What is Marriage For?

Kherrity: You mentioned contraception -- is that something you looked into as well?

EJGraff: In detail, yes. What do you want to know? Here's a thought -- the Catholic Church called contraception "the crime against nature." One theologian said that "it is bad for a woman to have sex with her own father, but it is worse for her to have lay with her husband against nature...." By this he meant any act that prevented conception, whether coitus interruptus or drinking pennywort tea to prevent conception.

Kherrity: Was it always a challenge (both financially and in terms of knowing what was available) to protect oneself from pregnancy? What did women do before the Pill?

EJGraff: Before the Pill, people used the various positions that did not lead to pregnancy ... or they used such contraceptives as olive oil (which worked as a kind of diaphragm, temporarily) or tried various herbal preparations like pennywort or rue. Or they tried abstinence, which is what the Church encouraged.

Kherrity: Was the Catholic Church the exception or the rule regarding views on contraception?

EJGraff: The late-19th and early-20th Century battle over whether contraception should be legal was really a battle over whether you should have sex for love or just for babies. The Catholic Church was an extreme exception. The Romans and Jews had very different ideas -- the Jews believing that sex was to refresh the spirit and the bond between two people.

Runningincircles: Your historical view/insight is interesting ... but what is your take on why we marry today, and as women have we come to understand how to use it well enough?

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