Why You Should Listen to the Church’s Teaching on Contraception

Once upon a time, there lived a ten-year-old. He was fat and hungry. One day, as he plodded through the house, he saw a piece of cake on the kitchen counter. He reached, grabbed, and was about to introduce it to the inside of his face, when an old man burst into the kitchen and yelled, “Stop!” The ten-year-old fat boy stopped. “You shouldn’t eat that,” the old man said, “for if you do your legs will fall off, your hair will turn gray, and you’ll become a mean, bitter little boy, cursed to spread misery wherever you go.”

The boy ignored the man and ate the cake.  The man groaned and left.

A few days later the boy’s legs fell off, his hair turned gray, and he grew — rather understandably — very miserable. The old man visited him again. “Drink this,” he said, handing him a glass, “and your legs will grow back, your hair ungray, and your misery cease.” The boy looked into the glass. “No,” he said, “I will not. You do not know what is best for me, old man.”

In 1965, contraception was legalized in the United States. In 1968, to the dismay of the world, the Church reaffirmed its teaching against the use of contraception. She said, in Humane Vitae, that:

Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

The world ignored the Church, mocked Her, and put their women on contraceptives. Today, we have the highest divorce rate we’ve ever had, more broken families than social programs to take care of their kids, and it is estimated that 30 to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage. Women are more devalued than ever, as evidenced by the steady rise of pornography use — what with 72 million visitors to pornographic websites every month, 90% of kids 8-16 having viewed hardcore pornography on the Internet — and the general corporation of the woman’s body for the purpose of selling, well, just about everything. Despite having been liberated from their wombs and thus able to work like men, mate like men, and live like men, women are more miserable than ever. Big surprise.

Given that the Roman Catholic Church straight prophesied what would happen if society accepted the widespread use of contraception, and has been absolutely vindicated by history, surely it is not outside of the boundaries of reason to listen to her now? To consider the cure she offers, namely: Stop Using Contraception and Love Each Other Fully? So consider my challenge. I challenge you to take the time to listen to this entire talk by Janet Smith: Contraception: Why Not?. We scorned the Church for her predictions, we owe it to Her to listen now that those predictions have been realized; now that we bear them every day.

It would be one thing if we were content. If we were content, I’d understand the continued rejection of the Church’s teaching on contraception. We could be happy heathens then, reveling in our culture, joyfully rejecting the Boring Old Buzz-kill Church. But we are miserable. Our relationships suck. Our marriages suck. I mean, for goodness’ sake, if we’re teaching middle-schoolers our perverted and desperate attempts to bring back the excitement of sex, we’re clearly unaware of it having any awesomeness.

By the way, it is such a joy to to be against the culture in this matter. As Chesterton said: “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

Till next time.

  • Mimi M

    Awesome post =)

  • http://www.onemoremum.blogspot.com Lauren

    LOVE that Chesterton quote (which I have not heard before), and LOVE that talk by Janet Smith (which I listen to fairly often, I love it so much).
    God bless you.

  • Michelle Hughes

    Excellent.

  • Mark Martin

    “We’re teaching kindergarteners our perverted and desperate attempts to bring back the excitement of sex.”

    I like your post, but what do kindergartners have to do with your link?

    • Marc

      ah woops. my mind must still be running on mccains old attack ads. middle-schoolers.

  • http://spiritualworkoutblog.blogspot.com Liesl

    The problem is that many people don’t realize that they’re miserable, or at least what is the cause of their misery!

  • Pattsce

    This is one argument the secular world will just never accept. And I don’t see it ever changing. Even my friends who are sympathetic to my Catholic views get Angry for my insistence that the Church is right in holding that contraception is immoral. I can’t even talk to people about it; they get that mad. Even Catholics who choose to follow the Church’s teachings (which is getting rarer and rarer in my experience) often follow them reluctantly and do so only because they “have to” and because “the Church said so.” As if the teachings weren’t based in any sort of transcendent truth.*

    Our view of sex is so twisted in so many ways that people (even Catholics) can’t even begin to see contraception as immoral. We’re in bad shape.

    ———

    *I do not think a person choosing to follow the Church’s teachings faithfully even though he doesn’t fully understand all of the philosophical justifications for those teachings is a bad Catholic. But I do think a person who doesn’t even try to understand the teachings and is just waiting for a change because he thinks the Church is just so obviously wrong and out of touch is a bad Catholic.

    • Marc

      Don’t worry, i’m on it!

    • Guest

      Yes, well, insisting that you are rightrightright and your religion is rightrightright and every one else is wrongwrongwrong is pretty damned annoying. Not to mention arrogant and prideful, narcissistic and egomaniacal. Why not shut up and let God get a word in edgewise? If more Catholics shut up for five minutes and let God have a moment, maybe more people would believe in God. As it is, it’s never about God, it’s always about some arrogant ninny being right and pushing other people around.

      • Fellow Catholic

        So are we to say that there is nothing that can be known? If there is a right at all wouldn’t there also be a wrong? And if there is a God, do you think God would have an opinion on the matter? Shouldn’t we as human persons put aside our own biases to find that truth and cling to it? And in our joy of finding it it is the charitable thing to share it, out of love and concern for our fellow man. This rampant poison of relativism robs us of the responsibility to do the work of seeking and struggling to find the truth. And when discussing issues of truth, it is a total cop out to blame individuals. Yes, people do horrible things, but the truth of what is is not dependent on personal behavior. It is simply an excuse for dismissing what is uncomfortable. And last I checked not one of us is perfect, or even close.

        • Guest

          Even my friends who are sympathetic to my Catholic views get Angry for my insistence that the Church is right in holding that contraception is immoral. I can’t even talk to people about it; they get that mad.

          I’m responding to that quote. If she *insists* she/the Church/whatever is *right* from the get-go, of course people will become angry and refuse to have a conversation. When you insist you are right and you are unwilling to even consider another person’s opinion, what’s left to talk about anyway?

          Too many people, and especially too many Catholics, think they personally are responsible for hammering the “truth” into everyone they meet. They do more damage than good. They create walls, roadblocks. They stand in between people and God with that kind of I’m-right-and-you-had-better-listen-to-me rhetoric.

          • Fellow Catholic

            To insist on being right is not a quality solely reserved for Catholics. It can be true about individuals on every subject. The problem is in the approach – not the content. What you say could be applied right back to you. So instead of focusing on the person, address the argument on its merits. To dismiss it out of frustration at the individual is illogical and doesn’t benefit anyone. But I do agree with you that the tone of the conversation it critically important. No one will listen to someone who talks down to people. We do a great disservice to the truth when that happens, and for that I am sorry. It is such a MISUNDERSTOOD teaching and it should be approached with patience and charity.

      • Eric Nyberg1

        So, what do you mean by “let God get a word in edgewise?” If you could define that, I’d be eager to hear you out. But from what you said above, it sounds to me like you a) have some underlying beef with the Church to begin with, and b) don’t like hearing a different opinions at all. Granted, I don’t know of your experience with these awful-sounding people. But I’m willing to bet none of them are actually egomaniacs – you seem to be piling labels here needlessly – a tactic that’s a little annoying in itself. Most religious Catholic people I’ve met tend to be peaceable and reasonable, when it comes to sharing their faith. In fact, I don’t regularly encounter really gung-ho, vocal Catholics aside from Catholic blogs like this one. Sure, there are argumentative people out there, and some crazies in every social group. But where you’re finding all these pushy narcissists that beat you over the head with their prideful rhetoric is beyond me. (My guess is they’re not as bad as you’re making them out to be, and that your reason for hating them runs deeper. Either way, I hope it gets easier to put up with them in the future.) Anyway, the bigger point I want to make: “Letting God get a word in edgewise” is exactly what these people are doing when they sound off about Church teachings (ie., stuff you don’t like hearing). The truth is, the Church isn’t a bunch of bullies. It’s a group of people who desperately want to help and share. Maybe not all do so in the kindest way. But just look at it from their perspective. They, like me, believe the teachings of the Church are God’s truth – which often runs against the stream of popular cultural opinion. Unlike those opinions that often change with the times, God, and by extension, God’s Church, stays the same. For people like us, it’s exceedingly rare to hear God’s voice in the newspaper, on the internet, on TV shows, movies, pop music, the radio, advertisements, etc. But we can find a rejuvenating oasis at the Mass, and in the words of the Pope and other spiritual leaders like Mother Theresa (arguably the greatest – her actions really do speak louder than words), G.K. Chesterton, Fulton Sheen, Peter Kreeft, George Weigel, etc. The dogmatic teachings of the Church and its leaders = God’s words. If God is actually going to get a word in edgewise in this culture at all, the Church and its faithful members are going to be his primary mouthpiece. I wonder if your so-called “ninnies” are actually the very people making God audible above the distracting, morally relative culture.

        • Guest

          See my response below. You don’t begin a conversation with *insisting* anything. People who do so aren’t even interested in a coversation. They’re just interested in being right, in winning a debate, in hammering someone else over the head.

          It’s not about you. It’s about God. If you believe something and if you’re living that belief, and doing so brings you joy and peace, that will become obvious to others. Maybe not right this second — or the second you *insist* it’s so — but sooner or later, in God’s time.

          Just because you personally aren’t getting the response you would like to get after you *insist* you’re right all the time doesn’t mean God isn’t quietly speaking to someone. And maybe your *insistance* is the thing that’s slowing the process down, eh?

      • Tascjpgs

        But if you study the church’s teachings with an open heart… it’s pretty clear it is the truth.
        Just as Marc wrote above… .from Humane Vitae… leaders of the church listening to God (edgewise or otherwise) predicted just how society would go if contraception was made available…. (44 years in advance I might add) and it’s all true!
        Truth is right. It just is.

        I honestly believe if everyone studied the church’s theology with a heart open to understanding… their eyes would be opened.

        • Guest

          Yes, but after someone has “insisted” they are right, how many hearts remain open and how many automatically shut down?

          That’s the problem.

          There is a lot of truth in Humanae Vitae, but how some people have interpreted it, expressed it, and put it into practice remains questionable to me. If I dare to question, I’m met with nothing but ugliness. That in itself shows me that, while there is much truth in the teaching, there’s something gone wrong in the execution, in the practice.

          Many people have hearts open to understanding, are hungry for understanding. But when they look for answers, they’re too often met with arrogance, condescension, nastiness, haughtiness, and mean-spiritedness.

          When I encounter those things along my journey, I know those people do not have any answers, and I should walk away.

          I have also learned that when I turn to Christ for answers, He does not demean, insist, belittle, condescend or sneer, and I find the answers.

  • filiusdextris

    I’ve listened to Contraception, Why Not about ten times – love it!

    You rightly point out that women are more devalued today more than ever. Don’t forget that the same applies to males today too though (with arguably an even greater drop). The point is that utilitarianism is rampant – the calculus of a person’s value often depends on his productivity or other non-personal, ephemeral factors (like looks, for women).

  • http://intimategeography.wordpress.com/ Barbara

    Marc

    You read my mind man. I just blogged on this very thing a few days ago. I’m expecting baby #2 in two years with family pressure to, ya know, let go the Catholic thing on this issue. If you want to read it check it out: http://intimategeography.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/im-in-love-and-out-of-love-i-will-not-go/

    Also have you read Mary Eberstadt’s article on the Vindication of Humanae Vitae, pure delicious genius:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/07/002-the-vindication-of-ihumanae-vitaei-28

  • Babs

    Married non-contracepting lady here. All I can add is that those who’ve never tried going au natural have no idea how awesome it can be. It’s like trying to describe fresh air to someone born and raised in Hong Kong.

    • Guest

      Breaths Deep ‘O the clean fresh air!

    • Guest

      Anything *can* be awesome. Doesn’t mean everyone should always do it under any set of circumstances. To claim that your very personal, very subjective experience — and as you experience it *now* — will be everyone — will even be yours ten years from now — is irresponsible and shallow.

      My personal experiences right here right now are great for me, but might not be great for someone else. I’m not so arrogant as to assume that if something is working for me in the now, other people should all blindly follow along.

    • Anonymous

      When you say that it’s great to go ‘au natural’, are you just referring to condoms? Because there are lots of contraceptives that don’t require that you put some physical object between you and your spouse. They allow you to get that ‘fresh air’ without massively increasing the size of your family.

    • Anonymous

      Au natural, as created by God. No hormones, IUDs, snips, clips or ablations. NFP is as natural as one can get. We’ve had to use it under a very frightening condition, but instead of it being like a slave master we found it to be wonderful. It both fostered discipline and trust in our marriage and a deeper faith in God’s providence.

      Guest 1, nope, you are wrong. Anything can be manipulated into being bad, but not all things can be awesome. Only those things that glorify God can be awesome. Self control and self-knowledge combined with a close and communicative relationship with one’s spouse *is* awesome.

      • Guest

        And not all things that are awesome for you will be awesome for another. NFP has destroyed marriages.

        Genuine respect for the human person glorifies God, and genuine respect for the human person leaves out the judgmentalism you’re exhibiting by implying that anyone who doesn’t find NFP as awesome as you do is somehow not quite as fabulous as you or doesn’t have as wonderful a marriage as you. This just isn’t true, and that you have to imply such a thing makes me wonder what lies beneath your glib self-congratulations.

        I’m even more au naturel than you — I’ve never even used NFP, much less barrier or hormonal birth control. That has been awesome for me. I don’t recommend it for everyone just because it’s been awesome for me.

        Would foregoing even NFP have been just as awesome for you during your difficult period as it has been for me all my life?

        Self control, self knowledge, and a close and communicative relationship with one’s spouse are indeed awesome. However, what that looks like in your marriage and what that looks like in someone else’s aren’t necessarily the same.

        You’re implying that everyone should mimic you and their lives will automatically be perfect.

        Doesn’t work that way. And it’s completely disrespectful of others and, probably more importantly, of God Himself.

        • Anonymous

          First, thanks for engaging me in this discussion. I have had a wonderful time of reflecting on your points.

          I would say this in regard to most of what you say:
          I would never expect anything in a combox to address all the complexities of making a life choice such as NFP, no NFP and contraception. What I would expect is that perhaps sharing that it has been a fantastic exercise for my marriage and family may cause someone look more deeply into it.

          However, I still disagree with your definition of “awesomeness”. I look at the awesome as that which comes from God. Nature is awesome. Now, I can be a person who hates bugs, sweat, cold weather or other aspects of nature and therefor unable to experience the all awesomeness nature has to offer. It doesn’t detract from the awesome, but only displays my own limits.

          That said, NFP, much like homeschooling, will expose the weaknesses of marriage and family. (We failed miserably at homeschool.) A couple has to be committed to loving each other through the more difficult aspects of this discipline. Like I said, anything can be twisted into a pretzel of disfunction. But it’s awesomeness come from the God who gives us our lives, our fertility and our self control. Our inability to use the tools He gives us is a reflection of our brokenness, not the tools awesomeness.

          **I understand that this might sound like I think my husband and I are so amazing for using NFP as a gift from God and “Aren’t we an amazingly loving couple?” I assure you, we have our forms of brokenness.

          Lastly, I have never been able to see the wisdom in allowing the medical community to “educate” me on how one healthy, normal, functional system in my body needs to be thwarted in order to live a healthy, normal and functional life. I have immersed myself in medical research, and this flies in the face of all of medical historical philosophy. I felt that way before I ever thought I would get married. But it sure was a freeing experience to know that when we faced our crisis we could still nurture our physical closeness without conceiving just by being aware of our biology and making a united decision.

          Whew. More in a combox than I ever thought I’d write….

          • LadyV

            @Guest: NFP does not destroy marriages. People destroy marriages.

          • Guest

            Well, true. But that goes back to my point that NFP is merely a tool, much like any other method of BC. It’s what people do with it that makes it or breaks it, so to speak.

            NFP has been used in ways that destroy marriages. Other methods of BC are used by couples with the same intent as, say, Babs, and have fostered strong marriages.

            The problem with the breathless, starry-eyed, “OMG NFP is SOOOOO awesome”- type posts is that it denies individuals their humanity. When a man who has basically been whipped and abused by an NFP-using woman reads that, what is he to think? According to those people, he doesn’t even exist.

          • Anonymous

            Those who have had a bad experience with NFP deserve our utmost respect and understanding. However, misuse of a thing does not mean that there is a moral equivalent. Contraceptive BC is an intrinsic evil for reasons that are explained by my betters.

            I am sorry you have been whipped with the NFP stick. It’s an ugly thing to have happened, and I sincerely hope that you will one day be able to read joyful witnesses to NFP without the sting of pain your experience has caused.

          • Guest

            Well, _I_ haven’t been “whipped” by anything, LOL! But my sister in law used NFP to “whip” her husband, and now, of course, she’s playing the martyr because he finally left her AND got primary custody of their children.

            There’s a difference between “joyful” witness and glib, self-centred blather. When you rapturously extol the fabulousness of NFP in YOUR life from YOUR perspective, you essentially negate anyone else’s experiences.

            Look at this latest response: you assume my issues with your, uh, “witness” are due to me being “whipped” by NFP. See what you did there?

            At this point, you’re just protesting too much. NFP is fabfabfab and anyone who doesn’t share your experience is flawed, whipped, selfish, has a less-than-spectacular marriage, blahblahblah.

            Okay. We get you think you’re better than everyone else, that your marriage is better, that anyone who disagrees is “whipped” or whatever. So now tell me why I’m going to take you seriously going forward? See? In your attempt to earn glory points by providing the perfect “witness”, your real witness is that of a smug, self-satisfied, condescending, dehumanizing ignoramus. Which is why your words ultimately ring false. Oopsies!

          • Babs6

            I made a mistake by thinking you were discussing yourself. That’s not an agregious assumption given the nature of comment threads. My first paragraph still stands, but you rather focus on the extraneous.
            Your venomous response makes it clear you are neither interested in dialog nor reflecting on your position. It was a mistake to engage you.

          • Guest

            No, I’m never interested in dialogue with people who are only interested in bullying people and forcing their agenda on them.

            You’ve “assumed” more than once. It’s not the nature of comboxes — it’s your personal flaw, which you refuse to own. Whatever.

            Yes, it was a mistake, on your part, to think you could bully me with your NFP-nazi tactics. First true thing you’ve said.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kickintheface Jacob Timothy Michael Hughes

            You, sir/ madame, are a jackass. (yes that was an assumption based on your posts.) Assumption IS in the nature of comboxes, because if we didn’t assume certain things, this communication would be even more inefficient than it already is. In a system in which it may take several days for a person to respond,[assuming(yes, another assumption) they respond at all], it would have been stupid for babs to first ask you whether or not your marriage was destroyed by NFP. Assuming (this is the last time I point it out, but I’m assuming again.) that you took 24 hours to answer, and it took her another 24 hours to reply, that would have delayed the conversation by 2 days. Let’s say that seven assumptions were made in a given post. Would you rather someone take 2 weeks to continue than make a rather harmless assumption? I’m assuming that it would get annoying.

  • Adam

    Oh my gosh, I love that image. Please tell me you’re selling them as posters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=8359245 Pamela Koo

    A quote attributed to Albert Einstein seems appropriate here, actually. “Insanity – doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.” Our culture is so convinced that sex equals love and that all you need to have love is to have lots of really great sex. So they use contraception to get to the “lots of” part, and Cosmo magazine to get the “really great” part, and when neither of those work, they find more ways to get “lots of” and “really great”, ignoring what love and sex are really all about and growing more miserable all the while. Thus we get middle schoolers being taught how to have “good, safe sex” instead of how to actually experience sex the way it was supposed to be, at it’s best and safest, from the beginning. I am very thankful God gave me open eyes to see how futile that cycle really is.

    • Guest

      Yes, but that speaks to promiscuity, not contraception. Contraception is just a tool. The Church advocates for the use of a similar tool to be used for the same purpose other contraceptive methods are used for. Continually blaming society’s problems on inanimate objects is ridiculous. It’s people’s hearts and minds, and that goes for Catholics, too. Often when people reject the Church’s teachings, it’s because of their experiences with members of that Church. To refuse to address the bad behavior of the hierarchy over the centuries and harp on *things* rather than the actions of those who claim moral superiority isn’t helping anyone, especially yourselves.

      • Marc

        damn right. it’s not the contraception, it’s the modernism that allowed it. But tackling contraception tackles the fundamental brick of modernism; I can do what feels good for me and not suffer consequences.

      • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar

        @Guest….”Yes, but that speaks to promiscuity, not contraception. Contraception is just a tool. The Church advocates for the use of a similar tool to be used for the same purpose other contraceptive methods are used for. Continually blaming society’s problems on inanimate objects is ridiculous.”

        Riiight. Technology NEVER affects behavior. Claiming that widespread availability and use of contraceptives has no effect upon promiscuity or the objectification of women is like suggesting that the widespread availability and use of automobiles has no effect upon travel.

        • Guest

          Of course many things affect our behavior. However, the only way to change behavior is to reach the human person, to engage hearts and minds, not to take away the technology you think is causing the behavior — which isn’t the same as affecting behavior, anyway.

          Take your own analogy — widespread use of automobiles leads to an increase in fatal accidents. Fatal and life-altering automobile accidents are bad. Let’s take away automobiles.

          Or: alcohol use leads to bad behavior, abusive behavior, automobile & boating accidents, etc. Let’s ban alcohol so we can prevent all these terrible things.

          Oh, wait…

          See where that goes?

          Focusing exclusively on the technologies, on things, and not on human beings, has already been proven to be totally counterproductive.

          Christ didn’t come down and ban this thing or that thing. He reached out to people, to individuals. He met them where they were at, He didn’t berate and sneer and condemn. He respected them regardless of their situation, and He showed them a better way. And He did it knowing they were probably going to screw up all over again.

          Why not be Christ-like instead of pushing for what is essentially a Catholic Taliban?

          • Faith

            Guest, it’s obvious you have been very hurt by a member of the Church at some point in your life. There is a lot of pain in what you write and I don’t want to add to that.
            I think we should take a step back and remember that the author of this post posed his argument as a way to help people be happier. Whether or not you believe he’s right, please recognize that he was not trying to hurt you or condemn you.
            Sadly, the use of contraceptives–any moral issues one may take aside–is statistically linked to unhappy marriages and unhappy individuals. Society reflects this. Whether or not you believe it, the Catholic Church’s stance is not a random decision to bring misery to its members–why would they risk losing so many members over something that is so easy to ignore–that so many other religions have ignored? Whatever failings members of the Church have, it is hard to believe that they would be that, well, stubbornly stupid. If they are, then I guess you don’t have to worry about anything. We’ll just die out. But it’s been 2000 years and we haven’t done that yet.
            As to your argument above, both automobiles and alcohol are examples of human creations that in themselves can be used for either good or bad things. Contraception is only used for one thing: taking the “risk” of pregnancy out of the sexual act. The Church believes that this is a bad thing–others can explain the philosophy behind this better than I can. Even if you don’t believe that, I hope you can appreciate that the Church is following its beliefs to their logical conclusion.

          • Guest

            Haha, “a lot of pain”…? Because I make an analogy about Prohibition? Um, okay…

            Yes, birth control was created for one thing. The highly technologically advanced form of NFP designed by Catholics was created so Catholic couples could take the risk of pregnancy out of their sexual lives.

            I appreciate what the Church is saying. I just think they’re inconsistant and illogical in how they apply what they teach.

            I also think the author of this piece relies on huge, dehumanzing generalizations and disrespects others by the way he makes his argument.

            I also find it very funny that whenever someone makes a point about something, Catholics fall into the sin of making assumptions about people. I mean, because I disagree with the particular tone and the angle of the argument, now I’m some deeply damanged person who’s suffering some kind of mental anguish, and I’m forced into a corner trying to prove I’m not.

            Well, think what you like. I still stand by my argument that if you continue to ignore humans, if you continue to reject Christ’s approach, you’re going to continue to fail. You’ve completely failed with me now by dehumanzing me and demeaning me with your opening comment. Why would I listen to you now? See how that works?

          • Faith

            “I still stand by my argument that if you continue to ignore humans, if you continue to reject Christ’s approach, you’re going to continue to fail.”
            I think we all agree on this, and I’m glad a medium like this exists, where people of differing opinions can come together to try to understand what Christ’s approach means.
            Please forgive me for coming across as demeaning. Obviously it’s very easy to read a sentiment into another’s words. I read your words as hostile, and you read mine as dehumanizing. In fact, I had been bothered by the (as I read it!) aggressive tone taken by a couple other commenters and was trying to balance that.
            You’re right that you have no reason to listen to me. There’s no reason for flawed human beings to listen to other flawed human beings.
            I believe that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and that is how I am able to have confidence in her teachings. I don’t follow blindly–I’m sure like yourself the reason I’m here is to constantly seek and question. Thank you for reminding me to pray as well.

          • mary york

            I totally disagree that Guest has had a lot of pain…I think they are right that we have to focus on the use of the tool, rather than on the inherent evilness of an inanimate object.

          • Guest

            Faith, it’s the immediate go-to argument for Catholics who haven’t got any other argument. They attack the messenger because they can’t argue against the method. In their case, it’s that smarmy “oh, you must be in so much pain because if you were well or healthy you would obviously agree with me” tactic. Usually followed by the “I’ll pray for you” flip-off they’re so fond of. ~shrug~

          • Guest

            Sorry, should be to Mary York, not Faith.

  • http://catholiconceagain.blogspot.com/ Amanda Borenstadt

    Super post! :)

  • James H

    This kind of post is Instant Troll – bring out teh kooks!

  • Howmanyboats

    So, its bad to use contraceptives but the church can cover up molesting little boys?

    • Stevebrock

      Booboo, the Church teaches that BOTH of those are bad.
      Using contraceptions = bad
      Molesting children = bad
      Unfortunately there were Church members who acted VERY badly, but it has NEVER been taught by the Church that it was okay.

      • Guest

        The actions of the hierarchy “taught” that it was okay to cover up the sexual sins of their own regardless of the damage they did to innocents. Actions teach more than words can. Continuing to disregard the true evil behind the scandal continues to teach the world that you say one thing and do another. Clean up your own house first. Until then, you’re not credible.

        • Fom4life

          Becasue Judus betrayed Christ and Peter denied him does not mean that those actions are ok. Jesus told his disciples to obey the Pharasies in what they do but not to follow their example. Some church authorities have not been great examples but then again several church leaders have been good examples. The truth that both Contraception is wrong as well as covering up bad behavior is wrong is equally true.

          • Guest

            Well, perhaps if the Church had not screwed up as epically as they did, for so many centuries, and involving so very many clear human rights violations (sex abuse, stealing babies, murder, bigotry, misogyny), they might have a leg to stand on when it comes to moral issues. However, the institution that is the Church has now blown it so spectacularly and so many times, they’re not credible.

            Christ is the truth. Not the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. They’re just a bunch of arrogant, power-hungry, immoral, Godless men. That’s it. That’s all they ever were and all they will ever be. Period.

          • Peter

            Christ is the truth. The Catholic Church is, however, his Church, and has always been led by arrogant, immoral men like St. Peter and St. Paul. It’s been quite a ride, but I’d say the gates of hell have not prevailed against it just yet, wouldn’t you (I forgot who said that…)?

          • Guest

            Christ’s Church is His body of followers, not an earthly institution. The gates of hell will not prevail against His body of followers. The earthly institution of the Catholic Church has already flung opened their doors and rolled out the red carpet for Satan, inviting him in and giving him the best seat at the table. Too late to undo that. The Church has sided with evil too long and too often, and tossed the most innocent to the wolves in order to satiate their hunger for earthly power. The gates of Hell won a long time ago on that front.

            You can’t title an article “why you should listen to the Church…” and expect anyone who has witnessed the Church’s actions to take you seriously. There are many, many more reasons why you should most certainly NOT listen to the Church than there are reasons why you should. AAMOF, I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would listen to the Church unless they were so steeped in evil themselves they are no longer capable of recognizing Christ.

          • Ferdy

            Simply because the Church is the Spouse of Christ. St. Paul reiterated that. You would want your spouse respected, wouldn’t you? The members, like you and me, are the ones committing the mistakes and incredulity.

          • Reeroy

            No Ferdy, the priest are.

          • Guest

            The institution of the Catholic Church is not the Spouse of Christ. The Church of those who accept Christ as their Saviour is the Spouse of Christ. While the two groups overlap, they are not one and the same. I do not respect the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, nor the self-serving institution they have set up, and I am immediately distrustful of anyone who gives that institution their blind trust and respect.

          • Pete

            I can think of all sorts of reasons to listen to the Church starting with the Gospels. Jesus said that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. However, that doesn’t mean the gates of hell wouldn’t try. Jesus fills his church with the weak and vulnerable (sinners). He said that he would do that too. He also commanded in Mat 18:17 that we should listen to the church because where two or more of you (in the Church) are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of you. He is in his Church backing the teaching of the Church (again, he says so himself). He also personally chose Judas whom he knew would betray him. There were Judases in the past there are Judases today. So what? All that proves is that the Judases can’t destroy it either. I’m Catholic not on faith but, on evidence. Look at the history of this Church there’s no way it should have made it out of year one. It’s had enemy’s on the inside and out. Most of these things would have destroyed most governments. Yet, here it still is.

          • Wjmoe85

            Adding “Period” does not prove your hateful, condescending remark any better. There have been great evils committed in all denominations, but they are not as publicized as the ones committed by the Catholic Church. This is because it is the single largest religious institution in the world. Your statement is full of judgement and condemnation. Why not leave that up to God? He is the one who knows and sees all, and He alone will be our judge.

          • Guest

            I do leave the judgment up to God. If you read hate and judgmentalism, that’s on you. I’m merely pointing out the obvious issues regarding credibility, which is what this particular dialogue involved.

            That other denominations have also failed, or that the Catholic Church is larger than other denominations, has no bearing on the facts.

            The facts are that the Church itself has failed miserably in many ways and many times when it comes to respect for the human person. Given that, if people no longer consider the Church a credible resource for matters of morality, then the Church has no one to blame but itself for people’s disregard for their teachings.

            I think you’re forgetting a) the tone and title of the original article and b) the subject matter of this particular thread among the comboxes.

            Please try to follow the course of the discussion rather than jump in looking for an opportunity to attack people. Personal attacks only hurt your argument in the long run. ;-)

          • Wjmoe85

            “They’re just a bunch of arrogant, power-hungry, immoral, Godless men. That’s it. That’s all they ever were and all they will ever be. Period. ”

            How can this be interpreted as anything else than judgement?? You have used the past actions of others to judge all of the Church leaders for all time. No one is trying to deny that these men committed sins before God, but that is for Him to judge.

            I do understand the tone of the article. You are saying that the Church has lost credibility with you because of its leaders past actions. You are entitled to that opinion. But, just because there is greed and corruption by some, should an entire faith be thrown out the door? These Church leaders were men, only human. Sins and mistakes were inevitable. If it were a purely human institution, then it would have died out during the multitude of persecutions and scandals we have endured over the centuries. Only by the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit could it still exist today. The Church has produced some of the holiest men and women known to the world. To overlook all that these people have done for Christ would be tragic.

            Christ’s approach, as was stated earlier in this thread, was to be among sinners. He raised us up from the abyss and made us whole again. He used sinful men to spread and record His holy gospels. What the pope wrote was God’s message being transmitted through a sinful man; just as we are all sinners. That is how it has been since the beginning.

            God Bless all who know, love and serve Him.

          • Wjmoe85

            I also wanted to add an apology if my comments came off as a personal attack. I felt as if your earlier post was an attack on my Catholic faith. That still does not justify responding in an unchristian like manner. I would never want to damage the credibility of the Church by behaving that way.

            God Bless

          • Pete

            Only for those who dwell on the negative. If you really looked you will see the Church is filled with Saints too.

        • Marc

          the hierarchy have done more work to destroy child-abuse than that of any other institution, which is why a Catholic church is one of the safest places in the world for children now. You’re just using a scandal to avoid confronting the problem. Do you do the same when discussing public schools? Cause they have worse track records than the Catholic church…

        • Pete

          You have to take into account the times in which these things happened. It was the LIBERAL Physiologists who were screaming that these people can be helped with a little therapy. Unfortunately, the bishops of the church believed that.

  • Howmanyboats

    Censorship!

    • Marc

      haha, what?

  • BoobooLoveKitten

    Women are poorly treated throughout the Bible and in Church teaching. So now all of a sudden the Church is on the side of women? When will women be able to become priests? I guess the answer is never!

    • justme

      women not being able to become priests doesn’t mean they are treated badly. It just means there are different roles that are proper to men and different roles that are proper to women. The priest stands in the person of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ was a man.

    • Marc

      Women not being allowed to become priests is no more a piece of evidence that the Catholic-church is anti-woman than is Science’s claim that women can’t have testicles.

    • James Van Damme

      Where they wrote the bible, women are STILL treated badly. But the guy who started our religion was a feminist. Read the book & see.

      • LadyV

        I do not understand the mentality that suggests that unless men and women do EVERYTHING exactly the same, then someone somewhere is being abused and badly treated. What ever happened to taking pride in individuality? Why bother having two genders if we all have to be the same all the time? Women don’t need to be priests just to prove they are as great as men. There are specific and very good reasons why only men are priests, just as there are specific and very good reasons why only women take on a magnificent role in creation by bearing children. (I know, I know…most people think it is demeaning to say that women should actually take pride in bearing children and how dare anyone expect women to be pregnant, but I happen to think it is amazing).

    • Pete

      Hey Boo-boo, while your at it, don’t forget to blame us for making to much out of Mary too. After all, we have no respect for women.

  • Andrew Pocta

    Marc, check out some of the work we’re doing here in the Archdiocese of NY – and this website that the NYC Parent’s choice website – it’s got some of the actual homework assignments that are planned in the new mandatory Sex-Ed program here in Manhattan….
    http://www.nycparentschoice.org/

  • Guest

    I did give it a read. The problem I have is simple; I find it hard to listen to pious bleating from a “church” that gives itself a capitol “C” and declares itself and it’s own decrees “sacred” , a religious organization that has the brashness to say” In the measure in which they participate in the office of the apostles, God gives priests a special grace to be ministers of Christ among the people. They perform the sacred duty of preaching the Gospel, so that the offering of the people can be made acceptable and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” The first sentence of that quote is accurate, but I have to say it totally bemuses and even offends me that any man by any measure thinks that he is necessary to intercede for me in order for what I do to be made acceptable and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. The enormous ego and pure deception offered is borderline blasphemous in my humble opinion. btw..that quote came directly from the Vatican II declaration. The problem is compounded by the way the “human” element of the “Church” has broken the law and hidden so many horrifically repeated demonic activities by these “Priests”. I know not “all” are bad, nor do I imply that. I just say: God can even use the Catholic Church for His purpose, God can even use me. Amen

    • Guest

      Awesome reply! Perfect!

    • Marc

      It totally bemuses you that ministers are given a special grace to offer up acceptable offerings of the people? Like all the Jewish priests? Like Jesus Christ? Like the apostles?
      To them Christ says: “‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’”
      Clearly “men” are given the power to forgive sins. Clearly men are given the power to mediate between God and man, by participating in the one priesthood of Christ. It follows that men are being used to make our offerings of self acceptable.
      It’s not enormous ego, it’s scripture.

    • Fellow Catholic

      I find it ironic that you say that it takes an enormous ego to claim to intercede for others before God, when you are claiming the same position for yourself. The problem is that we have created God in our own image, content to think of him as a divine golfing buddy who makes no demands of us and holds us to no other standard than that we follow our weak, self-excusing, ill-formed consciences. For my part I take great comfort in knowing that I have help in my corner. The priesthood, in its sacrificial nature, when truly lived out, is a powerful gift. Seen through the Old and New Testament God has continually put into place a means by which we are instructed, and ministered to and are sanctified. To say that the same happening now is blasphemous…not quite.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=733270301 Abby Benz

    are you kidding me? you’re kidding right? i’m offended that this opinion even exists

  • http://twitter.com/KarenJo12 Karen Cox

    Every article supporting Humanae Vitae always asserts that women were respected in the past and aren’t now. Evidence supporting this assertion is never offered. Women today are the majority in higher education and are the majority in the workforce. We hold positions of power and influence undreamed-if in 1968. So, precisely what do you mean by the fact that women aren’t respected now and were when it was perfectly legal to deny us jobs and credit and the police treated wife-beaters to a walk around the block and rape victims had to prove they “overcame earnest resistance?”

    • PNatey

      If you read any of the overwhelming articles relating to the decline of men and rise of women you will see this reality coming into play. The Atlantic’s “The End of Men” and “All the Single Ladies” demonstrate study after study that the more opportunity women engage in, the less men work.
      The more sexual outlets men have, the less likely they are to marry int eh first place, or stay married or faithful within marriage… and then all these comparably well educated women (historically in the black community and increasingly in the white –See: Is Marriage for White People?, Ralph Richard Banks) end up settling for slackers who even tho they are being carried by these amazing women, still cheat. Again these are large brush strokes so please no, not in my experience arguments. You asked for evidence and there is plenty.
      I’m not trying to say it was all roses before. In the past when men worked and women stayed at home there were still lots of men who were dogs, abusing and misusing women. Some men felt entitled to contribute nothing at home and only take, and women without opportunity were often trapped in these dysfunctional and outright horrific relationships. ( The current situation is likely better for women, but harder on the kids?)
      My point is in most things we see the goodness of humanity (God’s Image in us guarantees this) and we see the evil of humanity (Our sin nature and fallen state guarantees this). What we need to do is trust that God knows what is best for us and follow his perfect will rather than our own limited and corrupted perspective.

      • http://twitter.com/KarenJo12 Karen Cox

        I’ve been an “Atlantic” subscriber since the middle ’80′s, and read both the articles you referenced. The evidence in both of them is really, really thin and anecdotal. The one stat that is verified is that that girls outnumber boys in college and soon in all branches of graduate school. Also, more boys than ever before are, in fact, going to higher education because the dumbass jobs for a person with only a high school diploma are, justly, vanishing. I feel zero sympathy for slacker males, whose problems are all caused by their own laziness. If they lose to more-able women, the world wins. Sometimes the kindest thing to do to a lazy person is kick is ass until it hurts too much to keep sitting on it.

        That said, I will concede that many divorces today are the result of the participants’ own sloth and greed, and that’s for both sexes. I doubt seriously if legal reforms will change this very much, but it is an issue to be considered.

    • Erika E.

      I would point out the incredibly craven, depraved and misogynistic attitudes toward women some young men feel completely comfortable expressing online. Respect is the last word that comes to mind. I am a regular reader of the site Reddit, which is dominated by males 18-30ish, and it positively seeps with constant references to pornography (and many actually pornographic photos), masturbation, and casual sex. I cringe to think how these boys’ grandfathers would regard the way they talk about and treat women.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MFI2DBY4KKKEWREWWMF5Z73RGI Mary

    I love this article. Look at what is happening to marriage and the world’s view of children. Contraception is taking an anti-life stance, and it is harmful to the marriage covenant. It’s also banned in the Bible.

  • Reeroy

    Nothing objectifies a woman more than turning her into a womb on two legs. It isn’t objectification of women that bothers you. It’s female autonomy.

  • mary york

    I am confused that nobody here is talking about population boom issues. Granted, there are many places on this planet that can certainly sustain more humans, but there are other places where a TFR of 6 or 7 is totally unsustainable. Yes, the Pill has the terrible consequences of rendering females as readily available to the male libido, but how about contraception within a committed marriage? I just don’t understand how that can be an evil thing. This world is not infinite. I am seriously interested in how people who view contraception within a marriage as immoral view the future of the world where most families have more than four children.

    • Guest

      “The Pill” does not render women readily available to the male libido.

      In that scenario, we are nothing but mindless beasts.

      Women are actually autonomous creatures with minds and hearts of their own, not just walking recepticles for penises.

      I agree that birth control, used respectfully and for right purpose, is moral, and that the Church has failed to offer a logically consistent argument for claiming their sanctioned method of BC is more moral than most other methods, but I don’t agree that the pill, in and of itself, has rendered women anything more or less than they choose to be themselves. The pill is just a tool, a method of BC, just like condoms, just like NFP. It can be used properly or improperly, but that’s the user, not the tool.

    • Susan Granade

      I so much agree with you, Mary. I’ve watched the Catholic channel, EWTN, a good bit and their contention is that there is no population crisis. I believe there is. Most of us believe there is. Even if good Catholics don’t believe the planet is over-populated now, at some point, if we don’t slow down, everyone will have to face up to that fact. Then what?

  • Guest1

    First, the connection Marc makes between happiness and the availability of contraception is groundless. There is no evidence of it, rather than anecdotal, and since I’m assuming Marc is living within a human lifetime, there is no way he lived back before contraceptive use (especially since prophylactics were used back before the time of Christ, in ancient Egypt). Furthermore, the connection is correlational, NOT causal. Analytically speaking, Marc has no facts to stand on, other than:
    -The fact that the Catholic Church prophesied that contraceptive use would make the world miserable,
    -Marc believes that the world is now miserable,
    -and therefore drew the erroneous conclusion that contraceptive use is to blame.

    The invalid second premise (“The world is miserable”) invalidates the conclusion. If there were some sort of factual proof (i.e., a study or article in a peer-reviewed journal, not an unsubstantiated opinion subject to confirmation bias) that use of contraception had a causal relationship with misery, there might be some force to this article. As it is, the whole thing is unconvincing. That having been said, it’s also wrong.
    ________________________________________________________________

    The analogy can be interpreted another way. If the boy did not eat at all, he would die. Plainly, eating (or, in terms of sexuality, sexual intercourse) is necessary and part of the human experience– the Church agrees on this point. Furthermore, if the boy went to a doctor to help him become healthier, he would probably be told to diet and exercise. What kind of diet and exercise? Some likely possibilities are a low-carb diet, a “Mediterranean” style diet, or a whole foods diet. Likewise, some experts recommend short, intense cardio work, some long-duration, medium-intensity cardio like jogging, some recommend a mix of cardio, strength, and stretching. There are a variety of opinions.

    What the Church teaches is that intercourse is to be for the sake of creation and unity between the spouses, and that contraceptives make the former impossible. That is a healthy way to live. I’m not saying that it isn’t.

    What I do say is that it isn’t the only healthy way to live. Saying that the Church’s teachings on sex are the only valid teachings is like saying that the only way to lose weight is to go on the South Beach diet and jog six miles daily.

    The Church’s way isn’t the only way, as expressed by the maxim, God binds himself to the sacraments but isn’t bound by them. God works in the Church, but he also works outside of the Church. The unwillingness of Catholics to accept that God can act through non-Catholic ways in other people is one of the great flaws of the people of the Catholic Church.

    The Church’s teachings of chastity are one healthy way to live, but are not the only way; and contraception, when used in a sober and conscientious way, can be part of a spiritually healthy sexuality.

    Notes:
    -The maxim “God binds himself to the sacraments but isn’t bound by them” was told to me by a Catholic priest during a discussion of whether non-Catholics can be admitted to heaven.
    -The study Marc cites simply says that women are less happy than they were before, and the authors admit that there are many possible causes for this finding– contraception is in no way linked, and, in fact, is listed as one of many changes for women in recent years, among such things as reaching a higher glass ceiling, being paid nearly as much as men instead of grossly less than men, being able to have a full time job as a CEO and another as a homemaker, and being able to become more educated than ever before and have the sharp variance between the rhetoric of “gender equality” and all the inequalities I’ve listed thrown in their face. Furthermore, the study doesn’t rule out changes in reporting behaviors, that women may simply report being less happy than women of previous generations did, even though the actual happiness may be the same. In essence, its inapplicable to Marc’s point.

    • Guest

      A very good observation! I do not believe women on contraception are all that “unhappy.” I think they’d be miserable indeed if they could not space their pregnancies or prevent them altogether. Regardless of what many–not just Catholics–believe, not all women want to be mothers or should be. That someone is biologically capable of reproduction does not mean she should bring new life into the world.

      At the same time, such a person should not be denied the love and support of a partner, with the intimacy that implies. The act of love has more than one purpose.
      The bonding of two individuals is undeniably one of them. I don’t know why the Church is so worried about persons who do not want or have children. The burgeoning global population shows us that human reproduction is not about to slow down any time soon. And not wanting children is not exactly a disease that is catching. Most teen girls still see babies in their dreams, and more young women eventually have children than don’t.

      I am not a Catholic, but I have watched an awful lot of Catholic television. I have arrived at the conclusion that the good Catholic couple has been painted into a corner. During the many programs I’ve watched on contraception, it was always made clear that there is an alternative to artificial birth control when a husband and wife feel they need to delay pregnancy, and that is natural family planning. I always waited, however, for some comment about how long this might be permitted. After all, “delay” or “postpone” were the terms used.

      The answer was a long time coming, probably since Catholic television, pitched to attract non-Catholics, probably wants to sound more persuasive than authoritarian. Finally, however, I heard it! A no-nonsense sort of priest came out with the bottom line, declaring it a sin to use natural family planning when the couple know in their hearts there is no justifiable reason to keep doing so. And, I’d watched enough EWTN to know that by the lights of the Church, simply not wanting yet another baby is not a good enough reason.

      So–I am surprised the Catholic Church has not made it clearer to good couples that FAILING to act upon desire during the woman’s fertility window is a definite sin. That’s what it amounts to.

      I will say again that many women would–and do–curl up and die inside when child bearing and child care become relentless. They may love their children, but they still do not thrive in the business of motherhood and/or when confronted with the prospect of unlimited motherhood. If I may be allowed an opinion about morality, I believe imposing such a life upon any woman is immoral.

  • TM

    I think the author in this article has not taken any sort of statistics… Correlation does not imply causation. Just because there are these two patterns, it does not mean that they are related. I mean, I can string two patterns together and claim they are related, no matter how ridiculous they are.

    For example, I can note that the number of sea pirates today has dramatically decreased and the average temperature of the world has gone up, but this does not necessarily mean that not having pirates is causing global warming.

    While this might be an extreme example, you are nonetheless taking the state of marriage and blindly attributing it to the use of contraception without considering any other factors that might have led to such a state.

  • Lindsay Young

    I have been listening to the whole talk by Janet Smith this morning and am finding it to be simply incredible. My husband of 3.5 years and I practice NFP … I kind of naturally gravitated towards that after we got married. Anyways, thank you so much for the recommendation, this has given me so much to think about.

  • Djw05001

    “…it is estimated that 30 to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will engage in infidelity” Can you narrow that number in just a little? lolol Why dont you say 1 to 99% lol

  • Pierre

    I somehow missread the line;
    “…no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surrender with care and affection.” On a level, I think that is an additional truth acheivable in a beautiful marriage that didn’t have chance to, um – bear fruit.

    • Pierre

      “[to] whom he should surrender”. sorry.

  • T.A.H. de Ruyter M.B.Ch.B.

    Would it not be helpful for persuading Catholic dissenters if very frequently internet pages of this type would Quote the number in DENZINGER under which the branding of mechanical contraception is condemned as intrincisally evil. It is the official ‘cataloque’ in which all the teachings of the Mystical Body of Christ are marked down, each with its own reference number.


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