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I'm sure that the couple who penned the letter to the editor today, entitled "Church once united against contraception", are fine, upstanding folks.
The letter writers refer to the concept, the idea of "natural law"....and it is their understanding of this "natural law" which I would like to address in today's blog.
Historically, Christians always have condemned contraceptive sex. The fathers of the Church recognized that, under natural law, the purpose of sexual intercourse is procreation. Contraceptive sex, which deliberately blocks that natural purpose, is therefore a violation of natural law.
As far as historical Christianity goes.....it has always condemned a lot of things. Jews, Muslims, non-believers, homosexuals, English masses, science, etc. Condemning the use of contraception, then, is simply another practice, person or thing that the Church can include in it's long history of condemnation. Nothing unique about Christianity's long history of declaring stuff to be taboo.
The theories and the history of "Natural Law" may be read about here.
From observing nature and man's relationship to the natural....sexual intercourse, obviously, has more than one natural purpose. Yes, one of the purposes of sexual intercourse is procreation. But humans are not naturally motivated to engage in sexual intercourse for procreation purposes. If anything, the natural motivation to engage in sexual intercourse is because of the physical pleasure sexual intercourse provides. That pleasure is part and parcel of natural law.
Catholic religionists would explain that sexual intercourse is, in itself, sinful when pursued for only it's physical natural law pleasure....and that that sinfulness can only be negated under the divine umbrella of Church-sanctioned marriage.
The point here is that, whatever way natural law is understood, procreation is not the only natural law-purpose for human sexual intercourse. I would think that this would be obvious.
The letter-to-the-editor authors state that deliberately blocking the only claimed natural purpose for sexual intercourse...procreation....is a violation of natural law. But as we have experienced ourselves, procreation is not the sole natural purpose of sexual intercourse...in fact, I think it would be more accurate to say that physical pleasure is the primary natural law which gives purpose to sexual intercourse and that procreation is secondary. Without the natural law of physical pleasure from sexual intercourse, there would be no natural law of procreation.
On the notion that "blocking" the only claimed natural purpose for sexual intercourse...procreation, I would direct readers to what the good book says. After being "created", man was given "dominion" over all things by god. Dominion over all things on and in the earth was given to man. Often, this "dominion" is used to defend the harvesting of all natural resources found anywhere in, on or under the earth.
And yet, for whatever reason, religionists would have us believe that when it comes to sexual intercourse and reproduction, man is not to take dominion, man is not to take control, if taking dominion involves "blocking" sperm from fertilizing egg. That dissonance leads many to accuse religionists of rejecting science in favor of superstition, when it's convenient.
Through centuries past, "natural" diseases devastated portions of humanity. Was it unnatural, did it violate natural law when humans blocked those diseases from running their natural destructive course? Or, in finding scientific cures for those diseases, was mankind following the dictate to take dominion over all things?
Humans need water to exist. It's natural law. In earth's "natural law" form, water is available in streams, lakes, natural artesian wells, etc. Does that mean that humans should limit themselves to only those water sources because it's just the natural order of things.....or should man take dominion over his need for water and drill unnatural wells to satisfy his need?
It is "natural law" that male humans have the capacity to sire children well into their 80's while women can only bear children up to about their early fifties. Natural law. Because of this natural law, many religionist forefathers took multiple wives...Father Abraham, for example, was a polygamist. While his older wives could no longer bear children, Abraham could still spread his natural law seed to his younger wives. Does that natural law mean that humankind should embrace polygamy as the natural, unblocked order of human reproduction?
Christianity has very little to offer a modern world where, mankind, using scientific discovery, has made huge strides in taking dominion over many natural things.
Claiming that human sexual intercourse is the one area of life on earth where man is prohibited from taking dominion is simply not credible in our 21st century world. In fact, it's silly.
The truth is that ancient religionists realized that the natural law of human sexuality....it gives pleasure....could be easily exploited for the sake of those same religionists. Just like guilty consciences could be exploited by those who claimed to have the sacramental keys to forgiveness.
One final thought....homosexuality has always been part of the natural order. Homosexuality is not only found naturally in mankind but also in other species as well. Though always in the minority, I don't know how 21st century religious man can claim that something which has always appeared naturally....is, really, unnatural.
For those, and many other reasons, I think it's safe to say, that religionists....whether commenting on contraception, or natural law.....cannot and should not ever be taken seriously by a secular, science-based society.