“Truly, you can be pro-life. That’s an acceptable position even in Canada, even today. But you cannot be in favour of the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic. There is nothing so wildly unpopular.”Andrea, whom I am fortunate to call a friend and fellow Czech Ottawan, has represented the pro-life side in many venues and ways over the past few years. She has looked the opposition in the eye, and having nerves (and muscles) of steel, she has come to play a major role in the Canadian public debate on family issues including abortion.
Andrea is very familiar with the Evangelical Christian community, and she also has her finger on the pulse of our society at large; she has the “street cred” that makes the above statement so concerning.
Unfortunately, I think she is right. Even more unfortunately, her statement applies to Catholics nearly as much as to society at large.
The elephant in the pews
It’s a well-known fact that most Catholics resort to artificial contraception or sterilization. And I’m not talking just about the secular non-practicing “pretend” or cultural Catholics like Justin Trudeau. I’m talking about people who actually bother to show up to church on Sundays. I’m talking about people who even take on leadership roles in their local parishes, somehow reconciling that contradiction in their minds (yes, I know such people personally). Maybe they figure “hey, everyone else does it too, so what’s the big deal”?
Regrettably, I’m talking even about some of those Catholics who might have large families, whom you would never suspect of using contraception. Some time ago, a friend of mine who is in medical school told me about her experience in the U.S., where she worked for a time with an ob-gyn as part of her medical training. As a practicing Catholic herself, she was greatly disillusioned by her experience of witnessing many large Catholic families (mostly Hispanic in that part of the U.S.) accepting artificial birth control after having babies.
This is a huge problem in the Church. Huge. I would wager that if there was a free vote on contraception within the Catholic Church (if truth and morality were to depend on public inclinations) then the Pope (and God) would lose by a large margin.
And yet, it has been a very, very long time since I have heard any homily that even mentioned contraception. Why is that?
I figure that even the priests are afraid, and honestly I don’t blame them too much; they are only human, after all. The monster of contraception has truly gargantuan proportions. Its tentacles stretch out over so many people in the congregation that any priest might certainly worry with good reason that he will cause a general public exodus (at least of souls, later of bodies) before his homily has even concluded.
Contraception is so divisive among Catholics that few lay people dare to mention it even among their friends, for fear of accidentally putting off someone who might appear to be a good Catholic but actually be on the Pill or using condoms or an IUD, or having had a vasectomy, or what have you. It’s don’t ask, don’t tell.
So Andrea is right.
Which means, we pro-lifers have our work cut out for us. Why? Because as hard as we work at stemming the tide in other ways, the public demand for abortion will not go away unless our society adopts an entirely different attitude towards sexuality. In essence, as impossible as it sounds, I believe that we do need to reject artificial means of birth control in order to end the abortion mentality.
What is the abortion mentality? It is really an entitlement, a belief in the personal right to experience sexual pleasure anytime without the natural consequence of having a baby. Artificial contraception has bestowed us with this supposed “right”, and in truth, many people have gotten addicted to this free supply of on-demand pleasure.
Of course, the fantasy of consequence-free sex regularly comes to a screeching halt; as in, about 100,000 times each year in Canada, and about 1 million times each year in the U.S. That’s where abortion comes in and “saves the day” for the fantasy to continue. Having erased our “ooops”, we can go back to our “regular” means of birth control.
It’s not a fantasy; it’s a nightmare. The alarm clock is ringing every time a baby is torn out of the womb. How many times can our culture hit snooze? We have to wake up from the expectation of no-consequence pleasure.
But again we hit snooze. It’s really, really hard to give up on pleasure, and currently our society is not even close to hearing or accepting that message. Our boys and men are steeped in porn, and our women are brainwashed into thinking that it is “liberation” to let their bodies be used without commitment.
It is all lies, and so much terrible unhappiness attests to it. The aftermath of the sexual revolution has been incredibly dismal; aside from addicting people to on-demand sexual pleasure, it has given them pain and misery. The breakdown of families, the sad hook-up culture that leads to emotional emptiness, the despair of post-abortive women and men.
Time for a new attitude
Right from the start, we have to think differently. The hard truth is that we don’t actually have any “right” to be free of the natural consequences of our acts. The harder truth is that when we try to escape those natural consequences, they still come back to bite us. In fact, our fantasy is killing not just our unborn babies but ourselves (just think about the warnings on birth control pills - stroke, blood clots, even breast cancer…)
We need to accept that there are limits to our actions. No, it’s not some celibate guy in a skull cap who is trying to impose on us his outdated views of women and the world. Think of it as Mother Nature. When we launch a war against our own bodies, how can that be a war we could possibly win?
We are made in a certain way; men and women together make babies. It’s not just a physical reality. We are also emotionally and psychologically wired for this natural reality. This part of our nature is so fundamental to humanity that it is far bigger than ourselves; we don’t fully grasp it, and we certainly can’t control it in any general fashion. For instance, while we might have a birth control pill, we have no “control” pills for the emotional fallout of easy and casual sex.
The trouble is, as anyone knows, once you give candy to a kid, it will be really hard to get it back.
Can we really practice enough self-discipline and self-restraint that we stop ourselves from resorting to those pleasure-enabling methods which society readily makes available for us?
The jury is still out.
As far as the personal cost, we also need to be prepared for this: the minute we take a stand against artificial contraception, many of our friends (and not just the secular ones) will consider us extremist. That's just how it is today, and that's why Andrea is right.
So garner up your courage; we need to be prepared to lose our friends over this one. We might lose our friends, but we will win the war on abortion.
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