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GeorgeW
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What is the theological basis for abstaining from birth control other than the 'rhythm method?'

 

This question is prompted by the recent dust up over the government mandate that health insurance must include birth-control services. The Catholic church and many conservatives vehemently objected. So, why, what's the issue?

 

It cannot be about protecting life, as in abortion, since there is no life to protect. It cannot be about promoting procreation as abstinence is permitted. So what's the basis for this proscription?

 

George

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It is the passive versus active, I think. Allowing God - in this case nature, not God - to run its course versus actively interfering with nature. In the overworked rationalizations of the RC church it it fails to distinguish between God and nature. It also fails to distinguish between a right to life, which does not exist in my opinion, and a right to be treated with dignity.

 

Dutch

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It is the passive versus active, I think. Allowing God - in this case nature, not God - to run its course versus actively interfering with nature.

 

Yeah, that makes some sense. Maybe it is related to the idea of non-interference with the death process.

 

But, couldn't this be extended to medical non-intervention in any situation; let nature/God take its course.

 

George

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Remember the twin case where the Catholic couple would not intervene to save one of the twins and were willing to allow both to die? Passive vs active in the life and death situations.

 

Is the prohibition against birth control also a remnant of the "sex is only for procreation not pleasure" attitude?

 

Dutch

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Is the prohibition against birth control also a remnant of the "sex is only for procreation not pleasure" attitude?

 

Yes, I think it is related, but they only prohibit artificial birth control. Doesn't the 'rhythm method' tacitly acknowledge recreational (but highly restricted) sexual activity?

 

George

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Is the prohibition against birth control also a remnant of the "sex is only for procreation not pleasure" attitude?

 

Dutch

 

 

I think this might be closest to the truth root of it. Pleasure, most especially physical please, is bad, wrong, evil.

But, also, perhaps to take a step further, sexual pleasure, to its connection to the idea of sex as being "the orginal sin.' And that woman's punishment for that being her suffering in childbirth. Which of course, proceeds to the pain and risk of pregnancy and childbirth, as well as the burden for care of the child, a "punishment" in itself, both for woman being woman, and for having sex to begin with. and darned if God intended people be so "punished" for having sex, we shouldn't be trying to interfere with, prevent, the carrying out of God's punishment!

Perhaps the allowance for "natural rythym method" is some measure of God's merciful reward for it's merit as inducing humans to exercise at least some effort at controlling how often they engage in that sinful sex act. and of course, since its the woman's responsiblity and burden to keep yp with all that monthly cycle thing, she can also take the blame for the burden and hardship she brings upon her poor husband for having yet another hungry mouth to feed.

 

In all the poilical/social flap about it right now, I think some of that is still there, you play, you pay, but also, that it is less about convictions about birth control than about people feeling they have little control over their lives, and it is just one more thing to set up as how government is somehow trying to control their lives and curtail their freedoms.

 

yeah. I know. cynical.

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
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But, couldn't this be extended to medical non-intervention in any situation; let nature/God take its course.

 

George

 

Actually, George, throughout much of Catholic church histroy, it was. the whole fabrication of what witches were was constructed by the church in its enmity toward those that practices 'healing arts', mostly women, that used such things as herbs and compounds of other natural ingredients, as well as physical practices such as manipulating broken bones back into place, even attempts at sterilization through cleanliness, to help heal. Midwives were especially targeted, for their work involved not only helping to releive the pain and trauma of women giving birth, which was interfering with God's intended suffering upon them, but interfering in ways such as re-positioning the infant to save the lives of both mothers and infants, that in the church view, God had intended to die.

 

The practice of male physicians attending women's labor and delivery actually arose out of a history in the church of requiring the presence of a priest at delivery and birth, whose functionn and role wasn't anything involving assisting the birth, but merely making sure there was no assisitance given, that nature took its God willed course, and to be on hand to administer last rghts were things to go badly.

 

Later medical advance met similar objection from the church...medicine and other interventions that helped prevented and helped survival of diseases were preventing God's will. Early development of proceedures that treated the deaf, allowed them to hear, was terribly blasphemous in light of scripture that says salvation comes first by HEARING the gospel, the Word, and God had not intended those deaf people to HEAR it and therefore be 'saved."

 

:wacko:

 

Jenell

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What is the theological basis for abstaining from birth control other than the 'rhythm method?'

 

I think it safe to file this under:

 

If it makes human life more convenient, enjoyable, and facilitates pleasure; it must be anathema.

 

Isn't that how it works?

 

NORM

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I feel a bit bad for having spoken in this so brashly about the history of the Catholic church...from what is a perspective apart ffrom the experience of those of Catholic back ground...they may see it differently, and I meant to offense to them. That the Church has done such things does not confer guilt by association upon any that have been brought up in or themselves Catholic. Catholics, too, have surely had to wrestle with these questions.

Yes, some insight from a perspective closer to Catholicism would help.

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
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Then why allow the rhythm method?

 

George

 

I know quite a few Catholic families that "practice" the rhythm method (or so they claim). They ALL have more than four children. Now, if they owned a farm, I would say that is convenient, but most of them are struggling to survive the economy with four or more children going to college at the same time.

 

In the cases where I know the female portion of these households (the families in this category tend to be male-centric, conservative), many have told me confidentially that they would rather NOT have so many children. But, of course, they never speak this "opinion" aloud to the few people who could do something about it. Often, they feel trapped.

 

As for more pleasurable...well, I would say more, but...I think everyone here knows...something about this...

 

NORM

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I feel a bit bad for having spoken in this so brashly about the history of the Catholic church...from what is a perspective apart ffrom the experience of those of Catholic back ground...they may see it differently, and I meant to offense to them. That the Church has done such things does not confer guilt by association upon any that have been brought up in or themselves Catholic. Catholics, too, have surely had to wrestle with these questions.

Yes, some insight from a perspective closer to Catholicism would help.

 

Jenell

Actually the majority of Catholics support the use of birth control: http://www.freep.com/article/20120208/NEWS07/120208008/Survey-Majority-of-Catholics-support-including-birth-control-in-health-care-plans The only people opposed to the use of birth control are the sexless and sexist hierarchy who are out of touch with the times and their flock.
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The only people opposed to the use of birth control are the sexless and sexist hierarchy who are out of touch with the times and their flock.

 

I agree, Neon. Here is a more 'official' statement:

 

In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, "Human Life"), which reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence. Contraception is "any action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act [sexual intercourse], or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" (Humanae Vitae 14). This includes sterilization, condoms and other barrier methods, spermicides, coitus interruptus (withdrawal method), the Pill, and all other such methods.

 

I am always amazed at how powerful humans are that we can prevent God's will from bringing more human beings into existence. BOGGLES THE MIND!

 

Catholic Answers

 

Dutch

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what an impotent god that mere humans can prevent his will.....

 

Omnipotence neccessitates God's Will will be done. If God hadn't willed that human kind develop knowledge and means to a choice in limiting procreation, He wouldn't have allowed it to happen.

 

At least, so it seems to me.

 

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
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I have always had the feeling that the C churches stance had more to do with growing the church from within. More babies leads to more Catholics. It also explains their insistence on bringing up the children Catholic. The Catholic church seldom

 

Then why allow the rhythm method?

The old joke while studying reproduction in medical school was:

 

"what do you call people who practice the rhythm method?...................... parents

 

steve

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Well, that does make a certain kind of sense, doesn't it? But I don't know I'd limit to Catholics.....Protestants, Evangelicals. they may be a good deal more conflicted about that idea, particularly the Protestant prosperity ethic, in which reality collides with that the idea of what having lots of children do to one's material prosperity and comforts in real life...it may have once been prosoperous to have a lot of kids to provide lots of farm hands, but certainly that has changed...

 

Yet, I recall a study by Barna group a few years ago, have seen several others along the same line, where a study of a large well known evangelical denomination was conducted over several regions, about "church growth." Even within the churches showing most growth, and claiming to be seeker oriented, or evangelistic focused, the percentage of new membership by new conversion was only about 1.5%. And further broken down, those by new conversion of people with NOT Christian family/childhood background was less than .05%. The overwhelming number of "new members" were either transfers from other churches, biological growth (baptisms of children of members), and "re-commitments." The number/percentage of ADULT baptisms that were first time baptisms were so small as to hardly be measuable, most adult baptisms were re-baptisms of those first baptized as children or young adults. The facts of those statistics don't line up well at all with the evangelical perception of themselves as effectively reaching and bringing in the non-religious non-believers! That old thing that we really don't want to go fishing, we just want to find the ones already caught, cleaned, and ready for the skillet is aparantly all too true.

 

Jenell

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Another, related matter affecting growth from within, that has come out of such studies, are how different groups, non-Christian, Atheist, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, and that particular large evangical denomination, what is rates of non-biologically related adoptions....Evangelicals overall, that denomination in particular, scored rather poorly, with Catholics and Athiests actually coming in that in the lead.

That would be quite consistent with early church history, and much of Catholic church history, where there has always been a signficant focus on taking in and caring for orphaned and abandoned children. I have read the practice of early Christians actively seeking out and rescuing unwanted babies, to be raised as Christians, of course, that in Greek and Roman culture were commonly left out into isolated wilderness and abandoned to die of exposure, contributed signficantly to swelling the ranks of Christians in the early church.

 

Jenell

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There are ethics at play here and the problem to me seems to be the stance taken by the Catholic Church is one using the perception of God's authority by association when it suits them to do so. How can the church argue this archaic stance, which on the face of it appears to about numbers, and claim it is purely about interfering with God's will? It raises many issues:

 

1. It makes a mockery of God and renders him powerless.

2. It interferes with our ability to medically look after ourselves - HIV in Africa, STD's, low income families expanding beyond their means causing pressures on families which have consequences?

3. On what authority does the church say sex is purely for reproduction not pleasure? God gave women a clitoris, an organ designed purely for pleasure didn't he? What healthy couples in loving relationships do to maintain their love and intimacy, reinforce their bonds. That is bad how?

4. Based on the factors considered by the church on this topic, how can we visit doctors for medical care? Use a hearing aid? Wear clothes?

 

The whole thing seems a little bit silly to me in this day and age.

 

?

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On what authority does the church say sex is purely for reproduction not pleasure? God gave women a clitoris, an organ designed purely for pleasure didn't he? What healthy couples in loving relationships do to maintain their love and intimacy, reinforce their bonds. That is bad how?

 

Of course, there is the biological/evolutionary reason for this. Were it not pleasurable, we would just watch more TV and there would be no reproduction and the species would quickly die out.

 

George

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