Monday, July 25, 2011

Modern day prophesy and NFP Awareness Week

On this day 43 years ago, Pope Paul VI promulgated the encyclical Humanae Vitae ("On Human Life").

Humanae Vitae (it's short; read it!) reiterated the Church's unchanging teachings on human sexuality, specifically the truth that contraception and sterilization are incompatible with human dignity and the nature of married love.

Coming as it did in the midst of the sexual revolution and the advent of the Pill, Pope Paul's letter was met with shocked disappointment, resistance, and even anger on the part of those who had anticipated a change in the Church's teaching.* In the aftermath of the encyclical's release, dissenting Catholic academics and clergy actively encouraged the laity to disobey the Pope and reject the Church's moral teaching of 2,000 years.

In many ways, all hell broke loose.

Pope Paul VI paid a great personal toll for writing those pages, which have since become a modern day prophecy. Who can deny that what he predicted then has come true with a vengeance? Take a look [emphases mine]:

Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.
Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.    {HV, 17}
Research fellow Mary Eberstadt went into great depth illustrating how these predictions played out in the ensuing four decades, using empirical evidence from secular sources to vindicate Humanae Vitae and Pope Paul VI. If you have the time, it's worth the read, here.



*For more on what was happening at that time and behind the scenes, go here.


+++++++

Now, it's no coincidence that the week marking the promulgation of Humanae Vitae is also designated as Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness Week.

So, if anyone missed the wildly popular Natural Family Planning post which ran in March (thanks Alison!), now would be a great time to read it, here. A quick and painless way to promote NFP this week is to simply hit the facebook "recommend" button at the end of that post (or tweet it to your friends, link to your own blog, etc.). You'd be surprised how many people have never heard about NFP, or how many are curious about NFP but would never ask on their own.


And for a humorous series of short videos on "NFP vs. Contraception" made by some clever seminarians, please visit the blog Making God Laugh, where polkadot has them posted.  :)

Try to spread the word this week, as all our voices do add up. We've got the power of the New Media and social networks to reach people in 2011 in a way that Pope Paul VI never could back in 1968. Let's not let him down.





310 comments:

  1. Artificial Contraception and for convenience sterilization offends the primacy of God in life and death matters.

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  2. I wrote my blog post yesterday about my journey from using the pill to using NFP. Great post, LOVE IT. I will link to it on FB sometime when I am not at work. ;)

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  3. LOVE PPVI! His writings were prophetic, indeed. I'll have to post on NFP this week. Thanks for the reminder :)

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  4. How I love Humanae Vitae! If only there were more catechesis on it these days, we might have fewer problems and misunderstandings within the Church! I brought up NFP Awareness Week to our Diocesan pro-life director and they were already aware and planning to promote it! Such great news!

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  5. Paul VI was indeed a prophet!

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  6. Thanks again, Leila, for keeping us tuned in - for me, in my ministry with teens and young adults, I re-read the line "it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law" with great gravity. It's such a hard teaching to share, because we ultimately don't understand that we are made for the good of the other, and if we don't know who we are, it makes it much more difficult to write the law into our hearts and find freedom in it, rather than take the easier road and using our own bodies and one another...
    It is a great joy to celebrate this week with all of my married brothers and sisters who understand the deep longing for life, and with those who have been blessed through their own children or by the spiritual children with whom we have been entrusted.

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  7. I will be sharing this on my blog. Thanks for spreading the good news!!

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  8. If Paul VI's predictions have come true, they have done so in a very different way than the literal meaning of his words.

    I know many loving families (including my own) where husband and/or wife uses contraception. It does not seem to have a negative effect on the way husband views wife.

    No one is forcing me to use contraception. Cases where this happens seem to suggest a totally different agenda than the contraceptive one. More in line with the agenda of the Romanian Dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, when he outlawed contraception.

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  9. Paul, why are you still reading the blog that you called an "intellectual train wreck"?

    Plenty of people do a thing which is immoral, never knowing of its immorality. Still other do a thing which is immoral, knowing it is immoral, but fully comfortable with it and never regreting it.

    Not sure what your point is? Would you actually love your wife less if you did not sterilize your union?

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  10. For the sake of anyone who didn't read about the very routine forced and coerced sterilization around the globe, we covered that here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/06/no-food-or-medicine-but-plenty-of.html

    And we didn't even get into the forced contraception and abortion "one-child" policy of China. Horrid, unspeakable human rights abuses, and incredibly, tragically common.

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  11. Would I love my wife less if we used NFP instead? No. In fact, we were so bad at contraception, and NFP was more fun, we'll probably go back to it.

    Would I love my wife more if we used NFP? No.

    So, what's the problem?

    Yes, there is forced contraception. Like I said, it seems to be more of a Ceaușescu sort of problem than a Birth Control problem.

    It's just as wrong to force sterilize or force contraception on a population as it is to outlaw contraception as Ceaușescu did. Just ask any of the children kept in the nurseries.

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  12. "Like a train-wreck... I can't look away..."

    I think that's the idea.

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  13. Paul, but good manners alone should keep you away. This is my "living room" and you have been an impolite guest.

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  14. Paul, can you cite any sociological evidence to support your assertions that marital infidelity and objectification of women has NOT increased drastically since the advent and widespread use of contraception?

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  15. I have been very impolite, I admit.

    When I was here last, I came to think very differently. This place was a very small part of a series of events that pushed me to the brink of atheism (maybe over this brink?).

    A different story about what brought me back. (Hint: A small part of it dealt with a sheepdog)

    All the while, I have been a gadfly, sometimes a hornet. I plan to remain, coming here as the very infrequent and ever impolite guest, until the hemlock!

    The hornet can stir things up, and maybe there is something amazing that can be stirred out of this nest of misplaced and jumbled thoughts.

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  16. JoAnna,

    Any evidence of that sort would almost certainly be mere correlation.

    Sort of like the "Autism is caused by vaccines" bit.

    There was less infidelity and objectification before 1960's. In 1959 the Barbie was invented. Barbie causes infidelity and objectification of women. It was probably also the cause of the terrible style in clothes!

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  17. Any evidence of that sort would almost certainly be mere correlation.

    Sort of like the "Autism is caused by vaccines" bit.


    I think Vatican II caused the increase in martial infidelity and objectification.

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  18. I plan to remain, coming here as the very infrequent and ever impolite guest, until the hemlock!

    If you are going to be "ever impolite", then consider this the hemlock. Please don't comment here. I don't tolerate impoliteness, nor troublemakers (hornets, see below).

    The hornet can stir things up, and maybe there is something amazing that can be stirred out of this nest of misplaced and jumbled thoughts.

    Again, this is insulting. You will be more comfortable at another blog. Thanks, and I wish you all the best. Please be assured of my prayers, Paul, and I mean that sincerely.

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  19. MaiZeke, because there is no way that making women into sterile objects would lead to any type of easy objectification of women, or give easy access to promiscuity.

    Really? C'mon, you sorta get the point, right? Women who cannot get pregnant are the best kind of women for a lecherous man. Or even a weak one who is attracted to his sterilized co-worker, who sorta likes him back…

    And I wonder how well the booming porn industry would do without access to contraception? And I wonder if contraception in any way facilitates prostitution rings? After all, it would not be good for business to have constantly pregnant prostitutes, or healing from abortions several times a year. Do you think contraception helps the porn industry? Just a little?

    And do easier affairs, easier pre-marital sex, easier porn, easier prostitution have any connection at all to the objectification of women?

    I'm going to say yes.

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  20. I am proud to say I actually got though all of Pope Paul's VI words. I am sure that all of the popes have had great things to say, but attention span is sometimes a little shorter then their words!

    One quote that I found noticeable was:

    "They may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

    I do not agree for two reasons one. Anyone wanting to use NFP is allowed. I have not heard of people being forced not to. The forced sterilizations are usually exceptions, not everyday. I know of no one personally that was forced to use birth control or sterilized without permission. I also know of stories of girls tricked into keeping their babies, not helped, tricked and abused into keeping their babies. I know that that is also not the norm.

    Regarding that post you linked to, no one was forced to get birth control.

    And two, should it be the couple's right to choose to use birth control. It does not mean that the goverment wins when a women takes the pil, it means that she chooses to take the pill.

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  21. Porn and lechery seemed to do fine without contraception. Closed doors and carelessness worked well. If anything, contraception is an armor against this sort of activity. Armor, I think someone here used that analogy before, but I can't remember for sure.

    I actually think the advent of the internet will have more to do with the pornography boom and the increased prostitution and even pre-marital sex. Does that mean good Catholics should abandon the internet?

    Whatever would happen to your blog, Leila?

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  22. "They may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife."

    Chelsea, do you know about China's one-child policy? The most populous nation on earth has a law which routinely forces sterilizations and abortions on its citizens. Every single day. It is a horrendous crime against humanity. I encourage you to read up on it.

    And you are awesome for reading the whole encyclical! :) :)

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  23. Chelsea, one other thing to remember. The Pope was writing not for America, but for the whole world. There have been plenty of forced sterilizations in the world, by governments. And there are some "overpopulation" advocates who have proposed mandatory sterilization to keep the world population down.

    Even the American government forcibly sterilized folks in the past, for purposes of eugenics. It's all on record.

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  24. I'm still shaking my head here about the denial that birth control facilitates immoral acts.

    Gosh, even in my days of loving and using contraception, when I saw no real moral objection to it, I still knew that contraception and sterilization made affairs, porn and promiscuity a heck of a lot easier and more prevalent.

    How can that be denied?

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  25. Easier, maybe. But so does the internet.

    More prevalent? I don't know. I don't deny this, but I don't really see any strong reason to accept it, either.

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  26. The problem with contraception is that it is the "plan A" of abortion.

    Paul, you said:

    "I know many loving families (including my own) where husband and/or wife uses contraception. It does not seem to have a negative effect on the way husband views wife."

    I hear what you are saying. The problem is that the Church's position is not grounded in our anecdotal experiences nor in the "negative effect" we perceive. Sin, in many cases, has a "positive effect" on us. In the case of contraception, the use reduces the act to mere pleasure and divorces the teleological ordering of the act to that which is both potentially unitive and procreative. The act debases us as men, and allows us--whether conscious of it or not--to make our wife a mere receptacle of our pleasure instead of an instrument of our salvation.

    When we consider the "unitive" aspect of the marital act, mere intercourse does not portend this reality--since rape is not "unitive". Even rape can be procreative which should give us pause that God would have to remind us of this fact! (unless of course we believe that new life is something we do without God's help). Nonetheless, the act is disordered since both aspects of the act (unitive and procreative) are divorced from each other. (not to mention the unitive flows from the marriage covenant)

    The same holds for contraceptive sex. The marriage covenant says, "I give you all of me". Inside my wedding band, my wife engraved a message that says as much. However, the marital act that divorces the unitive from the procreative says, "I'll take everything but your fertility". It is an act that undermines the marital commitment and, further, lies to our own bodies. Or, and even worse, it says, "God, I want my cake without the calories."

    These are hard sayings, yet ones that Christians for 1930 years universally held. That, alone, should give any Christian pause for thought. Simply because an effect is not perceived does not mean the effect is not there. I would have agreed with you 7 years ago, but now having become a Catholic and practicing NFP, I will witness to the fact that I didn't know the difference.

    To put it rather baldly, when you take off the condom, the excitement you feel, the fecundity, the sense of God maybe visiting your room...that's the way God intended it.

    God bless you brother!

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  27. Paul, the internet is good or bad depending on its use.

    As for contraception from a human perspective, artificial contraception sounds reasonable. But from God's perspective it seeks to exclude him from participation in the marriage life giving act through artificial means. It creates a wall between the couple and God as Adam and Eve chose to do. It seeks to make God's will and design subservient to man's will.

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  28. JoAnna said,
    "Paul, can you cite any sociological evidence to support your assertions that marital infidelity and objectification of women has NOT increased drastically since the advent and widespread use of contraception? "
    JoAnna, can you cite evidence to the contrary. You see, the EXISTENCE of STI's points to a long, and vigorous history of infidelity etc. that dates back to the beginning of human history. Infidelity is absolutely nothing new. (not that you were implying it is new, but you are implying that it is much more common than ever before). Organisms evolved to take advantage of this kind of contact between human bodies.

    Personally, after hearing the hushed whispers at family gatherings, and the innuendo about Great Grandfather so-and-so, and his proclivities, and those of many others, I think infidelity was just not talked about back in the day.

    One seventy-seven year-old relative tells of his job in the army of keeping the new men "clean" while stationed in Germany. He said (with a grin) that he would recommend two powerful drugs: "ASulfadenial" and "Noassatall" (sorry for the vulgarity). After laughing, I asked him seriously if he thought that worked. He said he then would hand out condoms like crazy. This was BEFORE the fallout of the sexual revolution. Now, presumably most of these men were not married, so we were not talking infidelity, but fornication seemed to be alive and kicking.

    I agree that contraception, like the Internet is a tool to be used for good or bad. Now, I happen to think that the Internet along with other media has gotten wildly out of control in terms of what is considered under "decency regulations", and would support the enforcement of obscenity laws so that reasonable people can reasonably keep their kids from seeing inappropriate stuff during certain hours without having to go crazy or be omniscient.

    By the same token, I do not think we should be peddling contraceptives to people under sixteen and perhaps even eighteen. I think parents have a right to be in charge of that part of their kids lives.

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  29. Brent,

    What you say is very interesting. The problem is that my wife and I (and others we know; friends and family) have used both NFP and artificial contraception. There have been surprises, and these have been welcomed. Not a plan A for abortion in our case.

    Also, in my personal experience, between NFP and artificial contraception, I didn't experience any real emotional difference in the relationship. No enhanced "fecundity" or "sense of God".

    This is indeed anecdotal, but the question becomes, if the experience isn't there, what reason is there to believe what you say? I ask this in all sincerity.

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  30. Is a wrongful act against God still not a wrongful act despite not feeling "any emotional difference"?

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  31. Brent, fantastic explanation! GMRUNNNER, great points.

    Mary, you said:

    I agree that contraception, like the Internet is a tool to be used for good or bad.

    The internet can be used for great good or great evil. But use of the internet itself is not intriniscally immoral. It's in how you use it.

    Contraception, by contrast, is always used to block the procreative aspect of sex. It's designed to do something immoral. The use of contraception is always intrinsically evil.

    It's not a proper analogy. There may be other analogies that work better, but the comparison of internet to contraception doesn't work.

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  32. Paul,

    I have used NFP and artificial contraception. You are right, it wasn't, for us, a plan A either. The question is still begged as to whether or not contraception is intrinsically for that purpose. In other words, just because I use a book to prop open my window, doesn't mean it is not for reading.

    You said: "Also, in my personal experience, between NFP and artificial contraception, I didn't experience any real emotional difference in the relationship. No enhanced "fecundity" or "sense of God".

    Paul, I thought you admitted you and your friends experienced "surprises"? What were those surprises but nothing less than the effects of fecundity and God's presence in those unions. Some are able to experience the cause qua cause, or rather to meditate upon the mystery of God's cohabitation in the marital act. Others, only experience the effects. But, as we meditate on the effect (babies/life), the potency of the act opens to us. The point, is that the experience is spiritual, not merely physical in so much that a husband and wife become one with each other, and in that embrace invite the Holy Spirit. Every act of contraception is an act that quenches the Holy Spirit, because it, in effect, invites Him and then says, "Gotcha!...go away!".

    you also said: "This is indeed anecdotal, but the question becomes, if the experience isn't there, what reason is there to believe what you say? I ask this in all sincerity."

    We believe in love when we don't "feel anything". We believe in our colon working when we don't feel anything. We believe in a lot of things, like other galaxies, without having any direct sense experience. Some of these things come through authorities that use replicable empirical methods (therefore we trust their authority). In this case, Christ--the God-man--left us a Church, that according to Scripture is the "ground and pillar of truth". Even more, we see God's law imprinted into our bodies through the natural law. Both of these aid in forming our conscious, something that operates beyond the mere empirical/sensual realm. It is what makes us help a poor child in Africa get clean water, what keeps us out of our neighbor's bedroom, and what ultimately helps us to live in harmony with God--our Father. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to act right, whether we feel it or not, because in our acting we reflect our being, and it is precisely in our being that we sense an existence that is beyond the spatio-temporal. In turn, it is rational and reasonable that we will act against our senses in favor of developing a proper orientation to our being--particularly our being in right relationship to Our Creator.

    Peace to you on your journey,

    Brent

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  33. Regarding contraception as "Plan A" of abortion….

    Even the liberals justices on the Supreme Court of the United States (Casey v. Planned Parenthood, 1992) understood clearly that acceptance of contraception requires abortion as a back-up. That Court ruling stated that Roe v. Wade could not be overturned because:

    ...for two decades of economic and social developments, [people] have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail. The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.

    When those on the left agree with devout Catholics, it's important that those in the middle take notice. In any society, contraception is Plan A to abortion.

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  34. Paul,

    I wrote conscious and I meant conscience. Sorry.

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  35. Leila,

    I think the Liberal Justices, if their intent was to argue abortion on the basis of contraception, were wrong: liberals can agree with conservative and both can be wrong. But it's sort of like saying privacy naturally leads to abortion, because the basis of Roe vs. Wade decision was privacy.

    I can't say in general (because all we have are correlations), but in my specific case, and in the case of friends and family, contraception is not the "Plan A", with abortion as "Plan B". For my friends, my family and I, contraception is Plan A. Plan B is raising and caring for the child.

    And it doesn't surprise me that, on this as with many issues, both the liberal and the conservative are idiots, and it's the balanced common-sense view in the middle that actually holds true.

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  36. The best way not to greet your new born child:

    "My dear little plan b!"

    (and we wonder why our children get this feeling in our culture that they get the short-end of the priority stick)

    I agree, Paul, let's get rid of the conservative/liberal tags and just use common sense. I think making children a plan B is a crappy idea.

    I have a degree in Law, and Roe wasn't the watershed for abortion rights. Casey was for the exact reason evidenced here: its connection to the "rights of reproduction"--whatever that means.

    Peace

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  37. Brent.

    Friends I know experienced the surprises using contraception, not NFP. Contraception, if used in the proper context (as an understood-imperfect tool to space pregnancies, or to prevent having future children, with the risk of spontaneous blessings). Maybe this is like using the book to prop open the door, but it sure seems to work well that way.

    Finally, if there were no empirical evidence for galaxies, I wouldn't think they existed. People in the late 1800's were justified in thinking of galaxies as nebulae. Evidence wasn't sufficient yet.

    So far, no one has linked using contraception in the way my family, and my friends families uses generally it, and any loss of love. There is no empirical evidence for this, and the idea of it does not seem properly basic.

    It is possible you are correct. In which case, how would you propose testing the causation (not just correlation) in each individual case?

    How could I find out if you are right?

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  38. Brent, whatever esoteric (or even practical) differences exist between NFP and Artificial Contraception, both make children into Plan B's. Both make them into unexpected surprises.

    Just read Fulwiler's article on how NFP fails. He uses the term "fails". A failure is a child. But that doesn't mean the child is a failure.

    Sometimes the very best things happen with our plans fail. I think children are a wonderful thing.

    And I think it quite grand, in the scheme of things, to consider children a "human Plan B" when, of course, each one is "God's plan A".

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  39. Brent,

    I do not have a degree in law. I have friends who do, and they may disagree (at least somewhat) with your assessment. That would only establish that smart people well-versed in law have different opinions on this issue.

    Maybe I will invite them to contribute here sometime in the future. One of them is Russian Orthodox... I wonder how he would think about this issue?

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  40. * (About Fulwiler): She uses the term 'fails'.

    My mistake.

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  41. When those on opposite sides of the culture war understand the stakes clearly, then perhaps it's the "middle" who is not seeing clearly.

    Peter Singer agreed that he and John Paul II were on sides diametrically opposed to each other when it came to human life, but Singer stated, admirably, that at least JPII understood clearly what was at stake. They both "got it". Those in the middle often don't.

    The Church will always stand for the Culture of Life, and when those on the opposite side of the Church see the exact same stakes, it's time to wake from one's slumber and take note.

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  42. It is possible that I and others in the middle do not see things properly. Let us pray for each other (I am thankful for the prayers which you already have said for me). The Truth in this matter will show itself, I think.

    And, as you so often say, people who read this are free to make up their own minds. At least three clear positions have been presented. People can choose.

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  43. Paul,

    The surprises (when using contraception) are a surprise only given that God is able to overcome our best effort to act against the act. Can you see the difference between an act that is meant to make a child a plan b, versus an act that is always open to a child being a plan a?

    This is a point of confusion. Some people think that NFP couples can go into the act hoping to not have a child. That is wrong. That is using NFP as contraception, which obviously will not result in an appreciable difference. The way in which a couple achieves not having children is by not having sex. Plain and simple. The fact that the act occurs during an infertile time is an accident of the act and in no way, by the act, implies the intention of the couple to "keep God out". The act, as such, will always and necessarily be open to life. They can never be "unexpected" since the uncontracepted act always is always intrinsically oriented to the possibility of a new life. The opposite does not hold true for the contracepted act.

    Ask you law friends (don't just assume) which court case was the watershed court case for abortion. I think you are conjecturing. It is a textbook answer, not an interpretive one. (have you read both cases?) This is a non-controversial fact.

    you said "There is no empirical evidence for this, and the idea of it does not seem properly basic. It is possible you are correct. In which case, how would you propose testing the causation (not just correlation) in each individual case? How could I find out if you are right?"

    There is no empirical evidence for God or that you love your wife. If you don't agree, read David Hume's "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding" to see where you line of reasoning inevitably leads. It is based on the assumption that we cannot come into contact with metaphysical truths through our experience (e.g.,cause/effect). However, that is against our experience because we come into contact with metaphysical truths all the time (A is not equal to not A). Unlike empirical evidence, metaphysical/theological truths are universal. Implicit is the understanding that we can come to know universals, not just particulars (against modern scientism). So, let's take two steps back and let me ask you:

    Why do you think it is not per impossible that what I am saying is true?

    The answer to this question, I think begs your underlying tension of affirming metaphysical truths (e.g., natural law), but that your commitment to Baconian empiricism wars with your common sense. In other words, I can know more about your relationship with your wife than just merely the empirical observations I can write down in a journal; namely that you love her.

    God bless,

    Brent

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  44. Maybe those who think sex is only legitimate with non-contracepting, married, heterosexual couples engaging in intercourse where semen ends up inside the vagina should be held criminally accountable for each and every period as it is a missed opportunity for life.

    Just a thought.

    -gwen

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  45. Why would that be, Gwen? Have you heard of such a movement, by the way?

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  46. Gwen,

    I'm sorry, that makes no sense whatsoever. Can you please cite the Catholic teaching (that you seem to believe exists) which says that each and every sex act MUST conceive a child, otherwise it is sinful?

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  47. Gwen,

    The only problem with that, is it assumes that the act and its fecundity is completely up to us. It assumes that we are not cooperators with God. It assumes to not do something is the same thing as to do something.

    Example: if I do not pick up a iron is not the same thing as to pick it up and burn my child's face with it. The fact that the iron in its proper use can produce a good, further, doesn't mean I am morally compelled to, per possible, always use it as such. My only moral obligation is when I am using it.

    Peace

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  48. Gwen, if you did not read all of HV, then you might have missed this section:

    If, then, there are serious motives to space out births, which derive from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms immanent in the generative functions, for the use of marriage in the infecund periods only, and in this way to regulate birth without offending the moral principles which have been recalled earlier.20

    The Church is coherent with herself when she considers recourse to the infecund periods to be licit, while at the same time condemning, as being always illicit, the use of means directly contrary to fecundation, even if such use is inspired by reasons which may appear honest and serious. In reality, there are essential differences between the two cases; in the former, the married couple make legitimate use of a natural disposition; in the latter, they impede the development of natural processes. It is true that, in the one and the other case, the married couple are concordant in the positive will of avoiding children for plausible reasons, seeking the certainty that offspring will not arrive; but it is also true that only in the former case are they able to renounce the use of marriage in the fecund periods when, for just motives, procreation is not desirable, while making use of it during infecund periods to manifest their affection and to safeguard their mutual fidelity. By so doing, they give proof of a truly and integrally honest love.

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  49. Gwen,

    As a caveat, it would be immoral to resist the conjugal union between a husband and wife if they did not have grave reasons for abstaining. So maybe you are teasing out that tension. If so, good for you.

    St. Paul instructs in 1 Cor 7:5: “Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.” Thus, the unitive component of marriage binds the couple together, and particularly when times of temptation are strong. I've said more about it here.

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  50. Gwen, you've been here long enough to know that the Church has never required each act of sex to end in a baby. And you know that the Church allows for use of Natural Family Planning. Heck, we've talked NFP many times, including in this very post! So, I really am not sure why you said that.

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  51. I was thinking spur of the moment, hypothetically so I'm aware there's no Catholic teaching on the idea. But a period is a missed opportunity for a baby, no? And if not used properly, some methods of birth control can be ineffective and a pregnancy can be achieved. Would that be an instance of your god stepping in and saying "aha! I'm giving you a kid even though you aren't prepared to be a parent nor want offspring. Just wanted to give you two a lesson learned about consequences of having sex"?

    -gwen

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  52. well, I'm sorry I can't hang around longer, but for the record, I never regretted taking birth control. It never damaged any relationships I had nor weakened my sense of self or confidence. I've tried NFP too and although it had its own set of pros and cons, I can't say for certain I'd feel comfortable using it for the rest of my life. And for the record, I'm perfectly content with my current state of infertility.

    -gwen

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  53. Gwen, a period is not a "missed opportunity for a baby." It's a normal part of a woman's menstrual cycle, designed to flush out the uterine lining and unfertilized egg(s) from a woman's uterus. There is no chance whatsoever for conception to occur while a woman is on her period.

    Ovulation is the "missed opportunity," but the Church doesn't look at it that way. That is, she doesn't teach that every sex act must attempt to conceive a child. It's not a sin to avoid conception! It's only a sin if you have sinful motives.

    Gwen, using your logic, it'd also be immoral for a couple to have sex while the woman is pregnant, since there is zero chance of conception for those 40 weeks. However, believe it or not, the Church does not teach that pregnant women and their spouses must abstain from sex.

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  54. I should clarify the above -- it's not a sin to avoid conception, but it is a sin to avoid with sinful motives and/or using sinful means (i.e., contraception).

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  55. Nicely written post, Leila.

    God doesn't love like that, gwen. That isn't reflective of the Triune god at all.

    As for a baby being the result of sex, well... yeah.
    Contraception or not, the act itself just might result in baby being conceived.

    -Nubby

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  56. Dear Brent,

    About the law, I know one lawyer friend who would disagree with you. I don't know about the others. Her knowledge of the law is, I don't doubt, imperfect. Maybe I can convince her to come here, and you can educate her in the matter.

    About the way I and others I know use contraception: I am entirely open to life. I simply want to space that life out (which is the purpose also of NFP). It's all about percentages. Nothing's 100%, except sterilization, which I also see no problem with, so long as one has a family of a reasonable size (which will be different for each family).

    About the empiricism: My view is not Humean, and no one really holds to Hume's empriciism anymore; it's been effectively dismantled by Kant, and its child, Postivism, was refuted by W.V.O. Quine. Knowledge is not limited to the empirical. There is also the experiential, the analytical, and the properly basic (though dividing these sets of knowledge is not so simple).

    That contraception reduces love (CRL) cannot be empirical, because of what you've stated: love is not an empirical sort of thing.

    CRL is not analytic, because the truth of the first statement ("Contraception") does not contain the truth of the second ("Love"). Indeed, there cannot be a proper analytical expression for love.

    CRL is not properly basic. It does not meet with the criteria necessary for an idea to be properly basic. However, it may be able to be derived from what is properly basic (I wonder if Eleonore Stump had done work in this). None of the arguments thus far have been very convincing. For more on the criteria (it's a simple, but subtle, epistemological category), I suggest Plantinga's two major books on warrant: "Warranted Christian Belief" and "Warrant and Proper Function."

    CRL seems like it should be experiential. God and Love have both experiential and properly basic aspects. This may mean that individual results may vary. In my case, and in anecdote, there is no experience of lost love.

    This may be as St. Paul says "I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean." (Romans 14:14).

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  57. "That is, she [the church] doesn't teach that every sex act must attempt to conceive a child."

    But with every sex act there must be conscious openness to the notion that sex can lead to pregnancy and that the ultimate goal of sex is to procreate and bring two people closer together. So if the sex fails its goal on one of those accounts, is it not sinful?

    -gwen

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  58. Well, that Romans verse in it's proper context is St. Paul's admonishing people on eating and drinking. Follow that verse up with the verses that follow and get the whole picture:

    15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

    19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

    -Nubby

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  59. its - not it is

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  60. If the couple has done nothing artifically to hinder conception, no, it is not sinful, gwen.

    Think of the repercussions of what you're saying. By your logic, the Church would declare infertility sinful! If men and women could control when they could and couldn't conceived with no outside influence, why would there be a need for contraception at all?

    As Brent said earlier, "The only problem with that, is it assumes that the act and its fecundity is completely up to us. It assumes that we are not cooperators with God. It assumes to not do something is the same thing as to do something."

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  61. Sex in the context of marriage isn't sinful if it does not create a baby, barring no barrier, barring it doesn't objectify the spouse.

    It always would bring the spouses together, so I am not sure where your idea of it being sinful comes in.

    -Nubby

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  62. Gwen,

    The concept is confused to me, too.

    I think it deals, to a degree, with the idea that any act the purpose of which is opposite of its natural purpose is wrong.

    Using artificial contraception while avoiding the sex act (say for medicinal purposes) is not immoral.

    Using artificial contraception while participating in the sex act is wrong, because the manifest purpose of contraception is to avoid conception, and conception is the natural end of the sex act. Natural ends do not always occur. Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics gives examples. But specifically committing an act the end of which is opposed to the natural end is always wrong.

    Using NFP to avoid conception then seems that it should always be wrong. However, and this is a difference so subtle it becomes confused (and I think still needs some careful philosophical working-through), one could use NFP in order to determine when the sex act has a smaller chance of producing a child. Then you could commit the sex act, and would not be doing anything at that time that would frustrate its natural end. Therefore NFP is not morally wrong, in terms of the Natural Law schema.

    There are serious, but probably solvable problems with this argument for NFP vs. Contraception.

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  63. Nubby,

    That is indeed the context. How does this affect my point?

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  64. I was speculating what if the married sex didn't add to any sense of unity (beyond the physical) for the two people involved. What if it led to resentment, hatred, anger, and distrust?

    -gwen

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  65. St. Paul's talking about the faith of people (whether weak or strong) and also about food/drink as a stumbling block to others.

    He's not talking about sex.

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  66. Well, that would be a red flag if that were the case, gwen.

    If, after sex, the couple doesn't feel closer in every sense of the word, something isn't right the grand picture of the couple, agree?

    -Nubby

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  67. Gwen,

    That is a good speculation. The whole "Unitive and Procreative" line is a John Paul II thing. He was an interesting thinker, but this sort of language is very sloppy, and I speculate it will die away in the next couple decades.

    The Natural Law argument doesn't rest on this sort of distinction. I don't think the Kantian argument John Paul set up in "Love and Responsibility" seriously depends on that language, either.

    But it's a good point. If the unitive aspect needs to be there, what if the two validly married people aren't "into it" (say they had a fight recently, and are not of one mind), but do it anyway? Is the act immoral, then? Or what does unity really mean anyway?

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  68. Nubby,

    The part I quoted also made that clear. That part of the context was already present.

    Sex isn't food. But maybe contraception is like the situation Paul's talking about in Romans 14. It's an analogy.

    How does the context you provided add anything new to my analogy, different from what was already provided in the verses I cited?

    It seems like you are spinning your wheels.

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  69. This may be as St. Paul says "I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean." (Romans 14:14).

    I was just going to say what Nubby did, and she beat me to it.

    Paul, no food is "unclean" nor even is a piece of latex, actually, or a vessel of lead designed to shoot bullets. No physical thing is "unclean" in that sense. All creation is "good".

    But there is something that makes a man unclean: sin. Sin renders a man and an act unclean.

    What is "unclean" is the act of contracepting. Sexual union between a husband and wife is sacred. Use of contraception is a sin, whether one "feels" it or not.

    By the way, let's not confuse ends and means here. A discussion of and distinction between ends and means are paramount when assessing a moral act.

    More on that, regarding NFP vs contraception, here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/03/important-follow-up-to-natural-family.html

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  70. If you're fighting with your spouse, what are the odds you're going to want to have sex?

    Now, making up ... that's a different story and it's where love and forgiveness would be part of the act and it would be love personified.

    -Nubby
    why can't i sign in erg

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  71. Paul,
    One thing I don't do is spin my wheels.

    Leila answered it. Thanks, Leila.

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  72. Any act is disordered if it goes against its natural purpose?

    My dysfunctional thyroid is committing a sin by not fulfilling its natural purpose. At least that's what it feels like : )

    -gwen

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  73. gwen, it's not your fault your thyroid is askew. You're not witholding the natural function of your thyroid and hormones, right?

    Kinda grasping now. I'm sure you can see the logic and goodness of NFP, you used it yourself.

    -Nubby

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  74. Thanks Paul!

    I am always interested in the ways in which these moral absolutes are constructed and the ways in which human behavior varies accordingly.

    -gwen

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  75. I was speculating what if the married sex didn't add to any sense of unity (beyond the physical) for the two people involved. What if it led to resentment, hatred, anger, and distrust?

    Then they might want to see a therapist. Not sure why they are fighting or resentful…

    Also, one other way to see the difference between NFP and contraception is simply this: If you are going to partake in the marital act, don't change its nature. Contraception changes the nature of the act; abstaining from sex does not change any act because there is no act.

    Question: Why do you suppose God made women fertile for such a small amount of time per month if He desired that every time a couple has sex they should conceive a child?

    Clearly, He did not "mandate" in his design that each act of sexual intercourse should lead to a baby. Otherwise, women would be fertile all the time, not just a few days every month.

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  76. Gwen, can your thyroid commit a willful act? I didn't know it had a mind and an intellect and a will. I didn't know it was a moral being. I had no idea a thyroid could sin. ;)

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  77. I can attest, Nubby never spins her wheels! :)

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  78. Nubby, no I guess I'm not purposely withholding the functioning of my thyroid-but then again, it's a disease that's not very well explained (in my opinion). For instance, what if it was caused by my few years on birth control? In that case, I sinned and now bear the cross for it right? It could also be a genetic default inherited from my grandmother. Did she sin and bring about this curse on the family or was it another precursor? It could also have developed by exposure to hormone laced products-objects with parabens, etc. that one uses on a daily basis (lotions, platic containers, etc.). Is that an example of the fall of mankind for creating a dangerous environment? Or is the dysfunction of my innards a result of physical/spiritual sin and I'm not even sure which one?

    -gwen

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  79. On something being used not for its purpose:

    Oral sex? Surely God didn't make a woman's mouth for putting on a penis. My understanding is that oral sex is considered ok in Catholic sex.

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  80. Mai,

    Oral sex is permissible as long as it takes place on the context of foreplay only. If ejaculation occurs outside the vagina, then it's not permissible, since it removes both the unitive and the procreative aspects of sex.

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  81. I’m no physician to determine the cause of your thyroid dysfunction, so I can’t attest to the reasons why yours is faulty. As far as the repercussions of sin, theologically speaking, there are consequences for sin, but I’d steer away from the idea that God is just picking on people who sin. He came to redeem us, not to pick on us and afflict us. His Son is the one who frees us from those bonds.

    Would your idea of God change if I told you that, no, He’s not getting his giggles while you suffer from thyroid issues?

    Curious, what do make of the fall of man in the Christian context? Do you see it as unreasonable?

    -Nubby

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  82. I think the forest we are all missing for the trees is that marriage, particularly the act, is a sacrament. Therefore, the unitive component brings life to the marriage. Being "into it", whatever that subjectively means, might approach the concept of one's receptivity to the sacrament. Thus, in both ways, the act is an invitation of God's grace--both in creating new life and in re-creating you and I.

    The substantive good of the act, when not frustrated by contraception, produces an effect (grace), just like I cannot be "into" eating a piece of food and still receive nourishment. However, I will not receive nourishment from the act if I place in myself a device that destroys the nourishment or ejects it from my body. The difference, though, between the two acts (eating and the martial act) is precisely in the supernatural end; namely, the possibility of a never existing human life coming to be. As St. Thomas teaches, it is precisely in the distance between being and non-being that we witness the unique power of God.

    Paul,

    Maybe we are misunderstanding each other about the court cases. Roe says you can have an abortion in the 3rd trimester. Casey says you "can't put an undo burden on someone wanting to get an abortion". I'll let you decide which concept is a watershed.

    I think you are on the right trail reading Aristotle's NE. Also try St. Thomas's Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 3, ch.22.

    By the way, what is contained in the term contra-ception? In other words, what does it mean to be without contraception? Is there anything about love that is implied in the term.

    Lastly, I reject presuppositionalism and cannot discern meaning in Plantinga's category of "properly basic". If by foundational we mean, that "being is the first object of the intellect able to be grasped by an individuated intelligible in a sense object", then sure, I agree. Thus, there is a metaphysical structure to reality. Yep, I agree with that. In my view, a properly basic idea is something we can adduce from our experience--namely through metaphysical (analytic a posteriori) judgments.

    I think you may want to circle back to the analytic and do more digging with the concept of contra-ception. (against--->something???) What is it against and what type of good is it?

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  83. gwen, this is how God sees you (and all of us).

    1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
    because the LORD has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
    2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
    to comfort all who mourn,
    3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
    to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
    the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
    and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
    They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the LORD
    for the display of his splendor.

    Isaiah 61

    -Nubby

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  84. JoAnna, thanks for answering MaiZeke. MaiZeke, any body part can be kissed by spouses (I'm not gonna get more specific than that). We are all very free to express ourselves in any way the couple is comfortable, but all that kissing, touching and expression is foreplay only. Sexual intercourse (union!) is what all foreplay leads to.

    Another reason why gay people cannot have get married: They cannot have sexual intercourse. They cannot consummate anything. They can only have genital play. That is not union.

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  85. JoAnna and Leila -

    I guess Paul was the one who said that any act was disordered that goes against its natural purpose, but I assume that you agree with that statement.

    You/the church is saying that oral sex is ok as long as the penis does what it is "supposed" to do, then the only purposeful item that we are talking about then is the man's penis. My point was that the mouth is doing something against its purpose, which you have ignored. I can come up with a number of items on my or my husband's body that we use "against its purpose" in our sex acts. However, those are probably all ok as long as the penis does what it is supposed to do.

    I think the catholics here should revise this to say that any sexual act that goes against the penis' purpose is disordered. And the penis' purpose, as defined by the church, is to deposit stuff in the vagina.

    So the "any act" statement is much much too broad. God/the church seems to only care about what the penis does.

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  86. MaiZeke, you're not making sense. Mouths aren't meant for kissing? Huh?

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  87. My mouth is as much meant for pleasing my spouse as it is for enjoying mac n cheese.

    We are to enjoy our spouses - *enjoy* in the most intimate way, with our body parts, yes.

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  88. for the record, I never regretted taking birth control. It never damaged any relationships I had nor weakened my sense of self or confidence. I've tried NFP too and although it had its own set of pros and cons, I can't say for certain I'd feel comfortable using it for the rest of my life. And for the record, I'm perfectly content with my current state of infertility.

    Gwen, with due respect, the moral law is not all about "you".

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  89. for the record, I never regretted taking birth control. It never damaged any relationships I had nor weakened my sense of self or confidence. I've tried NFP too and although it had its own set of pros and cons, I can't say for certain I'd feel comfortable using it for the rest of my life. And for the record, I'm perfectly content with my current state of infertility.

    Gwen - would you feel the same way if you found out (hypothetically) that your birth control had caused your infertility? (I'm not saying this is the case; it's a hypothetical question.)

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  90. Sorry, to clarify (I didn't mean that to sound rude), the moral law is about Truth, and it's not based on any one person's opinion on how things make them "feel". If morality were based on "feelings" then we'd have a whole host of problems that I'm sure we can all imagine.

    MaiZeke, every human being in the world knows that mouths are used for kissing and affection as well as eating.

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  91. About the way I and others I know use contraception: I am entirely open to life. I simply want to space that life out (which is the purpose also of NFP). It's all about percentages.

    Actually, morally speaking, it's all about ends and means. Both the end and the means of an act must be moral for an act to be moral.

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  92. I think you may want to circle back to the analytic and do more digging with the concept of contra-ception. (against--->something???) What is it against and what type of good is it?

    This is exactly right. Contra-ception. It's a negation of something. Important thing to explore.

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  93. JoAnna, Sometimes I do wonder if birth control caused or helped cause my infertility-namely because I suspect it has a greater impact on a dysfunctional thyroid than is recognized by most in the medical field. Then again, it seems I was destined to have thyroid failure at some point in my life which does hinder fertility to any number of options could have brought me to this current situation. I don't have any regrets though and I don't resent or feel badly at all about being infertile.

    -gwen

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  94. JoAnna - Well, how do you know that another valid purpose of the mouth is to kiss? Did God tell someone in the Catholic church that? What does the church say about whether or not I can use my teeth to open a package? (My mom says no, but what does God say about it? It works.)

    This is all for argumentation purposes, of course, because I don't agree that anything was "designed" for anything on the human body, the penis included.

    As for the mouth, it is likely that people who started using it to kiss other things (their child's cheek, their mate's mouth, their mate's pleasure areas) likely made

    a) healthier children since their children were happier feeling their parents' love in this manner
    b) more sex with their mate since their mate probably liked it -> more children

    I'm getting into the evolution debate again. I think my main point with this stream is that the church's insistence on defining a purpose for things is problematic.

    The church has decided what certain body parts' usage is. This opens things up to quibbling, as we are doing here.

    Evolution is observable; we observe that people use body parts for many things, and we can hypothesize the reason. If they use a certain body part a lot for a particular reason, likely this was genetically chosen for by being a positive thing in their ancestors' environments.

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  95. MaiZeke, all I can say is that if you believe mouths aren't to be used for kissing, then I feel very sorry indeed for your husband.

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  96. When I spoke about birth control earlier, I spoke as an atheist living without the moral confines of the Catholic Church and HV. As in, I don't believe contraception is a sin. Nor do I think sex is only legitimate between two married, heterosexual partners in which seminal fluid is only deposited inside the female genitalia. My words were my opinion, my experience, that's it.

    -gwen

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  97. Without getting too pornographic, I feel sorry for all the women around here who are only morally allowed to have sex in which the end result is always seminal fluid inside your reproductive organ ; )

    -gwen

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  98. I am always interested in the ways in which these moral absolutes are constructed...

    Gwen, moral absolutes are not "constructed" by people. God is the author of the moral law.

    It's edifying to read new explorations of the moral law, and to see different, new terminologies/languages that various popes and theologians bring to the understanding of that moral law, but if you notice carefully, the actual moral law never changes.

    The moral law is revealed, and we relish in it, thrive from it, grow in excitement and knowledge about it, but we do not "construct" it.

    Hope that makes sense.

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  99. I've done it both ways, Gwen (pre-conversion I had no problems with oral sex and etc., remember) and I can assure you that it's MUCH preferable the "right" way!

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  100. I feel sorry for all the women around here who are only morally allowed to have sex in which the end result is always seminal fluid inside your reproductive organ ; )

    Don't feel sorry for us, Gwen. Most of us have done things both ways (secular vs. Catholic ways) and wouldn't go back for the world.

    What you and MaiZeke (with the talk about the use of the penis) are missing is that the act of intercourse is union. It's UNION. It's union.

    There is no closer you can get to a person than in the act of sexual intercourse. It's not about the Church saying, "Use the penis this way!" It's about what we all understand about the highest possible union we can have with another person on earth, and that that union is the one in which we become "one flesh" with our spouse, in an act which is designed (yes, designed!) to bring forth new life in the form of a new human person into this world!

    It's about UNION.

    Don't feel sorry for us, really.

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  101. It's always hot n heavy the right way, too, gwen; and a lot less objectifying and stale since *that* can potentially be the only preferred act that a sex life gets reduced down to without the whole "marital act" Catholic understanding.

    Anyway, is this a sex-off competition or a thread of understanding the faith as pertains to marital sex?

    -Nubby

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  102. I don't agree that anything was "designed" for anything on the human body, the penis included.

    MaiZeke, if you don't believe that the penis has any design or purpose (which means it has no context, it just "is"), then you have no problem with a teacher using his penis to pat your daughter on the head at school, right?

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  103. JoAnna said... @ July 26, 2011 12:26 PM

    "MaiZeke, all I can say is that if you believe mouths aren't to be used for kissing, then I feel very sorry indeed for your husband."

    I'm almost pretty sure MaiZeke never said this, or even implied it. I will conclude that this is just another instance of the special rhetorical trick, commonly employed on this blog, of restating someone else's argument, wrongly, rather than actually engaging in a genuine discussion.

    Protip: At least try to understand the post before you spew more of your inane blather.

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  104. Every human being in the world knows that mouths are used for kissing and affection as well as eating.

    Well, just because it is done doesn't mean that it is morally correct. You say the same to the liberals who say that people have been having homosexual relations for a long time -- just because it has been happening forever doesn't mean it is correct.

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  105. MaiZeke, if you don't believe that the penis has any design or purpose (which means it has no context, it just "is"), then you have no problem with a teacher using his penis to pat your daughter on the head at school, right?

    I have a problem with a teacher putting his mouth on my son at school! But it isn't because the mouth isn't designed for that purpose. It is because he is violating my son's personal space.

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  106. Anonymous said: I'm almost pretty sure MaiZeke never said this, or even implied it. (mouth is designed not for kissing).

    Yes, thank you anonymous. I'm of course trying to follow Leila's/the church's logic through to its conclusion. As I said, I don't believe anything is designed.

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  107. MaiZeke, so the purpose of a penis, like a mouth, is to (in the right setting) be used to show affection to a child?

    Mind you, just like kissing a child, which is a universal thing, the patting of a child with a penis would only be done under the right social situation, when the penis is not violating a personal space.

    In other words, if Uncle Joe can kiss your son, he can also pat him on the head with his penis. Right?

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  108. Well, just because it is done doesn't mean that it is morally correct. You say the same to the liberals who say that people have been having homosexual relations for a long time -- just because it has been happening forever doesn't mean it is correct.

    Actually, if something has been considered pretty much universally morally correct in mankind's understanding (such as the appropriateness of using the mouth for kissing), then I would say it's a safe bet that it's morally correct!

    Has homosexual activity been universally understood by mankind to have been morally correct? I don't think so...

    We are not talking, by the way, about "things that have always occurred". Murder and rape have "always occurred" but at the same time the world has pretty much universally frowned upon those activities.

    I hope you can see the distinction.

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  109. I'm of course trying to follow Leila's/the church's logic through to its conclusion.

    But the Church and everyone knows that the mouth is designed for kissing, so how is what you said "following the Church's logic to its conclusion"? It could be that I am missing something, I admit. I am distracted by the boys now...

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  110. Protip: At least try to understand the post before you spew more of your inane blather.

    If it's a protip, and even the pro's are doing it, then it must be universal, so everyone should heed this, eh?

    -Nubby

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  111. Sorry, MaiZeke, I misspoke. I said:

    MaiZeke, so the purpose of a penis, like a mouth, is to (in the right setting) be used to show affection to a child?

    You have said you don't believe the penis or a mouth have a purpose or design, so forgive me. I should have said, "So it's okay for a penis or a mouth to be used (in the right setting) to show affection for a child?"

    Sorry, again.

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  112. "So it's okay for a penis or a mouth to be used (in the right setting) to show affection for a child?"

    The person to whom the affection being shown, or that person's guardian, has the final say regarding personal space.

    For example, a penis can be used to show affection towards another adult, but only if that other adult agrees. If I don't particularly mind if Uncle Joe kisses my son because he is a fine upstanding brother of mine, but if my son doesn't like it much because Uncle Joe has a big long hair growing out of his wart, then Uncle Joe shouldn't kiss my son.

    Are you challenging me on absolutes? You are the one with absolutes, not me.

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  113. MaiZeke, I'm just wondering if you really do believe that there is no purpose or design to anything.

    So, to clarify: Let's say the neighbor lady, who is guardian of her child, wants her brother (Uncle Joe) to pat her daughter on the head with his penis. It's okay with you? Or, maybe she wants Uncle Joe to show affection to her daughter in some other ways with his penis. You okay with that, too?

    After all, the penis is just like a hand or a finger or a mouth or a foot, right?

    Would you object, then, if the police came and hauled Uncle Joe away, and the mother, when the acts of affection were okay with the guardian?

    Because, like you said, the penis has no special purpose or design, and there is certainly no moral universe in which to place it in context.

    Tell me where I am going wrong. I am being sincere, because I am not following you.

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  114. "Anonymous," I hope you see the irony of castigating me while hiding under the cloak of anonymity. If you're so proud of your words, have the guts to own them. Otherwise, you come across as a whiny coward (especially considering the myriad times MaiZeke has "restated arguments" and earned nary a rebuke from you).

    MaiZeke said, "Well, how do you know that another valid purpose of the mouth is to kiss?" which led me to believe that she does NOT believe mouths have kissing as a purpose. I'm very glad for her sake, and her husband's, that I am apparently mistaken.

    MaiZeke, in a Catholic context, if mouths weren't meant to be used for kissing, God would have communicated that to us somewhere along the way in the recorded history of Judaism and/or Catholicism. He never has, so therefore neither the Jews nor the Church have ever taught that kissing, in and of itself, was sinful or that mouths aren't meant for kissing.

    In a natural law/evolutionary context (yes, I believe in evolution!) kissing via mouth is an instinctive action by humans who are attracted to one another as well as an instinctive precursor to sexual activity. Given this has been the case for recorded history, I see no evidence at all that mouths were not made or designed for this purpose, as well as additional purposes (eating, etc.).

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  115. JoAnna, you have great points, and I do believe that kissing is mentioned repeatedly throughout the Bible as well. It's a well-known and acceptable thing to do with one's mouth.

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  116. A quick search yields the word "kiss" 46 times in the bible.

    It speaks of a "holy kiss" with which we are to greet one another (in love), and also of several other kinds of kissing. Kissing Christ's feet (Mary Magdalene), kissing a king (Samuel to Saul), kissing children and parents (multiple citations), kissing passionately ("Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— for your love is more delightful than wine." Song of Solomon 1:2) .

    The Son of Man was also betrayed with a kiss from Judas.

    God's on board with kissing, yeah.

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  117. Brent...one question for you. Can you imagine that either now or in the future, there may be large places (not small pockets) on this earth that are overpopulated or growing too fast?

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  118. Brent said, "
    "Some people think that NFP couples can go into the act hoping to not have a child. That is wrong. That is using NFP as contraception, which obviously will not result in an appreciable difference. The way in which a couple achieves not having children is by not having sex. Plain and simple. The fact that the act occurs during an infertile time is an accident of the act and in no way, by the act, implies the intention of the couple to "keep God out". The act, as such, will always and necessarily be open to life. They can never be "unexpected" since the uncontracepted act always is always intrinsically oriented to the possibility of a new life. The opposite does not hold true for the contracepted act."

    I'm sorry, but this made me laugh. The "accident" of the act was carefully planned and charted and measured by many a contracepting couple. I have been told on this blog and others that is it NOT contrary to Catholic teaching to use NFP to limit the size of your family indefinitely for reasons that are carefully discerned by a couple, whatever they may be. You seem to contradict that. You seem to be saying that trying not to conceive is actually against NFP. Seems like a contradiction.

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  119. Re; "designed" or "not designed" and "purpose". Something can absolutely have a purpose and not be explicitly designed.

    Also...an aside...but I don't think anyone ever answered my point weeks back that sex can and does serve to reduce stress, just as it primarily is for procreation and then for bonding. I think that in a marriage the stress-releasing quality of sex (contraceptive or not) is pretty valuable. Personally, there are many times when I did not feel particularly "bondy" towards the hubs (and this was sometimes when we were trying to conceive) but was really psyched about the stress-releasing qualities of the act.

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  120. Brent,

    Alvin Plantinga is not a presuppositionalist. Cornelius Plantinga is. I go with Alvin Plantinga's philosophy of warrant (though I strongly disagree with him about other things). He views this as an Aquinas/Calvin epistemological model. It's interesting to read about, but too involved for here.

    You may reject Plantinga's philosophy. I reject Natural Law ethics. I hold to a fairly Kantian deontological ethics.

    And this gets to the problem with contraception and the Roman Catholic view on the matter. Simply because it's contraception doesn't mean it needs to be used as contraception. I think of it as spacing births, and when I think of the concept "spacing births", I find much that is loving.

    Furthermore, there is naturally occurring sterility. I don't see much love expressed in the term "sterility". Should I then conclude that these couples experience less love for each other in the sex act than couples who are not sterile?

    I think these ideas have real and terrible consequences for people who hold them. It is possible more love and happiness can be found in the rare and responsible use of artificial contraception than without it. But, again, I had no evidence for this. You seem to have no evidence for the contrary.

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  121. Leila and Nubby,

    You keep talking about the context for the verse in Romans I quoted. It seems to me like both of you are spinning your wheels, because the context you mention seems to already be in the verse itself.

    Also, you forgot the context of my statement. I think if you read the entire message again carefully, you will see the purpose of this citation. If not, well, I don't know what else to say. It seems quite clear to me.

    Maybe it would help to point out that the verse isn't supposed to be an argument, but simply a biblical connection to my position, for which the much of the rest of my comment was the argument?

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  122. Joanna, I have also done it both ways. I don't really have a strong preference either way. Neither seems all that much better than the other, though this probably depends on the individual.

    Neither is immoral, as far as I can tell.

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  123. Brent,

    Also, I'm not Catholic anymore. I don't see marriage as a sacrament.

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  124. Neither is immoral, as far as I can tell.

    I think that subjective emotion and perception is a poor standard for measuring the morality of an action, myself.

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  125. The "accident" of the act was carefully planned and charted and measured by many a contracepting couple.

    Mary, I think Brent meant "accident" in the theological sense, not in the common parlance. "Accident and substance", etc. I could be wrong, but that's what I'm inferring.

    Any questions to Brent, he asked me to refer you to his blog and he'll be happy to continue the conversation! Thanks!

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  126. Mary, I don't think you would get any argument that sex cannot be stress-releiving. But that type of stress relief should be firmly in the context of a marriage. I don't want teens relieving their stress by having sex, sorry.

    Of course the bonding/unitive aspect of sex includes all sorts of pleasurable things and good benefits. Marital sex is awesome; consider its Maker. :)

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  127. Paul, Brent specifically asked me to tell you to go to his blog if you would like to continue the conversation, so I'm passing that info on.

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  128. Are there any other atheists out there who want to claim that body parts have no purpose and/or design? I am intrigued by it, because I have honestly never heard that claim before.

    So, MaiZeke, a penis and a hand and an eye are all purposeless? An eye has no purpose, a mouth has no purpose, a heart has no purpose, and our sexual organs have no purpose? So, we can use them for whatever purpose we'd like, correct?

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  129. Leila,

    Many thanks. I will do so, but (and hopefully he is still reading) it might be more efficient for him to e-mail me.

    Also, where on his blog does he want me to continue the ocnversation with him? I don't really see a relevant and recent post at his blog upon which to continue this.

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  130. Leila,

    Also, FYI, there are an entire group of atheists that don't believe arms/legs/etc have a purpose, or even that they exist (in the ontological sense).

    They are called mereological nihilists.

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  131. Paul, if you just leave a comment for him with your info, he will email you his email address. Thanks!

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  132. Paul, I had no idea. Maybe MaiZeke is a mereological nihilist. That is new to me. Wow.

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  133. Brent,

    You can contact me at p(dot)brandon(dot)rimmer(at)gmail

    Look forward to hearing from you.

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  134. This was Maizeke's point, I believe: "I think my main point with this stream is that the church's insistence on defining a purpose for things is problematic."

    It's very clear from your posts Leila, what the church spouts about the two purposes of sexual intercourse, who can morally engage in it and who can't and how they can use their bodies morally and immorally.

    Those of us who don't proscribe to the church's mandate of what's moral and what isn't and the specifics of how body parts should be used find it-I dunno, amusingly arrogant? for lack of better words? that anyone would be made to feel guilty or sinful for failing to ejaculate into the proper place, or practicing self pleasure much less be told that those acts are immoral.

    I know you take these things very seriously (because lives are at stake!) but making it sound like Maizeke doesn't think a Penis fulfills bodily functions does nothing for your own argument.
    -gwen

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  135. Sorry, I didn't mean Proscribe! should be: those of us who don't follow

    -gwen

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  136. Well, Gwen, we are simply exchanging ideas here. No one is forcing you to convert, but it is a Catholic blog (truth in advertising).

    I guess MaiZeke can clarify. MaiZeke, do you believe that a penis has a purpose? Or is it purposeless and can be used, morally, in any way the owner decides?

    (And, can I assume that we could substitute any body part or organ for "penis" and still get the same answer?)

    Thanks, just trying to get clear on what you believe.

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  137. what the church spouts

    She teaches. She doesn’t spout, as one would spout a malformed opinion or hasty judgment.


    Those of us who don't proscribe to the church's mandate of what's moral and what isn't and the specifics of how body parts should be used find it-I dunno, amusingly arrogant? for lack of better words? that anyone would be made to feel guilty or sinful for failing to ejaculate into the proper place, or practicing self pleasure much less be told that those acts are immoral.

    Amusingly arrogant because you find no truth in it? Or amusingly arrogant like a political cartoon?
    What might be your reason(s) for not finding the teachings of the Faith, or even faith in a general sense, reasonable, gwen? We jog around the topic a lot, but I’ve never seen your honest answer.

    All of this commentary above, and you don't find the idea that nothing sprang from nothing, and nothing means nothing, even in a random or ordered kind of way, based on nothing, not the least bit amusingly arrogant?

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  138. It is a good point, Nubby, that the Church does not "spout". If a teaching is taught consistently for 20 Centuries, and never changes, that's pretty impressive (in fact, no merely human institution can claim it).

    So, unchanging teaching, yes. Spout, no.

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  139. Paul,

    I would love to pick up this conversation, but to be honest, I don't have the time given all of my responsibilities. Also, given your last comments, I'm not sure we are going anywhere (can you really in a combox or in emails work out Kantian ethics? : ) ). When I was in graduate school studying philosophy, I would have had the time and we could have had a blast doing so. (and a beer too!)

    So, to be responsible to you and the conversation, I must decline. Just as a pedant note, Alvin Plantinga is known for his Reformed presuppositionalism via Cornelius Van Till (I kind of cut my teeth on apologetics when I was a Protestant on Plantinga--think sensus divinitatis; I also taught his free-will argument for a few years when I taught religion courses). Calvin Plantinga, I believe, is the president of Calvin Theological Seminary.

    In Warranted Christian Belief, Plantinga's movement is to affirm the Cartesian idea of innate ideas/presuppositions/a priori (e.g. other minds) or whatever you want to call them. Full. Stop. As you can see, this conversation is bound to turn into a recap of hundreds of years of philosophy and get way off topic. Sorry Leila. Sorry I don't have the time.

    God bless you on your journey. I hope you find your way back to the Church.

    In Christ,

    Brent

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  140. Brent,

    I think we would have had fun as well. I never studied philosophy formally, to speak of. But I enjoy it nonetheless, and am sure I would have learned a great deal from you.

    Alvin Plantinga, whatever his views actually are, does not seem to think of himself as a presupposationalist, and has debated presuppositionalism. He distinguishes between foundataionalism and presuppositionalism, and I'm not aware of anyone in the field who has any serious objections to this distinction (but I have a friend in the field, so I will check). In fact, in Warranted Christian Belief, Plantinga argues (somewhat convincingly, I think; especially considering Aquinas's Natural Law discussion in the First part of the Second Part of the Summa), that Aquinas was a foundationalist. For example, Aquinas accepts cause and effect, which involve principles that seem to be outside the purview of a posteriori knowledge.

    A discussion about Alvin Plantinga (at Notre Dame, I believe) and presuppositionalism is at: http://apolojet.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/plantinga-and-presuppositionalism-part-1/

    Cornelius Plantinga is a presupposationalist and is at Calvin College.

    I hope that someday you can find the time. E-mail me at any point in the future. I would love the discussion.

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  141. "Are there any other atheists out there who want to claim that body parts have no purpose and/or design? "

    I'm not an atheist, and I don't think the body has no design but... I think MaiZeke has nailed the important point that human nature is innovative and means finding ways to use things/body parts/etc that go beyond their apparent "design".

    Kissing is a great example--our mouth was "designed" for eating and communicating and breathing, but the world is WAY better because we figured out it could also kiss and sing.

    Also, that's why we watch sports--we like to celebrate all of the crazy things we can do with our bodies. It's "unnatural", but in a larger, more important sense, it's our nature.

    For example, here's Abby Wambach dominating Brazil. There's no rational way we can say her head was "designed" to do this, but the world is a better place because of it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytB17mKgrww

    (Also, that's one amazing cross by Megan Rapinoe. One of the best I've ever seen.)

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  142. I think MaiZeke has nailed the important point that human nature is innovative

    Innovative and moral v. innovative and immoral. I believe the gist of Leila's message has been that we Catholics can and should be innovative, and always moral.

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  143. Nubby, thank you for saying it so well and succinctly!

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  144. Pedro, surely you realize that the Church is not against sports and gymnastics and acrobatics and such.

    Do you think there is anything we can do with our body parts that might be immoral?

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  145. "Do you think there is anything we can do with our body parts that might be immoral?"

    We could use our fingers to poke people in the eye.

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  146. "In America, abortion is still legal, for any reason and during all nine months, pursuant to legal opinions by the Supreme Court (Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Planned Parenthood v. Casey) that scholars on the left as well as the right regard as laughable." - William L. Saunders "Chaput's Unconvincing Critics", First Things

    So I'm not the only one who thinks this!

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  147. Wow, I go out for a nice dinner with friends and all of the sudden I'm a ... what am I? A "mereological nihilist"? News to me, too.

    Let me say just a few things before bed, here. First:

    Leila says: MaiZeke, I'm just wondering if you really do believe that there is no purpose or design to anything.

    I don't know why you would wonder this, because this is not what I said. You mis-stated my words. Look at the comment at July 26, 2011 12:50 PM, where she quotes me and then misinterprets me, which is where I think this all got started.

    Comment:
    Leila quotes MaiZeke: I don't agree that anything was "designed" for anything on the human body, the penis included.

    And then she asks, adding in the word "purpose": MaiZeke, if you don't believe that the penis has any design or purpose (which means it has no context, it just "is"),

    and then she goes and dreams up all sorts of purposes for the penis. As if there are just two possible scenarios for the penis:

    a) the one purpose of the penis is how the catholic church defines it, (I guess two, since the penis also eliminates urine)

    b) or if not limited to those two purposes, then how do we describe it? pandemonium. People are flinging their penises all over the place, simply because I do not agree that the only purpose for the penis is to deposit sperm into the vagina.

    Gwen and Mary have done an admirable job trying to explain to Leila, but she just keeps calling out to me.

    Mary says: Re; "designed" or "not designed" and "purpose". Something can absolutely have a purpose and not be explicitly designed.


    Gwen has a very good comment, also. One thing which she says: that anyone would be made to feel guilty or sinful for failing to ejaculate into the proper place, or practicing self pleasure much less be told that those acts are immoral

    The church is saying, there is only one purpose and nothing else. And the only purpose is to ejaculate into the vagina. Leila replies to this by saying, we're Catholic and we're not telling you what to do. To which I respond, a major argument for the church not supporting gay marriage is that two men who use their penises for a purpose other than what the catholic church describes is just WRONG. Therefore they should not allowed to be married to each other.

    The two men who love each other found a different and very pleasurable purpose for the penis other than what the pope wants, and the two men love each other for it, and want to get married.

    Pedro also makes a very important point: Kissing is a great example--our mouth was "designed" for eating and communicating and breathing, but the world is WAY better because we figured out it could also kiss and sing.

    Although I would not use the word "designed", I would use the word evolved (of course). Perhaps this is what Pedro meant by putting this in quotes. Something may appear to be designed but that does not mean it was.

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  148. Let's talk about the pandemonium that will ensue if we do not accept the Catholic Church's definition of the penis' purpose. This is a common debate tactic of Leila's - and I think it may be a straw man argument, but I'm not sure of it. Her arguments go something like this:

    Leila: x cannot happen because the church says the way the left define something is not moral (examples: penis used for something other than ejaculating into a vagina; a man marrying a man)

    The left (ok, MaiZeke anyway): That is too restrictive! A penis can be used for something other than ejaculating into a vagina! And a man can marry a man!

    Leila: Well, if you do not follow the church's rules, then we may as well have no rules at all. Penises are being flung all over the place, and men are marrying their siblings, or they are marrying animals.

    It is as if Leila thinks that if the limit that the church set is not followed, then there is no limit at all.

    I think this is the straw man argument, frankly. To quote wikipedia: To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

    Leila is replacing our argument of "there isn't just ONE purpose for a penis" with "the penis can be used for anything! anywhere!" and attacking that one. She is also replacing arguments for "men should be able to marry men" (and women/women, of course, do not mean to exclude) with "if men don't marry women, then people will marry lampposts!" and attacking that one.

    It seems to be effective for her to convince her catholic followers, so I wouldn't advise her to stop it. But I just want to point it out that it is a fallacious line of reasoning.

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  149. MaiZeke,

    To clarify, I didn't refer to you as a mereological nihilist. I just pointed out that there are a lot of people out there who deny that composite objects exist.

    Some of my best friends are mereological nihilists.

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  150. "In America, abortion is still legal, for any reason and during all nine months, pursuant to legal opinions by the Supreme Court (Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Planned Parenthood v. Casey) that scholars on the left as well as the right regard as laughable." - William L. Saunders "Chaput's Unconvincing Critics", First Things

    So I'm not the only one who thinks this!

    Every Catholic I know thinks it's laughable. And smart folks on the left know it's bad law. Not sure of your point?

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  151. MaiZeke, thanks for all that clarity, all of which you've said before. Let's go with it:

    What would be the limits for the proper use of the penis? Give me your moral principle there, MaiZeke.

    And, Catholics do not wish to stop "men from marrying men". Catholics hold that two men cannot marry, by definition. A marriage is impossible without the ability to consummate the pairing. What we very much object to in the public sphere is the redefining of marriage.

    Surely you can understand that distinction, without claiming straw men are being flung all around?

    Forgive me for using the word "purpose" when you did not. That was my mistake.

    By the way, Gwen is on record for not being against the marriage of siblings. Are you on record as opposing sibling marriage, MaiZeke, or do you stand with Gwen?

    (In answering the question, please remember that we are simply discussing moral principles here and no one is claiming that "suddenly everyone will be marrying their siblings" as you guys are prone to accuse Catholics on this blog of asserting, simply because we ask the question.)

    Bottom line: What is your moral principle for use of the penis? And please don't cry foul when I ask a follow up question if your answer is vague. I want to get a clear answer.

    Thanks!

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  152. Leila is replacing our argument of "there isn't just ONE purpose for a penis" with "the penis can be used for anything! anywhere!" and attacking that one. She is also replacing arguments for "men should be able to marry men" (and women/women, of course, do not mean to exclude) with "if men don't marry women, then people will marry lampposts!" and attacking that one.

    Just to be very clear: All I have ever asked for from you or others is a moral principle. If you can give a moral principle, then I wouldn't push you and keep asking if this or that would be ruled out under your moral principle. So, just give me the moral principle you live by, as far as the moral issues we discuss. If you are vague, or if the principle is open-ended, I will keep asking, to get to the logical conclusion of your premise.

    It's funny, I will answer any question posed to me as best I can. I don't think I have ever refused an honest question (unless it's too personal). But as soon as I push a bit to get you to be very specific on what you do or don't believe, I get accused of bringing up a straw man, or accused of calling you monsters with no morality, etc. Why not just answer the question instead of getting defensive?

    And, if you want to question me on my beliefs and principles, and push me to their logical conclusions, please do.

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  153. Kissing is a great example--our mouth was "designed" for eating and communicating and breathing, but the world is WAY better because we figured out it could also kiss and sing.

    Pedro, the Church would say that God designed our mouths to kiss and sing as well as eat, communicate and breathe. :)

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  154. Just to be very clear: All I have ever asked for from you or others is a moral principle. If you can give a moral principle, then I wouldn't push you and keep asking if this or that would be ruled out under your moral principle.

    1. Leila is apparently asking for an atheist catechism or perhaps a Summa Atheologica. She could be asking rhetorically. God knows why she would want such a thing.

    2. I won't pretend to speak for all or even most atheists, but I presume such a work would contain genuine free and open inquiry, reasoned discourse, supporting evidence, honest respect for opposing positions, and modern scientific methods.

    3. Therefore if anyone were to hand Leila an atheist catechism, she would neither understand it nor recognize it as such.

    4. Proposing existing works for inclusion in an imaginary atheist canon might make an interesting discussion. I myself can think of many worthy candidates, but anyone following the argument so far would agree with me in saying that they would all ultimately be rejected. Because the idea of a catechism, where all the answers to all the questions are nailed down and spelled out, is antithetical to the spirit of free and open inquiry, reasoned discourse, supporting evidence, honest respect for opposing positions, and modern scientific methods.

    In short, there is no atheist catechism and never will be. To put it another way, metaphorically, the atheist catechism is still being written and will continue to be revised by its myriad authors, forever.

    (quoted from third person anonymous on the post http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/12/my-correspondence-with-abortionist-part_2998.html?commentPage=2

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  155. Why do you think we have the study of ethics? Because, unlike what the catholic church thinks, there are shades of gray in everything. When a new ethical dilemma comes up, the ethicists come together and decide if that is ethical or not, based on ethical principles, such as logic, reason, etc etc.

    Take for example this new thing called facebook. There are new ethical and moral principles to be decided about how it is to be used. When a new situation comes up, like a mother impersonating a boy to get a neighbor girl to kill herself, we have to decide as a group what the ethical implications of this is, and whether or not it is simply immoral to impersonate someone, or the immoral part is to impersonate someone with the intent to cause psychological harm. That is nothing that could possibly have been decided before it happened, but when it did, society reacted.

    I suggest that the people in the Catholic Church cannot even decide things like that on their own - if they cannot find the moral transgression in their summa theologica, then they must wait for a statement from their pope on whether or not the new thing is a good thing:

    for example

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2011/0125/Facebook-is-fine-says-Pope-Benedict-but-real-faces-are-better

    Oh! The POPE says it is fine, so I guess Leila can have a facebook page.

    As Leila has explained many times before, the pope didn't decide that - it was revealed to him through God. What non-catholics (atheists included) object to is the fact that God told only one man - how can we be sure that something wasn't lost in translation there?

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  156. If you are vague, or if the principle is open-ended, I will keep asking, to get to the logical conclusion of your premise.

    This is abundantly clear that you will keep asking. For example, I've answered this one probably four times already:

    By the way, Gwen is on record for not being against the marriage of siblings. Are you on record as opposing sibling marriage, MaiZeke, or do you stand with Gwen?

    http://hameno.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/same-sex-marriage-vs-sibling-marriage/

    This was back when I was "nicer" to Leila - I answered every question she asked of me. But then I began to answer the same questions over and over and over, and see new people answering the same question over and over and over, pretty much the same way (I don't profess to be all-knowing or the repository of all atheist truth as the pope does).

    So why am I still here? If I can point out the problems with Leila's line of questioning, maybe she will start asking more appropriate questions. Such as requesting a summa ateological repeatedly when she doesn't even understand why there isn't one. If she understood why there isn't one, she might possibly begin to understand our philosophy.

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  157. And understanding our philosophy is what she professes to do in the first place.

    Clarity!

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  158. Ahhhh! Lamposts! [Laughing again] and....the "sexoff" from Nubby! This stuff is funny!
    Maizeke, I think:

    "It is as if Leila thinks that if the limit that the church set is not followed, then there is no limit at all." is a good quote. I do think it is important to ask then, how do we decide where the limit is and who gets to decide. (I am not entirely sure, but think it is worth discussing).

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  159. Maizeke,
    regarding 9:32 and 9:43:
    You responded by first stating that Leila took what you said out of context. You then proceeded to take what she said out of context. Leila never said that the penis' only purpose was to ejaculate into a vagina. She was simply pressing you on what you said (body parts don't have specific purposes).

    When you say something like you don't believe that body parts have a specific purpose, it is perfectly logical for Leila to then ask you if it is ok for a man to pat your child on the head with his penis.

    Instead of addressing this succinctly, you manage to go off on a tangent about how Leila is using a straw man's argument (which she was not).

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  160. Paul, I haven't seen anyone here argue that abortion is illegal. Of course it's legal, at least in the United States. However legal does not always equal moral, and the Supreme Court has been mistaken on issues of personhood before -- Dred Scott, for example. Slavery was still immoral even when it was legal. It didn't magically become moral when it was legal, and then magically become immoral once it was illegal.

    The Roe v. Wade decision used scientific evidence from 1972 and before. Would you want science from 1972 and before, ONLY, when used to decide any other issue today in 2011?

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  161. "When a new situation comes up, like a mother impersonating a boy to get a neighbor girl to kill herself, we have to decide as a group what the ethical implications of this is, and whether or not it is simply immoral to impersonate someone, or the immoral part is to impersonate someone with the intent to cause psychological harm. That is nothing that could possibly have been decided before it happened, but when it did, society reacted."

    It's called, "lying".

    Vanity of vanities. Nothing new under the Sun.

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  162. Mary,

    ""It is as if Leila thinks that if the limit that the church set is not followed, then there is no limit at all." is a good quote. I do think it is important to ask then, how do we decide where the limit is and who gets to decide. (I am not entirely sure, but think it is worth discussing). ""


    worth discussing? with whom? On a Catholic blog, Catholics will agree that the Church decides what is moral and good.

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  163. "So why am I still here? If I can point out the problems with Leila's line of questioning, maybe she will start asking more appropriate questions. Such as requesting a summa ateological repeatedly when she doesn't even understand why there isn't one. If she understood why there isn't one, she might possibly begin to understand our philosophy."

    What you're saying is that you don't have any set moral principles. They are always, "evolving". Have you got anything down pat so far? Or is it whatever the late great Richard Dawkins has to say about it? Is there an Atheist "Pope" you refer to when deciding if something is ok? Is there a website with q and a's with the most recent acceptable behaviors and attitudes? I read an article a few months ago on NPR urging all Atheists to give up their moral code, as it came from Christianity and was of no use to them any longer.

    In stating that your moral principles are always changing or evolving, you are stating that you have none.

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  164. There are new ethical and moral principles to be decided about how it is to be used. When a new situation comes up, like a mother impersonating a boy to get a neighbor girl to kill herself, we have to decide as a group what the ethical implications of this is, and whether or not it is simply immoral to impersonate someone, or the immoral part is to impersonate someone with the intent to cause psychological harm. That is nothing that could possibly have been decided before it happened, but when it did, society reacted.

    I suggest that the people in the Catholic Church cannot even decide things like that on their own


    So, let me understand this line of thinking. You, ever-moral, ever-free thinking, ever-ethical (though pro-abort) MaiZeke can clearly deduce on your own all the ethics of every situation of the world simply because of your own gift of brilliance, without any religious undertones (Christian or not), and you can singly handedly make a right decision 100% of the time in all the ‘grey area ethical choices’, or even black and white choices for that matter, of life.

    We Catholics, in your opinion, get lumped in the corner for our stupidity, unable to even decide what is ethically right apart from Church teaching?

    This is the view you have of Catholics? If this is a hyperbolic example because you’re angry and posting on a tirade, ok, we’ll chat when you can cool down.
    But if it’s really what you think of Catholics, after all the interaction you’ve had on this blog, well, it’s either just a smear or you really don’t understand just the basics of Catholic teaching which is very odd considering the amount of lengthy exchanges you’ve had w/ Leila and others.

    Name calling, attacking ... really. If you wanna call us arrogant, we're used to that. But stupid in a round about way? Not even accurate.

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  165. Irony:
    The ones who believe in mystery (mystically speaking) are the ones who have their very core doctrine written in books, as a sure guide.
    Nothing, doctrinally speaking, is left to an individual to misunderstand or misconstrue, because the Faith is pretty much spelled out in terms of solid dogma, and has been for how long.

    The ones who leave no room for any type of moral mystery, have nothing written down and have no guide; nothing to refer to or point others to for better understanding. Just their word, I guess. And, okay, that goes so far; but it also changes person to person, generation to generation. Non believers are all different flavors, so who’s the ultimate in “Moral Rightness” and how would I know I can follow this person or anti-church establishment? Who founded it and what evidence is there that it’s been unchanging for the good of man?

    Catholics can say: Here’s our faith, you can read it, analyze it, pick it apart, put it back together again. You can at least come away with concrete understanding of how spiritual and moral ideals and teaching from Christ have been taught and revealed through the ages.

    I would think that would be most helpful and not something to slam.
    But all I gather from some on here who laud “scholarship” is that no (or little) respect is even paid to an extremely scholarly Church lathered in academic history which holds the faith and historical accounts of the One Triune God who gave all the Church.

    But I also gather, some just stew for an argument, in that case, game over.

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  166. Late to the "party", as usual. :)

    I suggest that the people in the Catholic Church cannot even decide things like that on their own - if they cannot find the moral transgression in their summa theologica, then they must wait for a statement from their pope on whether or not the new thing is a good thing:

    For the record, MaiZeke. I don't beleive in absolute morality and the Truth that the Catholic Church teachers because I'm Catholic.
    I'm Catholic BECAUSE I not only reasoned my way to absolute morality and now believe it but then I realized the Catholic Church is the ONLY entity on the planet that adheres her teaching to that end.

    I have never read an encyclical in its entirety. Heck I've never even read a quarter of one. I couldn't quote the Bible for the life of me. Pope Benedict XVI is only the 2nd Pope I've ever had in my lifetime. I do have a minor in theology, by accident. I had been taking classes with my boyfriend (now husband) who was pursuing a degree in Theology and discovered my senior year that I had enough classes for the minor. In the beginning I challenged my husband every moment of the day about Church teaching and how wrong it was, and how it needs to change.

    And you know what? When I realized that not a SINGLE THING that the Church teaches on morality is or even can be refuted by science, (it might not be able to be PROVEN by science, but that's irrelevant) it was then that I realized that EVERYTHING that I ever had a problem with about absolute morality was because I was thinking about it from ONLY my perspective; it was all about me.

    I don't need religion of any kind or even GOD to tell me that the universe doesn't revolve around me, or anyone else on the planet for that matter. So I unstuck my head out of my "rear-end" and stopped thinking that every moral principle needed to conform directly to me and my wants. I stopped trying to avoid choosing what was really right in an effort to prevent from me making a mistake in that choice.

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  167. Regarding MaiZeke at 4:14:

    She's not asking for an atheist catechism (oh if there were one, how easy it would be for us to get answers and understand!) She's asking for YOUR moral principle; not Atheism as a whole, but "Atheism According To MaiZeke", since you're the one here in conversation (thank you, btw!) If you don't have a moral principle, just say you don't have one. If you have one that's not worked through completely, offer what you do have and people will bring forth questions which might help all of us understand where we stand. If you're fed up with being asked, then... why are you here?

    And at 4:24:

    The irony is this: We are now considered, basically, sheep following blindly unable to think for ourselves at all (the Pope finally told me I could have a fb page, but, oh dear, I wonder what he thinks of myspace? Maybe that will be his next Encyclical!) AND we are arrogant. Arrogant Sheep!

    And at 4:32:
    You know, not everyone here has read every thread where you have answered questions before, and even if they did read, who is to remember all that? Discussion happens...sorry about that.

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  168. Wow!

    MaiZeke, I think the ladies above responded better than I could.

    Thank you, ladies!

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  169. I do think it is important to ask then, how do we decide where the limit is and who gets to decide.

    As for this quote by Mary, I do agree that it's an important question for atheists to answer, since they are the one's grappling (presumably) with the question.

    I think MaiZeke would say that society ultimately gets to decide (which brings up a whole host of other problems and questions). But, I will let her respond if she'd like.

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  170. Manda says: You responded by first stating that Leila took what you said out of context. You then proceeded to take what she said out of context. Leila never said that the penis' only purpose was to ejaculate into a vagina. She was simply pressing you on what you said (body parts don't have specific purposes).

    Actually, I did try to check with Leila to be sure I am understanding her correctly. She nor Joanna did not correct me on this:

    MaiZke said: I guess Paul was the one who said that any act was disordered that goes against its natural purpose, but I assume that you agree with that statement.

    If that was wrong to assume, please do tell me now. Manda, perhaps you can elaborate for Leila on whether or not the church agrees or disagrees with that statement?

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  171. Manda says: In stating that your moral principles are always changing or evolving, you are stating that you have none.

    To which I reply, please read my comment at July 27, 4:14 am. I will quote:

    Because the idea of a catechism, where all the answers to all the questions are nailed down and spelled out, is antithetical to the spirit of free and open inquiry, reasoned discourse, supporting evidence, honest respect for opposing positions, and modern scientific methods.

    I stick around to try get you to understand this. It's tough sledding, but I'm trying.

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  172. Nubby said: you can singly handedly make a right decision 100% of the time

    Is that how you interpreted what I said? What I said was that my moral code comes from "genuine free and open inquiry, reasoned discourse, supporting evidence, honest respect for opposing positions, and modern scientific methods". Not a single one of those things is confined to just me. Neither is are any of those things confined to a single white European male who presumes to be the only person able to understand what God reveals to him.

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  173. I guess Paul was the one who said that any act was disordered that goes against its natural purpose, but I assume that you agree with that statement.

    That seems a very broad statement. I would not word it that way, actually. I would say that we ask ourselves, "What is the nature of a thing?" What is its purpose, what was it designed for? That is how things work best, in the ways they were designed. If you use a cell phone as a hammer, for example, things don't work so well.

    Very often there is a moral dimension to things we use. Cell phones and hammers, not so much. But sexuality and our sexual faculties? Fraught with moral implications, no? Best to use those faculties, which transmit human life, in ways they were designed to be used, lest we open a hornet's nest of problems (exhibit A: Our sexually dysfunctional society). Now, of course, this argument is for the secular folks, as those who believe in God and Jesus also have the gift of revelation and the moral law to guide us.

    But secular folk can also see the dangers in using the sexual faculty in disordered ways, ways which go against their nature.

    Hope that helps!

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  174. Sure. I'll elaborate for Leila, the same way you and Gwen like to elaborate for one another. It depends. What are we talking about? Any act? Or sex? If I hit a baseball with a golf club is that disordered? Certainly not disordered in a sense that it is considered immoral.
    So, no. The Church does not agree with that statment.

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  175. Because the idea of a catechism, where all the answers to all the questions are nailed down and spelled out, is antithetical to the spirit of free and open inquiry, reasoned discourse, supporting evidence, honest respect for opposing positions, and modern scientific methods.

    So, your reasoning here is that the Church is author of some narrow minded fluff, eh. You hate the Church, I get that. But it bottoms out your arguments against Her.

    1) The Church is the giver of scholarship as you experience it today. Whether you want to concede that, it remains the fact.

    2) The Church isn’t into giving you scientific methods for dogma. Science is science, and fully supported by the Church. Hello, have you understood the fact that the Jesuits are the ones who long ago studied in the observatory with incredibly scientific men who came from the Church herself?

    3) The Church doesn’t fear ‘free and open inquiry, reasoned discourse, supporting evidence, honest respect for opposing positions’, in fact, it’s one of the basic commandments: Love thy neighbor. And form thy conscience. And by all means, be the best person you can be, whether that’s butcher, baker, candlestick maker, mother, doctor, lawyer, priest, or scientist.

    Open and reasoned discourse is the only kind of discourse the Church would ever encourage, for Pete’s sake.

    What you want to do is direct the Church to your liking, instead of perhaps reaching a place where you can see Her teachings, and although you disagree with them, you don’t expect her to change them simply because you demand She do so.

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  176. I have to go to a lunch meeting, I'm very sorry. So many things to reply to! I'm going on Vacation starting on Friday too so I've got a ton of things to finish at work.

    I think MaiZeke would say that society ultimately gets to decide (which brings up a whole host of other problems and questions).

    Nice, Leila. That also goes for answering one of nubby's points - how the morality changes from generation to generation. That's because society changes from generation to genration and society's morals have to adapt.

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  177. That's because society changes from generation to genration and society's morals have to adapt.

    So, by that logic... slavery was A-OK in 1865, because at that point society's morals said it was. But now in 2011 slavery is only wrong because society's morals have "adapted" that way.

    Do you honestly believe that slavery was moral at the time it was legal, and the only reason it became immoral was because society's morals "adapted"?

    What's to stop society's morals from "adapting" to decided that, say, all Catholics need to be shot on sight? Or that slavery is legal as long as the only slaves are, say, Hispanic? Or to Peter Singer's view that human beings aren't worthy of personhood until age 2?

    Are you saying you'd be perfectly fine with all of the above just as long as that's how society's morals "adapted"?

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  178. That also goes for answering one of nubby's points - how the morality changes from generation to generation. That's because society changes from generation to genration and society's morals have to adapt.

    There's a phrase for that; it's called moving the goal posts. Try playing a game where the goal posts constantly move.

    The beauty of your comment is that my morals don't have to adapt, they are ever unchanging, grounded in steady truth.

    Makes for a much more peaceful way of life, even as the crazy world spins itself off its axis as society bleeds morality (or lack thereof) into society...whee!

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  179. JoAnna, do you believe morality is in part enforced and part of society, language and culture? Does society,language and culture change?

    Do you contend that slavery was thought of as immoral by everyone in 1865?

    -gwen

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  180. Ladies, again, thanks for saying what I would have said!

    MaiZeke you said:

    Neither is are any of those things confined to a single white European male who presumes to be the only person able to understand what God reveals to him.

    Here's the thing about that: God is not "revealing" anything to the Pope (who will one day be a black African by the way). Revelation ended with the death of the last apostle, oh, about 2,000 years ago. There is no more public revelation. So, please adjust for that understanding, and then read more about the Pope's special role in preserving the unchanging Truths of God, here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/11/pope-is-not-as-powerful-as-you-think.html

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  181. Joanna,
    Maybe you are thinking of another Paul. I never said abortion is illegal.

    Leila,
    The quote I gave said that the Supreme Court's reasoning was bad. I think that would include the Contraception -> Abortion reasoning. So the quote seems to say that intelligent people on left and right (and center, given what you've said) find the Contraception -> Abortion reasoning, at least as put forth by the Supreme Court, to be bad reasoning.

    So there you are. I'm not the only one.

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  182. Or maybe I should say, would you agree that while a sense of right and wrong might not change, our understanding of morality is based in part on reality and that reality changes?

    -gwen

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  183. Gwen,

    No, and yes. Moral laws never change, although our understanding of them does. There are moral absolutes, even if society hasn't always recognized or followed them.

    I think chattel slavery is immoral whenever and wherever it occurs, period, regardless of its legal status.

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  184. Leila,
    The quote I gave said that the Supreme Court's reasoning was bad. I think that would include the Contraception -> Abortion reasoning. So the quote seems to say that intelligent people on left and right (and center, given what you've said) find the Contraception -> Abortion reasoning, at least as put forth by the Supreme Court, to be bad reasoning.


    Paul, I understand what you meant. One can believe that the law was erroneously decided (on both sides), but see the logic in a piece of its reasoning. The conclusion can be seen as rotten, while certainly there can be truth thrown into the error. Most error contains some truth.

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  185. Do you contend that slavery was thought of as immoral by everyone in 1865?

    Your assumption is that what one person, or multiple people, "think" is immoral is how immorality is defined.

    There is not one person on earth who gets to decide what is moral or immoral, not for the rest of us, and not for themselves.

    It is irrelevant whether one "thinks" an act or choice is moral or not. It either is or isn't. The consequences will bear that out, if not at the time of said choice or action, at the end of it all.

    And even not believing in God won't prevent the consequences from happening. It just means you'll probably be surprised when they do happen.

    Sure, is it completely and utterly in the realm of possibility that ultimately "this" (meaning life as it stands on this planet) is all there is. To quote William Blake "God only acts and is in existing beings or men." And when we die we simply we become food for the earth and evolution carries on for another 4 billion years until the sun supernovas and swallows the Solar System.

    But if that is the case, other than you considering that I'm deluding myself into believing in "a god", who challenges me to better than I may really want to be, and doesn't accept excuses, am I doing anything else other than "being wrong", and why do you care if I'm "wrong".

    But, what if, just what if, God is challenging me and you and everyone else in the world to better than they really want to be, and He's not willing to accept excuses, and he's given a blueprint, a template, to follow in order to BE that better person. And some choose to ignore that template, to deny the existence not only of the blueprint but of the One who gave it to us....

    Thank God for His eternal mercy. Because either one, He doesn't exist and I'm simply role-playing trying to get people to bet better than they want to be myself and other than that the consequence will be the same either way, ground fodder.

    Or two, He does exist. And I need all the help I can get.

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  186. So, by that logic... slavery was A-OK in 1865, because at that point society's morals said it was. But now in 2011 slavery is only wrong because society's morals have "adapted" that way.

    Uh, and God said it was ok in the Bible as well. So, yes. We have evolved out of God's original pronouncements.

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  187. Uh, and God said it was ok in the Bible as well. So, yes. We have evolved out of God's original pronouncements.

    *sigh* MaiZeke, do you ever think about spending a minute on Google to consider what the Christian response to this argument might be, or are you under the impression that no one in the history of Christendom has ever noticed this before?

    Honestly, this is why you come across as arrogant. You think that no Christian who participates in these comboxes, most of whom have been reading and studying the Bible for YEARS, have never before noticed that it mentions slavery, and that the "zinger" you delivered above will be a "OMG? WHUT?" moment for everyone.

    Please read this article to see how very mistaken you are.

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  188. "Two Catholic nations were largely involved with slave trafficking. Many Catholics at that time owned or sold slaves. Even some Catholic bishops during the 19th-century appeared to support slavery. The Popes were so ignored that some people today claim that they were silent. These sins brought great scandal to Christ’s Church. Unfortunately history does repeat itself. Today the majority of Catholics admit to using artificial contraceptives, even though the Popes have condemned contraception (e.g. Humane vitae, Catechism of the Catholic Church 2370, 2399)."

    http://users.binary.net/polycarp/slave.html

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  189. Please read this article to see how very mistaken you are

    Who is arrogant? Good lord, Leila. Because catholic apologists have written some articles, then the matter is settled? For every article you post from a catholic apologist, there are plenty of others from non-apologists.

    After a quick search, here is a nice one, from a professor at a theological seminary. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-carey/slavery-and-the-bible_b_880756.html

    Two quotes from the article.

    Slavery stands as the single most contested issue in the history of biblical interpretation in the United States.

    There's a simple explanation for nineteenth century debates on slavery and the Bible: the Bible isn't exactly clear on the subject.

    Notice I did not say Catholicism, either. I said the bible.

    Also, do you seriously think I am going to read JoAnna's comment

    Do you honestly believe that slavery was moral at the time it was legal, and the only reason it became immoral was because society's morals "adapted"?

    And say, "OMG? WHUT? Slavery was immoral, of course! Those founding fathers were so wrong to put it in the constitution, and Jesus WAS wrong to assume that was acceptable to beat them!"? Luke 12:47-48

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  190. MaiZeke, re: your 12:29pm post:

    Catholics SIN?! They sometimes ignore the teachings of the Church?! Stop the presses! What a shocker!

    Re: your 12:42pm comment - sorry, I can't say I accept the Huffington Post as the epitome of factual, unbiased information, especially as in terms of Catholicism.

    Notice I did not say Catholicism, either. I said the bible.

    (1) The Catholic Church compiled the Bible and decided the canon. (2) The Bible can be misinterpreted if you don't read it with proper exegesis, as we've explained on this blog before. I (not Leila) was responding to your assertion that the Bible condones slavery. The article from Catholic.com I'm posted showed how, correctly interpreted, it does not. It's up to you to decide what interpretation is correct.

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  191. Before I fall down the rabbit hole of purpose and design, I want to go way back to Mary’s challenge to Joanna, which I think is the threadwinner: Joanna, can you cite any sociological evidence that infidelity HAS increased drastically since the advent and widespread use of contraception? Leila, can you?

    The Mary Eberstadt piece mentioned in the original doesn’t do it. She cites W. Bradford Wilcox, who says that infidelity has NOT increased in the past 20 years and, in fact, has fallen modestly. He also says that “The number of women who said that infidelity was “always wrong” increased to 84% in the 2000s, up from 73% in the 1970s. Some 78% of men in the 2000s said infidelity was wrong, compared with 63% in the 1970s.” (http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2010/08/31/amid-downturn-divorce-and-infidelity-decrease/)

    I spend my days reading things written (well) before the sexual revolution, and I actually think contemporary American culture is less tolerant of infidelity than many other moments in Western history.

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  192. PS--Happy anniversary, Leila! 21 years is a big accomplishment!

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  193. Pedro, is "tolerance" of something different from the practice of it? Are you saying there is less infidelity now than in 1968?

    I think Eberstadt provides plenty of resources to make her point, and of course hers is not an exhaustive list. Lots of secular sources out there to reflect the sad destruction of family life and the harm to children and couples since the sexual revolution. Are you saying that the sexual revolution has helped marriage, family life and children?

    Thanks for the good wishes on our anniversary! :)

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