The Papists

Apologetics and Evengelization
  • June 19, 2012 7:42 pm

    Thank you to the Anon who wrote in to defend large families. I appreciate your passion:

    stop bashing big families. It is not your right to say my parents were morally irresponsible for having a lot of children. If you think like that then you obviously don’t know anything about large families. We are all taken care of. We probably have more money than you do. And did you ever think that maybe the siblings could give each other attention. We were all planned, and my parents do use birth control. We have never had to go without a day in our lives.

    The other Anon who argued that large families are always irresponsible, poor, and doing a disservice to the children cannot have known many large families. In my and my other people’s experience, it seems including yours, they are usually some of the most well-loved and cared for children. The large numbers of the family bind them together, and the benefits of having many close siblings are numerous.

    While that is not everyone’s experience, neither is it true that only families with few children are well-loved and cared for. In my personal experience with the advantages and disadvantages of both kinds of family sizes, from “really big” to “only child,” the quality of family life and parenting has nothing to do with the number of children, and everything to do with the quality of the parents themselves.

    There’s no such thing as a family that’s “too big” or “too small.” There’s no magic number of children that makes for the perfect family. It all depends on the circumstances on the family. Parents can have only one or two children and still ignore their children in favor of careers and their own private interests, which is hardly an infrequent occurrence in modern society. The quality of parenting is not determined by the number of children. Just as the quality of home life is not determined by money. Despite the message of our materialistic culture, children are not being “deprived” if they have only the necessities: food, clothing, a home, and loving parents. In so many cases, if you ask a member of a large, loving family whether they’d trade their younger siblings for a bigger allowance, they might say yes—for about thirty seconds.

    Stereotypes like “big families are bad for kids” are harmful to everyone. Anecdotal evidence of one large dysfunctional family is no more evidence that large families are a problem than is anecdotal evidence of the dysfunctional small family or only child. And in any case, insulting or judging someone’s family is never, ever the right approach.

    Thank you for writing in, and God bless you!

  • June 7, 2012 3:43 pm

    "Mohandas Gandhi, the famous Indian nationalist leader and a Hindu, insisted that contraceptive methods are like “putting a premium on vice. They make men and women reckless.” He predicted that “nature is relentless and will have full revenge for any such violation of her laws. Moral results can only be produced by moral restraints….If [contraceptive] methods become the order of the day, nothing but moral degradation can be the result…As it is, man has sufficiently degraded woman for his lust, and [contraception], no matter how well meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her."

    — Christopher West, The Good News about Sex and Marriage

  • June 7, 2012 3:41 pm

    Marriage and Contraception

    The following passage is from Christopher West’s book The Good News About Sex and Marriage. In this part he explores the logic of contraception within marriage. All italics, etc, are in the original formatting. 

    After pointing out that marital vows by nature require openness to children, he explores the consequences of the various objections people raise:

    Some might respond: “A copule can be ‘open to children’ over the course of their marriage without each and every act of intercourse needings to be.” But that makes as much sense as saying: ‘A couple can be ‘faithful’ to each other over the course of their marriage without each and every act of intercourse needing to be with each other.” If we can recognize the inconsistency in claiming a commitment to fidelity but not always, we should be able to recognize the inconsistency of claiming a commitment to being open to children but not always.  

    Looking for a way out of the dilemma posed by this logic? You have a few choices:

    Option 1. You can claim that sex doesn’t have to participate in the “I do” of wedding vows at all. OK, then the logical conclusion is that it doesn’t have to be between people who have exchanged wedding vows at all. In this view, sex has no real meaning whatsoever, other than the exchange, or even solitary experience, of physical pleasure.

    This opens the door to the justification of any and every means to orgasm, whether by oneself, between to people, between any number of people… or even with animals. This, unfortunately, is the way much of our contraception culture already things.

    Option 2: You can change the definition of marriage to exclude “openness to children” as an integral part of the commitment. OK, but then we become the authors of marriage, rather than God, and the definition of marriage becomes completely arbitrary. You want to have a “dissoluble marriage” just in case it doesn’t work out? Sure, we can do that. You want to have an “open marriage” just in case you get bored with each other? Sure, we can do that…. 

    Marriage is all or nothing. Sex, as an expression of the marriage commitment, is all or nothing. There is no avoiding the fact that an intentionally sterilized act of intercourse changes the “I do” of the wedding vows to an “I do.. not.”

    This “I do not” affects not only the commitment to being open children. A closer look reveals that it also affects freedom, totality, and fidelity as well. Let’s take a look at each of these again through the lens of contracepted intercourse.

    Freedom. This truth may strike you as odd at first, but vive it some time to sink in: contraception was not invented to prevent pregnancy. There already existed a perfectly safe, infallibly relaible way of doing that; it’s called abstinence. Upon deeper reflection it becomes clear that contraception was invented to indulge sexual instinct. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. The necessity that mothered contraception was our “need” for sex.

    "Sexual freedom," in the popular sense, means the license to have sex without ever having to say no (this is exactly what contraception affords.) But only those who say no to sex (only those who can abstain) demonstrate that when they say yes, they do so freely. Contraception, promoted in the asme of “sexual freedom,” actually fosters self-imposed slavery. It creates a culture of people unable to say no to their hormones.

    Totality. As we noted in the last chapter, to the degree that we knowingly and intentionally reserve any part of ourselves from our spouse in the sexual act, we canot speak of a total self giving. This includes our fertility. Contracepted intercourse contradicts the “language of love” by saying, “I give you all of myself except my fertility. I receive all that you are except  your fertility.”

    The choice to withhold one’s fertility during intercourse, or to refuse to receive it as a gift in one’s spouse, is a contradiction of the deepest essence of conjugal love right at the moment when it should find its most sincere expression. Precisely at marriage’s “moment of truth,” the truth is exchanged for a lie.

    Fidelity. Being faithful to one’s spouse does not only mean refraining from adultery (in deed or in fantasy.) It means living what you promised at the altar through thick and thin, no matter how difficult, no matter how challenging, no matter how much sacrifice is required. Couples who succumb to sterilizing their acts of intercourse have consciously or unconsciously decided that fidelity to their vows is too demanding. Consciously or unconsciously, they choose to be unfaithful to the promises they made at the altar.

    West then answers some common questions:

    Are you saying couples who use contraception don’t love each other? 

    They may love each other in many authentic ways. But despite any accompanying amount of sentiment, emotion, and feeling, an act of contracepted intercouse can never be an act of authentic love. Love is not arbitrary. Love is not whatever we want it to be. Love is not merely an intense feeling or the sharing of pleasure. Love is to live according to the image in which we’re made. Love is to give ourselves away freely, totally, and fruitfully in imitation of Christ. Contracepted intercourse contradicts all of this.

    So what the heck is a couple supposed to do, just have twelve kids? Gimme a break! 

    Let’s think about it. Supposed there is a couple who has internalized what it means to renew their vows through intercourse and are determined to never violate those vows (as every married couple should be.) Suppose they also have a just reason to space their children, or even not to have another baby at all… What could they possibly do that would not violate their vows?

    Every time a couple chooses to have a sex they must speak the “I do” of their vows. But couples aren’t always obligated to have sex. In fact, throughout the course of a marriage there are many occasions when a couple might want to have sex but have good reason not to. Perhaps one or the other spouse is sick. Perhaps the wife just gave bith. Perhaps the couple is staying with one of the in-laws and there are thin walls. Or perhaps they have good reason not to have another baby. These are all good reasons not to have sex, even if they want to.

    So here’s the answer to our question: If a couple had a good reason not to have another baby, and they were firm in their resolve never to violate their marriage commitment, the only thing they could do would be to exercise their freedom to say no and abstain from sex. Human dignity and the meaning of sexual intercourse dictate that the only acceptable birth control is self-control. 

    Why do people spay or neuter their pets? Because animals can’t say no to their urge to mate. But we can. If we can’t, then we’ve stooped to the level of Fido and Fidette.

    The science of NFP can pinpoint with 99% accuracy, depending on the method you use, when the very small window of a woman’s fertile period is each month. For couples with just reasons to avoid having children, abstaining from sex during that short time periods is the moral and healthy way to regulate family size. Again, more information here and in this tag.

  • June 7, 2012 3:13 pm
    bemusedlybespectacled:  (Not the anon you had before) I fail to see how love automatically equals babies. People can be fully committed to each other, and love each other, without having children. There are all sorts of medical and personal reasons why someone would not want to have children, and that doesn't mean that they don't love their partner. To me, true love is respecting your partner's decision: true love is not saying "I love you, but not enough to let you control your own health choices."

    It all depends on your definition of “love.” Catholics believe that true love means radical, eternal commitment, in every way, shape and form. Moreover, we believe that children are always, in every circumstance, a blessing. And, as people, as human beings with inherent dignity, children have the same rights as every other human being: to be loved and accepted unconditionally, because they are not “extras” that can be added or removed from a couple’s life at the whim of their selfish pleasure. Children are not a “health choice.”

    Catholics believe in radical openness to life. Spouses are called to be of one mind and one heart and one decision about that. A spouse who tries to “control” their spouse’s body is doing it wrong.

    Catholics also believe that it is not wrong or contradictory to that radical openness for life for spouses to regulate the number and arrival times of their children—provided their reasons are just—with Natural Family Planning. NFP is not birth control, which is immoral. Nor, if used for the right reasons, is it closed to life. More information here and here.

    Catholics do not believe that love is simply about sex, or romantic feelings, or even staying together just because that’s What You Do. And it is definitely not about “me.” All too often you find people in variations of this kind of relationship: “I give so much to my partner, but there’s no point if they’re not giving back to me in the same amount. This is supposed to be 50/50. And I can’t even imagine having kids, when would I ever have time for me? They’re so needy.”

    But true love’s first concern isn’t “looking out for number one.” True love is wholly give, for the sake of the good of the beloved. A good marriage isn’t one person saying, “I’ll do x if you’ll do y”; it’s both persons saying, “I’ll do.”

    When it comes to love and the radical openness to life proper to marriage—to not using birth control, to using NFP properly, and being willing to raise a family—it’s like this, as Christopher West writes in The Good News About Sex and Marriage: “The link between sex and and procreation holds the dignity of human life in place. Sever it, and human life is automatically cheapened. Sever it, and human beings come to be treated no longer as persons to love but as things to use… human life is not respected for its own sake but is treated as a thing to be acquired or discarded according to personal preference.”

    Imagine for a moment that you believe there is an order to the universe. A purpose. That human beings and what they do and how they live and love are part of this order and purpose, and that both affect each other. And that there is an Ultimate Guide to Everything that, if you could only read it, would reveal that relationship and therefore the key to how to live happily and healthily, so that humanity, the universe, everything would work right and successfully. 

    If that scenario were true—and the Catholic claim is that it is—then love and happiness are no longer about the “I.” The mutable self is no longer the standard of reality. The self’s desires and needs and happiness are dependent upon the larger whole and do not operate independently of it. 

    That’s the basis for the radical mutual commitment of self-sacrificng service that the Catholic Church teaches is the nature of love. 

    As a follow up to this post, I’m going to post separately a quote that explores how this all relates to contraception, in a more clear and concise way than I’m capable of explaining. If you have further questions, please wait until you’ve read it before asking.

    God bless.

  • June 5, 2012 4:30 pm

    The morality of contraception, according to the Roman Catholic Church (Part 2)

    empty-and-beautiful:

    * Part 1 can be found here. I wrote this paper for my Christian moral principles class in the spring semester of 2012. Please excuse formatting issues.

    Building on the scriptural base for the immorality of contraception, the Church has developed thorough doctrine its stance on contraceptives being used to prevent instances of new life. She has spoken out against contraception in various papal encyclicals, and presents clearly illustrated doctrine in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. … Only the child possesses genuine rights: ‘to be the fruit of the specific act of conjugal love of his parents,’ and ‘the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.’”[1] God’s primordial plan for marriage and its natural openness to fertility is illustrated clearly in Gaudium et Spes:

    Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: ‘It is not good that man should be alone,’ and ‘from the beginning [he] made them male and female’; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’ Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day.[2]

     

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  • June 5, 2012 11:57 am

    catastropheanddthecure:

    so I’m Catholic..

    and you aren’t supposed to have sex before marriage, and only have sex to reproduce. I’m a virgin and stuff, but like condoms, birth control, etc are all against my religion. But what if the birth control isn’t to prevent birth and I don’t have sex or anything… am I going to hell? hahahaha.

    ?

    Hey! The point of sex in marriage is for both a) the openness to life (reproduction) and b) the sacred union of the spouses in love. Using birth control for reasons other than blocking conception (like for acne) is permissible. However, there are always other medications that can be used as well for things like acne. It’s wrong to use contraception like condoms and birth control for a Catholic because you’re excluding God and the possibility of life from this sacred union.

    More on this here.

    If you would like to talk about this more, feel free to message me (heartallonfire) or  thepapists. 

    (Oh, and don’t listen to that innerchrist guy…he doesn’t know what he’s talking about ;) )

  • June 4, 2012 1:58 pm

    The morality of contraception, according to the Roman Catholic Church (Part 1)

    empty-and-beautiful:

    * I wrote this research paper for my Christian Moral Principles class during the spring 2012 semester. The formatting is sort of all over the place due to copying from Microsoft Word into Tumblr. Please excuse.

    Today’s society is based on self-gratification. Generations have become accustomed to pushing a button and receiving whatever it is they want, or being able to undo mistakes with a few commands. This mindset has infiltrated issues of morality, particularly issues that deal with the respect and dignity of human life. As St. Irenaeus points out, “God … made male and female for the propagation of the human race.”[1] From the beginning of time, with animals and with early humans, “the sexual act was … simply the result of an instinctive urge which — without their knowing it — led to the divinely-willed result of reproduction. By the time God had created human beings through the evolutionary process, however, he had also created new and far more complex aspects of the sexual dimension of our lives.”[2]

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  • April 27, 2012 2:27 pm

    Separation of Church and State.

    thechocolatechipcookie:

    In the United States, separation of Church and State has been on the line for over a hundred years.  The Church, of course, says that it is the federal government who is invading moral matter.  On the other hand, the federal government claims that the Church is trying to indoctrinate State power.

    The situation here, both now and for the past hundred years, has been somewhat like the memory that everyone probably has of their childhood. That memory about playing on the playground with a child a bit smaller than yourself …

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  • April 17, 2012 9:51 pm

    "Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection"

    — Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae (1968)

  • March 28, 2012 6:30 pm

    A secular argument for why contraception is morally wrong

    Note: The following is a class assignment I submitted for my Christian Moral Principles class. The prompt was to find a journal article on a moral topic and discuss how the author’s thesis correlated with or went against Catholic teaching. With this article, I found that although the author takes a secular viewpoint, his thesis directly correlates with the Church’s moral teachings on contraception and stem cell research. + Jordan
    ———————————————————————-
    In the article "Treating Humanity as an Inviolable End: An Analysis of Contraception and Altered Nuclear Transfer", published in the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy in 2008,  author Lawrence Masek’s thesis is that contraception is morally wrong, while periodic abstinence (or natural family planning) is not, and that altered nuclear transfer (ANT) is morally wrong for the same reason contraception is. Masek seeks to prove his thesis at a secular level. “Contrary to what readers might expect, my argument assumes nothing about the morality of cloning or abortion and requires no premises about God or natural teleology.”[1]

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