Contraception: Where is that in the Bible?
Sometimes people ask: “Why does the Church make such a big deal about contraception? After all, it’s not anywhere in the Bible.”
The Catholic response to that question has two components.
Just because the Bible doesn’t use a particular word doesn’t mean that the Bible doesn’t teach about a particular point.
For example, the Bible doesn’t mention the Trinity anywhere. Certainly, the Trinity is a biblical truth, and the word “Trinity” captures what the Bible teaches about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Bible doesn’t use the word, but it does make the point.
For another example, the Bible nowhere says that Jesus is “one in being” or “consubstantial” with the Father – the normal English rendering of the Latin “consubstantial” and the Greek “homoousios.” But almost every Christian group in the United States adheres to the Nicene Creed, which declares that Jesus is “one in being” or “consubstantial” with the Father. Even though the Bible never uses the word “homoousios,” the Bible certainly makes the point that Jesus is 100% divine.
So, everyone who confesses their belief in the Trinity and everyone who recites the Nicene Creed also admits - whether they realize it or not - that it’s legitimate to use a non-biblical word to present and defend a biblical truth. The question is not whether the Bible uses these words; the question is whether the Bible teaches this truth.
So now the question becomes: even if it doesn’t use the word, does the Bible have anything to say about contraception? That takes us to our second point.
At the Last Supper, and on the Cross, Jesus made a complete gift of himself to us so that we might have life. He didn’t hold anything back, and he didn’t contracept the life he was giving to us. Good thing, too – because the life he gives is the possibility of our salvation! Whether or not that life takes root is up to us; but Jesus doesn’t do anything to prevent it. That’s not a particular Catholic teaching; it’s a basic biblical truth.
The relationship between a man and a woman in marriage is supposed to reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church. That’s also not a particular Catholic teaching; it’s a basic biblical truth articulated by Saint Paul. When a man and a woman hold something back in marriage – when they don’t give themselves to each other completely, or when they contracept the possibility of life that arises from their union – they fail to give themselves to each other the way Christ gave himself to the Church. That’s a specific way that marriage imitates – or fails to imitate – the life of Christ.
In that sense, while the bible never uses the word contraception, it still has something to say about the topic.
If we insist that the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about contraception because it never uses the word “contraception,” then we have to be prepared to abandon our belief in the Trinity and the Nicene Creed. If we’re willing to admit the Trinity and the Nicene Creed into our beliefs, then we have to be prepared to think more deeply about the Bible and contraception.