Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Stacy Trasancos

6/11/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

So what's the difference between acting 'practically' and acting 'morally'? Really nothing

Does a mother really equip her daughters with the power of knowledge if she teaches them it's practical to succumb to lowly instincts? Does teaching them about birth control rather than intimacy and marriage spare them of any internal conflict of conscience? 

Highlights

By Stacy Trasancos

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/11/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Huffington Post, Shannon Bradley-Colleary, abstinence, marriage, birth control, Planned Parenthood


WORCESTER, MA (Catholic Online) - The woman formerly known as beautiful and author at Huffington Post, Shannon Bradley-Colleary, had an article recently with the declarative title "Abstinence Got Me Pregnant." It's a "family planning" story meant to demonstrate that people should not be expected to follow a moral code when it comes to sexual intercourse, and probably many women can relate.

The author describes how she was raised by religious parents and a father that scared off boys while cleaning his gun, how she fell in love in college and "relinquished" her virginity unexpectedly on Cheez-It crumbs behind a couch in an off-campus apartment while "roommates farted and belched like cannon-fire in adjacent rooms," how she began taking birth control pills and used them for the next five years as a "serial monogamist," how after she had her heart broken and broke a few herself she decided to take a "leave of absence" and become abstinent, how a broken-hearted young man still pursued her with roses, poetry, and silly declarations of love, how she got pregnant and to her relief miscarried so she was "spared, making a choice" that might "haunt" her for the rest of her life, and finally how some ten years later she gave birth to two daughters with her husband "at just the right time, with exactly the right partner."

What does she credit for things working out well? Birth control, because abstinence got her pregnant.

Her point is this: "...sex should NOT BE a MORAL ISSUE, it should be a PRACTICAL ISSUE." [Emphasis hers.]

She plans to take her daughters to Planned Parenthood when they are in high school because although she hopes "they will only give themselves to men who cherish them" she believes it is better to be "practical" and dispense with any "moral imperatives" so they won't ever experience shame or blame. She concludes, "Knowledge is power."

Take a deep breath, relax your face muscles, and let's examine the logic of this statement because this is a serious issue that needs to be clarified. I once thought this way too, until I realized 1) everyone needs a moral code, and 2) words mean things.

We need definitions.
We have to know what we are talking about. The word "practical" is derived from the Latin practicalis and it relates to practice or action. The word "moral" stems from mōrālis and is concerned with ethics. Animals merely act without any rational consideration; but humans can act thoughtfully, can reason about morality, and don't have to be slaves to base appetites. I know - it's countercultural, but let it sink in. It's the truth.

There's a word that has become rather distorted, and it relates to choosing actions based on knowledge. That word is "conscience" from cum alio scientia, with other knowledge, science from experiment, and it begins with the individual. A rational being (i.e. a person) has the ability to use
reason and act in a conscionable way. By an active power of the soul, we use our intellect to gain knowledge, and it, admittedly, can be difficult. A properly formed conscience is not the work of a lazy intellect.

So what's the difference between acting "practically" and acting "morally"?
Really nothing, except the former is repetitious, and the latter implies a need for deeper thought and introspection. Someone may say, "Well, acting practically means to make good choices without appealing to harsh judgment." That, however, is a travesty to logic. To know what is good, one must judge, so the issue is still a moral issue, just without using that Big Scary Word. And without guidance you end up saying something silly like, "Birth control is the responsible thing to do when you aren't going to be responsible in the first place." Logical fail.

This confusion stems, in part, from the use of the word "sex." Let's examine that word. It comes from the Latin word secus which refers to the state of being male or female, sexual organs. The union of two bodies is sometimes called intercourse, but if we're talking about people instead of animals, we need a word that represents the union of both body and soul. "Intimacy" from the Latin intimus refers to the inmost, deep-seated, inner nature, that thing between a man and woman that is the deepest union, not isolated to a physical act. It encompasses - is the very wellspring - of the entire union and relationship.

Intimacy is uniquely human. Animals have intercourse to procreate; humans, however, can experience intimacy and pleasure in the marital bond to bring forth new life in love. See the difference? You take your pet to the vet to get fixed, not your daughters.

This is why we call that special union the consummate [consummātus lacking nothing, complete, perfect] marital [marītālis belonging privately to husband and wife] act [āctus physical movement], something intimate and specific to humanity. It's not sex, it's intimacy.

So we need to ask:
Does a mother really equip her daughters with the power of knowledge if she teaches them it's practical to succumb to lowly appetites? Does teaching them about birth control rather than intimacy and marriage spare them of any internal conflict of conscience?

No. But what if you teach them about birth control and abortion along with teaching them about intimacy, love, and marriage? Again, logical fail. You can't say, "Be prudent, but when you fail to be prudent, then be less prudent." That's not prudence, that's lowering the standard.

See, what unites us as people, what defines us as human regardless of any physical characteristic, is our mental endowment. Humans must think. We have a conscience, and for every action we use the judgment of reason to determine whether it is moral or not. Prudence is the knowledge of what we ought to seek and what we ought to avoid for our own good. Prudence gives us power to know the right thing to do, the right way to act. Mothers need to guide their daughters morally, and daughters desperately desire this guidance from their mothers.

What about shame and blame?
Well, part of that guidance is the development of a conscience and the instruction in the virtues. Prudence empowers a child to face fear, to avoid selfishness and pride because the child learns confidence in her ability to reason. It prevents her from harboring resentment from guilt because the child learns that she can make a mistake and still trust herself to do better, even if it's hard. Prudence prevents complacency because it helps the child navigate life with her eyes wide open. Thus, knowledge in matters of conscience teaches a child true freedom and peace. It's a challenge, but the alternative is to give up and stop trying. And again, that's just lazy.

What if a person makes an error in judgment against her core conscience because she hasn't really thought it through? Well she'll feel a tug, and that tug is proof that she knows and recognizes what is true and good deep down. Mrs. Shannon Bradley-Colleary reveals this tug in her Huffington Post article. The "19-year-old girl behind the couch" knew something wasn't right. The 25-year-old woman knew that "serial monogamy" was wrong.

It wasn't "abstinence" that got her pregnant, it was the genuine but imprudent desire for intimacy without marriage. The "sense of loss" felt for an "unwanted pregnancy" was real. Abortion does "haunt" for the rest of your life. The "hope" for daughters to find men to "cherish" them is as true as true gets. It's all called womanhood, and it's wonderful.

And Planned Parenthood will never teach our daughters any of that. They'll just fix them up with pills, devices, and latex as if the only thing they are capable of knowing is (irrationally) how to use them correctly.

-----

Stacy Trasancos, Ph.D. is a chemist turned homemaker raising seven children with her husband in the Northeast. She is pursuing a MA in Theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary and is Chief Editor at Ignitum Today. She writes about all that she is learning at Accepting Abundance.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

Feminism takes a sharp hit as men fight back with Meninism Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Some men today find offense in feminist issues and have taken to social media to demand equality, with Meninism. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Feminism is defined by Google as the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social and economic ... continue reading


We can all be philanthropists! Giving back to those in need has never been so simple. Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you:" Deuteronomy 16:17. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Giving back to others is an amazing feeling. Your heart expands and your mind is put to ease knowing you ... continue reading


A giant turtle in grave danger finds hope in an extraordinary savior Watch

Image of Turtles can be in grave danger if they remain flipped over for too long of a time period.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A turtle flipping onto its back, while appearing silly to viewers, can be a fatal event. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to animalquestions.org, if a turtle is unable to turn over and right themselves, they can die of starvation. A young girl from Taiwan ... continue reading


Why Catholics should think twice about the 'Elf on the Shelf' Watch

Image of The Elf on the Shelf has become a Christmas tradition for many families.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Over the last few years, a Christmas tradition has emerged in American households. Known as "The Elf on the Shelf" families set out a plush doll in their home and tell children that the doll reports to Santa Claus nightly. Now at least one professor has questioned if ... continue reading


An amazing voice in the middle of the night: A sleepy mother sings to her daughter and goes viral Watch

Image of Mother sings to her daughter in the middle of the night and becomes social media sensation.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

When a baby wakes up in the middle of the night crying there are a few things that can be done to put the baby back to sleep. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - You can rock the baby, you can feed the baby or you can sing to the baby.Kimberly Henderson of Sumter, ... continue reading


Aren't women human? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights continues to use male-dominated language when outlining human rights Watch

Image of Women's rights continued to be fought for everyday.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United Nations has four main purposes. The first one is maintaining worldwide peace and security. The United Nations' most prestigious document is The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is one of the most translated and printed documents in the world.In the ... continue reading


LOL, (L)MIRL! Do you know the meaning of popular acronyms used by kids today? The reality will shock you. Watch

Image of The amount of acronyms used in text messages continues to grow at an alarming rate.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With technology becoming easily accessible to all ages, methods to good parenting are not as black and white as they used to be. Upon opening a young adult's text message today, you might find something like, "OMG, ILY LOL. WYD?" What is that? Did they sit on their ... continue reading


Make your marriage last forever with two little words Watch

Image of Being grateful in a relationship is one of the most important factors in a successful marriage.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While there's no set in stone definition on how to have a successful marriage and every marriage is different, a new study suggests couples who encompass a specific trait have more success with a happy marriage. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - These couples are ... continue reading


What place do divorcees have in the Catholic Church? Pope Francis suggests lifting bans that target divorcees and those who've remarried Watch

Image of Pope Francis criticized the way the Catholic Church views those who have divorced and remarried during a recent interview with La Nacion, an Argentine daily paper.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During a recent interview with La Nacion, an Argentine daily paper, Pope Francis spoke on the challenges of his papacy, reform in the Roman Curia, and the unique pastoral challenges that both divorced and re-married couples face within the Church. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Is there a new mom in your life? Help to reduce the stress with these 10 great ideas Watch

Image of These are 10 great ways to help a new mom.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Becoming a new mother is an exciting time full of laughs and tears of joy. Becoming a new mother is also a scary time full of stress and many new worries. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Things like, are my dishes done, do I have food for dinner or did I catch the ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 7:10-14
10 Yahweh spoke to Ahaz again and said:11 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 20th, 2014 Image

St. Dominic of Silos
December 20: Benedictine abbot and defender of the faith. Born in Canas, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter