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 fact....in some cases....the Church set the standard for other churches, yet somehow....us 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 simple....is it? No...us 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 is....it 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 if.......you 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 SIN.....kids 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 though.....giving 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 way....got 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 are....sex 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 maintains...sex 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 pregnant.....my 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 Catholic.....no 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 it....you 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!