Morality from an A-ganger, (and theres virginity in cathouses too).
Anyone who isn't Catholic might want to pass on reading this one. It references Church teaching quite a bit. Come to think of it, theres a certain brand of Catholic that might want to pass on it also. Being compared to Pontius Pilate can be taken as an insult.
Especially when it's deliberate.
I came across a column over on Catholic Culture concerning Pope Paul VI's encyclical regarding the use of artifical contraceptives. Heres the column, it's long but worth the read.
The author refers to the pornification of our culture and links it to the increased use of contraceptives. He also mentions a few other less than desirable developments we've seen over the years. For some it might seem a bit of a stretch but IMHO he doesn't take it far enough.
With the mindset of, "if it feels good, do it" that came hand in hand with the Pill (and later with abortion on demand) there was a devaluing of human dignity and ultimately of human life itself. Our world today is much different than that of the early 60's. Think about some of the new words that have entered our vocabulary. Words and phrases such as; drive by shooting, carjacking, going postal, friends with benefits, partial birth abortion, fight club, etc. Not too many of our new words or terms signify anything ennobling. As far as refining our natures theres been next to nothing to show these last few decades. I defy anyone to provide examples of such. They ain't there.
We didn't know where we were going back then and the Pope seemed hopelessly out of touch with reality. Face it folks, having a lifelong virgin preach about sex is difficult to fathom at best. The Church was already feeling the effects of Vatican II reforms and the corresponding weakening of the faith of the laity. The fact that Humane Vitae was disregarded shouldn't be such a surprise, the survival of the Church afterwards is the real shocker. Must be proof that Christ meant it when He said His Church would last till the end of time.
So, many of us just went our merry way. Instead of being a beacon of moral probity in this world for all the nonbelievers, we Catholics became faces in the crowd of pleasure seekers. Didn't work out too well, did it?
With the advantage of hindsight it's apparent our world is the poorer for it. Our children now have an STD rate of twenty-five percent, over a million abortions are performed a year, popular entertainment is now a sewer, our news is filled with reports of ever increasing violent acts, etc. I believe it all starts with the devaluing of the sanctity of sex. That sounds weird coming from a retired submarine A-ganger, we're not known for morals are we? But there it is.
So what's the solution? Damned if I know but some things seem VERY self evident.
In many ways this bell can't be unrung. Artificial means of birth control are here to stay. Yes, I know there is no wiggle room in Church teaching either. But recognition of fact isn't heresy.
Here's one example I know of. A woman had a history of difficult pregnancies, hell the last one almost killed her. She (raised to be a devout Catholic) and her doctor (also raised that way) determined to have her tubes tied to prevent any more.
At this point I can almost hear the shouts of outrage that she should have tried NFP. For any nonCatholics still with us, NFP stands for Natural Family Planning. It's a method in favor with many of the Church faithful, my understanding of it is that it's an updated version of the rhythm method. Anyway, the woman in question DID use NFP. She did it for every one of her three pregnancies and since she was an RN I would think her chances of using it properly were pretty good. Got the message? All three times she conceived she was trying NOT to because of the effect it would have on her health.
Don't talk to me about NFP, IMHO it's a joke and this woman's story is proof positive.
Don't tell me she should have trusted in God and continued taking a chance of getting pregnant either. Like I said, it was getting fatal for her and if she had died from it her kids would have been raised by her active alcoholic husband. And this guy wasn't a high bottom drinker either. He is pure scum. Period. Did I mention she stays married to him because the Church doesn't believe in divorce? Maybe I forgot that one.
So this woman is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't. Like I said, something needs to be done for folks like her. Because when someone has their back to the wall in this fashion and they don't get any help besides mealymouthed platitudes you can bet they'll take action as they see fit. Continuing to piously cite the need to trust in God is horseshit, give the woman some help instead of leaving her hung out to twist in the wind.
Here's an example closer to home. My wife (not a Catholic) had her tubes tied after our last child because EVERY ONE of our kids has been born prematurely and if we continue having kids sooner or later one of them will be born dead. End of story.
I quietly stood by and let her do it with no argument. I've been married before folks, and one of my newborn kids by a former wife died after thirty hours from a birth defect. You don't forget that feeling and while I may (and do) subscribe to idea of "God's will be done" I won't force anyone to go through that emotional wringer. "Sucks on toast" doesn't even begin to describe it.
So if any of my fellow Catholics feel like lambasting me for this, PACK SAND! Period.
Now if the War Department had been Catholic what would the options be? NFP? We already covered that one. Refraining from all sexual relations with each other? You first, show me how it's done and we'll talk about it afterwards.
Am I coming through loud and clear? There has to be a recognition that "one size fits all" won't work in this area. Too often the smugly faithful will turn a deaf ear to people with problems such as I've mentioned. They'll turn a deaf ear and piously wash their hands of any involvement by citing "trust in the Lord". Phooey. I've heard more compassion from drunken athiests in situations like these. That washing of the hands might have worked for Pilate but it has no place in the communion of saints. Things like this lead people AWAY from the Church and saying "Good riddance, they weren't faithful enough" is bullshit. Find a solution for the problem, a solution that remains faithful to Church teaching but also recognizes the dilemmas all too many find themselves in.
Because without it we'll continue on as we have. Anyone else remember when Catholics routinely had families of enormous proportions? Do you think it's a coincedence that "enormous proportions" these days often means "more than three kids"? The folks in the pews are practicing something other than NFP, depend on it. They're following through on that old Catholic stereotype of sinners who keep repeating the same acts with the thought that going to Confession will wipe it all away. The Church is the weaker for it. Reconciling the use of artificial means of contraception with Church teaching is a formidable problem, no doubt about it.
It's also a problem that demands an answer because without one the Church will remain ineffective as our society will go swirling down the bowl. We can already see many of the effects, some were cited earlier.
IMHO for any civilization to survive it has to rest on the firm bedrock of uncompromised morals. We've got a long road to travel to get back to that. We may never make it but the wellbeing of our descendants demands we try.
Wow--that post took some balls. I am aware of both the Churches teachings, and the practice I see in the pews.
I have wondered about cases such as the two you wrote about. It seems hard.
I'll disagree with you, but I'll also admit that you have points. Pray for me, BTW--I have a relationship that doesn't include sexual expression, and it's damned hard--heartbreakingly hard. I hope to someday be worthy of this relationship.
OK, I'm surprised to see this on your blog.
Your post is characteristically, admirably straightforward. You believe that Church teaching on artificial contraception should be changed. It leaves me with only three questions:
Do you believe that the teaching has been wrong from the start? (It didn't originate in 1969, you know. That teaching dates back at least to the 1st century, where the Didache mentions contraception among the practices Christians should avoid. St. Augustine preached against contraception.)
Or do you believe that God has changed His mind on this?
And, if the Church got it wrong, how can I know what else it got wrong?
And, if the latter, how can I know what else God has changed His mind on?
Sorry to seem confrontational; I really like your blog. But these are the only points I could see that you didn't address.
Whoa! Thoughtful post amigo. It's for reasons and "paradox's" such as this that I left the Catholic Church when I was about 24 or 5, and my shadow hasn't graced their threshold's since.
I'm NOT anti-Catholic mind you, just prefer my own brand of spirituality. I believe in God and his son, Christ, and I ask/talk to them daily for guidance. The trick is listening to for that quiet, small voice in your heart for the answers.
I'm a simple person, life's complicated enough. A "good" person just sorta "feels" when they are doing the right thing, and not what some "Human being or organization" has mandated. I think that in the last twenty years of sobriety, I've been doing the correct things, but I guess I won't know for sure till I have stand in front of them and be judged. I just try to do "The right thing...for the right reason."
Hey Chief, ADAT mate.
Ignorant Redneck, you're in my prayers. Thanks for your comments.
Paul, I guess you missed the single sentence where I acknowledged there is no wiggle room in the teachings of the Church. Either that or you may have felt it was a flippant comment on my part. Nope, just a statement of fact.
So yes, I believe all artificial means of contraception are sinful and always will be. God doesn't change His mind. Period.
But the servants of God seem to have dropped the ball in taking care of His flock.
It seems that once Pope Paul VI gave general direction to us, all the specifics were mishandled by the bishops. While we've been told in great detail what we CANNOT do, very little guidance has been given as to what we CAN do.
The general attitude seems to have been a dismissive wave of the hand as they headed out the door, accompanied by statements such as, "You figure it out from here, we've done our part."
So it's been left to the laity to come up with solutions such as NFP.
Part of my justification for this thinking is that while the ban on artifical contraception is dogma all methods of natural contraception aren't. I've yet to hear of the official papal endorsement of NFP.
To sum it up, I wholeheartedly believe we're the poorer for ignoring Paul VI's encyclical. We missed that boat big time. But something needs to be done to find a NATURAL means of contraception as effective as the unnatural. Until that is attempted the folks in the pews will continue picking and choosing what they'll conform to.
And when that is done, no matter how valid the reason may be, the whole Church is weakened by it.
Cookie, thanks for your support. It's stories like your own I hear too often, tales of good men and women unnecessarily frustrated in their attempts to live morally.
Subvet you'd fit into the Orthodox Church better than you think. At the risk of starting a fight here with Paul about everything Rome got wrong, Orthodox bishops allow married folks to use contraception since if you're not married you're not supposed to be having sex anyway. They make that very clear: no marriage, no getting frisky.
I would never trust NFP, and lets be honest, it's a form of birth control. Our bishops don't take the dismissive stance you just mentioned.
Cookie, I've been in your shoes. If I had a dollar for every person I've met who got disillusioned with Rome I'd be a rich man.
IR I'll pray for you too. I know it aint easy.
well babe, you stepped in it this time didn'tcha?
Eh. Vir, you're wrong about NFP.
So, Subvet, if I understand you correctly (which perhaps I didn't before), you're saying you agree with Catholic teaching, as far as it goes, but you feel that the Church hasn't done enough to help us live that teaching?
You make a good case for that.
Vir, thanks for the offer. Unfortunately everytime I've tried leaving the Catholic faith something has always drawn me back. A therapist once opined that my teachers had done a good job of brainwashing. Maybe I had a brain that needed washing. I dunno, it is what it is.
Mightymom, yes dear. Again.
Paul, you hit the nail on the head. IMHO the folks in the pews (yours truly included) need a lot more help and guidance than we've received.
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