Catholics, John Kerry, Viagra, and Sin
By Matt Abbott
I don't know about you, but I'm sick and tired of seeing ads for Viagra (and its "brother" medicines) everywhere you look. You can't get away from it, really. It's on the television, in the sports stadiums, and in tons of "spam" e-mails. There's even a Viagra clock. And the latest "devil" ad campaign for Viagra - showing supposedly sex-hungry men growing devil's horns - is nothing short of appalling.
Then there's the upcoming election. The Iraq war. Forged documents. Debates. John Kerry. Catholics. Abortion. Sin.
Which brings me to my rhetorical moral question of the day: Which of these is sinful - A) a Catholic voting for pro-abortion John Kerry or B) a Catholic married man using Viagra? Well, if you're a liberal "Catholic," there is no such thing as sin, save for voting Republican. If, however, you're a faithful Catholic, then choice A could very well be sinful - not to mention unthinkable - but not so with choice B.
Here's why. Voting for a pro-abortion candidate because of his or her support of abortion "rights" would, according to assenting Catholic theologians, constitute a mortal sin. Voting for a pro-abortion candidate because he or she is "right" on other issues might not be sinful per se, but it certainly would be an utterly foolish act. And no true pro-lifer is going to do such a thing.
Now we arrive at the Viagra question. This is something many Catholics, even faithful ones, seemingly haven't talked a lot about. Not that I blame them. It is, after all, a personal matter. Yet, the morality of such a very popular medication should be addressed.
Thankfully, syndicated columnist Grace MacKinnon (www.DearGrace.com) recently decided to do just that.
A reader asked her the following question: "Dear Grace, I know that the Catholic Church prohibits artificial birth control because it 'goes against nature.' What is the Church's position on Viagra? I think it goes against nature just as much as artificial birth control does."
"The Church has not condemned the use of Viagra, but your question is interesting and occasions an opportunity to make an important distinction. Artificial contraception, as you must know, is the intentional prevention of conception or impregnation through the use of various devices, agents, drugs, sexual practices, or surgical procedures before, during, or after a voluntary act of intercourse. Viagra, on the other hand, is a drug that helps males to overcome a pathological condition preventing them from engaging in the conjugal act with their spouses. Destroying or denying a good (conception) is quite different from enhancing or strengthening a good (as by use of Viagra).
"Is it wrong for a married man to be assisted by medical treatment to have sexual relations with his wife? Surely it cannot be. Scripture tells us that God, out of His infinite and powerful love, created man and woman for each other. He then said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it' (Gn 1: 28). God had a beautiful plan for marriage. And in order that they would be able to fulfill that plan, God created them with a natural desire for each other. This desire is good and noble when it is satisfied in the way that the Creator intended. Sex is a sacred and holy gift from God to a husband and wife because this is one of the means by which they can fulfill the two purposes and meanings of marriage -- to be unitive and procreative. Let us not make the mistake, though, of placing all of the focus on sex. Sexual performance is not the end-all in marriage and really has little to do with the spiritual aspect of marriage.
"Use of drugs such as Viagra to help overcome pathological conditions can certainly not be immoral. The difference between use of such drugs and artificial contraceptives is that contraceptives do not help overcome a pathological condition. Being fertile is not a pathology. There is quite a difference. Viagra does not go against nature -- it assists nature. Artificial contraception does not assist nature -- it goes against nature.
"I assumed, of course, that you were referring to married men in your question. If, however, you were asking about all men using Viagra, then that would change the answer. The Catholic Church has always taught consistently that sexual intercourse 'must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes grave sin and excludes one from sacramental Communion' (CCC #2390).
"You can see, therefore, that because we believe firmly that sex outside of marriage is immoral, then the use of Viagra -- a drug specifically used to assist males to be able to have sexual intercourse -- would most naturally be condemned as immoral if used by single men. This teaching by the Church regarding no sex outside of marriage is often not a popular one and creates a tremendous challenge for many single persons today, but the reality is that it is a beautiful teaching, for it comes from God, and therefore we know that it comes from His loving heart and is, thus, for our ultimate good and true happiness."
I agree. But get rid of the ad campaigns, will ya?!
And please don't vote for John Kerry - especially if you're Catholic. Viagra user or not.
Matt Abbott - Author,
Catholic, Abbott, politics, Viagra, abortion
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