The Catholic Church And Contraception

This is a follow up to Robert Levine’s excellent post below on American Puritanism.  A very good article in The Washington Post a couple of weeks ago has not received the attention it deserved, How the Catholic Church almost came to accept birth control.  The Catholic Churches’ objection to birth control is recent.

Contrary to widely held assumptions, the Catholic ban on birth control is relatively recent and has not been consistently supported by the clergy and the laity. Prior to the 1930s, the church had no official position on contraception. But on Dec. 31, 1930, Pope Pius XI issued a papal encyclical, Casti Connubii (Latin for “Of Chaste Wedlock”), which for the first time explicitly prohibited Catholics from using contraception.

It was a Catholic Doctor, John Rock, who developed the birth control pill thinking it would answer Church objections to birth control.  He was both right and wrong.

In 1964, Pope Paul appointed a commission on birth control to advise him. As the panel deliberated, anticipation ran high; many journalists, clergy and lay Catholics expected the church to lift the ban. Scottish songwriter Matt McGinn wrote a jaunty tune, recorded by Pete Seeger, about a woman with a house full of children waiting for the pope to “bless the pill.” She buys a package of birth control pills so she will be ready when the church acquiesces. In the final stanza, she hopes to hear the pope’s approval “before my man comes in.”

In 1967, the commission’s report was leaked to the press, revealing that a significant majority of its members favored lifting the ban, including 60 of 64 theologians and nine of the 15 cardinals. The minority who were opposed issued a separate report. After much consideration, the pope issued a formal encyclical, Humanae Vitae (“Of Human Life”) in 1968, siding with the minority and reaffirming the church’s prohibition of any form of artificial birth control.

The decision was not popular.

Catholic leaders quickly criticized the decision. Father Bernard Haring of Rome, widely regarded as the leading moral theologian at the time, called upon Catholic women and men to follow their consciences, rather than the pope’s decree. Countless parish priests agreed and gave sermons to that effect. The pope’s decision had little impact on Catholic women’s use of contraception. Two years after the decree, two-thirds of Catholic women were using contraception. Quickly, the gap between Catholic and non-Catholic women disappeared. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, Catholic women use birth control at the same rate as non-Catholic women. The Catholic Church has remained an outlier on the issue, unable to enforce its ban.

I guess we should not be surprised that a group of theoretically celibate men are out of touch with reality but out of touch they are as indicated by the fact that Catholic Church pews are filled with families consisting of one or two children.

124 Comments

  1. Apparently this group of “theoretically celibate men” not only believe women shouldn’t have control of their own bodies, but also believe it is better for populations to continue rising in places where the resources can’t sustain the numbers, even when that leads to starvation, disease, and wars. Is this what Jesus would have wanted, or is he trumped by the Vatican?

  2. You are so right zephyr – at a time when the planet has already acceded peak people it is morally irresponsible and just another indication that the Catholic Church has no moral authority.

  3. there are thugs in the church who threaten damnation to those who do not follow their remonstrances. there are such holy men and women in the church who do go far to bind up the wounds of those harmed by life … and by the church.

    For me, seeing the huge Catholic makeup of SCOTUS, and ‘conversions’ of Gingrich, randall Terry, and the late Bob Novak… and the visits to the Bush family seeking to convert them, I deeply sense there is nefarious movement by the vatican to influence USA politics. Fine enough, but we’d like it to be in the open, esp who the bishops are visiting right now. The church was meant to be a place of ‘catholicism’ in the best sense of the word. It has, via some few but powerful, fallen into disgrace after disgrace.

    I am a catacomb Catholic.

    Thanks Ron, Appreciate it.

  4. Dr E
    I somehow knew this would be your reaction. There are indeed good people in the Catholic Church but they seldom get the press coverage. While there is a part of me that can understand the moral logic of being opposed to abortion there is no part of me that can understand the immoral opposition to birth control and apparently the vast majority of American Catholics agree.

  5. @ron “Dr E
    I somehow knew this would be your reaction.”

    Geez I am that predictable? Yikes, I have to start wearing my Zorro mask and saying strange things in Castilliano. I hope you are laughing with me.

    In reply to you with gravity, I think for me and for many, a turning point of huge departure was brought into focus by ‘mother’ theresa, seeing her holding little babies in such pain, and in the same week coming to a huge rally in the USA and preaching no contraception. I think from that juxtapositon, both televised, there was no way not to see that some in the church talked up suffering of the so very vulnerable and innocent, somehow trying to tout that tiny ones be born in pain and die in pain at just a few months old, trying to say this was noble. It isnt. It’s heinous. It is utterly cruel. Utterly.

    Not mentioning the hideous spread of AIDS in Africa amongst a huge Catholic population as well as those who are not… the orphans alone… there is no way to justify the church’s trope of the suffering of the little ones is somehow righteous. It isnt’. It will never be so.

    I think your point about many Catholics trying to bring children responsibly, is true… the church’s trope about the rhythm method being ok, but sheepskin thin as veil, not being ok… continues. But not by devout and thoughtful people. And there are many within the church who too easily love the arousal of condemning others who are thoughtful. Almost as though the ire and peeve and arousal are the point. To me, that says much about the psychological underlayment of some, having nothing to do with Our Lord or his Mother.

  6. My dislike of the Catholic Church is pretty obvious, but there are wonderful and caring members within the Church. It is the organization that I despise…and they pain it has created throughout the centuries.

    As for birth control, it is quite simple. Catholics not having babies is bad for the future of the Catholic Church…and that is where they get their morality. It is not a question of morality or decree…

    it is simply math, power, and survival.

  7. Wow, that OP is incredibly distorted. Both Casti Connubii and Humanae Vitae were written In reaction to the times, when both secular society and Protestant churches were promoting birth control and/or abortion, but that doesn’t mean that the Church was reversing its positions (it was seeing the need to reaffirm them with clarity.) if anything, Casti Connubii was liberalizing the teachings a bit by affirming that conjugal relations between spouses during natural times of infertility were licit. This was reaffirmed in Humanae Vitae and forms the basis for the modern practice of Natural Family Planning.

    I also find it strange that the author of the OP and others here find it significant to even note that Church teaching isn’t decided via democratic means. Is this really a revelation?

    Finally, I find it distressing that the real moral reasoning is ignored by those who presume nothing but self serving or ill intent. That being the case, I certainly don’t hope to convince anyone here but hope that some will consider studying the actual encyclicals as well as Pope John Paul Ii Theology of the Body.

  8. Thank you CStanley. That needed said.

    “that doesn’t mean that the Church was reversing its positions (it was seeing the need to reaffirm them with clarity.)”

    I’ll elaborate a bit. Before Casti Connubii the church had nothing as clear as an encyclical, but bishops and theologians overwhelmingly spoke out against contraception going to the early church fathers. There are not many such condemnations but they far outnumber support for contraception.

    Some of the oppostition to the Catholic church is quite understandable, but too much of it is based on such horrible misinformation.

  9. Ron, I don’t understand the moral reasoning behind the bishops’ opposition to BC either. Clearly, almost nobody does. I admire those who can accept this difficult teaching of the church, but I cannot.

    I oppose the church forcing its teachings on our pluralistic nation, but I also oppose secular society forcing its morality on the bishops.

    Dr. E, Often, even horrible suffering is unavoidable. Science and Technology admirably seek to eliminate it, but I believe it can only be minimized. Even if it does succeed, that is no comfort to those who suffer today from incurable illness.

    Christianity is the only belief system I’ve studied that has an acceptable answer to the problem of suffering. In part, the answer is that suffering isn’t as bad as we think it is. Part of that is that, if there is a heaven, then our lives here are astoundingly brief in comparison.

    Avoidable suffering is indeed cruel, but that’s because someone did not act to prevent what was preventable. The suffering itself is every bit as noble as the unavoidable suffering of a small child dying of incurable cancer. Jesus suffered and He didn’t deserve it either.

  10. There is nothing noble in suffering. Jesus chose to suffer for our sins and that is noble… he was not born HIV positive with a crack addiction.

    The Catholic celebration of suffering reminds me of an S&M relationship.

  11. My mother didn’t choose Alzheimer’s, yet traditional Christian thought sees her suffering as a sharing in the suffering of Jesus.

    I’ll try to be clear: her suffering being noble in no way excuses me from my responsibility to ease her suffering. Similarly, the church should not use “Suffer the Children” as an excuse not to ease the suffering of HIV/crack babies.

  12. Is the implication here that the process by which the Catholic church decided to not accept contraception justifies the government’s interference?

    I heard a right-wing talking head recently say that the government is effectively telling the Catholic church how it should interpret its own doctrine. I thought that that was a stretch. But that’s essentially what is happening on this thread at least. The message is: We don’t like how the Catholic church came to this decision, so we can ignore it. Seems like a dangerous precedent. When will the validity of my church’s teachings be up for governmental scrutiny?

  13. AD-I am with you I do not think this argument or accusing the WH of trying to change an interpretation of church doctrine really have any validity in this debate.

    We all know how the church makes its decisions and we all know that most forms of contraception are rather new and therefore the above story is in no way surprising or upsetting…unless you truly expected something else. The catholic church has a very long history of only moving to the right side of history on an issue after the wrong side has become so utterly devoid of sustainability it is causing them a PR nightmare and then it takes a few decades or a century to shift. This is at the very heart of the argument for a secular state.

  14. MSF – other than your liberal use of superlatives, I pretty much agree with you there.

  15. To be clear when I said “we all know how the church makes its decisions” I was not speaking of some evil plot but merely that the Pope makes the call. Meaning it is not a democracy but instead it is a decision coming from a single person.

  16. Clearly I’m at odds with those who are certain that the sexual revolution was on the right side of history, but I’m having trouble seeing that as the inevitable conclusion. Do those who believe that not at least see that there’s been a downside?

  17. CStanley-It depends on how you define the “sexual revolution” I define it as the time period in which women were no longer tied until death to spouses they often married only either to have sex, because it is just what you do or because of a pregnancy(the men were also free’d). I also define it as the time period in which we began to look at sex more realistically as opposed to urban legends and superstition that increased stds and unwanted pregnancies(though primarily in the lower classes that we largely ignored). I also define it as the time period when things like Howl could be published. Meaning it was when freedom of the press and of speech became more of a reality than it had previously been and for a literature and film geek the differences between pre and post sexual revolution literature and cinema are stark and I tend to prefer the post variety.

    In short this gave half of the population a great deal more liberty than they had prior to that. Less partners now stay with a mis-match or an abuser or a cheater and those that do leave or have a child have less social stigma on themselves and their offspring and therefore are more likely to re-marry and often times with better results.

  18. Homosexuals which have always been a part of civilization no longer have to live in constant fear of incarceration or state sanctioned violence or blackmail because they cant come out. Initially this caused homosexuals to create a separate sub-culture but even that is going away as they become more accepted and are no longer being forced into unhappy marriages and lives.

    It also doubled our workforce and in doing so quickly brought an end to what was a normalization of work place sexual harrassment. It also moved us away from the excuse of “she was asking for it” in regards to rape.

  19. Um, so if you reframe my question to only examine positive outcomes, you will come up with only positive outcomes. That’s kind of a given, MSF. ;-)

  20. Sorry fighting the spam filter sec.

  21. CS, I’d like to see a serious discussion of your question too.

    MSF, I think we’d all agree that there are many positive outcomes. The question was “aren’t there a few downsides too?”

  22. Bah and I keep losing. I think that forcing most lower income families to be dual income to make it by was a major negative but otherwise I see it as similar to the end of slavery or the civil rights movements. Negatives popped up but primarily the cause was long periods of denying liberty to all citizens and the push back and forth between those trying to re-define themselves in the evolving culture and those trying to take us back to a time they are more comfortable with(meaning the culture war itself was a negative).

    At heart I am a libertarian for better or worse so in my view more liberty and freedom are good though I do acknowledge that it always involves growing pains. Much of the problems we now blame on the sexual revolution existed before in the lower classes we just didnt speak of it. Now we live in a land where secrets no longer really stay in the family and that could equally be blamed on the rise of psychology which also came in the same time period. The violence often linked to that time period also comes from the shift in how we trained our soldiers in Vietnam compared to prior periods, see the book On Killing, that then spilled into our prisons and into our college frat hazing rituals. TO me sex is not a societal problem, violence is and though the roots of those in our current context comes from the same time period they have different causes.

  23. Well, in addition to the negatives you mention, I do see the coursening of culture toward complete acceptance of casual sex and objectification of persons as a negative, and direct correlates of those cultural changes with respect to disintegration of family and a lot of psychological distress among young people (particlularly adolescent girls, I think ,although I’m not so sure that boys are really unscathed.)

    We’ll probably never agree on those things, but really the reason I brought it up was in response to your comment where I think you were alluding to historical events like The Gallileo affair. My point really is that we’re talking about social science which isn’t at all a hard science, so there can never be a time when the Church is forced to accept as fact that which is really opinion.

  24. Sorry, that should be “coarsening” of the culture.

  25. I think CS nails it with coarsening and objectifying. I see more and more acknowledgement of that from secularists which is mildly encouraging.

    MSF, I can agree with most of what you said too. I consider myself a bad libertarian. “Bad” in the sense that some big govt programs are terrific for the common good, and without some restraint on capitalism we’d all owe our souls to the company store.

  26. CStanley-Well yes and no, from psychological studies we have learned many things but much like Galileo in his time they are ignored or unknown by much of society. Those studies have facts and those facts are provable but I doubt they will ever reach the level of acceptance that Galileo eventually did, as a good example much of our nation still struggles against Darwin.

    I do see physical objectification to be a major negative but I also think that will eventually reach a balancing point. To avoid acceptance and normalization of pre-marital sex is a problem since that moves us back to the “whore/slut” realm where we live in a binary world of sluts and women that waited(and this is ignoring the sexual double standard inherent in what I just said). Problem is if you talk to people that lived through prior eras you quickly find that pre-marital sex was pretty common then as well, what is uncommon is being open and honest about it, well that and the free use of nice words for fatherless children.

    This is of course ignoring the fact that we are in reality speaking of religions and their followers preference for their followers being used as a template for the rest of society. Social cons are free to live like social cons and raise their kids that way and their kids are free to listen to whom they choose and act as they choose when they leave the house. At your front door and at the church door is where those rules end because when you walk outside you are in the public square that is filled with people who shouldnt be forced to live by your morals any more than you should be forced to live by theirs. Instead we should allow everyone the freedom and liberty of their own choices and we did not have that prior to the sexual revolution.

  27. JDave-We are basically cut from the same jib I think.

  28. Akk sorry CStanley just realized I was “painting a corner” there that I in no way intended to paint you into, it was just an error on my part. I have a tendency of going all “Braveheart Speech.”

  29. MSF, I’m getting the same impression.

    Another point:

    There’s something about that double standard that persists even among secularists advocating a modern approach to sexuality. Any call for sexual restraint is met with outraged accusations that we are calling women sluts. But the double standard is even in their objection. In any consensual act all parties are responsible. Just because our grandparents would have blamed the woman, doesn’t mean that those calling for restraint today aren’t being perfectly even-handed about it now. It’s difficult to have a reasoned discussion.

  30. Quick clarification: I think sexual restraint as the church teaches is a very good thing, but I don’t want the govt to have anything at all to do with that.

  31. JDave-True I would note though that the sexual double standard is still very commonly accepted in society so it is difficult to see it without that lens.

    I fail to see how doubling the amount of people we shame for being “loose” while praising those that lie about it or keep their sex lives secret as a positive. An advantage of speaking openly about sexuality is that sexually incompatible couples are less likely to attempt marriage, since they know earlier of some structural problems.

  32. I dont think sexual restraint is bad it is sexual repression and an attempt to define what is and is not acceptable for all groups that is a problem.

  33. Interesting discussion on the sexual revolution. I don’t have much to add except to encourage you all to look up Peggy Orenstein who wrote the book “Cinderella Ate My Daughter”. She is a liberal (by my judgment) so I don’t agree with her on a lot of things but she is absolutely right about the destructive nature of our current culture of over-sexualization/objectification of women, particularly on young women. As a father of a daughter I am very concerned about this.

    In my view, we went from a time where women were practically owned by their husbands and therefore were viewed as private playthings. Then they were freed (a good thing), but now the pendulum has swung too far and they are now seen as public playthings. Equality for women and conservative (small c) views on morality are not mutually exclusive.

    I’m speaking culturally, here. I am not for state control of morality.

  34. AD-Actually if you go with the core of conservative thought on most any other topic equality for women and for that matter equality for everyone and a lack of gov interference is right in front of your face. You really have to inject the social con movement to understand why the GOP is on the side of this fight that it is and if memory serves prior to around the late 1960′s they were on the other side as were the Dems.

  35. MSF, that’s true of any political issue and always has been, because the art of politics involves putting together various coalitions of people. If you look at the evolution you’re referring to, and looking at the whole body of Catholic morality, the Democrats generally adopted the social justice teachings and the GOP has taken on the sexual and family values. In both cases, the libertarian ideals have to be stretched to their limits to justify the governmental powers they advocate.

    There’s also been plenty of ‘convenient’ conversions on the Dem side, particularly among blacks who tended to be more aligned with current socons on the sexual issues (look at Jesse Jackson’s history on abortion for instance, and tension remains today between blacks and LGBT rights coalition in the Dem party.)

  36. And that is also ignoring pro-life Dems that tend to come from pro-life areas of the country.

    The pol that helped make this pivot for the GOP that grew the tent was Nixon that turned abortion into a wedge issue(not that it shouldnt have been just noting when it was created). I have been arguing that Obama is just doing the same thing shifting the debate from abortion and to contraception to grow the Dem tent and contract the GOPs. He is even doing it like Nixon did by agreeing with his opponents on so much that they have to run from him to avoid making deals and then picking his preferred wedge issues and allowing his opposition to act as they stereotypically would for his benefit.

  37. Adsdad, I have three daughters aged 22, 18, and 15 and have been very concerned about this almost since the first emerged with two arms and two legs. I talk to them. It helps.

    MSF, Shame and praise – two words, each worthy of a long essay.

    And yes, the great disconnect with Repubs is the govt activism they advocate on private matters and the laissez faire they advocate for business. It’s political of course, strange bedfellows and all.

    Ron Paul is appealling because of his consistently applied principles, and unappealling because his principles are out there.

  38. Also MSF, I didn’t take that personally about religion in the public square, although I don’t completely agree with you either. I do agree that most support for religious values should come from families and the churches, and I don’t advocate a legislative assist- but I also think the reverse has to hold, that secularists can’t push religious values out of the culture via legislation.

  39. CS, good points, but the Repubs actually have a libertarian streak even if they’re pretending on some issues, while the Dems don’t even pretend to

  40. MSF, I agree about Obama working the wedge. I find it funny (but not, really) that some are falling for it hook line and sinker in feeling that there’s been a sudden suicidal urge for the GOP to widen the culture war gulf when it’s actually reacting to Obama’s fire across the bow.

    Also funny but not really is the way that certain people (not implicating you here MSF) used to talk very disparagingly about the idea of wedge issues, when what they really resented was that wedges had been driven into their own side’s coalitions (objecting really because they were losing, not tot the principle even though that’s how they framed their argument.)

    And really, in some ways I can step back too and see what Obama is doing is good politics and his team deserves some respect for that, but if there’s ever been a time in our history when the culture war card shouldn’t be played I’d say it is now.

  41. jDave- I’d say there used to be a stronger libertarian streak in the Dem party but the party has definitely moved from classical liberalism to progressivism so has left some of them behind. I think most such people identify as independents and many still vote Democrat as the lesser of two evils because they’re more strongly repulsed by social conservatism than by big govt liberal economics.

  42. And there are a growing number of secularists who would gleefully use legislation to push religion out of the public square.

    It’s important to keep in mind that all of the founding principles of this country (e.g. inalienable rights) are moral propositions. Many people come to these convictions thru religion and many others thru secular humanism.

    In our pluralistic society all of these different people come together and make their case based on many differnt views of what is moral and what is not. The democratic process eventually stumbles to an imperfect conclusion.

    One of our contry’s principles is that all citizens are allowed to make their case, even bishops.

  43. CS, you described how I’ve always voted.

  44. To clarify, when I used the term “conservative views on morality” I mean “conservative” in the cultural sense, not the political sense. I might have more accurately used the word “traditional.”

    CS, your last point hits on something that has been bugging me for this whole debate. People act like this is something that the GOP brought up to take away health care from women. But, the GOP is just defending what had previously been the consensus on this issue.

  45. The wingnuts in SC swung the pendulum way to the Right, like 1400′s.
    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2.....rital-sex/
    Here’s a nugget of ridiculous for you.

    The Laurens County Republican Party in South Carolina is chastening it up, requiring aspiring party members to pledge that they’ve never had premarital sex, and that they will never look at porn again.

    No, seriously:

  46. CS-My issue was always purely with single issue voters and that is true for abortion or any other issue. Voting for a single issue when you vote counter to your beliefs on the rest is something that makes zero sense to me but it is commonly done on abortion and guns on both sides of the divide.

    Wedge issues and what they are is merely how politics work though sometimes they can be chosen unwisely. For instance Roves choice of using gay marriage as a wedge was a tad short sighted but it did win him that election.

    I think people fail to see it because first many in the GOP are convinced Obama is the stupidest POTUS in the nations history and are therefore unable to see him for what he is, a very talented pivot POTUS. The left thought Nixon was to “bizarre” to actually be any real danger but they were wrong he re-drew the battle lines in a manner that greatly benefited the GOP for 40 years.

    I cant say this is a better or worse time for wedge issues since we have always had them and wedge issues by definition is how we as a nation highlight our difference in choices. What is sad is that many GOP operatives have to see this for what it is but are unable to stuff a sock in their pols mouth fast enough.

    At the state level since 2010 the GOP has acted like Dems classically did by flailing on social issues before they lose power and it has been noticed. Then the contraception thing comes up and really the only good road for the GOP was to just not fall for it or better yet note that it lowered abortion rates so it is better than the alternative. Sadly they had been crowing about the contraception fight since HCR passed. Meaning the GOP CHOSE this wedge issue and still lost. This is most likely due to shifting cultural values and their inability to see it coming but it is interesting.

  47. AD-When HCR passed the GOP loudly telegraphed that this would be their next punch on the issue. The GOP chose this hill to stand on, they just misread the lay of the land I think.

  48. AD yeah, the same thing happened during the HCR debate regarding the Hyde amendment. Who knows, that might be where the WH political team got the idea that this could work in their favor.

  49. MSF, in what way has the GOP been crowing about contraception since HCR passed?

  50. CS-It goes all the way back to the Stupak amendment. At that time whether or not religious orgs would be left out of contraception coverage was discussed and the GOP blog world and Fox news talkers really seemed to think they had HCR over a barrel. If the hill chosen had been abortion itself instead of BC they may have been right but as it stands they lost it.

  51. “There’s something about that double standard that persists even among secularists advocating a modern approach to sexuality. Any call for sexual restraint is met with outraged accusations that we are calling women sluts.”

  52. Hi JDave. The issue here is that it’s so rarely a general call for sexual restraint. And please note that “secularists” almost universally call for sexual restraint in their own families. The problem many of us non-religious people have is that calls for sexual restraint from religious groups, when directed at people in general (particularly those not in the church), are not given for the mental or physical health of people who might have sex, but are given as specific denouncements of immoral bahavior that is causing all sorts of things that really aren’t related — well, heck, look at CStanley’s list.

  53. Unmarried people having sex is not the cause of the breakdown of the family. Yes, when people are allowed to leave miserable marriages, they tend to do so. Successful families do have a lot of different forms than they used to. Unsuccessful or incomplete families are more common as well, but that doesn’t correlate with whether or not those in the family fooled around before marriage. I quite honestly don’t know anyone my age who married the first person they had sex with, and I know many families of my generation who are very successful and happy. Families in which, for example, the father has no contact, has a huge correlation to poverty and getting pregnant before the relationship was stable, but that’s different than correlating to an incidence of having sex out of wedlock.

  54. In any case, if the church is going to talk about how people should just stop doing it instead of women getting to take birth control, yeah, that’s a punishment for women that essentially says that if women are going to do it, they’re just going to have to get what they deserve. That’s the slut argument in a nutshell, JDave.

    (By the way, there are so many comments because evidently more than one paragraph in a comment means that it’s spam.)

  55. Roro, how can you be so sure that other people who argue for sexual restraint don’t do it for the same reasons that you and yours advocate it within your families? I mean I agree that some people still have a gender double standard, but you seem to presume that anyone who believes in sexual restraint and also has religious motivations is actually either explicitly or implicitly employing slut shaming.

    Don’t forget that Catholic MEN aren’t permitted to use birth control either, or to have extramarital sex.

  56. More complaints of “spammy” comments, will break it down. Again.

    “how can you be so sure that other people who argue for sexual restraint don’t do it for the same reasons that you and yours advocate it within your families?”

  57. Hi CStanley. The short answer to your question is that often times the reasons are explicitly given, and most of the rest of the time, the reasons are easily implied by context. I don’t doubt that there are some individuals that do have the same reasons to call for restraint, even if I disagree with their encouragement of judgment of those who have different opinions on the matter.

  58. Yes, I know that Catholic men aren’t permitted to use birth control or have extramarital sex. However, we’re also not getting calls from the Catholic church about how men shouldn’t be able to get the healthcare they need because they should just stop having sex. I’ve seen no calls to cut gonnorhea medication from Catholic-paid insurance plans.

  59. Catholics or other churches can (and should!) preach their doctrine to their congregations, to their children. My point to JDave was about general calls for sexual restraint by the church. These general calls for restraint almost always come up in connection with issues or events — abortion, contraception, STDs, AIDS in the US and over seas, the breakdown of the family, etc. Saying that sexual restraint will help cure these societal ills shows no understanding of the overall issues involved, and merely goes to blame the victims. It’s a way for the church to shrug its shoulders and say “I’m not going to deal with this problem”. If they don’t want to deal with it, fine, but I’d much prefer they didn’t do the harm of blaming the victims in the meantime.

  60. Hi roro :)

    Recall that I can’t really defend the bishops on some of these things.

    I will say this. The bishops openly admit that their mission in life is to convert the world (should be mine too, I suppose). They do want everyone to abide by the truth – a truth that they are certain of. No one should be shocked at that news.

    But the bishops are widely ignored. I think you’re mistaken, but maybe you’re right that the bishops really do think you’re a sl*t, but you can ignore them. Most Catholics do.

    The bishops will not succeed in outlawing anything you want to do. They might succeed in making birth control a little more inconvenient for you to get. They might succeed in not being forced to pay for it.

    That reply was a bit hasty, and I’m outta time until much later.

  61. The Catholic church has no trouble treating people who need it because they’ve done something wrong. They have trouble helping people do something wrong.

  62. Thank you JDave- your last is what I was about to say. The Church currently is involved with treating STDs of both sexes, roro. This isn’t about refusing treatment because of disapproving of behavior that led to a medical condition- it’s whether or not the act involved in treatment is in accordance with conscience.

    And the only reason that the discussion is centering around women is that it’s politically advantageous for Dems to frame it that way. The mandates in question also cover other medical tx like sterilization, which the Church has a moral objection to for men as well as women. Clearly a more common thing is the pill for women but if there was a chemical contraceptive for men it would be treated the same way.

  63. Re your comment about the Church not wanting to deal with those social ills, roro… Good grief, please google to see how much the Church does.

  64. “And the only reason that the discussion is centering around women is that it’s politically advantageous for Dems to frame it that way.”

    Good grief indeed. Maybe, just maybe, there’s another reason there???

  65. “please google to see how much the Church does.”

    Oh for goodness sake, CStanley. Yes, the church does a great deal of work on a lot of social issues. However, saying that people can’t use condoms to prevent AIDS is self-defeating, as is the idea that outlawing abortion will prevent unwanted pregnancy (or even abortion), as is saying that such-n-such problem would get all better if only those kids would stop their fornicating.

  66. “The Catholic church has no trouble treating people who need it because they’ve done something wrong. They have trouble helping people do something wrong.”

    So you agree that the church would rather pay for 20 doses of gonnorhea meds and 15 babies and a lifetime of Valtrex and immunodeficiency drugs, all for the same person, instead of encouraging condom use, for example. Frankly, I cannot think of any good reason for that, except that the person who has “sinned” is now being punished for that sin. Please give me some other way of thinking about this. I’m having a hard time with that.

  67. Good luck CS and roro. Play nice. I’ll check in later.

  68. OK – real quick.

    The Catholic church is about doing what is right and pragmatism plays no part whatsoever in the calculus.

    You cannot justify means by the ends.

    The church believes contraception is wrong. It does not matter what the consequences are, using contraception is wrong. If condoms could prevent nuclear armageddon, the church would be opposed to it.

    Their moral calculus has nothing at all to do with punishing anyone. In fact, punishment isn’t much a part of the church’s teaching at all. Punishment is left to God. They do want to encourage people to avoid deserving God’s punishment however.

    got to go

  69. “You cannot justify means by the ends.”

    That’s all well and good, JDave, but let’s not then operate under the idea that the church is trying to help solve those problems. CStanley scoffed at that statement when I mentioned it before, and I was responding to that scoff. You can help prevent unwanted pregnancy and abortion, or you can espouse the church doctrine, the results of which make those two problems (and others) worse. Because my personal morality goes toward preventing the huge amounts of emotional and physical pain, money, and time that occur because of the high incidence of those two things, and because I believe that controlling ones own body and family planning decisions are very important, I think that preventing pregnancy through contraception and education are good things. Your focus is on doing what the doctrine tells you to do. That’s fine, but you don’t get to pretend that that doctrine is in any way coincident with the things that actually help solve the problems, when they in fact make them worse. You don’t get both, because the aims are at odds.

  70. I do understand the point that you are now making, roro, but that is different than your earlier statement ? You said that the response to these problems is to say that they’re not going to deal with it. Clearly you are now acknowledging that the Church does indeed deal with these problems, just not in the way that you believe is most efficacious.

    And to that point, it depends on what your goal is. If one considers the root behaviors to not only be problems that lead to these consequences that are earthly problems for the people involved, but also (and even more importantly) to also cause harm to the soul and psyche, then it isn’t sufficient to address only the corporeal problems like pregnancy and disease.

    But even more importantly, you are so certain that your approach is the efficacious one while the Church teachings confound results, but in the best example of putting this to the test in modern times, the evidence goes the other way. I’m referring to HIV in Africa, and if you haven’t read Dr.Green’s book, you really should.
    http://www.amazon.com/Broken-P.....754E05A5VG

  71. Ugh, sorry, I accidentally copied the URL for the review page but I’m sure you can backtrack from there to the main book summary.

  72. “You said that the response to these problems is to say that they’re not going to deal with it. Clearly you are now acknowledging that the Church does indeed deal with these problems, just not in the way that you believe is most efficacious.”

    The church does do a lot of good work, CStanley. No doubt. On these issues, though — unplanned pregnancy and abortion — they are at odds with the best known ways to curb them. I’d like to also point out that the best ways to help the AIDS crisis in Africa are going to be radically different than the best ways to help the AIDS crisis in the US. The causes are enormously different, so the actions to correct those causes must likewise be different. I can give the example of how the AIDS crisis was stemmed in San Francisco. Telling a community that has literally run away from their families and churches and homes because of the demonizing judgments against their sexuality that they should just follow the teachings of the church and all would be well was, um, not exactly what was called for. Education, acceptance, knowledge, condoms, and a community-wide commitment toward the healthcare of all gay men was what stopped the spread of HIV in San Francisco. Retrovirals kept those who were already infected from dying, but the community coming together with acceptance and education and support was what stemmed the spread of the virus.

    Likewise, it was not a call for abstinence that brought down the teen pregnancy rate. It was the ability of young women to get healthcare, medication, and knowledge about their systems and what to do if they were going to have sex.

    I’ll definitely look up the book you recommend though. I appreciate it.

  73. I understand that your ideal world works in a very different way than mine does, CStanley, because we come from very different backgrounds and value different things. I’m sure if everyone really did just follow the rules of Catholicism, the problems we’re talking about would go away. If nobody had sex outside of marriage, and sex were never used except for strictly procreative purposes, we wouldn’t have unplanned pregnancy or a need for (most) abortion or STD epidemics of any sort. But in order for abstinence and procreation-only sex to work as a method to stem these problems, you have to be able to enforce it, at least to some degree.

  74. My view is that not only is it unreasonable and unrealistic to think we can enforce such a thing, but that it is undesirable to do so. There are almost no problems caused by sex outside marriage that can’t be solved by education, easy and free access to birth control, abortion when needed, and less judgment about sex in general and for women in particular.

  75. I know this from personal experience. Honestly the worst things that have ever come out of an unadvisable sexual mistake for me have been mild regret and judgment by others. Mild regret is going to happen in life, sex or no sex, and judgment from most others (“slut”) is pretty much reserved to women these days, and would have been just as bad if I’d been a “prude” instead of a “slut”. These very low consequences were made possible by lots of education and nearly-free access to birth control. The judgment was furnished by our friend sexism.

  76. My thought is that if we can allow equality and freedom, and solve the problems caused by what people do with equality and freedom through education, healthcare, and fighting against sexist attitudes, that’s much more desirable than clamping down on our evolutionarily-determined nature in unrealistic ways, and then blaming those who fail to meet our unrealistic demands when things go badly.

    It’s a purely secular view, of course. I understand that religious people have other concerns. But while your system could work and my system could work, I do think mine is more realistic.

  77. “Your focus is on doing what the doctrine tells you to do.”

    Oh, I got a good laugh at that one. Seriously, I’m not that good of a Catholic. I put a lot of stock in our doctrine, take it very seriously, study it, but still can’t quite humbly submit to every bit of it. I’m ashamed to say it.

    My focus isn’t a whole lot different than yours. I want to do what’s right. (That includes allowing everyone to follow their own conscience as long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else’s rights.)

    “let’s not then operate under the idea that the church is trying to help solve those problems.”

    Let’s try to be accurate. The church’s top priority is trying to convert the whole world to God. Part of that work is to solve problems, but not at the expense of making others. The church does work hard to solve those problems, but will not use means it believes is immoral. The morality is a higher priority than solving the problem, but that doesn’t mean the lower priorities have zero value to the church.

    You and I have a lot more in common than it would appear at first. The vast majority of our desired ends are compatible. A somewhat smaller majority of or means are too.

  78. “You and I have a lot more in common than it would appear at first.”

    Jdave — If I weren’t reasonable sure that that was true, I honestly wouldn’t bother.

  79. So in short the church wants to help with suffering but refuse to do things that would avoid that suffering since that would block gods divine judgement/punishment. This is why many note the s&m quality of the church and also note its love of trauma, after all that is gods judgement and blessed are those that have those wounds.

  80. They are actually my root explanation as to why charity is not enough. The catholic church spent what 1500 years claiming to attend to the needs of the masses if they would only bow to their masters(royalty). That 1500 or so years was a time of starvation, war, murder, torture, injustice and utter and shocking levels of poverty, deprivation and ignorance.

  81. Ok thats it I get the new comment system, frustrate people until they just go away.

  82. MSF, I agree that ‘charity isn’t enough. also that public policy isn’t enough. In both cases, it’s not because of an insufficient desire to do good or alleviate suffering, but rather because of human nature and the inability to make perfect choices. In other words, there is no such thing as utopia on earth.

  83. Also MSF- who is it really that isn’t using an approach to alleviate more suffering? Is it those who try to address the root cause and attempt to persuade and help people to make lifestyle choices with respect to sex that will completely avoid negative consequences, or those that assume that we have to accept people making lifestyle choices that inevitably lead to negative consequence but then applying remedies as much as possible to circumvent some of those consequences?

    It’s really no different than advocating healthy eating. I’m not the first one to note the disconnect for liberals who decry any infringement of sexual freedom but are in favor of either culturally or legally trying to prevent people from eating junk food. The liberal approach to sexual health issues would be analogous to telling people that we know we’re all going to eat lousy diets so don’t feel bad about it- just look for pills to cut down on some of the negative health outcomes.

  84. MSF,

    Yeah, the church works hard to ease suffering: builds hospitals, runs them, ministers to the poor around the world. Legions of nuns, brothers, and lay people dedicate their lives to the work.

    They just won’t use every means you would to ease suffering. They won’t do what they believe is wrong.

    Yes, that means easing suffering is NOT their top priority. No, that does NOT mean easing suffering means nothing to the church.

    I am not prepared to review 2 millenia of history. But I will agree that the church’s record during that time was often deplorable, certainly by today’s standards and sometimes even by the standards of the day. But royalty only very seldom cared about the common people, and I think a good argument could be made that, overall, the church’s record during that time was much better than the royalty’s, and indeed, often better than any other efforts at work.

    My history is not so good that I can cite many examples. I am also sure that many counter examples could be found as well. An even handed treatment of the subject would be difficult to come by.

    I’m guessing that you and I would agree Enlightenment humanism deserves credit for making the powerful more just and attentive to the poor – and – that the church has, sadly, resisted that progress from time to time. You would also agree (perhaps grudgingly) that the church even today is one of the few voices pushing for progress on some fronts.

  85. Roro-
    I understand you to be saying that while my system works for me, yours works for you and other people you know. I would point put that I believe one thing you and I have in common, making those outcomes possible, is that we’ve chosen partners who respect us.

    The question is, which of our preferred systems has the better chance of helping others make similar choices, the system that includes education about values (especially the value of restraint) or the one that focuses more on education of remedies that can be applied even when there isn’t restraint involved?

  86. “no such thing as utopia on earth”

    I’m both a bad Catholic and a bad libertarian. My libertarianism is weakest in that I think big govt programs can sometimes do good. I would agree with many progressives that govt paying for health care is a better system than the one we have now.

    My biggest disagreement with progressives is one of attitude, I think. I sense from them that they believe something like “we could solve all these problems if these damn conservatives would just get out of the way.” Not only do progressives tend to be blind to unintended consequences, this belief that human progress will approach utopia on earth I think is ridiculous.

    Silly as I think that belief is, there is little practical concern there, because I want to put my back into the same things they want to do.

    But as CS alluded to, this difference in attitude is part of your frustration with the church.

    Not just Catholic, but traditional Christian thought for 2 millenia is that humanity cannot save itself.

    We believe that suffering cannot be eliminated. We believe that attempting to ease suffering by doing something evil may relieve the pain you feel in one area but will cause greater suffering in another. And finally, we believe that easing suffering is very important, but other things are more important still.

  87. CStanley-I am also not big on food bans and the like though I do think subsidizing sugar and corn syrup is the actual problem since that is why they are in everything. I as in me and me alone get to choose how I can mitigate my risks based on what I want. Telling people of dangers is not an issue. Trying to push those issues into the regulatory or legal realm though is something that is utterly unacceptable. You can tell me to not eat pork but making that a law for the masses because you are Muslim and it works for you is unacceptable, even though pork is unhealthy as is alcohol it is my right to chose how I harm myself and even if what you define as harm is in reality a harm and supported by scientific studies.

    It could equally be said it is odd that those that push back so hard on food bans and the like suddenly find religion on the topic of sex. Personally I find it odd since things like gambling and usury are so openly accepted yet on one topic we get all religious, its just weird to me.

  88. The problem is that western europe went from a world power and a melting pot of ideas and investigation to a place that destroyed other literature to make yet more space to copy yet more bibles. If it were not for Islam we would have utterly lost much of our true history and advancements, and almost all of the ancient works of Greek philosophy. If we continued to follow their belief that ignorance is good and that nothing is important but the bible we would still be living in the dark ages.

    I agree the royals were always far from nice but for most of that time period up to Henry VIII the church had total and unbound power over both the people AND the royals. What they did was fill their coffers, build pretty churches and power broker for connected families in the church to further their royal desires. All those pretty paintings and murals were paid for by the starvation and poverty of those they were supposedly being charitable to, it didnt go for food it went for gold leaf. Much like most charities it merely enriched those at the top.

  89. MSF, I’m not surprised that you are consistent in favoring freedom from govt interference with food and sexual matters, but you have to admit that many liberals are not. You are also correct that it cuts both ways, in that some conservatives favor govt intrusion in one area but not the other.

    In many cases too, it only looks that way because what people really argue for is just cultural and not governmantal, and they are really arguing for govt to stay out of the way. That’s the case when you mention food subsidies, and when a conservative talks about school sex Ed that undermines the values we want to teach our kids.

  90. MSF,

    It was power politics in most of Europe during that time. Sometimes and in some places the Church had the upper hand, sometimes the royals did, sometimes it was the Visigoths, and other times rampant anarchy reigned. The church had nothing like unbounded power all the time.

    Moreover, the descent into the Dark Ages was not caused by a church burning every book they could find to replace them with bibles. Though history is regarding the time as not quite so dark as we used to think, the Dark Ages were caused by a corrupt Rome being easily overrun by people with no interest in building much of a civilization. Islam preserved knowledge because they weren’t steeped in anarchy at the time.

    Our greatest theologians had great respect for Greek philosophy and used it extensively. Aquinas is solely responsible for bringing Aristotle back into Western thought.

    Traditional Christianity has a high regard for science and is in no way at odds with it. The vast majority of Enlightenment scientists were Christian (many quite devout and others more deist than Christian). The conflict between science and religion that the media loves to trumpet is a very recent development – a stupid and unsustainable knee-jerk reaction to Darwin that today has become Fundamentalist Evangelicals.

    Finally, it is true that the Church has botched some things badly (burnt some books it shouldn’t have, horribly oppressed jews, made the Vatican into a brothel from time to time, etc). It even found itself in stupid political struggles that provoked it to turn against science, but only briefly. Much more often, Catholicism has supported science. Taken on the whole, Catholicism is perfectly happy with science.

  91. “The question is, which of our preferred systems has the better chance of helping others make similar choices, the system that includes education about values (especially the value of restraint) or the one that focuses more on education of remedies that can be applied even when there isn’t restraint involved?”

    My question would be — why would we want other people to make similar choices? My values are different than yours, CStanley, but my methods are based on values too. I’m not advocating that everyone go out an get laid with as many different partners as possible. I’m advocating the idea that we can encourage restraint among ourselves and our children, while also encouraging education, discouraging sexism and judgment of those whose descisions are different from our own, and teaching people how to keep themselves safe regardless of those decisions.

  92. We can all agree that encouraging restraint is a good thing. Precisely how that ought to be carried out would be difficult.

    We sent our kids to Catholic schools precisely because we did not want the schools undermining our values. We made just a few minor adjustments to the school’s approach.

    It seems almost impossible to educate children about sex without injecting some kind of values into it somehow. “Encouraging restraint” is a value the three of us here can agree on, maybe MSF too but I bet it’d be explosive at any school board meeting.

  93. Roro
    I don’t want to restrict other people’s choices but if your opinion is that all choices are equally healthy then I can’t agree. What I was trying to point out is that your anecdotal experience doesn’t prove lack of harm for other people who weren’t as able to choose well and in fact I’d say the modern approach makes it much harder to make choices that lead to good outcomes.

  94. Jdave actually I don’t think that Roro agrees about the value of sexual restraint for all people but I don’t want to put words in her mouth so perhaps she can comment.

  95. CStanley, JDave — No, not for anyone who doesn’t share that value. I think people need to act according to their own values, and those values aren’t really up for judgment by me. So you’re right, CS.

  96. Dang it, comment got eaten!

    “I don’t want to restrict other people’s choices but if your opinion is that all choices are equally healthy then I can’t agree.”

    It’s my opinion that I don’t get to go through other people’s lives and tell them whether their sexual decisions were healthy for them or not.

  97. nuts. Oh well. The point still applies that it is next to impossible to teach anything worthwhile about sex without touching upon values somehow.

  98. JDave, that’s exactly right, and that’s why when sex Ed is taught in schools, it ends up being somewhat in opposition to the values that conservatives want to teach their children.

  99. There’s no need to “go through people’s lives”, or personalize and judge, roro, any more than it would be so if we were talking about dietary recommendations. Is it judgemental in your opinion for medical associations to study health outcomes of different lifestyle options and then make recommendations?

  100. Two things: first, do you have any such study? Second, I also could find studies saying that engineers are very likely to be white and male than black or female. That doesn’t mean it’s a good policy to restrict an engineering job opening to only white men.

  101. Hopefully my point is clear: you can try to correlate sexual activity with negative outcomes, but correlation and causation aren’t the same thing. Furthermore, it’s quite difficult to separate results of sexual activity from results of sexual activity given access and education about birth control, or results of sexual activity given other circumstances.

  102. For example, a lot of young women go through a great deal of pain and regret after their first sexual experience, but how much of that is because of the constant messaging that young women get that they’re used up and dirty after they have sex? How do you separate that out?

    (Sorry for multiple posts — this commenting system is killin’ me!)

  103. Points taken and no, I’m not claiming any proof. I also know the difficulty of proving causation as opposed to correlation, but at some point I don’t see how a massive shift toward higher rates of divorce, higher rates of pregnancy and abortion, STDs, etc, all correlating with the time period of changing sexual mores isn’t at least highly suggestive of causation.

  104. Re young women experiencing pain and regret- if the tendency for women to feel this way hasn’t diminished even while society’s negative messaging about loss of virginity has lessened a great deal, isn’t that significant? Not sure how that can be measured but surveying women could potentially test the hypothesis.

    Also, just the reports from the women themselves. I know when I’ve seen this in women I know, it hasn’t been about societal stigmatization but rather about a more intense feeling of betrayal, having felt duped that the other person didn’t experience the sexual relationship as a more lasting bond. I think those types of reported experiences speak to the gender differences in sexuality (though it of course varies for individuals, with some females not necessarily experiencing emotional bonding as intensely and some males being just as susceptible to it as the average female.)

  105. Wow, not only did the system eat my comment, but it also won’t let me post it again, because it’s saying it’s a duplicate. Wow.

  106. Over and over and over again. I’m trying to reply!

  107. If you look closely at the issues, they really aren’t as cut and dried as that.

  108. Lol, well, it doesn’t want to eat the same comment twice I guess.

  109. As an example, people are much more likely to get divorced for a lot of reasons.

  110. Nope, won’t even take my comments in one-sentence batches now.

  111. Trying to take a different takh, maybe consider what “success” looks like. Couples who are over 30 years old at the time of their wedding are much less likely to get divorced.

  112. “Re young women experiencing pain and regret- if the tendency for women to feel this way hasn’t diminished even while society’s negative messaging about loss of virginity has lessened a great deal, isn’t that significant?”

    You don’t think the pain and regret are much lessened now that they don’t ship young women off to maternity camps and throw them out of the family? I’m saying that there’s the pain from standard teenage heartbreak, which is quite frankly not going away no matter what (and probably shouldn’t), and there’s the pain and regret of having one’s life completely changed forever.

  113. No, I was reacting to your statement in a different way- assuming (I guess incorrectly) that you meant that if we could eliminate the pain that comes from social stigma, that quite possibly there wouldn’t be pain and regret.

  114. And on the other bit, about divorce rates- keep in mind that I don’t have to prove or accept that the sexual revolution is the only driver in order to say that it has had a big effect.

  115. Honestly, once I got to be to the age where nobody was attaching moral stigma to having sex, there really wasn’t that pain and regret, even for the choices I can look back on and say that I shouldn’t have made. I can think back on some of those “whoops” decisions with some mild regret, but it’s really not a big deal, and because I was careful, it has had essentially zero impact on my ability to live a happy and successful life. When I think back on the real regrets of my life, absolutely none of them had to do with sleeping with someone I wasn’t married to. Once I kissed someone when I was supposed to be manogamous with someone else, and I regret that infinitely more than anyone I slept with when I wasn’t betraying anyone. It’s not the sex that carries the regret, it’s the circumstances. These are important values to teach — don’t cheat on anyone, don’t betray people’s trust, don’t do anything you’re not personally comfortable with, be strong enough to say no — great stuff. But that’s not what we’re talking about.

  116. “keep in mind that I don’t have to prove or accept that the sexual revolution is the only driver in order to say that it has had a big effect.”

    I had a bunch of other examples in my earlier comment. Let’s try again maybe.

  117. At the same time, we went from a world where a woman who wanted a divorce basically had to give up her children (who belonged to the head of the household) and live a life a scorn and shame, to a world where that’s just not the case. This means that a woman who no longer wants to be in her marriage can go ahead and not be in that marriage, whereas that used to be essentially impossible. In my view, a high divorce rate is much preferable to a system which financially, socially, and emotionally entraps women in marriages even if they don’t want to be in them. I’d also say that this would still be the case even if the sexual revolution hadn’t coincided with the legalization of birth control.

  118. Holy hell. This system really doesn’t want me to tell you that birth control allowed women to go to work, and that meant women weren’t financially dependent on their husbands.

  119. Also keep in mind that I don’t advocate a return to the status quo ante. I think that there were better ways to have brought about change which would have led to less social upheaval and more net positives for women.

  120. I can believe that, CStanley. I just think that sex is a big ol red herring in a lot of these debates. Sex in and of itself can be a wonderful positive thing in women’s lives, when treated with the respect and joy it deserves. Take away the consequences and the shame, and you’ve just got an excellent physically-satisfying way to show love and affection. It doesn’t have to be some big scary shameful thing, it doesn’t have to follow anyone around forever, it doesn’t have to have horrible consequences, and on the other hand it doesn’t have to be strictly a holy thing only experienced by married people for the purpose of creating new life.

  121. Great job you two. Gives a person hope.

  122. jDave, I agree it’s been a good discussion. Also, for a bad Catholic, you held your weight pretty well in defense of the Church and it’s values. :)

  123. Roro,
    Where I differ from your opinion there is that the degree to which we’ve removed consequences IMO has made it less likely for a lot of women to enjoy sex that is in the context of love and respect. And although I think shame was inappropriate, I do think teaching restraint as a value for men and women is important, in part because not doing this leads to the pendulum swing where prudishness is stigmatized. For teenagers now I find that it’s much harder for girls to feel empowered to say no because as soon as they’re in a relationship sex is expected. I don’t know if you are around teens much but I feel there’s been a huge change since I was a kid, probably because we’re now seeing the third generation and the older values are losing traction.

    Of course I will also point out that a huge reason that the more traditional values have been cast aside is that the older generations failed to live by them. In that sense, what people were experiencing was the worst of both worlds where a lot of marriages were miserable and people weren’t very faithful but other than economic security and family stability people weren’t feeling they were getting much out of it (they were made to feel guilty for breaking the rules but living by the rules was joyless.) so I’m not saying that all of the negative changes are the fault of the nasty hippies or anything.:)

  124. Thx CS, it’s great seeing you around and your fine work.

    roro and I had another excellent discussion a little while ago. I respect her a lot.

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