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Humanae Vitae Part 2 - The Design for Married Love

We now continue the series on the Catholic Church encyclical Humanae Vitae as many of us struggle in our modern day culture with understanding the Church’s opposition to artificial contraception.

We again ask, why does artificial contraception matter so much?

To help us understand this sensitive topic, we go back to the beginning of what the Church has said. Last week in my blog Humanae Vitae – Is birth to be controlled? I began with part I Problems and Competency of the Magisterium and introduced us to II Doctrinal Principles. We walked through how Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae identifies the changes and struggles in culture which have lead to reasonable questions surrounding how birth is be controlled. The Church’s response to this question begins with recognizing the procreative role in married love. We find that the answers to these questions ultimately require us to understand man and God’s plan for him . . .

*II Doctrinal Principles

Continuing on, Pope Paul VI says at the beginning of this section, “Married love particularly reveals its true nature and nobility when we realize that it takes its origin from God, who "is love," the Father "from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named." To elaborate on this, married love is not a matter of chance or a “blind evolution of natural forces” but it is according to God’s loving design where husband and wife are to:

  1. give themselves mutually to one another

  2. develop their union by perfecting one another

  3. cooperate with God in the co-creation of human life

While studying Humanae Vitae, I just had to stop right here and say, that this is beautiful. Husband and wife are to find themselves effectively and completely in their union with one another as they cooperate in God’s loving design of life giving and self giving love that bears the fruits of new life.
Furthermore, when those who have been baptized into the body of Christ are married, they are participating in a sacrament that “represents the union of Christ and His Church.”

If this is what the Catholic Church is saying about marriage, is it really so confining and filled with rules? I believe the words themselves explain a magnificent freedom for man and woman.

Married Love

With the three aspects of God’s loving design for marriage clearly shown above, the needs for married love can be understood.

Married love is fully human as it encompasses our material human senses and our spiritual intellectual need as human beings. For married love is not just instinctual and driven by emotions. It is “an act of the free will” that is meant to embrace the daily joy and sorrow of marriage. The couple is to grow together as they become “one heart and soul, and together attain their human fulfillment”. This is meant to be the natural growth of husband and wife in the friendship with one another that completes them.

At their wedding husband and wife are to understand their free act in which they vow themselves to one another in a covenantal bond that is unwaveringly faithful even through the difficulties of marriage.

Finally, this marital love is meant to be fruitful as it is not confined to the husband and wife for it goes so far as to generate new life into existence. By its very nature the conjugal love is, “ordained toward the procreation and education of children.” As the marital love goes beyond the two individuals, the gift of children contributes to the welfare of the parents.

Now as we’ve just laid down the groundwork for married love and are starting to see the contribution of children to the well being of married couples within the beautiful plan of God, we will next look to responsible parenthood and natural law. Please continue to follow along in this series and share the beauty of understanding married love.