Is it okay for married people to use birth control?
Birth control, within or outside or marriage, is wrong. The purpose of sex within marriage is to unite the couple and for procreation. Using birth is clearly taking away the idea of being open to children and it also puts a barrier between the spouses. Our bodies have a language of their own, for example a smile, a wink, a raise of the eyebrow. All of these signs from our body convey a message. Having sex with someone also conveys a message. What does it say? Having sex with someone is telling them with your body that you want to be with them, totally and completely. It is saying to your spouse that they can have all of you. So, using birth control is lying with your body. You are telling your partner that you want to give all of yourself to them, except you are using birth control to separate you from them.
Sex is meant to express love, a love that is free, total, faithful, and fruitful. Free means freely given, not forced, total means holding nothing back, faithful comes with a lifetime commitment within marriage, and fruitful is the openness to new life produced through sex. If someone walked up to you and said, “Nice to meet you” but instead of shaking your hand, they slapped your face, their words and actions would not match up. They would be lying with their body. It is the same with sex. When we say that sex expresses love that is total, we mean that it isn’t holding anything back. When someone has been sterilized or is using a form of birth control, then they are holding back the possibility of creating new life, their fertility, so their love is not total. The other person is then not receiving a total gift of their spouse. If we don’t have one of these four aspects of what sex being free, total, faithful, and fruitful then we aren’t honestly expressing the meaning of sex.
This does not mean that a married couple is required by the Church to have 20 children. There is a method called Natural Family Planning that tracks signs from the woman’s body, like her temperature, to determine what time of the month she is fertile, or able to conceive. If a couple has a serious reason why this would not be a good time for them to have a child (like the husband just lost his job, not that they hope to buy a yacht), then they would just abstain from sex when the woman is fertile. This way they wouldn’t be lying with their bodies or misusing sex, they would not have sex during the week or so during the month that a baby could be created. Couples who use NFP say that it makes their marriage stronger because they have better communication and need to express their love for each other non-sexually as well. The divorce rate for a couple using NFP is about 4% (vs. 50% for the general population).