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Ethics in Religion


Vincent Smiles, Theology


The current framework in which The Catholic Church discusses birth control originates within a sexual ethic based on rules Christians are obligated to follow. After a careful, internal critique of the encyclical, there needs to be a change in this framework so that Christian sexual ethics is less focused on the rules and more focused on the values which Humanae Vitae embodies. These values are presently described as the unitive and procreative ends of marriage. However, with a transition from a rule-based sex ethic to a value-based sex ethic, these ends of marriage can be redefined in terms of married love and responsible parenthood, which each carry a set of practices. Additionally, these values and their respective practices lead to a revised moral evaluation of all birth control methods including: fertility awareness methods, barrier methods, withdrawal, sterilization, hormonal methods, and abortion. Each method proves to be more or less ethical as each method is individually examined in how it upholds the values Humane Vitae embodies. By changing the framework in which we discuss the ethics of birth control, there can be more focus on the positive goods of marriage to encourage a happier and more fruitful living of married life.