artificial reproduction, which would seem to be at the service of life and which are frequently used with this intention, actually open the door to new threats against life” (“Evangelium Vitae,” 14; Flor- ida Catholic, March 13-26, 2009).
A 2008 Vatican Instruction, Dignitas Personae (Dignity of the Person), states: “The desire to have a child cannot justify the “production” of off- spring; just as the desire not to have a child can- not justify the abandonment or destruction of a child once he or she has been conceived” (16). Again, we recall that just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done. “The origin of human life has its authentic context in marriage and in the family, where it is generated through an act which expresses the reciprocal love between a man and a woman…” (DP).
What about homologous artificial insemination and fertilization (where the sperm and ovum of a husband and wife are combined outside the womb)? While the Church finds this procedure to be less objectionable than the situation which in- volves a third party, it still finds it to be morally unacceptable because the procreative dimension is separated from intercourse. In other words, the ex- istence of the child is entrusted to science; it is not the result of the gift of husband and wife to each other.
This article places before the reader the Church’s teaching on many issues that our society rejects and that many good Christians struggle with: premarital sex, cohabitation, same-sex unions, artificial contra- ception and in vitro fertilization.
As we struggle with some of these issues, it may be helpful to remember that many of Jesus’ teachings are also hard to embrace, e.g., forgiving life’s hurts not just seven times but seventy times seven times, dealing with the cross whereby bad things happen to good people, or trying to live a simple life in a mate- rialistic society. The truth is that the Gospel of Jesus is no easy street religion. Rather, it is a call to radical discipleship, a call that demands much generosity of us and a call that demands tremendous cooperation with God’s grace.
Will we always respond perfectly to all of the above issues? Of course not, and our Church realizes that very well. That is the reason we have confessionals in every church. There we can humbly confess our failures and weaknesses, and receive the grace to
start all over again. When it comes to the radical call of Jesus’ message, we can be sure that the devil wants to discourage us or even cause us to quit try- ing. But God is with us every step of the way. He is there to show us his mercy every time we fall down. He is with us to encourage us to keep trying when we feel weak and discouraged, and when we fall down. As we struggle with any of the issues in this article, we might consider speaking with an under- standing priest who can accompany us in our strug- gles and pray with us as well.
Pause: How do you feel about couples using in vitro methods to conceive a child?
We are both sexual and spiritual creatures; one with- out the other makes us less than God intends us to be. God calls us to use our minds and wills to maintain and nourish our sexual selves in congruence with au- thentic spiritual values. How we do this will be highly dependent on our vocational life-style—married, sin- gle, or vowed celibate—as well as individual and envi- ronmental factors. Whatever our situation, we are fool- ish to pursue less than holistic sexual lives.
The saving grace in this adventure is that we are in it together. We are not isolated individuals alone in our efforts; rather, we are integral members of the same community of humankind. The more you and I grow in a healthy sexuality, the more we will positively impact and help each other.
It is eminently wise to acknowledge a Power that is greater than us and yet intimately related to us—a God who will help us on the journey. To deny God, however we understand God, is to reject a power that is the source of and means to healthy and holy sex- ual/spiritual living. To turn over our minds and wills to the care of God is a wise, practical decision. It will give us the vision and strength to become whole and holy mavericks who celebrate and live the unity of sex-
(William Kraft, Ph.D)
Fr. Eamon Tobin © Ascension Catholic Church Melbourne, FL firstname.lastname@example.org