Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Removing a tool doesn't Destroy the Culture.

I will admit, as an expectant parent, I had thought that my perspective on Contraception might change. 16 weeks in, the midget looks healthy... and those nebulous ideas of "someday" which my wife and I had had in the past look to be coalescing.

And - I still don't think that Contraception is in and of itself evil (caveat - contraceptive, not abortificants masquerading there as).

I do understand better, though, the frustration many of the anti-contraception crowd have with contraception. Again, I am a father now - I'm starting to get the protectiveness, the... I almost want to say "lust for life" but I'm afraid the song will get stuck in my head... the blessing that children are and can be.

And thus I understand even more clearly the frustration that are had, and rightfully so, with the anti-child, anti-"breeder" aspects of American Culture. I even understand the disdain and contempt that can be leveled against people who simply say, "No, we don't want kids" (note: disdain is never a good thing to have - it lets us objectify people, turn them just into a personification of their vice -- we don't love vices; we are to love our neighbor. Disdain makes this hard. I understand this disdain a bit better - and as Chris Rock said concerning OJ, "I ain't saying it's right, but I understand.")

But here is the thing. Contraception is simply a tool, a tool that is often used for things that are wrong and poorly done. You don't fix a culture by simply removing a tool.

Removing contraception will not change the anti-child attitudes people have. Banning guns will not eliminate the hatred and anger and greed that lead to murder. Outlawing booze (as was tried) will not get rid of people trying to self-medicate themselves into oblivion.

All these things are simply tools. Removing them won't change the culture.

"But," declares my willing straw man, "the ease of access to contraception is what lets this culture continue!" Perhaps. But you still have the same culture taking root, even in places like Ireland where the Pill is illegal. It's a matter of greed and selfishness... greed and selfishness that will find outlet somewhere, because sinful man always finds outlet for his sin.

And then, I still am concerned for those Christians who have legitimate reasons for seeking to pause or hold off on kids -- why pull away from them the use of good aids that will help them?

What is boils down to is this -- so often we want the quick change - we want to be able to do something simple and think that the massive positive change will come. Is contraception used too much -- sure. But it isn't the problem, and criminalizing won't fix the problem.

Besides - chill and relax... the selfish do themselves off in the long run. Point to Christ, raise people in His love, and things will sort themselves out.


Phillip said...

Genesis 38, God strikes Onan dead for using contraception.

Phillip said...

Also, didactic use of the law. Even though prohibition failed, the temperance movement did convince people to drink more reasonably. Case in point, Benjamin Franklin's comment about how the people in his brother's printing shop didn't drink much because they only had about 1 beer an hour (paraphrase). The law did manage to teach society that maybe we should drink a little less than that, especially since that was high point beer, not Miller Lite that they were drinking.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

1. Onan was there simply and solely to provide an heir to his sister-in-law. That was not in the context of a Christian couple who have a legitimate reason to seek to avoid conception. There would be no God-pleasing reason, none whatsoever, for Onan to have relations with Tamar.

2. I'm from Chicago. You what what sort of violence and wickedness prohibition brought? Did it decrease or increase lawlessness? It increased it - as laws that forbid what God has not forbidden tend to do. (Also, what do you mean they were drinking full beer -- that's British Ale culture there - probably a Porter running around 3 percent.)

Phillip said...

Prohibition did succeed in making people drink less. The cost was terrible amounts of violence, but it did decrease alcohol consumption, both by drinks and alcohol content. 1760's they were drinking much higher than 3% beer.

Are you saying that so long as you have another reason to have sex besides procreation contraception is okay? That's a pretty shaky position. You can't make "Be fruitful" only apply some of the time. Also, I'm fairly certain as God commanded for people to provide their brothers heirs, it would have been God pleasing relations.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

No, Phillip, that's not what I said. Procreation is not the only reason for sex - and there are times when people for serious and proper reasons would wish to avoid or delay pregnancy -- even Rome with the approval of "Natural Family Planning" acknowledges this. My contention is that if there are times when Christians might avoid having a child, using a tool should not be denied to them because "it's unnatural".

We use tools. Since the fall we get to use fire to cook, the state can use a sword to punish instead of strangling with the executioner's bare hands, and, if for some reason a child is to be avoided, let a tool be used.

(And note - the context above on Onan was that "apart from producing an heir, there would be no God-pleasing reason..." I perhaps should have made that more clear.)

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Also - while prohibition did make people drink *less* - did it reduce alcoholism? Did it eliminate irresponsible drinking? Or, did it simply hinder and prohibit those who would use alcohol properly which letting the criminal element prosper off of other peoples' vices?

One of those answers is yes.

Phillip said...

If you read my paper you know my opinion of NFP. For those few cases where it is licit to try avoid having a child, the most effective tool is NFP. It works better than condoms. Contraception isn't tools to prevent conception. It's a tool to prevent conception and allow sex anytime one wants it. NFP prevents conception more effectively, but it requires self-control. That's not a bad thing and it can do a lot to strengthen relationships. It's a much better tool than condoms.

I contend you can't divorce the procreative end from the other ends of sexual intercourse. If you remove one end you fundamentally alter the action taking place. You can't destroy one of the inherent ends of something and say that doing so is morally neutral. The procreative good is not adiaphora. It must remain a part of the act.

As to the evil of prohibition. People were too wicked to have their vices suppressed. The government needed to move more slowly to suppress vice.

Mike Baker said...

I hate that this topic comes up so regularly on the Lutheran blogosphere and other media.

I have always maintained--and continue to maintain--that this is one of those topics that belongs to the couple, their pastor, and their medical professionals.

There are so many variables, deeply personal stories, and unique biology that general conversation about the topic is beyond not helpful and not informative... it hurts and burdens people (so often the very people that are pushed aside in the theoretical debate as the "hard cases" or "few exceptions).

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

We will tread upon those suffering the burden of the realities of a sinful world for the sake of a hypothetical idea that hasn't been present since before the fall.

Phillip said...


It can only be a matter for individual conscience if it is morally neutral. If it is morally objectively either good or bad it is not a matter of individual conscience, it is a matter of Divine Law. Many of us think there is more than sufficient Biblical evidence that this is condemned by Scripture and not adiaphora. For it to be a matter of individual conscience you have to explain away all the Scriptures that seem to condemn it. Until then, it seems Scripture comes down on the side of objectively bad. Prove it's adiaphora.