Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Philosophy, Religion, and Sex.

Dear Pope Benedict, I've been a fan of your career since you worked under John Paul II.  The press hated you because you were hostile to them, and for that I applaud you.  But you have to stop having statements come out so close together, it messes up my schedule.

Last week, I explained why the Catholic Church wanted to hire exorcists.

This week, because no one in the Vatican can shut up, I'm going to try explaining something else that was recently in the news.

The New York Times recently reported that, "Yippie, the Pope is giving in and endorsing condom use."

The old gray hag of The New York Times has, once again, gotten it wrong.  One day, they may actually try to get a theologian to explain theology to them.  Unfortunately, given most theologians, that may not help much.

Let's start at the beginning: Why does the Catholic Church have an issue with condom use?  Or any contraceptives?

It basically involves philosophy ... bare with me a minute, I'll keep it short and comprehensible ... and what is the function of "a thing."  In the case of sex, the mechanism of sex is "insert tab A into slot B."  The "function" of sex is procreation, and a darn good time, if you're doing it correctly.

Contraceptions mess with the natural function of sex by removing elements that are inherent to the act -- procreation comes with sex.  The Vatican position is, that if you mess around with it and start taking out elements, then you are messing around with things that are not yours to mess with.

If you are pondering what the Catholic church's advice is on STD prevention when you have sex with your boy/girlfriend, the Church's position is that you should be having sex with your spouse, only with your spouse, have a nice day, thank you.  Under this rubrick, STDs are not a problem, since if you only ever insert one tab A into one tab B, STDs are not an issue; pregnancy remains in effect, but in the Catholic church, marriage is a contract to have sex, have kids, and spread the spawn around the globe, carrying the faith with it.

You are currently up on previously held positions.

The NY Times said, on November 21st .....
“Pope Benedict XVI has said that condom use can be justified in some cases to help stop the spread of AIDS . . . .”
However, George Wiegel, papal biographer and general Vatican busybody, corrected the Times report.  You can find the full text online, but since that will take forever for you to read, I'm going to translate it for you, gentle reader, into something easily comprehensible.

The pope's actual statement, in context, was during an interview.  The pope mentioned how the Catholic Church runs more AIDS hospitals, and stresses "prevention, education, help, counsel, and accompaniment."  IE: The pope pointed out that, unlike pontificating reporters, the Church actually does something,

The pope even stressed that "we cannot solve the problem [of AIDS] by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done. We must stand close to the people, we must guide and help them; and we must do this both before and after they contract the disease."

The pope continued:
.... people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence–Be Faithful–Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality .... the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.

Short version: sex is important, has an effect on a person, and is also for the purpose of expressing love.  Throw in a condom, and you just make it another way to drug yourself into a stupor.

The part where the NYTimes gets confused is probably in the following section:

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.
When asked if "the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?"  Pope Benedict XVI answered that "She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality."

Short version: If it's someone infected with AIDS, yes, the Church would rather that they NOT KILL PEOPLE by infecting them further.

Basically, it's like robbing a bank -- if you rob a bank, the Church would rather have someone use an empty gun; it'll lessen the risk of someone getting their head blown off.

So, despite news reports, the Catholic Church's position hasn't changed.

With luck, we can all move on to something important now.

1 comment:

  1. Well said.

    I've often said that the Catholic Church is a set of Inconvenient Truths.


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