Can I take communion if I use contraception?

(58 Posts)
mollysmum82 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:29:08

I've recently done the RCIA and found it wonderful, but I still have so many questions!

I had a look on a Catholic Answers forum after a few months of attending mass, to try and get some answers to my questions. I was really saddened when someone said I was committing a mortal sin by using contraception and I must not take communion, or I would be "desecrating the host". They said there was no point in saying confession if I continued to use contraception, as I clearly wasn't sorry. There's a lot of reasons that we don't want any more children at the moment, the main one being I had such severe pnd I was suicidal, and just don't want to put my family through that again sad How do other catholics reconcile this? Thanks so much for any advice.

amazingmumof6 Fri 18-Jan-13 23:08:55

first of all I'm a Christian, not a Catholic, and I believe that Jesus loves us and cares about us and He will not allow us to have any burdens that are bigger than what we can deal with!
why on Earth should you have another baby, and then be unable to bring him/her up, because you are too ill??
that is not a situation that someone who loves you would want for you!

no where in the Bible does it say that you can't use contraception - yes we should be fruitful and multiply, and husband and wife should give themselves to each other, but we also have free will!

the only reference to a deliberate act to avoid conception is found in the story of Onan, who was told (by God or angel of God, I can't remember) to make his dead brother's wife pregnant. he "let his seed fall to the ground" and as a result of his disobedience was struck down and died.

the Catholic church then ran away with this story as a deadly example to all people who stops themselves from getting pregnant.

to me that is wrong and greatly misunderstood, I believe that the importance/moral of the story is that disobedience is a sin and will be punished!

we are not all Onans and are not all told to make a dead brother's wife pregnant, just as we are not told to build and Ark like Noah, or conquer the Promised land like JOshua etc.

so I think you should take communion, because God cares about you and understands your problems and it is high time you had a reunion with Him (in the form of holy bread and wine) so your life can become more whole with Jesus!

If you have problems at your current place of Worship, find Him elsewhere, it won't be hard!

superfluouscurves Fri 18-Jan-13 23:15:32

If you are taking contraception as a treatment to prevent an illness, ie, PND then you aren't committing a sin imo.

I should clarify though that I'm a Catholic who doesn't strictly believe in the Church's teaching about contraception (and many other sexual issues eg homosexuality) and go by my own conscious about these things.

For what it's worth, I reconcile it by looking at the wider picture and focusing on the good that comes out of women being able to control their own fertility eg educational opportunities/economic independence/prosperity for children etc etc and ability to avoid violence, subjugation and poverty.

And, coming from a large RC family where I was the last child or "last straw" as far as my mother was concerned, I think we all have a duty to do what is best for our immediate families in terms of our physical and mental wellbeing and our overall ability to cope.

And finally, when you read the Gospels, you find that Jesus didn't have an awful lot to say about sexual morality and when he did, it was in the context of welcoming (and not excluding) those who had been judged to have sinned or acted in a way which was deemed immoral by the standards of the day.

And finally, finally smile because it's late and I've had a glass of wine: here's a favourite quote of mine from 'The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks' (Penguin 2003)

"A hermit said, "Do not judge an adulterer if you are chaste or you will break the law of God just as much as he does. For he who said "Do not commit adultery" also said "Do not judge".

I know, strictly speaking, we are not talking about adultery here, but same principle! Whoever said you would be "desecrating the Host" was oh so wrong.

mollysmum82 It's wonderful that you have found faith and are interested in God.

However, I am very sorry that you feel faced with this dilema about contraception.

I am not a Roman Catholic and I really hope a Roman Catholic will be along to guide you about this in a helpful way.

I have been a Christian for 30 years and for most of that time attended an Anglican (Church of England Church). For the last few years we have attended a small 'free' (non-denominational) church. At no time have I ever been told that contraception is wrong. I really believe God is a God of love and he does not want us to suffer in unnecessary ways so I feel sure he is very happy with contraception. I would agree with amazingmumof6 that if you find that the church you are part of is very much at odds with your safety then you should find Jesus in another church.

All best wishes.

LynetteScavo Fri 18-Jan-13 23:38:02

You are using contraception to prevent severe pnd, and yes a side effect of this is you are unlikely to get pg!

At the end of the day you have to think what God would want you to do, not someone on an internet forum.

Oh I crossed posted with superfluouscurves. What a lovely post from you superfluouscurves. It is very encouraging to read your comments and I agree with your affirmations about what Jesus talked about.

Also mollysmum82, if 'someone' is giving you advice about the medicines you put in your body or the methods you use for your own safety and it is not your doctor then I would keep the information private from 'someone'!

By that I mean if you chose to chat to this person and ask advice and now or later decide that you will make your own mind up about what is best to do, please do not feel you need to discuss it further with them.

It is private to you even if you chose to talk to them before. Just my opinion.

It may well be that they meant to be well-meaning and helpful and of course you can always take anyone's advice if you choose but if you have chosen not to follow a 'rule' they mention then do not feel you have to talk to them further. I know what it can be like, I/we/you/one/anyone ask advice etc and then feel the need to 'report back' to the person etc! You don't need to talk to them further about it if you are finding out answers for yourself. They may not know the whole facts about your health and well-being.

superfluouscurves Fri 18-Jan-13 23:59:27

Thanks ItalianGreyhound but I'm chuckling to myself because I realise I just made a rather large judgement in that last paragraph myself, when you correctly say that the person concerned could have been well-meaning and well-intentioned (albeit misguided!).

I guess what I meant was they may well really believe that! But it still does not make it true, to me, and I am not Roman Catholic superfluouscurves but I think you nailed it when you said £At the end of the day you have to think what God would want you to do," - and also "...when you read the Gospels, you find that Jesus didn't have an awful lot to say about sexual morality and when he did, it was in the context of welcoming (and not excluding)."

Startail Sat 19-Jan-13 00:13:30

I think there are an awful lot of Catholics who most certainly do use birth control

eg. the Italian birth rate is very low
207/221 countries listed
UK are no. 161

WaynettaSlobsLover Sat 19-Jan-13 00:19:53

Pregnancies, childbirth and the physical stresses of bringing up children/breast feeding is why lots of us with faith follow the teachings that contraception is allowed. I'm Muslim by the way but many of our scholars (mostly men strangely enough hmm take the view that a woman should bear children constantly. It's utter madness. You know what, even if you DO use contraception, if God wills you to have a baby, you will have one. Think we can all agree on that. Remember in the Buble where it says the body is a temple, and the Quran says do not bring yourselves into destruction at your own doing, I think this applies to looking after our bodies especially as women and having the time and energy to have kids. It's exhausting the whole thing and men will never be able to dictate to a woman of faith what to do because they will never walk in our shoes. Anyway God bless/Allah Hafiz xxx

LynetteScavo Sat 19-Jan-13 00:25:45

You know what, even if you DO use contraception, if God wills you to have a baby, you will have one. Think we can all agree on that.

Absolutely! grin

WaynettaSlobsLover lovely post, I really agree.

I really want to read that Buble wink.

Startail I do wonder if all the millions of Roman Catholics there are were all not using contraception then I think there would be masses of children more. IFSWIM!

mollysmum82 I hope this is helping you.

Tommy Sat 19-Jan-13 00:29:08

I am a practising and v committed Catholic - as are many of my friends - and I can honestly say that neither I nor any of them follow the Church's teaching on artificial contraception.
I have also only once heard it preached from the pulpit in all my 45 years of going to mass (the exception being a few months ago from a very young and inexperienced priest who seems to think that's what we should be receiving in place of a homily hmm)
Please - continue with your RCIA and try not to worry about the contraception thing..... Whereabouts in the country are you? /that may well determine what response you get

sashh Sat 19-Jan-13 07:50:34

Don't go to RC sites for this kind of thing. According to SPUC I'm a murderer for taking the pill.

I'm atheist but with RC parents and went to RC schools.

I agree with the others about it being treatment with contraception as a side effect.

My parents were the first generation to face this as they were married about the time the pill came out.

My mother went to confession, the priest asked her if her husband was in agreement with her choice, he was.

The priest then gave her absolution and told her to say a couple of Hail Marys and that she never needed to confess again.

If it still bothers you, pick your priest carefully and confess, explain about the PND and your reasons, explain that it is best for your family and marriage and ask to be forgiven.

Only the hardest hearted pedant would not forgive you.

BanghamTheDirtyScone Sat 19-Jan-13 07:56:06

Well according to my Catholic mother, if you don't want any children, or any more children, then it's a sin to have sex at all.

She told me this yesterday. She also believes that masturbation is wrong, that any sex aside from that used to conceive children is wrong, that homosexuals should not have sex, and that homosexuals should not have children.

My mother drives me insane...I was brought up Catholic but I'm not one any more.
Best of luck x

WaynettaSlobsLover Sat 19-Jan-13 09:32:09

Whoops the Buble wink !! I'm pg with my third and an exhausted by it. I know people with 8 kids who have depression, are haggard looking, kids don't exactly have great behaviour etc. not for me. I know there are amazing people of faith who can have a ton of kids and do it well but I can't and I don't want to. Both our religions state the importance of being a good and decent wife and having time with our husbands...how are we supposed to feel like sex and cuddles with kids attached to us like limpets?! The real educated scholars in my opinion are the ones who take everything into account in the religion and have empathy and understanding with a woman, not the ones who interpret texts completely literally and have these hardline views. God is loving and wishes for us ease, not hardship.

HappyHippyChick Sat 19-Jan-13 09:37:07

I went to mass in the summer in a monastry (sp?) where the priest preached a real fire and brimstone sermon about contraception and how there were many priests in hell now because they didn't preach against contraception hmm. Most of the (v small) congregation walked out!

I agree with the many eloquent and well thought out comments here (especially superfluouscurves and wanettaslobslover) and continue to take both communion and contraceptives!

amazingmumof6 Sat 19-Jan-13 10:16:26

Waynetta I agree with what you said about looking after your body/sanity and having energy to enjoy life/sex and not get so exhausted raising our kids that we end up having mental or physical illness!

it's all very well to have one more child, then one more, but besides the free will given by God to choose that (or not) we have an obligation/duty to look after our existing children (and husbands, parents,siblings, friends, community, do our work, housework, studies etc....) cheerfully and to the best of our abilities, but how can we do that if we are run down, ill, depressed, exhausted?

just another example - a friend of mine was severely ill during her 3rd pregnancy, she was half-paralyzed and ended up in a wheel-chair for last trimester.
the scariest part was that although this illness was a result of nerves being trapped due to pregnancy, there were no guarantees that she'll return to normal after the baby's born!
thankfully the problem went away, but no matter how much she'd like another one, there's no way she'll risk getting pregnant again, so she's on the pill.
she's a Christian and so is her family, very good friends and no one thinks she is committing a sin!
we prayed so hard for her to be well again, we are just so happy that she's well and able!
life is precious and I can not see how Jesus would want another baby to be born at the cost of damaging his/her mother's life!

WaynettaSlobsLover Sat 19-Jan-13 10:26:24

Wow that's yet again another eye opener about the potential physical effects of pregnancy, I'm glad your friend is well again alhamdulilah (thank God). I feel like sometimes suffering is seen as way to be pure, which it is of course, but not to the extent where it severely harms, and we as women shouldn't be obliged to risk our health time and time again for the sake of an interpretation of the Bible or any other holy texts. God loves us and wants the best for us and in my case, because I really don't want any more babies after this, I'm going to use contraception and pray sincerely for that to be the end of my childbearing days. To those of our sisters in faith who have a load of kids, we salute your patience and may you be rewarded! grin

KayHarker Sat 19-Jan-13 10:28:38

I'm not RC, but was nearly crippled by the teaching on no contraception, which is popular in some non RC circles too. I had progressively worse SPD with each pregnancy and my mental health suffered too. Eventually Dh and I took a long, hard look at what we were believing and took steps to deal with it. I'm now on medication which couple cause birth defects and Dh has had a vasectomy. There is nothing sinful about contraception and I have very little time for those who say there is.

sashh Sat 19-Jan-13 14:41:12

Wow that's yet again another eye opener about the potential physical effects of pregnancy

1 in 1000 pregnancies end with the mother having a cardiomyopathy.

You are very lucky if your pregnancy only gives you a few stretch marks and piles (and a baby or two obviously) it can cause major damage to your body and mental health. Even in the UK it can still kill.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 19-Jan-13 14:47:17

The vast majority of Catholics I know use contraception. We did for years. And now DH has had a vasectomy.

I have read a lot about it, and I simply don't get how the rhythm method can be OK and condoms sinful.

BanghamTheDirtyScone Sat 19-Jan-13 17:02:31

I don't understand how sterilisation can fit into it either...or does it? I don't know, again just going by my own DM.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 19-Jan-13 20:58:40

Well, no, sterilization is as bad as condoms. I know a fair few sterilized Catholics though.

Annunziata Sat 19-Jan-13 21:15:20

That forum scares me, I don't like looking at it.

You are doing the best for yourself and your family, that is definitely not a sin.

Plus, God wouldn't have allowed contraception to be invented if he didn't want us to use it.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 19-Jan-13 21:31:03

Um. Plenty of things invented that I'm pretty sure God takes a dim view of...

tuffie Sat 19-Jan-13 21:56:50

I am Catholic and use contraceptives along with all my other Catholic friends. Moreover, our wonderful priest was telling us over supper the other day that when he was a missionary in Africa he, along with the other priests out there, spent a lot of time trying to persuade the men to use contraceptives to stop the spread of Aids. Not what you would expect from the Catholic Church representatives, but I was delighted to hear it!
So mollysmum, please feel no guilt.

Annunziata Sat 19-Jan-13 22:05:50

It's not the best argument admittedly grin

sweetkitty Sat 19-Jan-13 22:24:28

One of my best friends is a committed catholic and uses natural family planning, there's only one week a month she's "allowed" to have sex. Surely she and her husband are preventing children albeit a "natural" method just the same as someone who uses a condom or takes the pill?

Why is one method deemed ok but another not? The NFP method is based on our understanding of the female menstrual cycle which we didn't know 50-100 years ago just as we didn't have the scientific know how to artificially prevent pregnancy.

I just don't get it. And with the way the planet is going population wise surely it is unacceptable to be having more children you can feed.

Startail Sun 20-Jan-13 15:25:10

I'm an "Experiment in the safe period method of contraception"!

milkandribena Sun 20-Jan-13 21:53:28

Personally
Not a sin don't feel guilty.
I'm RC but disagree with the church on a lot (I prefer to nod when the nice men high up tell me stuff and then go and do the opposite to what they have said.)

I know plenty of RC who take contraception and don't see it as a sin. I don't.

Taking precautions is about looking after yourself and those you love. If we are told that are bodies are sacred and should be honoured then we should take steps to uphold that and if that means contraception then it means contraception.
God has bigger things to deal with than people taking contraception and if he cares that much he is pretty petty and needs to take a good hard look at himself.

bamboostalks Sun 20-Jan-13 22:37:02

I strongly believe that God has created us to use contraception as our monthly cycle dictates our fertile and non fertile periods. Otherwise we could be fertile all the time. So using artificial means is simply an advance on this like all the other advances we take advantage of.
Having said that, I wouldn't be comfortable with all methods of contraception, the coil is an abortifacient so I wouldn't use that.

ninah Sun 20-Jan-13 22:59:36

Do people think, though, that growing up as a Catholic means that you are able to decide about this matter as you get older, whereas if you convert as an adult you are obliged to do so in full knowledge and therefore acceptance of the Church's teaching on contraception and homosexuality? There's a great deal about RC that calls to me, but I can't get over some of these issues.

Tommy Sun 20-Jan-13 23:07:55

good point ninah.

ninah Sun 20-Jan-13 23:11:33

I've thought about it a lot. I would like to convert but these are massive stumbling blocks for me, personally.

Tommy Sun 20-Jan-13 23:12:55

and maybe not even deciding as you get older - it's just that Catholicism has been a part of your whole life that you sort of "know" what's important and what isn't.

if that makes sense?

ninah I was going to say the same. I have a couple of friends that have converted and they are more likely to adhere rigorously to teaching on contraception, for example, than I do as a Catholic from birth.

Mitchy1nge Sun 20-Jan-13 23:23:57

this is why we have to examine our own conscience isn't it, and follow that even if it conflicts with everything else

thewhistler Sun 20-Jan-13 23:25:45

Op, there is a very wise and funny and moving novel by David Lodge called How far can you go, on exactly this subject in the 60s. I recommend it.

But more seriously, most PPs and nuns that I know, and whatever the Catholic marriage advisory service is now called, who are great people, say is as follows,

That if it would cause your marriage to fail, or you to become seriously ill, and obviously the latter is the case, then contraception is ok. And of course go on having sex..

As the person above said, if God wants you to have another baby, s/he will over rule the contraceptives.

You might have to choose the PP though. If aged, alcoholic, from a tradition where mothers are kept in the kitchen or childbed, you might be advised to avoid and choose another.

HTH.

Tommy Sun 20-Jan-13 23:26:08

converts are usually more zealous though aren't they? Just look at St Paul grin

Zavi Sun 20-Jan-13 23:27:57

What about non-barrier methods of contraception such as the rhythm method (temp taking/safe period)? You might feel more comfortable with that?

Not ideal I know but at least your conscience would leave you alone.

At the end of the day you've got to be able to square whatever you do with your own conscience. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

It's what you think of what you do that counts.

Tommy Sun 20-Jan-13 23:29:40

agree that a lot of this depends on the priest. We have 2 priests in our parish. The older, very senior one would be very laid back about all this sort of thing but the young, just ordained one, is so right wing and trad it's unbelievable hmm (and he is the only priest I have ever heard preach on contraception hmm)

My contraceptive choices will not be discussed with my parish priest as he is somewhere to the right of Torquemada. grin

milkandribena Sun 20-Jan-13 23:48:19

I think you may be right ninah about if you are born into it you are maybe more likely to be willing not be so firm (if that is the right word)
I can't imagine there are a lot of gay people converting but there are a number of gay catholics who have been born RC (I know a number DBro included)

why would you talk about contraception with your priest? politics, northern ireland, the need for socialism, football yes but not sex.

ninah Mon 21-Jan-13 00:08:25

local priest scares the daylights out of me, even a football chat would be chancing it. The irony is that I have no personal dilemma. It's more on behalf of gay friends/women friends, and on principle, that I find the difficulty.

MurkyMinotaur Mon 21-Jan-13 00:51:30

I'm a Christian who attends an 'evangelical free church'. As others have said, the bible makes no rules against contraception.

The bible is clear that sex is for marriage and within marriage sex is celebrated in the bible! Check out Song of Songs (also called Song of Solomon) in the bible. It's one long poetic celebration of intimacy in marriage. Within marriage, sex is not a dirty pleasure - it is a God-given pleasure that unites a couple. Whilst there is nothing wrong with using natural methods of contraception, there is no reason for Christians to feel any guilt for using contraception.

Whether you take communion is between you and God. It's wise to consider other people's opinions, but you can decide whether you are approaching God with faith in Jesus, through God's grace.

There can be times when it's right for a church leader to have a word with a Christian who is acting contrary to clear biblical rules. Sometimes it's even right for a person to step back from responsibilities until they have got things back right. (e.g. You wouldn't want someone teaching, who wasn't following the teaching themselves). At those times, a church leader needs to be wise and avoid implying that any person needs to shape up in order to approach Jesus. The bible says (in summary) that Jesus is for sinners, like doctors are for sick people. So, whilst there are some legitimate biblical rules for churches to follow, be wary of anyone who implies you are less worthy of approaching Jesus because of your sin. No one is worthy. It's all about God's grace and that happened through Jesus.

crescentmoon Mon 21-Jan-13 08:23:06

"even if you DO use contraception, if God wills you to have a baby, you will have one. Think we can all agree on that." grin

on the topic of another dc DH fervently says "Inshaallah" (God Willing!)
on the topic of another dc I fervently say "Aoothoobillah" (God protect me!)

mollysmum82 Mon 21-Jan-13 14:27:59

Oh my goodness I'm overwhelmed by your kind replies, thank you ever so much! What a lovely bunch of ladies, with a lot of common sense!

Housemum Sun 27-Jan-13 21:41:45

Some of those websites can be rather over-zealous - I read a link on another thread about people who are not in full communion with the Church not being allowed to receive a blessing, something which is actively encouraged in the church I go to. Personally I think that barrier methods are stopping conception so in my own mind I think it's OK, but I would not take the morning after pill as that could (with bionic fast sperm) cause a potential embryo to be aborted. I have a Mirena coil which has stopped my periods so I feel no guilt, whether I should or not. Just don't want another child in my mid forties. Roll on 5 years or so when I will be menopausal and guilt-free, but a seething mass of overheated hormones instead.

Abra1d Tue 29-Jan-13 15:01:09

Is CatholicAnswers a US Catholic forum? Because some US Catholics take things literally re. contraception than Western Europeans do.

I have never heard a homily from our PP about contraception. Ever. I have never discussed it in the confessional, either. It has never been suggested to me that I should not take communion because I use contraception.

sarahtigh Tue 29-Jan-13 20:40:45

I do not really have an issue with contraception from that point of view but some Christians would distinguish between methods those which stop sperm and egg meeting so there is no chance of an embryo forming ( barrier methods) and those which allow embryos to form but prevent implantation ( the coil , morning after pill etc) and those which rely on reasonable guesses as to when fertile or not but accepting it lowers risk of pregnancy not abolishes it.

Some Christians would not be happy about contraception which gets rids of embryo by preventing implantation as they see it as very very early abortion

just explaining the view points not saying personally I think one or other is right or wrong

ethelb Wed 30-Jan-13 19:16:27

I'm catholic. My family is catholic. We use contraception like there is no tomorrow and take communion.

Yes I may be a massive hypocrite but I am happy and comfortable with my choice.

sieglinde Thu 31-Jan-13 13:40:32

Hi, yet another RC here to say that if you are taking the pill for an illness you are not committing any kind of sin.

The Holy Father confirmed this quite recently in terms of condoms and AIDS prevention. So it should be utterly uncontroversial.

Gingerdodger Thu 31-Jan-13 16:39:55

In my opinion it is a matter for you and your conscience. Like many Catholics I don't agree with the official line on some issues but I have always taken the view that as long as I can say the creed and believe in that the rest is for me and own conscience to work through. This includes the use of contraception and I know that many other Catholics take the same stance.

I'm CofE but my opinion for what it's worth - God is a loving Father. As a loving Father He wants you to have a family with all the love and joy that brings. But as a loving Father He doesn't want you to be suicidally depressed - imagine His pain at seeing one of his children going through that kind of pain. God loves you, if you take care of yourself you are doing as God wants - He doesn't want you to suffer, He wants you to be able to enjoy this beautiful world He created for us, and to be happy in your marriage and in your life. He didn't put you here to suffer, He wants to see us all free and joyful, taking care of ourselves and each other - and anyone who thinks differently is praying to a different God than I am.

So to sum up - in my (not very expert, but heartfelt) opinion take communion, and save your repentance for actual sins.

MareeyaDolores Mon 04-Feb-13 00:36:51

Online lists of 'the right' Catholic Answers lifted directly from the catechism are not a substitute for talking to your priest.

Dumping a conversion you are otherwise comfortable with on the basis of one rule you can't live up to at the moment, seems mistaken to me. Denying the Church's teachings altogether would be a reason not to convert, but not being unable to follow them... well, if we could all do that unaided then there's no need of any Church at all grin.

Talk to your priest, about your well-founded fear of severe PND recurrence, which is a major mitigating circumstance. And forbidding yourself from participating in the Eucharist because 'computer says no' definitely is a sin (pride, scrupulosity, giving scandal to non-Catholics,

MareeyaDolores Mon 04-Feb-13 00:43:00

posting too soon blush)

Btw, I am RC, and a fairly traditional one.

Tortington Mon 04-Feb-13 00:50:03

my priest once asked - whilst i was in confession, if i was using contraception. i had not long had a baby and i said "father, if i didn't take contraception, i would take my own life, as i can't have another baby"

he was old school priest - a canon actually, and he was fine with that.

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