Saturday, March 30, 2013

To the new pope...

12oz Decaf Coffee (yes, just coffee)
Everything Bagel w/cream cheese
and a salted caramel brownie-pop thingy

(Okay, I had a tall iced soy caramel macchiatto already, too - happy?)

I was glad to hear about Starbucks' support of gay marriage (it's a free country, take your stock money elsewhere if you don't like it, buddy...), so I thought that was a good excuse for a return visit.  But this bloggy-blog is not about the Catholic Church's stand on homosexuality, or at least the right of homosexuals to legally marry.  Nor is it about women in the church, nor there being no biblical reason that priests should not marry (nor the sick and abusive results of that unnatural abstinence), nor anything that would pertain to exclusively church matters.  No, there is one piece of church doctrine that I want to focus on, and it is affecting the fate of all mankind on this planet: Contraception.

Okay, so global overpopulation is not the sexy topic that is climate change.  But while we might - possibly - succeed in keeping the earth habitable for human beings, if we do not stop the exponential increase in our number, then it won't matter.  We are going to run out of the resources we need to survive on this planet.  Period.  Even assuming the best-case scenario for developing sustainable agriculture world-wide, just think of water.  Even if we could tap into all the frozen fresh water, desalinate the oceans for our drinking - disregarding the consequences to all ecosystems around the world - we're still dealing with a finite amount of water.  We are not, however, dealing with a finite amount of people.

I can remember as a child thinking about one day maybe seeing humans reach the 6 billion mark.  I remember as an adult when we reached it.  We're already to seven.  How many billions more by the time my boys are my age?  (Which is not that old, by the way... just sayin'...).  The problem is of our own making, of course.  We're just not dying enough.  And yet we're still rutting like we've never discovered vaccines or refrigeration or social programs to feed the hungry.

All of our biological programming - be it natural or divine in origin - is designed to accommodate a world in which we have to have several children just to replace our existing numbers, because many of them won't make it to birth, let alone survive to their own reproductive years.  That is not the world we live in today, thankfully.  Our mothers rarely die in childbirth now, our children are nourished and protected and thrive.  We live, as a rule.  We live more often than we die... and that is the problem.  The old and not so old are not making way for the new fast enough.  So, how should we deal with that?

Fortunately, we are not without options.  **winky, smiley face**  Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to endorse them.  **frowny face**

The reason contraception is banned by various religious organizations is a grand excuse.  Contraception interferes with God's Plan, they say.  Abstinence is the only form of acceptable birth control, they say.  To which I say...

Okay, first question.  Doesn't abstinence interfere with God's Plan?  If I'm not allowing myself to get pregnant because I'm not letting my husband's baby maker anywhere near my baby greenhouse, then I'm thwarting God's ability to create life.  Why is acceptable to cock-block God from a distance, but not when He's oh-so-close to the finish line?  The end result is identical... except that condoms have a 95% effective rate (or higher) and abstinence-only has about the same odds of producing a child as plain old nookie (1 in 5)... and your spouse is less likely to be all wound-up and "throwy" when they're getting some on a regular basis... 

If abstinence is the only acceptable form of family planning, and we need to limit our population growth to only replace the mother and father, then the math works out to a husband and wife having procreative marital sex about 10 times ever (as I said before, about 1 in 5 chance of getting preggers if you're not using protection of some kind).  Ever.  Okay, maybe you guys can "go to town" while she's pregnant, but that's still another 18 months, best case.  We're living into our late seventies, on average, but that's all the sex we can have in our entire lives?  What about a naturally infertile or elderly couple?  Sex is okay then, right?  So why, after we've had our two population-replacing offspring and we know we're not going to have anymore, can we not use contraception?  Are we not supposed to touch each other ever again, until one of us dies (probably of acute sexual frustration)?  The ferocity of our biological sexual imperatives, and the joy in the successful fulfillment of those desires, were not made for only a handful of experiences in our entire lifetime.

There are some who say that no contraception should be used at all, not even abstinence.  We were given the order to be fruitful and multiply, a few thousand years ago, and they believe that we must continue to follow that order even when it is no longer fruitful to multiply.  But we can't have it both ways.  The numbers, the reality on the ground, shows us that we are on track to multiply ourselves out of existence.  And if they believe that God will provide the answer, let us remember what an "act of God" is, and how he would answer the problem of overpopulation.  Floods, plagues, some fiery rocks from the sky...  God uses catastrophes when His subtler alternatives are ignored.

How do we know that God did not plan for the development of contraception alongside the development of all these life-saving, life-extending advancements?  Isn't it an extraordinary lack of imagination on God's part if He were to inspire penicillin and anti-bacterial soap, and yet have no answer for the consequences of these wonders?  Who are any of us to say what is God's Plan - even the pope?  He may be a "man of God" - but he is a man.  Even if God speaks to him directly, he has only the ears of a man to listen, ears of the culture, of the time from which he has come.

I leave the new pope, and all religious leaders who preach this catastrophic philosophy, with this final question:  If life is sacred, why isn't the end of life sacred?  Why is it preventing God's will when you prevent a conception but not when you prevent a natural death?  Is death not God's will as well?  I, for one, do not want to go back to a time of more people dying - children dying from diseases we can now prevent, women dying in childbirth, men dying from infected boo-boos...  And I certainly don't want to give up the nookie.  That's not healthy.  Science says so.  But if we're not going to go back, then we must take responsibility for the world we want to live in now.

If this is a hard argument to accept, Mr. Pope, coming from a godless heathen like me, I ask you to put me aside and ask God His opinion.  Trust that He can roll with the times and that His answers may not be the same as you thought they once were.

Just pray on it.

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