Contraception, Why Not?

I found this very interesting article after browsing around after reading Daniel's post. It's VERY long, but in my opinion Dr Smith explains very well the Church's stand on the use of contraception. But, as she answered in the Q&A, I find it sad that "studies show that only 35% of Catholic priests support the Church's teaching on this. I've seen as high as 47%. I expect it's as low as 35% or lower." As the writer from Daniel's post says: "Instead of looking at an issue like contraception and wondering if what the Church taught were true, I had the attitude that I accepted this doctrine as true and that I needed to learn why it was true." I sincerely feel that this lacks in many of the Catholics throughout the world now - the trust and willingness to accept the Church's doctrine first of all and to learn why it is true, if ever we do not understand the Church's stand. And even then, we usually stop our reasoning at the primary meaning of the text, and not at the deep underlying meaning of what has been written.. if we ever read what has been written in the first instance..
PS: There is an external link to the acticle


Daniel said...

I remember a conversation I had with a Dutch priest last year who lamented the method of catechesis in his native Holland, in which Catholicism is much more evolved than it is here.

In the past, it used to be that the church's doctrines were first taught to the students, and after that, the students had to learn why it was true through their experiences.

Now, they are taught through their experiences in the hope that they will arrive at the church doctrine. The problem is, few students ever arrive at the same conclusion as the church doctrine, leading many to fall away from the faith.

- Daniel

ChrisYeo said...

Very thought provoking.

As a person who is interested in reasoning and logical skills, I find that what I have always understood about learning and understanding is turned on its head here. Usually, acceptance comes after thinking about something, rather than the other way around. I cannot see why we should accept something first, then try to find out why it is true. I mean, if you already accept something as true, then why bother to find out why it is true?

Maybe Lyndley can be understood to say that what is lacking in many Catholics today, is a basic trust that our doctrines are probably right, and that we should go about with a sincere and searching heart to find out why they are true. We certainly need to search deeply to realise truth. (*more below)

There is much irony in Daniel's comments, where the Dutch cathechesis is more "evolved" (newer/better) but actually turns out to be worse off ("many fall away")! Thanks for sharing the anecdote.

However, rather than conclude that the direction of the cathechesis is wrong, can I suggest that possibly it is more a matter of quality of teaching than approach? After all, many also "fall away" with the traditional cathechesis because of the quality of teaching, and because they cannot connect their doctrine with their experience.

I'm not faulting cathechism teachers, which I am sure do an excellent job today. All I am saying is that it is not clear that the approach to cathechesis is at fault. In light of a likely revamp of our cathechesis here soon, I think this question is worthy or more debate.

(*more - Perhaps, Cathechesis is like teaching Math, where it may be more effective that beginner students learn the formulae by rote. Then, in later years, the student studies the reasons why those formulas are correct. If this is true, then there really is not so much difference between the two approaches; they just come at different stages. The difficulty with the analogy however is that faith, as personal conviction, is infinitely less certain than math. It demands a discourse and personal interaction with the 'formless formula' that is God. Teaching faith like math, may just be counterproductive after all.)

Taiden said...

If I take your analogy about Math, how knowledgeable can we say we are about our faith? I personally think I know little and still have so much more to learn and as such, I would still be a beginner student. I would therefore need to learn by rote what all our Church's formulae are and, in later years, study the reasons why these formulaes are correct.

But I would like to think of it in another way. When we were 3-5 year old kids, we only listened to our parents. We didn't know why what they told us was right. We fully believed they were right. "Daddy/Mommy is right" is what we unconsciously thought whenever we were scolded by our parents. Thinking about why they are right only comes as we grow older.

If it is so of our human parents, when they may in fact sometimes be wrong, how much more should we trust our heavenly Father who can't be wrong? (Unless people disagree with this point). The Church's teachings are God's instructions for us as little children. Aren't we literally God's "children"? :p That is why I personally trust all the Church's teachings although I may not sometimes agree with them. What I need to do is realise why these are true. And I totally agree that it demands a discourse and personal interaction with God. He will be the one providing us with our answers if we seek for them hard enough.

ChrisYeo said...

Hi Lyndley,

The maths analogy: I agree that many of us are unknowledgable about the facts of our religion, but that does not mean that that we need to learn by rote our Church's "formulae". Young children are taught by rote because they are mentally incapable of understanding the reasonings at that age. A capable person should not be taught to memorize everthing and accept without understanding first, unless of course they don't need to or want to understand.

"He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. " - Matthew 18:2-4

The analogy of a child continues when we ask ourselves about our relationship with our parents. Are we mere children, or thinking adults? If you are a child, then you should accept because you do not know better. But if you are an adult, then you should listen, trust, understand and accept - but not accept blindly first. Does God really want us to be children, or just child-like in our relationship with Him?

If I were a parent, I would not want my mature son or daughter to take what I say blindly. I believe that God similarly would want us to be in such a relationship, and not take things blindly if we are capable of it. I believe He'd want us to develop an understanding of Him, in both spirit and mind. If we take the intellectual first step of blind faith, I think we are doing the relationship a disservice. He gave us free will and intellect for a reason you know?

That is why I argue so hard and often against these justifications for contraceptives. It is because they are flawed (I haven't yet showed why, but I can). If we always take the intellectual first step of blind faith, more often than not we end up with flawed justifications, and worse, we end up closed-minded about why those justifications are wrong. We end up defensive; literally religious bigots.

Now, our heavenly Father cannot be wrong. But Daniel may be wrong; Dr Smith may be wrong; I may be wrong. Parents may be wrong; priests may be wrong; even the pope may be wrong. Personal convictions may be wrong; terrorists who pray and study all their lives may be wrong; even whole religions may be wrong. Think about it. It is not only a disservice to blindly believe, but it is literally dangerous.

Let's be clear here. What you are advocating is not that we all sit down and memorise first what our church beliefs are. All you have to do is pick up a book to do that. What you are really advocating is that we sit down, memorise, and BELIEVE FIRST. You are advocating a CLOSE-MINDED FAITH, one in which you won't be able to find the right justifications for your beliefs anyway, because every justification that fits just fits, and any justification that is contradictory is easily rejected.

Now, is that the kind of faith a young thinking Catholic today should have?

war in the pocket said...

"Now we've all lived through several weeks of seeing the national outrage because an adolescent is being caned in Singapore, as a great violation of human rights. But do any of you hear or have you seen any sort of national outrage for what's gong on in China?"

Hahaha, did anybody spot this in the article? =P