by Gary Wamsley
It seems odd that with all the problems facing our nation that the headlines of the past week have been about contraception. With millions of people out of work, millions losing their homes, robber barons trying to buy the government and the Middle East a tinderbox, how is it that something as personal and private as contraception has become the most important issue on the national stage?
Much of it can be explained in the context of the battle for control of the White House. Conservatives will seize upon any issue to demonize the president for their own ends. The latest accusation is the charge of “a war on religion.” (For an excellent article on Separation of Church and State, read Religion on the Campaign Trail in Liberty magazine) This ludicrous charge has has pushed the front-running Republican candidates into “embracing” the anti-contraception ideology of the Catholic Church, even though the Mormon Church has no such ban.
Would a Republican president push for Catholic theology on sex to become the law of the land? Will the United States become a theocracy; will we harken back to the days of the Holy Roman Empire or will we witness the ultimate intrusion of government into the private lives of its citizens?
It is important to first understand what the Catholic Church professes and then to examine issues of human sexuality that have not been discussed in any forum that I have seen.
According to Wikipedia, “The Roman Catholic Church has disallowed artificial contraception for as far back as one can historically trace.” It goes on to say, “Contraception was also officially disallowed by non-Catholic Christians until 1930 when the Anglican Communion changed its policy. Soon after, most Protestant groups came to accept the use of modern contraceptives as a matter of Biblically allowable freedom of conscience.”
Meanwhile, abstinence is the only approved form of birth control allowed by the Catholic Church as spelled out in the 1968 Pope Paul VI encyclical Humanea Vitae.
Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.
This policy would ban (criminalize) the pill, condoms, masturbation, coitus interruptus and non-vaginal sex while vasectomies and sterilization would be lumped with abortion.
Implicit in the policy as law is that it would also criminalize sex out of wedlock, adultery, and homosexuality. Since all of these rules are promulgated by elderly white males, we can expect that they will primarily punish women and non-whites and would likely not apply to the clergy or members of congress.
Slightly less constraining is the policy of Focus on the Family, again, from Wikipedia, “Protestant movements such as Focus on the Family view contraception use outside of marriage as encouragement to promiscuity. The reference continues:
“Sex is a powerful drive, and for most of human history it was firmly linked to marriage and childbearing. Only relatively recently has the act of sex commonly been divorced from marriage and procreation. Modern contraceptive inventions have given many an exaggerated sense of safety and prompted more people than ever before to move sexual expression outside the marriage boundary.”
The above statement is not historically accurate, as sex divorced from marriage and procreation is as old as mankind. Presumably, marriage was devised as a way for men to control women to insure that the heirs were their own seed. Furthermore, the rules about sex historically have not applied equally to men. Additionally, many people today wait longer to marry and the number (millions) of people living alone is at a record level in today’s society. Given that the sex drive is so powerful, it is unreasonable to expect abstinence to be a viable alternative. This is not a moral conclusion but rather another sign of changing societal norms.
A ban against sterilization seems quite at odds with the United States history as one of the leaders in forced sterilization of its citizens. See “Eugenics: Compulsory Sterilization in 50 American States,” by students at the University of Vermont. There is no evidence that the religious community made any attempt to stop the practice. The American program was so successful that the policies and procedures were adopted by the Nazis in Germany. The evidence shows that the program in the United States was directed at the mentally and physically disabled and minorities. There is no evidence that the religious community made any attempt to stop the practice.
Before I undertake a treatise on human sexuality, or at least one facet of it, let me say that I am “pro choice” but against abortion as a means of birth control. Let us look at some simple facts. Why abortions? Simply put, to end unwanted pregnancies. It would seem that the easiest way to end abortion is to end unwanted pregnancies. The easiest way to end unwanted pregnancies would be to make contraception easily available to all humans who have reached puberty. However, it seems that those against abortion are also against contraception, teaching instead the failed policy of abstinence. There are those who would not even allow abortion in the case of rape or incest. Perhaps these Christrian hardliners would prefer the precepts of radical Islam in which the girl who was violated has her throat slit in an “honor killing.” That would certainly do away with the need for abortions.
In a historical concept, the no contraception policy was not much of a problem when girls entered an arranged marriage at pre-pubescence ages. Yet in today’s society we do not want our children to marry until after high school. That means at least five years of sexual maturity in the intervening period. It is delusional to think that any normal teen will be able to maintain abstinence during that time.
Case in point: Evangelicals have created the “Silver Ring Thing,” a virginity pledge program for teens. According to Wikipedia, “Some studies of the efficacy of virginity pledges have found they may be effective in delaying vaginal intercourse but ineffective in reducing the rate of sexually transmitted infection and the likelihood of contraceptive use. Additionally, it has been reported that pledgers replace vaginal intercourse with other sexual activities, such as oral or anal sex. At least one study has found no difference in the sexual behavior of pledgers and non-pledgers after controlling for pre-existing differences between the groups.
The facet of human sexuality that belies all of the church’s beliefs that sex should only be for procreation is hidden estrus. (Note: The Mormon Church has a better understanding of sex, recognizing that the building of intimacy is as important as procreation; Ref. Birth Control on LDS.net.) Humans are unique in the animal kingdom in that the time of ovulation is concealed. Lower animals only have sex when the female exhibits sights and smells that indicate she is ovulating. To put it another way, most animals only have sex when procreating. Whether you ascribe it to the Almighty or to nature, humans are designed to desire sex all the time.
To deny human sexuality is absurd and a sacrilege. To argue over this issue when people are being killed and starving to death all over the globe is insanity.
UPDATE: Click on links to read full articles.
Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are doubling down on their phony charges of a “war on religious liberty” and are now targeting essential health care benefits far beyond birth control. As soon as today, the Senate could vote on a radical measure sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) that would allow ANY employer to deny coverage for ANY preventative
“Let’s be clear about what’s at stake,” said Carney. “The proposal being considered in the Senate applies to all employers — not just religious employers. And it isn’t limited to contraception. Any employer could restrict access to any service they say they object to. That is dangerous and it is wrong. Decisions about medical care should be made by a woman and her doctor, not a woman and her boss.”
The measure, proposed by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) would amend the Affordable Care Act to allow any employer to exclude any health service coverage, no matter how critical or basic, by claiming that it violates their religious or moral convictions. Moreover, according to the National Women’s Law Center, the amendment would remove critical non-discrimination protections from the Affordable Care Act. For instance, an insurer could deny maternity care coverage to a same-sex couple, an interracial couple or a single woman for religious or moral reasons.The Blunt Amendment is just the first of what we expect to be many similar attacks. We have to recognize these attacks for what they are — blatant attempts to redefine religious liberty as the ability to impose one’s religious beliefs and convictions on other people. The church is attacking the constitution.
The Blunt Amendment is just the first of what we expect to be many similar attacks. We have to recognize these attacks for what they are — blatant attempts to redefine religious liberty as the ability to impose one’s religious beliefs and convictions on other people. To destroy the First Amendment and turn the United States into a Theocracy.Print This Post