Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness. Colossians 3:15

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Artificial contraception corrupts intent of love

Published in Cumberland Times-News letters Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2008.

"[A]rtificial contraception contradicts natural law: Most methods are unhealthy; and all corrupt the intent of love and unity – reverence
for, and openness to, the totality of the other."

Regarding Jeffrey Davis’ concerns (“This message was not one of compassion,” Nov. 19 Times-News), first, I wish to offer that “[t]he current medical consensus is that spermicidal and ovicidal mechanisms are the only way in which IUDs work,” as stated in Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.

Apparently, the intrauterine device -- “the world's most widely used method of reversible birth control,” according to Wikipedia – causes inflammation, which produces an environment in which sperm and egg (99 percent of the time) will not thrive.

The IUD first was marketed in Germany in 1929, then improved by an American doctor in 1968. After years of trial and error (and some deaths), the FDA approved the ParaGard T 380A in 1984. It became available for use in 1988 and still is the only copper IUD approved in the United States. Wikipedia reports that a 2002 CDC survey found the IUD was used by 1.3 percent of American women of reproductive age. Wikipedia notes that insertion is painful; and the IUD can cause pain, increased menstrual discomfort, infection, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or premature delivery.

Second, I wish to offer for Mr. Davis that “[w]hoever really loves his partner (in marriage) loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for (her) own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself”: Pope Paul VI, in his ill-received encyclical, “Humanae Vitae,” considers “the reverence due,” each partner for the wholeness of the other.

While in 1930, the Anglican church broke from (and other Christian denominations followed) “what was once a solid ecumenical consensus” in “condemning artificial contraception as contrary to the plan of God for marriage,” as written by Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien in a Sept. 4 column about this year’s 40th anniversary of “Humanae Vitae;” and even though, as the bishop notes, more than 90 percent of Catholics disagree with it, Catholic teaching about natural family planning still applies to married couples. Unmarried folks still are expected to be celibate. Neither teaching is easy to follow: An admirable minority succeeds.

But simply because we (Catholic or otherwise, married or single) struggle to keep the unitive urge wholesome is no reason to expect the Church to change her teachings, or to condemn her or her ministers for upholding the truth or for exhorting us to comply honorably with the laws of God written into our hearts (the yearning to love) and the laws of nature written into our urges (the yearning to unite). No, we should continue struggling to be wholesome.

Pope Paul calls us to employ intelligence to consider our responsibilities and to manage our urges. We all know that artificial contraception contradicts natural law: Most methods are unhealthy; and all corrupt the intent of love and unity – reverence for, and openness to, the totality of the other. We all know that without respect for fidelity and procreation, the unitive act (the most profound expression of the love between a man and a woman) can become a disordered battleground for self-gratification, each manipulating or demeaning the other and degrading the relationship.

This age of man differs little from any other in its rebellion against God and its desire to control nature. Into the midst of one of human history’s darkest epochs came a man who walked the truth and left a legacy that became the Catholic church. Hopefully, the successors to Christ’s apostle Peter will stay true to the teacher, whose compassion for us, in our wholeness, points out our shortcomings and urges us to mold our minds, hearts and actions in respectful reverence for each other and for our God.

by Nancy E. Thoerig (written Nov. 20, 2008)

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