Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ideas Matter: Contraception and the Dignity of the Body

There are implications of the acceptance of contraception that are much more sinister than the acceptance of homosexuality (which I argued for in a previous post). It also attacks the dignity of the human body.

Genesis 1.28 says:
"God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

This verse, in the first chapter of the Bible, says two very important things. First, that humans are meant to reproduce themselves. And second, that humans are meant to rule the earth.

But I'm much more interested in what this verse does not say.

This verse does not say that we are meant to rule over our own selves.


--Added 2/13/10--
The New Testament puts this same principle positively:
"You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6.19b-20)
--End of addition--

Traditional Christian theology teaches us that we as humans are composed of both body and soul. We are not just bodies, we are not just souls; we are both body and soul together. (Matthew 10.28, Genesis 2.7, et al.)
The human body is not a just a machine that our soul inhabits. It is not the case, as Rene Descartes thought, that the relationship between our soul and body is analogous to a captain and ship. 


Our body is part of who we are as human beings. 

Because of the presence of sin in the world, our bodies will sometimes have diseases and defects and will not function properly. Medicine is the legitimate attempt to correct these problems so that our body can resume its normal, proper functioning. True medicine, however, is not found in attempts at "improving" or manipulating the normal functioning of our bodies. This offends the dignity of the natural functioning of our bodies and reduces them to an instrument to be controlled rather than truly a part of us to be respected as a gift from God.

Contraception, especially oral contraceptives, does just that. Its sole purpose is to objectify and manipulate an otherwise properly functioning body to act as though it is diseased because the person has decided that it is a more efficient way of attaining their goals.

This signals a profoundly disturbing way of thinking about our rights over the human person.
The human person, which includes the body, is no longer something to be respected and honored as sacred with a dignity in its own right, but is now reduced to just another tool we can manipulate in our striving for efficiency.

This same type of thinking gets played out in many other areas from the generally more tame - such as unnecessary elective plastic surgery -  to the much more serious areas of abortion, doctor-assisted suicide, and euthanasia. These are examples of humans exercising dominion over the human person - a dominion that, properly speaking, only God has.

Of course, historically speaking, it no surprise that the contraception would be linked with such thinking.
In 1921, Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which was later renamed Planned Parenthood. Sanger was an early 20th century proponent of what was called eugenics. Eugenics, which was very popular within academia, was the idea that the human race could be made better by allowing only those with good genes to procreate and discouraging or prohibiting in some way those with bad genes from procreating. People sometimes considered by eugencists unworthy of procreation included the mentally ill, those will low IQs, the poor, and non-Whites. The most extreme example of eugenics being carried out on a large scale was the Nazi Holocaust. But even in the US, many states enacted forced sterilization laws, with the government forcibily sterilizing thousands of people deemed unfit for procreation. This was defended as common sense, clearly reasonable, and people just using their minds.
Sanger herself was actually against the more radical measures of forcible sterilization and widespread extermination of those deemed unfit for procreation. She instead took the approach that the best way of limiting the number of offspring from undesirables was, among other tactics, to supply them with contraception.
At that time, there were federal laws, as well as laws in 24 states, that prohibited the distribution of contraception. Conservative morality had always deemed the use of contraception a perversion and it was reflected in law. Sanger was jailed and arrested many times for distributing contraception and fought fiercly against anti-contraception laws. Her efforts eventually culminated in the Supreme Court case Griswold vs. Connecticut in 1965 which famously first saw the "penumbras" and "emanations" of the 14th Amendment which guarenteed a "right to marital privacy", and therefore allowed the use and dissemination of contraception. Eight years later the Supreme Court cited this precedent in its ruling for Roe vs. Wade.

The term eugenics became unpopular following World War II. But its ideology has returned under the misleading titles of "choice" and "death with dignity".

The natural functioning of our bodies is not something we have choice over, for ourselves or anyone else.
We must respect the dignity of our bodies.

27 comments:

  1. here's an explicit thought to support your case:

    "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

    whether or not you place contraception under the group of "sexual immorality," it at least makes it very clear that our bodies are not our own; they have been bought by God with a high price, and we are called to honor him with them.

    as you said, our bodies do not fall under the "dominion" we were given.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "But I'm much more interested in what this verse does not say." Aside from the technical quality of this point (negative arguments haha), that's a very interesting thought! And, as Ruth pointed out, the Bible actually supports explicitly the complete OPPOSITE of that–i.e. our bodies are not to be controlled by us. Only God. (a point you touched on briefly).

    I haven't commented on any of your other blogs, but I have read them all and have found them all to be extremely interesting, well-informed, and well-formulated. And the comment threads have been equally if not more compelling!

    Keep 'em coming!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would love to hear your thoughts on those who use contraception merely because they cannot AFFORD to have more children. Should they never have sex again, or just live off of the government? Children are expensive, and there are already far too many people collecting government checks to pay for all their kids. Just wondered...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous,
    That's a great point to bring up. There are people who are in difficult economic circumstances. What should they do?
    First off, I'd like to say that the VAST VAST VAST majority of people who are using contraception are not in the situation where they will starve if they have more children and are not using it for that reason.
    But people do have options if they are really in need. A married couple can exercise respect for themselves and their partner and abstain from sex when they think that the woman might be fertile. This is referred to Natural Family Planning and is considered completely permissible by the Catholic Church, as long as it is not misused for the wrong reasons. It, unlike contraception as explained in this post, shows respect and honor for the natural functioning of our bodies.

    People want to be able to have sex whenever they want without its natural consequences. Our culture is so sex-obsessed that when people offer the idea of possibly abstaining, it's a joke to them. "Really?! NOT have sex? Impossible." I'd say take the opportunity to grow in the virtues of self control and chastity.

    Now, it is true that children can cost a lot of money. A family might have to live at a lower standard of living. They might need help from other family members or people in their church or community.
    Our society is much too concerned with individualism, a go-it-alone mentality, and materialism, and those are part of why people have problems with big families. Yes, if you want to buy new brand name clothes for your baby every week, it's going to cost more than if you use hand me downs, used clothes, or trade clothes between families, etc.
    These are just some thoughts; not quite as well thought out or organized as a normal blog post...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for bringing this subject to light in the way you did. I have, on more than one occasion attempted to write something on Eugenics, the immorality of contraception and sterilization...only to end up writing about how I came to realize the truth and my husband and I put our knowledge into practice.

    We have four children and are having some financial difficulties. I would like to speak to the "can't afford" idea. Currently, my husband and I have discerned that we have serious reason to avoid another baby. We have an 8, 6, 4 and 13 month old. We have debt and we have a very small house with a very large mortgage on it. So, we have discerned that NOW is the time to kick the debt and get ourselves into a better position before more children come along. We are 38 and 36...and we are sad to feel that this may mean we won't have any more children as we may not reach a point where we discern that our reason is no longer serious for at least two more years.

    However, our poor-ness in material wealth cannot match the rich-ness in the wealth of our love for each other and our family. And, should we be blessed before it's time (highly unlikely as we are well-versed in NFP and use the most conservative rules when "avoiding" therefore have a 100% success rate using NFP)...anyway, should God choose to work a Miracle and we are blessed with another baby, we absolutely trust in God to provide...

    So I guess what I mean is...I have never ascribed to the idea that using contraception or sterilization because we can't "afford" another baby... Keeping in mind what true NEEDS vs WANTS are is critical. and being afforded the opportunity to grow in Holiness and Humility is sometimes something we cannot afford to miss.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ok first of all, I would love to know what the statistics are on the people who use contraception, since you said that the VAST VAST VAST majority of those who do, are not doing it because of economic reasons. Have you interviewed couples who are using contraception? Is there a study that has been done?

    Second, the NFP method is great in theory, but no woman can know every single month when their "fertile time" is. You can know your body really well, but bodies can and do play tricks on you. Many different factors can change the ovulation cycle, and you can never be 100% sure. So, if a woman is just a little off on the timing, and has sex -- here comes another child, and another mouth to feed.

    I would also love to know why you would choose a "lower standard of living" for your children. I am not saying that you need to live in a million dollar home and drive 4 fancy cars, but don't you want life to be comfortable for your children? Live in a decent home with plenty of space, be able to participate in activites that they would like to be in (that cost money, of coruse) etc etc etc. Also, you speak of buying second hand clothes -- clothes are certainly not the only need a child has. You are talking about diapers, food, equipment (cribs, toys, etc) childcare, college, etc. How can you take care of those children if you simply can't afford it? You also talked about your church or family helping -- so, if everyone thought the way you do, and didn't use contraception and had all the children they could possibly have, who is going to be left to help? Everyone in the country would be struggling economically and eventually our country would run out of space and funds to support all the extra people.

    Another point I would like to bring up is, what about the woman who just doesn't WANT to have anymore kids?? Should she just continue to have them? What if she values having a career as well? You can have a career and a large family -- but you can't be fully successful at both. So, are you saying that a woman should just stay home and have babies? You are basically reducing women down to a breeding machine. Being pregnant is hard, hard, work -- and until you are pregnant and have pushed a baby out of your body, who are you to say that women who choose to not have anymore children should keep doing so just because that is what their bodies were made for? God also gave women minds. Minds to use for more than just making babies -- minds to use to contribute to society. Do you want your wife to simply be a baby-making machine that stays home "barefoot and pregnant" for the rest of her life?

    And what about the women who have medical issues and it is unsafe for them to have another child? What if they risk themselves or the child dying if they get pregnant again? Should they never have sex again? Should they just use the NFP and hope that they don't get pregnant again?

    And while we are on that point -- if it was against God's will to use contraception, why did He allow it be created in the first place? Yes, it is a man-created medicine/method, but if God is really "in charge", then why would He allow it to happen? If He didn't want it to be used, then why have it ever be a possibility at all? Why not have a body function that cannot be stopped with any method/medicine?

    God created humans with minds. God created humans with minds to make change. Things today are different than they used to be. In the time of the Bible, children were needed to help tend to farms and to populate the earth. Now, there are already far too many people on the earth sucking up the resources and costing the government money. Why contribute to that if you don't have/want to??

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous said, "Second, the NFP method is great in theory, but no woman can know every single month when their "fertile time" is. You can know your body really well, but bodies can and do play tricks on you. Many different factors can change the ovulation cycle, and you can never be 100% sure. So, if a woman is just a little off on the timing, and has sex -- here comes another child, and another mouth to feed."

    I'm sure someone will get back to you on some of the other questions you asked. I feel rather qualified to answer this though.

    We have used NFP since January 2002. We have had 100% success rates. YES, the woman CAN pinpoint fertile time. We have done it every non-pregnant cycle since January 2002. We have used two methods...the first, the Sympto-Thermal Method in which we made observations of cervical fluid and temperature to cross-check. The second method is making observations of cervical fluid and using an ovulation monitor. The ovulation monitor alone is accurate enough.

    If a couple has a dire need to postpone pregnancy, they need only follow the most conservative rules...meaning to wait until post-ovulation for marital relations. This yields about 10-12 days of "safe" days. We have had absolutely ZERO surprise pregnancies...

    By the way, your comment-question about "Why does God allow contraception to be made in the first place?" is that God allows evil in the world...He calls us to act justly and in accord to His law, but He does not force it...humans have Free Will. Therefore, humans have free will to choose to do evil...I'm sure there's a more in-depth answer than that...but I like to keep it simple...I can choose God or I can choose evil...that's basically it. I can choose to plan my family in accord with God's plan for marriage and sexuality or I can choose to go against His plan and sterilize or use contraception...in the end it is up to each person's Free Will the choice he makes.

    ReplyDelete
  8. So you are saying basically that those who use contraception,no matter the reason, are "evil"??

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous said...

    So you are saying basically that those who use contraception,no matter the reason, are "evil"??


    Absolutely not.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anon,
    It's not clear if you are the same person who was commenting on the last post. Based on these comments, it seems that you are not the same person. Even if a person wants to remain anonymous, it would be helpful if they chose some sort of screen name so we could follow better what's going on and who thinks what. (e.g. the last anon seemed to be a protestant Christian, whereas this anon appears not to be Christian, but maybe I'm wrong)

    In response to Anon's comment:

    These are some good points to bring up for discussion, but you haven't actually responded to the post.
    The post argued, and I think argued well, that non-medicinal manipulation of our bodies, whatever it might be, degrades the dignity of our bodies and denies their essential part in our being human. I pointed out that this aspect of the contracepting mentality is similar to the thinking behind many other things that many of us find reprehensible, especially Christians. The body, and therefore the human, is reduced to a machine to be manipulated for the sake of efficiency.

    There is much that could be said to the specific points in your comment. I will just make a few:
    You say that NFP isn't 100% reliable. I say: no artificial contracepting methods are 100%. And the reliability of NFP depends on how one practices NFP. Since NFP is based on abstaining from sex, it is actually the only method of preventing births that has the possibly of being 100%, seeing as not having sex is the only way to be 100% sure you won't get pregnant. I say, if a couple doesn't want kids, don't have sex. You can reduce the likelihood based on when you have sex, but every time a couple decides to have sex, they should be prepared for a child on some level. Michelle has shared her story of having a great deal of success with NFP. But even she acknowledged that if a child were to be conceived, her and her husband would gladly receive it. (I hope one can see how abortion, then, is connected to the contracepting mentality. Abortion often becomes the last resort "contraception" - although it is not actually contraception, but killing.)

    In regards to standard of living: standard of living is somewhat relative. Michelle brought up the good point that we must distinguish between needs and wants.

    It's incredible the level of misogyny that you've displayed with your comments about motherhood. This will most likely be the topic of a future post. But what I will say now is that being a mother IS contributing GREATLY to society, despite what you imply otherwise.

    If a woman has medical issues, yes, either don't have sex or be very careful with NFP. Not having sex isn't as horrible as our anti-virtue, anti-self-control, sex-obsessed culture makes it to be.

    Your question of why God would have allowed contraception to be invented if it's wrong is as absurd as saying that God wants us to do drive by shootings because otherwise he would not have allowed us to invent guns and cars.

    You say: "Why contribute to that if you don't have/want to??"
    I think this gets at something you have misunderstood that has been at the heart of many of your critiques.
    Catholics do not believe that people are obligated to get married or, if they do, have as many kids as they possibly can. Large families are encouraged as something good, but are not a necessity. So a person does not have to have a lot, or any, kids if they choose not to.
    What is required, though, is that if a person chooses to engage in the sacred human act of sex, that they respect the integrity of the act and the integrity of their bodies.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Also, I forgot to respond to your first point about percentages using contraception for economic reasons.
    You are right that it is most likely an exaggeration to say "VAST VAST VAST majority". Besides, the idea that most or even just many people are not using contraception for economic reasons is based only off of my experience. I was not basing that commment on statistics. So you have a good point. I should more careful with my words and research.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yes, it is the same person on both posts, and on this one. I don't know how questioning your thinking is making you think that I am not Christian, but I am.

    You say that using contraception is turning the body into a machine. What about those who are on life support hooked to machines, having machines run their entire bodies? Does that not make them into a machine? Should they be "unplugged" because their body is no longer functioning on it's own?

    You are back to talking about NFP -- and it's nice that is has worked for Michelle, but I don't think that is the case for everyone. You are right that no method of contraception is 100% effective. But -- the difference in effectiveness between NFP and let's say, birth control pills is staggering. 25% of those who use NFP will become pregnant, and only 8% of those who use birth control pills will. That is a huge difference.

    You have also said that couples who don't want children should not have sex. I personally believe that sex is an important part of a relationship -- it's an emotional connection to your partner (of course, not the only connection, but an important one). Without it, I believe the relationship will suffer. I don't understand your thoughts on those who don't want children/can't have children (for medical reasons) no longer having sex for the rest of their lives. You seem to have a very skewed view on sex in a relationship.

    And equating contraception to abortion is ludicrous. Contraception is stopping a pregnancy from happening. Abortion is ending a pregnancy after it has already happened. I agree with you on the point that abortion is killing, but do not support the idea that they go hand in hand. There are people that have several abortions because they continue to get pregnant, but perhaps if they used a contraception method, they wouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place.

    Again, back to needs vs wants. Children NEED food. Children NEED education. Children NEED a place to live. All of these things cost money -- a LOT of money. The more children you have, the more money you will have to spend. Or, I guess you can always collect your government check to pay for everything. Or maybe your family will hand you some money I guess.

    I don't really understand how my statements about women makes me misogynistic. I was simply stating that women who do not want to have more children shouldn't have to. And, they also shouldn't have to give up having sex. I also take offense to your comment about mothers not contributing to society -- which is not what I said at all. I am a mother, with beautiful children who I love more than anything. Being a mother is the most important role that I have. That aside, once I am done having the children that I want to have, I will practice using a birth control method that works for myself, as I do not want to be pregnant 5 to 10 times. I also have a career, and do not feel that I can be a completly successful mother and be completly successful in my career if I have a large family. I also would like to continue having sex with my husband, as it is an important part of our relationship. I believe that women can (and should, if they choose) have both. I was also pointing out, that as a man you have no idea whatsoever how difficult it is to be pregnant. Women who no longer wish to be pregnant, should be able to use contraception to stop it from happening. As discussed earlier, NFP is a very unreliable method. Perhaps not for some, but for most. There are far too many factors that affect a woman's cycle.

    And please don't tell me that you are equating using contraception to drive by shootings. That is just absurd.

    Clearly we will never see eye to eye on this issue. I am a Christian, who believes in God -- but I do not, however, believe that God would want me to have a large family if I can't support it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anon,
    You wrote:
    "You say that using contraception is turning the body into a machine. What about those who are on life support hooked to machines, having machines run their entire bodies? Does that not make them into a machine? Should they be "unplugged" because their body is no longer functioning on it's own?"
    I address this very issue in my blog post. Please actually read my blog post on my distinction between legimate medical care and improvement medical care. I am actually strongly arguing AGAINST euthanasia.

    You say:
    "I personally believe that sex is an important part of a relationship"
    I totally agree, which is why the issue of contraception is such a big deal! Issues of the marriage bed have profound implications on the whole marriage. That's why it mustn't be misused and perverted, which is what contraception does it, as I explained in my previous post on the topic.

    You say:
    "And equating contraception to abortion is ludicrous. Contraception is stopping a pregnancy from happening. Abortion is ending a pregnancy after it has already happened. I agree with you on the point that abortion is killing, but do not support the idea that they go hand in hand."
    I did not equate contraception to abortion, even as you seem to acknowledge by recalling that I said that aboriton is killing and contraception is not.
    I will just quote you what I actually said:
    "abortion, then, is CONNECTED to the contracepting mentality. Abortion often becomes the last resort "contraception" - although it is not actually contraception, but killing." (emphasis added)

    In terms of needs vs. wants, I don't know what more we can say. We're speaking in the abstract, and would have to look at specific situations.

    In terms of your misogyny, here was your misogynistic remark: "Minds to use for more than just making babies -- minds to use to contribute to society." You put "making babies" (and I put raising babies in that category) in opposition to "contribut[ing] to society" as well as using one's mind.

    You say:
    "And please don't tell me that you are equating using contraception to drive by shootings. That is just absurd."
    I did not equate contraception to drive by shootings. I was doing what's called a reductio ad absurdum, which means I was showing that the logic of your argument did not make sense in other circumstances. It is a very poor argument to say that God would not have allowed something to be invented if he did not want it to be used. Please read what I actually wrote.

    Again, I'd like to point out that you haven't as yet actually responded to the blog post. You seem to have ignored it and taken it as an opportunity to rehearse a bunch of 21st century secular utilitarian arguments for why contraception should still be used.
    I'll restate something I wrote from a previous post: "They find themselves having more to do with 21st century post-modern secularism than anything Christian."

    ReplyDelete
  14. You're talking again about "issues of the marriage bed" when your response to most of my questions is to just NOT HAVE SEX! How does that solve anything if sex is an important part of the relationship?? And I do not understand your point about using a contraceptive, such as birth control pills, changes the marriage bed in any way. Once again, we are not going to see eye to eye on this issue.

    As far as my misogynistic "comment". You took what I said totally out of context. I did not mean that having children was not contributing to society. How could I mean that if I have children of my own? I said before that being a mother was one of the most important jobs that I have. I meant that women have OTHER ways to contribute to society, like, having a career. As I said before, I don't believe that women can have a large family and be fully successful in both categories. One or the other will suffer.

    And about abortion -- clearly we both feel that this is wrong. My point was that if a woman/man used contraception in the first place, perhaps this would never have to be an option. I don't believe in it, but many unfortunately do.

    My views on needs vs wants is very simple. Children have needs that cannot be ignored, ones that do not always have a simple, cheap fix (food for instance). That is not an abstract idea. The more children you have, the more money you will have to spend to take care of them and raise them. Clearly, you do not have any children yet, so do not have a clear view on how much children actually cost. You don't really understand that until you are in the situation yourself. You clearly do not understand my point on this because you continue to skirt the issue by saying it's all about needs vs wants. Food, clothing, and shelter for your children are not wants - they are needs. You can't buy "hand me down" food. It's not as easy as that.

    I was simply trying to ask a question on your views of contraception for those who cannot afford to have more children, whether or not it fit your criteria for a comment on your blog. Don't put the information out there if you don't want to be questioned.

    Like I said, clearly we are not going to see eye to eye on this issue. You are not going to convince me that using contraception is wrong, and I'm not going to convince you that using contraception is right. So I will live my life, use contraception as I see fit and have my my medium sized family -- have my career, have a comfortable "living standard", and you go ahead and have 10 babies, live off of the government, your family, and your church and see where that takes you. Good luck to you.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow, this should be called the "mini essay" section rather than the comment section...

    Brantly, I can't get past your first premise, that "this verse does not say that we should rule over our own selves."

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but this sounds dangerously close to "The bible doesn't say this, but clearly this is what God meant" This is a dangerous attitude, both in the sense that it is a weak premise to build an argument on, and also in the sense that wars have been fought over this idea.

    I mean, if contraception is a slippery slope, then reading between the lines in Genesis is a free fall.

    I completely agree that our body and mind are inseperable parts of our human-ness. But that doesn't mean they can't both be improved! We can excercise to make our bodies stronger, we can learn to make our minds sharper. The human body can be improved, and as science learns more about it, the potential for growth is limitless.

    I agree with anonymous, although they need to get a name, that basing our current morality off the old testament is ridiculous. We have come so far from that early desert dwelling society, that their morality no longer applies to us. In fact, based on the countless acts of genocide, adultery, and war in the OT, to base our morality on it should be considered immoral by any reasonable person today.

    And I just don't buy your (the church's) NFP logic. I fail to see the difference in me not wanting a child and using contraception, and a catholic couple not wanting a child and using NFP. Both of us are open to the fact that we might have a baby anyway. The intentions are the same, the results are the same.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hey Evan, check out the first two comments here regarding your "read between the lines" comment. I agree, and I'm sure Brantley will too, that that's a poor way to form an argument. Fortunately, I think that Brantley addressed the issue enough in the blog to make that point tertiary.

    However, the Bible DOES talk about our bodies not being our own, as Ruth quoted in the very first comment. And that's New Testament talk. So that sufficiently avoids your difficulty about "OT morality".

    However, I would be curious to hear your thoughts about the un-timelessness of virtue/morality.

    ReplyDelete
  17. ps- Anonymous, why are you being so cutting?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anon,
    I wish you well.

    Evan,
    You are right that negative arugments are not normally very strong. But I will say that I think it is significant how humans are animals are differeniated in Genesis 1 (order of creation, image of God, etc), and one of those is that humans are given dominion over the animals, with themselves between omitted from that.
    I will also admit that part of the reason why I chose to open with that verse is that I thought it would hopefully be an interesting and stylistic way of opening. =) I don't know if it was too effective though.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Chris-- I believe it was the word misongynist that got to me. Especially since I am a woman and a mother. My comments were taken totally out of context.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yeah Brantly, I think that when a preacher says something like this in church, to a like minded congregation, it is effective as a rhetorical talking point. But what is the general public supposed to make of a claim like this?

    I agree with your previous post that sola scriptura led to the fragmentation of chrisianity. But an equal, if not more powerful source of fragmentation was the interpretation of what the bible does not say. I mean the whole reformation started from indulgences, a topic absent from the bible.

    It was written so long ago, in such a different time and place, (Especially the Pentateuch) that I think we really have to look at it through the eyes of historians. We cannot use Genesis as a basis for our moral code, in the same way that the code of Hammurabi, or the Bhagavad Gita should not be used as moral guidebooks.

    If the catholic church wants to win people over fr its point of view, it needs to do a better job of addressing moral issues as they stand today, not as they stood hundreds of years ago.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I understand the moral implications of using contraception being the main issue that your post addresses, but what about the reality of the situation in the US where there is a higher percentage of (preventable) teen pregnancies than any other developed country in the world, these numbers being reached immediately after former President George W. Bush's policies on sex eduation (or lack there of) being implimented? Do you feel that the lord is merely testing the wills of children and that they hould all be expected to abstain?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Live and let live. Why need to judge and critize others for making their own life choices? Why is other people's sex lives such a concern for you?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Dr. Feelgood,
    Yes, I think people who aren't married should abstain.

    Anon2,
    You wrote: "Why need to judge and critize others for making their own life choices?"
    I'm not sure I'm judging anyone, but I am saying that the use of contraception is morally wrong. It is possible for a person's choices to be morally wrong.

    You wrote:"Why is other people's sex lives such a concern for you?"
    I think the post on which you are commenting here is actually part of the response to this very question. My whole point has been that contraception does mean something have implications. Here are other reasons why "other people's sex lives [are] such a concern":
    a. Sin effects one's relationship with God. I want people to know that contraception is immoral.
    b. Sin effects oneself. When a person is doing wrong things, it effects them as a person. Individuals make up society. When we have most people in society doing something that's bringing them down, that will have major societal consequences.
    c. The thinking behind and encouraged by contaception has major implications in other areas. This post explains part of that. Another such example is the fact that you even talk about a person's "sex life" as though it's some how distinct and compartmentalized from the rest of their life. I think our bodies matter and effect who we are and that our whole life effects everyone, especially something like sex which lies at the heart of marriage, which families are built upon, which society is made up of.

    I really do appreciate so much response from people, especially if they disagree. Thanks for reading the blog!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for this post.
    What should a couple do in the event where one of the spouse wants contraception, and the other doesn't? What if the woman wants to use NFP, but her husband disgrees and wants to have sex when they (he) want?
    Rachel B

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hey Rachel,
    That's a great question. The answer: be ready for a baby! (if God so chooses to bless you with one)

    The use of contraception is intrinsically immoral, so a person can never consent to use it for some greater good. What this means is that a couple that will have sex whenever simply needs to be open to the possibly of a baby. Even if a couple is using NFP, they should still be open to the possibly of having a baby. Really, any time a couple has sex, they have to do it knowing that it could result in a child (procreation is one of the purposes of sex!) and be ready and willing to accept that gift. If you believe that contraception is immoral, but you and your husband have prayfully decided that God doesn't want you to have more children at this time, then you and your husband will have to work out a situation where you be more careful when you have sex. Otherwise, be prepared for a new member of the family!

    I hope this helps.
    God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks for your reply!
    Fortunately, my husband and I agree completely on this topic! :)
    I have friends, though, for whom the idea of not being "authorized" to have sex every day is the main point against NFP (usually from the husband's side).
    It's just a complete different view on marriage and family!
    Rachel B

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hey Rachel,

    Yep, you're right, and that's where people make a mistake. Couples *are* "authorized" to have sex every day if they want. They just need to then be ready to accept any children that they receive. It's that people want their cake and to eat it too. They want to be able to have all the fun without any of the effects. The Church is perfectly fine with a couple just having as much sex as they want and having as many kids come as naturally come. In fact that'd be great! I'd tell them, so have a big family! Big families are wonderful.

    The problem comes because people assume that (1) having more than 2 kids is of course outrageous and irresponsible, but they also assume that (2) they have a right to have sex whenever they want without consequences. Put those two things together and contraception is a necessity. Instead, people should be open to as many kids as God wants for them and they should also have the self control to acknowledge that sex isn't food, and they can survive without sex, and that sex is a serious thing.

    ReplyDelete