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Chapter 30. Sixth Commandment: Marital Fidelity • 409

2378). In this way, they share the creative power and fatherhood of God.

In giving birth to children and educating and forming them, they cooper-

ate with the love of God as Creator. Marital love by its nature is fruitful.

The marriage act, while deepening spousal love, is meant to overflow

into new life. Families are images of the ever-creative power and life of

the Holy Trinity and the fruitfulness of the relationship between Christ

and his Church.

Respecting the Link of Fertility and Love

“A child does not come from outside as something added on to the

mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that

mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is ‘on

the side of life’ teaches that ‘it is necessary that each and every marriage

act remain ordered

per se

to the procreation of human life’” (CCC, no.

2366, citing FC, no. 30, and HV, no. 11, respectively).

This passage underlines the Church’s teaching that God established

an inseparable bond between the unitive and procreative aspects of mar-

riage. Each and every sexual act in a marriage needs to be open to the

possibility of conceiving a child. Thus, artificial contraception is con-

trary to God’s will for marriage because it separates the act of concep-

tion from sexual union. Efforts to achieve pregnancy outside of the act

of sexual intercourse (e.g.,

in vitro

fertilization) are morally wrong for

the same reason—they separate conception from sexual intercourse.

Contemporary methods of natural family planning are making it

possible for couples, in cases of legitimate need, to space the births of

their children while remaining faithful to God’s plan for marriage. These

methods allow a couple to have a more precise knowledge of the time of

ovulation to enable them to either avoid or achieve a pregnancy. “The

regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible father-

hood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses

do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example,

direct sterilization or contraception)” (CCC, no. 2399).

In the course of their marriage, couples may, for serious reasons,

decide to avoid a new birth for the time being or even for an indetermi-

nate period, but they must not use immoral means to prevent conception.