Invalid Marriages, the Eucharist, and Romans 10:14-17

As I began to write this, 150 Cardinals of the Catholic Church were gathered at the Vatican to discuss family matters including the problem of people in invalid marriages who would like to receive Holy Communion.  Published comments have included mention of a possible “pastoral” solution to the problem.

That sort of language is ambiguous and can be troubling.  I suggest that it was that sort of allegedly “pastoral” thinking that led many bishops and cardinals to handle Humanae Vitae as a “hot potato” to use the term of Cardinal Timothy Dolan.  That approach and its non-teaching of the demands of Christian love reaffirmed by the encyclical have given us the present situation in which only about one percent of fertile-age Catholic married couples are using any form of systematic NFP.  The rest of them are certainly not just letting the babies come as they may, and another consequence is the societal acceptance of sodomy as “marriage.”

The issue raises the question of the New Evangelization.  As formulated by Pope John Paul II and reaffirmed by Pope Benedict XVI, this was supposed to help Catholics understand that Jesus Himself is the Author of the difficult moral teachings of the Church.  So I wonder how many cardinals, bishops and priests have preached homilies on the permanence of marriage, homilies that explain how radical this teaching sounded to the Jews including the apostles.  In particular, how many German cardinals, bishops and priests have preached at least once a year on the permanence of marriage?

How many ordinary pew sitters realize that divorce and remarriage was taken for granted by the Jews of that time, even though the Pharisees and the Sadducees had different positions?  One party said you could divorce your wife for any reason whatever while the other party said you had to have a serious reason.  So the Pharisees, who held the latter position, phrased the question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?”  (my emphasis).

The discourse is in Matthew 19:1ff.  Jesus refers them back to the order of creation in Genesis.  “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two become one’?  So they are no longer two but one.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”  The Pharisees then brought up Moses and his command to give a certificate of divorce, and Jesus replied that this was because of their hardness of heart.  That is, it had become the custom for a man to divorce his wife and then call her back like a yo-yo at the end of the string.  So Moses commanded that the divorcing husband give his wife a written decree to stop that evil, but it was certainly not a permission to divorce and remarry.

So Jesus replied, “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity [an already immoral union], and marries another, commits adultery, and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.”

“The disciples said to him, ‘If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.”  To paraphrase, “If a man can’t get rid of his wife even for a very good reason, he’s better off not getting married.”

So, the difficult teaching comes directly from Jesus; it is not just a discipline of the Church.

To be concluded next week.

John F. Kippley, also at www.nfpandmore.org

From Sanger to Same-Sex “Marriage”

Have you ever wondered when and how the same-sex-marriage proposition got started?  It was 100 years ago that Margaret Sanger began her literary efforts to promote contraception.  It is clear now that these efforts prepared the way for the contemporary societal acceptance of sodomy under its current euphemism of same-sex marriage.

It was in 1914 the Sanger started her own paper, The Rebel Woman, and began to circulate it via the U. S. Postal system.  This brought her into conflict with the existing obscenity laws, and in August she was arrested and given six weeks to prepare her defense.  Instead, she wrote a book on contraception and fled to England where she imbibed more of the evil philosophy of Havelock Ellis who publicly advocated for the societal acceptance of contraception, masturbation, and sodomy.  That’s  When and How the idea of same-sex “marriage” was conceived although not yet explicitly proposed.  Sanger returned to the States in 1916, eventually went to trial, received a very short sentence, and successfully used the legal proceedings as free publicity for her cause.

The promotional work of Ellis in England and Sanger in the United States led to much discussion in the 1920s about the social effects of accepting contraception.  One such idea was “companionate marriage” — legal marriage, deliberate childlessness via contraception, divorce for any reason, and remarriage.  The reformers considered the cycle of divorce and remarriage to be social progress, but they did have a proviso.  If the partners have a contraceptive failure, they must remain together for the sake of the child.

Secular humanist Walter Lippmann brought a critical eye to these developments in his 1929 book, A Preface to Morals.  He did not disagree with the basic argument against unlimited family size, but he found fault with the way the argument was advanced.  He saw that it was folly to argue that this information could be kept to married couples because human curiosity would make certain that everybody would soon know it.  “Now this is what the Christian churches, especially the Roman Catholic, which oppose contraception on principle instantly recognized.  They were quite right.  They were quite right, too, in recognizing that whether or not birth control is eugenic, hygienic, and economic, it is the most revolutionary practice in the history of human morals (1999 printing, 291, emphasis added).

He then summarized his review of the sex talk of the Twenties in this way.  “What has happened, I believe, is what so often happens in the first enthusiasm for a revolutionary invention.  Its possibilities are so dazzling that men forget that inventions belong to man and not man to his inventions.  In the discussion which has ensued since birth control became generally feasible, the central confusion has  been that the reformers have tried to fix their sexual ideals in accordance with the logic of  birth control instead of the logic of human nature” (306, emphasis added).  How sadly true.

That was 1929.  The very next year, the bishops of the Church of England debated the marital contraception issue.  One of their retired members, Bishop Charles Gore, a leader of the “conservative” group, argued that the acceptance of marital contraception would lead logically to the acceptance of sodomy.  Despite this clear warning, the Church of England formally accepted marital contraception in August 1930 although with some reservation.  The Church of England thus became the first organized religious body calling itself Christian to accept the practice of marital contraception.  In my opinion, this was even more important than the efforts of Margaret Sanger in explaining the acceptance of unnatural forms of birth control by Christians whose churches had previously condemned it.  By 1958 the Anglican bishops were openly advocating marital contraception, and early in the 21st century they were accepting sodomy even by their own married bishops.  Ellis and Sanger had replaced Genesis and Romans.

The bottom line is this:  Once you accept marital contraception as a matter of principle, there is no logical way to say NO to heterosexual sodomy within marriage, and there is also no logical way to say NO to same-sex sodomy and even its masquerade as same-sex “marriage.”  As Professor Raymond Dennehy of the University of San Francisco wrote some years ago, once you accept contraception, “any orifice will do.”

Martin Luther was correct when, in his commentary on the Sin of Onan, he called the contraceptive sin of withdrawal a form of sodomy.  That applies to all unnatural forms of birth control.  Thus it is not surprising that huge numbers of contracepting couples who call themselves Christian see nothing wrong with same-sex “marriage.”  It’s hard to call wrong what you yourself are doing in your own marriage.

When married couples engage in mutual masturbation, that’s a form of marital sodomy.  That also applies to oral and anal sexual copulation.  I can imagine that practitioners of same-sex sodomy might say something to this effect—“Some of you married heterosexuals are doing our kind of sex and calling it okay for yourselves.  Why shouldn’t we do sodomy and call it marriage?”

I think everybody dealing with human sexuality or who even reads the papers has to know that oral sodomy is practiced — sometimes widely — by heterosexuals, married and unmarried and even teenagers, as well as homosexuals.  Yet, to the best of my knowledge, the only natural family planning books that teach explicitly against these immoral behaviors are those written by my wife and me.  It only takes a few lines to say these things, so space cannot be a consideration.  A related question—Is this basic moral teaching contained in any of the marriage preparation texts and courses used in Catholic parishes?  I don’t know, but if any reader can cite any such books or programs, please let me know.

If the purpose of preparation for Christian marriage is to help couples live a morally good life and to build up the Church, why aren’t these things being taught in every marriage prep and NFP course and text?  Is the mission of the Church advanced by omitting these basic moral teachings?

John F. Kippley, also at www.nfpandmore.org

The Little Sisters and the Obama Supremacy

The year 2013 ended with U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor ordering a temporary halt to the enforcement of the U. S. Health and Human Services birth control mandate against the Little Sisters of the Poor.  This is an organization founded by Saint Jeanne Jugan in France in 1839 to take care of the poor and has had a home here in Cincinnati since 1868.  The number of people they care for exceeds what the Sisters themselves can do, so they have employees.  The Obama administration insists that the Little Sisters provide any current or prospective employee with “free” birth control of whatever kind they might want.  The Little Sisters operation in Denver is the subject of the litigation, but the judgment will apply to all locations as well as to similar religiously based organizations.

As believing Catholics, the Little Sisters believe that the practice of contraception is immoral and do not want to facilitate it.  The HHS has proposed what it calls an “accommodation” for Catholic organizations.  They don’t have to pay for the contraceptives directly or even directly pay for the insurance to provide it.  The Wall Street Journal (Jan 3) explained it this way:

“The problem is that to qualify under the ‘accommodation,’ religious organizations must sign a legal contract with their insurer certifying that the religious organizations refuse to subsidize contraceptive services. ‘This certification is an instrument under which the plan is operated,’ the contract notes, then informs the insurer of its ‘obligations’ under the rules.

“Those include a command that the insurer ‘shall provide’ contraception to all enrollees, supposedly independently and for free. The political point of the accommodation was to pretend that the costs of contraception or abortifacients are nominally carried by a third-party corporation, but the insurers are really only the middle men. The Little Sisters thus argue that signing the certification contract directs others to provide birth control in their place and makes them complicit.”

The contract that HHS insists must be signed is not just a piece of paper.  It is an acknowledgement that the State has the right to force Catholics and others to contradict their religious convictions under pain of severe penalties.  As the WSJ concluded, “This case is simply a raw assertion of state power directing the religious to follow orders. Thus ObamaCare forces women who have taken a vow of chastity and minister for the dying to implicate themselves in what they consider to be grave moral wrongs.”  For the entire article, see http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304325004579298542674477308

Such raw power has been used before by a State power that will stop at nothing to compel Catholics to abandon their faith.  Two egregious examples suffice.  In 1534 subjects of King Henry VIII were required to accept his Oath of Supremacy that recognized the King as the supreme head of not only England but also of the Church in England.  For refusal to sign this piece of paper, Saints John Fisher and Thomas More were beheaded in 1535.

The French Revolution provided the context for those terrorists to attempt to exterminate the Catholic Church in that country.  The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was passed on 12 July 1790 to completely subordinate the Church to the French government.  Hundreds of non-subscribing Catholic priests were imprisoned on ships at Rochefort.  I don’t know how many of these died, but 64 of them are recognized as having died a martyr’s death there in 1794-1795.  Not only priests but infants and children were killed by the French revolutionists.  For more on this, see http://newsaints.faithweb.com/martyrs/MFR06.htm.

Every President wants to be remembered for his legacy.  So that his legacy does not include such visible persecution of faithful members of the Catholic Church and others, please pray for the conversion of President Obama, his Cabinet, and the Supreme Court Justices who will ultimately have to judge the constitutionality of the HHS birth control mandate.

John F. Kippley, also at www.nfpandmore.org

What the President Really Wanted to Say

President Barack Obama asked me to prepare some material for his State of the Union address, but I was so flustered that I failed to deliver it in time.  However, he has thanked me profusely for the following and given me permission to share it with you.

After the usual introductory remarks….

One of my fellow Democrats, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a man who has long gone to meet his Maker, addressed the issue of poverty when he was an Assistant Secretary of Labor in the Johnson Administration.  This was one year after President Johnson persuaded Congress to get serious about alleviating poverty with his Great Society program.

As some of you may remember, Mr. Moynihan addressed the poverty of black families in 1965 and suggested that the black family structure might have something to do with poverty.  At the time, the black out-of-wedlock pregnancy rate was 24% and the white rate was 3%.  His paper was treated as controversial, but many in Congress thought he might have a point, so in the ensuing years Congress has done every thing it can to make contraception and abortion universally available with a special focus on black communities.  Since that time, however, the white folks have managed to increase their single-mom rate by eight times to reach the level of about 24 or 25%, and the black single mom rate has increased to 70%.  In other words, if the government effort to provide contraception and abortion was to reduce the out-of-wedlock birth rate, it has been a colossal failure.

We all know that the single greatest new source of poverty in these United States is the household headed by a single woman with children.  We all know that those babies born into that situation have, in baseball terminology, two strikes against them.  And we know that they frequently do not do as well in school, are less likely to graduate from high school, and are more likely to spend some time in jail than those children born into a family headed by a male father and a female mother committed to each other and to their children.

We all know this is expensive, but perhaps we don’t all realize just exactly how  expensive it is.  A friend of mine in Ohio did a bit of research on the internet and came up with a price tag of $123 billion dollars each year for what he calls the cost of the Sexual Revolution that you have all heard about.  I realize that in terms of trillion dollar budgets that may not sound like much, but, you know, a billion here, ten billion there, and another 123 billion here and there—that starts to add up, and I think we can all agree it shouldn’t be ignored.  Especially when the results have not been helpful to families.

Then there is the even more important human cost of men and women spending part of their lives in prison because they got off to a poor start in life.

Something else we all know is that we have kicked God and his Commandments out of the public schools of these United States.  We have let ourselves be cowed by those who have claimed that any mention of God and his Commandments is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution which states very clearly, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791 when George Washington was president.  And we all know that he and the Congress did this so no particular church could be made the Established Church in this country.  Many people came to this country just to get away from that situation.  But there is no reason to think that our founders were setting up a completely secular anti-religious nation.  After all, toward the end of his second term as the first president of the United States, George Washington stated, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

Now that I have outlined the problem, I know that you are expecting me to propose something that will cost an additional $100 billion dollars a year.  But I have a surprise for you.  It’s a very simple plan called “Let the money follow the child.”  All tax-generated funds will go to schools of the parents’ choice.

I am sure that you all agree that we need to eliminate discrimination, but sometimes not everyone is aware that the greatest remaining case of discrimination in this country is against those parents who want their children to receive an education someplace other than their local public school.  Frequently this amounts to religious discrimination.  This is similar to the tax Christians have to pay in some Muslim dominated countries.  Do we really want that sort of discrimination in this country?  It has never been shown that it is dangerous for this country to have citizens educated to respect the morality enshrined in the Ten Commandments.  Let’s put into effect our realization that President George Washington was really onto something when he said that religion and morality are indispensable supports for political prosperity.

The economic consequences of this will be significant.  It will certainly lead to many new good paying jobs.  There will be lots of new schools to be constructed or old ones to be renovated.  These will need lots of new teachers.  Furthermore, if more and more of our young people are instructed on the biblical principles that God has a plan for sex and that it involves postponing sexual involvement until you are married, there will be a dramatic decrease in pre-marital sex and babies.

Lastly, I propose a significant step towards ending our wars with the Islamists.  Let’s stop giving them the grounds for calling us The Great Satan.  Let’s ban completely the exporting of pornography, abortion, unnatural forms of birth control, and the propaganda for same-sex marriage.  Let’s help less developed peoples with food, not filth.

Stop discrimination.  Let the money follow the child.  Food not filth.  Why not?

John F. Kippley, also at http://www.nfpandmore.org