Monday, March 15, 2010

Two errors in editorial on contraception

I wrote this letter to the Philippine Daily Inquirer

First Posted 00:09:00 03/13/2010

THE INQUIRER’S EDITORIAL OF March 5, titled “Intolerance,” had two errors, and the first error is glaring.

The editorial stated that the Catholic teaching on contraception is “only” a religious teaching. I’m sorry, but the Catholic hierarchy is not the only one that understands the immorality of contraception; the secular BBC also perceives it. And this provides 15 secular reasons to make the moral case against contraception. BBC’s Ethics Guide ( against_1.shtml), which covers differing angles, argues that contraception prevents potential human beings from being conceived. And people who might benefit humanity will be included among these.

Aside from stressing that contraception leads to widespread immorality, the BBC also argues that contraception is unnatural. It explains that the natural consequence of sexual intercourse is conceiving a child, and contraception interferes with this natural purpose of sexual intercourse. For sure, one can glean from this sampling that there is nothing biblical nor magisterial in these arguments. Nothing religious, really, that a reasonable secular State cannot adopt.

The second error, hidden under the nuanced position taken by the editorial, is the false impression given when it said that Catholic teaching on the intrinsic evil of contraception “took its present shape over 40 years ago, with ‘Humanae Vitae.’”

Of course, the theologically precise terminology can be dated quite recently, but let’s not forget that language is but the expression of ideas. And the idea on the evil of contraception took shape from the very beginning of the Catholic Church. We just have to read what Clement of Alexandria, an early Church Father, wrote around 191 AD: “Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted.” And it is good for everyone to know that all the Christian denominations agreed with this idea—both secularly rational and theologically grounded—until 1930, the era when the dictatorship of relativism was imposing itself on the world.


Miky said...

I think you are making an error too: the website you quote (BBC...) is not really against contraception. Its purpose is to recapitulate arguments for and against contraception, not to take position. It's an informational site. For proof, those pages from the same site:

Sincerly yours.

Raul said...

Thanks for your comment, Miky. :)

I did read those pages when I wrote my letter, that is why I said that the BBC Ethics Guide "covers differing angles" and that BBC "perceives" (not a strong word such as "understands") the immorality of contraception.

I also just stated that the BBC "provides 15 secular reasons to make the moral case against contraception". The terminology of the "moral case against contraception" as you might have read in the page is the original terminology of the BBC Ethics Guide.

The value of this page is that there do exist many secular reasons against contraception. And the pages in favor of contraception basically just summarize the pro-self morality of today. Pro-self is euphemism for egoism really.