So the debate about Benedict’s comments concerning rubbers is still in the News. There’s now a manufactured “controversy” among the ignorant about whether there has been an “evolution” in Catholic teaching. Well, the answer to that is yes and no. There is an evolution in so far as the Church’s teachings and principles are being applied to new situations that technology and sex toys has foisted on her, but there has been no contradiction of the Church’s moral teaching whatsoever, for people who are interested in learning what the Church teaches.
Here is a Q&A I had recently engaged in with a Socon or Bust reader….
I don’t know if you saw this article from the NCR: On condoms, has the Vatican rejected the Pharisees? A couple of things bug me:
1. That the Church would allow contraception for nuns in warn-torn countries, just in case they got raped. I have an idea of the reasoning but I’d like to hear your take.
2. On the morality of a married couple using contraception in the event that one spouse has HIV. Maybe it might be okay during the woman’s infertile period?
Yes, it is permissible to use devices which inadvertently prevent pregnancy. However, I would not call these devices “contraception” NECESSARILY because contraception has the connotation of intent to stop conception in the regular act of sex. Moreover, everyone keeps making a big deal about this issue, like it has never been addressed before.
That is not the case.
Humanae Vitae addressed this subject already. It is permissible DEPENDING ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES i.e. you can take birth control pills if the intent is to address another health issue, not for contraception.
On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever. (HV, 15)
One can see clearly, then, where Benedict’s nuanced view is derived from – none other than from Pope Paul VI and the Church’s tradition! Moreover, we should not use the term “contraception” when referring to the use of pills and other devices which prevent conception but whose usage is intended for genuine moral reasons – like genuine health care, or in extreme cases, preventing conception as a result of sexual assault.
The case of the married couple with a condom, however, is a different situation than the case with advocating for precautions concerning the protection of nuns. In the case of the nuns, there was no question of having sex. But in the case of the married couple, the purpose of sex is to unite, and not simply to conceive. There are two purposes to the sexual act, not just one. So while there might not be a problem on the conception side of the equation with the HIV+ couple’s intention, the problem is in the unity aspect. The sexual act cannot diminish unity, but the condom, by its “barrier nature”, does just that in my opinion. The physical sexual act, even outside of the question of procreation, is still a sacred act. It is just as sacred for naturally sterile couples, as it is for fertile ones. And what makes it sacred is the “unifying sacredness” that God has blessed it with. The condom is a physical barrier to that intimate unity. Spouses are not merely to be “spiritually united”, but also “physically united”. For as Scripture teaches, “the two become one flesh” (Cf. Mark 10-7-8). Again, here is what Humanae Vitae has to say:
This particular doctrine, often expounded by the magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act. (HV,12)
I guess part of the confusion comes from the expression “intrinsically evil”, which means never acceptable under any circumstances. From your explanation, the label “intrinsically evil” is meant to apply to the act/intention of preventing procreation during the marital act, not the use of the devices themselves. To use a dumb example, there’s nothing wrong with using condoms as balloons at a birthday party. They’re not “intrinsically evil” for that purpose.
Yes, for something to be “intrinsically evil”, the act is still subject to the intentions and context of the particular person and situation. Killing someone may or may not be moral. Murder is an intrinsic evil. Killing in self defense is not. Also, using a condom may indeed be intrinsically evil, if it is used in the course of sex – not because of contraception but because it fails the “unity” test. So that means HIV+ sex is out of the question on the unity side of the equation, never mind the relatively high risk (much greater than 5-10% of the contraception failure rate) of infecting the other person which is an entirely different question. I remember confronting an HIV+ speaker many years ago when he publicly told his audience that he used a condom on his wife. When I told him about the failure rates for condoms in preventing pregnancy (where the sperm is exponentially larger than the HIV virus!), he didn’t blink an eye. I was astounded.
Using the Theology of the Body lens, contraception is wrong because it prevents the free, total, faithful and fruitful giving of the spouses to each other as an imitation of the inner life of the Trinity. In the case of raped nuns, the act has nothing to do with free, total, faithful or fruitful giving. Rape has no relation to the inner love of the Trinity. In that case, the prevention of pregnancy is not sinful. Does that make sense?
Yes, I think you have hit the nail right on the head. We’re not talking here about mechanics. We’re talking here about lying. To speak an untruth can be a lie or it can be out of general ignorance. A couple who has sex using contraception is lying about what the sexual act is about. False intercourse is about lying before it’s anything sexual. Spouses who tragically have recourse to contraception are communicating a false language of love. They are aping what the sexual act is supposed to represent. A nun who is raped is not even engaging in sex at all because there is no consent on her part to be “united” with the other person. It’s not “love-making” at all, but rather an act of aggression by her assailant and her actions in “preventing pregnancy” would be in self defense.
The sad reality is that everyone is debating the wrong question because sin has made liberals quite stupid and dull in twisting Benedict’s statement . The question is not about trying to continue the societal collapse of narcissistic sex through “harm reduction” techniques that condoms afford us. On the contrary, the real issue is to recognize that we are dying as a civilization because of our lack of faith and the corruption of sexual dignity whose instrument and icon has become the condom and other contraceptive devices.
Consider the demographic collapse of the West and the consequential immigration influx which is now threatening Western traditions and principles. Consider the false teachings concerning “safe-sex”. Safe-sex? Are you kidding? Read how relatively useless a condom is in anal penetration.
How did it come to this?
Well, it’s really only apparent to honest people who will have to admit that the perversion of sex has had a lot to do with it. The willfully ignorant will spew a lot of excuses and other reasons rather than to admit the truth. They ask: Personal sin? How does that affect “public policy”? And I say: You blind fool! Open your eyes. Learn how to count. Learn how to read a demographic chart. Consider the mass school closings, the push for euthanasia, to say nothing of the loss of our freedoms. A young population guarantees the passing down of traditions because they have the numbers to backup their beliefs — both in terms of political will and militarily if necessary. An older population has neither — which perfectly describes what is happening to Western values in the 21st century.
Sex has never been, nor will ever be, purely a private matter. Peace-nic social liberals fear nuclear war…only failing to understand that we have already been decimated by contraception, the ultimate language of war. No fire. No explosions. No visible destruction. But death by condom. Death by stealth. And all because liberals have been pushing the culture of death these past 40 years which has made Hiroshima (however horrendous that was) look like a blip on the map. And even now, only the few see it.
The story of the condom is quite remarkable. It’s the story of how a little bit of rubber and some slick sexual propaganda brought down a whole civilization without a bullet being fired.
Guns? Nuclear warheads? Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Please. Just stop.
They ain’t got nothing on the condom.