26 April 2018

Humanae Vitae 50 Years Later: Have We Learned Nothing?

In graduate school, my favorite classes I took were ones on Scripture, particularly on the Old Testament. 

In one class, we carefully studied many of the major and minor prophets. It really grew my appreciation for these writings, as well as understand the culture and historical times the authors wrote in. 

As a result, I became kind of fascinated with the prophets. Specifically the idea, that certain women and men who were agents of God to speak truth and work in mighty ways.

Prophets were not just people from Biblical times. I think we as a Church have seen many prophetic men and women: Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, etc.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae this July, I find myself reflecting on how Pope Paul VI was a prophet of his own time, though he was greatly disdained for re-affirming what the Church teaches on contraception.

The history of contraception is much deeper and darker than most people would think.
From the eugenic policies of Margaret Sanger to treating pregnancy and fertility as a disease that needs to be fixed, birth control has not helped women as originally thought.

The fact that the Catholic Church has not wavered on this teaching is perhaps the most disagreed, misunderstood teaching among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. 

Up until 1930, all Christian denominations denounced the use of artificial birth control. At the Lambeth Conference, Anglican bishops argeed to allow the use of artificial contraception for the case of married couples. It was after this conference, all other denominations followed suit.

The Catholic Church remained the lone ranger. 

And in 1960, Pope Paul VI re-affirmed why the Church teaches as she does in this matter. And he got SLAMMED. The dissent from many Catholic clergy and lay people was heartbreakingly sad.

But I truly believe what the Holy Father said was prophetic.

Just like in the Old Testament, they hated, slandered, or even tried to kill prophetic women and men. 

Even if you have not or don't plan to read Humanae Vitae (but I think you should!), let's just and look and see where we are as a culture 50-60 years later after birth control became as common as cream in your morning coffee.

50% of marriages end in divorce.
Statistics show the average age a child is exposed to pornography is anywhere from 7-10.
Sexual promiscuity is rampant. 
The side effects of birth control are very negative to a woman's health.
Women are treated as objects and sexual violence has grown rapidly.
Men are raised in a culture of toxic masculinity.

The sexual revolution of the 1960's along with promotion of artificial birth control promised more sexual fulfillment and wholeness.

But we live in the most broken, sexually addicted culture. 

It causes me to think how right Pope Paul Vi was, how prophetic his words would become even if he grossly disdained for it.

Have we learned nothing?!

As Humanae Vitae's 50th anniversary approaches, I want to challenge my generation to revisit this often grossly misunderstood teaching.

I pray people of goodwill will come to see this teaching as pro-woman and empowering to women (which it actually is).

I pray we actually revisit the history of contraception and see if for what it actually is.

And I pray we see a contraceptive mindset and attitude for what it truly is and to stop glorifying it.

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  1. So well said! It's heartbreaking how brainwashed our society has become as birth control is so vastly normalized even though it's so bad on a moral AND physical level. Many women I know used to be on birth control (I believe they said, statistically speaking, about 90% of women go on bc at some point), and several of these women have told me about the emotional or physical harm that has happened to them because of the Pill. Yet, they think it's "normal" so they do it. And medical professionals have been taught to introduce this as "normal," so the cycle just continues. After I gave birth to my first, within the first 24ish hours of giving birth I was asked what kind of birth control I wanted to be on!

  2. Amen! Our culture is in such a sad state when it comes to sexuality and contraception. It’s so disheartening when even Catholics refuse to seek our own church’s understanding on this. The refusal to discuss it is horrifying. I’m so glad for the discussion especially this year with the HV anniversary and hope it leads to hearts converted on this hard and beautiful truth. Pope Paul VI was truly prophetic!


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