Thursday, June 25, 2009

What do we tell our daughters

As it is, man has sufficiently degraded woman for his lust, and [contraception], no matter how well meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her. --Mohandas Gandhi

The statement by Gandhi certainly will strike most people as dramatic, and many as just plain wrong. After all, in 2009 we have as a culture embraced contraception for both married and unmarried people for half a century. In fact, most people in developed nations take it for granted that we have the ability to control whether we have a child or not, for the most part.

But some are still questioning the benefits of artificial contraception. Some others dare to condemn it. Why would they do that? Surely if we had less contraception we would have more unwanted babies, whose lives would no doubt be hardly worth living; and we would have more abortions, right?

Visionaries like Gandhi, Teddy Roosevelt, T.S. Eliot, and a succession of Popes saw where contraception would take society. Even early feminists of the 19th century condemned it as a way of further degrading women, allowing men to indulge their desires without responsibility toward their partner. It was predicted that marriage would be weakened, adultery would rise, pre-marital sex would be commonplace, and society would not only begin to crumble but would slowly commit suicide.

A look at our world today proves these thinkers were on to something. The birthrate in most European countries is far below the replacement rate. They are dying off. The U.S. is right behind. Divorce is ubiquitous. Fatherless children abound. Abortion, rather than becoming less common with the availability of contraception, trends upward right along with use of the pill and other preventives. Because it's all about our attitude toward sex and new life. Once we uncouple those things that God linked together, distressing trends emerge.

This is food for thought. It's worth pondering what we tell our daughters and our sons about how big a picture we are actually part of, and how what we do as an individual or a couple affects the whole tide of society.

The idea of eschewing artificial contraception may seem "way out there." But what the free thinker's bumper sticker used to say still holds: Question everything. What was conventional wisdom has become a radical proposition. Could it actually be true?
Many thanks to Christopher West and his book Good News About Sex & Marriage.

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