Worth a Read?

I may have to go and find an issue of Christianity Today.  It sounds as though they have an interesting article that discusses data on the effects of birth control and the sexual revolution.  Sounds like a very good read!

2 Responses to “Worth a Read?”

  1. Chris Says:

    Based on the review, I doubt it is worth a read. It seems to be another attempt to justify Catholic belief on contraception and sex.

    I agree that non-abortifacient contraception is horribly misused in this country to enable sexual promiscuity and avoid having a fruitful marriage. But, the Catholic position seems to be laying burdens on married couples with a dose of hypocrisy mixed in. Each sexual act must be open to a child. Yet, if you can time it right, you can figure out when to avoid (Natural Family Planning NFP) getting pregnant. Of course it should only be done to space out children but did we mention NFP is better than contraceptives, but it isn’t contraception because you just aren’t having sex when you would get pregnant. The circles argued here just baffle me. At least some Catholics, I believe rightly, argue that NFP is also against doctrine. One could really come to the conclusion that a couple should only have sex when they knew there was a good chance of conceiving. Otherwise they are sinning by having relations only for pleasure.

    I find the LCMS position to be the height of straightforward language guided by scripture.

  2. Paul Nelson Says:

    My basic understanding is that we’re fine with contraception  so long as it doesn’t involve the destruction of a human life (the morning after pill would be rejected as a viable method, for example).  Though I haven’t been able to find the document that firmly pins that position down.  

    While I always assumed that the Catholics were a bit crazed in their position against contraception, I’ve come to respect it as I’ve studied the issue more.  For me, it is compelling because it is part of a much more comprehensive approach to human life issues than what I see in Protestant circles – including our own.  We have a strong stance against abortion, but is our stance on contraception one that actually promotes the potential need for abortion?  My argument for the Catholic stance on contraception is that it isn’t about pregnancy at all, and therefore it makes a lot of sense.  

    What does it mean when we can engage in sex without the risk of pregnancy?  Or more accurately, what does it mean when we can engage in sex without the perceived risk of pregnancy?  Does it fundamentally alter the sexual experience?  I think it does.  Not that sex can’t occur without the hope or expectation of a child, but when those potentialities are part of the mix – regardless of how well you calculate fertility cycles – what does that convey to our spouse?  What does it say about the level of commitment you have to one another?  Does it place sexuality back in the realm of God-given gift rather than human-controlled pleasure?  

    The issue isn’t pregnancy or the avoidance of it.  That’s what I’ve come to see in the Catholic stance against contraception.  It’s not about the prevention or facilitation of a human life.  It’s about the relationship between the man and woman.  It’s about seeing sex as part of a strong and healthy relationship rather than the centerpiece our culture wishes to make out of it.  And it affirms that you cannot take sex out of the context of a lifelong monogamous relationship without significant damage to both the adults involved, any children that might result (or might be killed as a result), and the larger culture of which those adults are a part.  While it is possible to maintain this integrity by also using birth control, I think that’s a rather naive hope.  Technology and scientific possibilities are genies that can’t simply be put back into the bottle once they are released.  

    We’re all utilitarians to a certain degree.  We connect ends and means with gusto, forgetting that there are other issues at play.  Contraception prevents pregnancy, allowing us more unfettered sexual expression, so it must be a reasonable thing (because, after all, sex is awesome!).  Except for whatever health risks it (chemical contraception) poses to the woman.  And the cultural impact of making sex more free of long-term consequences (except STDs, of course, but our culture studiously avoids portraying *that* long-term consequence in any meaningful way).  Sex becomes a risk-free, committment-free, isolated act that ought to be accessible to anyone who wants it, under almost any circumstance.  

    NFP is certainly a form of contraception, albeit a natural, God-given form that doesn’t pose risks to either person (other than some frustration at times!).  As such, it doesn’t differ in a utilitarian aspect from artificial methods of birth control and as such may seem like a strange thing to push for if it accomplishes the same end.  But if contraception isn’t ultimately about pregnancy but rather relationship, I think the Catholics have a very strong argument that is thoroughly consistent with  the larger picture of healthy relationships that Scripture constantly points us towards.  

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