What Scripture Condemns Contraception?


Q. I would be interested to see biblical proof that God is against contraception. I know that Genesis 38:8-10 talks of Onan spilling his seed, but God was mad at Onan for not obeying him, I don’t believe it was necessarily the act he committed. If you read the verse prior in 6 & 7 it says that Judah’s firstborn was wicked so God put him to death. This is what he was indicating when he said he slew him too.

A.Yes, Onan too was wicked. Onan partook of sexual pleasure with his brother’s wife but contracepted by spilling his seed. That was his explicit intent. He was not obligated to give his brother’s wife an heir upon pain of death. God did not kill him b/c he didn’t want to give offspring to his brother. This is explicitly laid down in the Law. Punishment for not giving a dead brother offspring was a ceremony of humiliation, not death.

Deut 25:5When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, …Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her 6“It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel 7“But if the man does not desire to take his brother’s wife, …8“Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, ‘I do not desire to take her, 9 then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, ‘Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house. 10“In Israel his name shall be called, ‘The house of him whose sandal is removed.’

That is a far cry from execution.

To summarize: God killed Onan because he contracepted by spilling his semen on the ground, the ancient preferred method of contraception before condoms, IUD’s, spermicide, and the Pill. Protestant apologists, contend, in attempt to justify their approval of contraception, that God killed Onan b/c he refused to do the right thing and give his brother an heir. But the Deut. passage I quoted above proves that the punishment for refusing to take a dead brother’s wife and raise up an heir to him was PUBLIC HUMILIATION. The punishment was NOT death. It was NOT a capital crime to refuse to do the right thing.

But God showed His displeasure with Onan for pursuing sexual pleasure with the wife of his dead brother, stripped of its procreative power by contracepting (withdrawal). In God’s eyes this was a MORTAL, as in DEADLY sin. Exactly the teaching of the Catholic Church today.

Q. I also believe that God would not look down on a woman who prevents pregnancy because she has a medical condition that would either cause harm to her or the baby.

A. I agree with you.

Q. I had a friend who had 8 miscarriages because of a medical problem. It would be unwise for her to try for any more.

A. Unwise? If she just can’t bear another miscarriage or it would truly be a threat to her life, then her husband and she must agree out of charity to either adopt in order to have a child and/or abstain from intercourse during fertile times using NFP.
Q. I also have a friend who has a rare blood clotting disorder that endangers her life each time she gets pregnant. She has come close to dying with each child. After having her second child, she threw blood clots to her lungs and legs. They cannot give her any more medication for these clots again. If she has another child, she will sentence herself and her child to death. She will also leave her other two children motherless and her husband wifeless.

A. Then both her husband and she have a duty to avoid pregnancy. They may need to live as Mary and Joseph lived–in complete chastity, devoting themselves to God and their family in order to preserve the life of the mother. They will not die from abstinence. In fact, the self denial involved in this life will undoubtedly lead them closer to God, each other, and holiness.
Q. Yes she has faith, which is the reason she did not abort when so many specialist said it was the only way she could survive.

A. A noble, and holy woman.

Q. But, although we live by faith, we have to use common sense.

A. You mean that the husband should be allowed to indulge himself ?

And which methold of contraception would you stake your life on?

Abortion as a back up? Killing an innocent child just so they can have pleasure?

Q. I have faith that God will protect me, but I will not stand in the way of a moving train and expect to be saved from death.

A. Just don’t do it, then.

This just in: January 13, 2009

New study links oral contraceptives to increased incidence of breast cancer. But will we hear about this in the politically correct press?

Click HERE for the aticle at American Journal of Epidemiology


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40 Responses to What Scripture Condemns Contraception?

  1. Michael says:

    Contraception in marriage is morally evil act. Pius XI in his Encyclical Casti Connubii qualified it as an “offence against the law of God and nature, and…those who commit it are guilty of grave sin.”

    Pius XII in his address to the Catholic Midwives 1951: “Pius XI…solemnly proclaimed anew the fundamental law governing the marital act…This precept is valid today as it was yesterday, and it will be the same tomorrow and always, because it doesn’t imply a precept of human law but is the expression of the law which is natural and divine.”

    Vatican II, in Gaudium and Spes 51: “For children of the Church…it is not lawful to regulate the procreation by embarking on ways which the Church’s teaching authority, in expounding the divine law condemns”

    Paul VI, John Paul II, and the present pope should be known to all.

    The doctrine has been proposed infallibly by the Ordinary Magisterium. See: Ford and Grisez: Contraception and Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium, Theol. Studies 39 1978), 258-312. A fascinating essay, with full historical account from the beginning, as well as a genesis of the Vatican II (LG 25) doctrine on Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium. Ford was a member of the Papal commission, and Grisez was his advisor.

  2. Gin says:

    Hi!

    I’m not the original asker of this question, but I noticed that no scripture reference was given in response. Why?

    Gin

  3. bfhu says:

    Gin,
    Don’t you accept the OT as Scripture? God killed Onan because he contracepted by spilling his semen on the ground, the ancient preferred method of contraception before condoms, iud’s, spermicide, and the Pill. Protestant apologist attempt to say that God killed Onan b/c he refused to do the right thing and give his brother an heir. But the Deut. passage I quoted above proves that the punishment for refusing to take a dead brothers wife and raise up an heir to him was HUMILIATION in public. The punishment was NOT death. It was NOT a capital crime to refuse to do the right thing.
    But God showed His displeasure with Onan for pursuing sexual pleasure with the wife of his dead brother, stripped of its procreative power by contracepting (withdrawal). In God’s eyes this was a MORTAL, as in DEADLY sin. Exactly the teaching of the Catholic Church today.

  4. Gin says:

    I see it now. I was referring only to Michael’s response to the question and I did not scroll up to see what preceeded it. After reading the passage in Genesis 38, I’m not convinced that condemning contraception is what is intended here. In this case, Onan disobeyed a direct command from God. (And btw, I’m single and do not use contraceptives, just so you know.) Now, I heartily agree that contraception is wrong for those who are single and use it to escape the natural consequences of the sin of fornication: pregnancy. In marriage, I just don’t see how it’s wrong. One of the things husband and wife have to consider is how many children can they afford?

  5. Nan says:

    Gin, Catholics don’t practice sola scriptura so your interpretation doesn’t hold water here.

    One of the things Catholics have to consider is following the teachings of the church and being open to conception. Contraception is the opposite.

  6. bfhu says:

    Gin,
    I applaud you for your chastity.

    Yes, parents must be responsible. If they cannot afford more children or want to space their children, they must abstain from sex during the fertile time. Natural Family Planning is 95% effective. It has no side effects and does not put harmful drugs in the body of the woman. And this form of birth control is perfectly moral. Because there is no rule that says that one must have sex everytime one is fertile if married. That would be ridiculous. What if the woman is sick, or just had a baby, or just had surgery, or her husband is sick, etc.

    I am sure it is hard to accept the Catholic view of these passages but did you know that all Christians condemned all contraception until 1930 when the Anglican Church approved it ONLY in the case of a threat to the mother’s life? Even secular people condemned it as immoral and leading to disorder and degradation of women. See my post Here and HERE

    But God created us and sex. He has decreed that it be used only in marriage and it is meant to be a concrete and beautiful image of the love and total selfgiving of the Holy Trinity–Man, woman, child. Contraception is not total self-giving and accepting of the other. The use of contraception entails REJECTION. One or both of the partners are rejecting the fertility of the beloved. Therefore, their loving union is not TOTAL SELF GIVING. It is partial and actively rejects something that is intrinsic to the other.

    As in the case of Onan, sexual pleasure/union and openness to procreation are not to be stripped away from each other in order to just have pleasure without procreation or procreation without sexual union of husband and wife. (In Vitro, etc)

    Contraception in order to obtain pleasure without babies is intrusive and disfigures the meaning of sexual union. Homosexual sex, masturbation, pedophilia, beastiality, adultery, pre-marital sex prostitution, etc all seek only pleasure and so does contracepted sex. All of these sexual acts are aimed only at obtaining sexual pleasure stripped of any openess to or possibility of, procreation. None of these image the Holy Trinity.

    This is disordered. The natural purpose and end of sex is UNION and Procreation– or Babies and Bonding. Anytime you actively exclude one or the other it is sinful.

    This is very brief. I would recommend that you read a post here called Contraception: Why Not by Dr. Janet Smith –Click Here

  7. Gin says:

    Nan, I’m not Catholic. And thanks to haughty attitudes like yours, I don’t plan to be one.

    Gin

  8. Gin says:

    BFHU,
    thank you for your thoughtful, respectful response.

    Gin

  9. Nan says:

    Gin, you’re really reading a lot into a bare statement of facts. You read the bible and disagree with Catholic interpretation; this leads me to believe you’re a protestant leaning on sola scriptura. I can’t help that you don’t like my writing style.

    You’re very angry and if you remember your new age stuff, the energy that you put out into the world will return to you threefold. Or tenfold. Depending on who you listen to.

  10. Nan, I’m not Catholic. And thanks to haughty attitudes like yours, I don’t plan to be one.

    IF we could take a time out here and then take time to act rational…

    Nan’s attitude is NOT haughty… It is an outflow of at least two things: (1) This is a Catholic blog (where she is a solid daily contributor) and (2) your personal reading of scriptures as discrete texts from which you can garner your own personal understanding is simply NOT in line with our thinking as Catholics. The Catholic Church pre-dates the creation of the New Testament writings, and it is the Catholic Church that canonized the writings we have today as Scripture. Without Holy Mother Church, who is to tell you that the Gospel of Luke is in… the Gospel of Thomas is not?

    If you delve further into history, you will realize the Catholic Church is the fullness of the faith Christ gave to us.

    If are within a day’s journey of Columbus, OH, I would invite you to join a symposium on the Catholicism in Saint Paul being held here in two months.

    My treat.

  11. happy says:

    simple sinner,

    ooohhh, I sure wish I could go! Colombus is my birthplace!

    Gin, I hope that one persons response would not keep you from being Catholic!
    We are all just human. Let the Lord be your guide for your journey ahead!

    Blessings!
    :)

  12. happy says:

    “Sweetest Lord, make me appreciative of the dignity of my high vocation, and its many responsibilities. Never permit me to disgrace it by giving way to coldness, unkindness, or impatience.”

    Mother Teresa

  13. Wycliffe 36 says:

    Hi all,

    I do find this blog interesting, it is very far removed from what I believe and to date I have been tolerated by all.

    But, these views are really not supported by catholics in the U.K, some support in Ireland perhaps although that is ebbing quickly away.

    Theology aside, as we could debate this much in a ping pong match but I think it’s correct to say that catholicism does seems much more liberal in the U.K than the views posted here.

    I don’t doubt that what is written here is traditional catholic teaching written in good faith, but is it, I believe, this kind of teaching that is the reason why most catholic churches over here are empty? Thus the priests know they simply have not choice but to adopt a more secular attitude to contraception.

    Only this week a senior catholic bishop in the U.K has voiced his support for gay couples adopting from catholic child support agencies, he is not alone listening to radio phone ins….

    The catholic church has faced a wave of criticism over here in the U.K following many child abuse cases from catholic priest and is thus struggling to get some positive P.R. hence the support of L.G.B.T couples.

    I admire some of your intentions, I doubt not many of your reasons for holding such views but, it simply will not draw people to the faith – in short the bar is too high.

    In the states fundamentalism seem more accepted in christianity, in europe I fear these views would be seen as extreme, especially with the youth of whom you surely wish to attract, and with all the other temptations in life I really do wonder how realistic abstinence prior to marriage or after as in the case study above really is..?
    Yours W.

  14. Robert says:

    Wycliffe,

    I rarely pull out my creds in order to speak, but here it is: I’m 20 years old. So perhaps I can speak for ‘young people.’ (Saying “creds” shows how hip and relevant I am. ;) )

    The reason why Catholic Churches are empty is because when the Church abandons its mandate to preach the gospel and contends with the world, it will lose every time. What does the Church have to offer on such a level that the world cannot outdo? I mean, it’s rather naive to think the Church can beat the world at the world’s own game. And so when pastors water down the faith to make it congenial to contemporary society, or introduce faddish trends into the liturgy, its no surprise that people stop paying attention to the Church. The Church can’t keep up with the world. I think this is typified by the ‘praise and worship’ music– which I do not deny people for their private devotion– which is often like secular music but done very badly. Well, if I’m looking for entertainment I’ll turn on the TV or buy some good rock music.

    Likewise, I would treat your comments about contraception. Do you think churches are empty because we teach contraception? I think it’s more likely that churches are empty because we don’t teach it! I don’t mean just the obvious pun on such a statement, namely, that those who don’t contracept will bring more young baby Catholics into the world, but predominantly on the level of teaching doctrine. I know that I will not dedicate my life to a wimpy religion.

    If I want comfort and consolation I’m not going to follow the religion which preaches the way of the cross. Rather, I’m going to follow the world. And if you are telling me that I don’t have to give up anything in order to buy the pearl of great price (not sex before marriage, nor anything else!) then I’m going to assume that it’s not a very valuable pearl. And that’s just how it is, what can be bought cheaply will be spurned as worthless.

    The bar isn’t too high, it’s simply too low, and that’s why mainline Protestantism and Anglicanism are so decrepit.

    Indeed, there was nothing more exciting and compelling for me than when I realized how ridiculously high the bar is set in Christianity. After I had intellectually re-converted myself to the faith, I was dithering in that sort of stage where I was living the sort of interior life which “avoids mortal sin” rather than rushes towards God. Once I read about the towering heights towards which we are called– prayer without ceasing, complete union with God, the heights of perfection– I started on a completely different interior life. Actually, it would be a joke to pretend that I had an interior life before that, because I had none to speak of. I knew that there was something tremendously valuable to strive for, and it changed my life.

    There really isn’t anything as exciting as the pursuit of God, nor anything as challenging. And I can tell you that the young people *I* know are also compelled by it. I’m tired of mediocrity, and certainly not inspired by it.

    At least the Catholic Church has the courtesy of calling me towards excellence.

    And over the past 40 or so years since the cultural upheaval of the sexual revolution and the second Vatican Council, the Church has been avoiding preaching on these hard doctrines… the Church has been avoiding preaching the narrow road to salvation.

    And so I have to say– the evidence is to the contrary. It’s our lack of courage in standing up for these doctrines which has resulted in the extent of the malaise in which the Church currently is in. And when sound doctrine is preached, and confession is encouraged, THAT is when the pews fill up.

    God bless you Wycliffe.

  15. Nan says:

    Wycliffe, catholic church in the UK is apparently not teaching the true faith; there are also churches here, as previously discussed, that don’t teach proper Catholicism.

    This is changing with BXVI; in my archdiocese, one of the problem churches has a new priest. The natives are restless and many of them left, but many have since returned, probably because the church didn’t give in to their demands. Other parishes have similar problems, but the Department of Faith is working on it and because I know what the priest in question is like, I’m confident that he’ll be successful. He’s impossibly young, it’s cute how enthusiastic he is, but above all, he makes liturgy safe.

    My church has a rather large RCIA class right now full of mostly young people seeking the true church. Other churches in my area are stagnant or losing members, be they protestant or orthodox. The Catholic church continues to grow.

    I’m fortunate in living in an area where there are some good churches, good liturgists and a great Archbishop.

  16. happy says:

    Amen,
    Robert, so well said. I have a 20 year old daughter and plan to share your statement with her!
    Good for you! I think you are exactly right. “What does the Church have to offer that the world cannot outdo” … so profound. Your statements are so articulate.

    Wycliffe, it breaks my heart that the information you share is happening whether it is in the Catholic Church OR Protestant. I am encouraged by Roberts statement. I have 6 children 20 and under and I pray that they feel that way as they grow.

    God Bless,
    :)

  17. Joel says:

    While I must agree wholeheartedly with what Robert said, the largest reason I think Roman Catholic Churches are empty in the UK is because of King Henry VIII.

  18. bfhu says:

    LOL cute Joel. From what I understand the Bishop in the UK are very Liberal and referred to as the Magic Circle. B16 apparently appointed a very holy order head to be Bishop of Westminster. B16 and JPII have been gradually changing the face of the College of Bishops. I hope I live to see the revival, I think I will…

  19. Robert says:

    Joel,

    Especially because many English Anglican churches are really formerly Catholic churches, because the Anglican churches are sure empty– and Anglicanism is far more decrepit than Catholicism in England (I believe Catholicism has equal or more worshipers despite being at a huge demographic disadvantage).

    bfhu,

    Perhaps one day, Pam, before you die… “Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace…”

    Happy,

    Thanks! It’s lovely to hear about your children. If your daughter has any thoughts on this, of course, it would be wonderful to hear them.

    -Rob

  20. Joel says:

    I am admittatly completely ignorant of the current popular movements in England, but from what I hear, onlyy 2% of the population attends church regularly! WOW, if that is true it is a very sad state of affairs. I used to attend a series of lectures when I lived in Anchorage called “Theology On Tap” which targeted young Catholics. They invited speakers to discuss topics from a traditional Catholic perspective. One of the speakers recommended a book called “Society, or What’s Left of It” which focused on the religious decline of the UK. I keep meaning to pick it up but have not done so yet.

  21. Wycliffe 36 says:

    I too like the Henry VIII statement; Some truth there no one could doubt.

    U.K bishops and priest are more liberal, the U.K is less religious in general one feels. However, there is a movement of religious humanism which does seem to be refreshing and reaching people.
    In short; non-realism (of which I follow) it’s a bit like the Quakers, re: Don Cupitt – Rob,you seem to enjoy your theology too so be kind I’m a passionate follower – no punk here! (not just because we shared the same old ‘east anglican’ university!! lol.) Check out his website.

    Re Catholicism: Can’t speak about the U.S but having a wife who is Irish Catholic gives me a good insight and the truth seems to be that being a Catholic is a way of life more than a religion, inexplicably bound up with culture, patriotism and ethnic identity having fought many years for this identity (many U.K Catholics are of Irish descent) and little to do with metaphysical persuasion.

    Protestants are more rebellious, and open to new philosophies.

    Good talking to you all.
    W.

  22. Wycliffe 36 says:

    PS:The Anglican / Anglian Pun! sorry U.S. readers.

  23. Wycliffe 36 says:

    Regarding contraception and sexual repression in the U.S. (Europe is very different thank goodness)

    According to the New York Times ( the internet is great ) sexual repression caused by the right wing American churches Catholic and Protestant has stopped, through pressure groups, condom provision to 16 countries and reduced 13 others, including some with the highest rates of AIDS infection.

    The influence of Christian view of sinfulness of sex outside marriage, the U.S government has required that one-third of it’s AIDS prevention funds allocated to Africa be squandered on teaching abstinence rather than condom use. Millions WILL die due to this religious dogmatism.
    How would you answer this question?

    Robert with respect does this bring ‘comfort and consolation’

    Quote “At least the Catholic Church has the courtesy of calling me towards excellence” mmmm excellence – excellence costs lives my friend.

    A genuinely sad W.

  24. bfhu says:

    Wycliffe,
    The NYT is a left wing propaganda machine and a news organization barely at all. Many of the men in Africa who have AIDS think that if they have sex with a virgin they will be cured. So will they use a condom? Will rapists use a condom? Many who spread the AIDS Virus do so primarily because they have the contraceptive mentality that permeates Western culture which approves and encourages the goal of sexual pleasure stripped of its procreative meaning of total self-giving love. So pleasure seekers are reluctant to use condoms b/c they reduce the pleasure. JPII’s Theology of the Body portrays the sexual union of a husband and wife as an image of the HOLY TRINITY! Putting a barrier between lovers destroys the beauty of love.

    Abstinence works. Uganda promates this and has for some time and they have reduced their AIDS problem. Don’t have the stats on hand. Abstinence does work. To hand out condoms as a preventative for AIDS is absolutely IRRESPONSIBLE. Your give people a false sense of security that may very well lead to their death and the death of those they infect and on, ad infinitum. Condoms break and slip. Condoms have very small pores or holes that are thousands of times larger than the HIV virus but much much smaller than sperm. Due to the layers of latex these pores are not aligned all the time, so the openings to HIV are reduced BUT THEY ARE THERE.

    Would you jump out of an airplane with a parachute that had a 15 % chance of not opening? Condom protection against AIDS has an 15% failure rate for vaginal sex and only of 50% chance of protecting against AIDS with anal sex. A room full of sex experts were at a conference and were asked if they would use a condom in order to have sex with someone you knew had AIDS. NONE were willing to risk their lives for the momentary pleasure of sex with someone who had a deadly disease. Would you? I wouldn’t. So, responsible, caring and truly loving people will only promote abstinence to protect against AIDS, STI’s . It is the only moral choice. I don’t want blood on my head. Do you?

  25. happy says:

    Rob,
    My daughter is one of those “lost at college” kids! She was raised, very active in the Meth. church. She is a believer. She is not real active in any Church(somewhat with the college ministy,though).Her best friend is Catholic, so she has spent a lot of time in the Catholic Church. Her other best friend is now in seminary to become a priest. They invite her to All things they are involved in(yay!). I invite her to Mass with us ALL the time! I am hoping that she will come back around! She is a good girl. I wished I had not raised her in such a luke warm situation. But, that was the situation I was in at the time! The other 5 are still at home, so they have no choice. They are in Church all the time!
    I think that being called to excellence is still what we should be doing.
    Like I said good for you!

    Wycliffe,
    again, I think it goes back to lowering the bar. Trying to fit to the World is not ever going to work.
    Even on a Protestant level, wrong teaching is wrong teaching. I have friends who are all kinds of faith groups and I can’t think of one group that would agree with your statements.

    We are so blessed to live in an area that teaches abstinence in the public schools. We have a group(Christian funded) and teaches from 5th grade up. Age appropriate information. Parents can say no to this, but few do. It is followed up from the Churches on the Church level with education, testimony and agreement to abstain. Pregnancy and std rates are lower since this began. The Churches can then follow up with the emotional, psychological and spiritual consequenses. We have a little friend who got married in December and she kissed her husband for the first time on her wedding day. She said she learned in class that if she started even with kissing it would lead to petting, on and on. She is 24 years old. Beautiful girl. She said she will now go and speak to younger generations on what this has meant in her life. Her sweet little husband will give his testimony, too. We have well known adults in the church that have come and given their devastating testimonies on making opposite choices as young people. How the consequense of sin has taken an toll on their lives.

    I am so sorry that this is not what your seeing where you live.

  26. Wycliffe 36 says:

    Hi bfhu,

    I enjoyed your response, although I’m nor sure about your statistics (there is a saying ‘if you torture them enough – they’ll confess to anything’ however I would be genuinely interested in from where you draw them (ref.. the room full of experts)

    I ask because I remember around 5/6 years ago a documentary in the U.K where upon medical ‘experts’ from Rome and the Catholic tradition using the same argument regarding the fabric of condoms. I don’t know about the 85% stat – but I would be, in respect, astounded if this was accurate.

    I do remember however much of the documentary being disputed by the World Health Organization, British Medical Association, National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the Terrence Higgins Trust, and Durex.

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs243/en/

    What follows is from the W.H.O.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    Effectiveness of male latex condoms in protecting against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections

    Condoms are the only contraceptive method proven to reduce the risk of all sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. They can be used as a dual-purpose method, both for prevention of pregnancy and protection against STIs.
    Prevention of pregnancy

    Estimated pregnancy rates during perfect use of condoms, that is for those who report using the method exactly as it should be used (correctly) and at every act of intercourse (consistently), is 3 percent at 12 months.

    The most frequently cited condom effectiveness rate is for typical use, which includes perfect and imperfect use (i.e. not used at every act of intercourse, or used incorrectly). The pregnancy rate during typical use can be much higher (10-14%) than for perfect use, but this is due primarily to inconsistent and incorrect use, not to condom failure. Condom failure – the device breaking or slipping off completely during intercourse – is uncommon.
    Disease prevention

    Laboratory studies have found that viruses (including HIV) do not pass through intact latex condoms even when devices are stretched or stressed.

    In Thailand, the promotion by the government of 100% condom use by commercial sex workers led to a dramatic increase in the use of condoms (from 14% in 1990 to 94% in 1994); an equally dramatic decline in the nation-wide numbers of bacterial STD cases (from 410,406 cases in 1997 to 27,362 cases in 1994); and reduced HIV prevalence in Thai soldiers.

    The most convincing data on the effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV infection has been generated by prospective studies undertaken on serodiscordant couples, when one partner is infected with HIV and the other is not. These studies show that, with consistent condom use, the HIV infection rate among uninfected partners was less than 1 percent per year. Also, in situations where one partner is definitely infected, inconsistent condom use can be as risky as not using condoms at all.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    In my comment above I did not single out the Catholic church, the abstinence argument is more forceful from the evangelical right wing Protestant U.S (and U.K to a certain extent) churches.

    Not convinced that abstinence as the only moral choice;

    For this depends on too many things for there to be a dogmatic answer, take the following examples biblically that is:

    1.The text does not mean what it appears to say…
    2.The text means what it says but is wrong…
    3.The text means what it says, but needs interpretation depending upon context…
    4.The text,means what it says but can be made personal…..
    5. The text means what it says and must be interpreted literally….

    This of course goes on and on and I only use as an example of how moral decisions are made when reading scripture, not withstanding secular reason, experience, culture, biology, science….

    enjoyable discussion.

    W.

  27. bfhu says:

    Wycliffe,

    That “failure rate of 85%” WAS in error. It has been corrected to 15%.

    The WHO is a very liberal pro abortion organization and one of those politically correct organizations that need to be scrutinized.

    WHO: Condoms are the only contraceptive method proven to reduce the risk of all sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. They can be used as a dual-purpose method, both for prevention of pregnancy and protection against STIs.

    BFHU: Right there we have an overstatement of fact that leads to a false sense of security. Condoms don’t do a thing to protect from HPV b/c it is spread by skin contact that is not necessarily covered by a condom. This virus can cause cervical, penile, and anal cancer and infertility.

    WHO: Prevention of pregnancy

    Estimated pregnancy rates during perfect use of condoms, that is for those who report using the method exactly as it should be used (correctly) and at every act of intercourse (consistently), is 3 percent at 12 months.

    BFHU: And we KNOW everyone does not use condoms PERFECTLY. Can we in good conscience promote a method of public safety that we know good and well is so very open to user error?

    WHO: The most frequently cited condom effectiveness rate is for typical use, which includes perfect and imperfect use (i.e. not used at every act of intercourse, or used incorrectly). The pregnancy rate during typical use can be much higher (10-14%) than for perfect use, but this is due primarily to inconsistent and incorrect use, not to condom failure. Condom failure – the device breaking or slipping off completely during intercourse – is uncommon.

    BFHU:

    As they state the pregnancy rate is 10-14 % with typical use. This is what we really have to base public policy on b/c it is more realistic than perfect use. Now, think about this. A woman can get pregnant only one day out of the month but she can be infected with HIV or STI’s EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE MONTH. What does that do to the 10-14% statistic? I don’t know but it has to increase the chance of getting infected. Is the condom really a responsible recommendation to African and third world villagers? Or is the condom promoted by people who don’t really care about the lives of these children, moms and dads in the third world. What they care most about is the big picture–decreasing the population of the world. Are they are callous towards the precious lives of these individual and powerless people?

    The UN answer to the poor in countries during famine and food shortages is: We will give you food but FIRST you need to use homonal birth control. The poor answer: “Please, we love our babies. Our families make us rich. We just need food to feed them.” UN: No, use the pill and abort if you want food from us.

    The WHO is politically aligned in my mind with the UN. Maybe I am wrong…..

    WHO: Disease prevention

    Laboratory studies have found that viruses (including HIV) do not pass through intact latex condoms even when devices are stretched or stressed.

    BFHU: There is a statement but what are the ref? Has this study been repeated many times with the same result? What was the methodology. Even if it is true we KNOW that condoms break. I still think it is IRRESPONSIBLE to promote this and only care about the overall reduction in infection rates and not concern oneself with protecting every single person. This is a utilitarian approach to the problem. It is not a loving approach.

    WHO: In Thailand, the promotion by the government of 100% condom use by commercial sex workers led to a dramatic increase in the use of condoms (from 14% in 1990 to 94% in 1994); an equally dramatic decline in the nation-wide numbers of bacterial STD cases (from 410,406 cases in 1997 to 27,362 cases in 1994); and reduced HIV prevalence in Thai soldiers.

    BFHU: Again, clearly we are looking at a utilitarian approach once again. Maybe that is the best governments can do but Churches and the faithful must love and care about every individual. We are NOT free to be utilitarian. Also, sex workers and soldiers would be more motivated to use condoms under such risky situations than the common populace. So, these stats do not accurately represent what happens with typical use in the general population.

    WHO: The most convincing data on the effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV infection has been generated by prospective studies undertaken on serodiscordant couples, when one partner is infected with HIV and the other is not. These studies show that, with consistent condom use, the HIV infection rate among uninfected partners was less than 1 percent per year. Also, in situations where one partner is definitely infected, inconsistent condom use can be as risky as not using condoms at all.

    BFHU: These studies done where one partner was infected have been pretty successful but again they are HIGHLY MOTIVATED. They KNOW they are dealing with a deadly disease. The typical user can tend to downplay the risk in any given situation and use condoms inconsistently.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    Wycliffe: In my comment above I did not single out the Catholic church, the abstinence argument is more forceful from the evangelical right wing Protestant U.S (and U.K to a certain extent) churches.

    BFHU: Well, the Catholic Church feels just as strongly. All contraception use in sex is condemned. This ban is NOT lifted in this case.

    Wycliffe: Not convinced that abstinence as the only moral choice;

    BFHU: I am.

    Wycliffe: For this depends on too many things for there to be a dogmatic answer, take the following examples biblically that is:

    1.The text does not mean what it appears to say…
    2.The text means what it says but is wrong…
    3.The text means what it says, but needs interpretation depending upon context…
    4.The text,means what it says but can be made personal…..
    5. The text means what it says and must be interpreted literally….

    This of course goes on and on and I only use as an example of how moral decisions are made when reading scripture, not withstanding secular reason, experience, culture, biology, science….

    BFHU: You are putting up a smokescreen now. Give examples of each of your points above. Our elder brothers in the faith, the Jews and all Christians condemned contraception until 1930. I trust the ancient and transcendent faith of the Jews and the Christians. I trust this culture not at all.

  28. Wycliffe 36 says:

    Dear BFHU

    I hope you are actually enjoying our discussions. You are a committed Catholic, I’m a non-realist, but I’m greatly enjoying the polemic I trust you also?

    You may find this of general interest and a good listen maybe challenging:

    Interview with Don Cupitt, Cambridge (my bias)

    http://media.libsyn.com/bounce/http://cdn3.libsyn.com/philosophybites/Don_Cupitt_on_Non-Realism_About_God.mp3?nvb=20090104151322&nva=20090105152322&t=01f269c2730723f7834e3

    Talk soon, I’ll go and find some stats to torture.
    W.

  29. Robert says:

    Wycliffe,

    I started to respond and then reconsidered my response. I have a terrible tendency of writing… well, far too much. You’ve seen that. So let me see if I can keep this simple.

    1. The first thing I would note is, since sociological implications for any given policy decision are very difficult to figure out as regards cause and effect, I’m not particularly sure that I can really take the ‘millions’ of people who are supposedly dying because of the Church’s actions at face value. And that’s not considering a reference to any of the type of statistics which BFHU is debating… cause and effect in these sorts of situations is very complex and it seems rather impossible to isolate one variable to the extent that we could blame the Church for these deaths.

    2. That of course, is assuming that we could blame the Church for these deaths. I think this is not supported by sound reasoning or moral theory. Catholics are not utilitarians or consequentialists. We cannot legitimate evil means to achieve good ends. So even if your case were unambiguously and certainly straightforward (i.e., that it was absolutely and certainly right that millions would die) it still wouldn’t be morally permissible to do it. Evil may not be done that good may come of it.

    3. Responsibility rests in those responsible. Who is responsible for transmitting STDs? How are STDs transmitted? These diseases are transmitted by sexual activity between persons. It is a disquieting doctrine of leftists which regards individuals as so determined by social context that they literally no longer bear responsibility for their own actions. I grant you that ignorance about the true nature of STDs reduces culpability, but that only gives you an argument for proper education in biology, not a moral argument for the use of condoms. I, of course, do not oppose educating people about the exact nature of these diseases and how they are transmitted. To shift responsibility for these deaths to the Church is just outlandish.

    The best type of response I’ve seen to something like this, when someone blamed the Pope for millions of AIDS deaths in Africa was, “man, he sure gets around for an old guy!”

    The implication of the joke is obvious, namely, that we cannot forget that primary responsibility rests in those who literally are transmitting the disease.

    4. Evil and suffering do not comfort me. God is the one Who gives comfort to His people.

    -Rob

  30. Wycliffe 36 says:

    Hi Rob,

    I just enjoy the gentle polemic following my day – I appreciate that I’m the only dissenting voice – that’s why I continue. ‘The millions will die’ came from a book by the author and committed Christian Sam Harris!

    Would have to debate face to face about the amount the church is responsible for deaths regarding HIV/ AIDS prevention – but I would suspect we’d just keep bouncing stats around and to no end – I get bored easily.

    My ‘God’ gives me comfort too – isn’t that ironical.

    Yours W.

  31. Robert says:

    An addendum on, “excellence costs lives.”

    Wycliffe,

    I will admit that I am often perplexed by people like yourself. Don’t get me wrong– I very much like at least the spirit of the compassionate humanism which you preach. But I see a mess of philosophy which makes such positions unintelligible.

    The statement of yours that I am singling out is yours about “excellence costing lives.” Why? Well, because this critiques my position based on the truth of your position.

    But I can’t see for the life of me how this can be coherent, even from your own point of view.

    You’ve already denied traditional metaphysics, and thus the idea that man has a nature and an end. This is the basis for morality in much of philosophy. On the other hand, you’ve also denied God’s existence, and so you definitely can’t function on the basis of a “divine command” ethics.

    What, then, is ethics or morality for you?

    I see two general streams of ethics for you. One is some sort of “rights” talk, and the other is utilitarianism. The problem is that both are wholly inadequate to the task.

    Rights talk is simply vacuous when separated from a natural law tradition or some sort of divine bestowal. What is a natural and inalienable right outside of that context? It can’t be some sort of non-physical reality (your disparagement of “metaphysics” speaks enough for that!), and it certainly can’t be a physical reality (because, following the whole enterprise of modern science, we only get descriptive and not prescriptive statements from the examination of nature, i.e., “the sun is hot” and not, “the sun ought to be hot”). It seems that we can’t locate such god-less rights in reality, either physical or immaterial.

    But utilitarianism is equally as arbitrary. What in the world really is “the greatest happiness for the greatest number” (whatever that is! Nietzsche is rightfully dismissive of utilitarianism, I think– it also necessitates the intolerable [for modern philosophy, I think] task of figuring out what exactly ‘happiness’ is– but that’s far too “metaphysical”), and what reason in the world do we have to take it as the end of human action? Indeed, the idea that we ought to act for the greatest good of the greatest number is itself a “metaphysical” idea which, if other metaphysical ideas need to be thrown out, should be done away with equally so.

    But where does this leave us? Natures and ends? Nope. Divine command? Nope. Ghostly rights? Nope. Utilitarianism? Nope. Where in the world do we have to turn?

    Well, I think Alasdair MacIntyre is essentially correct here. Once the moderns exhausted all their efforts, it was only natural that our A.J. Ayers would resort to analyzing moral commands as disguised emotive statements. “Killing is wrong” really reduces to “thou shalt not kill.” I.e., it is not really an indicative but an imperative statement. It is a command! (And that sounds… awfully religious, doesn’t it?) But we know, of course, that commands can be arbitrary. And so what morality boils down to is this: your arbitrary will.

    And if morality is based merely on your arbitrary will, then when the two of us have a moral disagreement… it will be in principle undecidable. Who will judge between our wills? The whole reason why it’s all just willing is supposedly because there is no rational basis for morality, so we can’t appeal to reason. And everyone knows that to make morality the subject of a majority rule is just as arbitrary.

    And so, I come back around to my point… I don’t understand how a modern like yourself who rejects all these “metaphysical” attempts at realism can even criticize, because it seems so utterly impossible for your to support any positive doctrine whatsoever. One of the things which repulses me from these sorts of “non-realism” and atheism is what I see clearly as the impossibility of supporting any structure of morality.

    So when you say, “excellence costs lives” I’m left here wondering why you’ve chosen to grasp and hold on to this moral idea (the goodness of human life) and to seemingly reject the rest? Let me adapt an overwarmed polemic from the New Atheists. You’re an “atheist” as regards all these other moral theories (traditional sexual morality, etc.), tell me then, why leave only this one last one? Why not be consistent and become an “athiest” about this last one (or rather, set of ones? i.e., that we ought not to kill, rape, etc.)?

    I grant you that my discussion above about different avenues to justify an ethics or morality may not be incomplete, but I am more than confident that a similar treatment can be applied to whatever you’d like to bring up…

    I know this could be a big tangent, but it’s also appropriate for soul searching.

    God bless and thanks for interacting with me,
    -Rob

  32. Robert says:

    Wycliffe,

    It has indeed been enjoyable! Perhaps we’ll be able to do a little ‘theology on tap’ some time in the future, when I am no longer under age in the US, and hash out these questions the way they were supposed to be hashed out. :)

    “My ‘God’ gives me comfort too – isn’t that ironical.”

    But don’t you also want whatever “God” is to be based in reality also? Doesn’t your very self revolt at the idea that religion is a form of self-deception? The comfort of religion is surely good, but without the transcendent reality, it’s just delusional. Better Socrates dissatisfied, no?

    -Rob

  33. bfhu says:

    Wycliffe,
    Haven’t checked the link yet but I do enjoy out discussion.

  34. Nan says:

    Wycliffe,

    I’m currently in the middle of a year of excruciatingly boring statistics class and one thing we’ve learned is that statistics can be manipulated to reach the desired result. Remember what they say about lies, damn lies and statistics.

  35. Wycliffe 36 says:

    Rob, and anyone for that matter,

    I sit with my lap top and think thus about my morality – ethics is something most different: Wittgenstein said that he could not help seeing all things from a religious point of view. This is a way of being acutely aware of language, and a way the self is always involved.

    Science is somewhat guilty of leaving out the ‘self’ as it discusses matters as an objective abstract reality; a non-realist on the other hand would put the self at the very heart of all. I’m a revisionist, my views develop, and my morality as all morality has a history, so it is with all things. The danger for the realist is he tries to anchor beliefs on an objective reality that sits outside of language, something which is an alleged intuitive extra-linguistic knowledge.

    Whether or not impressed by Kant, Hume or Hick, our knowledge can not come from anything above it is only grounded in our being, it’s illogical to suggest otherwise.

    When it comes to moral questions, non-realism is a return to innocence looking upon things afresh, re-evaluating ones moral code.

    Personally for me this moral knowledge, wisdom, experiences are all derived from a range of mediums such as the sciences social, medical, religions all included, Quakers particularly.

    Utilitarianism is reduced to blind ‘metaphysical’ impulse as pronounced by Wittgenstein, and creates a tautology of peoples needs.

    People want comfort but what comfort – ask the people…. tautology.

    However mainstream religion can fall into a trap of becoming a tautology also

    I would say, as any non-realist – ‘Religion was made for man’ not ‘man for religion’.

    N.B Language gives me the best source of morality as it is the only true and meaningful form of honesty. Morality and language are contingent as with life, they evolve and due to social evolution good morality and language will survive through debate, social science and social evidence whilst outdated morality and religious language will not survive as humans develop.

    The death of God; as metaphysic died out in the 18th-19th C, the language became meaningless. Original sin, Hell, Trinity, Mother of God, Son of God, Saints and the language of other faiths included are not now part of our common language, and language is the founding principle for society, it’s our best indication of evolved humans.

    Allow morality and language to develop together and they will become the guiding principle within themselves, they will regulate themselves.

    Unable to think outside of language objective reality or truth become unknowable, we live by interpretations only not facts. This is true of religious morality, as with every subject, value has only current market value.

    The attributes of a moral God are removed from the world of fact and become neither objective nor subjective. Moreover a guiding and pure ideal where one becomes empty within themselves from all moral choices and looks at each situation with innocence and afresh, Re; N.B

    This is most liberating and does not call one to excellence apart from within the individual; internalising God therefore creates freedom and releases one from religious guilt. Free from guilt one becomes more creative.

    As a Christian non-realist I draw inspiration from the teachings of Jesus, not one church or one faith but Jesus as the paradigm of morality.

    Yet I personally remain an optimist about life; God’s revelation is not fixed and can be changed by us we have evolved our own pictures of ourselves then what we make we can truly remake. We are transient beings and to accept this makes us feel part of the flux within the world and one with the world.

    I feel disappointed for Realist believers as there is a danger they may feel or become exiled from this world, during Latin mass for example, whilst awaiting the next ‘world’.

    Ethics (separated from morality) is to apply to standards of conduct of a particular profession or group, as in medical ethics, legal ethics, Roman Catholic ethics by which we mean the expected behaviour and conduct of members of a particular profession or faith. I adhere not to ethics, only ‘solar morality’

    Non-realism is a release from a disciplinarian organization that aims to only separate the social from the divine for the sake of control.

    To live as a Non-realist makes me examine and re-examine my life and ‘Solar morality’ every day and by doing this I am truly living ‘now’ in this world and saying ‘yes’ to this life.

    Where do I draw my comfort – that’s another short writing..
    W.

  36. Wycliffe 36 says:

    Dear Rob,

    Following some disturbing views on this site I’m going to discontinue use.

    I enjoyed our chats but feel some other views expressed on this site are so extreme as to be actually be dangerous, and cause very real offence.

    Whilst I applaud a site with varied opinions I’d rather not proceed with this site further.

    Thank you, and all who engaging with me in polite polemic.

    Very best wishes in your continued study, ministry or future employment I’m certain it will be fruitful.

    Yours Dr Wycliffe.

    P.S Remember Russell ‘ better intelligent dissent than passive agreement’

  37. bfhu says:

    Bye, Wycliffe and may you find the TRUTH.

  38. Joel says:

    It is very interesting what people think is dangerous.

  39. bfhu says:

    I think Wycliffe may be referring to Sanctus Belle’s comment on the post Catholic Church Kills 3rd Worlders with HIV and Dogmatism

    He signs off there as well.

  40. Joel says:

    I understood him to be refering to the position that teaching sexual abstinance is not preferable to handing out profolactics. I never understood that position. When Bush first took office he started an “Abstinance Only” campaign which yielded the desired fruit but got blasted by Planned Parenthood anyway. I find his position to be far too common among health care workers.

    Another one of my dreams is to start a Catholic fraternity of health care professionals devoted to educating the public on the Catholic position and presenting an educated argument to counter Planned Parenthood’s positions. In California there was a “No on 4″ campaign. Prop 4 proposed a 48 hour notification to a parent or legal guardian before a minor obtains an abortion. The slogan for that campaign was a “Keep kids safe. No on 4.”!!! How exactly are kids safer when they can get abortions without their parents even knowing about it? In my logic that makes kids less safe!

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