Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Is birth control a sin?

When the recent controversy made the news my first reaction was, What a silly thing to be arguing about, a tempest in a teapot. I'm not going to let it distract me from the theme I've been following in previous articles, of churches following - or failing to follow - the Bible.
But as the weeks have passed, and its blown into more tempest and less teapot, I've had to revise my view.

Please remember, when reading my columns that I am strictly apolitical. My political philosophy agrees with Lily tomlin: 'Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. the other two percent run for office.'
That said, while politics is most commonly comparable to bumper cars, this contraception debate is like a chess move. The discussion must have gone something like this:
Obama advisor 'Tom:' "We should announce that under Universal healtth care employers must cover birth control."
Obama advisor 'Dick:' "That's going to tick off Catholics."
Obama advisor 'Harry:' "Actually, most Catholic voters disagree with the church's doctrine on birth control..."
'Tom:' "Exactly. We lose Catholic employers, a few voters who are hard-core Catholics, mostly priests and nuns. But we gain just as many fence-sitters who appreciate our liberal position."
'Dick:' "If we only gain as many as we lose, why bring it up at all?"
'Tom:' "Because, we put Newt, Mitt, Ron, and Rick in the position of having to defend Catholic employers on one side of an issue that nearly everyone is on the other side of..."
Is contraception really "health care"? I know there are some women for whom The Pill is prescribed for reasons other than contraception. But I'm pretty sure that the way their medical records are written, and the way their bills are encoded to their insurance companies already cover that treatment.
And I'm sure people like Mrs. Magic Johnson consider condom-use to be wise "health care," and I admit that I don't know whether her employer is currently required to cover the cost of her condoms. (Suppose Mrs. Johnson works for Catholic Charities...)
Let me pre-empt the political commenters who will want to shoot me down. I freely admit that I'm a babe in the woods when it comes to political discussions. So, to get this discussion into my area of expertise, let's move to the religious.
According to the page I referenced earlier, somewhere between 70% and 90% of Catholics in the U.S. practice birth control. But the Church considers it a sin. How does a person harmonize identifying oneself as a Catholic with disobeying the Church's teachings? If I acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah can I call myself a Jew (I refer to the Jewish religion, not the Jewish nationality)? If I eat meat and work all weekend, can I still call myself a Seventh Day Adventist? If I deny Joseph Smith was inspired and refuse to give my 10% to the church am I still a Mormon? If I never witness to anyone about Jehovah can I call myself one of Jehovah's Witnesses?
No. And neither can a person be a Catholic and ignore what theCatholic church teaches.
You have every right - in fact you have an obligation - to defend your beliefs. If you are a Catholic, you MUST examine the doctrine of birth control. If you can prove the Church is right, then you MUST practice what you believe.
What if you prove the Church is wrong?
That's what we'll take a look at in the next column.
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