Skip to comments.Regarding the Sins of Catholics, A Secret Apologetics Weapon, and Our Separated Brethren
Posted on 04/08/2002 3:51:34 PM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
Why can't people see the big picture? Christian sexuality is simple...if you're not married, man and woman, in the eyes of God, and/or you can't get pregnant doing it, its wrong. That's Natural Law in a nutshell re sex. That's what God made it for.
Here's a little illustration. If you eat something just for the pleasure of the taste and the texture, then vomit it up, that is called an eating disorder, namely bulimia. It is a disorder because the reason God gave us food is twofold, 1) for our pleasure, and more importantly 2) for the nourishment of our bodies.
If you partake of sex, then vomit forth the natural consequences of that act, it is a disorder, like sexual bulimia. Yes, God made it for pleasure. Equally important, God made it for babies.
The Creation of God serves ONE primary purpose:
the creation of the body and eternal soul of men. Man's last end is God. It was God's first and foremost desire in Creating the universe that men should live forever with Him in Heaven.
And what is scripture's first commandment? It ain't in the Decalogue. It comes much earlier, and it says, "Be Fruitful and Multiply."
If that's what Creation was for, the populating of Heaven with Eternal Souls of men, why can't Christians comprehend what a rebellion and revolt non-procreative sex is?
What do all the sexual sins in the Old Testament have in common?
They are all non-procreative, and/or outside of a covenantal man-woman relationship. They are all a fundamental violation of Natural Law, a violation of the reason God gave us our sexuality, i.e., for the creation of Eternal Souls to populate Heaven.
Only Catholicism still sees this foundational Truth, this family covenantal model. We are here to get THERE, to Heaven. And to bring as many there as possible.
And until 1930, all of Christianity understood this, all of Christianity embraced this, and all of Christianity taught this, universally (see below), protestant, orthodox, Catholic, as well as orthodox judaism and islam.
But if you start teaching that one form of non-procreative sex is OK, while others are not, you introduce schizophrenia into Christian sexual morality.
If you accept one, you no longer have any grounds to condemn the rest.
And no one can contest the relationship between the acceptance of contraception by Christians in this once Christian country, and the legalization of abortion (see below).
Today, equal numbers of RCC and NC Christians contracept.
But there is one vital distinction.
Scripture says that in the end there will be a general falling away, so it should surprise no one that there is gross sin in all churches.
But Christ promised one Church, His Church, would not teach error, and that the gates would not prevail.
Absolute Orthodoxy in moral theology can only come from Absolute Orthodoxy in Salvific Theology. Heterodoxy in Moral Theology will always, eventually, arise from Heterodoxy in Salvific Theology.
If Catholics will reclaim the traditional teaching of Christianity on contraception, a teaching their Church has NEVER apostacized on, and evangelize the culture regarding WHY the Church still teaches it, then we have at our disposal the single greatest evangelization tool in the history of the war between Christian sects. Why? Because Catholicism has never fallen into heterodoxy on moral theology issues. ALL other Christian churches now have.
It is so easy to prove from history that Christianity always uninanimously taught contraception to be inherently evil (see below, Appendix 2). Then it is such a short step to understand that heterodoxy in moral theology completely undermines the validity of the sola scriptura/personal interpretation of scripture manntra that hatched that heterodoxy. This is the foregone conclusion when men reject the authority Christ gave His Church, and replces it with the doctrines of men.
This is the number one reason given why over a thousand protestant ministers have become Catholic over the last ten years. When you examine the culture of death, and the roots of abortion, and the inability to effectively fight the homosexual juggernaut, you realize very quickly there is only one Church that will both bring folks closest to Christ and cure the ills of the culture.
I'm not willing to avoid the contraception issue because its unpopular, taboo, or for fear of offending both Catholic and protestant alike, when this is the single greatest evangelization/apologetics tool ever handed to us on a silver platter by the Holy Spirit.
Plus the obvious...folks who live in sodomitic sin glass houses, where the same type of sin is not only tolerated but taught to be acceptable, better stop to think before they criticize the sodomitic sin in our Catholic ranks, especially when we are the only ones condemning both on the world stage.
Yes, there are sodomites in the Catholic priesthood, and bishops hid them and protected them. They violate the very foundations of sexual morality that the Church STILL TEACHES today.
But the remainder of Christianity has embraced the sodomitic sin of contraception, teaches it as acceptable, and refuses to turn back.
In the end, many on both sides have sinned, are sinning, and will sin. But only one Church perseveres in Truth, both in Salvation Theology and Moral Theology.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN
CONTRACEPTION AND ABORTION
by Professor Janet E. Smith, PhD
Janet E. Smith is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Dallas, Texas. She has edited Why Humane Vitae Was Right: A Reader and authored Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later, and numerous articles on abortion, contraception, virtue, and Plato. This article was edited and reprinted with permission.
Many in the pro-life movement are reluctant to make a connection between contraception and abortion. They insist that these are two very different acts - that there is all the difference in the world between contraception, which prevents a life from coming to be, and abortion, which takes a life that has already begun.
With some contraceptives, there is not only a link with abortion, there is an identity. Some contraceptives are abortifacients; they work by causing early term abortions. The IUD seems to prevent a fertilized egg - a new little human being - from implanting in the uterine wall. The pill does not always stop ovulation, but sometimes prevents implantation of the growing embryo. And of course, the new RU 486 pill works altogether by aborting a new fetus, a new baby. Although some in the pro-life movement occasionally speak out against the contraceptives that are abortifacients, most generally steer clear of the issue of contraception.
Contraception creates alleged need for abortion
This seems to me to be a mistake. I think that we will not make good progress in creating a society where all new life can be safe, where we truly display a respect for life, where abortion is a terrible memory rather than a terrible reality, until we see that there are many significant links between contraception and abortion, and that we bravely speak this truth. We need to realize that a society in which contraceptives are widely used is going to have a very difficult time keeping free of abortions since the lifestyles and attitudes that contraception fosters, create an alleged need for abortion.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the US Supreme Court decision that confirmed Roe v. Wade [U.S. decision to permit abortions] stated in some critical respects, abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception for two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.
The Supreme Court decision has made completely unnecessary, any efforts to expose what is really behind the attachment of the modern age to abortion. As the Supreme Court candidly states, we need abortion so that we can continue our contraceptive lifestyles. It is not because contraceptives are ineffective that a million and a half women a year seek abortions as back-ups to failed contraceptives. The intimate relationships facilitated by contraceptives are what make abortions necessary. Intimate here is a euphemism and a misleading one at that. Here the word intimate means sexual; it does not mean loving and close. Abortion is most often the result of sexual relationships in which there is no room for a baby, the natural consequence of sexual intercourse.
To support the argument that more responsible use of contraceptives would reduce the number of abortions, some note that most abortions are performed for contraceptive purposes. That is, few abortions are had because a woman has been a victim of rape or incest or because a pregnancy would endanger her life, or because she expects to have a handicapped or deformed newborn. Rather, most abortions are had because men and women who do not want a baby are having sexual intercourse and facing pregnancies they did not plan for and do not want. Because their contraceptive failed, or because they failed to use a contraceptive, they then resort to abortion as a back up. Many believe that if we could convince men and women to use contraceptives responsibly, we would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and thus the number of abortions. Thirty years ago this position might have had some plausibility, but not now. We have lived for about thirty years with a culture permeated with contraceptive use and abortion; no longer can we think that greater access to contraception will reduce the number of abortions. Rather, wherever contraception is more readily available, the number of unwanted pregnancies and the number of abortions increase greatly.
Sexual revolution not possible without contraception
The connection between contraception and abortion is primarily this: contraception facilitates the kind of relationships and even the kind of attitudes and moral characters that are likely to lead to abortion. The contraceptive mentality treats sexual relationship as a burden. The sexual revolution has no fondness - no room for - the connection between sexual intercourse and babies. The sexual revolution simply was not possibly until fairly reliable contraceptives were available.
Far from being a check to the sexual revolution, contraception is the fuel that facilitated the beginning of the sexual revolution and enables it to continue to rage. In the past, many men and women refrained from illicit sexual unions simply because they were not prepared for the responsibilities of parenthood. But once a fairly reliable contraceptive appeared on the scene, this barrier to sex outside the confines of marriage fell. The connection between sex and love also fell quickly; ever since contraception became widely used, there has been much talk of, acceptance of, and practice of casual sex and recreational sex. The deep meaning that is inherent in sexual intercourse has been lost sight of; the willingness to engage in sexual intercourse with another is no longer a result of a deep commitment to another. It no longer bespeaks a willingness to have a child with another and to have all the consequent entanglements with another that babies bring. Contraception helps reduce ones sexual partner to just a sexual object since it renders sexual intercourse to be without any real commitments.
Carelessness is international
Much of this data suggests that there is something deep in our natures that finds the severing of sexual intercourse from love and commitment and babies to be unsatisfactory. As we have seen, women are careless in their use of contraceptives for a variety of reasons, but one reason for their careless use of contraceptives is precisely their desire to engage in meaningful sexual activity rather than in meaningless sexual activity. They want their sexual acts to be more meaningful than a handshake or a meal shared. They are profoundly uncomfortable with using contraceptives for what they do to their bodies and for what they do to their relationships. Often, they desire to have a more committed relationship with the male with whom they are involved; they get pregnant to test this love and commitment. But since the relationship has not been made permanent, since no vows have been taken, they are profoundly ambivalent about any pregnancy that might occur.
Sexual Promiscuity Increases
By the late sixties and early seventies, the view of the human person as an animal, whose passions should govern, became firmly entrenched in the attitudes of those who were promoting the sexual revolution. One of the greatest agents and promoters of the sexual revolution has been Planned Parenthood. In the sixties and seventies, many of the spokesmen and women for Planned Parenthood unashamedly advocated sex outside of marriage and even promoted promiscuity. Young people were told to abandon the repressive morals of their parents and to engage in free love. They were told that active sexual lives with a number of partners would be psychologically healthy, perfectly normal, and perfectly moral. Now, largely because of the spread of AIDS and the devastation of teenage pregnancy, even Planned Parenthood puts a value on abstinence. Yet they have no confidence that young people can and will abstain from sexual intercourse, so they advocate safe sex, responsible sex, whereby they mean sexual intercourse wherein a contraceptive is used. Sex educators assume that young people will be engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage.
Young people do not need sex education of the Planned Parenthood type; they need to learn that sexual intercourse can be engaged in responsibly and safely only within marriage. Rather than filling young peoples heads with false notions about freedom, and filling their wallets with condoms, we need to help them see the true meaning of human sexuality. We need to help them learn self-control and self-mastery so that they are not enslaved to their sexual passions. They need to learn that sexual intercourse belongs within marriage, and that with the commitment to marriage comes true freedom; the freedom to give of ones self completely to another, the freedom to meet ones responsibilities to ones children.
There are two cornerstones on which education for sexual responsibility should be built - cornerstones that are both corroded by contraceptive sex. One cornerstone is that sexual intercourse is meant to be the expression of a deep love for another individual, a deep love that leads one to want to give of oneself totally to another. Most individuals hope one day to be in a faithful marriage, to be in a marital relationship with someone one loves deeply and by whom one is loved deeply. One of the major components of that deep love is a promise of faithfulness, that one will give oneself sexually only to ones spouse.
Contraception severs connection between sex and babies
The other cornerstone for a sex education program should be the refrain that if you are not ready for babies, you are not ready for sexual intercourse, and you are not ready for babies until you are married. Most people want to be good parents; they want to provide for their children and give them good upbringings. Contraception attempts to sever the connection between sexual intercourse and babies; it makes us feel responsible about our sexuality while enabling us to be irresponsible. Individuals born out of wedlock have a much harder start in life; have a much harder time gaining the discipline and strength they need to be responsible adults. Single mothers have very hard lives as they struggle to meet the needs of their children and their own emotional needs as well. Those who abort their babies are often left with devastating psychological scars. The price of out of wedlock pregnancy is high.
Indeed, even within marriage, contraception is destructive; it reduces the meaning of the sexual act; again it takes out the great commitment that is written into the sexual act, the commitment that is inherent in the openness to have children with ones beloved.
Those who are unmarried do face a disaster, and abortion seems like a necessity since no permanent commitment has been made between the sexual partners. Those who are married have often planned a life that is not receptive to children and are tempted to abort to sustain the child-free life they have designed. I am not, of course, saying that all those who contracept are likely to abort; I am saying that many more of those who contracept do abort than those who practice natural family planning.
Contraception takes the baby-making element out of sexual intercourse. It makes pregnancy seem like an accident of sexual intercourse rather than the natural consequence that responsible individuals ought to be prepared for. Abortion, then, becomes thinkable as the solution to an unwanted pregnancy. Contraception enables those who are not prepared to care for babies to engage in sexual intercourse; when they become pregnant, they resent the unborn child for intruding itself upon their lives, and they turn to the solution of abortion. It should be no surprise that countries that are permeated by contraceptive sex, fight harder for access to abortion than they do to ensure that all babies can survive both in the womb and out. It is foolish for pro-lifers to think that they can avoid the issues of contraception and sexual irresponsibility and be successful in the fight against abortion. For, as the Supreme Court of the US has stated, abortion is necessary for those whose intimate relationships are based upon contraceptive sex.
For verification of the claims here made about Planned Parenthood, see George Grant, Grand Illusions: the Legacy of Planned Parenthood (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth and Hyatt Publishers, Inc., 1988), and Robert Marshall and Charles Donovan, Blessed are the Barren (San Francisco, CA; Ignatius Press, 1991).
Portions of this article are printed as portions of chapters in Abortion and Moral Character, in Catholicism and Abortion, ed. By Stephen J. Heaney to be published by the Pope John XXIII Medical-Moral Research Centre and Abortion and Moral Character, in Doing and Being: Introductory Reading in Moral Philosophy, ed by Jordan Graf Haber, to be published by Macmillan.
Permission given for reprinting portions from The Connection between contraception and Abortion, by Dr. Janet E. smith, published by Homiletic & Pastoral Review, April 1993, distributed by One More Soul.
"The Connection between Contraception and Abortion" by Janet E. Smith is available from One More Soul.
Christianity and Birth Control
By the 1958 Lambeth Conference, contraception was an accepted part of life among most Anglicans, and a resolution was passed to the effect that the responsibility for deciding upon the number and frequency of children was laid by God upon the consciences of parents "in such ways as are acceptable to husband and wife."
(Note: The quotes of the early church fathers can be researched in their entirety, courtesy of Calvin College.)
191 AD - Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children
"Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted." (2:10:91:2) "To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature" (2:10:95:3).
307 AD - Lactantius - Divine Institutes
"[Some] complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . .or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife" (6:20)
"God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of life; so too, the genital ['generating'] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring" (6:23:18).
325 AD - Council of Nicaea I - Canon 1
"[I]f anyone in sound health has castrated [sterilized] himself, it behooves that such a one, if enrolled among the clergy, should cease [from his ministry], and that from henceforth no such person should be promoted. But, as it is evident that this is said of those who willfully do the thing and presume to castrate themselves, so if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians, or by their masters, and should otherwise be found worthy, such men this canon admits to the clergy"
375 AD - Epiphanius of Salamis - Medicine Chest Against Heresies
"They [certain Egyptian heretics] exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption" (26:5:2 ).
391 AD - John Chrysostom - Homilies on Matthew
"[I]n truth, all men know that they who are under the power of this disease [the sin of covetousness] are wearied even of their father's old age [wishing him to die so they can inherit]; and that which is sweet, and universally desirable, the having of children, they esteem grievous and unwelcome. Many at least with this view have even paid money to be childless, and have mutilated nature, not only killing the newborn, but even acting to prevent their beginning to live [sterilization]" (28:5).
393 AD - Jerome - Against Jovinian
"But I wonder why he [the heretic Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?" (1:19).
419 AD - Augustine - Marriage and Concupiscence
"I am supposing, then, although are not lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility [oral contraceptives] . . . Assuredly if both husband and wife are like this, they are not married, and if they were like this from the beginning they come together not joined in matrimony but in seduction. If both are not like this, I dare to say that either the wife is in a fashion the harlot of her husband or he is an adulterer with his own wife" (1:15:17).
522 AD - Caesarius of Arles - Sermons
"Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion [an oral contraceptive] so that she is unable to conceive or condemns in herself the nature which God willed to be fecund? As often as she could have conceived or given birth, of that many homicides she will be held guilty, and, unless she undergoes suitable penance, she will be damned by eternal death in hell. If a women does not wish to have children, let her enter into a religious agreement with her husband; for chastity is the sole sterility of a Christian woman" (1:12).
Martin Luther (1483 to 1546) -
"Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest or adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes into her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed."
John Calvin (1509 to 1564) -
Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born. This wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the seed of his brother out the womb, and as cruel as shamefully has thrown on the earth. Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race.
John Wesley (1703 to 1791) -
"Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse of his own body, of the wife he had married and the memory of his brother that was gone, refused to raise up seed unto the brother. Those sins that dishonour the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord - And it is to be feared, thousands, especially single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls.
(Examining sermons and commentaries, Charles Provan identified over a hundred Protestant leaders (Lutheran, Calvinist, Reformed, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Evangelical, Nonconformist, Baptist, Puritan, Pilgrim) living before the twentieth century condemning non- procreative sex. Did he find the opposing argument was also represented? Mr. Provan stated, "We will go one better, and state that we have found not one orthodox [protestant]theologian to defend Birth Control before the 1900's. NOT ONE! On the other hand, we have found that many highly regarded Protestant theologians were enthusiastically opposed to it." )
1930 AD - Pope Pius XI - Casti Conubii (On Christian Marriage)
"Any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin."
1965 AD - Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World - Gaudium et Spes, Vatican II
Relying on these principles, sons of the Church may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law. (51)
1968 AD - Pope Paul VI - Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life)
Equally to be excluded, as the teaching authority of the Church has frequently declared, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman. Similarly excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, propose, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible. To justify conjugal acts made intentionally infecund, one cannot invoke as valid reasons the lesser evil, or the fact that such acts would constitute a whole together with the fecund acts already performed or to follow later, and hence would share in one and the same moral goodness. In truth, if it is sometimes licit to tolerate a lesser evil in order to avoid a greater evil to promote a greater good, it is not licit, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil so that good may follow therefrom; that is to make into the object of a positive act of the will something which is intrinsically disorder, and hence unworthy of the human person, even when the intention is to safeguard or promote individual, family or social well-being. Consequently it is an error to think that a conjugal act which is deliberately made infecund and so is intrinsically dishonest could be made honest and right by the ensemble of a fecund conjugal life. (14)
1993 AD - Catechism of the Catholic Church
"The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception)." (2399)
After reading the above statements it should be clear that the Catholic Church does not leave much "wiggle room" on this issue. Is should also be clear that rumors that at some time in the near future the Church will have to change this teaching are nothing more than the wishful thinking of its disobedient members.
HOMILETIC & PASTORAL REVIEW
"CASTI CONNUBII": 60 YEARS LATER, MORE RELEVANT THAN EVER
By John F. Kippley
The time has come for action and for the open reaffirmation of that great encyclical and compendium on marriage, "Casti Connubii."
The sixtieth anniversary of "Casti Connubii" came and went the same way as its 50th anniversary--without fanfare or great symposiums. However, I suggest that the entire Church would benefit from a closer look at this landmark encyclical in the context of the historical circumstances that prompted it and the sexual revolution in which the Church struggles today.
Let us start with the unhappy realities that face almost every Catholic pastor today. The vast majority of Catholics in their fertile years are using unnatural forms of birth control, the most common of which, the Pill, has the power to cause early abortions. According to the latest National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), in 1988 only three percent of Catholics doing anything at all about family planning were using any form of Natural Family Planning; 32% of couples were sterilized, 34% were using the Pill, and 25% were using barrier methods, and 6% were using "other" which could mean withdrawal, mutual masturbation, or forms of marital sodomy. Is it really probable that all those nice looking people who volunteer as lectors and distributors of Holy Communion come just from that minuscule three percent of Catholics who practice what the Church teaches? On the contrary, I think it is safe to assume that typical parish volunteers are sterilized and using contraceptives and abortifacients pretty much in proportion with the above national statistics. The parish problem can be summed up with the realization that any one of those fertile-years women distributors may be saying "The Body of Christ" at the same time that her Pill is destroying the life of a new human being within her uterus. I think that's obscene, but that's the way it is in the Church in America today.
Or you can look at the typical parish situation from a different angle. Both those who accept "Humanae Vitae" and the dissenters are agreed that the acceptance of marital contraception leads "logically" to the acceptance of sodomistic behavior, whether by married couples or homosexuals. Anthony Kosnik and company have argued for the moral equivalency of married couples using unnatural methods of birth control and homosexuals committing sodomy.1 What that means is that, considering typical habits of marital behavior, it is highly probable that those nice looking fertile-years married people who are reading the Word of God and distributing the very Body of Christ have most likely engaged in either direct marital sodomy or its moral equivalent within the 72 hours preceding their formal sanctuary participation.
LEAD THE PARISH BACK
The pastoral problem is to lead the massively contracepting parish back to living the divine truth about human love. Here is where the events leading up to "Casti Connubii" can be helpful. Most parishioners have utterly no idea that before August 14, 1930, birth control was not a Catholic- Protestant issue. This isn't to say that before that time some theologians, both Catholic and Protestant, had not argued in favor of allowing marital contraception, but the formal teaching of all the Christian churches had held the line. I have found that the simple exposition of the relevant facts can be helpful in leading couples to understand better and then to accept the teaching of "Casti Connubii" and "Humanae Vitae."
What are the relevant facts? I think it is helpful to explain that the modern sexual revolution did not start in 1960 but rather has developed over a period of almost two centuries. The first stage started with Malthus; the second with Margaret Sanger; the third with Lambeth of 1930; the fourth with the Pill, and the fifth with widespread dissent in the Catholic Church.
Stage 1: Malthus. I credit the Rev. Thomas Malthus with starting the modern sexual revolution because he provided the scare--the fear that would cast out true love. In his 1798 "Essay on the Principle of Population," Malthus created the modern "population explosion" scare, saying that unless it were checked, population would outgrow food supplies and result in mass starvation. He recommended only moral means of family limitation, i.e., late marriage and sexual self-control, but his scare would outlive his morality. The discovery of vulcanization of rubber in 1839 led to the production of cheaper, more effective condoms, and armed with this technological breakthrough, the neo-Malthusians of the 1860s substituted condoms for the self-control of Malthus and beat the drums of the population scare. (Fear of the future generally provides a good rationalization for sins of the present.) I call this Stage I of the sexual revolution because at the time it was truly revolutionary to advocate separating the unitive and procreative aspects of marital relations.
In the United States, this led to a reaction led by a Protestant reformer, Anthony Comstock, who persuaded Congress in 1873 to legislate against the distribution and sale of contraceptive devices in federal territories. Many states followed suit, and the conglomerate of anti-contraceptive legislation became known as the Comstock laws.
Here's what I find religiously interesting about these brief historical facts. During the first 400 years of the Reformation, birth control was not a Catholic-Protestant issue. Charles Provan has recently published a small book which contains the anti-contraceptive teachings of 66 Protestant theologians including Luther and Calvin.2 [I have free copies for anyone interested...Freepmail me] The Comstock laws were passed by essentially Protestant legislatures for a basically Protestant America, and they remained in effect until Christian unanimity about birth control was shattered in 1930.
FORERUNNER TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD
Stage 2: Margaret Sanger. In the years before World War I, Margaret Sanger and others began to wage war on the Comstock laws, and about 1914 she founded her National Birth Control League, the forerunner of today's Planned Parenthood which she founded in 1939. The contraceptionists frequently advocated a whole new concept of marriage. They denied the divine origin and the permanence of marriage and made efficient contraception the technological cornerstone of "companionate" marriage--a serial polygamy consisting of legal marriage, efficient contraception, divorce when boredom set in, and then remarriage to start the process over. I call this Stage II of the sexual revolution because of the tremendous influence Margaret Sanger had on the practices and moral thinking of her day and even more so today. The pressures she generated were highly influential in removing the legal, religious and social barriers to contraception and then abortion. In fact, I will go so far as to say that as far as American Catholic married couples are concerned, many give more honor to Margaret Sanger than to the Virgin Mary, for while they may give lip service to the latter, they have adopted the practices and frequently the philosophy of the former.
Stage 3: Lambeth of 1930. Stage III of the sexual revolution was its embrace by Protestant Christianity. The key event is the Lambeth Conference of the Church of England in 1930. In 1908, the Anglican bishops had reacted to the neo-Malthusian pressures by reaffirming the teaching that it was immoral to use unnatural methods of birth control. So also at their Lambeth Conference of 1920. But the pressures of the 1920s proved too much for them, so on August 14 at their Lambeth Conference of 1930, the Anglican bishops reluctantly accepted marital contraception as morally licit. In doing so, they acknowledged that previously they had always taught the immorality of marital contraception.3
This marked the first time in history that a Christian Church had given its acceptance to using unnatural methods of birth control. Furthermore, they were warned by one of their own, Bishop Charles Gore, that accepting contraception would open the door to accepting homosexual sodomy, [wise men knew even then the outcome--Brian] but Gore voted in the minority.
We do not know what would have happened if the Church of England had kept the faith regarding marital love and sexuality. But we can certainly see in hindsight that this was an embrace of the sexual revolution, and today dissident Catholic theologians argue from the acceptance of marital contraception to the acceptance of sodomy. Anglican Bishop Gore was indeed a prophetic voice.
In the United States, Lambeth of 1930 was quickly accepted by a committee of the Federal Council of Churches in March, 1931, when it endorsed "the careful and restrained use of contraceptives by married people." The general moral atmosphere of the times can be inferred from a March 22 editorial in the "Washington Post":
"Carried to its logical conclusion, the committee's report, if carried into effect, would sound the deathknell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be 'careful and restrained' is preposterous."
However, it was carried into effect, and the deathknell was sounded. The promise of marital contraception in the eyes and mouths of religious-talking people has always been that with very limited family size and unlimited sex, couples would be happier and divorce would become almost unknown. In the light of current American contraceptive marriage with its 50% divorce rate, what can be said except that nature bats last?
PIUS RESPONDED TO ANGLICANS
It was to the Anglican resolution at Lambeth that Pope Pius XI made reference in his famous and immortal reply in "Casti Connubii" on the last day of 1930:
"Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin (par. 56)."
Stage 4: The Pill. The fourth stage of the sexual revolution was the Pill. By 1960, the practice of contraception was well accepted by all the mainline Protestant churches and was more or less universally practiced by all "family planners" except Roman and Orthodox Catholics, some very conservative or fundamentalist Protestants, and, I think, Orthodox Jews. Certainly contraception was practiced by many Catholics in the fifties, but hard data is hard to come by. Large families were in vogue, and many couples were just letting the babies come as they might, and without the natural spacing of ecological breastfeeding (which, if practiced correctly, spaces babies an average of two years apart) many couples were having babies every year. There is data indicating that in 1965 rhythm was by far the most widely used form of conception regulation by Catholic "family planners"; trying to read that backwards is hazardous, but I would hazard a guess that before 1960 no more than half and perhaps only a third of Catholic couples in their fertile years were using contraception.
I call the arrival of the Pill in 1960 the fourth stage of the sexual revolution because it brought birth control to the front pages and made it seem all the more acceptable. Since it was totally different in approach from other methods, it was discussed in the papers and popular magazines just as a health matter, and every article conveyed the assumption that birth control was the modern thing to do, almost a social obligation. The morality of birth control as such was not a subject for public debate, but within the Catholic community, the Pill occasioned fierce attacks upon the traditional teaching against all unnatural forms of birth control, and such attacks went largely unanswered in the popular Catholic press: there was little real debate. The teaching of "Casti Connubii" was being seriously muted and undermined, and the result was that more and more Catholics accommodated themselves to the dominant contracepting culture. Thus by 1965, while rhythm was still practiced by 32% of Catholic "family planners," the Pill was being used by 18%, and barrier methods 24%.
DISSENT FURTHERED REVOLUTION
Stage 5: Catholic dissent. The dissent of 1968 and ever since has effectively removed the Catholic Church as a block to the progress of the sexual revolution. While Pope Paul VI reaffirmed the teaching of "Casti Connubii" in "Humanae Vitae," he did not use the same strength of language. Furthermore, his language in 1964 (the magisterium is not "in a state of doubt at the present time, whereas it is rather in a moment of study of reflection") and his delay of two years after receiving the reports of the papal birth control commission had greatly prejudiced public and theological opinion within the Church against a reaffirmation of "Casti Connubii."
The effects of this dissent can be seen in the progressive NSFG reports. While "rhythm" (which means all forms of natural family planning in NSFG terms) was used by 32% of Catholic family planners in 1965, it dropped to 8.1% in 1973, had a short rise to 8.9% in 1973, perhaps as a result of all the NFP activity of the early seventies, fell to 6% in 1982 and plummeted further to only 3% in 1988. Predictions are rash, but I expect that unless dioceses start to get really serious about chastity instruction at all levels of education including marriage preparation, Catholic usage of NFP will fall another third or half and stabilize at two or even one percent of Catholic family planners. As to what percentage of Catholic families are not engaged in family planning of some sort, all a parish priest has to do is to look at his flock. Without any form of family planning including ecological breastfeeding, the babies will be coming about every 12 months, and with just ecological breastfeeding, they will be arriving at an average of every 24 months. Such families are indeed rare today. Another 10 to 20% will be infertile, some by reason of defects in nature, and some by reason of sterility caused by their own use of the Pill and/or the IUD or from sexually transmitted diseases--premarital, marital, and extramarital.
Along with the vast increase in marital unchastity has come a vast increase in the number of Catholic divorces. I do not have hard data, but it is a matter of common knowledge that before the dissent of 1968, the Catholic divorce rate was well below that of the culture, while at the present time it is approaching the cultural average.
Furthermore, as more and more priests told themselves that there was nothing intrinsically wrong with marital contraception and told the couples they counseled that there was nothing immoral about marital contraception in their particular circumstances, they seduced themselves. By saying and coming to believe that unchaste behavior of one kind was not really unchaste behavior in some circumstances, too many priests gradually came to believe that various forms of unchastity were not really seriously unchaste if there was a proportionate reason to do them, and apparently they found no reason to exclude priestly unchastity from this logic. I cannot offer any other explanation for the apparently vast increase in priestly unchastity at the present time.
A HOMILETIC OPPORTUNITY
I suggest that the 60th anniversary of "Casti Connubii" offers both homiletic and pastoral opportunities to begin a revival of the Church's traditional role as the promoter and the safeguard of chastity. The priest is free to criticize my suggestions as coming from one who has neither the privilege or the responsibility of the pulpit and pastorship, but regardless, here is what I think I would do if given the opportunity.
First of all, I would give an instructive homily to commemorate the 60th anniversary of "Casti Connubii." I would tell parishioners the basic historical fact of Lambeth of 1930, and then I would ask, "Before I told you that, how many of you adults realized that before 1930 no Christian Church had ever given its acceptance to contraception as being morally permissible? Please raise your hands if you already knew what I just told you." When no hands, or almost none, were raised, I would take the opportunity to restate the realities. "I'm not asking anything about your personal beliefs or practices. I'm only asking a question about your knowledge about a much forgotten part of Christian history," and I would re-explain and then re-ask the question. I would be prepared to see that almost no hands were raised the second time, and then I would go on to emphasize that before 1930 birth control was not a Catholic-Protestant issue. Then I'd probably read some of the half-dozen stimulating questions on the back of the Provan book. For example, "What theologian declared in the 1500s that birth control was the murder of future persons?" "What priest in the 1700s declared that taking 'preventative measures' was unnatural and would destroy the souls of those who practiced it?" "Who declared that birth control was sodomy?" (The answers are respectively John Calvin, John Wesley, and Martin Luther.)
I would use that occasion to note that what Calvin, Wesley and Luther were saying in their own way was part of Catholic teaching for centuries that recourse to unnatural forms of birth control is the grave matter of mortal sin, and I would read the key passage from "Casti Connubii" (par. 56 above) to put it into the Catholic frame of reference.
I would go on to explain some of the big differences between then and now-- how much better Catholics have it economically than so many in 1930, the widespread knowledge and availability of natural family planning today compared to the bare rudiments of calendar rhythm at the time of the encyclical, the divorce rates (about 1 in 11 marriages in 1910, just before Sanger, versus 1 in 2 today, a 500% increase), and the general decline in the moral fiber of the country and within the Church since the practices of the old pagans have become so widespread among Christians.
OFFER EDUCATIVE COURSES
Pastorally, I would be well read in the encyclical itself.4,5 I would initiate an adult education course to study "Casti Connubii" and "Humanae Vitae"; I would offer instruction in chaste natural family planning; it is difficult to reaffirm the burden, so to speak, without providing the practical help to those who have a genuine need for pregnancy postponement or limitation. I would make attendance mandatory for all lectors, distributors, marriage ministers, and members of parish council, and I would certainly make a full course of NFP instruction (four meetings) a normal part of preparation for marriage. Then I would require a signed profession of faith and practice including the Church's teaching about love, sex, marriage and birth control from all those who wished to participate in the exemplary roles of sanctuary service, marriage ministry, and the governance of the parish.
Such measures may sound tough, but I contend that the times and the conditions of the Church require an approach quite different from that of the sixties through the eighties. Let me put it this way. With a continuation of the status quo, a parish priest can expect that about 97% to 99% of his newlyweds will be using unnatural methods of birth control and therefore standing under the judgment of "Casti Connubii." If he is not content with this, he has to do something. For years I have watched well- intentioned priests try to increase the acceptance of "Casti Connubii" and "Humanae Vitae" through soft-spoken persuasion, largely in vain. Persuasion is no longer persuasive. The time has come for action and for the open reaffirmation of that great encyclical and compendium on marriage, "Casti Connubii."
To those who say that practical action to reaffirm "Casti Connubii" will lead them to be consigned to the diocesan boondocks, I say "Rejoice!" Look at what Fr. John Vianney did in the boondocks of Ars; look what Fr. Robert Fox is doing in the boondocks of Alexandria, South Dakota with his Fatima Apostolate. (In this case, he asked for a small rural parish, but the point still holds.) In Alexandria, a town of about 500, you can stand at the main crossroads and see the cornfields at the edge of town in each direction, but once a year, Fr. Fox has people from all over the country making a pilgrimage to his Fatima convocation for which he rents the city auditorium-gymnasium.
In this article I have focused on only one part of the great encyclical, "Casti Connubii," its reaffirmation of the Christian teaching against marital contraception. However, it is much more than that. It is truly a compendium on marriage. In fact, it is such a wonderful exposition of Christian marriage that I think Pope Pius XI must have been working on it for some time before Lambeth which probably hastened its issuance. Using Augustine's triplet of offspring, fidelity, and sacrament (indissolubility), Pius XI shows how these are the great blessings of marriage, and to day we can see the challenges inherent in receiving these blessings. We can also see the tragedies that come from living a secularized version of marriage, and in that respect, "Casti Connubii" is even more relevant today than it was in its own time. Considering the current debate about voting for pro-abortion candidates, it seems fitting to conclude with the words of Pope Pius XI which might well appear in every parish bulletin once a month.
"Those who hold the reins of government should not forget that it is the duty of public authority by appropriate laws and sanctions to defend the lives of the innocent, and this all the more so since those whose lives are endangered and assailed cannot defend themselves. Among whom we must mention in the first place infants hidden in the mother's womb. And if the public magistrates not only do not defend them, but by their laws and ordinances betray them to death at the hands of doctors or of others, let them remember that God is the Judge and Avenger of innocent blood which cries from earth to heaven (C.C par. 67)."
1. Anthony Kosnik et al., "Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought" (New York: Paulist Press, 1977). "All else being equal, a homosexual engaging in homosexual acts in good conscience has the same rights of conscience and the same rights to the sacraments as a married couple practicing birth control in good conscience" p. 216. 2. Charles D. Provan, "The Bible and Birth Control" (Monongahela, PA: Zimmer Printing, 1989). Available from the Couple to Couple League for $7.70 post-paid. 3. See John C. Ford, S.J. and Gerald Kelly, S.J., "Contemporary Moral Theology, Volume 11: Marriage Questions" (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1964) esp. pp. 245-255. 4. Inexpensive copies of "Casti Connubii" are available from the Daughters of St. Paul, 50 St. Paul's Avenue, Boston MA 02130. However, the "Official Vatican Text" reprinted by the DSP is not really so official (no fault of the DSP) and does not contain the famous "missing paragraph 24" which the initial translator omitted for reasons best known to God and himself. From another source, I quote that missing paragraph so that you can include it in any classes you might give on the encyclical. Par. 23 ends with "as is proved by the example set us of many saints." Par. 25 starts with "By this same love, it is necessary . . . " Par. 24 is as follows: "This mutual inward moulding of husband and wife, this determined effort to perfect each other, can in a very real sense, as the Roman Catechism teaches, be said to be the chief reason and purpose of matrimony, provided matrimony be looked at not in the restricted sense as instituted for the proper conception and education of the child, but more widely as the blending of life as a whole and the mutual interchange and sharing thereof." 5. For a list of other pro-chastity and NFP materials which are available from the Couple to Couple League, send a SASE and ask for the pink sheet of chastity materials. For more on the historical reaction to Lambeth of 1930, see "Birth Control and Christian Discipleship," a booklet by the current author, listed in the pink sheet. Address: CCL, P.O. Box 111184, Cincinnati OH 45211.
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Only Catholicism still sees this foundational Truth
however, this line is not completely true. while the major protestant denominations have sold out, there are many independant churches (including the one i attend) that still preach the true Gospel on this.
God Bless ya!
I'm heartened to hear this. However, in my experience, while a FEW independant churches condemn abortifacient hormonal contraceptives, few if any preach and teach that barrier methods are sinful. If you are aware of many independant churches that teach both barrier methods and abortifacient methods to be sinful, I would appreciate seeing their materials or web sites that teach this. (Honestly, I study this issue. I have found very few independant churches that are as you say.)
This is the primary reason that I returned to Roman Catholicism after I briefly left, and did not persue the claims of orthodoxy any farther.
Even though many reject it, our Church still maintains an authoritative, definitive teaching, and for all intents and purposes, is the sole Christian body to do so on the universal scene.
You're the purgatory guys, right?
Plus the obvious...folks who live in sodomitic sin glass houses, where the same type of sin is not only tolerated but taught to be acceptable, better stop to think before they criticize the sodomitic sin in our Catholic ranks, especially when we are the only ones condemning both on the world stage.
I take that to be a reference to the pedophile priests being exposed lately. Of course, you're missing a rather obviously point: pedophilia is a form of rape. So it's sodomy and rape.
there is even an article on the website that condemns barrier contraceptives (written by a pastor who had his vasectomy reversed when he saw the truth!). God Bless.
Of course, we all know where he found that truth, because, other than a very very few obscure independant churches, no one has the guts to talk about this except the RCC.
Fine. Lets talk about sodomy rape AND contraception. My Church teaches all three to be inherently sinful. Your churches teache two to be sinful and one to be acceptable. They are all sexual sins (though rape is a violent crime also.) What's your point?
Strange that you seek apply this to we second-class citizens that you call "invincibly ignorant" or some other derogatory name, but for your "Queen of Heaven" that you pray to and venerate vociferously, it doesn't apply. To you it was OK for her to disobey God's commands and deprive her husband of his due and stay a virgin perpetually. I believe the term that applies to you would be hypocrite. I don't mean all RC's just those who seek to put us NC's under your man-made rules. Of course I don't believe Mary disobeyed God as your church does (by implication), so don't call me a Mary-hater.
what are the questions that you said i didnt answer? i wasnt aware there were any (maybe you should ask me by private response). i will answer whatever you wanna know. God Bless.