Time To Admit It: The Church Has Always Been Right On Birth Control

ImageThe Orthodox Church shares a very similar view of contraception with the Roman Catholic Church. We practice a little more grace and economia with the issue and would say it is between the couple and their spiritual father, however, we do see pretty much eye-to-eye on the issue as far as I have observed. I found this article to be fantastic:

Time To Admit It: The Church Has Always Been Right On Birth Control  

By Michael Brendan Dougherty

Painting the Catholic Church as “out of touch” is like shooting fish in a barrel, what with the funny hats and gilded churches. And nothing makes it easier than the Church’s stance against contraception.

Many people, (including our editor) are wondering why the Catholic Church doesn’t just ditch this requirement. They note that most Catholics ignore it, and that most everyone else finds it divisive, or “out-dated.” C’mon! It’s the 21st century, they say! Don’t they SEE that it’s STUPID, they scream.

Here’s the thing, though: the Catholic Church is the world’s biggest and oldest organization. It has buried all of the greatest empires known to man, from the Romans to the Soviets. It has establishments literally all over the world, touching every area of human endeavor. It’s given us some of the world’s greatest thinkers, from Saint Augustine on down to René Girard. When it does things, it usually has a good reason. Everyone has a right to disagree, but it’s not that they’re a bunch of crazy old white dudes who are stuck in the Middle Ages.

So, what’s going on?

The Church teaches that love, marriage, sex, and procreation are all things that belong together. That’s it. But it’s pretty important. And though the Church has been teaching this for 2,000 years, it’s probably never been as salient as today.

Today’s injunctions against birth control were re-affirmed in a 1968 document by Pope Paul VI called Humanae Vitae.  He warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:

  1. General lowering of moral standards
  2. A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
  3. The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men.
  4. Government coercion in reproductive matters.

Does that sound familiar?

Because it sure sounds like what’s been happening for the past 40 years.

As George Akerloff wrote in Slate over a decade ago,

By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother, the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father.

Instead of two parents being responsible for the children they conceive, an expectation that was held up by social norms and by the law, we now take it for granted that neither parent is necessarily responsible for their children. Men are now considered to be fulfilling their duties merely by paying court-ordered child-support. That’s a pretty dramatic lowering of standards for “fatherhood.”

Kim Kardashian

How else are we doing since this great sexual revolution? Kim Kardashian’s marriage lasted 72 days. Illegitimacy: way up. In 1960, 5.3% of all births in America were to unmarried women. By 2010, it was 40.8% [PDF]. In 1960 married families made up almost three-quarters of all households; but by the census of 2010 they accounted for just 48 percent of them. Cohabitation has increased tenfold since 1960.

And if you don’t think women are being reduced to objects to satisfy men, welcome to the internet, how long have you been here? Government coercion: just look to China (or America, where a government rule on contraception coverage is the reason why we’re talking about this right now).

Is this all due to the Pill? Of course not. But the idea that widely-available contraception hasn’t led to dramatic societal change, or that this change has been exclusively to the good, is a much sillier notion than anything the Catholic Church teaches.

So is the notion that it’s just OBVIOUSLY SILLY to get your moral cues from a venerable faith (as opposed to what? Britney Spears?).

But let’s turn to another aspect of this. The reason our editor thinks Catholics shouldn’t be fruitful and multiply doesn’t hold up, either. The world’s population, he writes, is on an “unsustainable” growth path.

The Population Bureau of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations sees (PDF, h/t Pax Dickinson) the rate of population growth slowing over the next decades and stabilizing around 9 billion in 2050…and holding there until 2300. (And note that the UN, which promotes birth control and abortions around the world, isn’t exactly in the be-fruitful-and-multiply camp.)

More broadly, the Malthusian view of population growth has been resilient despite having been proven wrong time and time again and causing lots of unnecessary human suffering. For example, China is headed for a demographic crunch and social dislocation due to its misguided one-child policy.

Human progress is people. Everything that makes life better, from democracy to the economy to the internet to penicillin was either discovered and built by people. More people means more progress. The inventor of the cure for cancer might be someone’s fourth child that they decided not to have.

So, just to sum up:

  • It’s a good idea for people to be fruitful and multiply; and
  • Regardless of how you feel about the Church’s stance on birth control, it’s proven pretty prophetic.

 

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15 thoughts on “Time To Admit It: The Church Has Always Been Right On Birth Control

  1. Couple of points:
    1. The picture seems to assume sex is a sin… hmm?
    2. The problem with the population is that if everyone consumed resources the way the average American (or any member of any Western Developed Nation) did then we would have used up all of natural resources already. Since consumerism seems to be on the rise the population is already to high. Just because it might slow down and stagnate in the future, doesn’t mean it’s not a problem now. Obviously it will stagnate at some point, when we literally don’t have enough resources left. Our use of resources in America necessitates that people elsewhere don’t have the ones they need. When that “be fruitful and multiply” thing was written there were a heck of a lot less people and those people consumed a heck of a lot less resources.

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    1. Premarital sex and homosexual sex is a sin. That is what it means. Sin twice: premarital sex and birth control.

      As for number two, over-population and lack of resources is a complete and utter myth that has been debunked.

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      1. I’m sorry but overpopulation (and more specifically the rate at which large portions of the world population consume resources, which is the real problem) has not been debunked by any credible sources… The Population Research Institute (the makers of the website which you linked to) is a non-profit organization that, while claiming to be scientific, has not published a single peer reviewed paper in any scientific journal.
        For more reliable information you might want to check out last years statement from the InterAcademy Panel:
        http://www.interacademies.net/File.aspx?id=19193

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  2. The link I sent you is the result of scholarly scientific evidence, and it’s one among many.

    Here’s an essay on the impact of population growth written by the Professor of population studies at Stanford and former Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard that was published by Reed:
    http://people.reed.edu/~ahm/Courses/Reed-POL-372-2011-S3_IEP/Syllabus/EReadings/07.1/07.1.EhrlichHoldren1971-03-26Impact.pdf

    I don’t know what the Orthodox Church teaches but I agree that the Catholic Church has largely been right about consumerism.

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    1. I have a hard time accepting anything from a secular higher education ideologue machine. Marxism controls higher education in this country. And it is also a proponent of the myth of over population. Ill skim these but with high suspicion and doubt

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      1. That’s fine.
        As the child of a former professor my experience has been that marxism, while not nearly as rare in academia as it is in popular culture, is far from controlling higher education. But that’s just my experience, and certainly academia is not without it’s problems and shortcomings.
        Anyways, I apologize for sidetracking the conversation on what, in light of the original post, was only a fairly minor point. Hopefully, you will find something of value in your reading of the essays.

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