Monday, March 16, 2009

Imagine the Possibilities

Everyone who performs even a perfunctory examination of this blog will become immediately aware of my passion for discussion on the topic of contraception. In the spirit of arousing authentic intellectual discourse, what say we engage purposefully in a real debate on the validity of the Church's teaching on the matter?

I'm throwing down the gauntlet: what are your views on the Church's hardline stance against the use of contraception, not only within marriage, but in general? What are your well-founded and carefully researched opinions on the following:

  • the effects of contraceptive use on the overall rate of abortion? Related issues?
  • the effects of contraceptive use on the overall quality and endurance of marriage, as an institution and on an individual basis.
  • the effects of a "contraceptive mentality" in parenting? Negative effects on existing children?
  • the connection, if any, between contraception and marital infidelity. Teenage and college-aged promiscuity.
  • the availability of contraception and the prevalence of sexual violence against women. Children.
Talk amongst yourselves, and keep the comments civil and respectful. I'm interested to hear, particularly from a dissenting Catholic perspective, what the rationalization for contraceptive use may be.


  1. I'm a disciple of Dr. Janet Smith. In her classic lecture Contraception why not? she points out that simple fact that contraception leads to increased infidelity of women by men. Since the fall, men have always been tempted to cheat on women. They wanted to but one of the obvious possible results was an unwanted pregnancy. But if a woman is using the pill, there is at least one less immediate negative result. Even more: Now a days--if every woman is using artificial contraceptives, every woman is a possible target.

    Sorry for holding to the party line, but I can't help it.

  2. This is a response to Bill Bannon's "govern it yourself Church" reply from the last post, which also pertains to this post.

    Church authority is not digital (full authority or none). Just because something is not "infallible," it does not make it mere opinion, or "papal theory." Bill, your phrase "papal theory" explains exactly how you feel about the papacy. You're response to LG 25 was, "Pope Paul 6 said the Council is not infallible." Which you took to mean, "The Vatican Council was just a bunch of old guys sitting around talking about their opinions on some theological stuff."

    LG 25 says, "This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not
    speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme Magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are
    sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will." Your response makes this Council a waste of breath. You're response to the Council Fathers telling
    the faithful to have "religious submission of mind and the Magisterium" is, "You can't make me."

    You basically said, "The Council is not infallible, so I can throw out anything that I don't like." You automatically disqualify conciliar teaching because the eccleisal lens you look through is minimalistic. You must find a way to reject the Church's authority so you can continue to espouse your heretical view. Your approach is backwards. We should look for Church authority and happily embrace it. Our Pope is our Pastor, our Shepherd, who
    guides and directs the faithful. We should trust what comes from the Church instinctively because She is guided by the Holy Spirit. We should not say, "I'll believe it when X amount of Popes explicitly teach on it." If you want to refer to Paul VI, why don't you talk about Mysterium Ecclesiae? You can discover things such as, "Jesus Christ... wished to endow the pastor's Magisterium with a fitting charism of infallibility in matters regarding faith and morals." Contraception falls under morals, and faith.

    So when St. Peter Chyrsologus said of the Pope, "The blessed Peter who on his Bishop's Chair lives on and leads the council, offers the true Faith to those who seek it," you would reply, "I only seek it if it is defined ex cathedra or if 12 succesive popes agree." Lame. That's like a child whose parents said,"Make sure you come to dinner when we call you," and he responds that he will only eat dinner if a specific phrase precedes the serving of the meal. The child rejects the warm meal and insists, "You did not say, 'Come hither. Your father and I have prepared a delicious and safe meal that is ready for your consumption.' Therefore, this meal is unsuitable and I don't have to eat it."

    The dogma of Papal Primacy not only extends the Pope's supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church in matters of faith and morals, but also in Church discipline (his pastoral office), which most certainly includes any given Pope's teaching on contraception. St. Augstine said, "In this matter the resolutions of the two councils were sent to the Apostolic Chair. Replies have arrived from thence. Thus the matter is ended. Would that the error were also ended!" We know how he felt!

    Bill, you have made yourself your own magisterium. Clearly you feel free to accept or reject the teachings of a Pope or a Council because, "they are not infallible."
    You reduced the 2nd Vatican Council to the opinion of a few people that just happens to not be the same as your opinion.
    You also misunderstand Tradition (and you took St. Augustine out of context).
    Tradition is not a hodge-podge collection of your favorite string-it-together sayings to support your view. The fullness of Truth was handed down by Christ to the Apolstles (the deposit of faith) and this truth is unpacked and born witness to down through the ages. At times doctrines are solemnly defined or proclaimed as
    dogmas or explicitly stated at Councils to guide the faithful. Thus when we look back at the words of a Saint, Church, Father, Bishop, etc., we can see them
    BEARING WITNESS to the living Tradition (although they are not infallible, ie St. Thomas on the Immaculate Conception, so there are exceptions), but they are witnesses. You can always pluck someone out of history (saint or theologian) who espoused this or that. Just because someone in the history of the Church held or taught something does not make it Tradition.

    So, we don't need 12 or 17 or 103 Popes to teaching something before we respect it, we only need one. And it doesn't matter if it was 1700 years ago or 17 minutes ago. I don't know where the "9 Popes or more and I accept the authority" ecclesiology comes from. You want 51% of the Popes to make explicit formal statements before you accept something as true? With this logic, you would not have accepted the formal proclamation of the hypostatic union at the
    council of Nicea or the cannonization of Scripture at Trent, just as you won't accept the intrinsic evil of contraception today. Just because something is explicitly stated or newly defined doesn't make the issue "new." You need to read Card John Henry Newman's essay, "On the Development of Christian Doctrine."

    The Church unpacks, expounds, and clarifies Her teachings. But you don't like the Church's clarifications. At Trent you would have said,
    "not enough popes...not enough time has passed since this has been taught."
    The Church is not a democracy, its not about consensus. Perhaps you got that logic from your global warming friends. The Magisterium is like the banks of a
    river that give us flexibility within the river but at times sets boundaries. Your magisterium is a flood plane where you get to drive your 9-pope dingy across the surface. Your magisterium is a boat where you save what you like on the floor and throw overboard
    what doesn't line up with your heterodox view.

    The authority of the Church is beautiful. And our Church has spoken clearly against the evil of contraception. To justify contraception, one must redefine the authority of the Church, redefine morality, redefine natural law, and then maybe there will be some ground to stand on.


No trolls allowed.