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Contraception: An Anti-Social Disorder

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May. 03, 2012

The rate by which Americans divorce hovers above the staggering 50% mark.  The rate by which young people remain unmarried, too, is extraordinarily high.  This means that if people are getting married at all, then odds are, the marriage is not going to last.  This is a devastating phenomenon, because it means that somehow, some way we are failing at monogamy and commitment. 

In an era where every problem is diagnosed with some sort of phony psychological label, we hear an awful lot about a term known as, “anti-social.”  And for the time-being, it is still a disorder.  That means we as a society seem to think being social is a valuable personal quality and characteristic.  We believe chatting it up is a good thing.  This truth is further confirmed by the widespread tendency to be involved in social media networks and be members of fraternal organizations.  And being social is not only a popular prerogative, but it a testimony to our humanity.  Being social is part of what it means to be human.  So, yes, when we are anti-social, this is correctly called a disorder. 

Now, back to failing marriages.  Poll any number of couples whose marriages have lasted, flourished and survived the tests of time and I am confident you will find some common themes in their answers.  I would venture to say that the single-most recurring answer will be: “communication.”  Being social, not only makes us more fully human, but it also makes for successful marriages.  Oddly enough, marriages are meant to help people being more fully human.  Thus, in a circular, yet valid way, marriages are meant to foster communication.

It is not a stretch of the imagination, then, to surmise that perhaps one of the reasons that so many marriages in America are failing is because so little communication is taking place.  So little communication is taking place because there are so many things that can weasel into a relationship that simply cuts off the need to communicate, the need for joint deliberation.  There is seldom anything that should occur in a relationship that doesn’t need some sort of discussion.  Whether it be what you are having for dinner, what the plans are for the weekend, or who’s picking the kids up from practice, marriage and relationships are founded on being talkative and communicative with one another. 

Yet for all the things that require discussion in marriage, the one thing relationships are most relaxed about discussing is sex.  Couples certainly aren’t afraid of having sex, but they do seem afraid of having considerate and deliberate conversations about sexuality.  We want to engage in the act and have no further discussion other than seeking permission to do so.  Once the permission is granted, the conversation is over. 

Sexual intimacy is considered a consummation.  The marital act, is itself, a culminating event that symbolizes more than just mutual instincts and libido-peaks.  It is a consummation of love and humanity, a climax of fidelity and self-gift which occurs only after the personhood of the other is encountered, considered, and respected.  Sex is more than the mere act—it is also the social considerations that lead up to the activity.  Sexually active marriages do not per se create wholesome marriages (else the divorce rate wouldn’t be so high).  What creates wholesome, long-lasting marriages is communication.  What makes for great sex is communication and totality. 

50% of marriages are failing in this country.  These marriages remain sexually active, but describe “something” as missing.  Marriages that use natural family planning, on the other hand, which recognize the inseparable cohesion of sexuality with communication, instead enjoy a 99% fidelity rating (that means less than 1% of these marriages end in divorce).  The weasel that has crept into marriages in America, then, clearly is some anti-social force—some force that inhibits a husband and a wife from having to communicate about their sexuality, their fertility, their households.  I dare say that anti-social force is contraception.  As long as couples consider sex a mere act whose consequences can be glossed over by latex or chemicals, then these marriages will forego the rich, deep, and intimate conversations that couples need to be having when considering the consequences of sexuality and fertility.  And as long as marriages operate in this way, they will continue to fail.  We were made as humans, made to be social.  In marriage, we are meant to approach the summit of communication.  Sexuality is symbolic of the communicative intimacy of married couples.  Contraception shuts us up, keeps us quiet, closes us off.  It may allow couples to come together for a short time, but in the long term, it separates, it divides.  Contraception is anti-social.  Contraception is destroying marriages.