“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”—Romans 14:10-13. New Revised Standard Version Bible (Catholic)
Christianity is as old as time. Early records pointed out to middle 1st century as the time when Christianity started out as a Jewish sect. History has it that beginning in what we now call today as the modern Israel and Palestine, the said religion quickly spread to regions in Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor and Egypt like a resilient virus would. Then suddenly, by the 4th century, Christianity dominated the Roman Empire and thus, Christians—as its adherents are called—began to flourish.
The Wikipedia defined Christianity as a “religion . . . as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings” or what we know to coin, the Bible.
The gospels are among the highlights of a religious mass served in a Catholic Church. Church leaders such as the Priests, Bishops, and the Pope preach the Bible as the ultimate instrument from which all other teachings and principles are rooted. It supposedly professes morality, and prescribes life as sacred deserving of respect.
Now having said all these, it is likely odd that the Roman Catholic Church itself continues to violate its very own teachings. The most recent of which is the Reproductive Health Bill of the Philippines, which seeks to institutionalize the access to information and methods of birth control and healthcare— maternal care to be specific—but which is continuously thwarted by the Church to the extent of threatening to excommunicate the country’s head of state, His Excellency Benigno Aquino III should it be enacted.
The debate on the morality of the use of contraceptives is as ancient as Christianity itself. Since its recognition as an institution, it consistently rescinds any artificial birth control methods to be disrespectful and “morally unacceptable.”
It teaches to its adherents that any action designed to stymie procreation is “intrinsically evil.” Thence, to the Catholic Church, the sexual intercourses between marriage mates should remain open to pregnancy; period.
As a Christian, I do wonder where such teaching is founded as I have been mentally trained since childhood that God, the omniscient Supreme Being is interested in the welfare of mankind. He [God] does not command that which He [God] already knows would be detrimental to mankind’s health and spirituality such as abusing or overusing one’s body of its functions.
As a woman, I consider conception as among my inherent functions and the forbiddance levied upon the use of contraceptives compelled me to do [I haven’t opened the Bible in ages] a Bible research, after all, it is where the Catholic Church should base its teachings.
Surprisingly however, while the life of a child [and the unborn embryo] is excogitated as precious to God, nowhere can one find the commandment from the Bible that Christians should procreate as well. Consider what the book of Genesis 1:28 chants:
“Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.”—New King James Version
Or Genesis 9:1, which chimes:
“So God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them: ‘Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth.’ ”—New American Bible (Catholic)
Except for the Bible verses mentioned above, there are no more extant Bible verses that would cement the claim of the Catholic Church that sexual intercourses should gear towards propagation, or conception for that matter. The same commandment was not repeated to Christians. Thus, it is only politically correct to conclude that the holy Scriptures do not condemn birth control.
With such revelation, it is consequential to inquire how the Catholic Church formulated such teaching. In an Awake! magazine published on September 2007, a featured article entitled: “The Bible’s Viewpoint: Is Contraception Morally Wrong?” states:
“Catholic sources explain that it was in the second century C.E. that professed Christians first adopted a Stoic rule according to which the sole lawful purpose for marital intercourse was procreation.”
Therefore, the Catholic Church’s stand on contraception is rather philosophical than Biblical. That such teaching is instituted on human wisdom, instead of divine. That such age-old man-made tenet survived many centuries, and elaborated several times by Catholic theologians until 13th century, when Gregory IX legislated “the first universal legislation by a pope against contraception,” as what the New Catholic Encyclopedia says.
As opposed to the Catholic Church’s teaching of declaring sexual intercourse to be an instrument of propagation, the Bible stipulates cultivation of sense of responsibility in each individual. Consider again a Bible text found in 1Timothy 5:8, saying:
“But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”—Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (Catholic)
Being responsible entails more than being provident materially, though it is the principal task. In a separate article ‘Family Planning—The Christian Viewpoint’ from another publication of Awake! magazine, it reads:
“Responsible Christian couples, in planning the size of their families, take into consideration the mother’s physical well-being as well as her emotional, mental, and spiritual welfare.”
Simply put, as children are presents from God, along with such presents emerge tremendous responsibility. Caring for the child soaks up a lot of time that when a baby is closely followed by another, a mother sacrifices not just her time, but also her personal development, rest, recreation, and involvement in Christian activities as mandated by the Church.
The article continues: “The State of the World’s Population 1991 says: ‘Children born into large, closely-spaced families have to compete with brothers and sisters for food, clothing, and parental affection. If these children survived their vulnerable childhood years, their growth is more likely to be stunted and their intellectual development impaired. . as their prospects in adult life are greatly diminished.”
I hate to infer that majority of Filipinos’ mediocre mental capacity might also be alluded to the nation’s ballooning population.
The Reproductive Health Bill stanchions among others, the employment of contraceptives such as condoms, birth control pills, IntraUterine Device, Vasectomy, Diaphragm, and Sponges, and legalizes the reproductive health education among the age-appropriate students.
The Catholic Church believes that birth control pills are abortifacient. How preposterous and prejudicial such teaching is when birth control pills work by interfering with a woman’s normal hormone levels in such a way that the egg prevents from maturing and being released, although there are indeed pills designed to cause abortion and not to prevent conception like the Mifepristone and Misoprostol!
A similar mechanics work for other contraception methods encompassed within the RH bill.
In the website prolifephysicians.com, abortifacient is defined as “a drug [and or device] that kills a newly formed human being, whether by directly killing the baby or by preventing implantation.”
On the other hand, the same website defines conception as “when a sperm fertilizes an oocyte.” Meanwhile, the Pharmacists For Life International organization says conception “does not refer to the process of implantation of the newly created human embryo” that happens 7 to 8 days after conception.
Contraception is defined by Dictionary as "deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various drugs, techniques, or device; birth control,” while contraceptive refers to a drug or device that prevents conception, which begins in fertilization.
Thus, contraception prevents the fertilization of the egg and consequently, the woman's conception.
The keyword is prevention. Contraception is designed to prevent the conception of an embryo when fertilization occurs. Abortion happens if there is conception or after conception occurs.
At times, the Catholic Church fails to understand a simple statement as that. Despite being written in elementary English, the Bishops and the Pope after many years of burning their brows about theology are a disappointment to humanity. They erroneously lay claims to righteousness.
As the American Standard Version Bible puts it: “Who art thou that judgest the servant of another? to his own lord he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be made to stand; for the Lord hath power to make him stand.”-Romans 14:4
As an institution of faith, it does not belong to the Catholic Church's leaders who are themselves imperfect human beings the right to render judgment against their followers merely because the latter chooses to heed what the Bible really teaches.
Mankind does not exist to propagate only. If couples choose not to include pregnancy in constituting a family by employing any of the contraception methods, that is their decision to make, and no one reserves the right to judge them.
Update: Also from the magazine Awake!, a list of popular contraception methods that are readily available in the market and how each works is provided and which is also listed below:
Sterilization. This contraception is done in men and women involving surgical procedure. In men, a small incision is made in the scrotum and the tubes carrying the sperm are cut. In women, the fallopian tubes are tied or cut for prevention of egg from passing through the uterus, where it can be fertilized.
Advantages: It is the most effective of all birth-control methods.
Drawback: It is permanent.
Birth Control Pills. These pills including the progestin-only minipill work to interfere with a woman's normal hormone levels to prevent the eggs from maturing and being released.
Advantages. Highly effective.
Drawback. Some physical side-effects but have nothing to do with abortion.
IntraUterine Device. Now, this is a device made of metal or plastic which is inserted in the uterus. Doctors say it works by preventing the fertilized egg from clinging itself onto the wall of the womb.
Drawback: May result sometimes in bleeding or pain, and could be abortive.
Diaphragm and Spermicide. While this may be unheard of, the diaphragm is a dome-shaped rubber cup stretched over a flexible rim. It goes hand in hand with spermicide, a sperm-killing jelly or cream that is applied onto the cup before it is inserted into the vagina.
Advantages: Safe and reliable.
Drawback: Should be used each time the couple engages in sexual intercourse. It requires skill and diligence in inserting before the intercourse. It must be left within for the next 8 hours after the intercourse.
Condoms. A condom is a sheath made of rubber and fits over the penis to prevent semen from entering the vagina.
Advantages: Safe and effective not only for controlling birth. Condoms also serve as protection against the contagion of STD, particularly the AIDS, which is slowly afflicting many Filipinos.
Drawback. Unfavorable among many because of the interruption of sexual intercourse.
Photo Credits: http://ow.ly/44bAs
Awake! publications issues September 2007, 2003
Websites as mentioned in the article