A family of stumptail macaque monkeys
Following his recent beatification in Rome we explored the prophetic message of Pope Paul VI in his encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae, by publishing excerpts from this great work. Perhaps no other encyclical letter has been quite so prophetic in its predictions for society. And in the case of Humanae Vitae, it was the fallout from the use of contraception which served as Pope Paul VI’s focus and caused the greatest stir.
Consider this paragraph from Humanae Vitae:
‘Let [upright men] consider, first of all, how wide and easy a road would be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality….It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.’
Paul VI states his fears over the use of contraception and how this will lead to the loss of respect, by men, for women and how it could further lead to the using of women for the selfish interests of men. You don’t need me to tell you that we are way past this point in our world. Paul VI’s fears have been truly realised, and it is undoubtedly to the detriment of our society, particularly in the family unit, where its negative effect is most keenly felt.
And while the Church may have weighed in on the debate around contraception, science too has had its say on its dangers. Consider this fascinating study by Dr Lionel Tiger, revealed in his 1999 book The Decline of Males. In a study of stumptail macaque monkeys, Tiger sought to prove that when men are eliminated from the reproductive equation it affects their sense of responsibility. He wanted to see how hormonal contraception affected male/female relationships.
Rev. Richard Hogan sums up Tiger’s fascinating findings as follows:
‘Two anthropologists, Lionel Tiger and Robin Fox, performed an experiment on a group of monkeys. The study included the head male, a number of other males, and some females. The head male, Austin, appropriated himself to three females and did not allow other males to touch those three. Then, the scientists gave contraception to five of the females, including two of Austin’s three favourites. After these two of Austin’s favourites were medicated with contraception, Austin would still approach them, but not engage with them as he had before. He found two other females who had not been medicated to replace the two who had been given the contraceptive medicine. With these two in addition to the one from the previous set of three who had not received contraceptive medicine, Austin formed a new set of three favourites. Of course, none of the other males were allowed to touch Austin’s favourites.
Next, the scientists gave the contraception to all the females. At this point, Austin became very confused, attempting rape and self-abuse. He would approach the females, but never engage them as he had before.
When the scientists stopped giving the contraceptive to the females, Austin re-established his relationship with the first set of three females and would not allow any of the other males to touch those three. The other males also re-established their relationships with the other females.’
Tiger summed up his findings by stating that ‘Contraception caused the males to turn away from the females and toward deviant behaviour.’
From this study we see the effect contraception has on nature. Even these monkeys knew something was different. Could it be the case that the males realised that a barrier (contraceptive) had been put between them and the natural order of procreation which results from the sexual act, causing them to seek that natural order elsewhere?
While I am no scientist, it would appear that, in this study, contraception upset the natural order of life these monkeys were accustomed to and had managed to live with quite happily prior to the introduction of a contraceptive. Contraception caused ruptures in previously solid relationships and encouraged infidelity among the group….just as it has done with the human race.