As the world knows, Obergefell vs Hodges, the recent case that was used by the U.S. Supreme Court to forbid states to ban same-sex “marriage,” originated here in Cincinnati. Mr. Obergefell wanted to be listed as the surviving spouse on the death certificate of his partner in “marriage.” When that was originally denied, he took it to the courts, and the rest is history.
You have probably seen various analyses of this decision; some of the best are the dissenting opinions of the dissenting Justices. Chief Justice Roberts emphatically pointed out that the decision was not rooted in the Constitution but simply in the personal preferences of the Majority. That is, this is another sad case of Court-imposed legislation.
The Majority decision listed the Griswold v Connecticut (1965) and Eisenstadt v Baird (1972) as precedents. Those decisions forbade States from banning the sale and distribution of contraceptives to, respectively, married and then unmarried persons. To understand the impact of these decisions and their relationship to Obergefell, it is helpful to remember that in his commentary on the Sin of Onan in Genesis 38, Martin Luther called Onan’s form of contraception—withdrawal—a form of sodomy. That applies to any and all forms of contraceptive behaviors. It obviously includes those married couples who engage in the same sort of anatomical sexual acts as homosexuals; it also includes those who use the Pill etc. Thus Griswold told the American people that it is so acceptable for married couples to engage in sodomy as contraception that States could no longer have any laws against this behavior.
According to the current NIH “Family Growth” statistics, about one-tenth of one percent of couples, married or not, are using natural methods of conception regulation. Let’s say that these figures don’t fairly represent married Christians. After all, do YOU know anyone who has ever been surveyed? And if asked, would you tell the details of your personal life to some survey-taker? So let’s say that the survey results were off by a factor of ten, yielding a rate of one percent of all those surveyed. Let’s imagine that churchgoing-Catholics were not well represented, so let’s double that figure. That would estimate that two percent of Catholic churchgoing parishioners were not using unnatural methods of birth control.
Conversely, that means that among fertile-age people, 98 percent of Catholics and 99% of the rest of the heterosexual population are engaging in various forms of sodomy as their way of preventing pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are no data from the natural family planning community to help us think that more than two percent of Catholic married couples are using only natural forms of conception regulation.
It is quite imaginable that homosexuals in our culture might have been thinking, “Since those doing heterosexual sodomy are calling it marriage, why shouldn’t we?” From that perspective, it appears that Obergefell is both a logical and sociological consequence of Griswold. In other words, from heterosexual sodomy as marriage we now have homosexual sodomy as marriage.
Shortly before the day of the decision, I was receiving emails calling for prayer and predicting that the acceptance of sodomy as marriage would spell the end of our culture. I don’t disagree, but I think that we all need to realize that “marriage” was redefined by Griswold in 1965 and that Obergefell has simply made clear what contraceptive marriage is all about.
The question of the day is this: What will the leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States of America do about this? What will they do to educate church-going Catholics about the beauty and truth of Catholic teaching on love, marriage and sexuality? As Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York has admitted, most bishops treated Humanae Vitae as a “hot potato,” i.e., something not to be handled. The result is in the statistics a few paragraphs above. The merciful Lord has given them another chance to get it right.
Also, this is certainly an opportunity for Protestants to realize that Luther was right about contraceptive behaviors as a form of sodomy and to return to the unity of teaching on this issue that prevailed until the Anglican revolution of 1930. After all, essentially Protestant state legislatures enacted the anti-contraception laws of the 1870s. Perhaps some or many will realize that the Catholic Church is the Guardian and authoritative teacher of the truth despite the failings of the majority of its Western laity and the laxity or timidity of too many of its clergy.
John F. Kippley, July 1, 2015