To all of my friends who are not Jesus people, this post is not for you. You’ve got your own issues when it comes to talking about sex and contraception. Maybe we can get coffee and talk about it someday.
To my fellow Jesus peeps, however, we need to take a time-out and think about how we really want to talk about contraception. Things have gotten weird recently. And ugly. And it’s not okay. I had decided not write about this, but I can’t stop thinking about it. So here goes…
I’m not a big fan of WWJD manipulations, but I wonder if this case calls for it. And I’m not asking what Jesus would think about contraception. Or what he would think about the new HHS regulations. Instead, I wonder how he would talk about those who use them, and about those who propose laws about them, laws that we feel strongly about.
Here are three things we should all agree not to do as followers of Jesus:
1. Calling women ‘sluts.’ Or anything similar. I wasn’t that surprised to hear Rush talk like this about women. Sad, but not that surprised. I was, though, very surprised, and even sadder, to see a fellow blogger with Patheos talk like this. We can be mad, concerned, outraged, afraid, and sorrowful about the state of sexual mores in our country. We cannot, however, throw stones at women. We might at some point say, “Go and sin no more.” We may not call women vulgar names.
2. Calling sex a lifestyle choice, and using that as the reason we shouldn’t pay for contraception the way we pay for other drugs. People don’t want to pay to fund my lifestyle choice. That’s fine. But watch where we will end up if we follow that logic all the way through: If people chose to have ten kids, I may not want to pay for their pre-natal care and deliveries. If people chose to have HoHos and Coke for breakfast, I may not want to pay for their insulin. We pay for all kinds of lifestyle choices with our insurance premiums. That’s a fact. What you really mean is that you don’t want to pay for my particular lifestyle choice because you think my lifestyle is sinful. That’s fine, but then just say that. You’re fine having us all pay for your lifestyle choices, so don’t say that you don’t want to pay for a lifestyle choice. That just makes you sound silly.
3. Using this controversy as an election-year rallying cry. I sense that many of my right-leaning friends are actually kind of excited that this happened during an election year. It’s a great energizer for the base. But it’s wrong to be secretly happy about things that you think are wrong. I noticed this sinful attitude in myself when I would hear bad news about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would think to myself, “Well, good. Maybe this will help get rid of George Bush.” What?! It was disgusting, and I had to repent. Events should not be evaluated based on whether or not they help to get “our side” elected.
So what can you say if you find the law troubling. Try saying that you are angry when your faith and the way you live out your faith are misunderstood and maligned. Say that you think the new law is unconstitutional. Say that you really do want to find a way to respect religious liberty more than you want to use this as an election-year funding tool. Tell us that you are very concerned for the multitudes of women who work for Catholic organizations and can’t get contraception paid for when it’s possible for the single men who work for those organizations to get their Viagra paid for. Say those things, and many of us will listen to you.
That is if you are really interested in dialogue, in being understood, and in swaying opinion. Which I’m not always sure that you are.