Saturday, June 30, 2012

What's Wrong With Condoms

Marc Barnes
(Photo from patheos.com)
A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook by Marc Barnes (AKA "Bad Catholic"--who's actually a good Catholic blogger) titled The Secret is Out, introducing his new website that is devoted to promoting the good of sex the way God intended it (no contracepting-strings attached).


An interlocutor responded:
I'm not gonna lie some of this sounds fine and a lot of it sounds ridiculous. Condoms don't help stop the spread of HIV? C'mon!

Seeing that he didn't get the facts by following the link in the original article, I posted the linked article with the stats about how condoms don't help with HIV/AIDS:

Casey Truelove [Name], check this out: http://www.1flesh.org/argument_page/condoms-aids/

www.1flesh.org
Well, according to the UN AIDS council, condoms have a 10% failure rate in their...





He came back with the following:
I think it's kinda obvious that condoms aren't going to be effective if people don't use them/use them properly

Seeing this, I ran through a couple of options in my head:

  • Maybe he was in a hurry and didn't really read the article.
  • Maybe he is too biased to be able to read the article rationally.
  • Maybe he only skimmed or read the first couple of lines and made a knee-jerk reaction.
  • Maybe he's not capable of comprehending what the article stated.
  • etc.

In any case, he obviously had not read (or hadn't comprehended) the entirety of the article. Hoping for the best, I assumed that he just made some sort of mistake in digesting the article, so I set about trying to explain what Barnes was conveying:
Casey Truelove 
It's not JUST the misuse of condoms, as the article explains. It's BOTH the ineffectiveness of condoms themselves, AND the dual negative of the mentality that comes along with using condoms: 1) demeaning the conjugal act from a husband and wife bodily expressing the renewal of their marriage vows to a simple recreational activity, and 2) a false sense of security that often (as the article's stats point out) lulls the user into a familiar laxity and subsequent misuse. So, you see, it's not just that people aren't using them, or aren't using them properly. It's the hard stat-based fact (as the article amply conveys) that they're obviously not working. Yes, as the article points out, condoms MIGHT happen work in any given instance (failure rate aside), but because of the mentality that comes along with their use, they don't work in the overall big picture.

We have to step back and ask ourselves "why not?" Why doesn't contraception help with AIDS, or unwanted pregnancy, or divorce, or . . . [insert sex-based problem in our society]? Simply: it doesn't fix the people. Because all forms contraception change the nature of what is being expressed by the people's bodies, it fundamentally changes the act. Because a contracepted act is not the act by which a husband and wife bodily express their full, mutual, sacrificial donation of self to the other, yet it mimics the true marital act so closely, it becomes a lie with the body. Just as in any lie there are elements of truth, so in a contracepted act, it's surface APPEARS like the truths expressed in the marital act. Inside, however, is a holding back from full self-gift ("I give you all of me EXCEPT my fertility.") in this way the act's nature must include at least a small admixture (if not greater) of taking the other for one's own pleasure. This fails to build the virtue of chastity (expressing the sexuality proper to one's state in life) = a married person sleeps only with his/her spouse; a single person waits to get married, and then sleep only with his/her spouse = monogamy. Chastity/monogamy takes discipline--it is a virtue (a good habit).

As a habit, it is something we practice our way into perfecting--we discipline ourselves to be able to always choose the good. It takes great effort to fight the many temptations against chastity (both of the body and of the mind). Simply giving in to the temptations doesn't fix anything. There's no free lunch--someone can't just stick something on his/herself or take some pill and magically make everything better. Giving in to the temptation breaks down the good habit and forms a bad one (a vice). The vice here is lust (the taking of the other for pleasure)--this taking instead of fully giving can happen both physically and mentally (among single people and even within a marriage). With vices (bad habits) often come natural consequences (AIDS, HPV, a ton of other STDs, unfulfilling love life, using of one's significant other for pleasure, hostility toward one's significant other, infidelity, etc.). This is why, in the article, Marc Barnes points us to monogamy as the answer. He's pushing us on toward virtue. He's showing us the way to grow in perfection, to become better versions of ourselves. He's offering the only solution that will actually work. It's the one that takes effort/discipline, but it's the one that is fulfilling because it is the way that acts in accord with the nature of man and the nature of the marital act.


We have to step back and ask ourselves "why not?" Why doesn't contraception help with AIDS, or unwanted pregnancy, or divorce, or . . . [insert sex-based problem in our society]? Simply: it doesn't fix the people. Because all forms contraception change the nature of what is being expressed by the people's bodies, it fundamentally changes the act. Because a contracepted act is not the act by which a husband and wife bodily express their full, mutual, sacrificial donation of self to the other, yet it mimics the true marital act so closely, it becomes a lie with the body. Just as in any lie there are elements of truth, so in a contracepted act, it's surface APPEARS like the truths expressed in the marital act. Inside, however, is a holding back from full self-gift ("I give you all of me EXCEPT my fertility.") in this way the act's nature must include at least a small admixture (if not greater) of taking the other for one's own pleasure. This fails to build the virtue of chastity (expressing the sexuality proper to one's state in life) = a married person sleeps only with his/her spouse; a single person waits to get married, and then sleep only with his/her spouse = monogamy. Chastity/monogamy takes discipline--it is a virtue (a good habit).


As a habit, it is something we practice our way into perfecting--we discipline ourselves to be able to always choose the good. It takes great effort to fight the many temptations against chastity (both of the body and of the mind). Simply giving in to the temptations doesn't fix anything. There's no free lunch--someone can't just stick something on his/herself or take some pill and magically make everything better. Giving in to the temptation breaks down the good habit and forms a bad one (a vice). The vice here is lust (the taking of the other for pleasure)--this taking instead of fully giving can happen both physically and mentally (among single people and even within a marriage). With vices (bad habits) often come natural consequences (AIDS, HPV, a ton of other STDs, unfulfilling love life, using of one's significant other for pleasure, hostility toward one's significant other, infidelity, etc.). This is why, in the article, Marc Barnes points us to monogamy as the answer. He's pushing us on toward virtue. He's showing us the way to grow in perfection, to become better versions of ourselves. He's offering the only solution that will actually work. It's the one that takes effort/discipline, but it's the one that is fulfilling because it is the way that acts in accord with the nature of man and the nature of the marital act.
I hope this has helped all of you better understand why the Catholic Church teaches against contraception, and promotes the view of human sexuality that is aimed at the perfection of man and the fullest/most-truthful expression of self-gift.
  • Do you have any ways that help explain this concept well/better? Please leave them in the combox.
  • Do you have any questions about this concept? Please comment, I'll try to answer the best I can.
Good-natured (AKA "non-trolling") feedback is always welcome.

God bless you,
Casey

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