Contraception

Not to channel other blogs, but I was thinking about the general screwd-up-ness of marriage, the family and sex this morning, as I swam my morning laps. Simultaneously trying to remember what lap I was on, for fear of doing more than the minimum I have committed to. And for the first time, I realized that I totally agree with Pope Paul VI. Since becoming Catholic, we have often heard about the supposed prescience of the pope when he foresaw the widespread decline of overall pelvic morality, once people had accepted the legitimacy of contracepted marital acts. At first, it struck me as a little far-fetched to pin so large a tail on so small a donkey. Part of the reason for this was, I think, the underlying assumption that pelvic morality had always been so screwed up. Having never lived in earlier times, it just never dawned on me that it hadn’t “always been this way”.

And then, slowly and steadily, the thought started to creep into my mind that maybe the world hadn’t always been this way. And well, yeah, maybe contraception might actually lead people to use one another for sheer gratification’s sake. In fact, looking back at my friendships with non-Catholics, I have long since noted a certain tendency to view the sexual act as the mere satisfaction of an impulse or craving. Sex really did become limited to the remedying of concupiscence. And the woman, in my conversations, really did become a mere means to end. “I just needed ‘release’.”

Then this morning, it finally sank in. Contraception really has severed the natural and obvious link in people’s minds between the marital act and procreation. When people think about sex anymore, they don’t think about procreation first, if at all. It seems to be limited to “a good time”, “connecting”, whatever. It never seems to dawn on anyone that the act is ordered towards the reproduction of the species. That this is its quite obvious primary purpose. Once that link is gone, it’s just something to do for fun. And lest we misunderstand each other, it is fun. But if it’s just for fun, then hey, why can’t a couple of ten year olds have some fun? Why can’t a grown man have fun with a young boy? Why can’t anyone have fun with anyone? Just keep it within the species. Or need we?

And lest anyone think I am holier than thou, bear in mind that the link between the act and its purpose was completely and utterly severed in my own mind. Never in my wildest nightmares did I ever envision thinking this way. But I am reminded of CS Lewis when he gave us his reason for reading old books. Every generation has its blind spots. By reading old books, we become aware of our blind spots by reading people with different assumptions than ours. And I am also reminded of GK Chesterton who said that we don’t need a Church that is right when we are right, but one that is right when we are wrong.

And we are wrong.

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~ by Rob on October 12, 2007.

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