“Married love is also faithful and exclusive of all others, and this until death,” Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical “On Human Life.”
Faithful and exclusive until death: these are the hallmarks of married life. Unfortunately, divorce rates have skyrocketed since the early 1900’s. (In 1910, the divorce rate was one in ten…it is now one in two.)
It is no surprise that the number one cause of divorce is adultery. Adultery is not new to the 21st century. However, the original proponents marketed birth control as a “happy marriage builder.” Unfortunately, 100 years later, the opposite appears to be true.
As human beings with a fallen nature, we need deterrents. If jails disappeared, crime rates would increase. While some criminals would commit crimes regardless of the deterrent of jail, many, if not most, people would avoid committing crimes to avoid jail.
Until the 20th century, the main deterrent to committing adultery for both men and women had been pregnancy. It didn’t stop everyone, but for the majority of the world’s population for the past couple thousand years, it was a concern which prevented most people from straying.
By the mid-20th century, contraception had become easily available. Now that the physical deterrent of pregnancy had been removed through contraception, there were less reasons to refrain from this sort of behavior, at least from a strictly secular perspective.
Although it can’t be proven that the only reason divorce rates have skyrocketed is because of contraception, it’s a natural progression to say that the availability of contraception as well as the widespread acceptance of its use have increased incidents of adultery. As well, nowadays most couples (Catholics included) engage in premarital sex, another natural consequence of the availability and acceptance of birth control. People who engage in premarital sex are statistically less likely to remain faithful in marriage.
One need only to look at the sports world, to politics and to the entertainment industry and the recently publicized affairs to see the harmful effects of adultery to families. Adultery hurts not only the innocent spouse and children, it also harms society as a whole and it causes scandal to all parties involved.
Let’s contrast that picture with couples who do not use contraception and instead use NFP. These couples have a less than five percent chance of divorcing. While it would be untrue to state that NFP couples are never unfaithful, it is true to state that statistically, it is less likely. Men and women who have practiced self-mastery in the area of sexuality and in the use of NFP are much less likely to stray from vows of faithfulness.
Although contraception was marketed by its early proponents as a “happy marriage builder,” experience has shown that it has contributed to higher divorce rates. Contraception has taken away the deterrent of pregnancy and has increased premarital and extramarital sexual activity.
Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach