Sunday, March 10, 2013

Catholicism Through My Eyes: Birth Control

Yes....Daylight Savings time is upon us...and may I say....I am not a fan!!! Good Sunday morning. Here in the central part of the US it is cold, dreary and too early to be up...and yet here I am.

It has occurred to me that since I have started writing these Sunday blogs dedicated to my religion....that I have started learning a little more about myself, my religion and the views of the world around me. I have received both good and bad reviews (which is par for the course on most of my blogs) and I have received ideas for future blogs and questions about blogs I have already written. One Sunday I will dedicate my blog to those questions.

This week I am tackling a subject which the Church takes heat on from both non-Catholics and Catholics alike. And right here....I need to point out something I have learned. The Catholic church seems to take a lot of heat where public opinion is concerned on a lot of issues. Why? I don't know of any other Christian religion where such misinformation and often public disdain are so prevalent. The Catholic church really is not so much different in beliefs or in socially viewed problems as any other church. In some cases....the Church set the standard for other churches, yet Catholics seem to take the brunt of criticism for all that is bad in the non-secular world. It seems that every week my blogs start out with.....words like "misconception" and "misunderstood." It is interesting if you think about it. I guess that is what comes from being the worlds oldest Christian religion. Today's topic is a bit different though. Today I am discussing a topic that  most other churches have loosened their stance on.....and because of this...the Catholic church seems to take even more heat being one of the few remaining holdouts to their stand on it. Today I will talk about birth control.

I can't tell you the times I have been told that the Catholic church is anti-woman because they don't support a woman's right to control her own body. It is a battle that has been fought since birth control was invented and since abortion was brought to the fore front of our thinking with Roe v. Wade. While abortion is huge....I will leave that for another day. Today I will talk birth control.

Birth control (bc) has been a deal breaker for many Catholics. One of two things seems to happen, they either pretend that the Church has no ruling on birth control and live as sinning Catholics or they leave the Church altogether blaming bc for this decision. Bottom line is that most everything you do in life has rules and the Church is no exception. You choose not to live by rules in any other aspect of life and in most cases you are fired, let go, asked to leave, jailed or you stick around and pretend to be something you are not...all the while knowing that you are breaking the rules. In the Catholic church...the latter often seems to be the case. For some reason....people have a great deal of trouble with the no bc rule in the Church. My question is....why? To me....if we do as God asks and trust in Him, then we would have complete faith that we are not going to have more children than we are suppose to. It should be as simple as God said it! I believe in it! End of story! But it isn't that it? humans allow our will to over ride God's and it has been that way since Adam and Eve.

Our issues with bc stem from so many places and they are all man made issues....not God made. The moment man quit letting it be about God and started making it about man....then issues were created. When man started proclaiming that we as a population were getting out of control and that there would not end up being enough resources to go around.....then people jumped on the bc band wagon. The fact has been shown to us time and again that when we listen and follow God with our hearts and with faith then He always provides. Anyone remember the loaves and fishes? 

Forms of bc have been around for a long time, however it began being socially and actively pushed by Margaret Sanger beginning at the turn of the last century. While many will tell you that Sangers reason for pushing bc had to do with her own mother who had multiple pregnancies and who ended up dying at the age of 50, another not so widely talked about reason was her prejudice against the African American race. There are published accounts of her belief that she found them an unworthy race so in the guise of "helping" African American women....her true reasoning was that if she introduced them all to bc thus stopping their procreating.....eventually they would just cease to exist. She  felt they were too ignorant to realize that behind her act of "care and concern" was her true desire to wipe out an entire race. So ultimately....she was pro-woman were the right race? She also felt that women should be able to limit their pregnancies in the union of marriage and also that in the "modern" world women should be free to have sex with or without marriage without the worry of pregnancy. What did this all equal? Mans desire to live man's will and not God's. Man was creating a mess by turning his back on marriage, sex as an act of love and procreation and God's will.

We no longer left the size of our families up to God and many felt that sex was not just for marriage any more. The world of morality and the belief that God's will was to be followed was quickly being taken over by a more secular belief that man was somehow his own supreme being and God either did not exist or if He did....He had somehow made a mistake by giving families many children and calling sex outside of marriage a sin. Because of this new brand of thinking....Sangers push for bc for all....led to the opening of Planned Parenthood. Could any place on earth be any more offensive to God? Possibly only one.  An abortion clinic.

In today's modern world....Planned Parenthood has become synonymous with women's rights. It is almost a right of passage for some mothers and daughters as the moment young girls start their periods.....their mothers march them into PP to start them on bc. Young girls who should still be passing notes (or in today's world...texts) and not yet even thinking about their first kiss are being started on bc with the expectation of them having sex. Apparently we quit telling our kids that sex is special and that they are special....therefore saving themselves is special....and now just send them out the door saying..."Did you take your pill...oh and be sure and wear a condom!" 

Yes....I have raised teenagers and I know that the reality of today's world is that kids are having sex and kids are getting pregnant. Even in good Christian homes where parents do try to teach abstinence and the fact that you can only have your first time once and that you are special so it should be given to someone special, and most importantly....that sex outside marriage is a are still having sex. Why? Because kids live on a strict diet of sex from the time they are old enough to understand the world around them. It is in tv, movies, books, magazines, on the internet and in the schools. Even in a home where sex and the value of self is taught.....we are fighting a tough battle against what society now calls the norm. Sex has gone from a special God given act of love and procreation to nothing more than another bodily function and PP and society in general propagate this message every chance they get.  Still and all up and putting our kids on bc with the expectation that they will have sex just sends the message that mans will is greater than God's. When we quit listening to God and quit living by His teachings.....then man found the need for bc because it was a "fix" to the mess we had created. While many will disagree with this (even a great many Catholics I am sure), the bottom line is......bc is mans will circumventing Gods. We are telling God that somehow He....perfection in every it wrong and man is stepping in to fix it.

How have we fixed it? With bc we have sent a message that sex is okay outside marriage and that no matter what age you is fine as long as you are protected. We have also said that in marriage....limiting our families is fine and choosing ourselves and our careers over children is fine too. How has this worked out for us? Marriages up to the mid 1950's seldom ended in divorce. Since that time....the divorce rate has climbed each decade. In fact the number of people who have been divorced and remarried multiple times is astronomical. In our self involved world....we keep searching for happiness on our terms only to be disappointed. Sex is seldom looked on as beautiful and wonderful anymore. It has been trivialized to an act of bodily satisfaction. We quit teaching kids that sex is not only special but also sacred. Our first times are not to be given away like an unwanted object but to be given as a gift of not only our body but also our hearts, thus...we should be very choosey about who receives this gift and the recipient should be worthy. If this were taught by word and example in every home.....I have no doubt that the number of kids having sex would drastically go down. Instead though....many leave this extremely important education to schools, friends, the media and society in general and then are shocked when they find out their thirteen year olds are having sex with multiple partners.

We cannot control the world, we can only control our own. Birth control and the teaching of abstinence are not popular in our modern world. As Catholics though....we are taught that the only bc is abstinence. If we are unmarried.....the only way to avoid the sin of premarital sex is to abstain. This means total abstinence. Regardless what a certain president once told us...the Church still is sex. If you are married and wish to limit your family.....then again....abstinence is the only way. Sex inside marriage was designed for procreation and if our faith in God's will is strong nothing will ever be given us that is without purpose and not ultimately in our best interest. God has the big picture and we don't and that is something we must always keep in mind.

While many of you I have no doubt will read this and walk away feeling no different, maybe now you have a little more understanding of where and why the Church has this standing on bc. Society and people such as Sanger have muddied the waters of right and wrong and mans will vs. God's will. Even many Catholics find themselves at odds with this, but as Catholics we must always remember that sometimes the difficult things, the things we accept simply because God asked us to...showing that we have complete faith in His word....are the things that mean the difference between heaven and a rather lengthy stay in purgatory....or even hell.

What is my take on the Church and bc? I grew up with my mom. I remember Mom talking to me about sex when she knew I was old enough to comprehend the notion. In fact I remember our first talks on the subject rather uncomfortable because sex was just an icky word to me at the time. However...Mom was persistent and also wise in knowing how much was too much information. It seems that in some form....Mom and I always discussed sex. Never did we talk about it though that God and our faith and the Catholic church were not brought into it. I knew from the beginning that sex was God given and thus must be treated as a gift.

In high school and college...many of my friends were on bc and most were having sex. At that point in time though...even though many were sexually active, most were monogamous in relationships and many ended up married to their partners. Of course it was a different era. I sadly did not wait for marriage and many has been the time over the years that I wonder how different life would have been had I waited. I also did not go on bc. I did get pregnant before I was married. Would bc have changed my life? Dramatically! Because I became life which had been going in one direction, suddenly changed its course and went in a completely different one. I thank God every day that I did not choose bc back then. Honestly.....I can't imagine my life without my son. He as given me more joy and love and given my life more meaning than I ever dreamed possible.

As you may have already guessed. I am hardly the perfect human....let alone the perfect Catholic. I am a sinner of great magnitude and I have learned that listening to my own will above God's never ends well for me. I also realize that in this out of control world....why parents wanting only the best for their kids do see bc as a way to protect them in the short run. But sometimes I think bc is also seen as the easy way out. By putting them on bc perhaps they feel this absolves them of their duty of having those "uncomfortable" conversations over and over again. Regardless of the reasoning though.....if you are a practicing matter what you tell yourself or how you try to justify it.....bc is wrong! It is a sin and if you are using bc OR if you are responsible for putting your child on are willfully committing sin thus making it impossible for you to receive the sacraments. God said it! I believe it! End of story!

Wow....this was kind of uncomfortable for me to write today. While intellectually I might see myself on the fence at times about bc....religiously I am not. Knowing something and understanding why some others might see it differently still does not make it right. I feel I may have rambled a bit as it was somewhat difficult for me to say all that I wanted to say and make it understandable to those who read this. When I come to issues such as this and feel the pressure of those outside the Catholic church and even some inside who either do not understand or disagree....I always go back to the quote my mother used to say when someone disagreed with the teachings of the Church. "The Catholic church is the hardest church to live in.....but the easiest church to die in." Today....with this subject....I totally agree!


Anonymous said...

Very interesting and I agree, a very tough subject. I will add one thing. Birth control is the ending of human life. You hit on many important issues with this and I love your point that birth control is man trying to show superiority to God's will. I also like that you point out that birth control is a band aid of sorts for the mess man creates by disregarding God. Great blog and I look forward to next week.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, birth control is something that I have always struggled with as far as the catholic church is concerned. I like how you point out that we are taking Gods will away and trying to replace it with our own by using birth control. I know so many people who are trying to limit the number of kids they have while others are trying desperately just to have one. I really liked this blog and hope you do more.

Anonymous said...

I really think the church should rethink their birth control position. In the modern world abstinence alone is a very ancient thought process, not to mention unrealistic. With the dawning of a new pope I hope comes the dawning of a more enlightened church.

Anonymous said...

You had sex before you were married and got pregnant and you didn't use birth control? That is just plain asking for trouble. I know you love your son but what about your life? How different might it have been had you taken care of you? I think on this point the catholic church is wrong and I think you used poor judgement in not protecting yourself and your partner when you should have.

Texas USA said...

I really like this blog. I like all your religious blogs because they show a perspective that people might not always take. Someone above said that birth control stops life. It has been proven that it does not stop a life it prevents a life, so it is not like abortion, but again it does prevent life. I agree that God makes no mistakes and by preventing life it is like saying you are preventing God from making a mistake. He really can't like that very much. I found this really interesting. What I found most interesting though is your take on it. As I said, your perspective on these religious blogs is fascinating and it gives me much to talk with my ladies group about on Wed. night. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

My kid is on birth control and I put her on it. As a parent this was the most responsible act I could take because I do know that she is likely to have sex before she even gets out of high school. I also am responsible enough that I have had many sex conversations with her and she and I have an agreement that she will talk to me before she has sex. No, I am not living in the clouds, I believe she will come talk to me before it happens.
Yes it would be great if everyone looked on sex as a great and wonderful thing but the reality is, the world is super sexualized and I cannot be with my kid 24/7. If the worst happens and she does have sex on the spur of the moment, she is protected.
I take great issue with the church on its birth control stance and I feel it is wrong. God would not have allowed birth control without a purpose and that is how I choose to see it. If this makes my soul in danger of hell then so be it, at least I know my child is protected and has the chance for the best life possible.

Ancient Earl said...

Are you kidding me? Girl you need to fast track yourself from 1953 to 2013!

God is my copilot said...

Until you started writing this I didn't know much about the catholic church or catholics. I wouldn't normally read anything like this since I love God not religion but since I read your blog all the time I started reading this. It has been an education. You have answered questions I didn't even know I had. I did not know that birth control was wrong in your religion and I don't agree with it but I find the reasons why it is wrong interesting. I find most of this religious stuff interesting because it is a whole world I knew nothing about. Thanks for the info and I hate to say it but I really look forward to your Sunday blogs.

Anonymous said...

HATE! HATE! HATE! Quit trying to justify your church trying to force women into having litters and feeling bad about wanting sex. Your check is pro man and anti woman. Just look at the facts. Only men hold top ranking positions in your church and with a new pope about to be crowned I don't see a woman in the mix.

Glenn said...

People ignore facts when those facts don't suit the reality they wish existed.

Teaching abstinence does not lower the frequency of sex among teenagers. Young people will have sex, no matter how strictly you teach against it. The only thing bc reduces is disease and unwanted pregnancies. And here's a good fact for you to digest: The more you teach teenagers about sex, the more likely they are to delay having sex until they're a bit older. Not a lot older, mind you, but a bit (because teenagers will still be teenagers).

But this honest examination of the problem is lost when religion is brought into the mix. Religion is based on faith. You may as well quit going to the hospital and use faith healing, both for yourself and for your family.

Beirenstein said...

I liked this blog and I think you touched on some very important things. Granted that speaking about some issues through a religious point of view is going to attract nasty feed back from people who dislike religion or dislike those who live their lives with a religious backdrop. You did well pointing out the Catholic churches stand on the subject, which as far as I can tell was the whole point of this piece.

You effectively write this particular blog by filling in blanks for those who might normally be clueless to Catholic teachings or religion in general.

The above comment is a perfect example of someone who has a very secular view of this subject and likely the world and speaking in a strictly secular way, he seemed to leave out a few important facts.

Even used properly, birth control is not 100% effective. Used improperly which many do (missed pills, misused condoms,etc)it is no more effective than using nothing at all.

He (Glenn) made the statement "People ignore facts when those facts don't suit the reality they wish existed." Well these are facts. The birth control pill even in the current lose dose formula still has a track record for causing life threatening blood clots and it is still linked to breast cancer. IUD's along with other internal methods of birth control can cause infection, sterilization and even death. Condoms are the best bet for halting the passing of disease, but as birth control they are only about 75-80% effective. Abstinence has no nasty side effects such as pregnancy or life threatening disease and it is 100% effective 100% of the time. Those are the facts.

As said above by Glenn, teaching abstinence does not lower the sex rate of teenagers. However, if parents spent their time teaching their kids self-respect and helped give their kids a healthy self-image then the chances of these kids waiting to have sex increases. Add to that frank and frequent conversations on sex between parents and kids and the waiting further increases. Boundaries also help. Having rules and expectations of your kids like curfews and knowing who your teenagers are seeing also helps. Can parents 100% prevent their kids from having sex too early? No, but they can reduce the risk considerably.

What was being said in this blog was that the Catholic church disagrees with birth control and these are the reasons why. This was the purpose of the blog, to show how a certain section of the population believes. I don't believe at any point this blogger asked anyone to believe this way and she certainly did not put down anyone who believes differently. I give her a lot of credit for having the courage to speak about all of this in the ever growing secular world we live in. It takes great strength to speak about things which aren't mainstream popular. Kudos Miss Blogger for showing us another side to a many faceted world. I look forward to reading more.

Anonymous said...

I read this blog yesterday (twice) and then I waited. I wanted to see if those who did not like anything religious in nature would come out of the woodwork and attack. I was not disappointed. What should be remembered is that people who do have a church and who are religious are taught certain beliefs, morality and values. Regardless of religious affiliation, most christians have a lot of the same core beliefs. Because of this those core beliefs are going to dictate their view of the world.It is not unlike those with non-religious or atheistic beliefs. They are going to see and do things quite differently and always with a disdain for those who are religious.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with the catholic churches stand on birth control or this bloggers stand. I want my child protected. I do respect the reasons why this blogger believes the way she does though. She didn't just say that is how it is and I am right. She explained her position and reasoning. It did not make me change my mind but it did give me a different perspective on why others may think and feel differently. I like this blog for just that reason. We all get stuck in our own way of thinking which makes us not so open to other points of view. When something like this is laid out before you it gives people the opportunity to see things that you may not even know existed.

Cmom said...

I seldom comment on my own blogs because I feel as if my place is to write the blog and the comments are my readers domain. Today though, I felt the need.

I do not write my blog be agreed with. My blogs are about my personal thoughts and feelings and I express them so that those that read can learn a little about me. In this is also to learn a little about the Catholic church.

I knew going into this particular topic that I was not posing a popular position...not even amongst all Catholics. I was merely speaking of the facts as I know them to be. Only the last of this blog was my personal view of the subject. Again....maybe not a popular view, but it was mine and I see no need for anyone to try to justify it. I certainly don't feel the need to do so.

I appreciate every comment written here...both those who agree and those who do not. Either took the time out of your day to read something that you didn't have to and that means a great deal to me.

It has always been my belief that it is not important for people to agree with each other...but it is important that they can communicate with each other. It is the differences of opinion that open lines of communication and if done with respect....can even help those with opposing views learn from each other.

I have seen that especially today, their seems to be a need to "stand up for me" or have my back on this subject. While I appreciate the really isn't necessary. This blog took me a great while to write and when I finished...I was good with what I had to say.

I also greatly appreciate those who added to what I had already said. There were things that I did not think to say that others of you have added and which gives even more food for thought on this subject.

I thank you all for your views, your compliments and your opposing opinions. A blogger could truly ask for nothing more.

aka Cmom

Glenn said...

Actually, I admire the blogger and did not mean to indicate otherwise.

Also, I didn't mention anything about the 100% effectiveness of birth control or suggest that people should have sex and ignore the abstinence option. My point was that it's been proven that abstinence education doesn't reduce the amount of sex teenagers have. If they have sex, it's a fact that using condoms is a safer option than practicing unprotected sex.

So teenagers will have sex, whether you teach abstinence or don't. They'll have it whether they use bc or not. If they take the pill, will they still get pregnant? Yes. It's not 100% effective. If they use condoms will they still get disease? Yes. It's not 100% effective. Are there side effects to using bc? Yes. Are there side effects to not using bc but still having sex? Yes.

Most important, if they practice abstinence, will they be 100% safe from STDs and unwanted pregnancy? You bet. This is a great idea. For individuals, it can work. For groups, it doesn't.

The point is that teenagers won't practice abstinence 100% of the time any more than bc is effective 100% of the time. Sure. Teach your kids that abstinence is the best way. But encourage sex education wherever possible: in the home, in popular media, in our schools. Make bc freely available as part of that education, so that everyone will know the risks of using bc as well as the benefits.

For those who don't want their children taught anything about sex outside the home, certainly make sure that sex education in the school's voluntary. From a faith standpoint, people should be allowed to believe whatever they want to believe.

So I repeat: Teaching teenagers that abstinence is the only way doesn't work on people as a group. Reducing the availability of bc doesn't work. Abstinence both from sex and from bc may work for you. It may work for your family. Individually, it can work and has worked. But as a group, it's a complete failure.

That was my point.

The ignoring reality comment was based on personal experience. If I had a nickel for every parent who teaches abstinence to their children and whose church teaches abstinence to their children and therefore believes their teenagers don't have sex because they've been taught abstinence is best, I would be a very rich man. And the parents are always shocked. My children? Having sex? Never. And the children are afraid to talk to their parents because they know those parents disapprove. It doesn't stop them from having sex. It just stops them talking about it and getting the parental guidance they need.

I don't mean to criticize anyone and I've said more than I should.


Anonymous said...

I am not much on church stuff but I do like you and your blog. This stuff is interesting. Don't think I would do well with all the rules and you catholics seem to do a lot of kneeling and standing but it is interesting to learn all the details of being a catholic from a catholic.

Anonymous said...

I do love a well commented on blog. I love it even more when the comments aren't just pats on the back to the blogger but opinions all across the board. IMHO that means the blogger is doing their job. Job well done blogger!

Four to one Dad said...

As a parent of four teenage girls it is my first instinct to lock them up until they are at least 25. Reality though says that all I can do is my best and hope it is enough. Much of what one commenter said we do. We have curfews, no dating until they are sixteen and then only double dates and only at 17 are they allowed to date on their own. We encourage them to have their "friends" as I am still in too much denial to call them boyfriends over often and spend time with our family. We also spend lots of family time talking about sex. It was horrible at first as my parents were not at all open about the subject but thank goodness my wife has been the one who has lead the charge on this battlefield. I don't see my girls as perfect and I know only when I have gotten them all through college in one piece will I be able to let out the breath I have been holding since the first one hit puberty. We have tried hard to teach our girls that what and who they are is special. Too special to give away in the backseat of a car to someone they barely know. They are all athletic and intelligent and have a lot of extra curricular activities along with church. We have tried to keep them busy, well rounded and grounded in the real world. It is the toughest job I have ever had and there is no barometer of how well we are doing because as parents we know what we think we see may not always be the whole picture. Blogger, I give you a lot of credit for even touching this subject. If it does nothing more than open up a dialogue between a parent and child on the subject of sex, then I would say that your blog is a success.

Anonymous said...

L*O*V*E I*T!!!!!