Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pope and the AIDS-condom controversy

Time to review obsolete laws on sexuality

The Pope Benedict XVI's comments that use of condoms can be justified to prevent the spread of HIV caught everyone by surprise. It may be a controversial one that has created a lot of confusion among Catholics worldwide. However it is hoped it would at the same time provoke debate on the age-old fundamental teaching of the Catholic Church on sex and contraception which needs review to keep up with the trends of modern society. The Pope’s comments may signal what seems to be a major shift in the basic teaching on sexuality that in badly needed.

While some bishops are seeking clarification from the Vatican on the Pope’s comments which was widely reported in the secular media, many church officials worldwide have as expected been conspicuously silent, which is indeed regrettable. It is time for all especially those in the church hierarchy to voice out on this important issue which must be put to rest once and for all.

While many agree with the Pope’s argument that that the use of condom may not put an end to AIDs but condom use is a definitely proven means to reduce the spread of the deadly disease which is unfortunately more prevalent in the very poor countries. Allowing these HIV-infected people of a satisfying sex life with their spouses is undoubtedly a humane consideration especially during the final days of their lives. Most devotedly married couples will agree that there is no other more intimate way of showing their love for their partners other than the sexual intimacy.

The subject of love and sex brings us to the next important issue of birth control. The Church is against all forms of birth control other than natural methods related to a woman’s menstrual cycle as it contends that sex is solely for procreation. It is unfair to expect the poor and illiterate people to understand these physiological processes of reproduction which even many educated people find it difficult to comprehend fully to make it a fool-proof method of contraception.The high population and extreme poverty in many underdeveloped countries bear testimony to the failure of natural contraception.

The time has come for the Church to seriously weigh the unfavorable effects of overpopulation. Wouldn’t it be better to have a smaller population of healthy, literate and free people rather than a large population that is illiterate, sickly, impoverished and enslaved by the rich and powerful? Isn’t the former scenario the ideals and dreams of every good government and the great and wise men and women who tried to change mankind?

Natural birth control methods that are sanctioned by the Church, like the artificial ones banned by it, are to prevent conception. How can the latter which are more effective be considered morally wrong when the motives of both natural and artificial methods are the same, to prevent conception and procreation.

Moreover to my mind the contention that sex is solely for reproduction is not acceptable. It may be true in animals but definitely sex is far more than merely for procreation in humans. It is an extreme form of expression of love between a man and a woman who are united in matrimony by God himself. It is the most important physical ingredient of this sacrament of the church, whose sanctity is on the decline of late.

The purpose of sex in humans should be two-fold; procreation and enhancement of the love between a husband and wife who are bound by God and they should not be dictated on how to express that intimate love for one another. Both procreation and love are intimately twined and no attempts must be made to separate them. The high rate of divorce and family break-up today is directly or indirectly related to this breakdown of the dual purpose of sex. Children are the product of that love which binds the couple to become loving parents to their children.

Sexual activities between a husband and wife are highly private and it must be left to them as responsible adults to decide on the nature of such activities based on the moral principles of sex as a guide. The Church should instruct and enlighten them on the moral aspects of sex and not get unduly obsessed with what they do as they are responsible to God for whatever they do.

The Church has far more pressing issues to deal with rather than being obsessed with sex and condom. Marriages and families are breaking down, adultery is becoming rampant, unwanted pregnancies and abortions are on the rise and moral values are deteriorating due to the loss of real love between husbands and wives as God is no more in their lives. Marriage that used to be so sacred is losing its sanctity and divorce is becoming the norm of the day.

The alarming rate of these immoral trends even among Catholics who are brought up with strict ‘sex ethics’ may be an indication of the Church’s irrelevance in their lives, particularly in sexuality. Instead of wasting its time and energy on issues of condom and the likes, the Church hierarchy should become more realistically involved to address the many moral issues confronting their congregation in particular and the mankind in general.

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