More on contraception

May 11, 2006 | Birth Control, Human Life | 3 comments

Since I know next to nothing about the Catechism I think of the subject in terms of a few defining moments that started to make me think that maybe the Church was onto something with their teaching that contraception is evil. I can’t throw down like Steve G., Jennifer, Arwen and all the others can when it comes to the Cathecism (I’m doing well to even know that the Church says it’s wrong). But I am an avid observer of people and spend a lot of time thinking about our society, what’s wrong with it and what causes the problems we face today. And more and more I can see that a lot of the absurd ideas our culture holds so dear can be traced back to the widespread acceptance of contraception.

Below are three little vignettes from personal experience that come to mind when I think of the subject. These are just thoughts off the top of my head and not very well thought out (I’m pretty tied up in the Land of the Terrible 2’s over here), but I wanted to share since it’s how I think of the issue.

1 – A while back I was having a debate with a good friend of mine (who is gay) about gay marriage. I was trying to make what I thought was an astoundingly obvious point that two dudes getting married is not the same thing as a man and a woman getting married. Our argument kept coming back to what you think is the primary purpose of marriage and sex. When I suggested that the union between a man and a woman was special because it involves the creation of life he (and most of our other friends who were there that evening) was almost confused by the comment. Based on the widespread use of contraception among heterosexuals, he just took it for granted that the primary purpose of sex is for pleasure, like getting a massage or something; therefore the main purpose of marriage is just to lock in monogamy while you’re enjoying that sexual pleasure with your partner. So, he wanted to know, what’s so different about a gay couple wanting that?

There were more details to our debate that I’ll leave out since the gay marriage issue is not the main point of this post, but as my husband and I drove home that night I realized that his points had touched a nerve. It was back before I was even considering joining the Catholic Church, but it really got me thinking about what the purpose of marriage is if having children is seen as optional, something to be controlled and worked in if/when you feel like it.

2 – Back in my college days, at the height of my atheism, I was pro-choice and hung out with a very liberal, pro-choice crowd. But there was an interesting, usually unspoken dynamic between us pro-choice gals when it came to the level of our approval of abortions (though we would have *never* admitted this). For example: when one of our friends had an abortion because she simply didn’t use protection, we all frowned on that. We didn’t exactly see abortion as killing a baby, but we also thought it was something to be avoided, and we all leveled all the blame for the unpleasant situation squarely on her shoulders. We weren’t all that supportive of her decision to abort and even among us liberals she faced a fair amount of pressure to consider keeping the child.

Then, a year later, another acquaintance got pregnant when she was on the pill because her doctor didn’t tell her that the antibiotics she was taking rendered the pill ineffective. In this case we were all offering to be first in line to take her to the clinic. Because SHE shouldn’t have the bear the responsibility for this situation because it wasn’t her fault: it was the pharmaceutical company’s fault, her doctor’s fault. If there were some way to magically make her doctor carry the pregnancy and bring the child to term I think we would have been fine with that because, after all, it was his fault, not hers.

When I think back to my pro-choice days I often imagine what my opinions would have been like if contraception was not widely used/available. I know it doesn’t make a lot of logical sense, but I would have been much more uncomfortable with the idea of abortion. The culture I grew up in taught that sex is primarily for pleasure (thanks to contraception), and you shouldn’t have to be burdened with any unpleasant side effects that go along with that. And, in particular, if you were using contraception and it failed, you DEFINITELY have the right to an abortion since it’s not your “fault.” The blood is not on your hands in that case. [Let me reiterate that these are not at all my current opinions, just flashing back to my clueless days.]

3 – Remember when Sex and the City was the big show? There was a group of girls at my work who really got into that mentality and that lifestyle. I went out with them for happy hour one time and they were constantly talking about who they were going to “score” with that night, which random dude from the bar they were going to take home. On Monday mornings at the office they would often sit around the break room and talk about what hot sex they had with men whose names they couldn’t remember. Even at the time I thought it was so strange, sad and terrible for society to have a generation of women acting this way. They tried so hard to act empowered as they recounted their tales of anonymous sex, but their insecurity and feelings of worthlessness were written all over their faces.

I don’t care what the pro-NFP people say about how effective it is, there’s no way you’d have that sort of behavior deemed “cool” in a society without artificial contraception. Try to imagine Carrie Bradshaw and her friends being held up as hip and glamorous in a world without contraception.

I have no idea about the specifics of the Cathecism or about the scriptural basis for the Church’s teachings. But I find that, as with many other things they teach that I once thought crazy, they work. If applied honestly and correctly, they make the world a better place. And when people blow off age-old teachings like this crazy things start to happen, rippling through societies with effects more insidious than anyone could have guessed.

OK, I’m up waaay too late. I’m going to be a blob tomorrow. You guys need to stop writing such though-provoking stuff! Can’t I get some “shut up you suck” trolls over here to give me a mental break? 🙂

3 Comments

  1. SteveG

    Jennifer,
    You are freakin brilliant! You must have some amazing observational powers to have come to such conclusions the way you did. I am ever astounded at how quickly you ‘get’ things that have taken most of us a lifetime to begin to come to terms with.

    Excellent post as usual!

  2. Ariella

    I don’t care what the pro-NFP people say about how effective it is, there’s no way you’d have that sort of behavior deemed “cool” in a society without artificial contraception. Try to imagine Carrie Bradshaw and her friends being held up as hip and glamorous in a world without contraception.

    I really like your arguments; they are well-reasoned. The above statement really strikes a chord in me, though. First off, let me say that although I am not Catholic (or religious at all), I totally frown on the kind of behavior your female friends were exhibiting. I think promiscuous behavior is not “empowering” at all, but rather allows women to become objectified because they become just what SOME men want to think they are: a vehicle for random sex.

    Now. About that statement: I think you’re right, but only to a point. That kind of behavior HAS been condoned in society where there wasn’t artificial BC, but ONLY when men were on the “performing” side of the behavior. And, of course, it makes sense: men bear very little consequence of random sexual acts, even when there isn’t any BC involved. Therefore, men have no impetus not to perform random sexual acts (should I call these RSAs, lol) because they don’t bear the brunt of the consequences.

    Women, on the other hand, do bear the consequences in the form of an unplanned and possibly unwanted baby. That’s why women were so much more careful to “save” their virginity (I actually did research on this issue in college). I think that it was probably 50% religion and 50% fear of stigmatic pregnancy that kept a lot of women virtuous until their wedding days, but there were still quite a few babies born a few months “early” after the parents were hastily married.

  3. SmartBlkWoman

    A couple of things…

    1) One of my former employers also became pregnant while on the pill because she was taking antibiotics for strep throat. She had no idea that the medicine makes the pill less effective. Many of the people taking oral and other contraceptives don’t realize that no form of contraception is 100%. Even if the pill has a 99% effective rate ( which in practice it normally doesn’t) then if a woman has sex everyday then statistically speaking there would be at least 3 opportunities a year for her to get pregnant. ( One day out of every 100, or 1% failure rate)

    2) Carrie use to be my favorite character on Sex and the City and then I began to really look at the sexual behavior of the women on the show and realized how irresponsible they were acting. On the show Carrie revealed one abortion and a pregnancy scare and Samantha had two abortions. It was as if there was a serious disconnect between their behavior and the consequences of said behavior.

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