Category Archives: Birth Control

Why Am I Annoyed by Happy People on Commercials?

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The little boy drops a bowl of cereal.   The bowl breaks and stuff is everywhere.   The boy cries.   The mom smiles and consoles him.  There is no anger or scolding.  There is only…  a Swiffer!   And joy abounds.

The man has heart pains.  But because of the magical pill he no longer has heart pains.  He now feels younger.   Now, all his time is spent laughing as he plays hide-and-seek or fishing with his grandchildren.

I hate these commercials.  But why do I hate them?   Do I not want people to love their kids and grand-kids?   Do I prefer that people lose their temper instead of being cool, steady, and joyful?

No, that’s not it.

The first reason i hate them is because I am not that perfect.   I’d have yelled at the kid and thrown him in the corner while grumbling about his clumsiness as I cleaned up his mess.    And when I retire, I look forward to spending time playing cards with my grandkids, but I’m probably not going to play hide and seek.   Too much work.   So, yes, I see my own imperfections in the perfect unreality of commercials.

The second reason I hate them is because I don’t believe they mirror most realities, and they’re trying to sell me something by lying to me about the fact that all my anger and imperfections can now magically be solved by this particular product.  That’s a lie.

But really, my dislike for all this goes much deeper.   I may be overthinking this, but I am utterly annoyed by the hypocrisy of our culture.   We sure love our kids in commercials.   They are our joy and our hope.   But in a society that has killed over 50 million kids in the womb and prevented however many other pregnancies because of the contraceptive mentality we have totally embraced, the idea that we really, really love our kids so much because they mean everything to us is simply a lie.  They don’t.

That may seem harsh, and I don’t mean it as a universal statement that applies to everyone.   But I do mean it as an overarching cultural statement.

Imagine the following sentiment from Mr. and Mrs. ABC:   “Oh, little Johnny and Jenna are just the joys of our lives.   We can’t imagine what life would be without them.   They are such blessings, and it’s so unreal watching them grow up!  The time flies by so quickly!”

“Oh, so are you planning on having any more children?”

“Good, God, no!   We can hardly handle the two we have!”

So… which is it?   The “money can’t put a price tag on the little darlings that bring the ultimate joy to our lives” parents, or the “I can’t handle this” parents.    Because saying you can’t handle something, to me, is not something you say about a blessing.    It’s something you say about a burden.

Now, don’t get me wrong.   I am not saying it isn’t normal to think that you can’t handle life at times, including the kids.   This is perfectly normal.   In fact, sometimes I think we need those times to allow us to refocus on God.   Because when we can’t handle something, we must humbly turn to God in our humanness and ask for help, and admit that we are not God, we are not in complete control, and we are imperfect.    The answers that God gives in these times may not be what we desire.   We get tested and refined and strengthened so that we can not only handle what we have, but a little bit more.    And to the extent we can’t, we need to lean on Him all the more.   This isn’t all about happy happy joy joy.

So, in our human ingenuity, we’ve turned to abortion and contraception as the answers to our burdens – children – all the while putting on a face of love and joy and happiness over the children we have, as long as we don’t have enough to disrupt our lifestyle.   And this somewhat peeves me.

But, I guess a commercial about a dad with 9 kids doling out a punishment while pulling out an old dishrag he found for a quarter at a garage sale probably wouldn’t inspire consumerism.   So, I’ll just have to live with the fact that people on commercials love their kids.   At least the ones they kept.

 

Step 3 in the Re-definition of Marriage

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As a quick recap for a couple previous posts, in my opinion (and the opinion of many others) the whole marriage debate has a lot of nuance to it, and the sudden realization that marriage has been re-defined carries with it no shortage of fault and blame going back centuries.    I won’t re-hash that detail, but it is important to remember the following points:

1) Marriage never has been universally defined.   Ages of people and cultures have viewed it, its purpose(s), and its structure differently.   Never has it meant same-sex relationships, though, to my knowledge.   But the historical nature of it has not been, and is not, universal.

2) The above point is not an argument that there should not be a universal definition.   Just as Jesus started the spread of the Gospel in a small area with a small group of people, there is some providential design that is apparently very important in the way Christian teachings are to take root in the world.   God wants us to live in a certain way and believe certain things, but He didn’t make that happen by zapping everyone in the world with a magical laser beam of perfect knowledge.   The Church was to grow over centuries and millennia and reach people at the designated time.

3) As with all things Christian, the true nature of marriage was revealed slowly and steadily throughout the world.   The lack of uniformity is not, and cannot be, an argument that there should not be uniformity.   And so the true nature of marriage became more understood and accepted and adopted not just in a religious sense, but in a secular and civil sense.  This truth largely prevailed, and even further, was recognized as a necessary base for a strong society and nation.

4) Some would say that marriage started to be redefined when governments (often backed by the churches) got involved.   This is not really correct.   It may have changed the way governments decided to view married people or treat married people.   It may have added conditions to the marriage arrangement that would later set in motion the redefinition of it, but none of these things fundamentally changed what marriage actually was, or what its purpose was.

5) Luther cracked the nut when he declared that marriage was not a Sacrament, which meant it was not covenental in nature.   It was a vow or promise, but between people.    When we talk about “redefinition,” we are now talking about this relative to the Christian ideal.

6) The next post was a review of how divorce moved from a rare and generally unacceptable thing to a very prevalent and acceptable thing.   The very idea that this is even possible stems from a belief that there is not a true, very real, singular unity of the spouses that cannot be broken.   This took a long time to take hold as a belief, but once it did it spread very quickly.

The fundamental purpose of marriage is not to have a companion for life.   The foundational purposes are to (a) unite with someone who can help you get to heaven, (b) have children, (c) raise children with the primary idea that you want them to get to heaven.

That, of course, is entirely simplistic, and it says nothing of all the things that go into actually having a “good” marriage.   There’s all sorts of love and sacrifice and struggle that goes into all that, but those are not what marriage actually is.  It’s what it should look like to the outside world.   What it actually is is more real at the spiritual level, and invisible to us all.   We don’t see a physical contraption binding husband and wife, nor do we see the Sacramental graces that come from God in the marriage arrangement.

OK, so that recap is nearly an entire post’s worth of words.   Sorry.

But now I move on to an issue that generally is a hard sell to people who really really really don’t like the implications of re-thinking what it would mean to change how they view it.   Wait for it…   wait…   almost there…

Contraception.

There.  I said it.

It shouldn’t be anything new.   After all, Pope Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae at a time when boatloads of theologians and clergy alike all thought he was going to give the green light to the use of contraception.    He pretty much pulled the rug out from underneath them.

I am not going to re-write that document or St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body here.   There’s a wealth of information for all who have the desire to be honest with themselves about really learning and understanding the Church’s teachings on the issue.    All I’ll say here is the top line summary:   Contraception is considered an intrinsic evil (yes, these words from the Catechism nearly instantaneously caused my own conversion on this issue after never receiving appropriate catechesis prior to marriage).  Why?   Boiling thousands of pages of detail into one sentence: The sexual act in marriage is about bringing life into the world through the act of love between man and woman that is our human and physical mirror image of the love between Jesus and His Father that gives us the Holy Spirit.   (It’s kind of a run-on sentence, but once I typed “into one sentence” I was pigeonholed.)   I admit, that comparison can seem quite odd, and even a bit disturbing if not viewed in its fullness of meaning, which is why I encourage much deeper study on it.

If this purpose of the marital act can be relaxed into one of pure pleasure without the life-giving nature of it, then it takes one of the foundational pillars of the purpose of marriage away and once again redefines it.   Yes, I know that these relations can still be an act of love, and a joining of two people, and all the good things that can come from that.   It’s not that every intimate embrace using contraception is entirely selfish.   But it almost always has at least some element of selfishness to it, and in many cases it really is just all about the pleasure of the act without the potential rewards of it. (I always hear “ramifications” as if begetting a child is like the aftermath of pressing the nuclear button.   I prefer “reward” when speaking about a new life coming into the world.)   And even removing the purity of motive, there is still the plain, old, legalistic, can’t-get-around-the-fact, aspect of using contraception that takes away the procreative aspect of sex.   Even if only intended to be a temporary measure for this reason or for that reason, you’ve removed the life-giving element of the act, which means you are no longer emulating the life-giving love between Jesus and the Father, which in turn means that act is no longer a human reflection of the Family that is the Trinity.    The longer one uses contraception, the more reasons one uses it for, and the fewer kids you decide is “right for you” because of it, the further away from the procreative foundation of marriage we get.

All the Christian religions universally agreed on the importance of this aspect of marriage until the Lamberth Conference in 1930.   The Church of England cracked open the door.   The Federal Council of Churches followed in 1931.   These initial allowances were conservative in nature – only when abstinence was deemed impractical for limited reasons.    But by 1961, nearly all Protestant religions followed suit, and many relaxed the standards, and the National Council of Churches finally declared that the only requirement was mutual consent of the couple.

The slippery slope is always an amazing thing to see historically.   And yet, every time someone proposes some relaxation of standards on just about any issue, they always seem to dismiss the future implications and the slippery slope argument.

From a social standpoint, the Federal ban on birth control in the US was lifted in 1938.   In 1965, states were no longer allowed to make their own decision on the matter.   The Supreme Court determined that contraceptive use is a Constitutional Right between married couples.    In 1972 the Supreme Court extended the right to unmarried couples.

The current prevalence of contraception, and its presentation as a good thing for women and “reproductive rights” has led to a world where numerous “Christian” nations are not even replacing themselves.  The sexual act is no longer reserved for marriage and comes (seemingly) without consequence.   The sexual act, primarily, is self-serving even within marriage.

Combine divorce and contraception, and you get a non-permanent arrangement where sexual gratification is one of the primary purposes of your maybe-lifetime-maybe-not relationship.   How many people call it quits when they are “no longer compatible sexually” or “that passion isn’t there anymore?”   How many don’t bother to get married in the first place?

This all needed to happen to get us to where we are today.   The Catholic Church stands alone, once again, in preserving the complete sanctity of what marriage is.    Unfortunately, an alarmingly high percentage of Catholics have decided that they do not need to follow Church teachings on this particular matter.   So, while the Church isn’t devaluing marriage in general, they are devaluing their own marriage, and likely passing that attitude on to their children and others.   I can empathize.   Many of those people simply do not know any better.   I thank God for revealing the truth to my wife and I after a few years of marriage before we did anything stupid and permanent, and I thank God for the grace to accept the truth.   It isn’t always easy.   Doubtless we would not have 9 children right now had we continued along our previously merry, but darkened, path.   We would have decided wrongly that 3 kids or so was the “right” number for us.

I digress a bit from the main point, but I don’t think we can understate what this has done to the mindset of marriage and relationship.   This, more than anything, has entrenched the idea that marriage is really about sexual companionship that has been given an official stamp of approval from someone or some institution that makes everything you do from here on out OK.

There are a couple more things that have assisted in re-defining marriage, though they are not, strictly speaking, a foundational thing.   By themselves, they wouldn’t be absolutely critical.   Combined with these foundational things, they acted to move things along, or were contributory elements in accepting some of the more fundamental changes.  I plan on posting about those as well.   May as well upset everyone while I’m at it.

News of the Day, 9/28/2012

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Occasionally I just feel like commenting on the news of the day with brief little snippets from my Catholic and personal worldview. Today is one of those days.

We start in France: Tax hikes and spending cuts.

75% tax rates on the rich as they are on the brink of recession? Huh. Can’t think of anything that could go wrong there…

We move to Spain: Spending cuts and increased taxes.

Spain’s on the brink of disaster, and there are rumors of secession of provinces and a rise in the power of Basque separatists. Increasing the Value Added tax isn’t as extreme as France’s move, and the government spending is going down 7%. At least they’re trying.

There’s no way that the Jewish vote can go Obama’s way after being the most anti-Israeli President since the establishment of Israel, right? Wrong. Jewish support for Obama is at 65%.

I fully confess that I can’t wrap my mind around this one. I guess since I’m not a Jew, I don’t appreciate how the American Jew weighs the different issues when determining who to support for President. But quite honestly, on just about every issue I can’t figure out how they weigh Obama higher than Romney. But I guess my bias is showing.

In a sad commentary of our times, an offensive, anti-Catholic work of ‘art’ is back on display.

Do Christians and Catholics storm the museum and vandalize it? Do we call for the head of the artist? No. And we should not. We should pray for conversion. We can take proper action: peaceful protest with proper license, letters to appropriate people to discourage display, and voting with pocketbooks is always an option. Prayer for conversion of those who would create this and display it is simply best, though. But, to be blunt, seriously… what idiot considers this kind of thing, in any way, artful? Art used to be for the purpose of beauty. When that is not its goal, it ceases to be art and instead simply becomes a political or religious statement.

Those who lament the mixture of religion and politics aren’t paying attention. Politics interjects its way into religion and morality and then those who do so pretend to be aghast at the response of religious individuals. But can the Democratic campaign be any more morally unconsionable? Obama e-cards about birth control.

It is worth quoting one of the e-cards here: “Dear Mom,” the card reads. “Mitt Romney says he would repeal the Affordable Care Act. So here’s a quick question: Can I borrow $18,000 to help pay for my birth control? Thanks!”

Wow.

I read all this and see a world in trouble. I see America in trouble. And this is exactly why our hope ultimately lies in something beyond men, politics, and even our own comfort and personal freedoms. We fight for these things because it is good and right to fight for them. We get involved in politics because it is our obligation. But when the tide of society is against you, there is one place to turn. And A LOT OF US need to be doing some turning!