In today's National Post, Fr. Raymond de Souza discusses today's contraceptive culture after several decades of "sexual revolution" (http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/02/16/father-raymond-j-de-souza-what-contraception-has-wrought/). It is, in Fr. Raymond's words, a culture that has "plenty of sex, but less enduring love, a demographic collapse, more fragile marriages, more fatherless families, the emergence of a 'rape culture' on campus, more sexually transmitted diseases, an infertility epidemic and rampant degradation of both women and men in advertising and ubiquitous porn".
Humanity is indeed in a state of ruin. Four decades ago, no one but the prophetic mind of Pope Paul VI could have seen this coming. In Humanae Vitae (released in 1968), the Holy Father predicted accurately that contraception would lead to conjugal infidelity, a lowering of morality especially among young people, loss of respect for women, and immoral intervention into the most personal and most reserved sector of conjugal intimacy by public authorities.
It is hard to believe but today the contraceptive culture is embraced not only by our society at large but also by many clerics, scholars, and worshippers representing the mainstream religious voice (understood in the Judaic-Islamic-Christian context), which as recent as in the early 20th century was still solidly opposed to contraception. It wasn't until 1930 when the Anglican Church broke rank with the Christian world to give qualified approval to contraception at the Lambeth Conference that the historic consesus of Christianity on the immorality of contraception began to show signs of falling apart. Since then the pro-contraception force of the secular world continued to gain dominance with each passing day. Today the use of contraception is generally accepted without question. This is true even among many Catholic worshippers, although the teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church remains firm in opposing it. Depending on which side of the issue you are on, the Catholic Church is seen by the general public either as "public enemy number 1" or as "the lone voice in the wilderness" that still carries the weight of moral persuasion.
In my view, there is only one issue that determines whether a married couple will accept or reject the contraceptive culture. If husband and wife are able to understand and accept that their one-flesh union actually transcends the temporal and physical sphere of biological desires and serves as a sign pointing them to the greater and everlasting good of the one-flesh union of Christ and the Church, they will never allow contraception to desecrate the holiness of their conjugal intimacy. For a married couple who takes their marriage as a vocation and understands the sacramental nature of the marital embrace, their bedroom is a sacred place of worship and their bed an altar where their wedding vows are regularly renewed. This is the key point I wish to drive home to the participants of this year's Catechism Revisited Program (www.crp.cmccbsp.org) in sharing with them Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.