If the world hate you, know ye, that it hath hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they have kept my word, they will keep yours also. (John 15: 18-20)
Why are Catholics afraid of persecution? I opened with the above verse because I want to remind us all of Christ’s warning that to be his disciples we WILL necessarily endure persecution from those of the world who WILL hate us. We will be persecuted, whether that persecution is a soft persecution, that is, a dehumanizing, patronizing, and socially exclusionary persecution (as now, amid the debate over the government’s contraceptive mandate) or a hard persecution of the kind that threatens our persons with physical violence.
I claim this fear also as my own. My hope in opening this discussion is that your contributions may elicit for me and for other Catholics) struggling to identify the origin of this fear, and the solution to it the needed answers. I think any uplifting stories may allow us to take heart in our mission and not despair of it.
I think that if we could force an ecumenical discussion among Christians, all forms of artificial contraception would be found theologically indefensible, in light of the teaching of the Church Fathers AND the Bible (the ‘sin of Onan’ anyone?)? This conversation should occur magnanimously, and beneficently, without regard to what we Catholics might expect as the appropriate social policy toward artificial contraception; that conversation may eventually follow our efforts in this regard, but this conversation must necessarily precede those efforts.
Unsurprisingly, we might not get what we want out of it, like a return to pre-1930 criminalization. Indeed, many lapsed Catholics will storm out of our Churches. Many fair-weather allies among our Protestant brethren would desert us for the foreseeable future of the discussion (to stand with the Progressive secularists whom have traditionally been our mutual persecutors), and finally it may sow division within our families as users of contraceptives living under our roofs or in our neighborhoods refuse to associate with any of us. Furthermore, as if the above calamities were not heartbreaking enough, we may temporarily endure a regressive, reactionary policy from advocates of contraception, as our confession of our disdain of contraceptives galvanizes their ranks in favor of imposing even stricter legislation protecting, promoting, and ENFORCING free access.
However, I think it would force a public, intellectual defeat of the Protestant mindset that within Christian marriage, artificial contraception is legitimate and responsible. Moreover, it would starkly demonstrate that Protestant advocates of free use among married couples have, when faced with a question of whether to choose between the religion of God, and the religion of social convenience, have chosen the latter.
How does the fierce defense of contraception (even within marriages), by Protestant defenders stand up to Christ’s words in the Garden of Gethsemane:
“Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done...” (Luke 22:42)?
More specifically, how does the artificial separation of the unitive aspects of procreation emulate the surrender of Christ to the will of God? I would argue quite strongly that such behavior is merely a petulant, selfish deference to that which is lesser than God:
“Thus, the true blessedness of the good angels is found to be this, that they cleave to Him who supremely is. And if we ask the cause of the misery of the bad, it occurs to us, and not unreasonably, that they are miserable because they have forsaken Him who supremely is, and have turned to themselves who have no such essence.... For when the will abandons what is above itself, and turns to what is lower, it becomes evil—not because that is evil to which it turns, but because the turning itself is wicked. Therefore it is not an inferior thing which has made the will evil, but it is itself which has become so by wickedly and inordinately desiring an inferior thing.”
-St. Augustine, City of God, Bk. 12 Ch. 6
How does the demand of a right to use contraceptives honor Christ’s command to
“be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?” (Matthew 6:25)
especially since contraceptives are merely a convenience, they are NOT sustenance, our subsistence does NOT depend upon contraception.