Commonweal is a fine periodical, filled with closely-reasoned and finely-nuanced essays. Jo McGowan’s essay “Simplifying Sex” is another instance of this thoughtfulness.
The argument is simply that sex and sexuality can be life-promoting and life-enhancing– and therefore in harmony with the God revealed in Christian Scripture– without requiring the sexual act necessarily to lead to procreation. Earlier in his career, Rowan Williams, the soon-to-become-former Archbishop of Canterbury, used similar reasoning to offer a broader theological context for homosexuality. (A treatment of Williams’ thinking on homosexuality is here: https://religioninthebalance.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/beholding-and-beheld-mutual-vulnerability-in-the-divine-image/)
Jo McGowan’s essay is a defense of contraceptive use, within the context of marriage, written by a Roman Catholic. While Roman Catholicism helpfully reminds us that sex and sexuality is a gift of God, the restrictions that the Church places on sexual expression need revision. Roman Catholic teaching does not as yet encompass many of the ways that sexual relations can be redemptive and sacramental.
Here is a piece of McGowan’s essay:
To defend contraception within marriage is not to defend sexual license. Married couples who have pledged a lifetime of commitment to each other and their families have the right and the duty to make their own decisions about contraception. The church’s role is to help them arrive at the decision that is right for their lives. It is not to dictate one-size-fits-all rules that have no foundation in practical experience.