Catholic Views on Contraception

I follow a variety of blogs, not all of them are on subject matter that I agree with the blogger, I typically follow them because I want to learn; either to expand my knowledge or to gain understanding on specific worldviews.

The risk with following blogs that are on a worldview is that there will be the occasional WTF! moment. Over the weekend there was one such post and it’s a major WTF! (http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/2012/02/contraception-extreme-analogy.html)

Full Disclosure

I’m not a catholic fan. Even in my Christian days I struggled with elements of the Catholic Church and its teaching. My difficulty went so far that at times I struggled even to accept that Catholics were Christians because if they were Christians they’d follow everything in the bible and not distort stuff horribly. In my years as an active Christian I crossed paths with other Christians from other churches and denominations and never were there divisive issues as there were with the Catholics. In fact, I can only think of one catholic I encountered in all those where theological differences never got in the way of friendship. I think any chance the Catholic Church had of gaining respect from me died when a friend married a catholic and the overtly catholic wedding felt even more unchristian and emotionless as a secular wedding held in a registry office. The communion was rushed and us non-Catholics were not permitted to take part, Christian or not. I left the wedding service trying hard to be happy for my friend but ultimately feeling unloved and rejected. So much for the family of God!

So why the WTF! ?

I am familiar with the claims that the Catholic Church is anti-contraception and I am aware that there is much criticism of it, especially with regards the effect that has on the spread of Aids in countries where Catholicism has great influence.

Aids isn’t the only disease that sexually active people should worry about. Chlamydia is a disease that is of concern in the UK, especially among teens and 20-somethings. One especially nasty side effect is the potential for girls to be made sterile.

What made the post I referenced stand out was the insane justification given to the no contraception rule. Calling the post an “extreme analogy” is not a defence against spouting idiocy, especially when its abundantly clear that the interpretation is held to.

The Potential for Life

From what I can gather elsewhere, and is repeated in the post I reference, the basic objection to contraception is that it interrupts the potential for life from the act of intercourse. There is so much wrong with this stance it’s hard to know where to start.

The most obvious objection is that it’s a blanket edict that takes no account whatsoever for the circumstances of the couple. There are genuine and valid reasons why a couple would not want to have child children and yet still enjoy a loving sex life. Mandating that they should not control that through contraception is not a blessing to the couple but a hindrance. It reminds me of this related and equally unhelpful attitude encountered by Christians; https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/a-christian%E2%80%99s-duty-is-to-procreate/

Much damage is done by the well-meaning zealot who holds so tightly to a perceived aspect of Godliness that they fail to see the wider context. For this type of person, the desire to dictate behaviour overrides the command to love and the result is that the religion of choice is seen by the outsider as a controlling and manipulative entity rather than a loving pathway to heaven.

Even if we ignore those objections for a moment, the potential for life argument is still flawed because it is arbitrary. Surely for a man ejaculate more than a single sperm is a sin because typically only one of the sperm gets a chance of life. Or maybe the menstrual cycle is a sin because of all those eggs that get flushed away. The obvious retort is that these are both naturally evolved and contraception is not. However, the catholic church approves of some methods of fertility assistance. If it’s okay to artificially assist in getting pregnant why is it not okay to artificially avoid it as well. Surely to reluctantly bring a life into the world because of what the church says is more of a sin than to responsibly avoid it.

Sex is primarily for procreation

Really?!

The teaching that sex as a pleasure is only a side benefit from God leaves me genuinely open mouthed in astonishment. The only possible reason the Catholic Church can uphold that is because to not teach it seriously undermines its contraception stance. It’s a message of necessity and not one of spirituality.

Evolutionarily speaking, if sex wasn’t something we did for the sheer pleasure of it, we’d have gone extinct by now. Way to go God!

Extreme Analogies

In her blog posting, Red Cardigan likens using contraception to partners withholding from each other and, worse, calls it the “language of hate and rejection”. I say it’s exactly the opposite; the use of contraception frees them both to fully enjoy intimacy and love without the need to be concerned about unplanned offspring. She also manages, bizarrely, to somehow draw a comparison between contraceptive use and bulimia as a method of weight loss. Let’s skim over the not so insignificant issue that bulimia is a state of mental imbalance and not a trendy method of radical weight loss.

This dieting comparison goes way beyond extreme and into the realm of obscene. I can see why this particular analogy was used; it’s to imply that forcing yourself to vomit after a meal is the same as stopping the man’s sperm get to the place where God intended it. The two are not the same. A more reasonable dieting analogy would be to compare contraception to having a stomach band fitted or just eating less of the stuff that makes you fat.

I’d like to propose my own extreme analogy, next time you have a headache, don’t take anything for it, let it enjoy its full potential, after all its God given and natural. What do you mean that’s a stupid thing to say?

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5 thoughts on “Catholic Views on Contraception

  1. Hi! Saw this, and wondered: what do you make of the fact that every Christian church was united in condemning all forms of birth control as immoral, evil, un-Biblical and un-Christian until the Lambeth Conference in 1930? Were all Christians prior to that just old fuddy-duddies who didn’t understand that sex is for recreation and pleasure and that children are a sort of unfortunate side-effect?

    I should just say that, as you are honest about not being a Catholic fan, I’m not a fan of young earth creationism, and don’t expect the ability for great depth of reasoning from its proponents. No offense intended, of course.

    • Hello Erin, thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment.

      Prior to today I have not given any thought to the views of the wider church towards contraception pre 1930. My opinion after a few moments of consideration is that those who changed their views obviously realised that until that point they were in error and so admitted that and corrected it. Just because it is a view that used to be adhered to, does not make it a right view now. They changed their mind for a reason. Prehaps the question you should be asking is, why is it the catholic church that refuses to admit what many other church bodies did all those years ago?

      Regarding YECs, you are right, the YEC view and the arguments therein do lack depth in reasoning. That is why this blog tells the story of my journey away from creationism and into reasoned atheism. No offense taken, though I suspect you did actually intend to insult.

      • Personally I think you are profoundly misinformed about the Catholic Church, given to us from Christ and held accountable to teach the truth regardless of the age, persecution, or obstinate ignorance. Also I do not believe you have truly plumbed the depth of truth to be found written in your heart on the true meaning of sexuality. And historically you are not correct in your explanation of why the other churches strayed from this teaching, as they did with divorce, lately with homosexuality nor is your take on the Catholic point correct. I am going to endeavor to write a brief explanation of this beautiful teaching that perhaps will at least gain your respect. Oh, and condoms have greatly helped to spread STDs to epic levels.
        Kevin, who has degrees in science and theology.

  2. Hello Kevin and thanks for the comment.

    I will pick out just one thing from your reply

    Oh, and condoms have greatly helped to spread STDs to epic levels.

    You’re going to have to back that claim up with some significant scientific evidence. Everything that I read that is a study on the use of condoms and its relationship with AIDS is that the spread of AIDS is slowed as a result of condom use.

    I will wait for your follow up post before responding further.

  3. Pingback: More on Contraception « Confessions Of A YEC

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