The Vindication of Humanae Vitae
That Humanae Vitae and related Catholic teachings about sexual morality are laughingstocks in all the best places is not exactly news. Even in the benighted precincts of believers, where information from the outside world is known to travel exceedingly slowly, everybody grasps that this is one doctrine the world loves to hate. During Benedict XVI's April visit to the United States, hardly a story in the secular press failed to mention the teachings of Humanae Vitae, usually alongside adjectives like “divisive” and “controversial” and “outdated.” In fact, if there's anything on earth that unites the Church's adversaries—all of them except for the Muslims, anyway—the teaching against contraception is probably it.
It is interesting that it mentions Muslims, given the hightening respect for women in the Muslim world.
Let's begin by meditating upon what might be called the first of the secular ironies now evident: Humanae Vitae's specific predictions about what the world would look like if artificial contraception became widespread. The encyclical warned of four resulting trends: a general lowering of moral standards throughout society; a rise in infidelity; a lessening of respect for women by men; and the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments.
For a document dating from the ending of the 60's, I'm not sure how prophetic this is.
Consider, as Wilcox does, the Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof. In a well-known 1996 article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Akerlof explained in the language of modern economics why the sexual revolution—contrary to common prediction, especially prediction by those in and out of the Church who wanted the teaching on birth control changed—had led to an increase in both illegitimacy and abortion. In another work published in the Economic Journal ten years ago, he traced the empirical connections between the decrease in marriage and married fatherhood for men—both clear consequences of the contraceptive revolution—and the simultaneous increase in behaviors to which single men appear more prone: substance abuse, incarceration, and arrests, to name just three....And even in the occasional effort to draw a happy face on current trends, there is no glossing over what are still historically high rates of family breakup and unwed motherhood....
Does it have any data on unmarried fatherhood? It would seem the contraception mentality isn't working if it is ending up in unwed motherhood.
The "sexual revolution" didn't involve married couples using contraception. It invovled removing marriage from any relevance. Eisenstadt v. Baird, not Griswold v. Connecticut let it loose. And you can have abortion and promiscuity on a grand scale without contraception playing a large role: Japan demonstrates that (though traditional Japanese mores leave much to be desired by the Church's criteria).
The US's looseness in divorce was the first and chief cause, embodied in Wallis Simpson.
To these examples of secular social science confirming what Catholic thinkers had predicted, one might add many more demonstrating the negative effects on children and society. The groundbreaking work that Daniel Patrick Moynihan did in 1965, on the black family, is an example—along with the critical research of psychologist Judith Wallerstein over several decades on the impact of divorce on children; Barbara Dafoe Whitehead's well-known work on the outcomes of single parenthood for children; Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur's seminal book, Growing Up with a Single Parent; and David Blankenhorn's Fatherless America, another lengthy summarization of the bad empirical news about family breakup.
The problem is that in 1965 and before (and for that matter, after) the black family was not a hot bed of contraception.
...Still other seminal works have observed that private actions, notably post-revolution sexual habits, were having massive public consequences; Charles Murray's Losing Ground and Francis Fukuyama's The Great Disruption come especially to mind.
LOL. Citing Fukuyama, not smart: he "predicted" that with the fall of Communism world peace would usher in and history would end.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_History_and_the_Last_Man
In sum, although a few apologists such as Stephanie Coontz still insist otherwise, just about everyone else in possession of the evidence acknowledges that the sexual revolution has weakened family ties, and that family ties (the presence of a biologically related mother and father in the home) have turned out to be important indicators of child well-being—and more, that the broken home is not just a problem for individuals but also for society. Some scholars, moreover, further link these problems to the contraceptive revolution itself.
They link them, but are they linked? As I think I pointed out here or another thread, the marriage failure rate is around 50%. Just using the rhythm method of contraception is <5%, and those not using contraception at all must be less. So that is >45%+ happy marriages unaccounted for (I say + as there are marriages with no contraception which end in divorce and worse, e.g. the marriage of Andrea Yates).
Consider the work of maverick sociobiologist Lionel Tiger. Hardly a cat's-paw of the pope—he describes religion as “a toxic issue”—Tiger has repeatedly emphasized the centrality of the sexual revolution to today's unique problems. The Decline of Males, his 1999 book, was particularly controversial among feminists for its argument that female contraceptives had altered the balance between the sexes in disturbing new ways (especially by taking from men any say in whether they could have children).
What an odd argument.
Equally eyebrow-raising is his linking of contraception to the breakdown of families, female impoverishment, trouble in the relationship between the sexes, and single motherhood. Tiger has further argued—as Humanae Vitae did not explicitly, though other works of Catholic theology have—for a causal link between contraception and abortion, stating outright that “with effective contraception controlled by women, there are still more abortions than ever. . . . Contraception causes abortion.”
Post hoc ergo prompter hod is a fallacy, one that IIRC we dealt with here already. It is often used by those who wish to coopt the pro-life movement to ban contraception as well, with the claim of "the contraceptive mentality & the undeniable link between contraceptives & abortion. Unless the pro-life movement ultimately addresses this, the pro-life movement isn't going to get very far."
”Given a reasonable availability of contraceptives, there is no evidence that induced abortion and contraceptive practice compete…Abortion and contraception are inextricably intertwined in their use. As the idea of family planning spreads through a community there appears to be a rise in the incidence of induced abortion at the point where the community begins to initiate the use of contraceptives...In developed countries, with the passage of time, the abortion rate has fallen in situations where contraceptive methods are known and available.”http://books.google.com/books?id=T205AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA496&lpg=PA496&dq=Malcolm+potts+Abortion+and+contraception+are+inextricably+intertwined+in+their+use.+As+the+idea+of+family+planning+spreads+through+a+community+there+appears+to+be+a+rise+in+the+incidence+of+induced+abortion+at+the+point+where+the+community+begins+to+initiate+the+use+of+contraceptives&source=bl&ots=nQRFNyIL0y&sig=CTax5yWrz0HvxYlwUCN8_p84XOc&hl=en&ei=DHZcTebCOZPQgAeEypH_DA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
Many who use contraception never have an abortion, and many who have abortions don't use contraception: contraception plays no role, for instance, in the nefarious plans of those who use abortion for sex selection.
Who could deny that the predictions of Humanae Vitae and, by extension, of Catholic moral theology have been ratified with data and arguments that did not even exist in 1968?
For one, the Russian episcopate. And they are right in the differences between their Social Concept and HV.
Just as empirical evidence has proved that the sexual revolution has had disastrous effects on children and families, so the past forty years have destroyed the mantle called “science” that Humanae Vitae's detractors once wrapped round themselves. In particular, the doomsday population science so popular and influential during the era in which Humanae Vitae appeared has been repeatedly demolished.
Here she is correct. Btw, that the world was already (over)populated was (is?) a traditional argument for celibacy and monasticism: the Protestant reformers criticized the Vatican using this argument repeatedly.
In fact, Humanae Vitae appeared two months before the most successful popularization of Malthusian thinking yet, Paul R. Ehrlich's The Population Bomb—which opened with the words: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”
That detracts somewhat from HV's prophecy, as Ehrlich advocates a lot of what HV (rightly) preaches against.
The forty years since Humanae Vitae appeared have also vindicated the encyclical's fear that governments would use the new contraceptive technology coercively. The outstanding example, of course, is the Chinese government's long-running “one-child policy,” replete with forced abortions, public trackings of menstrual cycles, family flight, increased female infanticide, sterilization, and other assaults too numerous even to begin cataloguing here—in fact, so numerous that they are now widely, if often grudgingly, acknowledged as wrongs even by international human-rights bureaucracies. Lesser-known examples include the Indian government's foray into coercive use of contraception in the “emergency” of 1976 and 1977, and the Indonesian government's practice in the 1970s and 1980s of the bullying implantation of IUDs and Norplant.
There is also the converse: fertility can be coercive, the most blatant example being Romania, where women were inspected regularly at their place of employment to make sure nothing was being done to interfere with the state mandated goal of 5 children per Romanian woman (or womb, the law really didn't see them as women).
Should governments come to “regard this as necessary,” Humanae Vitae warned, “they may even impose their use on everyone.” As with the unintended affirmation by social science, will anyone within the ranks of the population revisionists now give credit where credit is due?
Beneath all the pathos, the subtext remains the same: Woman's chief adversary is Unreliable Man, who does not understand her sexual and romantic needs and who walks off time and again at the first sashay of a younger thing. What are all these but the generic cries of a woman who thinks that men are “disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium” and “no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection”?
Most divorces are initiated by women, and they are the ones favored in the divorce courts (although divorce courts usually gravitate to the most unjust and repugnant settlement possible).
Perhaps the most compelling case made for traditional marriage lately was not on the cover of, say, Catholic World Report but in the devoutly secular Atlantic. The 2008 article “Marry Him!” by Lori Gottlieb—a single mother who conceived her only child with donor sperm rather than miss out on motherhood as she has on marriage—is a frank and excruciatingly personal look into some of the sexual revolution's lonelier venues, including the creation of children by anonymous or absent sperm donors, the utter corrosiveness of taking a consumerist approach to romance, and the miserable effects of advancing age on one's sexual marketability.
So she's not contracepting, but does hold marriage in disdain. Not exactly what HV pictured. And HV did not say this
People are not closer because of porn but further apart; people are not more turned on in their daily lives but less so.” And perhaps most shocking of all, this—which with just a little tweaking could easily have appeared in Humanae Vitae itself: “The power and charge of sex are maintained when there is some sacredness to it, when it is not on tap all the time.”
contraception, much to the shock of those who worship HV, does not function as spicket for unlimited sex.
That there is no auxiliary literature of grievance for men—who, for the most part, just don't seem to feel they have as much to grieve about in this new world order
Never read the literature on men and divorce it seems.
The adversaries of Humanae Vitae also could not have foreseen one important historical development that in retrospect would appear to undermine their demands that the Catholic Church change with the times: the widespread Protestant collapse, particularly the continuing implosion of the Episcopal Church and the other branches of Anglicanism. It is about as clear as any historical chain can get that this implosion is a direct consequence of the famous Lambeth Conference in 1930, at which the Anglicans abandoned the longstanding Christian position on contraception. If a church cannot tell its flock “what to do with my body,” as the saying goes, with regard to contraception, then other uses of that body will quickly prove to be similarly off-limits to ecclesiastical authority.
Anglicanism's problems were present at the first Lambeth conference over 60 years earlier, where Latitudinarianism ruled the day and ruled in favor of bishop Colenso, who tolerated polygamy (without contraception, I'm sure) and defended it in print, and found he could not be removed as a bishop no matter his views.
If contraceptive intercourse is permissible, then what objection could there be after all to mutual masturbation, or copulation in vase indebito, sodomy, buggery (I should perhaps remark that I am using a legal term here—not indulging in bad language), when normal copulation is impossible or inadvisable (or in any case, according to taste)? It can't be the mere pattern of bodily behavior in which the stimulation is procured that makes all the difference! But if such things are all right, it becomes perfectly impossible to see anything wrong with homosexual intercourse, for example. I am not saying: if you think contraception all right you will do these other things; not at all. The habit of respectability persists and old prejudices die hard. But I am saying: you will have no solid reason against these things. You will have no answer to someone who proclaims as many do that they are good too. You cannot point to the known fact that Christianity drew people out of the pagan world, always saying no to these things. Because, if you are defending contraception, you will have rejected Christian tradition
The Russian Church's statement does exactly what is said cannot be done.
Btw, mutual masturbation does not depend on contraception to be permissible.
By giving benediction in 1930 to its married heterosexual members purposely seeking sterile sex, the Anglican Church lost, bit by bit, any authority to tell her other members—married or unmarried, homosexual or heterosexual—not to do the same. To put the point another way, once heterosexuals start claiming the right to act as homosexuals, it would not be long before homosexuals start claiming the rights of heterosexuals.
LOL. Hardly. St. John Chrysostom explicitely defends sterile couples having sex, but never defended (or thought of) same sex marriage. The Roman penitentiary allowed a wife to have sex with her husband who was practising "onanism" in 1810. Did that lead the Vatican to lead the way to same sex marriage?
It is hard to believe that anyone seeking a similar change in Catholic teaching on the subject would want the Catholic Church to follow suit into the moral and theological confusion at the center of today's Anglican Church—yet such is the purposeful ignorance of so many who oppose Rome on birth control that they refuse to connect these cautionary historical dots
It seems you have erased the dots of the decisions of the Roman penitentiary during the course of the 19th century.
Thus, for instance, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, observed in First Things in 1998 that “in an ironic turn, American evangelicals are rethinking birth control even as a majority of the nation's Roman Catholics indicate a rejection of their Church's teaching.” Later, when interviewed in a 2006 article in the New York Times Sunday magazine about current religious thinking on artificial contraception, Mohler elaborated: “I cannot imagine any development in human history, after the Fall, that has had a greater impact on human beings than the Pill. . . . The entire horizon of the sexual act changes. I think there can be no question that the Pill gave incredible license to everything from adultery and affairs to premarital sex and within marriage to a separation of the sex act and procreation.”
...There are active debates going on. It's one of the things that may serve to divide evangelicalism.” Part of that division includes Quiverfull, the anti-contraception Protestant movement now thought to number in the tens of thousands that further prohibits (as the Catholic Church does not) natural family planning or any other conscious interference with conception. Such second thoughts among evangelicals are the premise of a 2002 book titled Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Re-Thinks Contraception.
Looking to the Baptists for authority. That's desperate.
Mr. Yates was a member (for all I know, still is) of "Quiverfull." And at least Quiverfull is consistent: it bans the rhythm method a/k/a NFP too.
In fact, the disgrace of contemporary American Catholicism—the many recent scandals involving priests and underage boys—is traceable to the collusion between a large Catholic laity that wanted a different birth-control doctrine, on the one hand, and a new generation of priests cutting themselves a different kind of slack, on the other. “I won't tattle on my gay priest if you'll give me absolution for contraception” seems to have been the unspoken deal in many parishes since Humanae Vitae.
Well, find out where it was spoken, because it is just conjecture in your mind otherwise. I don't find anyone defending conception defending pedophilia, but I see many defending HV involved in the coverup and looking the other way.
Of course, all that Paul VI did, as Anscombe among many other unapologetic Catholics then and since have pointed out, was reiterate what just about everyone in the history of Christendom had ever said on the subject. In asking Catholics to be more like contraceptive-accepting Protestants, critics have been forgetting what Christian theologians across centuries had to say about contraception until practically the day before yesterday.
You might be more convincing if you also reiterated the condemnation of the rhythm method by SS. Clement, Jerome, Augustine, Lactianus, etc.
Most Christians, the VAST majority, had the sense to leave it to pastoring rather than to pontificate. Especially by those who hadn't a clue of what they were talking about.
Seen in the light of actual Christian tradition, the question is not after all why the Catholic Church refused to collapse on the point. It is rather why just about everyone else in the Judeo-Christian tradition did. Whatever the answer, the Catholic Church took, and continues to take, the public fall for causing a collapse—when actually it was the only one not collapsing.
We are still standing, and standing taller. In the meantime, dissent in the Vatican sees no end in sight.
Still others have floated the idea that John Paul II's theology of the body, an elaborate and highly positive explication of Christian moral teaching, might have taken some of the sting out of Humanae Vitae and better won the obedience of the flock.
There seems to be some truth to that: the late pope of Rome gives (or tries to) give theological position based on Scripture and Tradition, in a larger context. HV speaks only by fiat.
So why isn't everybody down here laughing?
LOL. That's at you, not with you.
All very strained, like the argument of how marriage is dangerous because of the rate of domestic violence with husbands, live in and causual boyfriends. Except if, instead of lumping the three together, and instead compare the rate with husbands and the rate with "partners," you see that a woman is safest with her husband above all.
To prove your case here, you are going to have to explain those 45% of happy "contracepting" marriages.