contraception resulted in an increase in illegitimacy rather than a decrease as many predicted.

According to Akerlof, traditional women who wanted to either abstain from sex or at least receive a promise from their boyfriend that he would marry her in the case of pregnancy could no longer compete with “modern” women who embraced contraception. This created an environment in which premarital sex became the norm and women “felt free or obligated to have sex.” “Thus, many traditional women ended up having sex and having children out of wedlock, while many of the permissive women ended up having sex and contraception or aborting so as to avoid childbearing. This explains in large part why the contraceptive revolution was associated with an increase in both abortion and illegitimacy.”

Wilcox says contraceptives remove one of the key reasons to getting married, the moral incentive. And while many members of the middle and upper classes marry because they know it serves their economic interest, the second key incentive for marrying, the poor are much more likely to marry solely for moral reasons. The result is that in the contraceptive era the poor have even less of an incentive to marry than do other classes. For this reason the poor have been hit even harder by the negative consequences that came about through widespread use of contraceptives.

Copyright, 2005 — Culture of Life Foundation. Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.

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More articles about the truth of condoms and contraceptives can be found here.

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