As a veteran of many years of church-related battles over the matter of birth control I have come to the conclusion that even the arguments of the “rightness” or “wrongness” of the church’s teaching on artificial contraception is not of interest to most people. I say this, not because such moral correctness is not possible to point out, or because there is still so much doubt among so called “Catholic scholars” but because even when it is granted that there is wisdom in the Catholic teaching of the evil of contraception, such news is often met with just a simple yawn.
Oh, the church might be right, but it’s such a small thing compared to the big problems society is facing. What I find most challenging these days in the debate over Humanae Vitae is first of all, getting people to care.
Therefore, I offer the following point to consider in the battle over birth-control.
Reason number one: “Is it logical?” There is almost universal agreement today, regarding the “breakdown” of the family. Both liberals and conservatives alike can’t but admit this nebulous truth. It’s quite easy to get this familiar whine going. It is important to keep this up, since there are some who still don’t like the sound of “family values” speeches. Unfortunately, the whining doesn’t often get beyond this.
May I propose that all of us good Catholics make a little promise to throw out the idea of the “problem of contraception” whenever we get involved in a “breakdown” of the family discussion? After you get past the insults, the disbelief that you would say something like that, and the “mind your own business” stares, bring out the following parallel.
Imagine discovering some problem with your car. It’s definitely a problem, there’s no doubting that. You bring it to the shop and the mechanics consult, fiddle, tighten, replace a little something here, clean a little something there and send you on your way. The next day, the same problem starts again. You take it back, they fiddle some more, tighten something else, replace another thing. You drive home, and the next day, you’re trying to refrain from using too many four-letter words in front of your five-year-old as you bring the car back in again. The same problem still exists, in fact you think it’s getting worse.
Now, isn’t it logical, doesn’t it stand to reason, that is to say, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize they haven’t put their finger on the right problem? If it’s such a difficult problem, you have to find some smarter mechanics.
But those problems that persist, they’re a pickle. It’s only logical to that they must be something small, something that most people don’t see. If I heard ten mechanics say it must be x, y, or z but only one saying, it’s “p”, I would have to finally give the one guy a chance. In fact, after paying these other guys out of my nose without any improvement, and it was only a little old lady standing in the corner that told me it was “p”, I’d take her advice.
Now, if the parallel to the birth-control problem isn’t obvious, let me spell it out.
We all agree that there is trouble in the social fabric or North America today don’t we? Or, would you say, the family has never been stronger, relationships never more enduring? Well, if so, doesn’t it make sense, isn’t it logical, that the problem must be something that most people don’t see.
When it comes to analyzing moral issues most people today are like the guy looking under the hood. We’re supposed to offer our opinions, we have to sound concerned, but when it comes to explaining any moral principles or reasons for something being right, or something being wrong, it is not easy. Oh, we can explain murder and robbing banks and simple things like that, but get beyond these and we have to resort to “just because” or “well, it’s a complicated thin.” Brilliant.
Funny thing about that problem. The problem was a complicated one for everyone except the one who know what the problem was. He’s the guy that says, “Here silly, fix this.” Now the Pope to many must be like that little old lady in the garage. “What could he possibly know about sex? Don’t listen to him, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Well, excuse me, the family is still breaking down, why not give his way a try? Should we make an issue of birth-control? Yes, silly, fix this and we’ll be on the road to recovery.