Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Birth Control

This might surprise a few readers of this blog who have not been with me long, but quite a few years ago, Farm Boss and I led a teen-age youth group from our rural church. We did this over a period of years and had their Sunday night meetings at our farmhouse.

The sessions were a Bible study and making it practical for issues they would face in their daily lives (sometimes there would be a pizza, movie and hot tub party). These were the years when we believed in a fundamental Christian view of the Bible; so don't panic that we were leading them into decadence. We did, however, discuss many touchy subjects and one of them was birth control.

Back then we taught that sex outside of marriage-- any sex outside of marriage-- was a sin biblically speaking. BUT birth control was not. We took the view that many unwanted pregnancies come out of young people who think they can let themselves be carried away by sex and somehow avoid feeling they sinned as greatly if they were not using birth control-- you know the old-- if it just happens, there is less blame than if it's planned. We taught that adding birth control onto sex didn't enhance the infraction.

The Catholic basis for their claim it is a mortal sin goes back to the story of Onan (Genesis 38:8-10) where I believe they totally missed the point of the story as many do with Sodom and Gomorrah. However, they don't care much about that fact as with their Pope getting orders directly from God, they can say it's a sin with no logical biblical basis.

For anybody without a Bible or who doesn't want to bother looking up the story of Onan, it's typical Old Testament. Fathers took wives for their sons. God smote whoever didn't do his will.

In this case, Judah got Tamar as a wife for his oldest son. Oldest son did evil in God's eyes (doesn't say what). God killed him. So Judah ordered his son Onan to have sex with his brother's widow, as her brother-in-law, and the child would be considered that it was his brother's.

Onan, not surprisingly didn't take well to this idea. The offspring would never be his. Sounds like he'd not even get to marry the widow. Frankly it's a weird story however you look at it. But Onan went to her and 'wasted his seed on the ground' which might mean withdrawal (Catholics also use this story to claim masturbation is a mortal sin). Anyway when God saw this, He killed Onan too. (Tamar has an interesting story if you want to pursue what happened next to her).

Most of us, using logic (not needed for those who base everything on faith), would say God was mad at Onan because he wouldn't do what his father and God wanted-- produce an heir illicitly for his brother-- the one who did something so bad that God had killed him for it.

So to rebel against God or your father could end up with a death sentence. But the story isn't about birth control as anybody can see. The Popes though began to use it as their justification for no birth control (except the rhythm method-- figure the logic on that one)-- and considering it to be a mortal sin if you do use it. And for any non-Catholics reading here, mortal sins are the biggies, the kind God smites you for (see above for what that could mean) versus venal sins which are the minor ones. (Wonder where they classify Bishops who hid the sexual molestation being done by their priests -- probably okay as it was protecting the Church which clearly always takes the priority).

Anyway now we have in our country some people, even those who are not Catholics, defending the Catholic right to dictate this logic onto every single person in the country under threat of law if enough voters agree with them.

Now I think the evangelical wing of the church (and mostly christianists whatever they call themselves as their practices sure don't follow Christ's teachings) want to block birth control access because they are convinced that everybody using it is out committing some kind of licentious act. If they block birth control availability, people won't be doing that... Told you logic isn't a factor in any of this.

You know, I don't really have a problem with people using twisted logic and considering themselves to be better than everybody who doesn't. It's their problem-- right up until they want to make everybody else also follow that logic. Then it's my problem.

When a pharmacist in a small town in the South said he would not fill a birth control prescription for a woman because it was a sin to use it, it was really the first volley in a new culture war. We are now being told it would be okay, this by a candidate running for the presidency of this nation, if a state voted to make all birth control illegal. It would be okay to make Catholic moral laws into American legal laws (based on believing that above story makes sense as well as that any Pope has a direct pipeline to God for being given instructions for what we should do under threat not just of death now but also hell). A lot of us are still in shock.

The argument that birth control allows for illicit sex is obviously proven wrong by statistics. Half of all pregnancies are unplanned according to statistics (maybe going back to the logic of if I didn't take birth control, the sin is lessened).

Any stupid argument that a couple should have all the children god naturally gives them makes me want to ask-- so no intervention regarding your nearly rupturing appendix since god gave you that too?

What is happening now is purely illogical. Not that logic is much praised these days from the far right where only blind faith is admired and as for facts-- what are those?

You know to believe in making sure birth control is easily available to women does not mean one is promoting a licentious lifestyle. Where it comes to sexuality, I don't have the religious view on it anymore but still believe living a life of sex with a rotating set of partners is not healthy. I believe in honesty and openness in sexual connections even if marriage isn't a factor or frankly even if it's polyamory. The thing is even for those doing the one-night stands, it doesn't make it more healthy to add with no birth control.

My guess is most birth control is used within marriages or committed relationships. For those of us shaking our heads at this even being an issue again, we see this as not about morality but about responsibility for yourself, the children you might have and the ones you already have. This means not just as an individual but as a community-- which is why it matters that birth control is available and easy to get-- even if it's no longer an issue for us personally. It's about operating from logic not blind unthinking faith.

This is a good link and I hope you take a look at it.


Jenny Woolf said...

So far, the idiot far right bigots don't have a foothold in Britain, so we don't have to deal with that kind of idiocy. The main thing about birth control, IMHO, is that it has made the difference that enables women to take a real part in business and public life. The societies where women are crushed and victimised and unfree, are the societies that don't like birth control or give women control over their own fertility.

I consider that having my kids was the best thing of my life, but I wouldn't like to have had 10 of them and no choice.

I also think that when women have a lot of children without being able to help it, then the children are also not valued as much as when they can choose. I was listening to a radio programme today about aid to India, and it seems that one of the main problems with child poverty etc is that the parents don't think that children matter as much as adults. This used to be the case in Western societies too.

When food becomes scarce (as it will, if the population skyrockets) then the ones to look after HAVE to be the adults. Kids HAVE to go by the wayside. It's the same principle as putting your own oxygen mask on in a plane emergency before you try to help your child.

None of this will have any effect on the bigots, of course. They seem to be out of touch with everything except their own selves and their own group i.e. totally self centred.

Tabor said...

I was dancing around posting something on this to help reduce the sour feeling in my stomach. I am sick of the hundreds of years of this church protecting pedophiles and then insisting that women follow their male directives. Lets cover the earth with people and bring it to its knees so much faster.

Anonymous said...

I liked the stats in your link. One stat I haven't seen is the maternal mortality rate for an abortion vs the maternal mortality rate for birthing.
In my own family (including Hunky Husband's) I have been told of 8 abortions undergone by the generation before us - before abortion was legal. Not one of the pregnant women was unmarried.
I, myself, had a pregnancy scare that would have ended in abortion had I truly been pregnant - after I had borne children and before abortion was legal.
Thanks for the posting, Rain!
Cop Car

Anonymous said...

Well of course you know sin doesn't exist anymore. Anything goes. And Lord help us all if a Christian has the audacity to say that he, or she, believes that sin does exist.

Rain Trueax said...

Anon, what in this post said you cannot believe sin exists? You want to believe the sin of Onan deserved the death penalty from god, or that it still means you cannot use birth control, who is saying you must? BUT what is up for debate here is whether you have a right to tell my granddaughter someday whether she can buy birth control. You convince your granddaughter of it and that's your family's business. Heck, I even favor government (which means the collective us) help for women who need such to raise a child after they made their choice to follow their church's laws.

What I don't want is you to be able to dictate that as law based on believing a Pope has a direct line to God on this issue or that that story actually meant what your church says it did. This isn't about your freedom to live by some religion's rules-- I care about us not having a group in this country with the power the Taliban has had in Afghanistan and dictating laws (which will amount to Christian Sharia laws) onto their neighbors. The dictates of Christ are lost on people like that-- you know like judge not lest ye be judged.

Anonymous said...

Rain--One small quibble with thinking that the government should help raise the children that weren't wanted: it should be the church who does it - the church that prohibits birth control. Even my late Catholic aunt agreed with this.
Cop Car

Rain Trueax said...

Cop Car, it would be interesting if one could make it happen. Most of the ones who feel it's okay to ban abortion and birth control, also feel there should be no help for the poor or somebody else's children. Interesting anomaly, isn't it. As soon as the baby is born, it's someone else's problem...

Dick said...

Our daily newspaper this morning had a good letter to the editor which said "In 1966, a bishop-dominated papal commission declared that use of contraceptives should be left to the individual conscience. Tut Pope Paul VI rejected the recommendations of the majority report, since contradicting previous papal pronouncements would necessarily undermine the dogma of papal infallibility. Pope John Paul II later explained, "If it should be declared that contraception is not evil in itself, then we should have to concede frankly that leaders of the Church, acting with extreme imprudence, had condemned thousands of innocent human acts, forbidding, under pain of eternal damnation, apractice which would now be sanctioned." Thus, concern for maintaining institutional authority overruled reasoned argument and human needs."

I think this explains the basis for the Roman Catholic Church insisting even today that birth control is evil, or at least why they continue to hold to that position. You couldn't do something that might make it look like a pope got mixed up on a message from God.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Rain, I especially love this quote, "Most of us, using logic (not needed for those who base everything on faith). As a former Catholic, the whole birth control issue is a moot point. Most countries, except third world, simply ignore Church laws. We sometimes have to make choices to exist in a less than perfect world. Very interesting link.

Rain Trueax said...

That was a good addition to the debate, Dick. When I was in the Catholic Church, I went to confession once to ask about telling them every time that I used it and the priest said, don't mention it again.

Mostly the people in the Catholic Church see this one way (and their organizations, but the Bishops, those same Bishops who protected the rapist priests, they don't want it changed to allow it for the reasons you mentioned. It's always about protecting a political power base. So typical of human nature whether it's in one church or another. Why they couldn't just say the infallible Pope was right and God changed His mind is beyond me. The Mormon Church did that about polygamy and that black skin carried the mark of Cain no longer. The people who follow such religions, on blind faith, they'll buy into it!

Anonymous said...

Here'a a novel idea. Try to solve your own problems before giving the government the authority to do it.

Rain Trueax said...

So, anon, does that mean you do or do not want the government having the power to control your life through things like birth control rules, abortion restrictions, death with dignity, or you don't want them to???

Ingineer66 said...

So is this the same Catholic church that once said the sun revolves around the earth? Or the same one that essentially ignored the Holocaust? Of course you should be able to make adjustments for past errors in judgement. Most US Catholics disagree with the official church position on this and many other issues.