Posts Tagged ‘contraception

07
Dec
10

God May Be Immutable; the World Is Not

While I have begged off further involvement in a debate here a while back about the Catholic Church’s reputation and the Vatican’s legitimacy (see here), my opponent David made an interesting comment about God’s immutability and I’ve been planning to address that subject ever since, as well as contraception (since David and I went pretty heavily back and forth on the rightness or wrongness of birth control), and the ways the two issues tie together in some ways.

This post may be a bit of a ramble. Apologies in advance if so.

God is, reportedly, immutable, unchanging and eternal. I really have no argument with that (though I also have no proof of it). I know a lot of agnostics and atheists do reject the unchanging nature of God, and they often contend such notions with talk about God’s personality shifts in the Bible, but I disregard that line of argument. I disregard it in part because I believe it is less a case of God changing than of God changing the way He approaches people.

And really, how could He not?

Humanity has evolved (genetically, socially, technologically, etc.) in so many ways. God had forged multiple covenants with humans not because He cannot make up His mind but because dealing with us is an ongoing process, and guiding us toward the next steps in our spiritual development (in this life and beyond it) is an ever-shifting process.

Now, Jesus pretty much put a final stamp on the basic theology and the priorities we are supposed to have. Given the period in which he appeared historically speaking, it was probably as good a time as any to make a “final” covenant that would carry humans through until God’s plans were complete in terms of our time here on Earth.

However, I cannot help but notice that Jesus didn’t talk about nearly as many things as the apostles did after he was gone, and Jesus certainly didn’t emphasize the minutiae of the Old Testament laws. I cannot help but notice that Jesus kept it pretty simple and basic. I also cannot help but notice that while Jesus himself followed Jewish law for the most part, he didn’t uplift it as something to be a slave to, and he broke it in cases where it was irresponsible to follow the law simply for the sake of the law.

And here’s where I get to contraception, boys and girls.

First off, let’s toss that Onan shit out the window. Anyone who can read that story and still say it was about masturbation being evil and contraception being evil has totally and completely missed the point that Onan was punished because God told him he needed to get a child on a certain woman after all his brothers had died and Onan failed to do so because he didn’t want to. If God was so mad at masturbation, why kill that guy, after centuries upon centuries of masturbation and coitus interruptis, and no one else? God had a mission for that man, for some reason, and Onan defied God and did so in a highly disrespectful manner. End of story. Don’t anyone argue with me on that point. Don’t even start. Jacking off was NOT the sin in that story.

Now, you can point to various things in the Bible and extrapolate that God wanted men and women to marry and have lots of kids. Great. But let’s take that in context. The world was not overpopulated at the time. Women were often little more than baby-makers, sometimes little more than chattel, and so from a societal standpoint, they weren’t considered useful aside from family-rearing. Also, families needed new blood to keep things going and run the farm (or herd the sheep, or make the boats, or whatever). Fathers needed heirs. Infant mortality was high. Many women died young thanks to birth complications.

So, of course there is going to be a focus on marrying people off and having them breed in those times. Particularly as regards Isreal, because if God set them as his messenger and the venue through which Jesus would come, so He’d be particularly keen on them making plenty of babies and remain viable on the Middle Eastern stage. So, for the Bible to support “be fruitful and multiply” made sense then.

But that is not the world we live in now. Many things in the world today are not covered biblically and attempts to use the Bible to deal with current issues based on anachronistic origins end up ringing untrue for that very reason. End of life decisions, abortion, pornography, electronic interactions and a ton of other things are all things that not only didn’t really factor into daily life (or at all) in Jesus’ time (or before) but also don’t even have any logical parallels with things covered by the Bible.

So, times change. The Bible is meant to be a guide, not a lawbook. It doesn’t change to keep up. God doesn’t check back in with us to give us the Commandments version 25.1 or something. We are expected to try to act as much in concert with the Holy Spirit as possible. But when something like the Vatican makes blanket rules and says they will never change and we’re going to keep doing it because we have been for 2,000 years (or longer) doesn’t make sense.

Is it really sensible to think that God wants married people to have sex only when they plan to make kids? No. Sex is also a relationship-bonding experience. It is, I dare say, a spiritual experience when I give my wife an orgasm, when I get one, or when we both come together (blessed be those nights…and sometimes mornings or afternoons). If God’s goal was only for us to breed, why not leave us with mating seasons and specific sexual cycles? Why have it be something that feels so good and cements a loving relationship so well, and have it only be for baby-making? So, right there, we’re already off track when contraception is condemned because of the notion that every sexual act should be potentially procreative.

Jumping to the next point, does it really make sense in this resource-strapped world, with so many poor and so few rich but so much wealth in the hands of a tiny number of people, that God wants us to breed like bunnies? Is it really wise for us to do so? No. It makes us poor stewards of the planet. China has population control policies, and look how huge THEY are. What if they didn’t have such policies? What if every married couple in the United States in these modern times had families of six to 15 kids or something. When my dad was young, that was tenable. Now, it’s environmentally irresponsible and financially untenable. Did God not give us free will so that we could exercise some common damn sense?

Contraception is not evil, and attempts to make it so are simply a game of maintaining the status quo for the sake of comfort or habit or plain ignorance.

Is is because we change that we were sent the Holy Spirit, and why we have to try to listen to that spirit of God. It is because we change that God approaches us in different ways at different time. And for a long time now, it’s been right and appropriate for God not to overtly reveal himself, because it is through the search for Him and our attempt to forge a relationship with Him (by whatever means, Christian or otherwise) that we show we are honoring those things spiritual.

The Vatican needs to get up off that no-contraception policy, as do many other Christians and non-Christians. People need to stop calling God a victim of capriciousness and multiple-personality disorder simply as a way of disregarding religion.

And we all need to keep up with the times. But that doesn’t mean throwing out Jesus’ teachings. It means keeping them in context.

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03
Jul
08

That evil condom…

…and other supposedly sinful contraceptive devices, of course.

Just wanted to mention for anyone that’s interested, since I don’t get heavy comment traffic around here, that my recent post Pro-con(traception) attracted the attention of someone who disagrees with me. So, there has been at least a brief flurry of debate. I got a bit peevish at times, but in my defense, I think the poster is still dodging some issues by failing to give a biblical basis for why contraception, particuarly barrier methods like the condom and diaphragm, could possibly be evil. Instead, he keeps falling back on doctrine that is church-based and NOT bible-based.

Check it out here and feel free to pitch in on the debate, for or against me.

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)

09
May
08

Big love gone mad

Thanks to the magic of Netflix, my wife recently got hooked on the cable TV series “Big Love,” and I have to admit that it has been (thus far) a very entertaining show. But with the polygamy and large families and cultish compounds and all that in the show…and the recent news about that Texas LDS compound that got raided…the subject matter of Big Love seems a bit creepier now. And, add to that the Duggar family, whom I somehow have managed to miss in the media all this time, despite them having a reality TV show and making the news/talk circuit and the wife dutifully popping out a kid a year, with 17 out so far and number 18 on the way.

There’s not much more I can say that hasn’t already been said better by Chez at Deus Ex Malcontent in his post Family Units, along with many of the commenters on that thread who had some pithy, snarky and sometimes spot-on things to say about the Duggars. I chimed in myself, with what was probably among the least entertaining responses there. Check it out. Be amazed, be frightened…but hopefully you won’t be rooting for them. I try not to judge, but it seems to me the Duggars lost perspective somewhere along the line, much like a woman who has been trying to lose weight for so long and keep it off that she still thinks she’s fat when she’s a 90-pound walking skeleton. My fear is that when families like this are lifted up in the media and given so much positive attention at a time when our resources are being stretched to the limit globally, and all under the guise of living biblically…well, let’s just say we don’t need too many folks following in their footsteps. (For more on the “Quiverfull” teachings that the Duggars are following, as well as the crticisms of it, click here. I believe myself that children are a blessing, but I also believe that God dislikes excess, particularly when it flies in the face of good stewardship of the planet.)

I’m glad me and Mrs. Blue…and Miz Pink and her husband, Sir Pink…have a little more restraint. At least in actually producing babies. I’m all for going through the motions of making them while stopping the swimmers before they can enter the tunnel of love. And most couples, no matter how faithful to God, have some sense of perspective, instead of actively trying to have baby after baby just to prove something to God.

We married folks should be making love, but we should know when to stop making babies.




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.

Jeff Bouley

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