Thursday, 02 February 2012
I don't know if you've heard, but president Obama has landed himself in an issue with the Catholic Church. If you'd like to read more here is an article, and here is how silly it is. I read an article with Archbishop (soon to be cardinal) Dolan's response, but I can't find it now.
In short summary, Obama's healthcare is pushing to force all schools, hospitals, and charities (including Church-affiliated ones) to provide free birth control in their insurance plans for their employees, within the year. The morning-after pill and sterilization will also be included. The Church however is against birth control, the morning-after pill and sterilization. Is Obama saying it is more important that women get their free birth control than for there to be religious freedom in our country? Suddenly a first amendment which is the very foundation of the United States is now no longer valid?
If you want to complain about that, go right ahead, however, I thought this would be a great opportunity to give a small insight into why the Catholic Church is against birth control to begin with. Don't take me wrong, I'm no expert, but I haven't read anyone post a blog about contraceptives on here before, so I figured I might as well give it a shot. If you want more articulate explanations, read Theology of the Body, it's mind-blowing amazing.
I'll try to keep it short, but to start off, we have to look at what the Church sees marriage and sex as. First, God is the creator of marriage. In Genesis, God created them, man and woman, "and they become one flesh." More than that, the Catholic Church considers marriage to be a sacrament in that God gives special graces through marriage (like the wine at the wedding in Cana), and that it is an instrument used to express the divine mystery between Christ and His Church. (See Ephesians 5:21-32) Towards the middle/end it is written, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word... 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to this wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church."
Marriage and "becoming one flesh" aka sex, is meant to express the love Christ has for His Church. A love so great, Christ gave himself up for us. Particularly, when describing Christ's love, four main qualities are used: (This is all from Theology of the Body)
- Christ gives His body FREELY "No one takes my life from me, I lay it down of my own accord." (John 13:1)
- He gives His body TOTALLY - without reservation, condition, or selfish calculation "He loved them to the last." (John 13:1)
- He gives Himself up FAITHFULLY "I am with you always." (Matthew 28:20)
- and Christ gives Himself up FRUITFULLY "I came that they may have life." (John 10:10)
This is why at a traditional Catholic marriage, the priest or deacon asks "Have you come here FREELY, and WITHOUT RESERVATION, to give yourselves to each other in marriage? Do you promise to be FAITHFUL until death? Do you promise to RECEIVE CHILDREN lovingly from God?" And the bride and groom each answer yes. Now just as marriage is meant to express Christ's love for His church, sex is meant to as well. Just as Jesus loved us with His whole self, it wasn't fully expressed until He gave His body up completely for us by dying on the cross. So too, should a husband and wife give their bodies up for each other in every physical act of intercourse. Every act of intercourse should reflect Christ's sacrifice and be free, total, faithful and open to new life.
Contraceptives on the other hand are defined as the choice to engage in an act of intercourse, but then do something else to render it sterile. For the Catholic Church to allow birth control, or sterilization, is to take away the fruitful quality of Christ's love, and cut the Holy Spirit out of the picture. It says "I give you my everything, EXCEPT my fertility." Did Jesus hold any part of himself back while on the cross? No, He gave His all, and so should married couples give their all. With contraceptives, intercourse no longer becomes an instrument for God to create life, nor is it a reflection of Christ's love for His Church. It degrades the self giving act into one that is self seeking. Imagine if we took the faithful quality of Christ's love out, it's the same thing. Women, our fertility is a gift from God. Our ability to give ourselves completely is a gift of God. Contraceptives and sterilization is denying those gifts, and that is the main reason why the Catholic Church is against them, and against this bill Obama is trying to force.
I wasn't planning on talking about acceptable ways to maintain the meaning of intercourse while avoiding conception, it would require a whole separate blog, but in summary: God didn't make women able to conceive everyday of the month, and the Bible isn't against periods of abstinence. "For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again..." (1 Corinthians 7:4-5)
Does this help explain why the Catholic church is against contraceptives? Do you agree or disagree with this?