Are you kidding me with this contraceptive nonsense?
Watching the news and reading material I am shocked by the Christian reaction to President Obama’s health care reforms which would make Catholic hospitals, colleges, etc. include birth control in their health care. Ok, maybe I should say I am shocked at the media Christian reaction. After all, there are plenty of Christians who are listening to the arguments against birth control and shaking their heads in frustration. Many of them aren’t saying anything. Or, at least, it’s hard to hear over people claiming there’s a war on religion happening.
In my experience a majority of Christians (including Catholics) are either pro-contraception or neutral on the subject. (Neutral as in “you can use contraception if you like.”) The people I see talking about these issues are often pretty conservative upper-middle aged men who are either married or celibate. I’m not surprised that celibate men don’t see the need for birth control, but I am surprised they’re not talk to… oh, I don’t know… maybe women? If 98% of Catholic women use birth control at some point in their lives, one would think priests would eventually hear about it and think to themselves “Huh. Our beliefs on paper are not matching events in lived reality. Why is that?”
There is a long history in Christian communities of not dealing with issues of sex and sexuality well. I’m pretty convinced all this contraception nonsense is just a continuation of the maddona/whore dichotomy. Either a woman is married and having sex for procreation, or a woman is a whore. This just isn’t true. Let’s stop pretending it is. Anything that would break this dichotomy or the gender dichotomy is just discarded. We can’t ignore transgender, intersex, and queer people who have the potential to become pregnant. It’s not just potentially pregnant people who are effected by pregnancy. Partners and extended social networks are very effected by pregnancy, whether planned or unplanned.
Also, birth control isn’t just used as birth control. When I was 18 I had an ovarian cyst, and my doctor put me on the birth control pill to make sure the cyst dissipated correctly so I wouldn’t have to have surgery. When my doctor (a very religious man) prescribed me the pill, he wouldn’t look me in the eye or explain to me anything that the pill would do other than dissipate my cyst. Because as an 18 year old, I obviously couldn’t figure out that the birth control pill would help control birth.
Then there’s all the issues around economics, class, race, and birth control. Go read Carol Howard Merritt’s new article “Christianity and Contraception: Would Jesus Dispense Birth Control?” It discusses some of these issues better than I can. Also recommended, “Beyond Pelvic Politics” by Nicholas Kristoff (NY Times).
I’m sick of this nonsense. The tag line of this blog is “a millennial pondering questions of the new millennium.” This birth control stuff is so 20th Century, but the loudest Christian voice sounds like the 12th Century. People of faith can’t cast off issues around sex by making outrageous claims about birth control. It is time to embody a holistic theology of intimacy where a person’s sexuality is not degraded or shamed but is instead seen as part of their being created in the image of God. How can we look at the Incarnation where God became human and lived among us yet teach people to fear and degrade their bodies? Birth control is not evil. Birth control will not destroy our society. Birth control is actually helpful.
Seriously, everybody. Take a chill pill.