Immorality and unrealistic expectations in social teaching

This one was another difficult post for me to phrase, but it is a genuine question of mine, especially in recent weeks due to events in my life and hearing Catholics (including one of my daughters who I have posted about here) speaking about.

As my religion box denotes, I am a deist (Succinctly I believe there is one God, who may or may not have an interest in humanity but I am very skeptical of any organized religion that claims to a unique revelation, purely because so many have and the reasons to back it up, especially in the cases of dubious figures like Joseph Smith are shady at best).

That said, if there was one revelation I would be most inclined to acknowledge as genuine it is that proposed by Christianity. Rather unlike several other prophets I can find few sources (by few, I refer mostly to the Infancy Gospel of Thomas) to suggest that he was anything less a holy man (utterly mad several leading deists and atheists might argue, but admirable in his own way all the same). Likewise by virtue of it’s age and other factors such as it’s legacy of theological works over the ages if I was to pick a denomination that was most likely to be true to it’s claims it would likely be either the Catholic or Orthodox Church.

That said, over my time studying theology, and during my marriage with a devout Catholic there has been one particular area of Catholicism that I have always struggled to find reasonable on any level; Catholic social teachings on several matters.

I’ll use contraception as an arbitrary example; long story short Catholics are not to use artifical contraception because it denies the unative aspect of intercourse/it places a block between man and wife and prevents full giving/maxes sex just all about the pleasure…Pick whichever party line suits you prefer, I’m sure we all know them by now.

It’s all made to sound all so quaint and romantic during pre-cana, but when push comes to shove it’s a really gruesome affair. After five children my body is a battered wreck, I can say quite confidently from personal experience there is nothing whatsoever glorious about perpetual pregnancy and that while NFP may work for some, the medical profession and my own experience proves otherwise (That’s right, I’m on the pill after complications after my last Cesarian and nothing short of a miracle is getting me off it).

On a larger scale too, countries which lack contraception (take Africa and the Philippines for instance where the Catholic Church has had a big hand in getting it banned in parts) are suffering from extremely high STD rates, overpopulation and famines brought on by overworking the land (in a world with modern medicine where most couples children survive to adulthood the land cannot provide enough food to sustain so many massive families). Take a look at the UK where they can’t even build houses fast enough to sustain the growing population.

It’s when I contemplate things like this I have to ask myself; if Catholic teaching is correct and true, why does it often appear unethical, unrealistic and on some occasions even destructive?

Don’t get me wrong, there are issues where I agree with it, I’m an active pro-life campaigner (albit I prefer to work with non-thiest groups on that matter) but on others such as Homosexuality, the role of women (not women priests) and political policy (it often seems nothing but a Catholic theocracy is acceptable) it seems to most outsiders like myself…Immoral,and in the case of the latter quite often tyrannical (I really can’t think of a softer way to put this).

I know I’m rambling, but I think my question can be summarized like this. If the Church is good, surely all of its policies should be good and recognizable for it, so why aren’t they? Several of them have little argument backing themt (by that I mean arguments that can’t be dismantled in three lines or less) short of “God/Pope XXXX said so” which for one who doesn’t believe in Papal Infallibility is little reassurance. A good idea tends to make sense, and people tend to pick up on it fast. Some of these ideas make so little sense, even Catholics don’t follow them (I read some figure that the number of Catholics who use artificial contraception was as high as 83%!)

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever had was off an elderly Jewish lecturer; “If it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t true”. I can’t help but feel this whenever I read or hear any of the Church’s arguments (put forward so far) against contraception, for annulments or on several other topics. I’m sure some of you are converts, how have you reconciled this, if you’ve managed it?

Your points are well taken.

I’ll just hit a couple.

One-you say your ‘body is a battered wreck’ after 5 kids, and that there is nothing glorious about perpetual pregnancy.’

I’d submit that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

My wife and I have 4; youngest is 2. We both started late, and I often joke that “i’m too damn old for a 2 year old”.

But beneath this inglorious surface, is a beauty that surpasses all the vanity and creature comforts of having more stuff, more money, more personal time, doing and traveling more because you have more time and money, looking younger, feeling younger, yadda yadda yadda…

The beauty is in the giving.

We give every ounce of ourselves, for our children.

You are an incredible example of divine beauty, and you don’t even seem to know it.

You have transmitted the greatest gift of all–life–times 5.

That is beyond beautiful–it’s down right glorious.

…and that is what would have been denied, by/through effective contraception.

As for making sense?

I say it makes less sense to subscribe to the secular conventional wisdom that has elevated creature comforts and vanity, over the gloriously beautiful miracle of life.


Well Jesus did say the world loved him so it would love us, too. Or was it hate? I mean, it seems to me that Catholicism is hated far more than makes sense. Sure, you disagree with things, but people disagree all the time without the sort of venom I’ve seen thrown my way just for saying I’m Catholic. Sure, the Church has made mistakes and will keep making mistakes. So does every other group, but it doesn’t seem the world remembers for very long.

I mean, let’s take a look at recent events. There was a sex abuse scandal involving a tiny percent of priests. Everyone said the whole Church was ******** and needs to go away.

Currently, ISIS is committing genocide and we are reminded by the media that Islam is a religion of peace.

I’m not going to argue anything about Islam here. Just using it as one example of how Christianity, and most notably Catholicism, seem to be disproportionately hated here. This was true even before homosexuality, contraception, abortion, etc. were in vogue.

Hmhmhmh…Ah, posts like yours always make me smile Goya. I’m not being sarcastic one bit, they actually do make me feel a bit brighter, uplifted even.

I’m proud of my children, and the fact I have so many, I may have even been inclined to have more had my last pregnancy not been such a messy affair.

It seems to be one of those things that look so beautiful on paper, but not so much when you’ve had the scars and other biological problems since. I could theoretically have more children, but my doctor has advised me this would be unwise for my health.

As far as the Church is concerned though, I can close my legs for the next however many years (could be as long as another 20 years, how many husbands would be happy with that prospect?) or I can potentially kill myself pumping out children like my womb is a mass production line. There is no alternative on offer, short of a potential eternity in hellfire and this is an issue I have discussed with the parish priest.

I agree with your sentiment RedFox, the Catholic does earn more ire than other instutions which does seem rather unfair. Unfair though it may be I think there are two good reasons for it. It makes such grand claims to be the source of all morality and truth (so when we find clerics soliciting sex from roman prostitutes in gaybars we all find this a bit hypocritical, something we probably wouldn’t as much if a secular politican did it).

The other is that the Church rarely apologizes when it screws up. I mean wasn’t it about 400 years before Galileo got one? Nevermind the Cathars, the children abused in church ran institutions during the 1900’s…You get the picture.

I guess extraordinary claims need extra effort put into them to be taken seriously. I can’t claim to be a nun if I go round having sex with everything with a pulse. It’s the same when the Church claims to be the source of all truth and morality. Though it may be the sinners inside doing it, they are the face we see of the Church most often.

I can’t account for anyone else in paticular Redfox but I don’t want the Catholic Church to go away. Sure, I’d certainly like it to be a bit more transparent in its dealings (even on ground level my parish is like a Byzantine court with all the factional backbiting, plotting and bitching going on) so there’s less risk of corruption as we’ve seen thus far.

What really got everyone upset about the sex scandal wasn’t so much the number of priests involved, but the fact that it went right to the top. There is no room for doubt that the then Cardinal Ratzinger knew about several cover ups and more than likely had a hand in them (some would go further and say it went all the way up to John Paul II but there’s little to back that up, for Benedict however it’s undeniable, he knew and did nothing to help the victims. If anything, the Church helped the aggressors, such as those smear trials against the victims down in Australia if anyone is familiar with them).

I don’t know what newstations your watching, but I’ve heard nothing but condemnation of the “murderers, blackguards and assassins” that make up the Islamic State Organization.

There’s no wet liberal gush there.

True, and this is largley because of how old it is and how much power it has had over the world, sometimes used for good, but just as often at least for bad.

It’s not just the Church, everything from the British Monarchy to the Freemasons gets criticized too; there’s just more ammo to use on the Catholic Church because it’s been so active and powerful down the centuries.

I think you have a really good question. You asked for converts opinions, and while I’m not a convert, I recently was reading something by one that dealt with the same question as you have here.

This lady had a similar background as you, except she was actually an atheist, and she slowly became convinced of the truth of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. But she struggled especially with the Church’s moral teachings. Then she was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness that’s exacerbated by pregnancy, which made things harder obviously. Anyways, I wanted to quote a part from her book, I think you can probably relate to her feelings:

I wish I could quote the whole thing, she ends up discovering some good insights. I’d try and share them myself, but I think it would be more worthwhile if you read the book yourself. It’s actually a pretty entertaining read. :yup:

One thing I’d point out though is it’s really not accurate nor fair to blame the AIDS crisis in Africa on the Church’s teaching. It’s not from lack of contraception that there’s such a widespread problem over there. In fact, if people were following the Church’s guidelines for sex (No sex until marriage, staying faithful to one’s spouse for life) there wouldn’t be an issue at all. And giving people condoms doesn’t help the problem either unfortunately. If anything, it only encourages the reckless behavior that leads to infection. :sad_yes:

Anyways, I hope you check out that book, because I really think it could help you out with this. Here’s the link on Amazon if you’re interested.

I think you bring up some valid points.

Just to touch on the birth control issue–I’m familiar with women for whom a pregnancy would be life threatening, if not fatal. As a matter of fact, one of them died. But she chose to take the risk (she was Mormon, not Catholic, by the way). I don’t see the value in dying and leaving her children without a mom.

As for homosexuals, women priests, etc., my opinions are somewhat different from the official Church doctrines, to lesser or greater extents, depending on the circumstances and my mood at the time.

I do agree that there are unrealistic expectations, and that in many situations it’s all or nothing.

Overall, however, I choose to stick with the Church. On balance, there’s a lot more I concur with than disagree with.

Probably true, but the fact is people aren’t and won’t. So then what? That’s the crux of the issue.

This could’ve been written by my wife.

Honey, is that you?:confused: :stuck_out_tongue:

Regarding artificial birth control…
As I see it, those who are sexually active and use artificial birth control to avoid pregnancy are just as disordered as those who overeat and deliberately vomit after eating food to avoid gaining weight. If you don’t want to gain weight, don’t overeat. And, if you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sexual intercourse while you are fertile. This is realistic to anyone willing to exercise a little rational, self-control.

Life’s a lot easier when it can be rationalized into neat boxes. :wink:

The OP is right when she says that ‘its a gruesome affair’. However such is the path that leads to life. The Cross was a gruesome affair ‘so disfigured didhe look, our eyes could not look upon him’, ‘a man of suffering, rejected by the world’: & yet such is the path to life! And of course, to follow such a path one needs the grace of God & the help of The Holy Spirit, as without these, we would definitely be like St Peter urging Our Lord to save Himself. And yet, it is this that our lives depend upon. We are called to be like Christ! Of course, the church does not say that you have to become pregnant if it will lead to the death of the mother.

Valiente88 #1
Succinctly I believe there is one God, who may or may not have an interest in humanity but I am very skeptical of any organized religion that claims to a unique revelation, purely because so many have and the reasons to back it up, especially in the cases of dubious figures like Joseph Smith are shady at best…

Even Antony Flew, the most notorious atheist, now attests to reason and is now a deist so that is a step in the right direction:
“I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite Intelligence,” he affirms. "I believe that this universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source.
“Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than half a century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science. Science spotlights three dimensions of nature that point to God. The first is the fact that nature obeys laws. The second is the dimension of life, of intelligently organized and purpose-driven beings, which arose from matter. The third is the very existence of nature.” (There Is a God, 2007, pp. 88-89).

To really believe in “one God” but be “very skeptical of any organized religion that claims to a unique revelation” is running away from the reality that God revealed Himself categorically.

The historian Eusebius in his Church history, 4.3, 1.2, tells us that writing about 123 A.D., apologist Quadratus cited those in his day who had been cured or raised from the dead by Jesus of Nazareth – prime witnesses – long after the miracles, crucifixion and death of the Son of God. No other religious founder claimed to be God and proved it – not Mohammed of Islam, not in Hinduism, not in Buddhism, not in Taoism, not in Confucianism.

The vast gulf between Catholicism and any other religion is that the Catholic Church has been founded by a Divine Person who lived with a human and divine nature and claimed to be God, proving that claim by His resurrection. When God leads us through His Church, others fashion their own beliefs and morals.

Even Adolf von Harnack, a rationalist historian of high repute among Rationalists and Protestants, wrote that the Synoptic Gospels were written before 70 A.D. – before the fall of Jerusalem, and accepted the tradition that St Luke derived his information on the infancy of Jesus from Mary His Mother. Theologische Quartalsch, Tubingen 1929, IV, p 443-4].
[See *Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, The Saint Austin Press, 2001, Sheehan/Joseph p 89, 93].

Not only are the facts of Jesus miracles recorded by His own Apostles who were present – Saints Matthew and John were companions of Christ, and Saints Mark and Luke lived in constant contact with His contemporaries.

His miracles “were so frequent, the eyewitnesses so numerous, and the evidence so stark, that not even Christ’s enemies disputed the fact of their occurrence. Instead they ascribed them to the power of the devil, or defied Him to perform another one in His own favour.” (See Mt 12:24; 27:39-42; Jn 11:47). Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, Sheehan/Joseph, Saint Austin Press, 2001, p 104].

It was this Jesus who said to His apostles “he that hears you hears Me” (Lk 10:16).

I have always struggled to find reasonable on any level; Catholic social teachings on several matters.
If the Church is good, surely all of its policies should be good and recognizable for it, so why aren’t they?

“If the Church is good”? Who has the authority to decide what is “good in Christ’s Church and His teaching” since Christ, the Son of God, established the Church to teach, sanctify and rule in His Name?
Further, there are no “policies” in truth – there are doctrines and dogmas taught by Christ’s Church which require assent.

In view of these facts, who has any authority to choose to decide what is “good” on their own whim?

Though it may be the sinners inside doing it, they are the face we see of the Church most often.

How strange to set those who distort or disobey Her teaching against those like St John XXIII, St John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI! Where is the reality in that brooding, when one of Christ’s chosen twelve betrayed Him? Yet His Church is the largest by far, and the only one to fully and intelligently teach doctrine and dogma on every aspect of human faith and morals and which has produced so many recognised saints.

on_the_hill #7
As for homosexuals, women priests, etc., my opinions are somewhat different from the official Church doctrines, to lesser or greater extents, depending on the circumstances and my mood at the time.

Jesus, the Christ, had a succinct answer for that malady. The pick and choose, self–described “Catholic” needs to listen to Christ Himself:
“if he refuses to hear even the Church let him be like the heathen and a publican.” (Mt 18:17).

Dealing with Darkened Intellects on Marriage
By Dr. Jeff Mirus September 12, 2013

“Many have noted how we have paved the way in our culture for the separation of marriage from natural reproduction and family, tracing the progressive diminishment of marriage through materialism, divorce, contraception, cohabitation, and homosexuality. That path is fairly clear. But I wish to call attention to a different path, the path which has eliminated the capacity of so many to recognize the rational claims of the opposite view, even if on balance they disagree.

“It is not at all difficult to understand the cause. The cause is the darkening of the intellect due to sin. It would be hard to find a clearer case. We very much need to use marriage as an illustration of this serious danger, for all those who have not yet lost their minds.”

I hate to nitpick on one sentence from your post, but can you point me to the medical literature that says NFP isn’t effective (or at least not as effective as artificial forms)? I know some doctors, pharmacists, and NFP instructors that have told me that various studies show that NFP, when understood and practiced correctly, is an effective means of delaying pregnancy. And, while this is rather anecdotal, the medical professionals that I have come across that condemn NFP don’t understand it, never took the time to research it, and still think it’s a synonym for the rhythm method.

I just squirm a little when I see blanket statements like “the medical profession proves…” because it does frame the Catholic Church’s teaching as making no sense and being completely out of touch with medicine and science. From my perspective, the opposite could be said that NFP is more in line with medicine and science because it’s designed to work in accordance with your body’s physiology.

I’ve been meaning to find a few extra books to take with me on holiday recently, it’s another one to add to my list (I tend to read through them quite fast, and I run out of ideas where to look at next). The link is much appreciated, thank you :slight_smile:

Oh I’m sure that is the case, I mean I think it’s clearly totally unrealistic but that’s not even my main gripe personally. An absolute standard has been created that makes no allowance for individual cases, let me just provide two examples that aren’t related to a desire to sleep around.

  1. I might be chaste, but my husband could be the village “bike”, every other woman in town gets a ride at some point behind my back. He could pick up one of several STD’s while cheating and there have been cases just like this.

That leaves me in a quandary, even if I forgave my adulterous husband, I have to basically consent to being infected with whatever nasty STD he’s picked up that a condom could prevent me from catching. Either that or I can give up my sex life because my husband behaved like a slut.

  1. A child is born with AIDS (and this is common in Africa) due to no fault of his own. Were he allowed to use a condom he could live an otherwise fairly normal life, with the chance of infecting a spouse with HIV relatively low if precautions were taken. If he obeys church teaching though, his spouse has to consent to being infected with HIV (and who’s going to let that happen? He’s pretty much barred from marriage instead).

Does the ban on contraception sound reasonable in either of these cases (and there are many cases studies of these kinds of scenarios and many more)? The Catholic Church would obliged me to agree it is when it really…isn’t.

I would agree with you on_the_hill :slight_smile: But from what I gather from the conservative Catholics in my mist there is no picking and choosing; it is all or nothing. You take it all or you’re in sin and/or aren’t a real Catholic.

I know most Catholics I know don’t take it like this, short of my husband and his family absolutely every Catholic I’ve ever met in person has admitted to using or has used contraception, a good number have had divorces and remarriages outside the church as well. It seems odd to me, the Magesterium insists on one thing but most of the Church doesn’t pay the slightest bit of attention (one of the reasons I struggle to take the claims to infallibility more seriously).

I understand why they don’t, the rules on contraception do sound silly to me but it makes the Church Hierarchy look a bit farcical.

Yes, how dare I not want to commit suicide from trying to sustain a pregnancy with my already seriously damaged organs, how very selfish of me. :confused:

Eh…Did you read my original post? Not everyone takes the pill just because they’re a raging nymphomaniac who doesn’t want the “consequences” of children. Some of us (like myself) just don’t want to die trying to undertake a sixth pregnancy our doctors have made very clear we wouldn’t be likely to survive, or to avoid horrible diseases our partners might afflict us with.

It’s good to have a benchmark standard, but you can’t apply it everywhere.

Thank you, I’m familiar with Archbishop Sheehans core Catholic text so I understand where your getting at. Christianity may be one of the few ancient religions that claim a divine founder but it’s not the only one.

It might seem like a rather comical example but lets look at North Korea’s Political psuedo-theocratic policy of “Juche” (i.e: Kimilsungism, or “Kim Worship”).

Clearly we don’t believe it for one moment, but there are several texts floating around North Korea that describe Kim Il-Sung’s (The founder of North Korea and Kim Jong Un’s grandfather) decent from heaven, miracles he is said to have preformed and that after death he became a god who continues to watch over the people of North Korea and guide them on their inevitable rise to supremacy for their are the chosen of heaven and Lord of Korea (Kim Ill Sung, the “Eternal president”).

Until that time when Glorious true Korea wipes out the decadent western barbarians, they have the grandson of two divine beings (Kim Jong Un’s father is also hailed as a deity) who will lead the chosen people into founding a glorious new land.

Is it just me, or does this sound awfully similar to another ancient religion from the middle east regarding a certain chosen people who would be blessed by a messiah who would usher in the kingdom of Heaven? Perhaps the Kims plagiarized the Hebrew Bible, who knows? Either way, they’re hailed as if they were deities by North Koreans, several North Koreans who have fled the country testify that the Kims are considered to be all seeing Gods. There are even accounts from within the country suggesting Kim Jon Un himself has preformed miracles such as healing sick children.

Again, clearly he hasn’t, but modern media makes it clear to us he’s a fraud. Now we know myths like that can be created in a matter of months nevermind decades, why don’t we turn and compare it to to other religions…See where I’m going with this?

Who does indeed, and why especially the Catholic Church, an organization with a less than stellar track record?

Several areas the Catholic Church has ruled on have no biblical basis for their refusal (such as IVF), instead it’s crafted a rule set from rather loose vague interpretations of biblical passages addressing very different (often cultural) issues often more a matter of ancient culture than faith and traditions which don’t always go that far back.

And this is usually the part where I become at a loss, if God is Good, and the Church is the body of this God on earth then what it orders would be clearly and verifiable as good. Sometimes it is good without a doubt, but at others even Catholics disagree that it is correct.

Sure ok, well I don’t know about you but the World Health Organization is a pretty good source of data on medical data across the globe, and here’s their take on the most effective methods of contraception

They concede that on an ideal woman with regular clockwork cycles that never err one can achieve a success rate of about 97%, that’s still lower than a Condom even then. What they also highlight however is that in actual practice most womens biology does not produce a regular cycle, and success rates are in practice usually around 70%.

There’'s a good reason for this. NFP is not meant to be a contraceptive, it’s designed to “space out pregnancies”; in other words it’s implicitly designed to fail because at some stage if they like it or not the couple will be having a surprise pregnancy.

I tried to use a number of planning methods such as Creighton at the insistence of my Catholic husband to “space out” our children, much to my deep embarrassment I even hired someone to check my charts after the first two to make sure I was doing it right. After five of them more or less one after the other, I just grabbed a box of pills and I’ve not had once since.

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