In an interview over an evening program on Interaksyon radio, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz wondered whether Pres. Aquino understood the meaning of responsible parenthood. He said one can’t endorse the Reproductive Health Bill and talk of responsible parenthood at the same time because responsible parenthood is the term used by the Catholic Church to denote family planning through natural methods and not through condoms and pills. Unfortunately, Cruz’s interlocutors did not ask him if coitus interuptus was natural or artificial.
Be that as it may, Cruz pointed out that the Catholic Church is not against family planning. He said that, like advocates of the RH Bill, the Catholic Church also believes couples should not have more children than they can afford to feed and raise properly. Now if everyone agrees that family planning is the responsible thing for married couples to do then why does the Catholic Church oppose contraceptive methods that are more effective than the rhythm method?
Lyndon B. Johnson who dominated the US Congress for decades said the secret to his success was “If you’ve got ‘em by the balls, their heart and mind will follow.” That is the same axiom that the Catholic Church has followed since time immemorial. If there is any area that the Catholic Church will never cede control over, it is the genital area.
The Catholic Church allows mass murder in the guise of just wars. It condoned torture during the Inquisition. It will tolerate a lot of intolerable things including accepting donations from vice lords to cheating in elections as was so ably demonstrated by Archbishop Arguelles of Lipa when he justified Gloria Arroyo’s cheating in 2004. But it will never give up its “moral standing” over sexual behavior. It will never let go of your balls.
Catholics believe their church is the appointed representative of the Supreme Being who holds the keys to perpetual happiness and damnation, that it is deputized to exercise sole power over the enactment, enforcement, prosecution, judgment, and execution of His laws, and that it is the only one with a direct line to Him (that’s what that infallibility thing is all about).
In that context, the Catholic Church teaches, among other things, that the sole purpose of marital sex is procreation. Marital sex not intended for procreation is sinful. In addition, it sees the pleasure that comes with the act of procreation as an unfortunate side-effect and not even as a reward for doing God’s work, which is to fill the world with people who will adore Him. Procreation not recreation is the Church’s dictum on marital sex. Thus marital sex becomes a guilty pleasure, loosely defined as “something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it.”
Anybody who has ever felt guilt knows how vulnerable and malleable it can make a person. That’s why the ability to make somebody feel guilty and to make him believe as well that one has the power to lift guilt off his shoulders is one of the most powerful tools of control. That’s what makes the clergy so powerful. We have nowhere else to go when we feel guilty over having done something we were led to believe offends God.
If the Catholic Church relents on artificial birth control then it will be letting go of its ability to pollute the fountain of our pleasures with feelings of guilt. That would be like the US giving up its nuclear weapons arsenal. Married couples will be able to enjoy sex without feeling guilty for having sex without any intention of having babies.
The conjugal bed will be transformed from a mere baby factory to a nest of marital bliss. What is so evil about that? Or better yet, did God intend the sacrament of marriage to be fraught with fear and worry over unwanted pregnancies? Wouldn’t He be more pleased that we used the intelligence He gave us to invent contraceptives that are more efficient than calendars that time the menstrual cycles of women? Unfortunately, we will never know the answer to those questions because God talks only to the Catholic Church when it comes to matters pertaining to sex, at least that’s what the clergy tells us.
“It’s too bad, she’s got you by the balls
You can’t break loose at all
She’s got your name
She’s got your number
You’re screamin’ like thunder
And you’re trapped like a rat in a hole.”
- from “Short and Curlies” by the Rolling Stones
Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph).