This would hardly be the preferred way to spend time with one's spouse - together, yet not quite. So close. Two-made-one, yet a two-made-one divided by millimeters that might as well be miles.
The Roman Church teaches/confesses a Theology of the Body. What we do with our bodies and how we use them speaks something - confesses something.
As Lutherans this makes sense to us too, even though we have seldom applied it to discussions in this area. After all we too hold to the Creeds whereby we confess the Creator of a good but now fallen creation, the Incarnation of Christ, and the resurrection of the dead in Christ Jesus our Lord. We believe, teach, and confess these very physical realities by the Word of God.
Yet, when it comes to the Theology of Marriage, and talk of contraceptives and the avoidance of children I so often run into Lutherans (prominent professors and others) who suggest that what is really important here is the motive of the married couple.
Now let me first say, lest anyone misunderstand, that motive/goals/ends sought after are important and should be brought up in pastoral care and Christian conversation on these topics. (I do, however, believe that a majority of the motives held even in Christian marriages for not having children are illegitimate and ill-conceived - an argument for another day and another post).
What I do argue here is something we all know: Motives/goals/ends don’t justify means. And in this case when we relegate ourselves only to talk of the married couple's motives to the exclusion of talk about the means we place ourselves and our marriages on shaky ground.
Therefore, when the question to contracept or not to contracept arises, we cannot simply stop our discussion at motives. We must also consider the means that we will use. In this context, any talk of means of contraception is also talk of the Theology of The Body within the context of a Theology of Marriage.
In the picture above, the glass speaks something, confesses something about the reality of the married couple who meets there once a week – staring each other in the eyes with pupils dilated, speaking sweet-nothings – a very intimate setting save for the thin glass that so profoundly separates the two-become-one.
If I were to go to kiss my wife and at the last second I slipped some plastic wrap between our lips she would be surprised and ultimately offended. I could explain to her that it is the height of could and flu season and my motive is to protect her/me from me/her. She might understand the motive but I guarantee that she would not give assent to the physical means. Why? Because the means unnecessarily and offensively separate the two-become-one – a marriage that is to be an icon of Christ’s mystical, sweet, un-separated, communion with His bride the Church.If a little plastic wrap, a little glass, a little linen speak so much, how can a little latex speak so little to so many?