[continued from yesterday]
...Each case must be judged according to its own circumstances.
In deciding this, the existence and the welfare of the offspring is the first consideration. Incontinence tells against the interests of the offspring.
Each partner then has the duty of seeing that, as far as possible, the other shall not be exposed to this danger. For the sake of home and family, therefore, each one is bound to render the debt as often as reasonably asked.
For such a sacred purpose either partner should be willing to undergo serious inconvenience. Indeed, marriage is supposed to be fraught with serious inconveniences. These are love's opportunities, and love is given to overcome them. The cares of child-bearing are no excuse for the wife refusing consent, nor yet is the expense of the child's education an excuse for the husband refusing consent. Not even a difficult childbirth is a sufficient reason for refusing. The only justification for refusing is something so serious as to involve danger of death, or long painful illness.
Complete debauchery will come within this category. Such excessive indulgence may so weaken a man's will as to render him liable to incontinence. In the interests of conjugal fidelity the wife would in such a case be justified in refusing.
The intention of this chapter, however, is to indicate counsel rather than precept, to point the way of the higher happiness rather than the lowest degree of strict justice. St. Paul is our inspired authority. In laying down his doctrine he is careful to say that it is a mere recommendation and not a binding obligation. "Defraud not one another, except perhaps, by consent, for a time,
that you may give yourselves to prayer; and return together again, lest Satan tempt you for your incontinency."
In the first place he defends the conjugal rights of each partner. The husband is not to take upon himself any extraordinary restraint without the consent of the wife, nor the wife without consent of the husband. The aim of restraint is to acquire a wider and deeper spirit life. But to do so at the expense of another's rights is an act of injustice which of its very nature militates against the deeper life desired. God instituted marriage as a remedy for concupiscence. But to deny the right is to put the other partner in danger of incontinence. Such an act of injustice can only entail spiritual loss to all concerned, and become the source of discontent and unhappiness in the family circle...
From Marriage and Parenthood, The Catholic Ideal
By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
Author of "Cords of Adam," "The Wayfarer's Vision," ETC.
Copyright, 1911, by Joseph F. Wagner, New York.