Catholic Sexy: The HHS Mandate Issue From a Female Catholic Perspective
I was considering writing a blog about this anyway, and then my friend, Roc, posted a status update to Facebook that asked about the issue. He said:
"I'm still trying to figure out what the church's opposition to contraception is based on. I get the abortion opposition, but I'm stuck on this one. I think they are just making this up."
I couldn't help but respond all out, pretty much writing a whole blog in reply to his status. I know when he asks a question, he really wants to know the answer. I'm sure a lot of people are wondering the same thing, and if not, should be. There is a lot of misconception and liberal commentary talking about how the Church, run by a bunch of men, is trying to control women and isn't thinking about our health. So here is some valid perspective I'd like to add to the dialogue. I skipped over everyone else's responses, but you'll still be able to follow what I'm saying. Hope it's helpful! And if it creates even more dialogue, awesome! Here's what I said:
"Oh, I love this conversation! :-) So rich! For what I am about to say, it's good to keep in mind that I am a woman, and I will officially be a member of the Catholic Church in less than two months. And I chose this after a year of deep studying of the faith. I can totally see why it’s difficult to understand the Catholic Church’s position in this argument, and I admire, Roc, that you are genuinely trying. The only thing is that there is no quick and easy answer. I will try to break it down for you, and it will be long, probably, but know that I am just touching the surface.
The Catholic understanding of sexuality is completely different from mainstream understanding. It is not compartmentalized into our “sex life” but our sexuality, like our spirituality, can be good or bad and is a part of everything we do, expressed in many forms of love and interaction. For example, think of the nun in that other picture you posted. She would be celibate, but still a sexual being as her passions are channelled into deep acts of service and care for the needy, as well as prayer and intimacy with God.
"The act of having sex itself has a specific and beautiful purpose for humanity. The Catholic Church teaches that God designed sex to be both unitive (making man and woman one flesh) and procreative (open to creating life). If either of these elements are missing during the act, then we are making the action something less than what God created it to be. We are actually devaluing something very sacred to become something purely about pleasure. This is why we call it a sin. It sounds like strong language, but anytime we make something less than what God intended it to be... well, that is what the word “sin” means. And it usually has something to do with selfishness, rather than giving yourself entirely to another out of love.
"My husband is almost right. So close, babe! ;-) (My husband had posted a comment, too.) Every sexual act does not have to have the potential of bearing life (women are only fertile a couple days of the month!), but every act of intercourse should have an openness to life if it should happen. If a couple is at a place in their lives where they don’t believe it’s wise to conceive, then they simply refrain from having sex while the woman is ovulating. That way, every single time the husband and wife come together, they are truly giving each other everything they have and not withholding any part of themselves in the act. This is called “Natural Family Planning” and is practiced widely in the Catholic Church.
"I think it's interesting to note, though, that up until a few decades ago, EVERY Christian community was against contraception. This touches on a fundamental difference between the Catholic Church and other forms of Christianity. Anyway...
"You are absolutely right in that it is not your business or place to tell a woman, that’s not your wife or daughter, what to do. Then again, you are not the head of the world’s largest religious community and no one calls you "Holy Father", expecting you to give them guidance in a world with contradicting and ever-changing views. The Church is not trying to suppress sexuality, or control women. It simply teaches what the Church has always believed to be the truth about human sexuality, regardless of popular opinion and social trends. As a woman in the Church, I feel valued and cared for. My true sexuality feels honored. [Even before becoming Catholic, it has always been my opinion] that manipulating hormones and my body’s natural processes so that I can be more readily available for sex without “consequences” is much more degrading and has nothing to do with women’s health or freedom.
"So, that’s a brief synopsis of where we’re coming from. This is not even that we’re asking others to agree and stop providing health insurance that covers birth control. In this situation, we’re simply asking not to have to provide something we fundamentally do not agree with and goes completely against our world view. Hopefully this helps, and you can at least begin to see how it truly is a valid issue of religious freedom."