Category Archives: Contraception

Facebook Debate Review

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Over the weekend, a Facebook friend of mine, a Deacon, made the following post:

“I was saddened this morning to see how a young lady who went on mission trips with <our> parish and was confirmed, posted yesterday pictures of her supporting Planned Parenthood.    I know that she is unaware of the truths of abortion mill that they are running and how they are murdering children.   I am praying that she finds out the truth.”

As one might imagine, this was met with the full gamut of potential responses, from those in complete agreement with the sentiment, to those who felt he was shaming someone publicly, to those who thought they were being condemned for ever having gone to Planned Parenthood for any reason.

Every now and then I like to break down posts and comments.   Today, I’m going to do that.

My commentary:     This may be, broadly speaking, a sort of shaming.   No names were provided, but there were some details that could be identifying in nature.   There is an acknowledgment that the person may be ignorant of the truths about what Planned Parenthood engages in.    I don’t think the post is out of bounds, as it is right and appropriate to rebuke people engaging in sinful activity, as long as it is done with charity.   I do think, though, that the reference to the Parish should have been left off.   It immediately identifies the person as local.   Had he left it at just someone who he knew had been confirmed, and had gone on mission trips then in the minds of readers it could be just about anybody.

The first back and  forth was as follows:  

Responder 1:  I’m saddened that you would put it out on face book rather than talking to her personally.

Poster: I am more saddened that she would post a picture first without talking to me so that she was well informed.

Responder 1:  But you are the adult here.

Poster: She is an “adult” as well, and “adults” should know that planned parenthood’s main revenue is from abortions.   Period.   Too bad so many people are misinformed when it comes to that.

Responder 1: I guess I’m not OK with shaming on Facebook.   A private conversation with some give and take seems more logical.   As for the adult part, well I guess the older adult should set the example.

Poster:  No give and take on that subject – abortion is the murdering of a child – it only is a choice of life or death – and I do set the example of standing up for life.

My commentary:   I can actually see points on both sides here.   I actually agree that the preferred initial approach would at least have been to ask the person in question whether or not she was aware of Planned Parenthood’s activities.    Perhaps even ask outright if she supported abortion rights (in private) to see where she stands.    And as I mentioned, even if one chooses to use this as an example for public consumption, care should be taken to use it as a teaching example, while minimizing the risk of revealing who the “sinner” is.    Also, saying there can be “no give and take” on any subject I think is wrong-headed.   One can know with certainty that they stand for what is good and true and still have a give and take with respect to a discussion.    Give and take does not imply compromise – it can imply trying to have a reasonable discussion so you can gain trust and figure out exactly where they are.    To should someone down will do no good.   I don’t think “give and take” means what he thinks it means.

Having said that, it’s a ridiculous assertion that it is completely out of bounds to make a public statement about something that someone else willingly posted in a public manner, and it’s all the more ridiculous to say that you need to treat another adult with kid gloves just because you’re an older adult.

Responder 2: How is that shaming someone?   He stated facts without naming her.    And if she believes PP is such a great organization, why would she be ashamed at all?

My commentary:   Generally agree, with caveats as already stated.   Though, I will say that it would be possible for someone to still feel good about their own support of PP while feeling a little offended by being called out by a member of the clergy, essentially, as a supporter of murder.   It may be true, but there may have been a more charitable way to go about it.

The next responder’s comment will be necessarily broken up into multiple parts.

Responder 3: As a young adult, my mom took me to Planned Parenthood to receive regular health screenings.   Does this mean I am damned for life?

This doesn’t make any sense at all, which tells me it’s an entirely emotional response.   As for the source of the emotion (either guilt, or simply an inability to accept that just because an entity does some “good” it cannot erase the evil nature of it).   For one thing, nobody anywhere said anything about being damned.   And the phrase “damned for life” makes no sense at all.   You are not damned for life if you’re damned.   You are damned for all eternity.   Which means ALL of us should be doing everything we can do to make sure we’re right with God!   Eternity’s a long time.   Finally, just because you went to PP at some point to get assistance, depending on what it is you did there, there may be nothing morally wrong with it.   If you got some check-up or general health screening, especially if you were ignorant of the other things they do, then there’s not a problem.

Unfortunately, this is why many turn from organized religion because we all judge versus support our own.

She may be right that we all tend to judge.   But the “thou shall not judge” thing is also misapplied.   The entire context of Scripture makes it clear that we should judge what people are doing from the perspective of discernment, correction, and aiding in another’s salvation.   It is not an act of love to allow one to persist in sin.  It is an act of love to correct it.   However, on the flip side, many people do not convey that correction in a charitable way.   And flipping around again, many will be corrected charitably and will see it as an act of hate because they feel they should just be “accepted.”    We “support our own” in the faith by trying to get them to heaven.    When we see error, it can be a tricky balancing act to try and figure out how to go about correcting that error, for that person’s own good.    It is not an error of organized religion that we sometimes fail to act in charity.   It is a failure of people, in general.   But those who persist in sin after receiving correction cannot be “supported” with respect to accommodating that sin.   Yes, we still need to love them, but that doesn’t mean what they think it means, often enough.

Knowing God does not judge, the message that is being forced onto us from our church leaders is disappointing.

Um…   God doesn’t judge?    Then who does?    Is there no hell?    This is the epitome of relativism.   Only are we not to judge anything anybody does as right or wrong, but God doesn’t even do it, apparently.   This is dangerous thinking.

I miss the days of feeling welcomed to church versus hearing how horrible we are because we may not attend every week, don’t dress appropriately or may support Planned Parenthood for many of their other services that help millions of people.

My commentary:   Oh, where to begin.   First, I would be curious to know exactly how this person was made to feel like she is a horrible person.   It is possible that an uncharitable approach occurred, in which case that is problematic.   But I have an inkling – maybe more – that this person heard a perfectly charitable reminder about the importance of weekly Mass attendance, the importance of modesty in dress, and felt personally offended because she was unwilling to look inward and consider what was said with humility.    Now, I don’t know her and can’t know that for certain, but what I do know is that there are many people out there who react that way even if she is not one of them.

The other irksome argument about the good the argument about pointing out the good things about Planned Parenthood is the willingness to just turn a blind eye towards the evil that they do for the sake of the good.   Not to mention, many people put contraceptive services in the “good” column.   They aren’t.

But more to the point, at the heart of all these protests in favor of Planned Parenthood is whether or not there should be federal funding for it.   So, if you feel that strongly about PP, then write them a check or use their services, or volunteer for them.   But don’t ask me to fund an organization that doers evil things.

 

Anyway, there’s actually more, and I could go on.   Maybe I’ll continue this with another post if I feel like there’s enough worth talking about.

 

The Climate Change Pope, Part 3

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I’ve spent a couple blog posts giving the background on why I believe the Pope is wrong about climate change.   Let me start this post by stating my areas of agreement with the Pope.

  1. I am not deligitimizing the overall, general issue of stewardship of God’s creation.     I am not suggesting the Pope has no authority in this area, nor that he should be silent about these concerns.   I am not even saying that the Pope has no right to an opinion on whether or not human-caused global warming (or climate change) is real.    He, as does every person, has a right to an opinion.    As Pope, he has the obligation to instruct the faithful.   More generally speaking, it is proper and correct to challenge all of us as to whether or not we are striking the proper balance between respect for human rights and progress and respect for God’s creation.
  2. There should be many things that we see that should not be particularly debatable as either a good thing or a bad thing in the realm of stewardship of the earth.   Dumping of toxins, breaking the law, leaving a plastic bottle in the woods – some are clearly more serious than others, but all are wrong.   The Pope is correct to suggest that knowingly doing something that is harmful to the planet is sinful.    This statement is not Gaia-worship, it is a simple acknowledgment that we have a responsibility we need to take seriously to keep this planet as healthy as possible, because God made it good, and also because it’s in our best interest to do so.    No matter how pro-capitalism one might be, this should not be debatable.
  3. Consumerism is a somewhat strange word, but we should all be able to agree that, while the economic system is not inherently problematic, the human conditions of jealousy and greed are.   You can point to any economic system ever put in place anywhere, and you will have one thing in common:   greedy people will find a way to take advantage of other people, and will exploit the system to their gain.    I personally believe that the Pope is often a bit too hard on capitalism, as if the system itself is flawed.    Compared to any other system devised, I actually thing it produces the most superior of moral outcomes – you earn what you deserve (generally speaking) and it forces allocation of resources in the most efficient way for a thriving economy, which benefits everybody.     Clearly, there are shortfalls, as will be the case with every system, and we continue to try to create the perfect variant of a social-capitalistic system, which will never happen.   But having said all that, it is certainly worth noting the personal pitfalls of this system.   Capitalism does offer the opportunity for great wealth.   That’s not bad, but is the question is why is that wealth being pursued?     It’s one thing if natural interests or a great idea that can add to the quality of life of others is the reason for the pursuit.    It’s also another thing if an opportunity exists to make your life better without sacrificing other good things (God, family, etc.).   It’s quite another if the drive is purely materialistic, and the time and effort is sacrificing time and energy on more idealistic pursuits.   This is where capitalism, while not bad in and of itself, can be a source of temptation for those who may have a personal weakness in the area of covetousness or greed.    This goes hand-n-hand, then, with the stewardship of creation.   Most Corporations are good, all of which are filled with working people – I hate the generalization of all Corporations as somehow innately evil. This doesn’t mean that greed cannot infect the principal owners/board members of an organization.    As Christians, we can both believe in the goodness of capitalism while speaking out against environmental injustices when they happen.
  4. There are grey areas in the area of stewardship that can be legitimately debated.    Is it immoral to build a factory that will employ people who will be able to provide for their families if it means the endangered snail darter will be at serious risk?    Is it immoral to shutter the entire project, causing community disruptions, lost jobs, and so forth because of an overscrupulous view of stewardship?    Good and honest people will disagree on the moral high ground here.   Perhaps there is a middle ground that makes sense.    One thing is almost certain – not everyone will agree, and it’s almost impossible to say that one side is sinning and the other is not.

So, I think the Pope makes many great points, and challenges us to make sure we are not letting politics steer our religious or moral obligations.    However, where I do take issue is moving from the moral directives to a much more specific proclamation of what our obligations are as a world community, as governments, and as individuals in response to the threat of human-caused climate change.

It is one thing to take a position that dumping a known toxin into a river is a sinful action, and it is quite another to suggest that driving a car is a sin if the option of a bus is available.   If the moral instruction is based on a belief that fossil fuel use is causing destructive warming, it is understandable why that instruction takes place.   But if that underlying premise is false, then the moral instruction is also false.    Put differently, if I do not accept the science-based premise that leads to a particular moral instruction on the basis of that scientific premise – not on simply obstinate grounds, but on grounds of experience and research and (to the extent possible) unbiased human reasoning – then am I obligated to accept the moral instruction that is a response to the flawed scientific premise?    This is different from just saying “I studied the Bible and I don’t believe in Purgatory.”    That is not a scientific question that leads to a religious doctrine.   So, I am not saying that whatever I don’t accept I don’t need to listen to.  In fact, I accept that the moral issue of stewardship is an obligation on my part.   It is the specific nature of this issue that I have a problem with.

One may simply ask, “What’s the big deal?”    Well, it is a big deal, actually.    If the Pope gives moral authority to governments, the UN, and other secular organizations on this issue, it sets the stage for a much more aggressive response with the justification that the Vatican is on board.   I think the Pope, in his own way, has this vision of the goodness of they types of choices that will be made – people just decide to buy fewer things, drive less, think about the environment more, and participate less in the types of things that will drive climate change.   Governments will do reasonable things that benefit everyone.

There is good there, and the good things are the things we should do anyway, irrespective of climate change.   But going beyond personal choices, everything else is problematic even if the theory is correct.   And if the theory is wrong, then everything else is horribly flawed. Governments will tax – inefficient, and a displacement of resources that can help people.   Governments will regulate and restrict production, will deviate resources to unnecessary and expensive areas, and will be an overall drag on growth and incomes.   But far worse will be the continuation and escalation of social engineering:   (a) abortion on demand will continue, be promoted as a good, and will escalate in the areas of the world where it has yet to gain a foothold; (b) people will be encouraged to outright “fear” having children, further encouraging use of contraception,  (c) personal property rights and use of property will continue to be diminished and attacked, and (d) marriage will continue to devolve into an institution of self-happiness rather than as an institution of rearing the next generation.

Now, the Pope doesn’t want fewer children via an increase in abortion and contraception.   And he would condemn that approach.   But the secular world doesn’t care what the Pope thinks, except when he thinks something they can use to advance their agenda.   While it should not be the case that the Pope should never speak pastorally or on social justice issues due to the risk of progressives selectively choosing the words of his they want to use for their purposes, neither should the Pope dismiss or ignore the fact that this reality exists.   He should understand the consequences of his instruction, and at the very least make it clear that when he speaks of these things, he condemns absolutely a number of the human “solutions” or agendas around this issue.

He should, in my opinion, also not speak so absolutely about the truth of climate change as a result of human activity, but instead focus more generally on environmental stewardship and our moral responsibility.

Male and Female He Created Them

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It’s one of the most fundamental aspects of creation.   Aside from all the theology of it all, God created us to procreate.   The mechanism by which He did this was to create man and woman.   This is not just true of the human race, but of all living creation, save certain exceptions that are either single-cell organisms or random things God seems to have created just because He can and enjoys messing with us a little bit.

Yes, it’s true that certain elements of creation are either non-gender (bacteria, for example) and propagate through cell division, or are hermaphrodites (both male and female) and reproduce all by themselves through some sort of kinky process I don’t really care to dwell on.   But there is one common characteristic that every aspect of reproducing creation shares:  the way you reproduce is the way you’re designed, and the way it’s meant to be.

Man, of course, is our focus here.   We are made in the image and likeness of God.   It may seem strange that God the Father, a Spirit and neither solely masculine nor feminine, created us as male and female.   But we need to keep in mind that our image and likeness is our spiritual nature.  God has no body, so there can be no physical form at all that would be a perfect reflection of God.    Further, God is not just the Father, but the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It has long been theologically accepted that the family is a reflection of the Trinity.  While the Trinity’s oneness is spiritual and not physical, our humanity requires a way to commune with each other physically in order to physically propagate.  The Holy Spirit is the result of the love between Father and Son, while our children are the result of the love between mother and father.

One thing that has been apparent from the beginning of the first moment of man’s existence is that the devil realizes that the best way to undermine God, to mock God, to pull people away from God, is to attack humanity precisely where we most reflect God’s design for us, and most reflect His very essence.

People have often pointed to “End Times” study – such as in Revelation – and noted that there seems to be a false prophet (mockery of John the Baptist) who precedes the Antichrist (mockery of Christ).   The Family is, of course, attacked continuously throughout all of salvation history.

One thing that has also been easy to see throughout all of history is the attack on the procreative aspect of sexuality.   Whether we are talking about sex outside of marriage, or sex for pure pleasure, or contraception, or homosexuality – when the procreative act takes place without the procreative aspect of it willfully and purposefully in play, then this is an attack and a mockery of the very love between Father and Son that produces the third Person of the Trinity eternally.   It’s a mockery, then, of the Trinity itself.

This has always been a human struggle, and in different times these things ebb and flow and rise and fall.   It is probably worse in our time than it has ever been, but it is not a new attack.   The attack just seems to be more successful in its acceptance and effectiveness in drawing people into error and away from God.

However, we are now seeing an attack that I believe is unprecedented in all of world history.   It is an attack on the very existence of human being being male or female.    It is so absurd on its surface that it is easy to not take it seriously.   And quite frankly, we shouldn’t even be having a debate about it.   It’s is self-evident that we are male and female.   But it shows how easily duped we humans are, particularly among the supposed intellectual elite – that this is even something we are now discussing.

The deception is insanely diabolical.   Homosexuality is problematic, but it does not by its nature deny the gender of the person, whether male or female.    Even someone who feels like they are a man trapped in a woman’s body or vice-versa is recognizing that there is such a distinction – male and female.

I am talking about people who are now believing, and convincing others to believe, that they are neither male nor are they female.   They dismiss gender as “binary.”

This may at first be viewed with a bit of eye-rolling and easy to dismiss.  Quite honestly, I am not sure I even heard of the concept as non-binary genderism until a year or two ago. But we ignore this heresy at our peril.   This is more than an attack on family, it is more than a mockery of the Trinity, it is more than any of the previous confusions in the realm of human sexuality and family.  This is new, and it is an attack on the very nature of humanity itself.   It is the utmost mockery of the human person, and of God’s design, and of God.

It is already the case that Canada is considering the passage of – and very well may pass – a bill that will make it a criminal offense to address a person by the pronouns “he” or “she” in lieu of “they.”    I’m not making this up.     Within the last year or two – really as soon as the Supreme Court OK’d same-sex marriage – the entire issue of transgenderism reached a fever pitch, and transgenderism evolved in meaning from a man feeling like he needs to become a woman and going through some action or process to make that happen, to now being able to just say he’s a woman because he feels that way regardless of his biological design, to being no such thing as a man or a woman.   We are all just non-binary creatures who have no business calling ourselves one thing or another because it offends the sensibilities of those around us who don’t accept that we are one thing or another.

This is such a devious attack on human nature by the devil that I don’t think any one at any time ever saw it coming.    I have read countless accounts – fictional and predictive – of what the world would become as we near the End Times or Chastisement or whatever.    Most of those accounts properly foresaw a world falling away from God, becoming more selfish and violent, increases in sexual perversions, and so on.    I never recall seeing anyone accurately forecast that a good chunk of humanity would devolve to a state where we utterly ignore our physical attributes and refuse to recognize our gender, and further that this group would gain acceptance and relevance to the point where governments would promote this idea, outlaw opposing views, and completely turn the argument around and call all those who oppose it from the very simple arguments of observation, reason, and logic immoral bigots.

It’s quite mad, and it’s the world we live in.

We all know, in the end, that God has His ultimate victory over the Devil.   We may or may not see that in our lifetime, but one wonders how long we can sustain such a path of utter disregard for humanity.   The one remaining step to absolute perdition seems to be laws that criminalize the belief that humans are any different than plants or animals.   We’ve seen people argue this in the past, and they’ve been dismissed as the lunatics that they are.    But we may soon see the day where they are no longer dismissed, but accepted and celebrated, and their ideas legislated in some form or fashion.

If I were God, I likely would have wiped us out long ago.   Thankfully for all of us, I am not God (despite what the Relativists think).   But the only way for Him to gain the ultimate victory here on earth can’t be pretty for anyone.

 

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 – June 1, 2012

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Every now and again I like to grab a few of the current headlines and instead of delving into a lengthy post on a single topic, just give my very brief summary of the news as I see it. Today is one of those days.

Unemployment goes up to 8.2%

Summary: A few things are clearly going on here. The continued economic slump is obviously George Bush’s fault, but more importantly is the fault of Catholics waging a war on women who won’t allow free contraception to be included in health plans.

NY City bans large sodas at restaurants

Summary: It’s really not about whether or not soda is good for you, nor is it about whether or not it’s a legitimate governmental function to show the results of studies where people take in too much sugar, and try to promote good behavior. It’s about “Really? We’re now living in a country where the government bans large sodas, because the government has decided what is and what isn’t good for us?” The answer, at least in NYC is… yes. God bless America. I guess they’ve solved all their other problems.

The Green Lantern is Outed as a gay superhero.

Summary: Ugh. I read comics as a kid. Never in my life did I imagine this unnecessary, gratuitious, and outright immoral crossing of religious and social barriers.

The Vatican’s Bertone, the Butler, and a Bumbling Bureaucracy>

Summary: I am sad to see division and leaks and mistrust at the highest levels of the Vatican. As a Catholic, it is important to understand that these unfortunate elements of the Vatican as a political entity as well as a Religious one can cause frustration, but should never result in a crisis of faith. The Holy Spirit is our guide, and the magesterial teachings of the Church guide us. We do place trust in our leadership, but as Ronald Reagan said “Trust, but verify.” Trust Christ and the Church, but sometimes individual men act like… well… men.

Nuns push back.

Summary: Oh, how I was hoping and praying for obedience and humility from the sisters! I wish I could say that I am surprised. After all, once you start preaching heterodoxy on important issues, what difference is it if you give a defiant posture when called on it? I’ve seen it with my 11 year old, I’ve seen it with Jesuit Universities, and now we can officially add the LCWR to the list. I call them the “Liberal Catholic Women Religious.”

Sex-Selection Abortion ban fails

Summary: Due to procedural needs for a 2/3 majority, this measure failed, but it clearly abolished any remaining questions as to whether or not the one true Sacrament of the Democratic Party is abortion. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, all abortion is murder. Like “hate crimes,” I’m not sure why one’s personal motivation for a murder should really make a difference. “Jimmy killed Johnny because he wanted his bike. 20 years. Timmy killed Teddy because he is black. Life without parole.” I mean, I’m digressing a bit, but is it really “better” that someone unemotionally murders someone for a bike than if someone else murders someone else over irrational hatred? I never really got that. So, in that same vein, I am not sure why the reason of aborting based on “sex selection” is any more horrid than purely selfish reasons of “I just don’t want a baby.”

Having said that, it certainly does help paint a picture of distaste that is emotionally real to people. And given that abortion is wrong, I’m certainly in favor if any limitations on it we can achieve.

It is interesting that some of the most liberal countries and abortion-accepting countries in the world have managed to find sex-selection of infants so societally distateful that they have managed to ban abortions in those circumstances without banning abortion altogether. yet, to hear the Democrats argue the case yesterday, you’d swear that this proposed law is an affront to all that’s sacred and holy in the “women’s choice” arena.

One final comment: given that “sex-selction” most often means “I want to abort a girl so I can have a boy,” which party is the one supporting a “war on women?”

Why Obama’s “Compromise” is a Shell Game: A simple Explanation

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On the immediate announcement, it sounded as if President Obama has given Catholic and other concerned people of faith a nugget of goodwill (or, at the very least, a recognition that political damage control was needed).

It is entirely possible that many people will continue to see it that way. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Not only has nothing changed, but the reality of it is that this actually ends up being worse.

Allow me to provide an example or two:

Suppose you donate to the United Way, and you designate your gift to a particular cause or two. While it may appease your sensibilities that you are designating your gift, the reality of it is that the only way this matters is if the vast majority of other donors also designate their gifts. Since most do not, all that happens is that the United Way reallocates all the other fungible donations and the final allocations are exactly the same as if you had not designated your gift at all. Now, if there are no morally offensive programs being supported, you may be OK with that. But if there are morally offensive programs, then you are, in fact, contributing to them in an indirect way. You can appease your conscience by telling yourself that “if everyone else had done what I did, there would be no problem.” But reality being what it is, that is not the case. So, all that happens is that a higher percentage of non-allocated funds are provided for undesignated programs, while a smaller percentage of other peoples’ funds are used to support the programs you designated money to. This is colloquially referred to as a “shell game.”

Why am I talking about this example? It simply provides an illustration of how something can be presented as one thing, but in reality it is something else. In this example, the contributor is made to feel good about giving to a specific group that is meaningful to them, but everyone knows that in the end it really doesn’t affect overall funding by program.

So, let’s explain the new “compromise” in the mandatory contraception debate. Prior to today, certain faith-based groups were told they would have to offer health care coverage that covered the expense of birth control (some of the abortifacient variety). The religious freedom aspect of this aside, there is a cost related to this direct coverage. Let’s just suppose the cost for some employer would be $20,000. This $20,000 hits the health care losses of the insurance company, and the rates for the program are adjusted to reflect this cost. The employer now has a plan that costs more for which they are directly covering something they are morally opposed to.

The compromise presented today is this: Employers, you can opt out. Instead, we’ll make the insurance company cover this at no cost to your employees. Thus, the thinking goes, it is not directly covered by the employer. Unfortunately, this compromise is no compromise at all, and is potentially even more harmful.

1) There is still a direct linkage to the employer’s health care coverage. In other words, if the employer opts out of health coverage, they will get fined as before. If they opt in, there is automatic coverage for birth control services. Regardless of whether or not it’s directly under that plan, or dubbed as a “service” of insurance companies, it is exactly the same thing in practice.
2) The cost doesn’t go away. The coverage is only “free” to the employee (notwithstanding increased premiums) but there is still a cost of coverage. The $20,000 does not stay with the losses of the employer, but get shifted to the expense line of the insurance company. Expenses are built into the rates for coverage, so the employer ultimately pays for the coverage.
3) Now, suppose the insurance company doesn’t load expenses for birth control utilization directly back to the employer’s health plan, but just loads it in equally across employers. The impact of this is concerning: supposing a Catholic ministry with faithful adherents to the Church’s teachings as employees, and supposing they do not use birth control at all, then their health plan costs will actually increase to accommodate the costs of contraceptive utilization of other plans. Thus, this new compromise actually leads to a situation where not only are faith based organizations paying for contraceptive use, but the more faithful the employees are to Church teachings, the more they subsidize the use of contraception in other employee bases!

This needs to be opposed just as ardently as the previous proposal. We can’t petend that everything’s going away just because the administration found a way to better disguise it.