It is true: Nowhere in the Gospels does Christ explicitly condemn the scourge of abortion and its companion, artificial contraception. This lack of scriptural evidence becomes for some license to disregard Church teaching, but sadly betrays confusion about the teachings of the Church as well as the nature and authority of Sacred Scripture.
The consistent teaching of the Church regarding the evils of abortion along with contraception and the general dignity of the human person finds its scriptural basis in the story of creation in the Book of Genesis. Again, you will not find specific prohibitions mentioned in Genesis regarding abortion and contraception.
However, you will find affirmations of the dignity of the human person created in the image and likeness of God; you will find an articulation of the right relationship that should exist between a man and woman who become husband and wife and soulmates for each other; you will find the exhortation to be fruitful and multiply.
Building on this foundation, there are other passages in Sacred Scripture that affirm the sanctity of human life and articulate how people should live with one another according to the law of God. All these passages taken together provide scriptural support for the Church’s teachings regarding abortion and contraception. It is this comprehensive understanding of Sacred Scripture that makes it possible to see and articulate God’s guiding hand throughout salvation history.
It is important to point out that the Church builds her foundation on two great pillars: Sacred Scripture and Tradition. These are never in conflict with each other. On the contrary, they form the solid basis for the clear and consistent teachings of our faith in all its aspects. As such, the Church never solely looks to Sacred Scripture for “proof” of her teachings nor does Holy Mother Church ignore the indispensable role Sacred Scripture plays as a source for revelation.
Scripture alone is not the rallying cry for the Catholic faith but reflects the Protestant approach to both Scripture and Tradition. There is a false comfort that comes from being able to turn to Scripture only as the source of Church teaching. Yet, it neglects the historical development of Sacred Scripture unfolding in the context of the Church’s Tradition. One who searches only in Sacred Scripture for every aspect of the Christian faith will be disappointed. However, one seeking to understand the Catholic Faith in the light of both Scripture and Tradition will find all that he or she needs.
Msgr. Morris is rector of the Oratory of Sts. Gregory and Augustine at St. Luke Church in Richmond Heights.