Unfair choice?

How to counter the following argument:

The choice for men according to catholic teaching is either to be abstinent or to mary, have sex and have as many children as is possible in respect to material, emotional and social “resources” (Some people can support 10 children, others already struggle at 2). In both cases they are free to pursue any job or occupation they desire, with the caveat in the latter case, that they need more bucks.

The choice for women according to catholic teaching is either to be abstinent or to mary, have sex and have as many children as is possible in respect to material, emotional and social “resources”. In the former case they are free to pursue any job or occupation they desire. In the later case the only reason to actually pursue a job is a a serious lack of income - so if there is no money for more children she should get a job, until there is enough money, so she can have more children.

So basically, men having sex does not limit their job options, while women have to choose a specific full time occupation,if they want to have sex.
This is unjust and therefore amoral. As its the church teaching, the church is amoral. (Edited)

End of argument.

Now i do not mind this argument, as i personally think next “K, where is the warranty i got entering the world, guaranteeing it is and will be fair, because i want to check whether i can sue somebody. Ah, i must have lost it somewhere. Then obviously i cannot sue anybody and have to live with the world being unfair.”

But i do not know how to refute that argument with other people. Many are less cynical than i am.

Is that really the Catholic teaching? what is the reference for that?
If a wealthy Catholic family want to have only one child, so is that a sin?

I don’t see why a woman can’t get a job in either case, and why if she does in the latter case, it’s because she’s poor and needs the money. :shrug:

One must have just reason to avoid further children. Therefore the condition “as is possible in respect to material, emotional and social “resources””.

So if the wife is not working and has no other occupation and has no medical or psychological problems, they must stop avoiding further children.

If she is working or has an occupation and does it for financial gain, purpose for her life or because she wants a career as her husband and likes to be independent, its bad luck, because these are not valid reasons as i understand it.

What i forgot in initial post is, that if she works in some charitable way and her work cannot be replaced by simply giving money or simply someone else, then it could be a valid reason.

So women got from 2 to 3 options:
-no sex and no marriage
-marry and work in charity and have few children
-marry and have as many children as resources and biology allow

Somepeople would still call it unfair. How to argue?
Has the counter argument rely on definition of valid reasons or are there other counters possible?

Well, first of all, for most of human history parents have worked in such a way that their children could be around while they were doing it. About 20 years ago, while the rest of society continued to debate working mothers and childcare, the Amish were concerned because land prices were necessitating that fathers go out to work, taking them away from their children.

And women have always “worked” according to their station. See Proverbs 31. Even just "staying at home, as we put it, involved going out to fetch water, going out to buy food, etc, and washing clothes probably took place by a river and not in one’s home.

The reality is that our modern culture is so terribly skewed in its way of thinking that we do not realize that life is unfair. Do you think that men like toiling in cubicles or factory stations all day for someone else? Do you think they like commuting? But because our culture falsely regards economic production as the most important thing a person can do, not earning money is seen very negatively.

So I would say that the Church teaches not that we must have as many children as we possibly can but that we accept with gratitide the gifts of life God sends us, and that we do our best to fulfill the duties of our states of lives, not that wome n are forced to “stay home and not work.” Some women have the temperament and resources to raise their children well and follow another calling as well, other women do not.

If i get it correctly, you argue, that the assesment of the situation being “unfair” is wrong?

Regarding the individual points, whether or not the modern culture is skewed and whether or not it values money too much and whether or not working is “fun”, this does not change, that the husband has to some extent a choice in what he does. The wife does not have one or much (the later only with childcare from a rather young age). So the husband has more freedom.

Regarding accepting with gratitude, this would be an attempt to convince the other side, that its not unfair but something to be happy about. I do not thik this would convince anyone raising the above argument, most likely i suspect the rebuttal, that one does not want to be brainwashed.

Regarding some women having resources to do more, this is primarily dependent upon the couples natural fertility. No mother of 10 is occupied with much else and certainly not a job.

So the situation would still be:
Husband can work/occupy his time in principle in a place and under conditions of his choosing provided he earns enough. (Which is a “restriction” most people anyway tryto meet, independent of their situation at home.)
Wife might work/occupy her time in a place and under conditions of her choosing provided the couple is not very fertile. (And on average women without some form of contraception or abstinence having regularly sex from 18 till 45 will have something like 6 - 10 childrens, so thats only a small minority.).

(If the husband does not earn enough, she has a choice but they are poor, so this freedom is rather limited.)

So we have two aspects so far, that might be argued about:

  • what just reasons are and that they are less limited than i assume in my OP

  • that the assesment of “unfair” is wrong or based on attitudes/assumptions that are wrong, e.g. too much value placed in freedom or earning material wealth

Without getting into particular aspects of the argument you present, I would ask the one presenting it for their sources - the underlying documents etc - upon which they base this understanding.
If they do present you with documents you can then discuss with them the various ways in which those documents can be understood.
If they do NOT present you with documents, then - well - then what are they basing this supposed “teaching” on??

Peace
James

The lack of source is only relevant, if the argument depicts church teaching falsely.
Based on this:
catholic.com/quickquestions/what-are-some-reasons-that-justify-avoiding-pregnancy

i cannot see any error.
“Humanae Vitae says that a couple may morally space births if there are well-grounded reasons “arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances” (HV 16).”

Or in other words, if he earns enough, she is not in danger of nervous brakedowns and so on from another child and has no medical issues and there are not some realy unusual circumstances (e.g. he works in China 6 months a year), then they lack valid reasons.

That no one outside is allowed to judge the number of children:
“The parents themselves and no one else should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God.” helps in view of this world (So a priest cannot tell them “I know you can afford a new car, your neighbors told me your last serious fights are 2 years past, you both are healthy and you have just 3 children with the youngest already being 5, stop sinning and have another.”), but it does not change anything about the argument,if the truly can afford a new car, their current children are through the worst, they have no medical issues and their marriage is going on without serious problems, they lack valid reasons and should from church teaching see that they have a fourth child.

In the first place, amoral is not the word the person making this horrible argument probably intended. Even if he meant “immoral,” it remains a horrible argument.

It assumes, for example, that the roles of men and women cannot be reversed such that the woman has a million babies and then goes back to work while the man stays home and changes diapers. It also assumes that it is better to go to work than to stay home and change diapers. Many would disagree with this, such as the wives of coal miners, combat Marines and soldiers, and those of anyone who has ever had my job.

It further assumes that inequality is unjust, and that assumption is particularly ridiculous. For example, men are at least as interested in womens’ breasts as women are, but women have all the breasts, and men only have their own nipples. Is that unjust and therefore immoral? Of course not, because inequality of circumstance does not always equate with injustice. Should everyone poke out their eyes so that the blind don’t have to suffer the injustice of some having sight? Of course not, because it is not an injustice for some to be blind while others see - unless you are a modern liberal. But there is more to this wretched argument.It claims that a variety of things are Church teaching when they simply are not.

Finally, it assumes that the word “immoral” (rendered amoral:shrug:) has a meaning which can be used to condemn God by first condeming his creation. But the word has no meaning without the nature of God, being known through his laws, first establishing a standard of right and wrong. To be immoral is to be in opposition to God’s law, which defines morality and without which there would be no unchanging standard of right and wrong. The person is attempting to argue that morality is first defined, then God’s law comes into opposition with it. His cart, as they say, is before his horse.

Tell him to take this :twocents: downtown and buy a better argument from a third grader.

Logic clearly needs to be a required course in schools.

Again - I am short of time so cannot really research this right now - Perhaps later…

However - I’d like to make one quick point. The argument presented appears to take a very “legalistic” view - as though Catholics must respond in some sort of “autonomic” manner.
I completely overlooks the principle of the “Well formed conscience” and instead substitutes a rigid “If-then” sort of thinking.

There are a great many factors that can go into the possible decisions and choices. These are best left to the couple and to their spiritual adviser.

Peace
James

Check out your next paragraph, women have breasts and an uterus. So role reversal is limited. Coal miner and 8th month pregnant do not go hand in hand.

Furthermore i am certain on can quite many quotes from church about not acting against the natural order. And while it is sometimes hard to determine exactly what that is, its obvious that in natural order children should be with mother up to age 2-3. If getting pregnant every 3-4 years, that means that role reversal is limited to a very limited time.

I admit it assumes, that more freedom of choice is normaly better than less freedom of choice. But i suspect few people would disagree with that.

The assumption used in the argument implicitely is that it would be unjust, if there are better and lesser humans, which is the case if more freedom is better.

And while discussing Gods justness is questionable, a god that deliberatly creates lesser and better humans would be quite something to gulp down.

So we can add a 3rd argument:

  • what just reasons are and that they are less limited than i assume in my OP

  • that the assesment of “unfair” is wrong or based on attitudes/assumptions that are wrong, e.g. too much value placed in freedom or earning material wealth

  • creation of lesser and better humans is not inherently unjust

The argument is false from the get go. There is nothing that requires the woman to be the stay at home parent, nothing that does not prevent the woman from having the job with the income that supports the family and not the man. The husband/father can certainly be the stay at home parent. And nothing that requires a woman to not pursue a job for other benefits other than money and still raise her children. Both husband and wife are free to pursue career choices or be the stay at home parent OR even both work if that’s what they desire. They are required to be open to life which does not automatically equate to having as many children as possible. Just because a couple can get pregnant does not mean they automatically WILL get pregnant.

a) We have to look at what could be normally expected. Some couples do not have any children at all. But on average a continously sexually active couple would end up with 6-10 children, if they start at age 18. Pearl index for no contraception is about 85%, so the vast majority of women would be pregnant after 1.5 years. Add to that 9 months pregnancy and 2 years of protection from breast feeding and we will have 1 child every 4 years. Starting at 18 means first birth at 20, 2nd 24 with 6th at 40. And from people i know 4 year spacing is rather long, 2-3 years is more usual and will make up for reduced fertility in the 30s and 40s, so 6 is a good estimate.

b) Breast feeding is preferred especially as otherwise the next pregnancy is much sooner. So our theoretical average women has roughly 2 years from 18 to 20 to work. Then about 2 years unable to work due to caring for small one. Then again 2 years work, then again small child. There are not many jobs where a rhythm of 2 years work, 2 years no or little work is efficient and will be appreaciated.
So the average couple would be better of, if the husband stays in the job. And this would also be mandated by church teaching, as asking her husband to stay home so she can work 2 years is egoistic, if it reduces family income and especially job stability, which might be a hinderance in supporting further children.
Without breast feeding spacing, would be 1.5 to 2 years. (again remeber for average women regularly sexual active) Thats child 6-8 at 30, no chance to work much this way. Of course then she might be medically in condition that further children should be avoided, so she could work then freely. But i guess this would not convince anyone who argues in the way described in the OP.

A) your statistics are quite insulting to couples that experience infertility.

B) Breastfeeding might be preferred but that does not make it a requirement. Show me the Church teaching that requires the husband to work and not the woman. It might be YOUR preference, but you cannot require all couples to abid by what you think is right and wrong. Women can and do sometimes earn more than their spouses in certain career options. Again, you are speaking from what you think is the right way to go about having a family, but it is still only YOUR opinion, it is not fact nor a requirement for all Catholics to follow.

And to understand if the argument presented does, or does not, present Church teaching falsely, requires looking at the underlying documents…

Based on this:
catholic.com/quickquestions/what-are-some-reasons-that-justify-avoiding-pregnancy

i cannot see any error.
“Humanae Vitae says that a couple may morally space births if there are well-grounded reasons “arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances” (HV 16).”

Or in other words, if he earns enough, she is not in danger of nervous brakedowns and so on from another child and has no medical issues and there are not some realy unusual circumstances (e.g. he works in China 6 months a year), then they lack valid reasons.

That no one outside is allowed to judge the number of children:
“The parents themselves and no one else should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God.” helps in view of this world (So a priest cannot tell them “I know you can afford a new car, your neighbors told me your last serious fights are 2 years past, you both are healthy and you have just 3 children with the youngest already being 5, stop sinning and have another.”), but it does not change anything about the argument,if the truly can afford a new car, their current children are through the worst, they have no medical issues and their marriage is going on without serious problems, they lack valid reasons and should from church teaching see that they have a fourth child.

The article you linked above has some interesting quotes in it that perhaps you are not fully integrating and this is causing the argument to be somewhat skewed in the OP.

From the Article - as quoted from “Gaudium et Spes”
Parents should regard as their proper mission the task of transmitting human life and educating those to whom it has been transmitted. They should realize that they are thereby cooperators with the love of God the Creator, and are, so to speak, the interpreters of that love. Thus they will fulfill their task with human and Christian responsibility, and, with docile reverence toward God, will make decisions by common counsel and effort.** Let them thoughtfully take into account both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born and those which the future may bring. For this accounting they need to reckon with both the material and the spiritual conditions of the times as well as of their state in life. Finally, they should consult the interests of the family group, of temporal society, and of the Church herself. The parents themselves and no one else should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God.** But in their manner of acting, spouses should be aware that they cannot proceed arbitrarily, but must always be governed according to a conscience dutifully conformed to the divine law itself, and should be submissive toward the Church’s teaching office, which authentically interprets that law in the light of the Gospel. That divine law reveals and protects the integral meaning of conjugal love, and impels it toward a truly human fulfillment.

Certain modern conditions often keep couples from arranging their married lives harmoniously, and . . . they find themselves in circumstances where at least temporarily the size of their families should not be increased. As a result, the faithful exercise of love and the full intimacy of their lives is hard to maintain. (GS 50 - 51)

Now - as regards the bolded - it is the parents alone who must make the decision. The Job of the Church is to help guide - but not force - their actions. Ultimately it is between the Couple and Our Lord, what decisions they make with regard to family size, work arrangements etc.
In forming their consciences they are to be, “…submissive toward the Church’s teaching office…”, not held hostage by some legalistic and narrow interpretation of the guidance provided by the Church.

I think that what I find most disturbing in the argument presented in the OP is how it fails to stem from Love - from a loving understanding of the teachings and guidance the Church provides.
Christian Love - Especially in a Christian Marriage - must be ordered first to God. Then to each other and to any children that the marriage is blessed with.

Such Love - between spouses and from parents to children - must seek the highest good of the other and of the family as a whole. That highest good begins with the desire that all are saved and make it to heaven. Then the highest good requires sacrificing for the other…how such sacrifices might effect family size, work choices, living arrangements, amount and timing of conjugal relations and a host of other factors will vary in an infinite number of variations and permutations - As infinite as the number of families and the daily/monthly/yearly changes in their particular circumstances.

So - to me the fundamental flaw in the OP argument is simply this. It does not stem from Love. Instead it stems from a legalistic and narrow reading of certain church guidelines and then presents the argument in a manner that does not accurately reflect Church teaching on the matter.

Peace
James

It’s not just that which is wrong with their views, but they are not considering what it means to make a decision, which is to pick one option and leave the rest.*

When we make a decision, turning away for the other options, we are in effect sacrificing those options for the one we choose.’

At the end of 4 grueling uears of pre-med study, students have to choose what they will do next. Most will probably choose med school, sacrificing law and other types of post-grad education, spending 4 years in Hawaii surfing, voing on a world tour with a rock band, becoming a ballerina…

You can probably see that this is also a setting priorities, and in fact, a formation of what the person is deciding to become. And this occurs with each and every decision we make.

The average secularist seems to consider sexual activity as some sort of natural right. They complain when the Church restricts sexual activity to marriage. And they complain when the Church says that sexual activity must be undertaken with the end in mind; ie, that the end, or goal, of sexual activity is to produce children, and the end of marriage is to form a family in which to raise those children in the best possible way (with a mother who is a woman and a father who is a man, each of whom was involved in the act of love which created the child).

So in this regard, we each need to make choices, sacrifices. First, one must consider if one will obey the natural law and accept that sexual activity is reserved for marriage, and then one must consider if one will make the decision for or against peronally getting married. Among Catholics, this process is called discernment; one prays to God to show His will for the person’s state of life.*

The limitations for each are indeed different, but each person is deciding to accept those limitations. Therefore, it is not unfair.

In addition, there is another reason that this is not unjust. Justice is giving to each person what is due to him. I break Mrs X’s window, I have to make sure it is repaired. I take home a roast, I have to exchange something of equal value.

However, God does not owe us anything at all. He has already given us every thing we have. We have absolutely nothing, not even oir existence, withoit God.

And since God made our species the way He did, that’s all to the good, except when we mess it up.

Sorry about that, but they are not mine:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infertility#Prevalence
“Fertility problems affect one in seven couples in the UK. Most couples (about 84 out of every 100) who have regular sexual intercourse (that is, every 2 to 3 days) and who do not use contraception will get pregnant within a year. About 92 out of 100 couples who are trying to get pregnant do so within 2 years.[6]”

I do not have an opinion regarding breast feeding. It is only relevant, because it is a way to space children further apart.

Without breast feeding more pregnancies. Result same, in most jobs wife is seriously disadvantaged, which likely will result in lower pay.

And just as with infertile couples, which will not face problem of many children, but of too few or none (and therefore the wife can work under such circumstances), there are of course exceptions.

But if one looks at the norm its simple:
The average sexually active women would have 5+, if no contraception/NFP/abstinence is used. With 5+ children the average women will earn less than her husband even if he is the perfect husband and takes as much care of the children as he can.
Therefore, if they have enough money and get along with each other, she will be a stay at home mum if adherent to church teaching, because she would not have valid reasons to abstain from having 5+ children.

In real life its very different, because very few actually follow church teaching:
livescience.com/13708-catholics-contraceptives.html
Therefore the results i describe, do not materialize. But that happens in spite of church teaching, so cannot be used to defend it.

@JRKH

What number of children would fertile couples with enough financial resources and assuming absence of psychological and mental problems have, if following church teaching?

We might disagree what church teaching says in that matter, but if one knows what the church teaches, this question has an answer, because otherwise it just depends on biology.

If you find my argument disturbing, i understand that, i dislike the argument myself, but i cannot realy nail it down, why its wrong. Maybe thats because i do not realy understand love. But anyone outside the church is unlikely to understand the meaning of the word, so would have no reason to understand the consequences of church teaching differently. And its not made up, i heard hurtful comment in that regard.

"Finally, they should consult the interests of the family group, of temporal society, and of the Church herself. "

This could be a backdoor. The well being of temporal society might profit from the couple limiting thenumber of children, so she can work. As some jobs beneficial for society (i do not mean bankers) are paid well or are at least more complex than cashier, this would allow carreer.

@St Francis
While i cannot say your arguments are wrong, i can say that they lack a certain PR appeal. To refute the OP argument this way, one has to convince the other side first that God exists, that the church is His legitimate “ground oranization” and that it did not err in these matters. That would not be something short.

You have a friend who is critquing Church teaching. The problem is that you seem to want 1. to convince her that she is wrong, and 2. do it from her point of view.

But you can’t really do that… our teachings interlock, you might say, in such a way that you can’t take some of them out and prove them using other criteria, esp criteria which has been philosphically developed by people inimical to Church teaching if not the Church Herself.

So your friend will probably continue to think that Church teaching is unfair, but all you can really do is to explain the Church’s reasoning and then move on.

I used to try to convince people, but what I found was that generally they did not want to consider that maybe the Church was right. So I switched to just explaining Church teaching… not that I always remebered that, but I try to stick to that rule :slight_smile:

Each family would be different. How about a personal example. My maternal grandparents had 3 children. My Paternal grandparents had 6. This was before much in the way of contraception and BOTH families were devout Catholics and would not have practiced contraception if it were available.
No Catholic family that I have ever known of has felt ANY pressure from the Church to have more children. It is up to each couple to decide.

We might disagree what church teaching says in that matter, but if one knows what the church teaches, this question has an answer, because otherwise it just depends on biology.

Yes there is an answer… The answer is that the Church offers certain guidelines and after that it is up God and the married partners…

If you find my argument disturbing, i understand that, i dislike the argument myself, but i cannot really nail it down, why its wrong. Maybe that’s because i do not really understand love. But anyone outside the church is unlikely to understand the meaning of the word, so would have no reason to understand the consequences of church teaching differently. And its not made up, i heard hurtful comment in that regard.

Oh I’m sure that it is not made up. But I’m not sure that this is actually your argument. It sounds more like something that someone else gave you and that you are having trouble refuting…

As to understanding Love, few really do. I feel I have a fair handle on it - intellectually - but I struggle mightily with putting it into practice…:blush:
The thing to realize is that Everything - From God’s creation, to Jesus incarnation, teaching, death and resurrection, to the written Scripture to the teachings of the Catholic Church ALL stem from the God who IS Love (1 John 4:8). Jesus says in Mt 22:36-40 that everything - all the law and prophets - are built on Love of God and Love of neighbor. St Paul tells us in 1 Cor 13 that all the rest is noisy gong and clanging cymbals without Love.
Remove Love from the equation of understanding these matters, and you are left with Pharasitic Legalism.
This is why someone outside of the Church, and not touched by God’s Love, will not be able to understand this. Sadly - there isn’t a whole lot we can do about this. All we can do is to try to understand it ourselves from the angle of how it all fits together in Love and then try to convey this common thread to others. The rest is up to the Holy Spirit.

"Finally, they should consult the interests of the family group, of temporal society, and of the Church herself. "

This could be a backdoor. The well being of temporal society might profit from the couple limiting the number of children, so she can work. As some jobs beneficial for society (i do not mean bankers) are paid well or are at least more complex than cashier, this would allow career.

I don’t know about it’s being a “back door” but these elements do exist and so are legitimate factors to be considered in a couple making an informed decision.

Peace
James

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