Read Part One here.
This article may also be read/shared via this link from the CBCP for life website.
Against the RH Bill – Part Two
by Howard Go
(This is part two of a three part work on why I stand against the RH Bill. It is suggested you read the first part before this, but this can stand fairly much on its own, I think.)
I support the Catholic Church and I applaud her for taking her stand against the RH Bill.
“For evil to triumph, all you need are enough good people to do nothing.” The Church is trying to bring in enough people to stop the RH Bill from happening because it doesn’t want what it knows to be evil to triumph.
I realize that a lot people use artificial birth control and think the Church is so conservative and outdated that it doesn’t realize what real families deal with. Here I turn to CS Lewis. He captured the problem of morality when he saw that people would use terms like “Liberal”, “Open-Minded”, “Practical” against “Conservative”, “Narrow-Minded”, and “Idealistic”, instead of asking if something was ethical, if it was right. Let’s not use terms (what Lewis called “jargon”) that don’t really answer questions that matter and, in most cases, mislead us (if not tempt us) into doing things that we know are morally wrong.
(And, yes, I know I talked about the RH Bill being impractical in part one. But that was a tool. If I went straight to this part about ethics, a reader who supports the RH Bill on the level of it being practical will not read this part anymore or will read it thinking that this is just another article by someone who is not practical and isn’t thinking things through — meaning nothing will be understood fairly. I had to “disarm” that reader from his/her practical way of thinking to bring him/her here.)
Now, here I will walk a thin line. And I know some Catholics might dislike this part, but I recall some priests during my college years saying that the use of artificial birth control can, in certain situations, be accepted. “It depends” was the famous line. And I think many students, who are now faculty members of this school, took it as a go signal to proceed with using artificial birth control. I came from that school and I justified using it with that “it depends” answer. But it wasn’t a go signal. It just meant and, I think, still means that our conscience will dictate what is right in a specific situation. And that’s what ethics is about. It’s about studying a situation carefully. And I am certain that in some truly challenging situations, using artificial birth control might be right. But my situation and, probably, your situation are not those situations.
To discuss the morality (actually, the lack of morality of the RH Bill), I turn to my favorite professor in college. He was once asked how to sum up the course of Ethics in one sentence. His answer to this surprise interview question was this: “It is when, years from now, your son/daughter looks at you and asks, “Dad/Mom, what does it mean to be good?””
Will we say ethics is about being practical? Will we say it’s okay to be good when it is easy? When the majority agrees? When you will be rewarded and well-liked? But, otherwise, be practical? Is being reasonable the same as being good in our minds? Does being ethical compromise with our worldly concerns and needs?
And what will we say about artificial birth control? Is it a way of controlling problems or was it one of the major causes of the problem in the first place and has now been deftly maneuvered into a position as the solution of the problem it helped create?
Here’s my take on this moral challenge. Moral dilemmas exist because we are already in the middle of a difficult situation. Artificial birth control is so easy to come by now it looks like the norm so it is difficult to say it is wrong to use it. Especially since so many of us have used it. I used it for most of my adult life and only later realized that I shouldn’t and have stopped using it since early this year. And it hasn’t been easy.
In the past, before it became easy to come by (and almost the norm), the Church warned us that artificial birth control would lead to a different lifestyle. Here’s a quote from one of her letters (written in 1968): “Upright men can even better convince themselves of the solid grounds on which the teaching of the Church in this field is based if they care to reflect upon the consequences of methods of artificially limiting the increase of children. Let them consider, first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Not much experience is needed in order to know human weakness, and to understand that men—especially the young, who are so vulnerable on this point—have need of encouragement to be faithful to the moral law, so that they must not be offered some easy means of eluding its observance. It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.”
Before you say this isn’t a realistic view of the world, check out this link to see how things are in America less than 45 years later:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/07/birth-control-morally-acceptable_n_1575446.html
I think it is painfully accurate to say that our country is close to considering premarital sex and teenage pregnancy as common or the norm and, probably in one more generation, “morally acceptable”. And, on this note, do we really mean “morally acceptable” or do we actually mean we lowered our standards so much that our moral compass has broken and now fails to point us towards Ethical North? Is the world becoming more “liberal” at the risk of becoming less “moral”? That was rhetorical, I apologize for that; it’s the teacher in me.
So, we now have this problem. Sexual openness is so common that it is easy to say, “use a condom” or “as long as you are careful”. We go back to jargon that it is not “cool” or “modern” to say we should wait until marriage before experiencing sexual intercourse. Once using artificial birth control is the norm, how easy is it to avoid it? How normal does it look once we’re married?
But really, I think any person who takes the time to think about it will acknowledge that sleeping around with various partners (regardless of one’s civil status and age) is a lot more common now than the previous one or two generations, not because it is right today and wrong before, but simply because it is that much easier. It becomes common, the norm, because it is so easy that the majority ends up doing it.
Which leads me to the next part. A challenge of sorts while better understanding how artificial birth control and, in effect, the RH Bill, isn’t the way to make us better people. Which I will discuss in part three. I hope you will read on.