Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Lie that is Contraception and the Truth of Authentic Feminism

(Continued from The Church's Positive Teachings on Human Sexuality, Contraception, and Life Issues)

Whenever you speak publicly about things like sex outside of marriage or contraception, you are likely to be addressing a lot of people who have done both of these things. So, it is not unusual that someone might respond defensively, accusing you of personally attacking them and pointing out that Jesus said not to judge others lest you be judged yourself. Now, without judging individual persons, per se, it is possible and proper and appropriate to judge in an objective way various actions, such as premarital sex and adultery and contraception and abortion, all of which tend toward treating the other as an object, not as a subject, as a means, not as an end in themselves, and yes, as a "thing," not as a person.

Most extreme in this, of course, is abortion, which literally involves throwing away another person as if he or she were garbage. But contraception and sex outside of marriage are not-too-distant cousins of abortion. They both involve, to some extent, a "using" of the other, a "taking" from them, rather than a pure and complete giving of self to that other. To be sure, there may be a great deal of love in such unions, extra-marital or contracepting in marriage. But it is not, and cannot be, a complete and total love. It always involves a withholding of self, if only just a little bit. It is a conditional love. It is a love that says "Yes, but only if you do such and such. Yes, but only this much."

It is not a perfect love, and it is a perfect love to which we are all called. All of us. And it cannot be pretended that extra-marital and/or contracepting couples is a perfect love.

It is also a true love to which we are all called. We are called to truth. And extra-marital sex and contraception and abortion are all contrary to the truth. Contraception, for example, is a lie against the truth and reality of our bodies. It is a lie against the procreative nature of the sexual organs that we use in sex, as well as the procreative genetic material involved. It is a lie against the intended union of man and woman into one.

Contraception is a corruption and distortion of human sexuality. Contraception, whether physical or mental, is a barrier between a man and woman, between husband and wife -- literally. Such a barrier obviously prevents a man and woman from becoming "one." Indeed, it prevents any real or authentic intimacy at all. Contraception presents both a physical wall -- of rubber, chemicals, or otherwise -- and an emotional and spiritual wall, a withholding of a part of yourself from the other.

Because of this barrier and this withholding of self, sex is no longer an act of unconditional mutual giving, that is, an act of love. Instead, it becomes an act of taking; an act of exploiting; an act of using the other as an object, as a sex toy. By this use of contraception, couples no longer see each other as a subject or even a person -- they see the other as object, a thing.

It is this objectification of the human person that is the real evil of contraception. It is the central evil because human beings are not things, they are not toys to be used and exploited by others and then tossed aside. Even if putatively "consensual," it is still by its very nature exploitive.

On the other hand, when a couple is married and non-contracepting, there is the possibility in sex of mutual giving of self -- total and complete giving of self, no matter what. It is a giving that is truly and completely intimate, open to the all natural possibilities that flow from sexuality. It holds nothing back, and it respects the other as a subject and as a person. And that leads to a greater and more authentic joy than can be imagined.

Now, against these positive teachings of the Catholic Church on human sexuality and contraception, on the truth of the human person, male and female, made to love and be loved in truth, we have the argument put forth by those who hold themselves out to be "feminists" and who insist that contraception and abortion are essential for women's rights and dignity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing.

Far from being pro-woman, this counterfeit feminism is essentially anti-woman. It despises the feminine, hates those attributes that are uniquely and exclusively woman, and advocates instead that women should become like the worst caricatures of men.

Most especially, the counterfeit feminism sees the female body, and thus the female person, as something to be destroyed. Obsessed with genitalia, they see the uterus and ovaries as little more than defective abnormalities to be suppressed, and they see the fruits thereof, i.e. the unborn child, as a diseased tumor to be cut out of the body. To the counterfeit feminism, the only real woman is the one who rejects and seeks to destroy these things which are exclusive to women.

To the counterfeit feminism, which lusts for power, the only good woman is the one who acts like those misogynist men who exploit and use women as objects, especially sexually.

Authentic feminism, on the other hand, recognizes and celebrates the intrinsic value and genius of woman, equal to man in dignity and complementary of him. Authentic feminism is not concerned with a power struggle, does not see man as an instrinsic oppressive patriarchy, but as an equal partner, both with different characteristics that are exclusive to that sex, but which complement each other. Authentic feminism recognizes and celebrates that women are women and men are men, both called, as part of their nature as human persons, to the giving of self, charity in truth.

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