The “Whys” of the Catholic Church’s Stance on Contraception

(Welcome South Florida Daily Blog readers! Hope you find this post thought-provoking even if you don’t agree)

Many of my posts in the past few weeks have centered around the HHS contraception mandate. Of those posts, a minority have dealt with the issue of contraception itself. On the other hand, a lot of the support for the mandate and opposition to the Catholic Church has revolved around contraception – namely the Catholic Church’s “outdated, unreasonable, anti-woman” rational in maintaining its disapproval of contraceptive use outside medically necessary conditions.

Of all the basic Catholic moral teachings, contraception is one of the hardest to accept. I speak from experience – until very recently (I’m talking something like 3-4 years ago) I didn’t understand the Church’s stance nor did I approve of it. One of the components of a true and full belief in a faith, in something larger than oneself, is that we have to trust and accept things that may not make sense to us. However, not only is it our obligation to trust, but to verify…verify by way of learning as much as possible about the “whys” of a Church’s stance. Something that’s been around for two millenia isn’t just going to make something up “just because”. So, my duty those few years ago was to learn and try to figure out why the Church does not approve of contraception.

Melissa Moschella, a doctoral student at Princeton University, in her discovery of the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception, presents a succinct and solid summary that is not just based on blind faith, but on reason (in other words, the Catholic Church in a nutshell). My own discovery and revelation on this topic mirrors Ms. Moschella’s in many ways:

Proponents of the recent Health and Human Services contraceptive coverage mandate often criticize Catholic teachings. Yet how many have truly considered the reasons behind our opposition to artificial birth control?

Have they explored research linking contraceptive use to higher rates of divorce, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion?

I’ve come to embrace Catholic sexual teachings not because I was taught them from childhood (I was not) but through my own reflection. As a Harvard undergrad and now a Princeton Ph.D. student, I’ve engaged with defenders of radical feminism and sexual liberalism, yet I find the Catholic position more convincing.

Any informed citizen — especially anyone inclined to dismiss Catholic sexual teachings as obsolete or anti-woman — ought to know some basics about the Catholic perspective.

Please continue reading the post here to learn these basics.

A closing side note: Although Ms. Moschella doesn’t get into it, it’s very important to note that the Catholic Church is not in the business of mandating its position on contraception (or anything else for that matter) to the wider population. Those who claim that Catholic bishops and politicians want to institute a theocracy are completely out of touch with reality and are simply projecting their internal fears and uncertainties onto something that just doesn’t exist in this country. The Church is in a position to propose – not impose – for the good of society. First and foremost among these is the right of an individual to exercise his/her religious beliefs without government interference.

Non-Catholics and Catholics can believe what they want – and no religious authority will take that right away from them. However, if one is to engage in the discussion about what the Church believes in and why, it’s a good idea to learn more about it. Ms. Moschella’s article presents a good starting point for this process.

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