Business Insider: Church is Right on Contraception

(Photo by Sergio Dionisio/Getty)

Well, slap my face and call me Sally, what a surprise to read this in a secular paper, where Michael Brendan Dougherty and Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry write:

Painting the Catholic Church as “out of touch” is like shooting fish in a barrel, what with the funny hats and gilded churches. And nothing makes it easier than the Church’s stance against contraception.
[. . .]
Here’s the thing, though: the Catholic Church is the world’s biggest and oldest organization. It has buried all of the greatest empires known to man, from the Romans to the Soviets. It has establishments literally all over the world, touching every area of human endeavor. It’s given us some of the world’s greatest thinkers, from Saint Augustine on down to René Girard. When it does things, it usually has a good reason. Everyone has a right to disagree, but it’s not that they’re a bunch of crazy old white dudes who are stuck in the Middle Ages.

So, what’s going on?

The Church teaches that love, marriage, sex, and procreation are all things that belong together. That’s it. But it’s pretty important. And though the Church has been teaching this for 2,000 years, it’s probably never been as salient as today.

Today’s injunctions against birth control were re-affirmed in a 1965 document by Pope Paul VI called Humane Vitae. He warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:

– General lowering of moral standards
– A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
– The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men.
– Government coercion in reproductive matters.

Does that sound familiar?

Because it sure sounds like what’s been happening for the past 40 years.

Read the whole thing

Also surprising, as Frank Weathers points out, Rand Paul is quoting an encyclical!:

In his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II delivered a scathing critique of socialism, declaring that “the fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated. . . . Socialism likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice, to the unique and exclusive responsibility which he exercises in the face of good or evil.”

Pope John Paul II’s indictment of socialism is illustrated in the Obama administration’s recent edict requiring nearly all employers — including Catholic hospitals, schools, and charities — to cover sterilizations and contraception in their employees’ health-care plans.

Kathryn Jean Lopez gives us a helpful primer: Mandate 101

Meanwhile, speaking of K-Lo (who is currently at-large) you might enjoy hearing a couple of Catholic chicks sittin’ around talking HHS Mandate

Ironic Catholic sets up an alternative scenario to this current saga

And then there is this: Eric Metaxas, award-winning author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, on what he sees happening to America, and how it resembles what once happened in Germany:

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More:
Michael Sean Winters: Compromise? Not so fast!
Thomas Peters: A helpful piece on Obama’s choices and the consequences
Gerard Webster: “First, they came for…”

Catholic Libertarian: On Catholic Founding Fathers
WSJ: A Mandate Full of Red Herrings
Mark Shea: finding commonality with Glenn Greenwald. Hot Air has more

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Jodi

    If you like that Eric Metaxas clip, you should see his keynote address from the National Prayer Breakfast last week. I mean that sincerely, you should watch it. He speaks with President Obama, VP Biden, and Nancy Pelosi at the dais. His speech comes before the President’s, and is uncanny in the way it preemptively rebuts much of what the president says.

    I don’t have any easy link to it, but here is the whole breakfast, Eric starts at about 35 minutes into it and his speech is amazing. His courage is amazing, and God’s providence is amazing.
    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/NationalPrayerBreak

  • dry valleys

    Greenwald is right on the fact that oppositions like civil liberties a lot more than governments do, so President Obama is more authoritarian than Candidate Obama. Well, that’s why there are independent civil liberties organisations that in my view we should get behind, and to my mind that includes the hated ACLU and other groups that conservatives have a problem with. It’s possible to vote for Obama without endorsing everything he does, and whilst campaigning against some of his policies, all you have to do is think Santorum, Paul, Gingrich and Romney are worse.

    As for contraception, unsurprisingly I disagree with the Church’s stance. I read the biography of Charles Bradlaugh, the first open atheist to be elected to the British Parliament (there had been unbelievers for decades, they just pretended to be faithful, as I think some Congressmen in America do today).

    Defending contraception, he had this to say about the agricultural labourers of his day:

    “Sometimes mere sexual gratification is the only pleasure of their lives. They cannot read Virgil; they cannot read Dante. They cannot listen to Beethoven; they cannot listen to Handel. They have no time to occasionally run across the Alps. They are limited to their narrow parishbound, and their bound is only the work, the home, the beerhouse and the grave…

    I know the poor. I belong to them. I was born amongst them. Such little ability as I posess today has come to me in the hard struggle of life. I have had no University to polish my tongue; no Alma Mater to give me an eloquence by which to move you. I plead simply for the class to which I belong, and for the right to tell them what may redeem their poverty and alleviate their misery”.

    You can carry those words through space and time and imagine some youth in Nigeria, who has hauled himself out of poverty but sees his siblings continue to suffer, saying a similar thing. (And in fact, the size of families are dropping throughout the world).

    Every culture which has become more prosperous has seen a reduction in family size. I think a woman should have control over her own sexuality, from saying no to an unwanted suitor to taking the pill. Because the sexual act, if it’s undertaken between consenting adults, is good fun, isn’t it? I wouldn’t want to deny people the only pleasure many of them have.

    I don’t judge anyone who chooses to be celibate, and I know some sneer at such peoplee, but I’m not myself celibate (nor are the majority) and I wouldn’t want to get a girl into trouble. And I happen to know many people who suffer (suffer is the right word) from mental and physical ill health, inherited conditions that they wouldn’t want to inflict on another people. Rather than make someone else go through that or have a life of involuntary celibacy, they use contraception.

    Obviously I am more socially liberal than most commentors here. But I do think that even conservatives will wish to consider the above.

  • TScott

    Obama-care is an example of socialized medicine It can’t help being what it is- eventually decisions must be authoritarianly reached within its framework. Individual conscience is what socialism believes degenerates a society, because of the competition it creates( from Wikipedia, “Socialism”, Etymology).

  • TScott

    “dry valley” and his reference to Charles Bradlaugh must be a parody. If it is the serious mind of a self identified social liberal- God bless him.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Valleys, I’m sorry—that’s nonsense. I’m sorry, but it is.

    I come from the poor too, and my father was a very well-read man, who loved books, and took us to the library, and good movies and on many (always cheap) outings, where we experienced many different things; and he talked to us, and collected good music for us, and explained history to us and he was an entire one-man college course for us. And he was poor, and worked hard all his life.

    And, hey, we read Dante, and Virgil, and Homer! We had access to all sort of pleasures, not just sexual ones—in fact, that entire argument is just hogwash! “The poor have lots of children, because they can’t go traipsing across the Alps, and haven’t gone to university! Oh, the humanity!” /Sarc. Siorry, I think Mr. Bradlaugh was a twit.

    The most hedonistic, pleasure obsessed group I ever knew where the extremely rich yacht clubbers of Orange County—who all had plenty of money for books, concerts and museum trips, if they’d been interested (they weren’t.) And they’d been to posh universities, to “polish their tongue” (didn’t work, in their case.) Their poverty was spiritual, not material.

    My own poor family, and many of the other poor families around us, were also strongly Catholic—many of them quite devout. They would not have thanked any liberal/socialist community activist, who came along, and tried to “liberate” them from their supposedly oppressive faith—or from their children, whom they considered blessings.

    Also, valleys, it doesn’t speak well of your nationalized health system that so many people in it are suffering such bad health that they can’t even think about having children; wouldn’t it be better, and more compassionate, to find cures for what ails them, rather than simply tossing them some prophylactics?

    Considering Obama’s dismal record to date, why are we supposed to think Gingrich, Santorum, etc. are all worse than he is? Really, we don’t all consider Republicans/conservatives the ultimate evil, honestly! You’ve really just got to accept the fact that the rest of the world doesn’t always view things through the lens of the British class system/British socialism. No, a lot of us don’t agree with everything Obama does; and we realize that voting for him will simply give us more of the same. Speaking of the working class, by the way, he’s shown himself completely uninterested in the average American worker, if not actively hostile, dismissing all who aren’t his supporters as bitter clingers to their guns and religion; as a supposed champion of the working class, shouldn’t this bother you?

    As for the ACLU, it’d be nice if it steps up to the plate—but I’m not holding my breath. It’s not too fond of Christians. (Now, if this were a question of Moslems being discriminated against. . . )

    Women are not being denied contraceptives in America. They have access to them, and they are relatively cheap, so paying for them is no hardship. The question here is one of religious freedom, and forcing employers to pay for services they disapprove of.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    And speaking of poor youths in Nigeria, a lot of them have been suffering at the hands of Islam, from what I hear—not the pope, family size, lack of birth control, or even Rick Santorum!

    TScott, God bless him indeed! (I’m afraid it’s not a parody.)

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd

    “Because it sure sounds like what’s been happening for the past 40 years.”

    Co-incidence does not prove causality. I could easily suggest television or Vietnam as alternative co-incidences. And I could get silly and say it all went to pot after the GOP nominated Barry Goldwater. Or even the Beatles.

    Do conservatives have any alternative to legislation? Good example? Joy instead of simmering resentment?

  • Gerry

    Like clockwork …. Didn’t your side predict just the opposite, Todd? Got that egg off your face yet?

  • Jan

    “Sometimes mere sexual gratification is the only pleasure of their lives. They cannot read Virgil; they cannot read Dante. They cannot listen to Beethoven; they cannot listen to Handel. They have no time to occasionally run across the Alps. They are limited to their narrow parishbound, and their bound is only the work, the home, the beerhouse and the grave…

    So basically, they are reduced to rutting dogs? Your idol left no room for human dignity?

  • Brian English

    “Co-incidence does not prove causality.”

    It doesn’t disprove it either. I tend to think that sexual consequences are more likely caused by developments in sexual behavior.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Jan, that particular view of poor people—that “mere sexual gratification is the only pleasure of their lives” has always infuriated me. It reduces poor people to the level of drooling idiots, unable to think for themselves, or practice self-restraint, who need their wise “superiors” (who have all gone to the right colleges, of course) to lovingly control them abd force them into government programs, and. . . feh!

    As I said earlier, the most hedonistic, self-indulgent and, frankly, stupid group I ever met were the rich kids of the OC, whose lives revolved around drinking, drugging and sex. Any poor Catholic kid from the Santa Ana barrio was their superior as far as brains and morals went.

  • dry valleys

    Charles Bradlaugh lived in the 19th century, when poverty meant something a lot worse than any westerner can imagine now. (Might have been worth looking on Wikipedia to verify that, as you’d totally misunderstand my argument without doing so, as you appear to have done). There was no health service in his day, and a lot of parents were incapable of reading anything, or of buying books even if they could. (Bradlaugh copied out one of Emerson’s essays by hand because he couldn’t afford it, and this was after he’d taken a job which wasn’t one of the worst).

    And I refer to Nigeria as one example (where, btw, I totally agree with your opposition to Islamism) among many.

    What I am talking about in the case of disability is specifically mental illness, of the kind that can lead to ostracism from society in any country, and I guarantee that America is no exception. Having struggled through childhood and adult life, they simply don’t want anyone else to go through that, and doubt their own parenting activities. Also some people just want to have sex, rather than live a sexless life, but choose not to have children.

    The option to use contraception should be freely available, and the church should be free to explain its views on the issue. Anyone who decides to follow Vatican teaching is quite welcome to do so, but all the signs are that many women welcome the chance to reduce their fertility given the choice.

    Do the 1% live shallow and petty lives? I’m sure they do, not that I’d know, obviously. It isn’t really an argument against what I said! As I say, what was true of our great-great grandparents is true of the world’s poorest people, many of whom are illiterate, today.

  • dry valleys

    Jan, I haven’t got an idol. The sort of grinding poverty that existed in our past (before living memory) and is still around in parts of the world does crush human dignity, which is why it’s a profoundly good thing that it’s being beaten back, as the world’s poor come to resemble westerners economically and socially.

  • Gerry

    Todd is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

    Tell me, if you were reading the newspaper – printed last night – one morning during the rain, and saw that the weather report predicted rain – would you think “Correlation does not mean cause and effect”>

  • dry valleys

    http://www.economist.com/node/21541834

    “By some estimates, a quarter of married women want contraceptives but cannot get them.

  • alcogito

    dryvalleys, that is a dishonest reference. That article is about AFRICA.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Valleys, I seriously doubt these women were living in either America, or Europe. Contraceptives here in the states, and, as I understand, in Europe, are relatively cheap, and easily available. In the third world, especially those parts ruled by a certain peaceful religion that it’s politically incorrect to criticize, it’s not the pope’s, or the Catholic Church’s, or Christianity in general’s fault if women can’t get contraceptives. (Such countries are not influenced by the latter.)

    It’s not only the 1% who live shallow, and hedonistic lives. At least back in the day, the spoiled OC rich kids paid for their lifestyle with Daddy’s trust fund; they didn’t expect the rest of us to foot the bill, and they didn’t expect widespread approval (outside their own circles) for a lifestyle of “I want lots of sex, but I don’t want to have kids, or get married.”

    (fBy the way, I got a kick out of your comment about how, while you don’t approve of celibacy, you don’t sneer at it, as many of your companions do. Um, nice crowd you hang out with there. Could it possibly be this sort of attitude that explains Brtiain’s high rate of illegitimany, declining marriages and rise in crime, despite the presence of birth control?)

    Anyway, the issue here isn’t really one of birth control, or third-world poverty; if you don’t agree with the Pope’s stance on birth control, well—you don’t have to be Catholic. The issue is violation of First Amendment rights, here in America, and freedom of religion.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Africa has a lot of problems: war, totalitarian governments, tribalism, lack of capital and business and incursions by that aforementioned polically correct religion. Neither the pope, the Catholic Church nor Christianity in general are responsible for these, nor is birth control per se the solution.

    And Africa’s problems are a separate issue from that of religious freedom in the United States, and Obama’s determination to wage war against it.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Gerry, Todd likes stinkbombs.

    He enjoys argumentation for its sake. If it were raining, he’d still be arguing re correlation, because that’s what he does.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    As for the issue of mental illness, that seems to me a separate issue from birth control in general—-let’s face it, most people practice birth control because they want sex but not kids; and, there, too, I believe actual treatement, and getting to the real roots of what causes mental illness would be better than simply passing out birth control.

  • esc

    thanks for the link to metaxas’ prayer breakfast speech…just watched it and it was amazing! if anyone has a moment i’d recommend it.

  • dry valleys

    Yes, I speak of Africa because the first article linked to in this post is arguing that the Vatican is right on contraception, and I disagree with it, and Africa is the frontline of this struggle between worldviews. That article I posted to says that African women can’t access the contraception they want, and surely the church’s influence has a hand in this. (Muslim countries in North Africa actually have generally smaller families than those in sub-Saharan Africa, as that link of mine indicates).

    They would be able to devote more to each child if they had fewer children, and it’s their decision if they want more, but that’s not a decision that many women make if they have all the options available to them.

    I am, in fact, not talking about HHS at all, I’m not familiar with it. (I tend to follow America only inasmuch as it affects the rest of the world… which is a great deal, but this is solely a domestic policy). I am here solely to discuss my objections to Michael Brendan Dougherty and Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry!

  • dry valleys

    Many physical and mental illnesses are hereditary. I am fully behind the decisions of (for example) Sarah Palin, David Camoron, and others to have and to care for disabled children. Yet those who are themselves disabled may simply think that they wouldn’t wish their suffering on others.

  • dismas

    Mainline Protestants are giving the Catholic bishops the middle finger:
    http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/health_and_wellness/mainstream_religious_leaders_v.html

    However, the Eastern Orthodox bishops have come out in support of the Catholic position, as have several prominent evangelical protestant leaders.

    The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop – an ex-Catholic with attitude – Katharine Jefferts Schori has said nothing … though her acolytes gushed as noted in the link above. In light of that here is a link to the statement by the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) made up of conservative Episcopalians sick of the revisionism rife in the Episcopal Church:

    Archbishop Robert Duncan released the following statement in support of the Catholic Church’s fight to maintain freedom of conscience in the midst of the U.S. federal government issuing a preventive care mandate in violation of its teaching.

    “The Anglican Church in North America stands by our Catholic brothers and sisters as followers of Christ in a nation whose Constitution guarantees ‘the free exercise’ of religion. As Christians, our faith and doctrine are at the very heart of our service to others in our community. Therefore, it is extremely troubling to see our government mandate services contrary to Catholic Church teaching. I call on all members of the Anglican Church to stand by our Catholic brothers and sisters, and pray for our elected officials to have the courage to stand up for religious freedom and overturn this mandate,” said Archbishop Duncan.

    - another ashamed Episcopalian

  • dismas

    that should read: … (ACNA) made up of conservative ex-Episcopalians sick of the revisionsim rife in the Episcopal Church.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    1. The article disagreeing with birth control is a secular, business one, not a church periodical (did you actually read the link?)

    2. HHS, and the question of religious freedom in America, have been pretty hot topics on the Anchoress’s site recently; sorry, but right here, and now, America is one of the front line of religious freedom; maybe you should have been following this a bit about America a bit closer? If you want to disagree with someone like Michael Brendan in particular, it might be better to contact them directly, rather than ranting about them here.

    As Africa is not a Catholic country, nor are all Africans Catholic, I really don’t see how the pope can have had that much of a hand in their trials. Tribal attitudes towards women, having large families, polygamy and other cultural attitudes, pre-dating Christianity, are all strong influences, as is the need, in a largely agricultural society, for many hands to tend the crops. (An industrial revolution in Africa would, I think, go far towards solving a lot of problems.) Not all countries, or societies, share the western attitude that children are a burden; they’ll keep you from going to the pub, and you won’t be able to buy that new car you want, etc., etc., etc.

    Not to mention the problem of Islam, failed socialist states and inter-tribal warfare—as I said before, netiher the pope, the Catholic Church nor Christians in general are responsible for these.

    I can understand why someone would not want to pass on an inherited illness to a child.

    I just don’t believe that this is the motive behind most use of birth control.

  • doc

    The Metaxas transcript from the prayer breakfast was over at The Corner the other day. I’m sure it could be found with a search. And it was a wonderful speech.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    dismas, as an ex Episcopalian myself, I sympathize.
    I was glad to see the Orthodox bishops, and the Evanglicals, join us on this.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I’m Orthodox, but I still say “Us” on this issue.

  • Pingback: Speaking of Contraception . . . |

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd

    “Didn’t your side predict just the opposite, Todd? Got that egg off your face yet?”

    Nope. I ate it for breakfast instead. My wife and I have never practiced contraception (consider us the 2%), and in large part, I’m in agreement with the need for every sacramental marriage to be broadly open to generativity, if not in birth children, in the witness of giving life to others. Nice swing o’ the bat, but strike one. Sorry.

    “Tell me, if you were reading the newspaper …”

    Nice try on this one, too, but strike two. Prediction of natural consequences is not the same as cause and effect. The rain happens because of many complex factors, and sometimes meteorolgists get it wrong. If you pick any decade in the 20th century for sheer complexity and unpredictability, the 60′s would be it. But if you’re looking for sexual activity, the 60′s are hardly unique. In fact, the 1760′s were noted for widespread sexual activity outside of marriage. I recall seeing pre-Revolution studies that found that one in four New Englanders had been born out of wedlock. Clearly, people don’t need the pill or ready access to abortion to have sex. The best answer is likely a lot more complicated than easy access to contraception, which doesn’t exactly explain other sad signs of sexual dysfunction: pornography and the sexual abuse of children, to name two.

    I’m seeing a lot more of Luke 15:28-30 here than John 8:10-11. Which imitates Christ? Which inspires? Which scolds? And which, in the long run, is a more effective Gospel witness?

  • Mark

    dry valleys..”I am, in fact, not talking about HHS at all, I’m not familiar with it.”

    That is the error in all of this. The entire argument is in reality not about birth control folks with the HHS deal and in fact becomes a distraction.

    Yes, this article voiced reality of the Humanae Vitae predictions which were at the time attacked as totally unrealistic having in fact happened in every aspect of life once birth control became the norm. For those who care about the country and the impact that birth control has had on it (except for Todd who can’t seem to connect any dots even if there are only two on the page) this article is just one of many I expect we will see as history looks back on this time frame.

    As to dry valleys and the belief that birth control is the salvation of the world and that denying God His part in the creation of life leaving it to human sexuality drive alone, is a good thing is silly. When God is taken out of the mix of our lives as a person, family, or country, we end up with this type of misguided thought. What this entire thing exposes is the left desire to remove God from life and dry valleys love of the aethist seems to also demonstrate where the heart lies. The good news is that dry seems to have no vote in the US is a good thing.

    Wonderful collection of links again by the Anchoress who is doing wonderful work in educating those who care to learn.

  • Brian English

    “In fact, the 1760′s were noted for widespread sexual activity outside of marriage. I recall seeing pre-Revolution studies that found that one in four New Englanders had been born out of wedlock.”

    I think you are confusing born out of wedlock with conceived out of wedlock. Once a couple was engaged, sexual activity was not strictly prohibited, which is why you would find children being born only a few months after their parents were married. It was certainly not a promiscuous culture.

  • bill

    The issue is not contraception. The issue is the direct interference of the United States Government in the operations of a religiuos body. Ordering a church to spend money on what it abhors and rejects in its clearly stated teachings (I speak not of the sins of its members, for they do not change the matter of the teaching, and we are all sinners) is a clear violation of the first of all the rights protected by our constitution. It doesn’t matter if the order was for the Catholic Church to pay for employees’ contraception, or for Latter Day Saints to open Starbucks shops because non-Mormons can’t get enough caffeine. An imperfect analogy, I know.

    As for ‘the only pleasure they know’, today I had 3 which cost me naught before noon, and none involved anything more physical than walking into a church or seeing a landscape. When I was a child, we found free pleasures everywhere, and such bounty continues.

  • LisaB

    @Jodi, Thank you for the Eric Metaxas link. That was an awesome speech.

  • Gerry

    I could have guessed that Todd would be too proud or whatever to take this bit of advice:

    “Tis better to keep one’s mouth shut and appear a fool, than to open it an remove all doubt.

    Now that Todd has wiped away any uncertainty, let’s review:

    First, the only legislation (more like regulation piled on top of legislation) being forced on anyone is by the Obama regime. The Anchoress has covered that here, so no need to elucidate.

    Second, we all know what side he’s on. His pathetic attempts to act as a double agent simply don’t work here.

    Third, it’s good that he’s heard of the “Correlation does not mean cause and effect” statement, but is clueless as to its meaning. It simply does not apply to Humane Vitae (or the weather forecast in your local paper). Correlation can be seen only after the fact. Prediction, by definition, is before the fact.

    The only person who “got it wrong” here was Todd. Todd, how do we know that “man-made global warming” is hokum? No mystery – predictions based on the greenhouse gases model have failed to match actual climate measurements.

    Pope Paul VI got it right and was proven to be a prophet.

    The critics of Humane Vitae were proven wrong and …

    That’s enough PWNage for now. Come back in another thread, Todd, so we can do it again.

  • kevin

    Will the HHS mandate require the distribution of full body condoms? Like the ones Lesley Nielsen and Priscilla Presley wore in Naked Gun 2 1/2?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    As for waiting for the ACLU to come riding to the rescue. . . they’ve just announced that they don’t consider the HHS ruling a violation of civil rights.

  • doc

    Actually, the ACLU and the corporate media just clenched their fists and said, “ooohhh, if only the Republicans would try something like this, then you see some fireworks!”


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