A powerful quote from a source that might surprise some readers:
Beneath the issue of contraception is a
question about the role ideals and norms play in our communal lives.
Yes, they restrict our behavior in ways that are sometimes
inconvenient. Yet in doing so, they intrinsically call us and our
communities toward a life that we might not otherwise choose on our
own. What's more, they amplify the need for repentance and
reconciliation, rather than watering down such a need through the
"pragmatic" concession to the fallenness of the world. We may
occasionally fail to meet them. But confronting our failures can be
heroic and acknowledging our sins a moment of beauty. The only thing to
be gained from lowering the expectations is greater secrecy about our
sexual lives within our communities. And that, somewhat ironically,
only stigmatizes unplanned pregnancies within our midst all the more by
making them all the more rare.
At the same time, ideals can inspire.
"The more transcendental your patriotism," Chesterton once said, "the
more practical will be your politics." Communities where contraception
is advocated as a solution (whether from the pulpit or in the
counselors office) are communities free from the deadly burden of the
cross, free from the sufferings and co-laboring that will inevitably
come from caring for single mothers and their children. When I posed
this idea to someone they suggested that no one would be with the
single mother at 3 a.m. while the child is crying. That the possibility
is ruled out before it can be considered says more about the extent to
which we strive to keep our communities free from a bloodless
martyrdom than it does about whether we should accept contraception.
There is no question that we need to
reduce abortions, both inside the church and without. But as a church,
we are not called to reduce abortions by any and every means available
to us. Sin is compounding: error has a long train, and abortion is near
the end of it. It is easy to turn to contraception in order to prevent
abortions. But in doing so, we have not done what only the church can
do: call people to repentance for our sins and exhort us toward the
holiness that ought to mark us off as the people of God.
The quote is from an April 25th Christianity Today piece is titled, "Why Churches Shouldn't Push Contraceptives to Their Singles", and the author is Matthew Lee Anderson, an Evangelical Protestant. In a follow-up post on his "Mere Orthodoxy" blog, Anderson writes:
Someone asked me this past week why I was up in arms over this contraception business. From what I can tell, it’s something of a tipping point for the evangelical movement.
There is a strong pragmatist streak that
runs through evangelicalism, an ideology that postures as a rejection
or marginalization of ideas and theology. You can hear it every Sunday,
as pastors seek to make their sermons “relevant” and “practical”
because good theology and rigorous thinking simply doesn’t sell. Closer
to the point, you see it most clearly in our appropriation of
technology, in our video sermons and our online church. Whatever it
takes to reach the lost, whatever it takes to “be effective,”
principles and ideals of Biblical anthropology notwithstanding.
Yes, a tipping point. Because contraception is not a fringe issue at all, as I've written about before, but goes right to the heart of essential questions: What is man? What is his place in this universe? And, in the words of Dr. Joyce Little: "For
contraception places before us the central issue of our agewho has
dominion over man? Man himself or God?" These are, in the end, deeply
theological questions; they cannot be answered by science or technology.
And slowly, in fits and starts, more and more Evangelicals are
realizing this, as Anderson's piece suggests. So, rather than backing
away from the matter of contraception, Catholics should see it as a
focal point for fruitful discussion and fraternal challenge. And I write
that from a personal, not merely theoretical, perspective: my wife and I
stopped contracepting while we were still Evangelicals because we saw,
after much reading and consideration, the beauty of the Catholic
Church's teaching about marriage, sexuality, and many related things.