Sodomy as marriage: a logical consequence

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.

More later.

John F. Kippley, July 1, 2015

 

 

 

Vacuity and violence: the Court and public schools

As I watched the television coverage of James Holmes, the Denver mass murderer, and more recently the coverage of the Charleston mass murder and the Cincinnati suicide-by-cop, to say nothing about Ferguson and others, I kept asking myself one big question: Has there been anything in the background of these murderers that has tried to teach them that it is wrong, seriously wrong, mortal-sin wrong to murder anyone, to say nothing of mass murder?

In a recent story about Holmes, we learned that he told his psychiatrist that he wondered about the meaning of life. That’s obviously an important question, but what a difference between Holmes and the Maritain couple. As I understand it, Jacques Maritain and his wife Raissa, both philosophers, had thought deeply about this and from their secular perspective had concluded that there was no real meaning to life. They had further concluded that it seemed logical, therefore, to commit suicide to end their meaningless existence. Fortunately for them and for us, they met a Catholic philosopher, I think it was Leon Bloy, who explained that there is very real meaning to life, and he helped lead them into the Church where they did great work.

As I wrote in my previous commentary, on the afternoon of the day of suicide-by-cop in Cincinnati, I asked a young black woman about her Cincinnati public-school education. She told me that not only had she never heard anything about the Commandments in her high school but also that they were forbidden to say the American pledge of allegiance because it contains “under God.”

Contrast that completely secular approach with the words of President George Washington in his Farewell Address in 1796: Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. How did we get from there to the practical atheism of our day?

I suggest that it started with the anti-Catholicism of the mid-19th century as Catholics became more numerous via immigration and the Church began to educate its children in its own schools since the public schools were de facto Protestant religious schools. Anti-Catholicism showed its colors very clearly again in 1922 as Oregon made it illegal to attend Catholic schools (overturned in 1923). A decisive step toward complete secularization was taken in 1963 when the Supreme Court banned the last traces of religion in public schools such as Bible reading and prayer. Another key step was taken in 1970 when the Supreme Court in Lemon misread the First Amendment prohibition of the “establishment of religion” to mean the exclusion of anything that was friendly to the free exercise of religion.

That’s a short one paragraph description of how the U.S. Supreme Court has led to the current situation. It started with anti-Catholicism, then became anti-Christian, and ended up as anti-religion. (For much more, see Mere Creatures of the State by William Bentley Ball, 1994.) No teaching of religious faith. No teaching of religious-based morality. And, as I understand it, no teaching of any objective morality.

The huge problem that confronts the nation right now is that widespread experience shows that we need to learn and practice morality. The Ten Commandments are not for God’s benefit but for ours. The reality is that a community needs to instruct its members about the commandments that have to govern human relationships. George Washington was right. The bottom line is that members of a community need to learn to police themselves or the community will turn into a police state.

The Cincinnati police chief has been given an impossible assignment—to come up with a plan that  will greatly reduce our violence within 90 days. The other day there was a walk against violence, and another shooting occurred within a few yards of the walkers.   In fact, there were three shooting deaths within 24 hours.

What school-age boys and girls are learning in this godless and morally bankrupt environment is that the purpose of education is to help you make a lot of money. Not a few have figured out that dealing in drugs and sex is a fast way to get that money, and that violence is a fast and final way of dealing with a competitor. Aside from fear of punishment which in turn nurtures hatred for the police, what other motivation are they given not to shoot those who stand in their way?

In this environment created by the U.S. Supreme Court and the public schools, the question is not “Why do they do violence?”   The real question is “Why not?”

John F. Kippley, June 27, 2015.

For a commentary on a significant omission in Laudato Si, see Sheila’s blog at http://nfpandmore.org/wordpress/. Scroll down if necessary.

 

 

 

Visible consequences of rejecting Humanae Vitae

In my comment on January 4, 2015 I wrote about abandoned Catholic churches in the Netherlands and Germany now being used as athletic facilities, a mute testimony to the Dutch and German bishops’ general failure to support Humanae Vitae. We have some beautiful churches in Western Cincinnati where I live. Ever since reading the WSJ article the first weekend of January, I have occasionally thought about the fate of the Churches and schools in this part of town. We live within 2 miles of three churches. Extend that to a three mile radius and there are seven more churches.   A five mile radius would include at least another five. You get the picture.

When we started teaching NFP here in 1972, we taught four courses simultaneously in different parts of the city and suburbs. A brief bulletin announcement would bring 15 to 20 or more couples. Most of them wanted spacing, not great limitation. They had formed their consciences prior to the post-Humanae Vitae explosion of dissent. But by 1981, things were different. We were then 13 years after Humanae Vitae, and people with 12 to 16 years of Catholic education had never heard a good word about the encyclical. As far as we can tell, although there are a number of HV-accepting pastors in our part of town, only two of them require their engaged couples to take an NFP course as part of preparation for marriage. All the parish statistics except funerals are down. There’s talk about parish consolidation. You get the picture.

The acceptance of contraception by most of the Catholic laity in the West is having visible effects. It’s not primarily a matter of money—we just recently read of a Catholic school in an affluent Cincinnati suburb being shuttered. Catholics can indeed speculate how their beautiful churches will be used a hundred years from now—as Catholic churches, or as mosques, museums or athletic facilities.

It is not too late to reverse the process, but more than bare bones survival requires more than what’s happening now. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has embarked on a campaign to raise 130 million dollars for an endowment fund, and it will probably succeed.  Half of it will help with student tuition assistance. The rest goes for other worthy projects. More money can be helpful, but it is certainly not the key problem. The Church in Germany has lots of money, but it’s falling apart because of the lack of believers who have sufficient faith and trust to have children.

What the Church needs more than money is a systematic effort to make every diocese and every parish a Humanae Vitae diocese and parish. That will prepare the ground for a very practical solution to a great need—more families who are generous in having children. More on that on Mother’s Day.

Next week: The dissenters are running scared.

John F. Kippley, April 18, 2015

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

 

 

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

“Flee immorality,” Church Unity, & Right to Life March

It’s a big week. January 18, 2015 is the first Sunday of the Church Unity Octave. The second reading at Mass on this day is from 1 Corinthians 6 starting with verse 13c. Last week Pope Francis reaffirmed the teaching of Humanae Vitae, the 1968 encyclical of Bl. Pope Paul VI that reaffirmed 20 centuries of teaching against marital contraception. January 22 marks the 42nd anniversary of Roe v Wade and will see the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. These things are not unrelated.

If there is one contemporary issue which is a big dividing point between the teaching of the Catholic Church and that of most Protestant ecclesial bodies, it is birth control. I have heard or read statements that the membership in some of the newer Protestant communions is largely former Catholics, and I suspect that the general Protestant acceptance of unnatural forms of birth control has played a major part in Catholic dropout and re-alignment. It wasn’t always this way. Martin Luther called the contraceptive sin of Onan a form of sodomy; John Calvin called it a form of homicide. In the United States, the late 19th century Federal and State laws against contraception were passed by essentially Protestant legislatures. Catholics had almost no legal influence at that time.

This is a point of division that needs to be healed and is a good reason to pray every day during this octave for the unity of all Christians once again. We also need to pray for unity within the Catholic Church, for the very real conversion of the dissenters, the cafeteria Catholics, and those in high places who seem to be confused about the Church’s traditional teaching about the demands of love, marriage, and sexuality.

The word currently translated as “immorality” in the text read in Church was translated as “fornication” in some previous texts. The real subject of St. Paul’s teaching here is every form of sexual immorality. His explanation is truly theological as contrasted with pragmatic considerations such as disease and non-marital conception. The Apostle to the Gentiles teaches that sexual sins are sins against your own body. You do not own your own body. You do not have a right to do anything you please with your body. You and your body belong to God. “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you… You have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.”

When the bishops of the Church of England voted to accept marital contraception in August 1930, they listed only two options for those couples who felt a need not to have more children—either total abstinence or contraception. In February 1930 a German medical journal carried the work of the Japanese research doctor, Kyusaku Ogino, that made calendar rhythm a reality. To be sure, it needed improvement, but it offered a way out of the dilemma posed by the Anglican bishops and their contraceptive-minded advisors. But they ignored it, and they also ignored the warnings of their own conservative bishops that the acceptance of marital contraception would lead to the acceptance of sodomy. So true.

Today it is well known that the Anglican dilemma was false, perhaps even contrived. But regardless of the past, it is time for all Christian bodies to recognize that Luther and the conservative Anglicans were right, that marital contraception is a grave moral evil, and that natural family planning systems offer a way out of the dilemma that many couples still think exists today.

This week is a special week to pray for the return to unity on this issue.

It is also significant that Thursday of this week is the day of the annual March for Life in Washington D. C. The social and legal acceptance of abortion was another huge and horrible effect of the contraceptive sexual revolution. The U. S. Supreme Court based its erroneous pro-abortion decision of January 22, 1973 on its two previous erroneously concocted decisions to dismantle all the American anti-contraception laws.

Nothing will stop abortion as well as a rebirth of chastity all throughout the West, and that probably has to start with marital chastity.

John F. Kippley, January 18, 2015

Christmas Greetings

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself

He was only thirty three

His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth

When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life

Dr James Allan Francis © 1926.