Contraception as a social policy, as a good to be pursued, must be rejected for what it is: a moral and social evil, an ignoble lie. And the fictitious "right to privacy" which protects it and all its wicked progeny, should be abandoned for what it is: an exercise of "raw judicial power." The policy of contraception and the "right to privacy" must be seen as the acts of "miserable cities of designing men," "betrayed in the mazes" of their "ingenuities," and "sold by the proceeds" of their "proper inventions."
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - There is an old saw about an American tourist hopelessly lost in rural Ireland and trying to get to the city of Limerick. He spots an Irish farmer, sitting on a fence, and thinks he's found the way out of his quandary. "Surely the old Irish farmer knows the way to Limerick," he thinks to himself. "Excuse me," he asks the farmer, "how do I get to Limerick?" The Irish farmer eyes him, thinks a bit, mulls over his response, and then tells him in a thick brogue. "If I were you, I wouldn't start from here."
In a similar manner, Americans seem hopelessly lost when it comes to marriage and family life. Any way you look at it, the "social statics" clearly indicate that American marital and familial life is far from happy, far from flourishing.
To be sure, statistics are notoriously subject to manipulation. Like the rhetoricians of old, who abused their craft to make the worse reason to appear the better, statistics can be, and are, used to beguile the public into swallowing falsehoods.
In his book The Silence of the Sea, Hilaire Belloc wrote that "statistics come under the head of lying, and that no lie is so false or inconclusive as that which is based on statistics." "Before the curse of statistics fell upon mankind," he continued, "we lived a happy, innocent life, full of merriment and go, and informed by fairly good judgment."
The lie behind the statistic and its political abuse by agenda-driven politicians is illustrated by the Guttmacher Institute's 2011 report which reported the supposed "statistic" that 98% of Catholic women had used artificial contraception, and only 2% supposedly used natural family planning. "In real-life America," said the report's lead author Rachel Jones, "contraceptive use and strong religious beliefs are highly compatible."
(Of course, the statement by Rachel Jones does not even make sense when the "strong religious belief" includes the view that contraceptive use is against nature and the revealed law of God, but we will let that lie.)
That flawed "statistic" was touted by the liberal politicos as a justification for the HHS birth control mandate, a mandate which, in violation of basic religious freedom, requires employers to pay for contraception and for abortion-inducing drugs in their employee's health plans, and which only grudgingly and sparingly has carved out a few exceptions.
For example, Cecilia Muñoz, the Director of the White House Domestic Poly Council, cited to that "statistic" in defending the Obama administration's position, publishing it on the White House blog. Nancy Pelosi cited that statistic in her support for "women's health issues," a generic word that in progressive new-speak necessarily includes contraception and abortion.
Though we may dispute the accuracy of the 98% statistic, as something worse than a lie, even a "damned lie," as Mark Twain asserted Benjamin Disraeli called the false use of statistics, it is unquestionable that a large portion of spouses who identify themselves as Catholics use as a regular course, artificial contraception. Sadly, they seem to contracept at about the same level as society in general.
These Catholics along with the society at large of which they form part have been drawn into the "Noble lie" (though it is really an ignoble lie) by the false lure of the alleged benefits of the sexual revolution--freedom being its general theme, and "women's health" being its current euphemism--the cornerstone of which is artificial contraception.
We are told that freedom requires that a woman be allowed to contracept, and, as an extension of that, to abort. We ought to be wary of the claim.
To those attuned to history, false claims to freedom are always to be found behind the human detritus of the charnel houses of modern history with all their varied, if depressing names: Concentration Camps, Gulags, Killing Fields, Laogai . . . .
Any freedom based, not upon compliance with the natural moral law or (what is the same thing) God's law, but upon violations of that law is not freedom. It is not freedom because it is irresponsible, it does not answer to anyone for freedom. It never asks the question: from Whom does the gift of freedom come? If it never asks the question, it will never even ponder an answer.
Freedom is not free if it is not responsible, if it does not ask this question, and does not give the right answer.
Arbeit macht frei--work makes you free--went the slogan over the Nazi concentration camps, a false promise by an irresponsible secular State if there ever was any. Another promise of the modern irresponsible secular State: Empfängnisverhütung macht frei--contraception makes your free--is false. As irresponsibility breeds further irresponsibility, this a view has led to the even more barbaric Schwangerschaftsabbruch macht frei--Abortion makes you free. All these slogans try to make just that which is intrinsically unjust.
The social price of this false freedom has been immense. As Mary Eberstadt documents it in her recent book Adam and Eve after the Pill (a book everyone should read), the social costs of the sexual revolution which is built upon contraception have been staggering. We live under the weight of ruined marriages, ruined family lives, ruined personalities, and a deep malaise, the fruits of bad policy, bad morals, and bad law. Had we listened to our hearts, and had we heeded the teachings of Paul VI in Humanae vitae, we might have been spared all of this. And this does not include the body count of dead fetuses, each of which is, as Pope Francis recently reminded us, "uno di noi," one of us.
President Obama--the Spokesman in Chief of this false freedom--told Planned Parenthood that the opponents to contraception and abortion want to "turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s."
No, Mr. President. We want to turn forward to policies more suited to humans, to human love, to responsible living, and to happiness anytime and anywhere. We're tired of the failed policies of the 60s. It is time to turn the clock forward!
We cannot fix our problems starting from the assumption that artificial contraception is a good. It is not. It is an intrinsic moral evil. It is an intrinsic moral evil for many reasons, but at the heart of these reasons is its necessary exclusion of God and divinization of man, which is to say its fundamental irresponsibility. It goes beyond the category of mortal sin (though it certainly is that), to being a fundamental option, a fundamental election, an intrinsic revolt against God himself and the human nature he crafted. That is why artificial contraception can never be excused. No properly formed conscience can justify it. Ever. It is simply too anti-God and too anti-man.
It is, at base, the same as Satan's non serviam, "I will not serve." As Carl Olson described it in an essay in The Catholic World Report, "contraception places before us the central issue of our age--who has dominion over man? Man himself or God?" If any question is a basic question, that question is.
"To divorce sex from procreation is to divorce man from his role as co-creator with God in order to set man up as the sole lord of even his own existence," Olson explains. "It is to reduce sex to the level of a simple biological function which, as such, belongs to the nature over which man has dominion. In doing this, man gives himself the warrant to define for himself what is good and what is evil in all matters pertaining to sex-and thus to life and death."
Building a society on contraception is therefore a direct affront to God. It is an arrogation of a power, of a position, of a fundamental stance vis-à-vis God that is not ours to make. It is more than atheist, it is anti-theist. It is another eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It results in us hiding from God and perceiving him an enemy of our freedom, when the truth is exactly the opposite.
Building a civil society upon this human invention of contraception is the venture of the godless building a godless society. It is immoral man building an immoral society. It is a venture in which the authentic Catholic will not, cannot, must not join. A practicing Catholic will see it for what it is:
O miserable cities of designing men,
O wretched generation of enlightened men,
Betrayed in the mazes of your ingenuities,
Sold by the proceeds of your proper inventions
That contraception and abortion makes a society free is thus a false plan; it results in a social, political, and medical Tower of Babel. Unfortunately, we all fall under "the shadow of that hideous strength" of the current political and social regime and their propaganda. So blinded, many of us fail to see the light that natural morality and the Church's teaching would otherwise normally have shed on the matter.
Contraception and abortion have troubled our marriages and our families, our "little platoons" as Edmund Burke called them, for decades, and, as Proverbs tells us, he that troubles his own house, shall inherit the wind. (Prov. 11:29) We shall inherit the wind,
And the wind shall say: "Here were decent godless people:
Their only monument the asphalt road
And a thousand lost golf balls."
Oh, would that the wind should only say that about our folly! No, the wind will say that our monument was worse than the banality of a thousand lost golf balls lost by slices and hooks. The monument of contraception is ruined marriages, ruined families, and tens of millions babies killed, murdered with the complicity of the State. And this abhorrent price for what? For a few orgasms, irresponsible orgasms, whose infertility is assured? This is the "good," the mess of pottage, for which we traded our birthright?
The lust for irresponsible orgasms has darkened married love, and so it has hardened hearts and family life and ruined our moral fiber. Hearts without love, become hard, unresponsive to freedom, hardened even to death. Our desire for irresponsible orgasms leads naturally and ineluctably to the loss of freedom and the culture of death. "Love," John Paul II said in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, "cannot be irresponsible. Its beauty is the fruit of responsibility. When love is truly responsible, it is also truly free."
To protect this Tower of Babel and its shadow under which we live, we devised as its foundation a law drawn from another shadow, a "penumbra, formed by emanations" in the Bill of Rights, and called it "right to privacy." The brainchild of Justice William O. Douglas, it is found in the 1965 Supreme Court opinion of Griswold v. Connecticut, which in this shady "right to privacy," found an even shadier Constitutional protection for the sale, distribution, and use of contraceptives by married couples. And thus, in one fell swoop, by a legal fiction, was overturned as unconstitutional myriad State laws that had made such illegal (the so-called "Comstock laws").
The "right to privacy" had its wicked progeny, each seemingly darker than the generation before. Like Pandora's box, the lid to the "right to privacy" can no longer be shut. Soon after it was first hatched in 1965, came the 1972 case of Eisenstadt v. Baird, where the right to contraception was extended to everyone. And now, in the latest mutation, we have 15-year-olds with the right to over-the-counter immorality without parental consent.
In 1973, this principle was used to raise abortion to a constitutional right in Roe v. Wade. In 2003, in the case of Lawrence v. State, it was used to raise sodomy to the altar of protected constitutional right. Who knows what other enormities it will justify in the future? Right to privacy, thy name is Legion.
So, how do we fix those problems that have followed in the wake of the sexual revolution while insisting that we keep the supposed benefits of that sexual revolution? Well, if we ask the old Irish farmer leaning on the fence, we will get an answer, and it happens even to be the right one. "If I were you, I wouldn't start from here."
Contraception as a social policy, as a good to be pursued, must be rejected for what it is: a moral and social evil, an ignoble lie. And the fictitious "right to privacy" which protects it and all its wicked progeny, should be abandoned for what it is: an exercise of "raw judicial power." The policy of contraception and the "right to privacy" must be seen as the acts of "miserable cities of designing men," "betrayed in the mazes" of their "ingenuities," and "sold by the proceeds" of their "proper inventions." We must dare to look at the evil Wizard behind the curtain manipulating this lie. If we do, we will see his name: Beelzebub.
When that happens, and only when that happens, we'll be on the right starting place to take the yellow brick road to Limerick.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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