Contraception, Spilling One’s “Seed” and the Obama Health Care Ruling

My Catholic upbringing instilled in me that masturbation was a sin.  I thought it had something to do with impure thoughts but according to the Church’s strange twisting of scriptural text it’s condemnation is tied more to a negative view of contraception.  Seems we were never supposed to refrain from God’s command to Adam and Noah about being fruitful and overpopulating filling the earth

Ahh Catholicism.  What fond memories I have about my first Communion, Confirmation, serving my first Mass as an alter boy and best of all, my awareness of sin.  Without sin in our lives there is chaos.  There can be no understanding for our purpose on earth and what lies in store for us afterwards without a sense of our sinful life.  Sin tells us what we are doing wrong and by default what we need to change in order for all to be right in the universe.  Thus saith the clergy who formed my early childhood views of the world.

We learned all about sin in our weekly catechism classes under the tutelage of Father Vogel.  You might not make it into heaven if you die with mere venial sins on your soul.  There’s a place called Purgatory reserved for such tainted people.  But if your sins were “mortal” in nature as you lay dying then hell was your only destiny, unless there was a priest handy who could administer the last rites of atonement and the eucharist.

We were expected not to eat anything before receiving communion and confessional with the parish priest was requisite beforehand in order that your soul was pure enough to accept the body and blood of Jesus.  My typical confessions, which began with “Bless me father for I have sinned …” usually consisted of impure thoughts about the red-head, Alice Henderson, giving the finger to the protestant kid because he called me a papist and lying to my mom when she asked what was taking me so long in the bathroom.

We were told masturbation was a sin though my recollection for the reasons aren’t clear.  However, in light of the controversy that is surrounding the President’s decision to require full coverage for contraception by certain religious entities, I have done a little research to find out why “sinful” masturbation was a part of my religious upbringing.  In the eyes of the Church, wasting your seed, as it is biblically referred to, is a form of contraception.  No.  Really!  Bare with me here and I’ll explain.

First let me get on my soap box.  Such incomprehensible positions were responsible for my drifting away from catholicism in my late teens.  The Church, in its over-reach into every day life, seem to diminish the larger value of the faith that spoke to our humanity while providing a spiritual relationship intended to connect us to an unseen source of strength and wisdom.  I didn’t fully understand the latter part of this relationship until I totally abandoned the church years later.  How ironic, but that’s another story.

I understand the need for restraints and consequences for socially destructive behavior but there has to be a point where attempts to dominate every aspect of our lives has to have more adverse effects than positive outcomes for our personal sanity.  Keep in mind that most of the Church’s rulings on many things they govern their flock by were evaluated by people who isolated themselves centuries ago in monasteries and convents; avoiding the realities of the human experience in this world in the hope that they would be drawn closer to God

Soul searching under such conditions has its merits, but the long term effect of such isolation can seriously disconnect people from the real world.  Even Jesus limited himself to 40 days in the dessert before returning and intermingling with sinful man, only to be put to death apparently by the religious authorities of his day for challenging the status quo while showing concern for those outcasts not welcome in the house of God.

The practice by religious orthodoxy to have a ruling for every thought and act we engage in may provide security for those people who have been beaten down by life and just can’t muster the courage to step out on their own, but for the rest of us, a few basics like charity to all and doing unto others … etc. etc., is sufficient  Contraception was too intricate for our young minds to ingest back then so very little was discussed about it.  But the reality is that it is such a far fetched concept in light of our natural urges that any thinking priest or nun could not defend it I’m sure and merely left the issue standing with the proviso that violators would be condemned.

The Obama administration’s ruling has called for all organizations, public and private, to provide free contraception coverage with their health insurance programs they provide their employees.  Churches and religious schools were excluded from this but hospitals and charities that don’t necessarily employ people who share specific faith values were not.  This has become a tempest in a tea pot and a cause célèbre for those on the right who are trying to foster a “socialist” image of the President and any liberal politician.

The Catholic church and their lay operatives are asserting that their constitutional rights are being violated because they’re being “forced” to participate in an act they view as a sin against God.  To prevent the birth of a child is a sin, even if their is no conception, as the “holy mother church” sees it.

It is this amazing stretch of the imagination that has people like me questioning the true will of an Almighty Creator who no longer tends to his creation since he shut down Paradise almost as soon as he initiated it.  We now have, according to the Church dogma, free will to choose such things as limiting the number of children we want but only if we do it according to what  “the Church teaches … is morally permissible [by taking] into account the natural rhythms of human fertility and to have coitus only during the infertile times in order to regulate conception”.  

Many American Catholics are also seeing this as somewhat absurd and are inclined to take the Obama administration’s take on this issue.  58 percent of Catholics agree that employers should be required to offer health plans that cover contraception at no cost and 53 percent of Catholic voters agree “that women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women.”

Let’s be clear however.  Sin, as the Church declares, is not always a specific violation one can pinpoint in the so-called “inerrant word 0f God” – the Holy Bible.  Too often it is an interpretation by old men who base it on doctrine and perceptions of those aforementioned church fathers who isolated themselves from human civilization.

Much of what passes for “God’s word” in catholicism today comes from the Vatican within the last 50 years in two very lengthy documents – Gaudium et Spes, latin for Joy and Hope (a rather Orwellian label) and an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI called Human Vitae which is latin for Of Human life.  It was the Church’s attempt to bring their thinking up to 20th century realities but their hearts were still back in medieval times.  It’s tedious reading and as precise as it is, one get’s the distinct impression that the church has taken quite a leap to take specific versus from scripture and translate them them into absolutes like contraception.

At the heart of contraception’s sinful nature is the passage in Genesis 38 that tells how God was dissatisfied with Onan, the son of Judah for refusing to impregnate his dead brother’s wife in order for her to bear children.  Judah so instructed Onan as was part of their custom but Onan “knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother.  What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so he put him to death also.” (Gen 38:9-10)

The advantage of being an excommunicant of the Church allows us not to buy into such narrow, rigid references so easily.  Was God mad about the spilled semen or was he mad that Onan refused to obey his father and follow a custom that was part of “an ancient Eastern brotherhood law called the law of the Levirate” described in Deuteronomy 25:5?  Orthodox Catholics lean towards the “spilled semen” scenario where an outsider might view it as an incomprehensible response from a vengeful God.

There is a third possibility that has Judah killing Onan and blaming it on God, falling back on the belief that a parent would be justified in killing a willful child as allowed in Deuteronomy 21: 18-21.  But that’s speculation and conspiratorial in nature and we know all good christians never engage in such practices.

In the thinking of many devoutly orthodox Catholics and other Christian sects it is not considered unreasonable to draw such specific conclusions from dubious text within scriptures.  When one author on this topic posed the hypothetical questionWOULDN’T IT BE HELPFUL IF THE BIBLE CONTAINED CONDEMNATIONS OF CONTRACEPTION THAT WERE MORE EXPLICIT AND MORE FREQUENT?”, the glib, superior response was  “Not really. The lack of multiple references doesn’t disturb the person who has a sense of theological realism.”

And who are these people who have a sense of theological realism?  Old men who isolated themselves from civilization centuries ago and whose successors in the Vatican are not that far removed from them.  Or so it seems.

Bless me father if I have sinned for questioning the authority of the church who has been out of step with their followers for quite some time now.

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43 responses to “Contraception, Spilling One’s “Seed” and the Obama Health Care Ruling

  1. In my view the Catholic church has lost a lot of credibility over the last few decades. I agree that they do appear so out of touch especially on this specific issue. They have an utter inability to realize the times have changed and the need for the Church to change with them. Continuing to promote the same doctrin the’ve had for centuries is unrealistic and damaging to our society and they end up hurting the people they are trying to lead.

    Great read….I must admit it did make me blush a bit 🙂

  2. Larry,

    This issue shouldn’t be about Church Dogma, however silly it is. Instead we should ask ourselves whether we believe government has the right to force religious institutions into doing something that violates the tenets of their faith.

    I don’t agree with the Church’s position, but I also don’t agree with this overreach by the Federal government. Religion and government need to remain TOTALLY separate. One has no business injecting itself into the other.

    This discussion really is just academic anyway because this is not going to stand, according to John Boehner. And the Obama administration is already backing away from it. It was a stupid, asinine thing to do during an election.

    • I must disagree Terrance. This is a medical necessity for women. Birth control pills have many other uses, not just birth control, and without it, it is forcing women to pay out of pocket.

      I wonder if Viagra is currently covered. If erectile dysfunction is important enough for the Church to cover, it would seem contraception should be as well. (I wonder how many “wasteful seeds” have been spilled with Viagra).

      • It’s a medical necessity in certain cases, but not in the majority of cases. Secondly, you’re not forcing women to pay out of pocket, since nobody is forcing them to work for a Catholic employer.

        Whether Viagra is covered or not is besides the point. I do not agree with the Church’s position. I think it’s ridiculous. But this isn’t about Church dogma in my mind; this is about the Federal government violating the First Amendment right of religious institutions – and on strict ideological grounds, no less.

        This is not going to stand. This is yet another assault on religious liberty by the Obama administration. The Suprme Court already ruled 9 – 0 against the Justice Department for saying that religious employers cannot discriminate in their hiring against people from different faiths. The Supreme Court has been clear about this: government needs to stay out of religious affairs.

    • “This issue shouldn’t be about Church Dogma”

      My post was NOT intended to make this the issue. It was simply meant to expose a view people hold that restrains personal freedom for fear that they will be cut off from some eternal life.

      “Religion and government need to remain TOTALLY separate”

      You know as well as I do Terrance that much of the legislation coming out of some states concerning gay marriage and abortion is based on personal religious views. This ruling does push the envelope that separates church and state but is it’s rationale any less plausible than the efforts supported by religionists to encroach on the government. Perhaps this will serve as an example to those who push a religious agenda on the American public and realize that these efforts cut both ways.

      “This discussion really is just academic anyway because this is not going to stand, according to John Boehner. And the Obama administration is already backing away from it. It was a stupid, asinine thing to do during an election.”

      Not necessarily. The people who hate Obama simply have another reason to not vote for him but now those liberals that didn’t think he had any back-bone and haven’t been able to get energized about his re-election may now feel encouraged to do so. We’ll see how it all pans out.

      • Let me rephrase my first comment Terrance. My post was an attempt to expose how the Church has always controlled women and treated them more as objects to satisfy a male culture. Yes, the bible holds that women are to be treated loving and respectfully but in the end they’re to be obeisant to the church and their husbands.

      • Larry,

        I disagree with the Church’s position. I think it’s an ancient bit of nonsense that does restrain personal liberty in so far as people are willing to accept it, since they could always leave the Catholic church. And that’s how you’re going to bring about change: by educating people and encouraging them to lobby the Church for a change, lest the Church find their numbers dwindling. That’s the only way to defeat these silly and dangerous beliefs. You certainly cannot do it through government force, since it’s not only unconstitutional but also ineffective. It angers people.

        You know as well as I do Terrance that much of the legislation coming out of some states concerning gay marriage and abortion is based on personal religious views. This ruling does push the envelope that separates church and state but is it’s rationale any less plausible than the efforts supported by religionists to encroach on the government. Perhaps this will serve as an example to those who push a religious agenda on the American public and realize that these efforts cut both ways.

        I agree that some of the opposition to abortion and SS-M is born out of a religious objection, but you know that my opposition to abortion has always been secular, as was my former opposition to SS-M. There are good, secular reasons to oppose both abortion and SS-M, reasons that by their very nature have nothing to do with religion. It’s more about pragmatism than religious fanaticism.

        But it does seem like you’re arguing that two wrongs make a right, and I don’t believe that’s a particularly effective argument. It also seems like you favor punishing people for allowing religion to influence their voting habits. People should be allowed to vote however they wish for whatever reason without fear that government may attempt to level the field by trampling on their Constitutional rights. The Constitution is meant to protect people, not government.

        Not necessarily. The people who hate Obama simply have another reason to not vote for him but now those liberals that didn’t think he had any back-bone and haven’t been able to get energized about his re-election may now feel encouraged to do so. We’ll see how it all pans out.

        Catholics account for 25% of the electorate, by far the largest bloc of swing voters. Bush carried them in 2000 and 2004, while Obama carried them in 2008. A good portion of them may believe now that Catholic institutions should provide birth-control as part of their healthcare plans, but let them sit in the pews for each week until election day listening to the Church give them all the reasons in the world not to agree with President Obama and then see what happens.

        I think Obama made a critical error that’s going to cost him.

        That’s not really a strong argument in today’s job market Terrance. Quitting and seeking work elsewhere is not a clear option for most women, especially those in lower-income brackets who perhaps need the use of contraceptive devices the most.

        But Larry that’s the reality of the situation. You are not actually FORCING women to pay out of pocket for birth-control unless you are FORCING them to continue working for someone that doesn’t provide birth-control as part of their healthcare plan. You may have twisted their arm a bit, I agree, since finding a job these days isn’t easy. But you are not actually forcing them, which was the premise of A. Wade’s point.

        My objection to this has nothing to do with religion. My objection is wholly Constitutional. This is as clear a violation as I have ever seen and there is no way it’s going to stand. President Obama has wasted political capital on an issue he cannot win, and that angers me. He is jeopardizing his presidency with these ideological struggles. And whatever the facts are, it doesn’t much matter. You and I both know that Republicans will use this against him in the upcoming election, trying to convince people that Mr. Obama has a pathological hatred toward religion. If they convince enough people, Obama loses.

      • “But it does seem like you’re arguing that two wrongs make a right”

        Not at all Terrance. I’m not taking sides on this issue. I am merely pointing out that free will is often a charade within church doctrine. The argument that the clergy wants to make here is certain rights of theirs are being denied. That may indeed be the case but in holding the views they do they are denying women an opportunity to make a choice that is strictly between them and their God. Based on what the majority of what Catholic women do and want, the church’s view on prescription contraception is not only archaic but has been rejected by 98% through their use of the pill.

        The church hierarchy, primarily male, is controlling what most of their adherents want to have a say in. Technically your right about this ruling’s affect on our view of separation between church and state but the issue I’m making is that personal liberty is threatened with excommunication while of this world and hell fire damnation if these catholics die with what the church has decided is a sin. People shouldn’t have to make such drastic decisions on choosing to leave their faith or obeying an edict from church fathers that isn’t well grounded in substantive scripture passages.

        I’m not suggesting that two wrongs make a right but that when put in front of mirror with their claims of personal liberty being denied, the church hierarchy has little to no wiggle room in my opinion to serve as a role model on this issue and their hypocrisy will be reflected back on them.

        “But Larry that’s the reality of the situation. You are not actually FORCING women to pay out of pocket for birth-control unless you are FORCING them to continue working for someone that doesn’t provide birth-control as part of their healthcare plan.”

        Again, technically you are right but the reality is also that many people who are without work have been that way for months and even years. To stand on principle alone and quit your job at this point in time, hoping that another will be there for you with benefits that do include health care with paid for contraception, is like cutting your nose off to spite your face. These women and men may be the sole provider for their family and to jeopardize that income for an issue that they have essentially rejected already by their purchases of the pill at their own expense, is perhaps a greater moral lapse than what you suggest.

        “My objection to this has nothing to do with religion. My objection is wholly Constitutional.”

        That’s not exactly clear Terrance since, as the USA article you linked to in your post on your blog, pointed out that 28 states with similar laws, including eight without the religious exemption contained in the federal rule, already require free access to contraceptives. I don’t recall the Supreme Court striking down these laws on the grounds they are unconstitutional.

      • Not at all Terrance. I’m not taking sides on this issue. I am merely pointing out that free will is often a charade within church doctrine. The argument that the clergy wants to make here is certain rights of theirs are being denied. That may indeed be the case but in holding the views they do they are denying women an opportunity to make a choice that is strictly between them and their God. Based on what the majority of what Catholic women do and want, the church’s view on prescription contraception is not only archaic but has been rejected by 98% through their use of the pill.

        The church hierarchy, primarily male, is controlling what most of their adherents want to have a say in. Technically your right about this ruling’s affect on our view of separation between church and state but the issue I’m making is that personal liberty is threatened with excommunication while of this world and hell fire damnation if these catholics die with what the church has decided is a sin. People shouldn’t have to make such drastic decisions on choosing to leave their faith or obeying an edict from church fathers that isn’t well grounded in substantive scripture passages.

        I’m not suggesting that two wrongs make a right but that when put in front of mirror with their claims of personal liberty being denied, the church hierarchy has little to no wiggle room in my opinion to serve as a role model on this issue and their hypocrisy will be reflected back on them.

        Larry, it’s the not same thing at all. Government is FORCING these institutions to do something that violates their faith. They are FORCING them to do something they find unconscionable. The Catholic Church is not forcing women to deny themselves birth control, which is made plain and obvious by your own statistic. They choose to be Catholic, knowing full-well the Church’s position on birth-control, and these Catholic women choose – including my wife – to use contraception in spite of Church doctrine. Their is no force involved. This is why I don’t think the comparison you’re making is useful.

        I think it’s a stretch to say that personal liberty is being threatened by the Catholic Church, because people are free to be Catholic and free not to be. If they don’t agree with the Catholic Church’s position on a certain issue, they can leave the Catholic Church, or continue to ignore Church doctrine – on the down-low, of course – until the Church decides to change. There are ways to reject Church doctrine without punishment; you cannot reject Obama’s fiat without punishment. That is the difference.

        You say people shouldn’t have to leave their faith or else obey an edict. But I don’t understand that logic because the fact of the matter is that edict is born out of a basic church teaching on human life and worth. It is an integral part of the faith. If faith is constructed around popular opinion, then Biblical teaching is meaningless. The life and teachings of Jesus, or whatever god you follow, is totally irrelevant if you’re going to cave to popular opinion. Faith then has no meaning.

        Each Christian sect constructs its own faith based on their interpretation of the Bible, not popular opinion.

        Again, technically you are right but the reality is also that many people who are without work have been that way for months and even years. To stand on principle alone and quit your job at this point in time, hoping that another will be there for you with benefits that do include health care with paid for contraception, is like cutting your nose off to spite your face. These women and men may be the sole provider for their family and to jeopardize that income for an issue that they have essentially rejected already by their purchases of the pill at their own expense, is perhaps a greater moral lapse than what you suggest.

        That is a utilitarian argument that, strangely enough, isn’t very useful in a conversation concerned with preserving liberties. You have described an unfortunate consequence of the preservation of religious liberty, but sometimes we have to make concessions as a society if we want our liberties. For example, if I want the freedom to express myself, I have to accept that there are those who are going to express their disagreement. It is a concession that I gladly make because I want the freedom to express myself.

        That’s not exactly clear Terrance since, as the USA article you linked to in your post on your blog, pointed out that 28 states with similar laws, including eight without the religious exemption contained in the federal rule, already require free access to contraceptives. I don’t recall the Supreme Court striking down these laws on the grounds they are unconstitutional.

        I don’t think any of those laws have been reviewed by the Supreme Court yet. But if they do not contain a religious exemption, I certainly believe they will be reviewed and ruled unconstitutional.

        But we both know that courts can be wrong. Nowhere in the Constitution can I find anything that justifies the Supreme Court’s ruling that companies are “persons,” yet that’s what SCOTUS said.

      • Larry,

        I would also add that I generally agree with your assessment of the Catholic Church. I think their treatment of women is wrong. But I don’t think its comparable to this issue. I know you’re trying to point out some sort of hypocrisy you think exists. I just don’t think the comparison is there.

        But it’s a good discussion anyway. One thing you’re definitely good at is riling people up. LOL.

    • If religious institutions should be exempt from providing, directly or indirectly through insurance premiums, something they are opposed to, why should not the individual not also be exempt from such?
      Religious institutions are no more and no less than associations of individuals for common religious purposes.

    • If people don’t agree with a club’s charter and bylaws, or the leadership’s application of them, they can quit. Even if the club refuses to take the resigning member’s name off the membership list, the person can quit and join another club, or dispense with club membership altogether.
      If one wishes to remain a member and try to get annoying rules changed, expect difficulties.
      Even if one wishes to resign from the biggest, most grasping club of all, the body politic (government; nation; country), s/he can do it. May have to first be accepted by another club – they don’t allow any member (citizen) to voluntarily become stateless – but citizenship can be renounced. Unfortunately the new club (state; government) may have some offensive rules also.

  3. “Secondly, you’re not forcing women to pay out of pocket, since nobody is forcing them to work for a Catholic employer”

    That’s not really a strong argument in today’s job market Terrance. Quitting and seeking work elsewhere is not a clear option for most women, especially those in lower-income brackets who perhaps need the use of contraceptive devices the most.

    • Every job or occupation I have had has had some disagreeable features to it. Some have been disagreeable enough for me to quit and go somewhere else. Sometimes I have had to bite my lip for a while until I could find something else.

  4. TY, Larry,

    I havea broad disdain for all orthodox Pauline cbristianity.
    I respect Jesus’ bio and teaching.
    I am a fan of Walter Rauschenbusch and recommend study of the Social Gospel as he dispensed it.

    Bob Walter
    aka Bucky

  5. I think the comments here covered all aspects of this, but I am inclined to agree with you. I know people who work in catholic hospitals and schools who must fork over the money for birth control pills as it is considered anti-church teaching. Even women who should not become pregnant are told, “It’s God’s will” which I find to be the most stupid statement of all. Great post! Sharing it with whomever I can.

    • Thanks Donna. The argument here is the conviction held mainly by a male minority which has evolved from ancient views and is not in tune with 21st century society. Human Vitae needs to be revisited. Birth control pills are not a rejection of what most Catholics feel is God’s dictate to procreate but allows us to control when procreate and how many kids to have, apart from the so-call “rhythm method” that is way less than full proof.

  6. Great post, Larry. I am a 67 year old cradle Catholic who spent my last 19 years of teaching in a Catholic school. I guess I am still Catholic because the Church would rather people like me would leave. In the 80’s, I was very involved with my parish programs for the poor and the pastor and church were moving toward more inclusion for women. That has been over for quite a while. I think I represent a great majority of Catholic women. Humana Vitae was issued a few months after I married in 1968. I was disappointed. I feel I am a thoughtful, reasonable person and I did not in conscience agree with this. I could not afford unlimited children and saw the destruction of a marriage when the parish priest told a family they could not use contraception after the birth of a severely brain damaged child. They followed the priest’s advice and soon had a second severely damaged child. I feel God gave me a brain and a conscience which is clear. I believe in living the golden rule whatever your religion of lack of religion. No man will tell me how to vote or what to do with my own body. I agree with Obama’s decision because I think a woman has a right to contraception in her health care where ever she works. I am tired of men (congress and clergy) telling me what I can do with my body. Can you imagine the furor if this were the opposite. I look at the bishops’ and republicans’ views as just another way to control women and keep them as second class citizens. I appreciate your thoughtful commentaries – so supportive of women. By the way, I am still married to my champion of women. If you want to see an example of a diocese in free fall, google Bishop Robert Finn.

    • “Cradle Catholic”. What a neat term. Says so much in two words.

      ” Humana Vitae was issued a few months after I married in 1968. I was disappointed. I feel I am a thoughtful, reasonable person and I did not in conscience agree with this.”

      So you remained a Catholic despite your reservations with the pope’s encyclical? I sure respect that Mary. Religion of any sort lost meaning for me. It was not until later, just before I got married, that I had a spiritual rebirth but one that didn’t come from church doctrine but from within, a crystalizing that brought everything in to focus and ultimately simplified my life.

      How do you see your connection with the teachings of the church and a relationship with what the church refers to as a “relationship with God”? Is there a “God” for you that you personally know but cannot really share with anyone who hasn’t had a similar experience? if so, how do you sense this “relationship” and it’s connection to much of what was written in Human Vitae?

    • “too much good economic news and it has to be countered by the GOP…..”

      Yes, there is perhaps some of that in conjunction with a genuine outrage by the ultra conservative Catholics who continue hold to relics and dogma of the past.

      The outrage of the clergy and their supporters in the laity though is solidly tied to fundamentalist religious views that still incorporate the old attitudes about “godless communism”; a holdover from the McCarthy era of the 1950s.

  7. I agree with your post Larry. It was well said. The church has really no moral leg to stand on here in my opinion. Further Terrance is simply wrong. All the states that require coverage have been tested in the courts and all have been upheld as being constitutional.

    • Yes, for the church hierarchy and their operatives to display moral outrage is rather pathetic in light of their moral ineptitude at controlling the pedophiles amongst their ranks.

      Still the argument that posits a wall must separate church and state should not be weakened in an attempt to do the right thing and ensure that women who want it have access to the pill. It appears that the Obama administration has found a solution and changed the position that outraged those who hold contraception is a violation of God’s law, as absurd as that seems to most critically thinking people.

    • I don’t believe the Supreme Court has ever heard one of these cases, Sherry. If so, I’d like a link to that case, please.

      Aside from that, you do realize that the Supreme Court once ruled that slavery was Constitutional, right? I’m not comparing the two; I’m simply showing that the Supreme Court is not infalible and the justices have their own set of ideological blinders on.

      But I do think that any person that looks at this issue without the blinders – and it’s hard to do, I realize – will come to the conclusion that forcing religious institutions to do something that violates their faith is an obvious violation of religious liberty and a complete destruction of Jefferson’s wall.

      • Terrance, I can appreciate your misunderstandings, the legal aspects of state/federal legislation are hard to understand sometimes from the lay perspective. The point is that the 28 states impose varying types of requirements that the Church in some manner provide for those in their employ who wish contraceptive assistence. The Obama solution is similar or perhaps even exact to some of them.

        A state law can always exceed US Constitutional requirements however, they can never lessen the force of the US Constitution. The state contraception laws or rulings have been in place for decades in some cases. There have been appeals to federal and state courts as to their “constitutionality.” The SCOTUS has not, as you point out, addressed the issue–the reason is simple–they have not determined that any state or lower federal ruling is in error and there is not claim that they see as valid that the US constitution might have been violated. Such a case would have made it way there by now if that was the case.

        I do understand that the SCOTUS can rule wrongly. It has done so in the past, it has reversed itself. You of course are the one making the argument
        that somehow Obama’s modification cannot withstand SCOTUS scrutiny. I merely point out that it has been fairly determined already that it is constitutional.

        You are failing in your analysis to realize apparently that the religious institutions of this country quite regularly ask for and receive federal dollars to accomplish their goals. Of course, such ties often do have consequences that are not desired. This may well be one of them. And in any case, no religious institution is being asked to violate their faith under the new rule. Churches need not offer nor pay for contraceptive care.

        This issue has NEVER been about liberty, it has always been about power, and women’s health. The country is firmly behind the president, and frankly the GOP now finds itself arguing that contraception is a bad thing. Good luck to them with that argument.

      • Terrance, I can appreciate your misunderstandings, the legal aspects of state/federal legislation are hard to understand sometimes from the lay perspective.

        I don’t think I misunderstand at all. But you can keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better.

        I read Obama’s talking-points, too, Sherry. I know there are 28 States with somewhat similar laws. But there is something you and Mr. Obama are not telling.

        All of those 28 States contain provisions that allow the religious institution to opt out. They can either drop prescription coverage, offer an ERISA plan, or self-insure, thereby protecting the religious liberty of religious institutions. There is NO opting out under the Federal mandate. None.

        State’s understand that forcing religious institutions to provide health care plans they deem morally objectionable runs in the face of separation between church and state. That’s why these laws haven’t been overturned: they still protect religious liberty.

        A state law can always exceed US Constitutional requirements however, they can never lessen the force of the US Constitution.

        “Lessen the force?” Really?

        I think what you mean to say is that the Supremacy Clause, found in Article VI of the Constitution, states that the U.S. Constitution supersedes all other laws. In fact, it says the Constitution is “the supreme law of the land.”

        The state contraception laws or rulings have been in place for decades in some cases. There have been appeals to federal and state courts as to their “constitutionality.” The SCOTUS has not, as you point out, addressed the issue–the reason is simple–they have not determined that any state or lower federal ruling is in error and there is not claim that they see as valid that the US constitution might have been violated. Such a case would have made it way there by now if that was the case.

        Yes, and I explained why above. The State laws allow religious institutions to opt out. The Federal mandate does not. That is the important difference that you and Obama failed to mention. That is intellectually dishonest.

        I do understand that the SCOTUS can rule wrongly. It has done so in the past, it has reversed itself. You of course are the one making the argument
that somehow Obama’s modification cannot withstand SCOTUS scrutiny.

        It cannot. Why? Because it doesn’t protect religious liberty.

        I merely point out that it has been fairly determined already that it is constitutional.

        And that is incorrect. Any law that has been challenged contains an “opt out” clause. You fail to mention that because it would detrimental to your argument. You are being totally dishonest.

        You are failing in your analysis to realize apparently that the religious institutions of this country quite regularly ask for and receive federal dollars to accomplish their goals. Of course, such ties often do have consequences that are not desired.

        Yet again you are being totally dishonest. This particular mandate makes no distinction between institutions that receive Federal funding and those who are privately funded. None whatsoever. It forces ALL institutions, receiving Federal money or not, to provide contraceptive coverage.

        This may well be one of them. And in any case, no religious institution is being asked to violate their faith under the new rule. Churches need not offer nor pay for contraceptive care.

        You mean that accounting gimmick Obama touts as compromise? Please. Insurers are not going to eat that cost; they’ll pass it off to the employer.

        This issue has NEVER been about liberty, it has always been about power, and women’s health.

        To people without the ideological blinders, it has been ENTIRELY about liberty.

        Good luck to them with that argument.

        Your argument would have been stronger without all the lies and distortions.

      • The state contraception laws or rulings have been in place for decades in some cases. There have been appeals to federal and state courts as to their “constitutionality.” The SCOTUS has not, as you point out, addressed the issue–the reason is simple–they have not determined that any state or lower federal ruling is in error and there is not claim that they see as valid that the US constitution might have been violated. Such a case would have made it way there by now if that was the case.

        Yes, and I explained why above. The State laws allow religious institutions to opt out. The Federal mandate does not. That is the important difference that you and Obama failed to mention. That is intellectually dishonest.

        I do understand that the SCOTUS can rule wrongly. It has done so in the past, it has reversed itself. You of course are the one making the argument
that somehow Obama’s modification cannot withstand SCOTUS scrutiny.

        It cannot. Why? Because it doesn’t protect religious liberty.

        I merely point out that it has been fairly determined already that it is constitutional.

        And that is incorrect. Any law that has been challenged contains an “opt out” clause. You fail to mention that because it would detrimental to your argument. You are being totally dishonest.

        You are failing in your analysis to realize apparently that the religious institutions of this country quite regularly ask for and receive federal dollars to accomplish their goals. Of course, such ties often do have consequences that are not desired.

        Yet again you are being totally dishonest. This particular mandate makes no distinction between institutions that receive Federal funding and those who are privately funded. None whatsoever. It forces ALL institutions, receiving Federal money or not, to provide contraceptive coverage.

        This may well be one of them. And in any case, no religious institution is being asked to violate their faith under the new rule. Churches need not offer nor pay for contraceptive care.

        You mean that accounting gimmick Obama touts as compromise? Please. Insurers are not going to eat that cost; they’ll pass it off to the employer.

        This issue has NEVER been about liberty, it has always been about power, and women’s health.

        To people without the ideological blinders, it has been ENTIRELY about liberty.

        Good luck to them with that argument.

        Your argument would have been stronger without all the lies and distortions.

      • Sorry about the double-post, Larry. The first time only part of it was formated correctly. So, I reposted it from where it screwed up, making sure it was clear to everyone.

      • Supreme Court, like lower courts, rulings depend to a great extend on the precise issues that come before them. Justice Blackmun, credited as author of Roe v. Wade, indicated in the ruling and footnotes that if the issue of the human-beingness of the human fetus had been brought up correctly, the Court might have ruled quite differently. See the text at note 49 and footnote 54.
        The Texas State’s Attorney (originally Wade) did only what was required to defend the state statute that was under challenge. He, as should have ben expected, went no further. None of the “Pro-Life” amici curiae brought up the issues noted in FN 54.
        Supreme Court rulings have been later reversed due to the same or similar issue(s) being presented differently. Most I have any knowledge of were not reversed simply on a change of mind of the justices, even a change of the justices. Statutes that bear upon the issues can be passed or revoked, either completely or by being amended, after one SCt ruling, resulting in a different SCt ruling on what seems the same subject matter later due to the change in the law.
        The best lawyers, specialists in an area of law, can be caught out or confused. Supreme Court justices have to deal with a very wide range of topics, of which no justice is personally familiar.
        For those who mention “constitutional law,” it has nothing to do with the Constitution directly. It is a study of what the law is, as interpreted by the highest courts that have ruled on a matter. You can study the Constitution from its beginnings in Madison’s Notes on the Convention of 1787 to the present, but if you are not intimately familiar with the Court-generated constitutional law you will not likely know what the current law is.
        As a practical matter the Constitution means what the Supreme Court (at least 5 justices) say it means, or what the majority of the highest court that has ruled on a subject says it means.

    • The courts are not the ultimate arbiters of what the constitutions mean and the constitutions are not the ultimate arbiters of rectitude. If that were the case it would make men gods, or god.

  8. I grew up as a Lutheran (Catholicism-lite), and share commons experiences, leaving the Church as a teen, not so much over the masturbation issue (my favorite in-door sport at the time), but because it just didn’t make much sense after i found out it was all bullshit and about control. Good post. Hope ya don’t go to Hell for it.
    Hansi

    • Hell is just a part of that bullshit and control factor you were referring to.

      I like to think of my demise and the ensuing decomposition as enriching the earth’s soils. 🙂

      • I like to think of my demise and the ensuing decomposition as enriching the earth’s soils.

        I’d think of it as a great loss. I always enjoy the conversation, whether we agree or not.

      • I don’t know about being a great loss but I do enjoy our conversations Terrance. The fact that we can disagree and not shout at and demonize each other is a sign of the civility so much lost these days.

      • Makes everything kinda meaningless, being a mite on a speck of stardust whirling through the abyss. The Bible and the naturalists do agree: the sun will either explode, atomi- uh, quarkiz- uhh, Higgs Bosonizing the earth and all the works thereon, or the Creator will do the same, destroying it with fervent heat, without specifying the process by which accomplished. The schedule is different, that is all. The end result is the same.

  9. I wish our Congress members would have discussions as respectful and well researched as this one. When I studied Humana Vitae when getting my Masters in Theology, I remember the well-known Catholic theologians explaining that there are “different levels” so to speak of church pronouncements. Italians, and Europeans in general, have a very different approach to the Church’s teachings on contraception. The level of Humana Vitae’s weight was not the “highest level” of pronouncement. (in fact, I think there are only a very few of these, mostly having to do with Mary. )

    We Americans have a much more literal and even Puritanical approach to anything related to sex. Europeans laugh at American Catholics for their hang ups having to do with Church teachings on sex!

    All in all, I believe this debate comes down to women’s ‘- indeed, couple’s- civil liberties and rights. we should be able to make our own decisions and health insurance should cover it, period. In my opinion, Catholics or anyone who chooses not to use it should just do so!

    I have a question… if so many Catholc women use contraception, why is there so much opposition to it? Is it opposition to abortion rather than birth control that is fueling Catholic reaction? Or is it, “Do as I say, not as I do?”

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