Further logical consequences of birth control

In last week’s blog I noted that a Catholic dissenter openly admitted that the rejection of Humanae Vitae also entailed the rejection of the whole idea of the natural law as the reasoned basis for Catholic moral teaching, and he used bestiality as an example to make his point.

That writer, Michael Valente, spilled the beans about what the intellectual acceptance of contraception is all about. That made him unpopular among the other dissenters who did not spell out the consequences of their advocacy; I never saw him mentioned in the anti-Humanae Vitae literature thereafter.

Others, however, spelled out principles on which to base your decision-making responsibility if you think you are “free” to pick and choose among Catholic teachings. Father Charles Curran, then a professor at Catholic University of America, spelled out his decision-making principles. I analyzed them in “Continued Dissent: Is It Responsible Loyalty?” published in Theological Studies (32:1) March, 1971, pp. 48-65. In this generally liberal journal, I showed that Fr. Curran’s decision-making principles could not say “NO” even to spouse-swapping. When personal morality becomes a matter of personal preference, “anything goes” if it’s mutually acceptable. This came to mind a few weeks ago when the Cincinnati Enquirer ran a series about “swingers” in Mason, a growing city just a few miles north. The articles had a general tone of disapproval, but why? Maybe the writers wanted to be part of the action, but it’s not impossible that they realized that there is something just plain wrong about a mutual adultery society. The natural moral law doesn’t want to go away. The “swingers” were the subject of a national TV “reality” show, but it was dropped after only a very few episodes. Even a national secular TV audience found its immorality a bit too much.

The point is this. The intellectual acceptance of contraception entails the acceptance of the idea that modern man and woman can take apart what God has put together. What do I mean? Ask anyone who believes in God these two questions. 1. Who put together in one act what we call “making love” and “making babies”? The theist has to answer, “God Himself put together what we call making love and making babies.” 2. What is contraception except the studied effort to take apart what God has put together in the marriage act? Well, what else is it?

In the universe of having the right to take apart what God has put together regarding sexuality, there is no logical stopping point. Morality becomes a matter of personal preference.   Another big question: do the promoters of dissent point this out? Do they tell parents who want to pick and choose that they are logically giving the same decision-making principles to their children?

Next week: Evident consequences.

John F. Kippley, April 11, 2015

 

 

The logic of birth control vs the logic of human nature

I first saw the subject on this article in a book written by secular humanist Walter Lippmann and published in 1929. The 1920’s era was not only a time of bootleg liquor in the States; it was also a time in which effective contraception was becoming widely known. It was practiced in secular circles, debated in religious circles, and philosophized about by the followers of Margaret Sanger who had made it a front page item. Starting her war on chastity in 1914, just a few months before the start of World War I, she promoted contraception as a way to be happy by having unlimited sex and very small families. She managed to get arrested repeatedly, and her court cases drew more attention and sympathy to her cause. Her promise of happy marriages through contraception was, however, a misconception; the divorce rate in 1910, the year of the last census before she started her work, was 1 in 11 marriages. By 1970, with nearly universal contraception, it had grown by 500% to 1 in 2 marriages.

Fear of pregnancy had been a controlling factor in the lives of many would-be fornicators and adulterers. What could life be like without any fear of pregnancy? It didn’t take the reformers long to develop the logical consequences. If there was no built-in law of human nature, and if fear of pregnancy was the only limitation on sex with an agreeable partner, what was there to stop anyone from doing anything of mutual agreement? To be sure, there were laws based on the religious condemnation of adultery, fornication, incest, etc., but only rape could not be a matter of mutual agreement. The reformers would have to get the laws changed to accommodate this new image of human relationships.

Walter Lippmann observed this but didn’t buy into it even though he was not a religious person, at least publicly. So he wrote in his A Preface to Morals that the self-styled reformers were following the logic of birth control but not that of human nature.

I suspect that most Catholics who bought into the anti-Humanae Vitae revolution didn’t give their acceptance of contraception much more thought. They were content with their new freedom to have Margaret Sanger’s dream of unlimited sex and smaller families, and some perhaps prided themselves on their courage to go against the actual teaching of the Church and still call themselves Catholic. As many found out, the dream was a nightmare; more on that next week.

The point I want to make is that the dissenters’ acceptance of unnatural forms of birth control did not do away with its logical consequences. Soon after Humanae Vitae was issued on July 25, 1968, a vocal dissenter wrote a book that was published in 1970. He clearly pointed out that “we revisionists” have not only rejected the teaching on birth control but also the whole idea of natural law. To drive home his point, he wrote that as a revisionist, he could not logically say “no” to bestiality. After all, he argued, who are we to say that it might not help some young man get over some sort of hang-up?

I am not making this up. More next week on the logical consequences of contraception.

John F. Kippley, April 4, 2015

Catholic school teaching contracts: are they adequate?

The spring of the year is the time when teachers sign contracts for the school year starting next fall, and special attention is being drawn to contracts in Catholic schools. Because some teachers in the past have been fired for publicly advocating or practicing behaviors contrary to Catholic moral teaching and then sued, some dioceses have tightened up their contractual language.

In San Francisco, the efforts of Archbishop Cordileone to make his Catholic schools more Catholic have stirred up a huge amount of controversy that amounts to the Left saying, “We are all for freedom of religion and freedom of speech except when it comes to the Catholic Church wanting its schools to be Catholic.” It should be noted that the Archbishop has made it clear that he is not requiring Catholics employed in Archdiocesan schools to actually believe and act in accord with Catholic moral teaching about sexuality, only that they do not publicly express their dissent. Reports are that some 800 Catholic school teachers have signed a letter of protest.

Here in Cincinnati, the revised contract lists a number of specific unacceptable behaviors but  omits contraception from the list. The Cincinnati Enquirer carried a major editorial against the contract on Sunday, March 22, and on March 27th it published a number of letters on the subject. One of them called attention to the “glaring absence from the list of a cardinal Catholic ban: the use of contraception.” Yes indeed, a glaring omission.

In other words, in both of these archdioceses, the official policy will allow the employment of Catholic dissenters to teach Catholic doctrine. I suspect the policy is widespread.

This raises a huge problem. A Catholic dissenter can recite Catholic moral teaching about birth control word for word and then simply contradict everything she has said simply by rolling her eyeballs. Another tactic used by dissenters was told to me more than 40 years ago. A student in my course at a Catholic college told me, “Mr. Kippley, you are the first person I have ever heard say a good word about Humanae Vitae. “ She continued, “In my Catholic high school the teacher showed us the little Humanae Vitae booklet and then showed us a stack of books written by people who didn’t agree with it.” When I asked her where she went to high school, she declined to say but added, “It wouldn’t make any difference. I’ve talked about this with the girls in the dorm, and they all had the same experience.”

For 45 years, Catholic students in some or many Catholic high schools and colleges have been taught to dissent. Many have never heard the case for the real Catholic teaching. Is it any surprise that surveys show a huge discrepancy between Catholic teaching and actual practice?  The real question is this: How can the Catholic Church survive in this country if it continues to hire teachers who contradict and undermine Catholic teaching right inside Catholic schools?

Holy Week provides an excellent time to pray that all of our Catholic schools will become fully Catholic. Next week: the logic of birth control vs the logic of human nature.

John F. Kippley