Skip to comments.Teddy Roosevelt, the Family, Contraception, and Life Issues[my title]
Posted on 12/05/2001 7:02:22 PM PST by Antoninus
The following was excerpted from the 'From the Mail' column of The Wanderer, a weekly Catholic newspaper. It in turn excerpted it from the 2001 issue of a periodical called The Family in America. Enjoy!
On motherhood as the true source of progress, Teddy Roosevelt said:
"A more supreme instance of unselfishness than is afforded by motherhood cannot be imagined."
Before an audience of liberal Christian theologians in 1911, he said:
"If you do not believe in your own stock enough to see the stock kept up, then you are not good Americans, you are not patriots, and ... I for one shall not mourn your extinction; and in such event I shall welcome the advent of a new race that will take your place, because you wil have shown that you are not fit to cumber the ground."
On the centrality of the child-rich family to the very existence of the American nation:
"It is in the life of the family, upon which in the last analysis the whole welfare of the nation rests....The nation is nothing but the aggregate of the families within its borders."
"No other success in life, not being President, or being wealthy, or going to college, or anything else, comes up to the success of the man and woman who can feel that they have done their duty and that their children and grandchildren rise up to call them blessed."
On out-of-wedlock birth versus practiced sterility:
"After all, such a vice may be compatible with a nation's continuing to live, and while there is life, even a life marred by wrong practices, there is a chance of reform.
In another place, on the same subject:
"...[W]hile there is life, there is hope, whereas nothing can be done with the dead."
On the behavior of 90% of those who practice birth control:
"[It is derived] from viciousness, coldness, shallow-heartedness, self-indulgence, or mere failure to appreciate aright the difference between the all-important and the unimportant."
On the "pitiable" child-rearing record of graduates of women's colleges like Vassar and Smith who bore only 0.86 of a child each during their lifetimes:
"Do these colleges teach 'domestic science'?... There is something radically wrong with the home training and school training that produces such results."
These are just the tidbits. There's a lot more in this article. If others are interested and I get the chance, I'll transcribe the whole thing.
Of course, that would've happened AFTER they had duked it out.
"[It is derived] from viciousness, coldness, shallow-heartedness, self-indulgence, or mere failure to appreciate aright the difference between the all-important and the unimportant."
This is an interesting quote, but in case you haven't noticed, the country and the world have changed a little in the 100 years since Mr. Roosevelt was President. Our national security does not rest on our ability or inability to outbreed other nations. While I don't believe in killing the innocent unborn to solve overpopulation problems, the notion among many pro-lifers that the entire population of the world could live in Texas is ludicrous.
I live in Texas, and we have more than enough people as it is. Traffic in Houston is already snarled beyond what is healthy, and extending the sprawl in every direction would only break what is already dangerously bent. Much of west Texas is a desert, and finding water for everyone would be impossible. Where water is abundant, we have flood problems. Entire neighborhoods flooded by Allison are being condemned so that we don't have to keep rescuing the same people after every tropical storm. I'm hoping to leave Houston next year to get away from all of these people.
We don't need big families today the way that we needed them 100 years ago. There is nothing wrong with using birth control to decide when to start having kids and when to stop.
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There is nothing wrong with using birth control to decide when to start having kids and when to stop.Well that would be your view. In my view using birth control is using your reason to decide whether to have kids or not. However, no kid can be born without it being Gods will to grant that kid life. If God wills that I have a child, and I will that I not, which of us would be right? I go with Gods will over mine. Your mileage may vary.
I understand that some people believe that every instance of sexual intercourse should carry the highest possibility of producing children. If you want to believe that, go ahead, but nothing in the Bible says it directly. Interpretations that try to make this argument are a stretch at best. However, I concede your right to live by your interpretation of the Bible or your church's teaching even if I see it as foolish.
I think it's blind fear/worry as much as anything else.
Who doesn't know a couple who have limited their family size because they don't believe that they can afford college educations for more than two children? I think this falls in the category of not being able to distinguish between what's important and what's unimportant.
The devil can work very subtly. God wants our children to go to heaven, not Harvard.
He is fast becoming one of my favorite historical figures.
I love this one. A couple of years ago, while studying contemporary moral issues for the Diaconate, I remember dealing with contraception and the falacy of over-population. Apparently Europe is a dying continent from its contraceptive practices, and unless there is immigration growth in its population, they will become a third world power due to a lack of human resources. I shall not mourn, either!
Who am I to use a seat belt? If God wills that I die in a car crash and I will that I not, who is right?God does not directly command or create your death in a car. A soul is a very different thing then a car accident. God must will each and every soul into creation, He must specifically desire it. The same is not true for a car accident. The car accident cant happen if he doesnt allow it but allowing is not the same as willing.
We use our reason every day to decide what risks in life we will mitigate by various means. You may believe that birth control should be treated differently because it involves sex,No, not the sex but the soul. If sex was merely a physical act devoid of the spiritual ramifications I couldnt care less. It is the possibility of life and the creation of life, an issue on which we should most fully trust God.
but arguing against the principle of using our reason to influence the direction of our life is silly. I'm sure that you do it just as everyone else does.I do it and it isnt the principle in general I argue against. Use it to decide if you need a seatbelt or to pay off your credit cards. Im trying to say that the decision to create life or not create life (e.g., by contracepting) is best left to God.
I understand that some people believe that every instance of sexual intercourse should carry the highest possibility of producing children. If you want to believe that, go ahead, but nothing in the Bible says it directly.That isnt what I said, nor is it what I believe. I think that we should be open to life. That doesnt mean only having sex during a womans fertile period, for example. We can have relations during times that there is really very little chance of pregnancy. Sex between a couple is about much more than having a child, it is also a bond in the marriage, or at least should be, that draws the couple closer, etc.
Interpretations that try to make this argument are a stretch at best.Put the way you put it, I agree. I dont think the Bible says it the way you did.
Excellent reply in post # 25. I wish I had the education to be able to respond in kind, but I am catching up on "lost years" from the Church. I have lightyears to go, but each day brings me small steps of progress.
I feel that Teddy Roosevelt was fortunate to live when he did. Times were simpler, demands were fewer...I'll wager that he's doing cartwheels in his grave today!
To add to patent's well-taken point, sex even in an infertile marriage is a moral good. Nobody's saying "no sex except to have children" they are saying do not artificially separate the two natural aspects of sex--procreation and marital unity.
My husband and I are practicing, traditional Catholics. We've read Humanae Vitae, Vatican II writings, as well as the current Catechism. But if a married non-Catholic couple asked me why they should use NFP (as opposed to condoms), the only argument I'd have is that it's cheaper.
But if a married non-Catholic couple asked me why they should use NFP (as opposed to condoms), the only argument I'd have is that it's cheaper.LOL.
One relies on human reason to place a physical barrier between Gods will and the couple's will. The other relies on nature and the womans natural cycle, while still leaving open the possibility. If God wants to take it, and He certainly can, He will. IMHO the main difference is the mindset. One tries to use our human reason to avoid Gods will. The other tries to use human reason to work within the natural elements of Gods plan. If you focus on the end and say that the end justifies the means, losing sight of how you get to that end, then there is little difference between the condom and NFP. If, on the other hand, you seek to live your daily life according to Gods will, there is a big difference. If you dont care about God, or some variant of that, then again, the condom is just as good. Reason and faith ideally work together, and that is present in NFP.
Those of us who are pro-life must expend too much of our energies deflecting the "you only want to control everyone's sex life, and keep all women pregnant and out of control of their own reproduction" arguments, when we should be focused on preventing the institutionalized, deliberate, and elective killing of humans.
The rightness or wrongness of true contraception and family spacing is truly a personal religious belief. Not all of us who are pro-life are Catholic, or convinced that all methods of contraception or the practice of contraception itself are immoral. I appreciate the work you do on behalf of the pro-life effort, but I feel the need to speak up on this.
It does seem as though too many people have what seem to be "redundant children" (I know that there's no such thing, but that's how they act), so they don't take extra care with each of them to keep them safe. Or maybe the parents are just not paying enough attention - or don't have the personal resources - character or financial.
Thank God, families don't have to expect to lose one out of four or five to childhood diseases or catastrophes. We are blessed with lower and lower mortality rates each decade. Hurray for plumbing and hygeine, and antibiotics and most vaccinations!
The fact that many Mexicans want to come here is irrelevant. Your comments don't have any context.
Contraception, voluntary sterility, sexual deviancy, and abortion are all part and parcel of the evil correctly identified by the Catholic church and some others as the Culture of Death. The notion that we have an 'overpopulation' problem is the only ludicrous notion I've seen. Life is a good thing. Once you figure that out, you'll be a lot happier.
No, contraception and voluntary sterility do not kill anyone. They simply prevent some cells from uniting. That's all. Culture of death is just a rhetorical ploy to connect some unrelated issues in hopes of piggybacking support from people who recognize that abortion does kill. I'm simply reminding people that the issues are not the same.
While we don't have a overpopulation problem overall, the notion that we can all live in Texas is what is ridiculous.
They say that ignorance is bliss, so I doubt that anything can make you happier.
As long as no humans are killed, contraception is a very personal decision.All sins are very personal decisions. I would agree that we dont need laws on contraception they way that we need laws on abortion and murder. It is a very different type of sin, but all sins are personal.
It most certainly is not a reason to refrain from Christian fellowship - else, why did Phillip baptize the eunuch?Have I refrained from Christian fellowship? I thought this was a discussion, and I dont see the harm in discussing Christian beliefs here, perhaps that is wrong.
Those of us who are pro-life must expend too much of our energies deflecting the "you only want to control everyone's sex life, and keep all women pregnant and out of control of their own reproduction" arguments, when we should be focused on preventing the institutionalized, deliberate, and elective killing of humans.You are welcome to take that view, but I will not. Abortion was way outside the mainstream of discussion until the contraceptive mindset came in. That is, the mindset that children are a burden to be controlled or outright avoided; not a blessing from God. Im not sure we can ever fully win the abortion debate until people stop seeing children as a burden and start seeing their joy. That doesnt necessarily require changing hearts on contraception, but changing those hearts can only help.
If I am correct that contraception is a sin, as with all sins contraception plays right into the devils hands. To ignore it would let the devil maintain his advantage by controlling the terms of the debate. You are welcome not to spend too much energy on the contraception issue, and I have no desire to control anothers sex life, but if I can reorient one person to voluntarily think more clearly on the subject I will consider a lifetime of effort to be worthwhile.
The rightness or wrongness of true contraception and family spacing is truly a personal religious belief.What is not a personal religious belief?
Not all of us who are pro-life are Catholic, or convinced that all methods of contraception or the practice of contraception itself are immoral. I appreciate the work you do on behalf of the pro-life effort, but I feel the need to speak up on this.No problem. I am rarely bothered by conscientious disagreement or argument. I dont expect all to agree with me, nor should you expect all to agree with you. Not all who see contraception as immoral are Catholic either, more and more Protestants are seeing this. Think about it, what philosophy about kids do you follow when you contracept? If a child is a miracle, a blessing from God, can you have too many? Whose will reigns supreme in your life? Are you using your reason to do His will, or to avoid it?
And thank you for disagreeing civilly. That may not seem like much to you, but a similar discussion is ongoing on another thread right now and the juvenile insults being heaped on those who hold my view are appalling. I feel like I'm debating with teenagers over there. Your civil disagreement on the issue, without making it personal, is a welcome breath of fresh air.
by the way, I am a he, in case it matters ;-)
Oooh. Good one. Thanks, I'll use that next time someone asks me how I'm going to pay for college for my children.
Unfortunately, the Pill and Norplant and many other so-called "contraceptives" are often not contraceptives at all. They have an abortifacient effect that has been discussed many times here on FR (and virtually ignored in the mainstream press.)
The dirtiest of dirty little secrets is that The Pill (often) kills.
Total BS. The birthrate in Mexico has been dropping like a stone for the last 30 years. In 2001, according to the CIA World Factbook, the total fertility rate in Mexico was 2.62. Mexico is projected to reach replacement rate of 2.1 in the next 10 or so years.
You are a wonderful apologist for our faith, and I tremendously enjoy reading your replies (as well as Aquinasfan's and others), but I can't help wondering if trying to persuade a non-Catholic of the evils of contraception is a little bit like a Jewish person trying to convince me not to eat bacon. I guess what I'm wondering is does an anti-contraception crusade deserve the same passion as an argument about the Divine Presence, the Immaculate Conception, the virginity of Mary, the intercession of saints or any of the other things which make us Catholics Catholic? (I'm asking in all sincerity).
Think about it, what philosophy about kids do you follow when you contracept? If a child is a miracle, a blessing from God, can you have too many?
Unfortunately, my Catholic reference books are packed away in a room with a napping baby, but I'm pretty sure I've read somewhere that it is wrong for us to bring children into a family without ever considering worldly issues. I think it was Humanae Vitae or the new Catechism. I'm sorry I don't remember which.
I do have one final question which I also ask in complete sincerity. Are sexual acts which do not allow for pregnancy considered sinful? (If you can't figure out what I'm talking about, ask Bill Clinton).
I can't help wondering if trying to persuade a non-Catholic of the evils of contraception is a little bit like a Jewish person trying to convince me not to eat bacon. I guess what I'm wondering is does an anti-contraception crusade deserve the same passion as an argument about the Divine Presence, the Immaculate Conception, the virginity of Mary, the intercession of saints or any of the other things which make us Catholics Catholic? (I'm asking in all sincerity).Its very much a little like that, at least in the difficulty of it. Its interesting. Many Christians will state quite clearly that they are open to Gods will totally, they will do whatever He wants. They will then agree that a baby cant just happen, it has to be Gods will. The next step is the hard one. Actually totally surrendering to that will.
Should you try to persuade a non-Catholic of this? I think trying to just state that contraception is evil gets you no where. Explaining how being totally open to life is a total surrender to God gains great ground. It often makes conversions, in my limited experience. There are those who cannot recognize the Real Presence or Mary, but who at the same time cannot hold a baby without recognizing the truth present in that fragile life, clinging to you for support. Sometimes, through a deep consideration of the issue, they start to wonder if we are right about this issue, and then they cant help but look around and wonder why we stayed firm when everyone else crumbled on it.
There isnt a clear answer to if this is worth arguing. It really depends on the person, some are receptive to it and some arent. I wouldnt spend as much time on this as I would on other issues, but it can and does bear fruit at times.
I do have one final question which I also ask in complete sincerity. Are sexual acts which do not allow for pregnancy considered sinful? (If you can't figure out what I'm talking about, ask Bill Clinton).Presuming that they are inside of marriage some are and some are not. An infertile couple can and probably should have relations, I would think, in a normal relationship. Similarly, sexual acts during an infertile period are fine. At the same time, acts done specifically to avoid pregnancy, such as only having oral sex during fertile periods, probably place one in opposition to Gods will, and I think are wrong due to the mindset, if nothing else.
As to oral sex in general, I dont have an entirely clear answer. The Catechism doesnt address the issue and Im not aware of any formal teachings on it, though there may well be some. I think traditionally most priests counsel against it, at least if it is the finishing act, if that is all there is, because it is clearly not an act that is open to life. I would ordinarily think that oral sex as a part of foreplay would be fine. To be honest, if you have a spiritual adviser or a priest you trust this is something I would discuss with them, as it is outside anything I consider myself theologically competent on.
I celebrate my children as miracles from God. Each of them, including the one I could have named Serendipity, is loved and cherished. Their worth is not lessened by the fact that I chose to use contraception, any more than the miraculous blessing of my husband is lessened because I practice monogamy. (Or the opposite: Prov 18:22, KJV, Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD. )
I believe medicine and medical techniques are blessings from God, too. :)
I celebrate my children as miracles from God. Each of them, including the one I could have named Serendipity, is loved and cherished.Can you have too many miracles? Are you suggesting that we should use our reason and medicine to limit how many miracles God gives us?
Their worth is not lessened by the fact that I chose to use contraception, any more than the miraculous blessing of my husband is lessened because I practice monogamy.Agreed, and wouldnt argue otherwise. One child is one child, each is a unique miracle and blessing. But if you can have two blessings, why stop with one? Etc.
I believe medicine and medical techniques are blessings from God, too. :)I agree. Doesnt change any of the above.
Thanks for clarifying.
To be honest, if you have a spiritual adviser or a priest you trust this is something I would discuss with them, as it is outside anything I consider myself theologically competent on.
You're clearly well versed in the Faith, and I just wanted to have your take on the whole thing. Your answer was what I'd thought it would be, but I was curious to see if you knew of some writing that we'd overlooked. (And the devil in me wanted to see if you'd maintain consistency). Of course you did. Thanks for your honest reply.
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