Conscience - Aboriginal Vicar of Christ

No, it’s quite a bit more. I have found on CAF that to speak of “most” or “practically all” in matters such as this is disliked, and garners responses along the lines of “how do you know — have you talked to everyone in the Church about it?”. I am going to assume that these responses come from a sincere search for truth, not because anyone is disappointed with what polls assert, or just doesn’t want to believe it. With that caveat, I will say that the most recent figure I read was that eight percent of Catholics accept the Church’s teaching on contraception. When I saw “eight percent”, I just about had a “yee-haw!” moment — I was ecstatic! Eight percent! That many? I would have thought it’d be more like two or three percent. I’m not being sarcastic. That is huge compared to what you’d expect. That actually gives me a lot of hope that the tide is finally turning.

What is the other side of the coin?

I think it should be obvious, 92 percent do not.

I take it from your profile that you are not Catholic — you merely specify your religion as “Christian”. If you have not already done so, please take some time and read Humanae vitae. It’s a very beautiful document. Pope Paul VI himself said that he realize the teaching might not be well-received.

The Catholic Faith is not decided by majority opinion, and the Church does not change her mind, at least in the strictly narrow sense, about her teachings. If this poll is to be believed, the vast majority of American Catholics don’t accept this teaching. I don’t think the poll addresses the question of “why not?”. A lot of Baptists drink, and a lot of Jews don’t keep kosher and think nothing of mixing the milchig and the fleischig (meat and milk). And keep in mind that we are only talking American Catholics. I don’t think it’s wrong to submit that Catholics from any of the developed, wealthy Western-style countries think basically the same way. Places like Poland and Slovakia might be a mixed bag. And what about, let’s say, Catholics in Nigeria, the Congo (both of them), Kenya, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, throw in two or three more non-Western countries of your choosing? Just a thought.

I have been thinking recently, it would make an interesting book, to interview a cross-section of Catholics, and to ask them as individuals — not as poll numbers — why they believe what they believe, how they make moral decisions, why they dissent from or agree with certain Church teachings, just in general, “what makes them tick” as regards faith and morality. I have in mind something like a cross between Studs Terkel’s Working and Bare Ruined Choirs by Garry Wills. Somebody needs to write a book like that.

I have already mentioned the financial difficulties of raising a large family, environmental concerns and the unitive aspects of marriage. BTW, haven’t there been even Roman Catholic clergy who have come out questioning the teaching on contraception and they have not been excommunicated? Further the sister Orthodox Church allows leniency in this matter under certain conditions. And there is a push for the two churches to reunite?

You do realise that the Catholic faith is not genetically determined?

The Catholic Church teaches that contraception — the deliberate and intended separation of the unitive and procreative elements of the marital act by artificial means — is intrinsically evil and a transgression of the natural law. (NFP does not separate these elements, it just makes conception unlikely but by no means impossible.) All of the very good reasons to avoid conception cannot make a wrong thing right. That is “the end justifies the means” and is utterly contrary to traditional Catholic moral theology. Can I steal or embezzle (assuming I don’t get caught) to get money to pay my bills and stay out of bankruptcy? Can I cheat on my school exams to keep my scholarship or to get my degree and be able to pay back my student loans? Can I leave the scene of an accident that was my fault to keep from being arrested and going to prison? Remaining financially solvent, getting one’s degree, being able to pay back student loans, and not being in prison are all good things. But you can’t achieve these things through committing sin.

There have been. And that doesn’t make it right. The Church has gone easy on dissidents in recent years for many reasons — anymore, and I know I am sounding like a broken record using this phrase so much, the tail wags the dog.

Ditto. If the Orthodox do this, they are simply wrong. The Orthodox Church does not determine Catholic morality. If there were reunification, this is something that would need to be addressed, and quite frankly, it would be a stumbling block.

Please give me more credit than that. Of course I realize this. I merely meant that it is a good thing for faithful, fully orthodox Catholics to increase their numbers. People who multiply, project themselves into the future. People who fail to multiply, die out. I wouldn’t mind seeing a future Church where everyone is faithful to the magisterium and accepts all of the Church’s teachings. Far better than what we have now.

It was meant tongue in cheek, so my apologies if it came over as insulting. Maybe a smiley would have helped but I can’t stand using them.

And shouldn’t it be said that contraception is against natural law and is therefore evil? As opposed to be evil and against natural law? Which is why most people have no problem with it. ‘This should go here and that mustn’t go there’ mostly results in a raised eyebrow and an expression that signifies ‘You serious?’

Do not kill and do not steal, well we know that those work. If everyone disobeyed just those two then we’d be in quite a mess. But contraception is a victimless crime as far as most people are concerned. I guess you might claim that it goes against God’s will but we all do things against God’s will all the time. We take His name in vain, we lie, we lust. And those who are Catholic confess their sins but the world still keeps turning.

No problem, no offense taken, I wasn’t clear if you were serious or not. For as long as I can remember, it has baffled my enemies (or rather, those who have chosen to regard me as their “enemy”, for I have none) that they pretty much cannot insult me. I don’t concern myself with it, and it drives them batty! No, I don’t regard you as an enemy — I like to think that we are all on here seeking after truth, and trying to help one another, and anyone else who might read these scribblings, even when we don’t agree.

I don’t know. I don’t really think in terms of “this is against natural law”, and as I bring out in another contemporaneous thread here on CAF, I have always had reservations about Paul VI using that as a central part of his argument in Humanae vitae. I oppose contraception because it is a misuse of the sexual faculty (basically self-pleasuring using one another’s bodies) and, even though this would be circular reasoning to the non-believer, because the Church has always condemned it.

It’s kind of an abstract point, but Catholicism would not view contraception as being a totally “victimless crime” — it objectifies the partners towards each other (makes them solely the objects of each other’s desire, even though they can seek to give the other partner pleasure), it prevents new lives from being conceived and born that Almighty God might have wished to bring into being (NFP does not prevent this, if it is God’s will that new life be brought forth), and it makes adultery easier to commit, if one partner (or both) is so inclined — much less of a chance of an unwanted pregnancy. On the macro level, it can also be objected that the Church is deprived of souls, and even the temporal order is deprived of people whom it might need for society to grow and flourish, quite aside from religion.

Actually, what I see here, is that people only really take seriously the things on which all Christians, or all people in general, agree upon as being bad, harmful, or sinful. That is basically a Masonic mentality — “the truths that all men hold in common”. And there are fewer truths held as “universal” than one might think. There are subcultures that regard stealing as acceptable, at least stealing from people outside that culture — an “us against the world” mentality. Some ancient pagan cultures regarded human sacrifice not only as acceptable, but obligatory. Many people outside Catholicism (and, sadly, far too many within it) are untroubled by telling lies to get what they want or to preserve someone else’s feelings or sensibilities — lying about one’s salary in applying for another job, or lying to take a “sick day” when in fact one has a job interview, is pretty much socially acceptable. These are just a few examples.

I think this is more nuanced than what you are describing. Correct me if this is wrong, but AFAIK:
You can steal a slice of bread if you are in a situation of near death because of starvation. You have the right to life and that would take precedence over a merchant’s right to the slice of bread. Even though it is intrinsically wrong to steal, there is a conflict of sorts so that you do not sin if you steal a slice of bread to avoid starving to death.

I think that mutual consent denies any possibility of objectification. Notwithstanding that there are pre coitus acts that are purely for the sake of the partner that are entirely acceptable to the church as long as it leads to the sexual act. So I think we can discount that.

And contraception is a lot more likely to result in pregnancy than a woman who has had a hysterectomy. But it seems that even that is perfectly acceptable because one never knows…miracles happen. If God wants new life to issue forth then it’s going to happen whether you try to avoid it using nfp or a condom.

And a loving couple using contraception has absolutely nothing to do with either partner’s proclivity to adultery. Can you imagine the conversation:

‘Should we use contraception, dear?’
‘Oh, so you feel like sleeping around, do you?’

There are levels of sin… …

It depends on how you define the term “stealing”.

For purposes of parsing what is sinful and what isn’t, I would define stealing as “alienating the property on which someone else has a title, and you do not, to exercise rights and claims of use or consumption over that property which you do not have”. That is what is intrinsically wrong, not merely taking (and, depending upon what kind of property it is, either using, eating, drinking, wearing, burning, or what have you) the property. I believe Aquinas said something like “in a crisis, all goods are owned in common”.

This is best illustrated something like this:

If a hurricane is coming, I have to nail plywood to my windows, and the only way I can get nails and a hammer is to go get them out of the garage of my neighbor who has left the door open in his own haste to evacuate town, then, yes, I have alienated the nails and the hammer from my neighbor. And let’s say that my neighbor doesn’t like me, and right before he left, he told me “I wouldn’t give you nails, or loan you a hammer to nail them in, if you were the last person on earth, because you’re a jerk”. To say “uh-oh, I don’t have nails, and I don’t have a hammer, but that guy expressly told me he didn’t want me to have his, so I guess I can’t nail up that plywood to protect my plate glass windows” is too ludicrous even to give further consideration. I do not normally look to the secular law to help me make moral decisions, but if that guy gets back from the evacuation, sees what I’ve done, and takes me to court, any judge in this country will throw out the case as being frivolous.

And yes, I will pay him for the nails when he gets back. I might even buy him a new hammer to compensate him for the wear and tear on the hammer that I used.

Maybe he won’t think I’m such a jerk anymore :smile:

It is entirely possible for two people to objectify one another by mutual consent, whether it is in a sexual context, or some other context. For instance, the young “trophy wife” who pursues her husband for his wealth and power (sometimes regardless of other factors, such as age, appearance, personality, habits, religion, etc.), and the same husband who prizes his wife for her youth and beauty, can be said to “objectify” one another — witness the gossiper’s lament that “she only married him for his money”. Very often such couples resort to “wear 'em out, use 'em up, spit 'em out, and move on” mentality — I’ve known of cases.

Come again?

Of course new life can come forth through the use of NFP — that’s the whole idea. The couple is open to life, but leaves the ultimate decision in the Hands of God, where it belongs. Putting up a barrier, or altering the woman’s physical system, does not do that. Yes, miracles can happen — just like in the scene from Pulp Fiction where the roommate fires several shots straight at Jules and Vincent, and they all miss. The roommate’s intention was to kill both of them, and Jules speaks at length about the miracle that just took place. (While it is a great scene — and a great movie! — I cannot post a clip due to the very rough language, and probably, the extreme violence as well. Both would probably violate CAF guidelines. Those so moved may Google it.) You can’t say “it was okay for the roommate to shoot Jules and Vincent, because he might just miss — and that’s precisely what happened”.

But objectify is a negative term. Literally to ‘degrade to the state of a mere object’. Note the word ‘degrade’. If you love someone and you are performing a sexual act by mutual consent that you both enjoy then it is not objectification. And note also the word ‘both’. One person can get pleasure out of the other person’s pleasure.

As regards Pulp Fiction and having nothing to do with this discussion whatsoever, there is a miracle in that scene you may have missed. If you watch it again, in the shot of Jules and Vincent just before the kid bursts in from the kitchen, you can see some bullet holes in the wall behind them before any shots are fired. Someone in continuity got their wrist slapped for that…

IOW, it is best to consult a lawyer to determine whether stealing is intrinsically right or wrong? I suspect that there are many American lawyers who will agree with that.

I would define “objectify” as “using another person for your own ends”, whether those ends be pleasure, acquisition of wealth, preening one’s own ego, and so on. Perhaps I have another concept in mind. I’ve always just heard it called “using someone”.

I am well aware of the bullet holes having been there before the roommate shot at Jules and Vincent. There is probably nothing that ever appears in a Tarantino film that is “there just by accident”. Perhaps someone had shot at someone else in that same apartment. Perhaps it is just a continuity error. With Tarantino, you just never know. Every time you watch one of his movies over (and that is precisely what he intends you to do), something you never noticed before, rears its ugly head, and it’s one more thing to make you stop and ponder. The man is a cinematic genius. He accomplishes this with everything from cereal boxes, to feet, to keychains. Amazing man.

Well mutual pleasure can hardly be classed as ‘using one another’. If my wife didn’t want sex but quietly aquiessed just so I could have my pleasure then I would be objectifying her. But there are many instances of non productive sex when that is obviously not the case. So ‘objectification’ cannot be used as a catch all argument.

+1 on Tarantino.

It wasn’t stealing, in the example I just provided. Goods were needed in a crisis and there was no other way to get them.

I tried to address this earlier, but CAF’s filters kicked out my response, not for any bad reason, but simply because you can’t exceed three replies consecutively. I lost my text. Here goes again:

No, not everyone who practices contraception has adultery up their sleeve, nor the proclivity to it, but it does make adultery easier — assuming it is 100% foolproof, which it isn’t, but just for the sake of argument — there is less likelihood of an unwanted pregnancy with it than without it. The wife will not have a pregnancy to conceal, and the husband won’t have a woman across town who is carrying his child and who will eventually be going to court to make him submit to a paternity test, if she has to.

No, most people in the world, and far too many Catholics are among them, view contraception just as “the thing you do” when you don’t want a child. A woman getting married (assuming she is not already sexually active) has her doctor to “put her on birth control” and it’s as matter-of-fact as getting medicine for cholesterol or diabetes. People plan to have their children when they want them, not before, not after, and only as many as they want. It makes life much easier, marriage easier to contemplate, and enables the woman to work whenever she pleases. In all honesty, if it weren’t for the Catholic teaching against contraception, it would be something foolish to object to. Our modern society and economy depends on contraception almost as much as it depends on electricity, plumbing, clean water, and transportation. It’s made our culture what it is.

One thing I think gets lost in all of this, though, is that no one has to get married, and no one has to have sexual relations. It is a want, it is a drive, but it is not a need. Nobody ever died from lacking either one. Within marriage, it is entirely possible that something will happen, that forces the couple to abstain from sexual relations for an extended period, possibly for life — a prison sentence, serious illness, one partner being in a long-lasting coma or persistent vegetative state, some kind of injury that destroys the ability to perform the sex act, possibly for life. What then? In some of these cases, it would be either unnatural acts or nothing at all. In other cases, no acts would be possible, aside from the desirous partner gratifying themselves. What then? Are we animals? Does the sexual impulse know no bounds?

In the end, we either choose God, or we do not.

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