“I am pro-life.” We hear this statement very often in our world today. But what does it mean? To most, it means being anti-abortion. However, ask those same people their opinion on contraception, capital punishment, war, or homosexuality, and you may get some interesting answers.
In a nutshell, Catholicism takes all such issues as life issues. Most of these issues focus around romantic relationships, especially the sacrament of matrimony (marriage). In Catholicism, a valid marriage is one that meets certain criteria: fidelity (the couples intend to be faithful to their vows), indissolubility (essentially “what God has joined together, let no one separate”), and openness to children. It’s this last criterion that makes some people uneasy when mentioned with some of the above issues.
As some may recall, a few months ago Pope Benedict made a statement about contraception and male prostitutes that caused people to scratch their heads and go “Huh?”. A statement made later provided some clarification. Essentially, the contraception ban is only for married couples. If we follow the logic, it makes sense. Only married couples should be engaging in intercourse, therefore contraception should not be used by anyone calling themselves Christian.
But what’s the big deal with contraception anyway? What contraception does is, in a sense, divorce sex from babies. Sex is no longer a procreative act, but one just for pleasure. As Christians, we are all called to give our complete selves to God. Contraception more or less says to God, “I give everything to you, except my fertility,” or “You can have control God, except in the bedroom.” Many historic leaders wrote about the consequences of a contraceptive society, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Gandhi, even the atheist and psychologist Sigmund Freud. All say that such a society (to paraphrase) will go down the tubes.
Following the criteria mentioned above, one can see why homosexual behavior then is seen as a sin. Openness to children is an impossibility. This is why Catholicism is staunch in its stance on this, while other denominations have begun allowing same gender marriages. At the heart of this, writes Christopher West, an author and one who has thoroughly studied Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, is a large insecurity among people with themselves. Images are portrayed everywhere as to what being a man or woman in our society should be. However, we are called to a different path, that of the cross. From the beginning, God intended man and woman to be together (Genesis 1 & 2).
What are those with homosexual tendencies to do then? Catholicism teaches that they are to lead chaste lives and strive to follow God’s calling, being the man or woman He created them to be. By no means is this an easy journey, and not everyone “makes it.” However, I believe God rewards our efforts, for we all fall short of His calling in our lives from time to time.
Side note: I spent quite a few weeks on this topic with the youth group I was working with. Much of the material I pulled from came from Christopher West’s book, “Good News About Sex and Marriage.” This post just touches on some major points from the talks I had with the youth. War and capital punishment will be upcoming!