23
Jun
08

Pro-Con(traception)

Dear Pope:

I realize that running the Roman Catholic Church, a global entity with millions upon millions of members, is a frightfully massive task. I understand that you are an elderly man with some old-fashioned standards. I know that you have issues with sexual immorality in the world. I’m sure that you love the sound of newborn babes uttering their first cries before putting their heads to their mothers’ bosoms. I sympathize with you, truly.

But, with all due respect—where contraception is concerned—please get your head out of your ass. Particularly about this condom thing.

How can you and the rest of your Vatican hoard be against something that prevents rampant overpopulation in struggling nations and can greatly slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, not the least of which is HIV/AIDS?

Jesus might not have been in favor of premarital sex, and in his day having as many kids as you could was a good thing. But he’d be ashamed of your short-sighted dogmatic habit of clinging to an outmoded notion that condoms promote immorality and that preventing pregnancy is by its very nature a slap to God’s face.

The Vatican has had some 2,000 to get its act together. On this issue, I tell you simply:

Grow the hell up.
                                                                                                      

I realize that many Islamic leaders and many on the conservative Christian right also seem to equate contraception with contravention of God’s will. And they think that for government agencies and others to spend money condoms for disease prevention and pregnancy prevention (and other forms of birth control just to stem the tide of unwanted pregnancies) is somehow the same as advocating immorality.

They are also full of shit. But there are many of them, and only one pope, so it’s easier to write a fictional pissed-off memo to him. Besides, the Vatican has been one of the most prominent evildoers when it comes to anti-contraception bullshit, having spouted off around the world even in recent years that condoms are bad. C’mon! Pulling out early is acceptable and using the “rhythm method” is OK, but physically stopping the sperm from getting near the ova is a sin. I’ve heard some talk from Vatican folks more recently that suggests condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS is the “lesser evil” but that isn’t much of an improvement. I understand if they want to speak out against premarital sex but to talk of a barrier form of contraception as evil is so mind-numbingly idiotic my brain just wants to shut down even writing about it.

I’m willing to concede that none of us really knows when life begins. I’ve heard arguments that birth control pills and IUDs aren’t simply anti-pregnancy measures but also sometimes abortive measures. Some of the reasons given for that seem a bit specious scientifically, but I’m willing to entertain the possibility, at least, that they sometimes may be interefering with the formation of life at a stage that is after conception (the fusion of sperm and ovum).

Personally, I’m not entirely comfortable with the concept that a small human isn’t yet a true life—and thus open season for abortion—simply because he or she has no possibility of survival outside the womb. Seems to me at some point before it has a chance to be a legit preemie in a hospital  incubator, a baby in the womb has organs and the beginnings of a mind and deserves more than a casual brush off on a scientific technicality. But that doesn’t really come into play with contraceptives from any reading I’ve done on the subject. I don’t know of any half-formed fetuses dead with IUDs in their chests. And condoms and the pill and foams and the rest likewise have no effect on an actual embryo or fetus.

And still, what gnaws at me most of all, even if you can come up with some slim argument against chemical means of birth control or the IUD: How can you speak out against condoms?

What kind of absolute moron do you have to be to oppose condoms? Are we to believe that the moment a man ejaculates, a soul is deposited into one of his sperm—the exact right sperm to do the job? If God is that freakin’ precise, he wouldn’t have given us men millions of swimmers and given them such an overall shitty chance of impregnating a woman.

I swear that if someone ever tells me a condom is evil because it subverts God’s will, I am probably going to smack that person across the mouth. I won’t be proud of it, but may just lose my cool. Because it is such idiocy.

Men’s sperm die in the testicles and get reabsorbed all the time. St. Paul commented on how wonderful it would be if more people could simply be celibate and focus on spreading the gospel instead of splitting their heart between a human lover and Jesus. So God apparently doesn’t mind if sperm or ova go unused in the body.

Yet we have numbnuts who want to go on about how bad condoms are because they prevent a sperm and egg from ever meeting up. Oh, I’m sorry. So, every husband and wife should be saddled with as many kids as fertility allows, even though their finances, time or even sanity (and society’s) might not be able to handle that many kids. Everyone who engages in premarital sex should be required to have the very real and high-level risk of a unwanted pregnancy that might lead to an unhappy union, a neglected child or an abortion. Everyone who engages in sex, married or otherwise, should be exposed to the risk of contracting a potentially lethal sexually trasmitted disease.

Yeah, very forward-thinking, you religiously extreme contraception fascists.

I’m not very comfortable with abortion overall. I’m not pro-life in the sense that I would take the choice away from women, but I freely admit the idea of abortion just doesn’t sit well with me personally. But contraception? I see not one problem with it. If we can stop the process before a human being is formed—in cases where a couple doesn’t want a baby—I’m all for it.

And for those who would rail against the use of contraception, and condoms in particular, I feel like saying you should all pull a damn condom over your head until your brain starves from lack of oxygen and you relieve the world of one more irredeemable idiot.

But I’m against suicide, so that won’t work. Oh, well.

(Photo by Ian Britton, from http://www.freefoto.com)

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17 Responses to “Pro-Con(traception)”


  1. 1 WNG
    June 23, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    I completely agree with you but all I could hear in my head while reading your post was the Monty Python song:
    every sperm is sacred, every sperm is good,
    every sperm is needed in your neighborhood
    let the heathens spill theirs on the dusty ground
    God will make them pay for
    each sperm that can’t be found

    🙂

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    June 23, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Oh, man, WNG, now you’ve got me thinking I need to do a double-feature Monty Python rental: Life of Brian and Holy Grail.

  3. 3 WNG
    June 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Brian: You can’t follow me, you’re all individuals!
    Crowd: Yes! Yes! We’re all indiviuals!
    Woman: I’m not!
    Crowd: SShhhh!

    🙂

  4. June 27, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Good post. I had this argument with somebody recently, just can’t remember who. I think it started with a discussion of abortion and jumped to contraception.

  5. 5 Deacon Blue
    June 27, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Ah, the overlap of abortion and contraception. I’m amazed at how often a disucssion of one will jump strongly to the other. Personally, I think they’re usually apples and oranges…but that’s just my take.

  6. July 2, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Who Said This About the Evils of Contraception? These ideas are not as antiquated or off the reservation as you seem to suggest. The idea that they have had 2000 years to fix these problems is to suggest these problems have been around for 2000 years.

    Have you ever read Humanae Vitae?

  7. 7 Deacon Blue
    July 2, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    I haven’t read the Humanae Vitae, no. But I’m well aware of its stands having been through CCD classes and other types of youth education when I was still in the Catholic Church.

    Contraception has been around in one form or another for waaaaay more than 2,000 years, so don’t try to tell me this is something the church only had to deal with in the modern era.

    Furthermore, the Vatican gives no convincing argument as to why contraception is evil within the confines of a marriage. Yet the general Vatican attitude is that if you’re having sex as a married couple, you should do nothing to actively prevent an unwanted pregnancy. The Vatican has demonized birth control and that is just plain wrong. If you’re going to refute my points, you need to do better than this.

  8. July 2, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    “Contraception has been around in one form or another for waaaaay more than 2,000 years, so don’t try to tell me this is something the church only had to deal with in the modern era.”

    Well you are certainly right – contraception up to and including herbal abortifacients have been on the radar for well longer than Christianity. But I am left to wonder if your concern is strictly over regulation of family size, or if you alluding more to the supposed merits of condom distribution for STD infection control. That latter point seems to be the “big dog” in the argument over condom usage and demands for Catholic approval.

    What is in fact new to our post-sexual revolution world is the active and rampant promiscuity met with STDs that spread quicker than a bus full of epidimiologists can track. Herpes and HPV – not protected even by condoms used properly that don’t fail – simply were not part of the picture. Further, materialistic mentalities that demand closing one’s fertility to opportunities for discipleship was simply not part of the mentality of the west until the recent era.

    Do you know a little bit about the history of the acceptance of contraception by nearly all non-Catholic churches and sects? Do you know where the tide turned?

    Furthermore, the Vatican gives no convincing argument as to why contraception is evil within the confines of a marriage. (Again, reading Humanae Vitae might help!) Yet the general Vatican attitude is that if you’re having sex as a married couple, you should do nothing to actively prevent an unwanted pregnancy. The Vatican has demonized birth control and that is just plain wrong. If you’re going to refute my points, you need to do better than this.”

    If you are going to take issue with the Catholic Church’s stand, spending >45 minutes to read Humanae Vitae – available free online, I can get you a link if you don’t want to google – would be how you could do better. With all due respect to weekly CCD classes for the under-18 set, I would go so far as to say explanations of a teaching based on second hand info offered by volunteers. If you want the “general Vatican attitude” you might do well to read what it actually is. At the very least you could be disabused of the notion that the Catholic Church teaches the idea “you should do nothing to actively prevent an unwanted pregnancy”. Maybe some research into Natural Family Planning wouldn’t hurt either.

  9. 9 Deacon Blue
    July 3, 2008 at 12:26 am

    How nice of you to focus on Western culture, and particularly the developed first world. How, then, to explain the fact that in cultures were contraception is often avoided and in which there are also rampant problems with STDs?

    There is a notion that somehow contraception leads to promiscuity. In my parents’ era, promiscuity was certainly a problem in high school and people weren’t using birth control in any significant degree. And this is one reason why we had so many folks getting married young…in some cases because there was already a bun in the oven. Media is the more likely culprit for promoting promiscuity, NOT contraception. Teen pregnancy rates in the United States, for example, are not a problem that exists because people are using contraception but because they aren’t. The high use of abortion is a problem because people don’t use birth control. Promiscuity exists because humans are horny and the modern culture is not built in such a way that young folk can be kept from each other as easily as in the past.

    Yes, it is true that other faiths were against contraception too…but it is also true that many faiths have been against interracial marriage as well and have had pro-slavery stances. Opinions about how to deal with contraception became more important as contraception advanced in its sophistication and availability. The CAtholic Church remained steadfast in a view against contraception of all sorts with no regard for common sense. The argument is somehow that marital sex is for making babies alone and that pleasure between the couple is somehow a mere side effect or inconsequential secondary issue.

    Are you going to tell me sex isn’t meant to be part of the intimate glue that keeps couples together? Are you going to tell me that it is responsible for us to have all families with six to 15 kids in an already overburdened world?

    Oh, that’s right, you’re going to tell me about natural family planning. Ah, yes, the Catholic Church is so into the very (un)reliable rhythm method. Yet where is the biblical support that having sex when conception is a lower probability is acceptable while barrier contraception is EVIL? Condom use does nothing but prevent the sperm from getting into the woman’s body. How is this inherently sinful? How is this markedly different in nature from the rhythm method, except that it is much more effective than the rhythm method or even coitus interruptus.

    C’mon, whip out the Onan argument. I dare you. I double-dog dare you.

    Now, as to your insistence that I read the Humanae Vitae in its entirety to understand it, I understand your reasoning, and it is probably a worthwhile exercise. I will try to fit that into my schedule. But let’s be realistic. If we were required to form every one of our opinions based on reading ALL the pertinent literature on topics and were confined to arguing against viewpoints only when we have read everything on the topic, we would essentially shut off debate entirely. It is not possible for me or anyone else to do that much reading, and I’m an avid reader. I haven’t fundamentally misunderstood the Vatican’s stance on this issue. It has repeatedly said that contraception is sinful, and it has repeatedly failed to argue this convincingly.

    Finally, as my original blog post indicates, my beef is NOT solely with the Vatican but with everyone, Christian or otherwise, who maintains this “every sperm is sacred” crap. The Vatican stance made for an easy entry point (again, a point made in my post) but only that…a convenience.

  10. July 3, 2008 at 1:15 am

    “If we were required to form every one of our opinions based on reading ALL the pertinent literature on topics and were confined to arguing against viewpoints only when we have read everything on the topic, we would essentially shut off debate entirely. “

    We could well be shutting down a lot of the inaccurate and pedantic demagogery. To make an impassioned plea against how very wrong Rome must be, well it stands to reason that the smallest of efforts should be made to read Humanae Vitae and understand it. What is the old line about “When you assume”? I am not telling you to put all argument on hold until such time that you have learned midieval ecclesial Latin and read all five volumes of the Summa cover to cover here. >45 min of reading a major document that is the definative statement of the matter you argue against. Well that seems downright reasonable.

    Listen, I love comboxing as much as the next guy – probably more so. Keeps me off the street, gives me an opportunity to engage in some discussion, occasionally be witty. And this is your place, so it is your rules. But honestly, aside from disagreeing with you, and laying out some points for why, have I honestly done anything to warrant the sarcasm that you are throwing at me? Did I do that to you? If I did, I beg forgiveness.

    Comments about “double dog daring” on “Onanism” and rudeness like “The Vatican’s ‘every sperm is sacred’ crap”… I have done nothing to warrant that. It only makes you look somewhat immature – and if you are realizing that this blog and its tone and your comments is in fact just as much “witness” to your beleifs as how you treat people on the street, you may want to reconsider.

    If you can spare ten minutes, you may want to listen to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blSamJBpYi4 – the first ten minutes of Janet Smith’s “Contraception, Why Not?” lecture. You can download or order a free copy of it from: http://www.omsoul.com/

    If you take some time to learn about Natural Family Planning – something your reference to it as “the Rythym method” demonstrates you have not, you will come to realize NFP and “Rythym” are not the same. Don’t take my word for it, do some due dilligence.

  11. 11 Deacon Blue
    July 3, 2008 at 1:44 am

    Can I be a bit snarky? Sure. And my apologies if that bothers you, but this blog is hardly a bastion of Ivy League debate. 😉

    My problem with your comments is that you continue to tell me I am misunderstanding the Vatican’s views. The Vatican has remained clear that it thinks sex is for procreation and that using contraception, i.e. having sex and doing everything possible to prevent fertilization, is a contravention of God’s will…the popes and cardinals repeteadly tell us this, and very publicly I might add. I don’t need to read the Humanae Vitae to know that they Vatican promotes that whenever a married couple has intercourse, there must be a reasonable chance that conception can take place. Natural family planning is centered around practices that leave a fairly significant chance for conception to still take place.

    And the rhythm method is PART of natural family planning; I never said it was the SAME, but in my attempt to be concise, I have probably left that impression. I realize that the mucus/ovulation method and use of basal temperature readings are more accurate than the simple rhythm method…but before those techniques were in vogue, church leaders advocated rhythm method, and the rhythm method cetainly is one aspect of natural family planning. So too is the use of extended breastfeeding as a means to space out children. Fact is, though, none of these methods is as reliable as proper use of contraception.

    And again, how is it OK to use those methods, which are designed to pick the times it is least likely that sperm and ova can meet up…and yet condoms use (or diaphragm or other barrier methods) is sinful? This defies logic, as the exact SAME end goal is in play.

    Why is the use of spermicides a sin? A sperm is NOT a life.

    Why is the use of the pill a sin when it is interfering with the ova? An ova is NOT a life.

    There is no human life until sperm and ova meet up. Period.

  12. 12 Deacon Blue
    July 3, 2008 at 8:50 am

    I just realized that in comment #6, this line:

    Who Said This About the Evils of Contraception?

    was actually a hyperlink…one thing I don’t like about this blog template is that the comment section doesn’t underline hyperlinks to make them stand out.

    In looking at the link that asimplesinner was trying to point me to, I don’t find myself particualrly moved. So what if it isn’t just the Catholic Church with this attitude? As I’ve already pointed out, the Vatican is simply the lightning rod for the blog post…my aim is to point out the illogic and hypocricy of ALL who maintain that contraception is by it’s very nature, a sin.

    I have repeatedly said in this blog in multiple posts that fornication is a sin. But I see no credible arguments for why a married couple must only use sex for procreation and why it is so wrong for them to pursue sex within the married relationship simply for the pleausre of it and the bonding aspect. I have yet for anyone to point me to a Bible passage that says husbands and wives must only procreate and cannot enjoy sex simply for its own sake. There is also no Bible passage that anyone has ever pointed me to that paints contraception as a sin.

    Period.

    Someone, by all means, challenge me with such Bible passages and I will engage in debate about them.

    The notion of contraception as an inherent evil and the idea that procreation is the nearly sole point of sexual activity between married adults is something that the Vatican (and, yes, other Christian denominations before the mid 20th century) decried NOT because the Bible says it’s so but because of issues of control. They are man-made rules, not God-made ones.

    And the Catholic Church is full of man-made rules that aren’t backed up by the Bible…one of the biggest being the sacrament of reconciliation, which calls upon Catholics to confess their sins to a man instead of to God and Jesus directly. Oh, and the near deification of the saints and of Mary in particular, and the notion that Mary remained a virgin after Jesus’ birth…these are all creations of a mythology that the Vatican has wrapped around the truth of Christianity.

    And that’s just plain wrong.

  13. July 3, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    “And the Catholic Church is full of man-made rules that aren’t backed up by the Bible…”

    Well put, and I couldn’t agree more. To be honest, I am increasingly of the opinion that Christianity is misnamed. It should be called “Paulianity” on account of the influence Paul had on the foundations of the church. I’m not sure it turned out like Jesus planned

  14. July 4, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Just some food for thought. Read it with an open mind, it is neither the lynchpin nor an exhaustive argument, nor even fully reflective of Catholic thought – no one is obligated to have a busload of kids…

    http://rcpstudy.blogspot.com/2008/07/yet-another-one-on-being-open-to-life.html

    I will make efforts to respond more this weekend… Work has been busy and my grandfather has just passed.

    Some food for thought – if you are willing to consider it – is that an openess to life demonstrates an openess to discipleship and the domestic church. Your children are always the first concern of a husband and wife when it comes to Evangelization. To have a few more souls to populate heaven with the Savior… Well it is something to ponder, pray about, and consider without polemic.

  15. 15 Deacon Blue
    July 4, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    @ asimplesinner:
    I appreciate food for thought, and your sentiments are quite welcome, really. If I had harshness toward you earlier it is because I perceived (rightly or wrongly) that you were trying to convince me that somehow the Roman Catholic Church is more open minded than it really is. I know that families aren’t required to have a certain number of kids, much less a gaggle of them. But natural family planning is simply less effective than even using condoms alone. Why? Because even idiots who use condoms poorly still do a better job of using them right than most people do with natural family planning. Yes, natural family planning can have an extremely high success rate, but it is much more complicated than condom use and, dare I say it, far less conducive to spontaneous sex between spouses because you’re in this mode of checking on your reproductive system on the regular, and that makes it a lot like a chore for most people…and the spark of passion starts to lose something in many cases.

    Yet the Vatican continues to maintain that using condoms in a marriage is wrong, even though it is truly no different in spirit than natural family planning. I can entertain the arguments about non-barrier forms of birth control and understand how one could argue they are wrong (even though I generally don’t agree), but I simply cannot with a straight face even speak the words: “Yes, I can see, in that light, how you might view condom use between spouses (or diaphragm) as a sin.” Because every argument about barrier contraception is just ridiculous. It’s just ludicrous, and I think the Vatican does a huge disservice to the world demonizing condoms instead of focusing on the true causes of promiscuity.

    ———————————

    @ His Sinfulness:

    I hear you on the Paul thing, and I used to have a pretty huge love-hate thing with his teachings, but here are three reasons why, over the years (and even in recent weeks) I’ve been willing to cut him and Christianity some slack and realize why his writings figure so prominently being, what, about half of the letters in the New Testament? And here’s why:

    1) Jesus’ 11 remaining apostles were focused on the Jews. They didn’t move around as much, and those they were bringing into the faith already had a grounding in what we now call the Old Testament. Paul, on the other hand, led the effort to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. He had to travel farther, deal with more diversity of cultures, and teach folks from the ground up. So, it naturally figures he’d have to be a more prolific writer and more thorough teacher, and so it makes sense that much of the church doctrine comes from his writings. (I will also note that to his credit, Paul does generally note when he is speaking personal opinion as opppsed to divinely inspired doctrine.)

    2)Paul was ordained by Jesus to be a huge mover and shaker in the church. I may not always like what Paul has to say, but it seems unlikely that he was simply trying to co-opt the church from the other apostles/disciples who followed Jesus before the crucifixion. Let’s face it, Paul had a pretty nice gig and was probably pleasing the Jewish leadership and most of the Jewish population by rounding up those “upstart” Christians. Why would he give that up for some agenda of taking over a fledgling faith and molding it in his own image? At the time, given the attitude toward Christians, the church must have looked like it was sporting a huge “Failure Imminent” sign flashing in all sorts of neon colors (and practicing the faith was sometimes dangerous to one’s health and safety). My faith and my intuition and my observation about human nature historically tells me Paul wouldn’t have done what he did if Jesus himself hadn’t commissioned him to do so. So, while the CHURCH may not have turned out as Jesus might have liked (the church temporal…all the denominations…are mostly pretty fucked up overall, though some more than others), I think that Paul’s teachings were probably mostly, if not completely, what Jesus would have approved were he still on the Earth.

    3) The more I learn about the meaning of the original writings and what we perceive to be the meaning in the English (or other) modern translations leads me to believe that some of the more bullshitty seeming things Paul wrote have been misinterpreted. They are either read and interprested wrong by preachers and such…or church leaders in some cases know the original meaning but fail to pass that knowledge along to their flock because it enables them to have more control if they teach the erroneous meaning.

    Case in point: I’ve long been of the opinion that the one role women could NOT hold was pastor. See my post on that (click here) and then see a more recent post by Miz Pink challenging me on that (click here). What you will see in the comments to Miz Pink’s post that I copy-pasted a long bit of writing that lays out what the original language meant and points out that Paul probably wasn’t against women teaching in the church or being leaders. This revelation has led me from a pastors-as-men-only stand to one that is more like this: If you are choosing between a man and a woman for pastor, and they have equal qualifications, pick the man because men do nominally (slightly) outrank women on SPIRITUAL matters. If the woman is clearly more qualified, pick her instead of the man.


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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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