Broken marriage

“Broken families cost taxpayers £46bn a year” read a headline in my newspaper this Monday morning. Apparently that is £1,541 per taxpayer. It includes benefits, child care, and vandalism in school. The total sum has increased by £9bn since 2009. Expensive though this may be, we all know that the real cost is to the coherence and stability of society. It is a cause of great unhappiness in adults, and of tragedy in children. And, because of the cycle of deprivation the effects are carried on to the next generation and compounded.

The figures are menacing. Currently about a third of children live in a one parent family. The number of adults who do not get married will soar by almost half in the next 25 years, and will be accompanied by a 65 per cent increase in the number of cohabiting couples. 20 years from now, our population will have more unmarried than people who have married.

There is little sign that the powers that be are alive to these long term effects. Topically, people have noticed the Tory reluctance to honour their pledge to recognise married couples in the taxation system, and their modification of child benefits have the effect of discouraging mothers from going out to work. Michael Trend of the Relationship Foundation, who reported these figures, referred to the ‘scant attention’ politicians paid to the catastrophic costs of family breakdown.

Although we are, happily, going through a bit of a baby boom, it has been suggested that the question of homosexual marriage would never have been on the agenda if our society had not psychologically separated the procreative purpose of marriage from the relationship purpose and turned it into a voluntary option.

But while our first, defensive, reaction is to look at the faults of others, it may be more constructive to ask ourselves what contribution we may be making.

The Church has never hesitated in its defence of marriage as a necessary unit in society, and argues constantly that, whether sacramental or secular, it is an essential part of God’s plan for the survival and flourishing of humankind. But there seems no doubt that increasingly few of her own members listen to her in such matters.

There has been a polarisation between a rearguard which holds firmly on to the radical connection between marriage and procreation and those who, in rejecting the teaching on contraception, allow all the emphasis to be put on the aspect of relationship, at the expense of procreation. Rejection of the ban on artificial contraception seems to be shared by nearly all the married Catholic laity, as well as a majority of the clergy. The Church’s witness to the world is confused.

We seem to have the worst of both worlds. If the laity had wholeheartedly accepted the contraceptive ban we might not have been popular with the rest of society, but our witness would have been clear. Had the Church changed its teaching it would still have been possible to demonstrate the radical connection between procreation and sexual intercourse. In such a context, Natural Family Planning would have been seen as a vocation of perfection in its own right and not a lame device to get us out of a difficulty. Certainly I have always seen NFP as an ideal in that way.

In such a context I wonder how we would describe chastity as we might see it nowadays. At the most fundamental level it would seem to demand a basic control over our sexual instincts, directing them exclusively to be at the service of the married relationship.  But, even as I write that, I realise its inadequacy. Elizabeth Anscombe, who figured in our last discussion, put her emphasis on the virtue of chastity, in the sense that the chaste person will, by reason of that personal quality, behave chastely.

How would we describe that personal quality, and in what ways would it express itself in behaviour? Has the Church any help to give us, or must we nowadays work it out for ourselves?

I have put five questions here. This is not a quiz or a survey, but you may like to think about what you really believe in your heart of hearts about such issues.

1    Artificial contraception is inherently evil and can never be excused.

2    Full sexual relations before marriage, even for a seriously engaged couple, are never permissible.

3     While divorce is highly undesirable, in some circumstances Catholics are justified in divorcing. If they remarry they should normally be able to remain in full communion with the Church – attending Mass and the Sacraments.

4      For people of an inbred homosexual temperament, homosexual activity is natural, and therefore permissible.

5      Any method of conception which takes place artificially, e.g. artificial insemination – husband or donor, is an affront to the dignity of sexual intercourse, and therefore always forbidden.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Church and Society, Moral judgment, Quentin queries and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to Broken marriage

  1. ionzone says:

    1 I would have to say, only in the case of the chemical abortion agents they use nowadays.

    2 Nowadays it is a lot safer, I think it needs to be discouraged but not forbidden.

    3 To be honest I think that the biggest problem is that people seem to get married too quickly. We live in a world where everything is instant, and that is a problem. There is no patience.

    4 Why inbred?

    5 I think that we as a society have a big problem with the word ‘natural’. The moment you mention it it becomes more a debate of what that word means than what they really mean. But if the net result is that the egg is never fertilised, it has to be asked – what is the difference?

    “it has been suggested that the question of homosexual marriage would never have been on the agenda if our society had not psychologically separated the procreative purpose of marriage from the relationship purpose and turned it into a voluntary option.”

    There are a lot of people who are confused about gay marriage and think it will cause daft things like a rise in abortions (how?) or some other calamity, but really the reason gays want to be able to marry if fairly boring and normal – they want to be like us. They want to be able to make their vows in a church and be married before God like a normal couple. The fact is that no matter how much they might say otherwise, being gay is not fun. People pick on you, other people stereotype you and single out you being gay as your single defining feature. And you are never going to have kids without a third party. Which is why they have such problems with drugs, STDs and suicides.

    Believe me, I’m kind of an acting councillor to my gay friends and the stuff they get even now is unbelievable. And it is a big part of the reason that gays tend to think we are pushy, they think we are pushy people. They start thinking we are trying to ‘ram our beliefs down their throats’ and they end up giving up on God because being a ‘pagan spiritualist’ who outright makes up their own beliefs, or an outright atheist, is easier and gains them a lot of acceptance. The real question here is: Why are the Christian churches so hot on the gay thing when it is vaguely mentioned about twice and never by Jesus? This is a huge distraction that is tearing our attention away from much bigger issues. For example, can you remember the last time that the Prolife Times put something about abortion on their front cover? I can’t.

  2. ionzone says:

    Vaguely mentioned twice in the Bible is what I meant to say. Sorry.

    The funny thing is that the sin of adultery is mentioned way more in the Bible and made a huge fuss about…and yet that is almost normal to us nowadays. We never go about saying adultery is sick and disgusting, though we have plenty more reason to since adultery actually hurts people really badly. It breaks homes and traumatises the rest of the family.

    We also have to ask ourselves, why do we pick and choose so much with Leviticus? If the gay thing is important, why not all that stuff we aren’t supposed to eat?

    • St.Joseph says:

      Quentin.
      I appreciate what you are saying however I must say this before I make any comments on your questions.
      We can not expect answers from those who do not believe in what the Church teaches.
      without coming to some misunderstandings here and bad feelings.from those who do not understand why the Church’s teaches what She does.
      There are other Christians even Catholics who believe in their own free will and will use contraception, sex before marriage, divorce,homosexual acts,.etc
      The way I see it is either something is right or something is wrong, and people’s consciences are formed on what is right for ‘them’,including Catholics,so be it -who are we to judge.. So I must leave that to the Lord- we all according to some, end up in Heaven now anyway as long as we believe in Christ .

      • Nektarios says:

        St Joseph
        I can see by your rather sarcastic comments you are referring to your run in with me on the previous topic.
        Please do not misrepresent what I say. I make it as clear as possible.
        NFP is your pet subject and involvement over the years, so I will leave you to say whatever you want to say without any distraction from this Orthodox Christian `in Christ’.

  3. Peter D. Wilson says:

    One possible reason for Jesus’s apparent silence on homosexuality is that his audience already detested the practice. I don’t recall his specifically condemning murder, either. On the other hand he would probably have treated the condition rather more gently than St. Paul does. Then again St. Paul’s condemnation seems to have been of a culture rather than a genuinely innate misdirection of the sexual drive that undoubtedly calls for sympathetic understanding (which the gays would probably regard as intolerable condescension!).

  4. Horace says:

    1 Artificial contraception is inherently evil and can never be excused.
    Arguable: Is there such a thing as “Natural contraception” ? – NFP is directed continence, not contraception, although it may be used with contraceptive intent.
    Therapeutic measures which may have a contraceptive side effect are not considered evil, provided contraception is not directly intended (HV 15).
    The use of a condom by a man, in order to protect his partner from sexually transmitted disease may indeed mitigate the evil of unlawful sexual intercourse.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Horace.
      As a condom is only supposed to be 75% safe, therefore it would be 25% placing the female in danger to catch a disease.

      Nektarios. My comments were not meant to be sarcastic-it is not my way, I believe in honesty. and truth. I don’t criticize your Orthodox Christian in Christ’s belief’s-so I expect the same respect for mine.
      My faith in the Catholic Church ‘Is my pet subject’ as you would like to call it..
      That is why I defend my understanding of it.
      As far as ‘Fertility Awareness’ is concerned, that is not a Catholic ‘thing’ or my thing, it ought to concern all religions and none.
      It is the way females are made. so it ought to stay that way and not be interfered with by unnatural means that cause early abortions..
      It seems that you and I have different opinions as the way we live ‘in Christ’

      • Quentin says:

        St.joseph what is your source of information that condoms are 75% safe? The web sites I have checked give a safety level of 98%. The safety of condoms with regard to HIV transmission is 99.1%. Naturally all these figures (and the figure for NFP of 99%) depend on proper and consistent use.
        It was singularly unfortunate that the late Cardinal Suenens went on record as describing the condom as no better barrier than a net. He was simply ignorant, and his failure to correct his error has been a cause for great scandal. Nor, as far as I know, has it been corrected since.

      • ionzone says:

        Peter D. Wilson – another reason might be that the disciples chose not to record that portion of his teachings due to him being 0k with it (as he was with female equality). Another might be that at that point there was only one rule about it in the entire Torah. A third might be that his message that all love comes from God already covers it.

        Assuming that he thought it was bad is putting words in his mouth. I find it hard to believe that someone as tolerant as Jesus would want us to focus so much of our energies on outright persecution. In fact, there is considerable doubt if Paul specifically condemns homosexuality in the original text. Hell, it’s not like they even had a word for it back then. Plus, Paul wasn’t an apostle.

      • Horace says:

        St Joseph: I said ” use of a condom . . may indeed mitigate the evil . ”
        This link may help – http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2010/11/23/condoms-may-be-first-step-in-moralisation-of-sexuality-says-pope/

  5. St.Joseph says:

    Quentin.
    I have plenty of information regarding the inefficiency of condoms.
    I will post this first as I am having trouble with my computer.

  6. St.Joseph says:

    Quentin as I was saying above, I will continue.
    We can take any information we wish. But I will show a few of those that I feel are appropriate.
    Obviously it will always be better to state the ones most effective for obvious reasons.
    1. Five ideas about sex that can kill kids.
    By promoting condom usage and by even passing them out at school government officials are encouraging sexual promiscuity among teenagers. They are also communicating five dangerous ideas to teens. These are
    1 Safe sex is achievable through the use of condoms. But condoms fail from 15 to 44 percent of the time in preventing pregnancies, yet our government wants teens to trust them to protect from receiving a virus which is (450 times smaller than the sperm they fail to stop).
    I will cut this short now as it will be too.long. it goes on to say- Since planned parenthood began in the 1970s unwed pregnancies have have increased by 87%. Obviously public sex education produces more illicit sex and that produces more Aids and more pregnancies.
    Adapted from an open letter by James Dobson, President Focus on the Family Feb 13 1992.

    Flawed Condoms.Mr CM Roland editor of Rubber Chemistry & Technology is an expert in the field of rubber goods. He knows more about the subject than most health officials. The following letter ought to settle the question once and for all about the distribution of condoms in schools and youth clubs ostensibly to stop the spread of AIDS.’If the intent to reduce the spread of this disease the advice is ill conceived . The high failure of condoms in the prevention of pregnancy alone argues against their use for preventing the contraction of a fatal disease. Because the AIDS virus is 450 times smaller than sperm, the effectiveness of condoms for AIDS is actually much worse than conception. It is well established that latex rubber contains inherent flaws which is 50 times larger than the AIDS virus. ‘Inherent means the flaws are naturally occurring’ As the editor of the American Chemical Society’s Journal devoted to the science of technology of rubber and a research scientist in the field I find absurd the notion that condoms allow one to safely engage in sexual relations with HIV carriers. Their promotion for that purpose is dangerous and irresponsible,The Sunday Record. 24.1.93.
    Mr John Kelly The then President of the NFPTA writing to NFP Teachers. Excerpt from article on AIDS.
    In a study of 32 spouses who were not infected (seronegative) on enrolement
    12 of 14 couples who had ‘no protective intercourse.
    1 of 10 couples who had used a barrier (condom)
    None of 8 couples who abstained.
    These facts raised some important issue.
    Pregnancy is only possible at a relatively short time in the menstrual period, whereas infection with AIDS can occur at any time of the menstrual cycle.
    The efficiency of a barrier method is much reduced in the poorly motivated, in the young and those in a promiscuous or casual relationship.
    Is it morally acceptable to take a 10% risk of killing ones wife (or husband) by having intercourse with her (or him) using a condom.?

    Sorry Quentin this is so long but what I have learned over the years on the subject of NFP and AIDS and other transmitted diseases fills nearly a filing cabinet.

    • Quentin says:

      St. Joseph — all is clear. Your 1992 document is simply incorrect. ” latex rubber contains inherent flaws which is 50 times larger than the AIDS virus” is correct as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go very far because the aids virus travels in liquid, and so is unable to get through the pores (rather than flaws) in the condom. Not only is that correct theoretically it has also been thoroughly tested in practice. The safety rate I have given you is correct, and calculated from studies of the actual experience of married couples. The first report to show this clearly was made about a decade after the information you have.

      You will find it at http://www.niaid.nih.gov/about/organization/dmid/documents/condomreport.pdf

      I suspect that the information you have was similar to that used by Cardinal Suenens. There was a real danger that infected people would not use condoms as a result, believing that they weren’t effective. A number of deaths may have occurred because of this.

      The reason why the Pope said that condom campaigns did not solve the plague was that in conditions of high promiscuity inevitable carelessness in the regular use of condoms led to increased infections. The real experts agreed. But certainly condoms can play a part, as Cafod pointed out, when used by sex-workers etc.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Horace I understand what you say, I watch Deal or no Deal and think the same.
        However,
        The Church teaches so many things that we do wrong, but they are couples who have no religious beliefs, so they live together.We have a belief and still commit sin.

        Quentin thank you..
        As I said it is what one reads, obviously your info is more up to date.
        As far as the husband who does not want to infect his wife, there is always the chance of misuse and breakage, but then it is there choice.As for the contraceptive use,the couple could always use the safe period.,in case of any disease passed on to the child and I believe that would be a reason acceptable to the Church with its emphasis on the necessity of a serious reason to use- the Church warns against selfishness in family planning.
        Fertility awareness with regards to a couple not being able to use it I read that a 14 day abstinence was practiced by Orthodox Jews for approximately 3,000 years so we have advanced since then..But it worked then 3000 years ago,but then one would have to abstain for 5 days and it is too much to ask some.
        It just takes confidence and love.
        St Paul’s most famous discourse on love is applicable to this discussion,He begins and ends on the two aspects of love that are needed for the happy practice of NFP’ Love is always patient and kind.. it is always ready to endure whatever comes (1 Cor.13.4.7)
        Christian husbands are also told to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed Himself for her (Eph.5.25) St Paul also tells his listeners that the fruits of the Spirit are ‘love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness,goodness, trustfulness,gentleness,and Self Control.He reminds them that they cannot really belong to Christ unless they ‘crucify
        all self indulgent passions and desires (Gal 5.22,24) that is incomplete but shows that it is legitimate to state that the religious doctrine of marital contraception has a basis in Scripture and the practice of NFP with its necessity of a certain amount of sexual self control fits well within the Christian Biblical Tradition.

  7. Peter D. Wilson says:

    Ionzone – I think Jesus’s apparent silence on homosexual practices is more safely assumed to indicate agreement with Old Testament teaching than the contrary, though I suppose it possible that the Gospel writers refrained from recording comments on a distasteful subject. In any case no one is advocating persecution of homosexuals. The condition, of course, is no more morally reprehensible than measles.

  8. Horace says:

    2 Full sexual relations before marriage, even for a seriously engaged couple, are never permissible.
    This is certainly Catholic teaching and I understand that there is good evidence that couples who have sex before marriage are more likely to divorce subsequently (although I cannot find a proper reference).
    On the other hand we often watch a Channel 4 program called “Deal or no Deal”.
    It is astounding how many couples say that they are playing this game in the hope of “winning enough money to get married” although they have been living together for years and have one, two, or even three children!

  9. St.Joseph says:

    Answers to the above.
    1 I would not call it evil. But there is a very informative brochure What does the Catholic Church really teach about Birth Control. Couple to Couple League.
    2.The Church could not say anything other than that,but of course artificial that causes an early abortion if used would be evil.But then one risks a pregnancy with the condom hence so many abortions today amongst the young. If one is engaged to marry then they will have to accept a pregnancy as a Gift from God.
    3 Yes I agree to that.If under certain circumstances ,either than a continual permissive situation and abortion if pregnant, But God does not turn anyone away-if the person is ignorant and it would help to regain their faith.
    4 No.
    5.I have full confidence in the Crighton Method and NAPRO , experience in lots of cases where IVF failed ,no confidence with IVF when multitude babies are conceived,placed back into the womb then at 3 months the healthiest one lives and the others are aborted. I would consider that evil.
    It is also the dignity of the child.

  10. John Nolan says:

    Ionzone, Jesus was not tolerant in the relativistic sense the word is understood nowadays, which is why it is not easy to follow his precepts. And St Paul is an apostle, although he was not one of the disciples.

  11. Singalong says:

    Thank you, John, your Comment has given me an insight into the distinction between tolerance and mercy. Tolerance accepts, mercy does not accept, but can forgive.

  12. claret says:

    Why are we so willing to now accept a sexual practice which is unnatural, immoral, and injurious to health. It is sinful for both men and women to engage in such sexual activity. It is condemned in several places in the Bible and is spoken against by Jesus when he condemns fornication.
    Perhaps those who are so quick to ridicule the Book of Leviticus would do well to read it first. It contains a long list of sexual sins which includes sex between two males and are as applicable today as they were when written. Do we dispose of them all on some grounds that this particular scripture is irrelevant ? For example shall we ditch incest and bestiality ?

  13. Horace says:

    3 While divorce is highly undesirable, in some circumstances Catholics are justified in divorcing. If they remarry they should normally be able to remain in full communion with the Church – attending Mass and the Sacraments.

    What I was taught is that in Catholic doctrine there is NO possibility of divorce (Matthew 19:6). Separation is the only recourse in the case of total breakdown.

    However a civil divorce may be undertaken to resolve e.g. financial settlements.
    Catholics must be aware that although a civil divorce may legally be followed by a civil remarriage this second marriage is NOT valid in the eyes of the church (Mark 10:11-12) and the relationship is sinful. While in this state they CANNOT be “able to remain in full communion with the Church – attending Mass and the Sacraments.” (CCC 1650)
    Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented and who are committed to living in complete continence.

    There are, however, several circumstances which may justify civil divorce and remarriage:-
    Annulment implies that the marriage was never valid and that there is no bar to a further marriage. [There are a number of fairly complex reasons why it may be argued that a marriage was invalid.]
    Then there is the Pauline privilege – a marriage entered into by two non-baptized persons is valid but may be dissolved if one of the parties converts to the Christian faith while the other does not.
    Finally there is the Petrine privilege – if a Christian has married a non-christian then in certain cases it is possible for this marriage to be dissolved at the discretion of the Holy See.

    I do not know the answer to the situation referred to by Matthew (19:9) “. . except it be for fornication . . ” Fornication implies sexual misconduct or sexual impurity outside of the bounds of marriage. However it is often used symbolically in Scripture to mean a following after idols or an abandoning of God.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Horace.
      Plenty have left the Church because no annulment was possible. I know plenty. who have some very difficult times in a bad marriage. One should not have to suffer like that when they need the Church so much
      They deserve a ‘second chance’. The Church ought to be able to do that without charge! ‘What ever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven’.
      Reconciled to Holy Mother Church in full Communion. Especially those who have children. But then I don’t make the rules. I just pray for them and it breaks my heart if I am honest.
      I would love just sometimes to give them my Communion..

  14. John Nolan says:

    I find it interesting that the first reply to Quentin’s post (ionzone) devoted a lot of column inches to the homosexual issue. Do his/her gay friends really need reassurance from a sympathetic Christian that Jesus would have approved of it? I suspect that their main problem is that society as a whole does not approve of it, and this despite twenty years of government propaganda. Dr NAM Rodger, in his groundbreaking work “The Wooden World – An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy” makes the point that sodomy was the only offence for which the death penalty was invariably applied. It shows the revulsion for the crime held throughout the Service.

  15. Iona says:

    Quentin: “In such a context I wonder how we would describe chastity as we might see it nowadays. At the most fundamental level it would seem to demand a basic control over our sexual instincts, directing them exclusively to be at the service of the married relationship. But, even as I write that, I realise its inadequacy. Elizabeth Anscombe, who figured in our last discussion, put her emphasis on the virtue of chastity, in the sense that the chaste person will, by reason of that personal quality, behave chastely.”

    I seem to remember (will try to track down the exact reference, but it may take some looking for) that Simone Weil – not the politician but the “vierge rouge” who starved herself to death during WWII because she couldn’t bear the idea that the French were starving while she was living in relative comfort in London – said that a chaste love was one that did not seek to make of the loved one something that he or she was not. I would take that as meaning that to love chastely is to recognise the other person’s dignity, to treat him or her with full respect, not to impose constraints, not to seek to exploit him or her in any way. If this is Anscombe’s “virtue of chastity”, then such a person probably would behave chastely both within and outside marriage.
    Simone Weil said an old lady could love her pet parrot unchastely, and I’m sure she didn’t have bestiality in mind!

  16. Iona says:

    By the way, does anyone else find it odd that homosexuals are seeking to be allowed to “marry” just when a very high proportion of heterosexuals seem to have abandoned marriage in favour of cohabitation?

    • johnbunting says:

      Yes, very odd, Iona. Why is a civil partnership not enough? There’s a strong element of “Anything you’ve got we’ve got to have too” about it. And the misuse of words, of course: “When I use a word”, said Humpty Dumpty……….

      • St.Joseph says:

        Why is a civil partnership not enough? Especially when divorced Catholics make do,and they are not committing sin in the sense of pro-creation.to which marriage is all about.

  17. Horace says:

    4 For people of an inbred homosexual temperament, homosexual activity is natural, and therefore permissible.

    I have never heard this argument put forward before.
    At first sight it seems quite plausible – homosexual activity can, for example, be observed in animals.
    On the other hand from the Catholic point of view homosexual orientation is disordered – sex is for having babies not just for having fun!

    • St.Joseph says:

      Iona.
      I somehow think that the Warwick St Masses twice a month went a small way to the idea that homosexuals would eventually marry.
      I am always pleased when a homosexual person goes to Holy Mass and even live together if that is how they are.But as far as their sexual relationship that to me is something they ought to keep private between themselves and God ,and not bring Holy Matrimony into it.I know a lot of same sex couples but they do not stand on a soap box and shout at the world. As married couples don’t shout about artificial contraception- they get on with their life.
      I don’t always see them suffering., and they are not in ill health.I believe we all have to get on with our own life. I hear so much arguments about how they are ill treated, I am ignorant to that , and I wonder if it is a lot of publicity, they want to be recognised .
      I would recognise them as a child of God more so if some acted like that..
      They do an injustice the themselves (some do) not all those who lead private lives.
      I went to a Gay many years ago, not for a social evening I will say, and the videos were obscene, and that would be more upsetting to homosexuals who don’t want publicity are they are not all like that. It puts a bad reflection on their nature.

  18. claret says:

    In the desire to normalize sexual behavior that has no creative function and to normalise sex within same sex relationships we need to get back to basics. God is the creator and we are the created. Is it incumbent on God to move towards what is desirable by the created or for the created to strive for what is required by the creator ?

  19. Mike Horsnall says:

    Presumably same sex sexuality works along the same lines as hetero sexual behaviour-it creates bonds between individuals which help undergird relationship, within relationship is the possibility of childbearing. It seems to me that simply saying ‘Stop it, God doesn’t like it’ might not be especially helpful to individuals/ couples who find their same sex orientation to be a given. I don’t think that same sex relationships which have an active sexuality are neccesarily to be equated with demands that God bow to any particular tune at all.

  20. Horace says:

    5 Any method of conception which takes place artificially, e.g. artificial insemination – husband or donor, is an affront to the dignity of sexual intercourse, and therefore always forbidden.

    To say that artificial insemination is an “affront to the dignity of sexual intercourse” is simply risible.
    I certainly was taught (by my Jesuit mentors) that the introduction of the husband’s semen into the wife’s vagina [when for some reason normal ejaculation was not possible] was morally justified. [AIH not AID]
    It seems clear that when AI involves the deliberate destruction of unwanted potential embryos. as seems mostly the case with in-vitro fertilisation, this must be forbidden; but I cannot see why, if in-vitro fertilisation is carried out responsibly using a sperm and egg from husband and wife and inserting the resulting embryo into the wife’s uterus (or perhaps even using some other way to ensure that the embryo has the best possible chance of developing into a baby and thence into a mature human) this procedure should not be considered equally legitimate.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Horace.
      I am not sure but is it the collection of the sperm without the actual union of husband and wife through ejaculation the problem, I can’t see why it could not be collected during intercourse as that would be the idea of pro-creation.I have never heard of it through no ejaculation. I think it is done through egg or sperm donor. I will have to look it up, it is a long time since I studied infertility.Low sperm count is often a problem.

  21. claret says:

    “I don’t think that same sex relationships which have an active sexuality are necessarily to be equated with demands that God bow to any particular tune at all.”

    This reasoning is lost on me. Even without a God element the human body is not designed
    (evolved if you prefer,) for sexually active same sex relationships. On health grounds alone it is a dangerous practice that can ( and often does,) lead to problems especially in later life.

    There are a multitude of examples of all sorts of behavior that can be paraphrased as: ‘stop God doesn’t like it,” that are unhelpful to some people. We do not yet live in a ‘free for all’ society.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Claret.
      I think we all agree with what you say, but tell that to a same sex relationship.
      What others do is their own free will as long as they do not impose their action on any one else. That is the only problem I see. They are responsible for themselves.
      Not like abortion which does ,when considered its the Law. and a baby is concerned and contraception that cause an abortion.
      Also far as artificial contraception is concerned that is their problem I don’t give it a second thought to be honest..I live my own conscience.
      I don’t like to see the Gay Marches as I think that is lowering the dignity of a person and something we have to hear about.

  22. Mike Horsnall says:

    “This reasoning is lost on me”

    Yes I’m sure it is ‘lost’ and there is a simple explaination. I am reasoning, or trying to, not from the perspective of a heterosexual Catholic man but from the point of view of the few homosexuals I encounter from time to time. These would simply wonder why their conduct was much to do with God at all, especially since they have often felt brutally treated by some church or another which they may have tried to belong to. They might also wonder about this God whose followers seem to want to foist on them a code of conduct to which they do not suscribe to nor recall being asked to sign up for. This being so because they, like you and I, are only themselves in the predicament they find themselves, living life to the best of their ability-neither saint nor especially sinner as far as they can see.

    For myself I can see why the church teaches as it does, also that ,given the adherence to current scriptural interpretation on the subject, the church MUST teach as it does. But I don’t think that interpretation entitles me to thunder on so as to assert that any given human life,( any real, breathing, living life I mean) is so conducting itself as to usurp the place of God….I do not know how others (regardless of sexual orientation) genuinely live before God and I do not know what God makes of them.

  23. St.Joseph says:

    Mike if they don,t feel guilty and obviously they don’t, but if they do then they are bound to want to make it right,especially in the Churches eyes, as then it will be given credence so all Christians will have to accept it as a natural function of the body., if they do believe in God they will not have any thoughts of doing something against Him. Does that make sense.

    • Mike Horsnall says:

      St Joseph,

      To be frank, no it doesn’t.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Mike to put it bluntly then,’keep out of our face and we will keep out of yours- don’t step on our shoes and we wont step on yours, then we wont bother each other! And leave the rest to God when Judgement day comes we will all have to answer for what ever He thinks we are doing or have done wrong.
        Otherwise it will go on and on and on, if it wont stop on the TV programmes I cant see it happen.The same with male and female when relationships are explicit to come under the heading of entertainment.We don’t want that in our face all the time.
        There ought to be tighter laws on porn , magazines etc-we have said this so many times before. We need another Mary Whitehouse .
        That is the only way peace will prevail.and decency through purity and chastity .

  24. mike Horsnall says:

    St Joseph,

    “Mike to put it bluntly then,’keep out of our face and we will keep out of yours- don’t step on our shoes and we wont step on yours, then we wont bother each other! And leave the rest to God when Judgement day comes we will all have to answer for what ever He thinks we are doing or have done wrong….”

    Blunt is always best!!! I completely agree with this, its about the only honest solution.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Mike.
      ‘its about the only honest solution
      But easier said than done.This kind of society has gradually creeping into the Church,

      Father Ted is funny- Mrs Brown is rib shaking funny, we can easily be overtaken with the idea that anything goes. Is it to make us and our children to love the Church more , the reasoning being that we are not stuffy old Catholic’s and can have a laugh at ourselves,is there a hidden message in there to lighten up,God knows I like fun, a joke and laughter,I did not want to live like my grandmother a hermit .and pride , she did not have much money but when she received a few extra she would take me to the pictures in Bray Ireland where quite a popular holiday resort for the British. And if there was kissing in the cinema or in the film she would drag me out in a loud voice, and no way would she sit on a beach, once she did in August with us wrapped up in her big black coat complaining about half dressed women. I still have the photo. Her and I read the old Missal she had every day from an early age,and I could well.
      The older I get I begin to realise that her way of life was the ‘last’ of the new beginning -the new beginning of family life ,and she used to tell me this If she saw the tele now and all the stuff around-I believe she would say ‘I’d rather be dead!’
      I realise we don’t have to see all this either, but we don’t live in Monasteries , we pay our taxes, we pay our TV licence, we work in the community and we have to fight to wear a Crucifix etc..
      Where is the free will for Christians We get verbally abused if we voice our opinions.
      So we have to stand firm and not be pushed back and be overtaken by the world.and be allowed to be so.

  25. mike Horsnall says:

    None of it matters. If I learned one thing in China it was that a church need not fear persecution…though of course as individuals we quail before it.

    • St Joseph says:

      Mike if we ‘quail’ before it, it seems to me that the word Christianity has been misrepresented-into ‘being nice to our neighbour’ instead of believing in the Word -Christ and proffessing our beliefs for Salvation as Jesus died and for

  26. Iona says:

    We don’t have to pay our TV licence. We could do without the TV.

  27. John Nolan says:

    Mike Horsnall, I used to find your comments quite lucid and pertinent, but of late they seem to have become a bit fuzzy and unfocused. Is this perhaps due to your diaconal formation? If so, I might suggest you rejoin the ranks of the laity. I can sing the Exsultet, which is probably the most difficult thing a deacon has to do, yet have never aspired to wear the dalmatic.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      John Nolan
      Ok its a deal!!
      Maybe its the concussion syndrome I got from falling off my bike a few months ago John. Also I seem to have developed an aversion to sweeping statements and pat answers, especially those involving God….Unless of course its your good self that has taken to the drink..??
      I suspect I am at that mid stage in my training where one wonders a bit about things…Strange you should raise the subject though, I was thinking only the other day that I used to find this blog full of lucid pertinence..but recently it seems rather more a hot bed of religious hobby horses!!

      • Quentin says:

        Mike, you raise an important point. I should be sorry if the blog were to lack contributions of lucid pertinence. Who bears the responsibility? It could be me, but my choice of topic does require some guesswork. I calculate that I have posted round about 250 topics over five years, – that’s about the length of two substantial books, and I still don’t know for certain which ones will raise a good discussion. But typically we get between 50 and 150 comments – which I think to be exceptionally high, given the relatively narrow focus we have got. And of course I am always happy to consider suggestions for possible topics.

        I know that there is a fair proportion of chat and hobbyhorses. But then most of us know each other (if only as contributors) quite well. It’s only to be expected. But often really constructive, and potentially mind-changing comments appear. I know they can be mind changing because they make me think, and in fact often do change or at least influence my mind. What is interesting is that, without naming any names, my heart rises when certain contributors appear. I know that I am going to read something which has been the outcome of careful thought, and a real desire to move the discussion on. So I do hope that we can have more of these.

        Meanwhile I hope that we can rejoice in a blog which enables us to discuss many important things with each other, and on which disagreement is often seen as the first step on the pathway towards truth.

  28. Iona says:

    St. Joseph – I think you only need a licence to watch live. If you watch a programme via the internet an hour or more after it was shown on TV, you don’t need a licence.

  29. St.Joseph says:

    Iona thank you, I will find out about that did not know that .When I am 75 I don’t have to have one then. My computer is an old lap top, I would have to come up to date with a computer so it would not be economical to change.
    I remember the days of Ernie and Wise The two Ronnies- etc when things were funny in comedy but now it seems to be bad language and sexual jokes etc…We can not see a good film without it being sexual content. But lately, only for the violence and murders they have improved. a little.
    Maybe things are looking up!

  30. John Candido says:

    ‘Elizabeth Anscombe, who figured in our last discussion, put her emphasis on the virtue of chastity, in the sense that the chaste person will, by reason of that personal quality, behave chastely.’

    I have always thought that simple prayer and the sacraments were the usual reply of the Church to others who have a very strong sex drive. I don’t think that these suggestions help much for those who are active in this regard, and who see the need for more control of their sex life. As someone who is approaching 56 years of age, I do recall how impossibly powerful my own sex drive was when I was younger. I don’t think that I was alone in this predicament.

    If I have any answer at all, it would be for the Roman Catholic Church to rigorously promote Christian Meditation and to have an understanding of the psychology of human emotional development, i.e. maturity. Knowledge of the natural subsidence of the sex drive as people move to middle age needs to be communicated to the youth. There is a world of difference between the power of the sex drive of younger people and older people. The youth of the Church do not necessarily know this to be the case. Of course some might guess it to be the case, and some of them might have had this information passed to them by an elder, a book, or a sex education course from some educational institution. There is also a world of difference between knowing that one’s sex drive will subside and actually experiencing this as one matures.

    In my own case, I don’t know if maturing or practising Christian Meditation done the trick for me. Both factors could have intervened simultaneously. My guess is that the practice of meditation did have a profound impact on my own sex drive at the time that I took it up seriously, way back in the early 1990s, when I was around 35 years of age. It did not happen overnight, but I got progressively stronger at self-control.

    Why did it work for me? It is a little difficult to say, but I think that stress control coupled with regular periods of passivity and calm did wonders for me. It might be something to do with a moderating of one’s own ego, generating stillness of one’s mind and body, and some unknown effect on one’s hormonal levels, such as testosterone for males. It is difficult to describe accurately, but it is something that many individuals can vouch for through their own experience of regular meditation, given sufficient time.

    I don’t believe that artificial contraception is the evil bogey that it is made out to be by the Church.

    ‘Full sexual relations before marriage, even for a seriously engaged couple, are never permissible.’ For an engaged couple I would tend to let matters be resolved by the couple themselves.

    If a divorced person were to remarry, they should be no restrictions whatsoever in receiving the Eucharist, period.

    Homosexuality will eventually be allowed by a far more informed and mature Roman Catholic Church in future. The sacrament of marriage must be available for them as a matter of justice and fairness.

  31. John Candido says:

    What! No reply! Have I hit a raw nerve here?

    • Quentin says:

      I don’t think so, John. You raised a number of thoughtful points and I am sure that readers have taken them aboard — as have I. But in my experience people seem to prefer to deal with one point at a time. And of course an internet blog is well suited to that.

      I know of your interest in meditation from your contributions in the past, and it is certainly a subject to which we shall return. But, as I am sure you will know, new studies appear on almost a weekly basis. As it happens, I am committed to lead a study group on the subject in April or May — and this could well trigger a post on what I believe to be a very important subject.

      Returning briefly to the question of merit I am tempted to suggest that Christians should never use it as a gauge. “faith hope and love abide; these three, and the greatest of these is love.” Love is not merit, it is a sharing in the divine nature.

  32. John Nolan says:

    JC, has it never occurred to you that homosexuals already have the same rights to marriage as everyone else? All the proposed legislation does is change the legal definition of marriage so that anyone can shack up with someone of the same sex and say they are married. Justice and fairness don’t really come into it.

    The Catholic Church is as likely to condone sodomy and offer the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to same-sex couples as she is to deny the Resurrection or elect Richard Dawkins as pope. Get real.

    • John Candido says:

      Fair enough John Nolan. You are entitled to your point of view. I am afraid that we will have to agree to disagree.

      • John Nolan says:

        It’s not my point of view, it’s the Church’s teaching. Would you like to explain why two millennia of doctrine be changed because it does not sit easily with your point of view which is only influenced by social trends in the last thirty years? You are indeed beyond parody.

  33. John Candido says:

    I am not trying to avoid discussion or be disdainful or dismissive of your points, by this rather short reply. It’s a different world now. The past, as they say, is a different country. I don’t know what else to say without covering old ground. Not that I will not cover ‘old ground’ in future. There is always tomorrow.

  34. Singalong says:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2360062/Could-app-REPLACE-contraceptive-pill-warn-dreaded-PMT-strike.html
    I have just seen his article and wonder if there is anything yet in a more scientific publication. It describes a way of encouraging fertility awareness which seems to have possibilities and would be of great interest in the field of artificial contraception and overpopulation.

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