There are 195 bishops in the United States. At the time of writing this, 101 of them have spoken out against the new HHS mandate, which requires that sterilization and contraception, including controversial abortifacients, be among the “preventive services” coverage in almost every healthcare plan available to Americans, including health plans offered by religious organizations.
In short: this requires Catholic organizations to violate basic tenets of their faith or shut down.
This injustice is not something that need solely concern the Catholic Church — if the federal government can force Catholics to act against their consciences, they can force anyone to act against their conscience, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Atheist, and by the same pitiful reasoning.
Fact: The Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality is anything but popular.
It’s something we as Catholics shy away from talking about. Maybe that’s because it makes others uncomfortable, or maybe because often we don’t truly understand it ourselves. The fact is that I can sit here all day and tell you that my stance against same-sex marriage is not born out of hatred, bigotry, or ignorance, but the majority of people would probably not believe me. When it comes down to it, this issue isn’t going to be solved in political debates. It’s far too personal.
So rather than getting into a lesson on Catholic moral teaching (though feel free to contact me if you want me to cover that later), or talking about homosexuality in the abstract (creating hypothetical people and hypothetical situations), I thought I’d refer you to an article written by someone who understands the Church’s teaching on homosexuality far better than I do, because as a Catholic who happens to be gay, he is choosing to live it.
[I have never met this man. I found the following post on the blog, Little Catholic Bubble. Apparently, though, he recently went public with his own blog, as well.]
I have heard a lot about how mean the Church is, and how bigoted, because she opposes gay marriage. How badly she misunderstands gay people, and how hostile she is towards us. My gut reaction to such things is: Are you freaking kidding me? Are we even talking about the same church?
When I go to Confession, I sometimes mention the fact that I’m gay, to give the priest some context. (And to spare him some confusion: Did you say ‘locker room’? What were you doing in the women’s…oh.) I’ve always gotten one of two responses: either compassion, encouragement, and admiration, because the celibate life is difficult and profoundly counter-cultural; or nothing at all, not even a ripple, as if I had confessed eating too much on Thanksgiving.
Of the two responses, my ego prefers the first — who doesn’t like thinking of themselves as some kind of hero? — but the second might make more sense. Being gay doesn’t mean I’m special or extraordinary. It just means that my life is not always easy. (Surprise!) And as my friend J. said when I told him recently about my homosexuality, “I guess if it wasn’t that, it would have been something else.” Meaning that nobody lives without a burden of one kind or another. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel said: “The man who has not suffered, what can he possibly know, anyway?”
Me and all my friends
We’re all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There’s no way we ever could
Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
It’s hard to beat the system
When we’re standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
Waiting on the World to Change – although not the worst song I have ever heard, it might be one of the most misleading. The song insists that we are victims, with no power to change or influence our world, and that our best option is to idly let the world change itself. It’s much too hard to make a difference, so let’s not try at all?
Let’s face it, as young Catholics we have more than a few topics to choose from, but there is no point in beating around the bush. I want to talk about abortion. Anyone who has seen my facebook knows that I am pro-life, and also knows that I use my facebook as a tool to spread information about the reality of the abortion industry, the effects of abortion on mothers and families, and current events relating to the pro-life movement. Do I do this because I enjoy debating my friends on ethical issues? Well, yes :) but also because I know so many people who are simply misinformed. They believe the people who tell them that it’s not considered abortion if there hasn’t been implantation; they believe the people who tell them abortion is safe and is a fundamental right; they believe the people who tell them the baby isn’t alive until the heart beats; and they believe the people who tell them that it is okay to end a life if it isn’t convenient for the parents. Why do they believe this? Maybe it is because no one has told them otherwise.
Ignorance is one of the greatest disservices to our world, and to our Church, and to ourselves. As Catholics, we are obligated to engage in a never-ending pursuit of truth and to share these truths with our fellows. The fight for life is our duty— a mission entrusted to our generation. If we are not educated ourselves, how can we defend our stance? This is a plea to young Catholics to get involved first by understanding the battle, and second, by using your knowledge to educate others. This will set the foundation for change.
Every day on our Facebook pages, we share with all of our “friends” how bored we are at work, what we made for breakfast, or a funny cat video we found on YouTube. If this is worth our while, then surely protecting the dignity of every human life can also be a regular part of our lives.
Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director (now pro-life advocate) said something to the following, “If you aren’t doing anything to stop it, you are supporting it.” Our generation must take a stand; we must be active in our battle for a culture of life. The first part of this is educating ourselves and our world. I will not tolerate having people I care about be hurt by abortion because they didn’t understand the decision they were making. I will not be comfortable in silence and let the pro-choice movement do all the talking and mislead my generation to hurt and regret. We need to show the world that we do “stand for something” and we are willing to fight for it.
At the end of the song, good old John Mayer tells us, “One day our generation is gonna rule the population, so we keep on waiting, waiting on the world to change”. Well guess what folks, NOW is the time for our generation to rule, and we can’t wait on “the world” to give us the go ahead.
Lord, please use me today as tool to spread your truths and to evangelize. Your will be done. Amen.
Need help getting started? I’ve got you covered:
Bloodmoneyfilm.com — they provide great resources! Watch the trailer, buy the DVD, and sign up for the newsletter (it is one of my favorites)
Ok— maybe I’m not honestly planning on having 17 children. Actually, I’m not thinking about having children at all right now (due, of course, to my unmarried state).
I do, however, come from a family of 5 children—which for many people is a lot of children, especially given the fact that we are all within 2 years apart from one another (though honestly, I think a few more brothers or sisters would’ve been cool). Every one of my 4 siblings is married with at least 1 child, giving me a grand total of 8 adorable nieces and nephews. And wanna know the “crazy” thing?
None of my siblings (nor my parents) practice artificial birth control. And if/when I get married, I won’t either.
Call it what you will. Irresponsible. Insane. Outright disturbing. I’ve heard it all before, and it only makes me more proud to be a part of a family that lives out and takes seriously this most controversial teaching of the Catholic Church. It’s not that I enjoy controversy for controversy’s sake. No—it’s that I wholeheartedly believe that a fuller truth, a truer happiness, and a more authentic love are on our side when it comes to the stance my family takes on using artificial contraception.
Why? Because I believe in marriage, and I believe in love. I believe the most perfect expression of the love between a husband and wife is the sexual union. And I unreservedly reject anything that seeks to cheapen or distort that expression of love and turn it into something it is not. To me (and I believe to anyone who really sits down and reflects on it with an open mind for some time), contraception is one of those things.
My family believes (as the Catholic Church teaches) that the purpose of sex within marriage is twofold: 1) for the unity of the couple, and 2) for the procreation of offspring. Don’t misunderstand my meaning. This DOES NOT mean that I think every time a married couple has sex that they need to be intending or trying to have a child. It simply means that the married couple needs to be open to having children as a result of their union.
It’s pretty clear why the unitive aspect of sex is so important to a married couple; but to our modern society, it’s far less clear why it matters that a couple be open to having children every time they engage in sex. Simply put, the reason is: love.
Life-giving Love: Sex is supposed to be a total gift of yourself to your spouse. The act of sex renews the wedding vows, to hold nothing back from your partner. Using contraception, we close off a part of ourselves from our spouse, cheapening the authentic expression of total, life giving love that sex is meant to be.
Respect: Because contraception rejects the life-giving aspect of the sexual union, I believe that it is a form of disrespect to the body—making the body little more than a mere instrument used for sexual pleasure. Of course, it is not at all that I think that most couples that use birth control are doing so with the intent of using one another, but I do think that, over time, it can be an unintended, and undesired effect (even if the couple cannot specifically point to birth control as the reason for their eventual emotional distance).
Come on, Get Real
I do realize (as does the Catholic Church) that often times there are legitimate reasons to space out or delay pregnancy within a family. In those cases, it is still not ever a good idea to contracept, because all of the negative effects that come with it still apply. However science has made great strides in a natural way for couples who need to either delay or achieve pregnancy. It’s called Natural Family Planning, and it has a near 99% success rate.
Rather than unnaturally altering or inhibiting the proper functions of the body, NFP requires the couple work with the woman’s body to achieve the desired result (it involves charts and temperature taking and all that jazz. Of course I’ve never done it, so I can’t really tell ya from experience). I can tell you that couples who practice NFP have a divorce rate less than 1% (fact). Though it’s important to realize that it’s not necessary for every couple—I believe that if you have the means to support a family and don’t have a good, non-selfish, reason for delaying children, there is no need to practice NFP in order to delay pregnancy. Love can’t be selfish, so neither can sex, right?
A Final Word on Children
People are uncomfortable with large families and lots of kids. I’ve never understood why. Though children are often messy and difficult to control, any mentally stable person who has children will tell you without hesitation about the joy that children bring to a life and to a marriage. Is raising a family easy? Hardly. Does the love they bring to a family make up a hundred fold for all of the struggle? Drawing from my own experience growing up in a larger family and from literally anyone I have talked to about their children, you better believe it does.