Friday, August 31, 2012

On Reading Scripture: the Beginning

Note before reading:

I wrote this while on my silent retreat. I read the book of Isaiah (most of it--still working) this time. Last year I read Jeremiah during the silence. I don't know why but I find myself ever more drawn to the prophets. Likewise I find myself drawn to Wisdom Literature in the Old Testament. Much like my experience with philosophy where I would revel in the newer, more contemporary philosophers until I became a confused mess, I think the same can be true of the New Testament.

Just as I turned to ancient philosophy to get my bearings--to know from where I'd come--I looked to the prophets who await the fullness of Christ in the same way (but differently) we await the fullness of His presence. So I found myself drawn to them and their admonitions, reading into them the plight, arrogance, trials, and troubles of my own soul.

I wrote this as a way of inspiring you to read but this time also endeavoring to seek instruction from a number of sources, the prophets being primary candidates.

I'm aware that some of this may be nothing more than my 'preaching to the choir' as it were. But even for myself, and I consider myself devout, we can miss out on simple things very easily.

Please leave a comment, I always love reading them!


Often when I read discussions, arguments, or biblical-based critiques/attacks of my theology I find that there is both a sad simplification and, at times, an ignorance of Scripture. Many of us, especially Christians, would like to disagree that we are members of this category but the reality is that all the zeal and good (or bad) intention in the world doesn't translate to wisdom (let alone an understanding of Scripture). In order to remedy this situation I would like to offer some ideas on reading Scripture more effectively and some pitfalls to avoid in the process.

Reading Scripture can seem like a daunting task—many aren't sure where to begin or try to muscle their way through right from the beginning. This isn't a bad approach but we can get weighed down in a sea of details. Keep reading and I'll try and put it in a different light.

Many people make comments about a number of subjects while using Scripture such as gay marriage, abortion, sex outside of marriage—and the list goes on. Consequently there are those people who are obviously in the wrong. These are people who curse, hate, ridicule, and belittle. Scripture has already judged these people so we need not concern ourselves with them or that subject. What we do need to focus on are those on either side who establish their argument by claiming that "Jesus says that we should love one another!" or "Judge not lest you be judged!" Far be it from me to call the statement wrong but we are all aware that we can say one thing and mean a number of things.

For example:

1) "I love her" (her = her personality, her body, her presence, her person).

2) "I am saved" (...right now, ...later, ...when I have faith)

"Judgment" and "love" are no different. Everyone uses the words but few consider the meaning. Fewer consider the source where we are drawing that meaning from. I will expand on this in another piece but Scripture conveys many meanings. We can convey just as many about Scripture—only we can be very, very wrong in the process.

Jesus says "Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments" (Mt 22:37-40).

In a society and mindset where we want the quick and easy method it seems that we should be content with this passage. Indeed, it seems many people are content with just hearing this passage. They nod their heads and continue on as if nothing has changed and nothing is different.

But listen now and pay close attention: is a building called a building by its foundations alone? Are not all the parts of a house considered together? Indeed, even Paul warns us that "each must be careful how he builds upon it [the foundation]" (1 Cor 3:10). More still that foundation will be revealed for what it is. What we build may be weak and crumble under the weight of practical incompetence, ignorance, pride, laziness, and more. "If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation [Christ] he will receive a wage. But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire." (1 Cor 3:14-15). Sure, you could build poorly—but when you "build" poorly you may also mistake the foundation for Christ when it's not really Him at all. If you can (or should) build, build wisely.

What is this building process, then? For our purposes let's call it our role as evangelizers. When we argue weakly from Scripture we still argue weakly. This is not a case of us "being fools for Christ." We will be called fools for speaking the Truth, but we will also be called fools for speaking wrongly—discerning which is which is the key.

Christ gives us a starting point: Love God and love your neighbor are the foundation of the law and the prophets. But how can we put Christ's hint to good use if we fail to read Scripture, especially the Old Testament—the law and the prophets?

You should make an effort today to read, but when you read Scripture don't be intimidated. I've found that the following holds true in my reading: if Scripture is the wisdom of God speaking to us then we must endeavor to gain wisdom. Indeed, many will hear but not listen and many will see but will not understand (cf., Is 6:9, Mt 13:14-15). Wisdom is the light by which we see truth. But sometimes we need help to see the truth—we need to be taught wisdom.

"Plans fail when there is no counsel, but they succeed when counselors are many" (Proverbs 15:22). Likewise "Listen to counsel and receive instruction that you may eventually become wise" (19:20). Who are our counselors and instructors? First, the prophets. Men who were inspired by the Spirit and who longed for Christ as much as we should long for Him. The letter of James states that "the fervent prayer of the righteous person is very powerful" (James 5:16) and so too is the counsel of those who are prayerful and loving. We have already been taught about love from St. Paul: it is patient, without malice, and kind. Seek these people out and seek their advice when darkness covers your own heart. For "like golden apples in silver settings are words spoken at the proper time" (Prv 25:11). "A word in season, how good it is!" (15:23).

When I am stuck on Scripture it is sometimes a matter of academic ignorance. But in the same way I need instruction from those who are wise. The wise rabbis and scribes compiled these books for us called "Wisdom Literature."  They consist of Job, the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Wisdom, and Sirach.  If you were to begin anywhere in Scripture (and are unsure where to begin) I would look to Proverbs, Wisdom, and Sirach. These three books contain easy-to-digest phrases and speech but also offer a mature reflection on the whole of Scripture (i.e., the law, the prophets, and the wisdom of many generations).

Though a bit simple, I consider Proverbs part of the oral-wisdom of the Jews. Sayings passed down and collected over the ages. The book of wisdom is like this as well but offers some more mature reflections and invokes king Solomon. The book of Sirach (originally written in Hebrew but only surviving to us in Greek) was written by an Jerusalem Jew, translated by his grandson, an Alexandrian Jew. It is a collection of wisdom and instruction written about 200-175BC. It is the mature musings of a man who grew up loving the law and lived it his whole life. These three books have offered me a great deal of insight and reflection on the entirety of Scripture. Seek out their wisdom and reflect on their words.

The other Wisdom books are excellent sources but much more difficult. St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote extensively on the Song of Songs, even though the book itself is about 7 pages (he wrote somewhere around 30 long-essays on it and he never finished) and Job itself is a book that should be revisited often. But if you want my advice, start with the easier books.

Wisdom is for all ages. Some are ready for solid food but many more of us must be fed with milk first.

And so I return to my earlier point. Christ tells us that the law and the prophets depend on love. The Apostles and Paul affirmed and upheld this. But when we neglect the prophets we will mourn like those who neglected the prophets in ages past. The prophets warned about false gods, idols, and foreign nations. Do we not also sacrifice to false gods when we love money, power, and things over God and others? Do we not raise idols for ourselves when disdain the chastisements of the wise and instead boast of our own virtue? And are not the foreign nations nothing more than the allure, power, and (in the end) the destructive tendency of sin? When we stop seeing the prophets and the law as merely 'that which has passed' and more as a relevant warning for our souls right now we are all the better. Christ said to stay awake. Peter said 'stay sober and alert.' The devil is indeed like a prowling lion, looking for someone to devour.

"When one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination" (Prv 28:9).

If you want to speak in Jesus' name but do not heed His words as best you can what are you building? Are you building the Kingdom of God or is your work destined for the fire? 'If they will not heed the prophets neither will they heed one who has risen from the dead.' I will address the wisdom of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel at a later date. What I will do is set Jerusalem our very souls and not just the city of past ages. I think some very interesting insights arise from making the temple—which is the height and center of Jerusalem—and the city our very own being. For is not our body a "temple of the Holy Spirit"?

And so, when we speak about Scripture and about Christian living are we speaking from the perspective of one who sought counsel or from the perspective of one who simply claims he 'loves God and neighbor'? It is very easy to say we love both, but it is far more difficult to seek others who tell us that we're doing it wrong. These counselors can be Scripture, those who have died, or those still living. This is true because "he who rejects admonition despises his own soul, but he who heeds reproof gains understanding" (Prv 15:32).  "Reprove a wise man and he will love you" (9:8b).

Do not blind or deaf to instruction nor be weighed down. My words may seem harsh but only because "evil is cleansed away by bloody lashes, and a scourging to the inmost being" (Prv 20:30). My goal is not to beat you into submission but to warn you sternly about the great task before you. If you are to make God known to the world it would benefit you to make His Word known to yourself—not as one who claims he knows that word. Do not be this person too readily. Rather, seek wisdom. Seek it in Scripture and in the world where God resides. For the Spirit inspires both word and man. God gives us both.

"All wisdom is fear of the Lord; perfect wisdom is fulfillment of the law. The knowledge of wickedness is not wisdom, nor is there prudence in the council of sinners" (Sirach 19:17-18). Do not be quick to declare another a sinner nor be too quick to ignore a man's words. Every man is known by his fruit. "Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so … a good tree cannot bear bad fruit nor a rotten tree bear good fruit" (Mt 7:16-18). And so if there seems to be merit in the man there may be merit in his words. It is good and wise to trust Scripture and it is good and wise to trust those who live according to Scripture—but how we determine this is also for another time.

If you have questions or want some suggestions please feel free to ask. There is much to say (on my part) and hardly time to record it all. Remember to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and if you find yourself drawn to a certain book in Scripture (for this or that reason) read that book! God is inspiring your heart to read something and it benefits you to trust that instinct.

I hope this is a good start! We'll continue with the prophets next time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Conversion (poem)

I made this little poem back in February. I don't write poetry often--maybe every 4 months. Sometimes I just do it to get my mind off of essay-style writing, other times just because an idea came to mind. I'm by no means an expert at it but sometimes a topic is better explained in this format than a long drawn out essay.

I find that poetry (whether writing poetically or poems proper) is a clearer window into the thinker himself. The images one uses and the subject matter, which is condensed and focused, helps this.

This particular topic is about 'conversion' in our hearts. I also wrote it in conjunction with thinking about many protestants who use the Bible as sola scriptura. Not all do so meanly, if you follow me, but all do so wrongly.

Some questions/statements to consider as you read:

If you've even been through a severe lightning story, where the ground shakes and trees are split in half, then I think you'll agree it's a sometimes scary thing. But how much scarier is when our world seems to crumble apart by a mere word or phrase (say from Scripture, or a wise priest, family member, or friend)?

This isn't perfect, and I struggled to make this complete, so I hope the follow themes get across:

1) Conversion is unsettling, but it doesn't mean we're destroyed

2) Life is a process of conversion

3) To simply disregard the reason, logic, and wisdom of others who disagree with you (and your interpretations of Scripture) as mere "human wisdom" is your own hardness of heart, I think.


Lord, it is truly a terrible sound
when lightning strikes and shakes the ground.
Yet is there a thunderbolt more bold,
more powerful, or more sublime
than one that strikes the human heart?

The secret citadels of our pride
constructed by our prejudice and habits
are toppled by a mere word and a gentle breeze.

The call to conversion is not a slow revolution
but a bolt that throws us into confusion.
We may spill a million words forth
but a wise word is an ocean's worth.
The mandala that is given loving form
is wiped away with none forlorn.
But if the heart's conviction carefully constructed
is wiped away—better death than destructed!

Even stones of faith and Scripture,
strong, sturdy, and hard to fissure
can be arranged with wrathful anger—
truth and wisdom become a stranger
and avoid us with unmatched prudence.

But Lord, how too often we subscribe
to passivity or emotion and let them bribe
our sensibilities—it is the truth of which we're deprived.

How might we change these stony hearts for hearts anew?
Love of others and love of You.

Yet Lord, how quickly your wisdom we disregard,
how soon our hearts become hard!

All who say "only God's Word!"
and bear the Scriptures like a sword
will not consider (true) human wisdom
with love or consideration
but only with derision.
Such was the lot of priest and prophet
who challenged the hearts of many:
ridiculed or exiled or executed
by those who claimed to know God's way.

To love one another is to love God;
love is not mere tolerance
but the starting point of truth's conveyance.

To hate just exhortations
is hatred resting in the soul
for 'he who does not listen to wise council,
that man is a fool.'

Thank you for reading,



Comments appreciated! And new pieces coming soon!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Contraception: How Free are We? (part I)

[Author's Note: Some of the topics and comments below may be offensive to some viewers as this covers the not-so-easy topic of contraception and sex. Though I avoid all graphic descriptions some of the topics may make readers uneasy. Nevertheless, some of the things I quote are what our friends and children are being taught and in many cases what we've grown up with as well. If we are ever going to understand them we need to confront them with faith, prayer, and courage.

Similarly, there are no restrictions on comments, so please feel free to comment below.]

Sometimes the illusion of choice is more attractive than real choices and real consequences. It’s not unlike a beautiful woman or handsome man who, on the outside, is attractive, desirable, and (for many) ideal to go after. Yet when we find out that this or that attractive person is self-absorbed, mean-spirited, or more concerned with remaining attractive than anything else we are often taken aback—we’re almost shocked. The same is true with many other things: when they fail to meet our expectations we may be disappointed. Stronger still, when things are contrary to how they present themselves we are angered, disgusted at, and are repelled from that same person or thing. The object that was once beautiful and attractive becomes an object of scorn and derision.

Indeed, what is this thing—this idea—that promotes freedom of choice, dresses attractively, and draws many in as a solution to your problems? This idea is contraception. Now for many who support contraception this seems crazy or stupid. Indeed,  many people seem to go out of their way to not find fault with contraception or the reasons behind using it, e.g., “people are having sex anyway, they should be safe!” and “it makes my sex life better [because I can have more of it and not worry about pregnancy].” Of course, perhaps everything I will say below is, in fact, stupid and crazy. But if, as contraception websites claim, you are open to different ideas—even ones that disagree with your own—perhaps you will consider something you hadn’t before.
Generic image of an angry woman who may think I'm a woman hater or want to turn women back into stay-at-home-aspire-for-nothings. I assure you I'm not. Please just bear with me!

I will illustrate my points more specifically below. For now, I want to share one quote (a bit long) that I believe illustrates a theme in the contraceptive position. It is framed very practically and seen as both discerning and tolerant. It only wants the best for young men and women, so it seems. It states that:

Young people can be very interested in the moral and cultural frameworks that bind sex and sexuality. They often welcome opportunities to talk about issues where people have strong views, like abortion, sex before marriage, lesbian and gay issues and contraception and birth control. It is important to remember that talking in a balanced way about differences in opinion does not promote one set of views over another, or mean that one agrees with a particular view. Part of exploring and understanding cultural, religious and moral views is finding out that you can agree to disagree.

Attempts to impose narrow moralistic views about sex and sexuality on young people through sex education have failed. Rather than trying to deter or frighten young people away from having sex, effective sex education includes work on attitudes and beliefs, coupled with skills development, that enables young people to choose whether or not to have a sexual relationship taking into account the potential risks of any sexual activity.

Young people get information about sex and sexuality from a wide range of sources including each other, through the media including advertising, television and magazines, as well as leaflets, books and websites (such as which are intended to be sources of information about sex and sexuality. Some of this will be accurate and some inaccurate. Providing information through sex education is therefore about finding out what young people already know and adding to their existing knowledge and correcting any misinformation they may have. ( (Italics and underlines added for emphasis by me)

It seems strange for a website, or anyone, to advocate safe, restricted, and “responsible” sex while at the same time being perfectly fine both allowing and taking in all ideas. We should choose carefully which person we have sex with but we should be open and receptive to all ideas about sex? Maybe it’s time we started worrying less about protecting our genitals and invested more time protecting and developing our ideas about sex and relationships. It seems to me like the contraction rate of bad ideas in both men and women is very high when you allow them to consider and tolerate every idea (i.e., “agree to disagree”).

Much like (casual) sex, bad ideas are can be very satisfying and fulfilling while they last. Likewise they can also leave you with feelings of regret, unintended consequences, and being forced into situations you didn’t want to get into. Bad ideas are very contagious and easy to spread. It’s even more dangerous because it can come from family, friends, a loved one, teachers, media, or you can contract it all on your own.

But rather than dwell on this I’ll get a bit more specific. Contraception is not only a bad idea, it also sets itself up as a solution to a problem it contributes to. I realize that I’m swimming against the current of our culture saying this but there are some nuances here that should be discussed as well. It is the case that many use contraception of some form; many use it for pleasure (or “safe pleasure”) and others for medical purposes. My concern is not for those who use “contraception” for medicinal reasons (necessarily) such as irregular periods, but my concern is rather (1) with those who use contraception for its namesake—conta-(con)ception, or a means to prevent pregnancy. My other concern (2) is those who use contraception for the sake of more casual sex. I plan to treat both briefly below but I will also return to these points (especially the first) in subsequent pieces as well.

As such, I first ask a question: unwanted pregnancies and STDs can certainly be a problem. But why is it that the cause of these things is sometimes simply attributed to “unprotected sex”? It seems rather the case that the idea behind “sex” is the root of our problems here. We’ll see if it’s true.

Many websites and information outlets try to teach and help identify how one can avoid coercion and undue pressure. This is perfectly good and fine. Sex should be freeing, loving, and mutual. Yet, at the same time, many of these same outlets aggressively push for using condoms. Sex, they claim, should be pressureless but we should pressure men to wear condoms because it’s responsible (cf. Condom Exuses from

This is simply and clearly another case of allowing one bad idea (casual sex) as inevitable and making up additional bad ideas to cover for it. The cascades of rhetoric cannot hide the logic “If you want to have a fulfilling relationship, good (luck!). If you want to have casual sex, as it’s your choice, good. Oh, and here’s how.”

Is casual sex supposed to be a good idea as long as you’re responsible? ‘If you drink excessively but don’t drive’ it is considered responsible in regards to driving (and health) but it tells us nothing about drinking. ‘Have sex but be safe’ is responsible in regards to contracting disease but it doesn’t relate anything about responsibility for sex, much less relationships (we’ll look at this a bit more in a moment).

In reality, though, it's just about driking related to driving not about drinking itself--perhaps because it's a value we are unable to teach.

For now, however, what contraception does as an idea is a few things: 1) it claims that the opposition, especially religious, wants to turn women into ‘baby factories.’ 2) it claims that the opposition wants to impose “narrow moralistic views” while claiming it is open to all ideas and choices—and they give them to you to choose (They also say "If you can't be bothered to use a condom then I can't be bothered to have sex with you.” Condom Excuses, Dr. Petra Boynton). 3) it claims that it’s the safe, responsible option. I’ll address (1) in greater detail in the next piece.

There are many implicit claims about contraception (and by those who advocate their use), but here’s one more: “you can always choose who you have sex with, but if you choose to have sex with one or many use protection.”

The strange thing is that they never explain why you would want to have multiple sex partners—maybe it’s just “fun.” Yes, oddly they do not want to influence why you have sex but they certainly want to jump in the moment you decide and tell you how.

But again, what becomes the problem or risk with regards to casual sex? Many places say that pregnancy and/or STDs are the risks involved, but are they really the problem? An unwanted pregnancy due to failed contraception is something that puts someone in a trap—and then contraceptive-types give you an out. You could have the child or you could have an abortion. This is especially attractive to teens and men and women in their 20s and 30s who can’t/don’t want to support a child. Rather, I would say it seems like they target them: they warn them of the risks but encourage them to have sex (as long as it’s your choice). In reality, there’s nothing quite like a prison that says “Freedom” on the door. In this case, pregnancy is made to be the prison and abortion the door out. Perhaps it’s the other way around.

Maybe the door that seems to be the way out is really the way in.

But perhaps it’s the case that I’ve been wrong about contraception. It is, after all, the other person’s choice to use the pill or a condom, so maybe we should all just let others choose what they will and let them ‘fight it out’ from there. Contraception is just one valid choice among many.

Okay, that’s fine. Let’s juxtapose two ideas and see if anything turns up:

+ You should marry the person you love after a long period of discernment. Through prayer, time, modesty, and plenty of communication you may then decide to spend the rest of your life with this person if it is your vocation. You’ll meet with a priest who helps discuss the many challenges in marriage and helps both to decide if they’re ready, both individually and together. When married you can have sex with someone whom you know will be faithful to you wholly and like no one else. You give of yourself wholly to the other person even insofar as you are open to new life. If a new life does come into your own you both see it as a blessing despite the challenges.

+You should carefully choose whom you have sex with. You should both be ready, but you should both be responsible. A child/pregnancy could be a great burden so use contraception until you’re absolutely ready to have a child. If you choose to have sex with many people remember to be safe and expect the same from others. Sex should be safe, fun, and above all freeing. It’s your body and you should be happy and healthy in it.

I believe I represented both sides well and ask you to review each and see what emerges. Are both devoid of problems? Of course not. I will address the first, Catholic, option later but for now I will turn my focus to the second.

When it comes to presenting these options to children or teenagers which seems more attractive? Staying with one person (for the rest of your lives) or having choices? Kids probably don’t think about sex or relationships in too much detail; they’re just told that if they want answers there are places they can go to. Or, of course, we could teach children to masturbate. An example from Planned Parenthood for elementary school students:
“Q. Is it okay to touch yourself?
A. Sure, it's okay. It feels good to touch ourselves, but we should only touch ourselves in private.” (Talking to kids about sexuality)
Isn’t this the type of openness we all should want? After all, when we teach children to use their sexuality to feel good in the way they want to, how could it negatively affect them, especially if they do it in private? When you teach children foundational ideas when they’re young they can carry it into their adult lives with ease, as long as they keep up with it. But, in the end, “negative feelings about masturbation can threaten our health and well-being. Only you can decide what is healthy and right for you” (

Only you can decide. Not your parents, not your doctor, not any visible code of morality or ethics. Just you. Planned Parenthood is just here to help, folks.
Just this reassuring image I found. Nothing suspicious at all.

Teens, on the other hand, not only know a bit more about sex they also desire it more. Their passions run a bit higher as well. Because things always seem to be changing for them they seek permanence in something—and for many it’s sex. They see it everywhere, some indulge in pornography or masturbation, many occupy their thoughts with it, and are encouraged to have it if they think they’re ready. Well, it probably goes without saying that plenty of teens (and even adults) believe they’re ready.

I suppose somewhere along the way many teens forgot (or we forgot to tell them) that not only is life itself temporary but sexual attraction, acts, and desires are even more temporary. One side tells them to wait and to control themselves through abstinence. The other tells them to explore their bodies, exploit what is pleasurable to them (in their bodies) for their health, wait until they’re ready, and then “control” themselves by using a condom or other contraceptive methods. Perhaps as disease prevention this is a very good method. Why throw teens into the fire with abstinence? Throw them into the fire with fire-retardant gloves.

Sexual urges are powerful things and the more we occupy our minds with sex the more we want it, the more we tend think about it, and the more it influences our future actions. Will this set you free? Or is this putting us in a prison, especially when we teach our children to indulge and explore what is pleasurable to them?—especially with something as intimate and pervasive as our own bodies?

Is it better to understand and control our passions until we are ready to use them, or is it better to explore and indulge our passions so we can learn what benefits us most? But what if it’s too late and we become a slave to our passions? Who do we depend on when we can’t depend on ourselves or our inclinations-made-tyrants?

Regardless, contraception remains a physical tool that is used and promoted by people who see the world physically. Because condoms or pills do not care about family life, relationships, children, or healthy relationships they rather speak about only what they can: preventing disease and pregnancy (in perfect usage). But I must admit that both reasons are dressed very attractively.

Another reason for this is the already self-admitted rule for teaching about contraception: For them there are many different values about relationships, sex, morality, gender, etc. Since they cannot endorse any single one value for anything, they have to simply talk about the biological merits and function of contraception, stating them as objective facts (for biological use only) and giving them as a tool or instrument we place into our own personal value sets. So it’s not that contraception-ideology doesn’t care about your unique situation, it’s that it can’t care about your unique situation. All it can do is tell you that it does this or that biologically and wish you well on that whole happiness thing. But, biologically speaking, sex is a lot of fun and feels really good, so how could more sex (and significantly safer sex) not contribute to happiness? Why wouldn’t you pursue it if you’re ready?
I guess if it's a frank discussion it can't be that bad. She certainly doesn't seem to promote immoderate behavior. Just tell'n it like it is.

But we need another angle. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves some different questions. Questions like ‘is he using a condom because he really loves me?’ ‘Is she taking the pill because she cares about my well-being?’ Perhaps, but does the pill guarantee that? Does it really make relationships better or more loving? Does it even help?

Sometimes it comes down to what people look for in sex. Those who only want sex for pleasure will end up using you or others. But many more look for sex to be completing, intimate, and loving. Many, in some cases, see sex itself as all three. Does contraception facilitate or complete any of these things? When a condom means “I love you” I’ll congratulate you on finding love. When the pill means “my life is complete” I’ll rejoice that you’ve moved past more difficult times—such as time before the pill.

But as far as I’ve seen it contraception remains that mirage that many seek and run towards. Has it really made your life better? Does your man say he’ll love you forever, but it’s a different story if you’re pregnant? And men, if you are responsible for a boy or girl can you call yourself a man by running away? For you see, the challenge of commitment does not lie in how good your sex is and will be but if in the face of the greatest challenges you persevere. A child is a challenge but a blessing because it is by that fire you can forge a true commitment and completely transform your life. What is more conducive to commitment in your life? Is it an unplanned pregnancy or an openness every time to have children if they come?

Do I say this to “scare you from having sex,” as might say? No. In reality I’m just beginning to “give you the facts.” Sex is a gift and a blessing, but its blessing does not lie tat in it is just pleasurable alone. It is a blessing precisely because it is unitive and procreative. True, holy, and proper sex is an openness to life, a love for life when it comes, and that expression of unified love of a husband and wife powerful enough to conceive life and sustain it happily and lovingly. More still, sex should be the culmination of many things—it should be the expression of love, commitment, trust, and friendship and not a tool by which we think we have all these things. The moment sex becomes a tool is the moment it can be misused. When we think something can be used against us is precisely the moment we feel we need protection from and against it.

Contraception is and has been dressing up as that thing you want and need for a while now. Is there nothing or no one else you can look up to? Next time, I will attempt to provide you with an alternative you can look up to. I will show you how contraception makes you a prisoner—especially women—and how, lades, much of the change we need begins with you. Men and women alike need to change, truly, how they look at relationships and sex. But the victims in many ways are women who leave men consequence-free by taking contraception that can (and does) affect their bodies, all in the name of their own personal pleasure—all the same still exploited by men looking to use women and women looking to use men.

Next time we will begin scratching the surface of the Catholic-Christian response and how through it you can be happier and more fulfilled, with or without sex.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Some ideas for upcoming pieces

As I'm writing and jotting down ideas and notes I figured I'd let you in on my secrets so that if you have any suggestions, ideas, blogs, or reading you can post it here for my benefit. Thanks again for all your support. Commenting doesn't require registration, so why not drop a sentence or two?

My ideas are as follows:

1) Something on Contraception. I've had some notes and thoughts on the idea for a long while now but perhaps it's be a good time to rehash it given a few recent conversations.

2) A piece called "Opinions are the new Dogmas" which comments on people's insistence to invoke "it's your opinion" or "we just have differing opinions." That, in reality, many who argue for this or that and settle for opinion have actually made the "idea" of an opinion the new dogma. (have to read up more on the matter though)

3) A friend suggested that I write about poverty and why, since the Catholic Church has many nice things, they don't sell it all and give it to the poor. Likewise, that that "opulence" is contrary to Christ. (or is having beautiful things contrary?) [there's a hint to my answer]

4) Broken marriages, broken families, and how this affects discussion about contraception, abortion, and marriage.

5) About the "Body of Christ" theme and how (surprise) the Catholic Church seems, by virtue of the criticism it receives, to emulate most vividly the true Body of Christ.

If you have more to say or thoughts on these subjects please share!