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Note: This is a cross-post from Called to Communion. We’ve discussed contraception at great length here, so I don’t expect anything here to be earth shattering. But I’d love to hear your thoughts nonetheless. Btw, the comments on the post at Called to Communion have been great, so I’d encourage you to check those out and comment interact there as well.

The Catholic Church has stood, since its inception, firmly against the use of any artificial methods of contraception. In fact, it is the only Christian institution that, as a whole, has held this teaching consistently for all of Christian history.

Within years of the 1930 Lambeth Conference, where Anglicans became the first Christian group to officially approve the use of contraceptives, contraception came to be viewed as an unquestionable human right even by many conservative Protestants. And it’s understandable from a pragmatic point of view. It can be a difficult issue for pastors to dictate what ought and ought not happen in the bedroom affairs of their parishoners. But lately, I’ve seen a few Reformed pastors thinking about the issue out loud and coming to some negative conclusions about the practice of artificial birth control. Read the rest of this entry »

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Here we go again. Roman Catholic Womenpriests have “ordained” another woman. If aesthetics alone were not enough of an argument against them, the teaching of the Catholic Church is perfectly clear: ordaining women is an ontological impossibility. Ordination cannot be conferred on women anymore than sonship or husbandness.

The proper matter for the sacrament of holy orders is baptized men. A woman does not become a priest when words of consecration are said over her even if a valid bishop is using the right formula. Just like saying the words of consecration over pizza and beer will not make them the body and blood of Christ even if you’re a priest who has the proper authority to celebrate the mystery. Wrong matter = no sacrament. John Paul II, may his memory be eternal, put it quite well: Read the rest of this entry »

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Josh,

Sorry it’s taken so long for me to address your comments. I’ve been out of town.

First of all, taking Dave’s incendiary nature into account, it seems only fair include the fact that, when pressed on these statements, Dave admitted that he did, nonetheless, give homage to JPII as the successor of Peter and a man whose writings were instrumental in bringing Dave into the Catholic Church. So let’s take the comments quoted above in context.

And perhaps that’s exactly where you hang your hat. Dave and I disagree about the Jews, the meaning of JPII’s ecumenical gestures, the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass, the salvation of non-catholics, and probably quite a number of other things (Dave, if you’re reading, I’m guessing about a few of those so don’t rake me over the coals if I misfired on one or two). But we are, nonetheless, Catholics, united by our unity under the Roman Pontiff.

We can disagree about any number of things but at the end of the day, we share parentage. We share the Church, our spiritual mother, and we share the Pope, our spiritual father. We share the same set of beliefs on issues where the Church has told us we must and we are free to disagree with charity on the issues she has not.

Which brings us to Remy. No, I don’t think “denominating” is sinful if it’s not schism. Which is precisely the difference between Catholic “denominating” and protestant “denominating”, or, to put a finer point on it, the protestant reformation in and of itself.

The former is when two bodies within the Church wish to pursue a different aspect of our faith, like say the the Eastern and Western rites of the Catholic Church, they are free to do so provided what they are doing is in line with and under the guidance of the symbol of our unity, the Roman Pontiff.

We have different liturgies, different spiritualities, different modes of art, different rites of the sacraments, but we believe the same body of dogma and we believe in the same source of dogma.

Not so with protestants. First, let’s look at the reformation. In the reformation, a group of people in the Catholic Church decided they no longer believed some of the things the Catholic Church taught, that aforementioned body of doctrine. Because they persisted in that rebellion of faith, they formed a different body that was not the Catholic Church. That is schism, when you form a body outside of the original body.

Or take modern protestant denominationalism. What you usually do not have is a group of people under authority deciding that, while remaining under that common ecclesial authority, they wish to pursue a different spiritual emphasis. What you do usually have is a group of people saying something to the effect of “You people have this all wrong so we’re taking our ball and starting a new game”. That, again, is schism, or would be if they were leaving the Church.

Either way it’s a splintering of the body of Christ, not a pursuit of a new emphasis within the body of Christ.

That is the role the Papacy serves and it’s a role that cannot be reproduced in another Christian body. It’s very claims rule such a thing out. Yet it is the only thing that could unite people so wildly divergent in character and ideology as Dave Hodges and JPII. And it is the only thing that can keep denominations from being sects and schisms.

The rest of Remy’s point on intercommunion will require another post.

3d8f0d46-7bab-456f-beb1-d50fa3c3b15dimg100.jpgLo, my protestant brothers, hear the words of the Lord which He has spoken through His prophet which He sent to your people. When Ransom asks, backhandedly, why it was that, although he had to suffer and fight on Perelandra while the King was off in another place, it is the not Ransom who inherits Perelandra, the King speaks thus:

You are right, I know what they say in your world about justice. And perhaps they say well, for in that world things always fall below justice. But Maleldil always goes above it. All is gift. I am Oyarsa not by His gift alone, but by our foster mother’s (the angel who guarded Perelandra), not by her’s alone, but by yours, not by yours alone, but by my wife’s – nay, in some sort by gift of beasts and birds. Through many hands, enriched with many different kinds of love and labour, the gift comes to me. It is the Law. The best fruits are plucked for each by some hand that is not his own.”

And earlier, the King spake thus:

…this is the first word I speak as Tor-Oyarsa-Perelendri; that in our world, as long as it is a world, neither shall morning come nor night but that we and all our children shall speak to Maleldil of Ransom the man of Thulcandra and praise him to one another. Read the rest of this entry »

unexpected_joy.gifRemy has, wrapping up two of our differences into one package which he feels to be most clever, referred on this blog and elsewhere to the use of holy images in prayer as “prayer condoms”. He believes they place something artificial that need not be there between God and the supplicant, as condoms place something artificial that need not be there between the couple in their conjugal act (is that word related to conjugating a verb, by the by?).

I will, as I have in the past, magnanimously ignore what amounts to something like 2nd degree blasphemy in Remy’s speaking of holy images that way, but that aside, I was thinking about Remy’s analogy today and found it wanting, here’s why: While it’s true that condoms do put a barrier between the couple, that’ not necessarily the inherent problem.

After all, you could enjoy the marital embrace with your shirt on and not do any damage to the nature of the act. The problem with condoms is that they place a barrier where life is transmitted. Read the rest of this entry »

Ok, advil first.

There is a concept in Christian thought (goes all the way back to when there was such a thing as “Christian thought”) of the natural function of the body. It’s good to do things that help the body function properly or restore function to the body that has been lost. To wit: It’s good to have surgery on your heart if your heart is not pumping your blood like God designed it to.

It is bad to do something to your body that does not help it’s proper function. To wit: It’s bad to cut off your finger because you’re harming the functionality of your body.

Now, there is obviously more to life and our treatment of our bodies than the purely physical and functional side, but the physical is one side of things that is a concern.

Now, how does this apply to pill popping? It is the natural function of your head to protect your brain and keep all your squishy bits in place. It is not the natural function of your head to ache. Your head was not built in order to be an aching machine. Therefore, taking a pill that will not otherwise harm your body or reduce the functionality of any other part of your body is not a problem (I throw in that last part because taking say, four codeine to get rid of your headache would certainly do the trick but would reduce the functionality of other parts of you, i.e. your reason, your motor function, etc.)

It is the natural function of your eyes to see. If you get macular degeneration and there’s a pill you can take to make your eyes better, you can take that. You’re restoring your body’s proper function.

It’s the natural function of your reproductive organs to reproduce (not they’re not called the orgasm organs). To take a pill that makes your reproductive organs unable to perform their task harms the function of your body and is not good. It might feel good to use your genitals after you rendered them useless, but that doesn’t mean you’re using your body for the function God built into it.

It might help to think about the fact that God gave us our bodies and, ultimately, they are His. We are responsible to use them in accordance with the purpose to which they were given to us. This applies to any gift of God.

Money is a gift of God, but that does not mean that any pleasurable use of money is permissible. Children are a gift of God, but that doesn’t mean we can use them for slave labor, as enticing as that might be. That’s not what God gave us children for. He gave us children that we might train them up to be His servants. There are attendant pleasures to having children, no doubt, but if we were to take the pleasure of having children and shirk the responsibility, we would be misusing the gift God gave us, no matter how much fun it might be.

So, when we take our sexual capacity with its reproductive capacity which are inextricably linked, and take a pill to reduce the functionality of our bodies, we are acting against nature and against the way God designed us.

Simply put, the advil restores a proper function of the body, the Seasonale defeats a proper function of the body.

As to who finishes first, I think there is a misconception which is being and will continue to be cleared up as Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body continues to permeate Catholic culture. The sexual act cannot be thought of as merely what happens from the moment of penetration to the moment of male ejaculation.

The sexual act is much bigger and reaches far beyond these clinical terms. That’s why I’m hesitant to engage is such discussion. Our former Holy Father, may his memory be eternal, was an avid student of phenomenology and certainly agreed with this line of thinking. The most crucial factor for Pope John Paul II was that the sexual act be an act on the part of both parties of complete self-donation, or mutual self-giving. If one goes into the marriage bed with that as the primary goal, everyone will come out happy. This will probably take work and practice like everything worth a damn, but I assure you it can all be achieved without contraception of any kind. If the reader cannot picture how this could be, he is either not married or has a very poor imagination/sex life.

The Church teaches that what is offensive to God is any sort of sex that puts up any sort of barrier that would prevent the couple from giving themselves to one another completely, fertility included. If you’re not in conflict with that, you’re fine.

PillarMy friend Jon Amos recently posted on his blog about how myself and Dave Hodges are ridiculous for claiming that the claims of the Catholic Church are either true or an abhorrent falsehood.  I replied and my comment is the post below.  Jon’s original post can be found here, along with the rest of his blog which I definitely recommend.

Jon,

I’ve been meaning to reply to this since you wrote it, just haven’t gotten up the gumption till now.

You seem to be looking at the Catholic Church and saying ‘Well, one thing taken with another, they’re not all bad’. I appreciate your charity and I would extend as much in kind as my faith allows. One thing taken with another, protestant communities are not all bad, but I cannot concede that they are true Churches. As the Church teaches, they have some marks of the Church, they have the Scriptures, they have some sacraments, they sincerely try to be the Church and that is, in a sense, commendable.

But the analogy simply doesn’t work in reverse. For the same reason that Lewis’s infamous quote about Jesus holds true. His claims are simply too ridiculous to be merely a good option amongst moral philosophies. He claims to be God, and if you do that you are either telling the truth, loony, or a very wicked person indeed.
Read the rest of this entry »