Archive for the ‘Marriage Covenant’ Category

Natural Family Planning and Response to a Dissenter

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

I was theologically active at the time of Humanae Vitae.  I examined the arguments offered by the dissenting theologians.  I found them so inadequate that I wrote a book defending the received teaching and criticizing the dissenters’ arguments.  For its second edition I retitled it as “Birth Control and the Marriage Covenant.”  It was that edition that found its way into the hands of Kimberly and Scott Hahn when they were students in a Protestant seminary.  It helped persuade them of the truth of the received teaching affirmed by Humanae Vitae, and such acceptance was a step towards their entry into full communion with the Catholic Church.  An expanded version is now published as “Sex and the Marriage Covenant” by Ignatius.  In March 1971, the generally liberal journal Theological Studies published my article “Continued Dissent: Is It Responsible Loyalty?” in which I showed that the decision-making principles of arch-dissenter Fr. Charles Curran could not say NO even to spouse-swapping.  To the best of my knowledge, no one ever accused me of making a “straw-man” argument.

I suggest that you read those things before you waste lots of time and effort trying to support the dissenting position, a position that is unsupportable except in the context of situation ethics which is incompatible with Christian discipleship.

The only thing really surprising in Humanae Vitae is an amazing omission in Section 17 which deals with the consequences of the societal acceptance of unnatural forms of birth control.  In 1930 when the Anglican bishops were debating birth control, their conservatives pointed out that the acceptance of marital contraception would logically entail the acceptance of sodomy.  Not only were they correct, but today the Anglicans accept as bishops those who are openly involved in the practice of sodomy and calling it marriage.  I regret that Pope Paul VI did not include this important bit of history.

At our website you can find lots more to support Humanae Vitae and to uphold the dignity of women as mothers.  Nowhere else will you find so much support for the kind of breastfeeding that actually DOES naturally postpone the return of fertility.  We have to call it “Ecological Breastfeeding” to distinguish if from the styles of breastfeeding that have little or no effect on the return of fertility.

Future historians will record Humanae Vitae as a bright spot in Catholic history.

John Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant

Natural Family Planning: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI essay

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:  The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse

At long last Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has commented on the priestly sex abuse scandal.  Publishing this on April 10, just six days before his 91st birthday, he has a long view of what has happened in the last 60 years.  Although I have witnessed much of this period, some of the content was surprising.   This document does not have paragraph numbers, so I have added my own (1-80).

1.  The effect of the sexual revolution on the Church (7-15). I had not realized how bad sexuality instruction was in Germany in the Sixties and perhaps even earlier.  That contributed greatly to what Benedict calls the Revolution of 1968, the year of Humanae Vitae—a battle to have an “all-out sexual freedom, one which no longer conceded any norms”(12).  We can see this reflected in the Majority Report of the papal birth control commission.  They proposed a big-picture morality in which contraceptive acts had no intrinsic morality but were to take their morality from those other non-contraceptive acts including those that caused pregnancy.  St. Pope Paul VI saw that their proposal could not say NO to any imaginable sex act between two consenting partners of legal age.  He called contraceptive acts “intrinsically dishonest” (HV n. 14).

2.  Problems in moral theology (16-31). I was interested in his comments about the post-Vatican II efforts to abandon a natural-law theology and to focus on a biblical theology. I’m glad that I wasn’t aware of this battle; it might have cowed me into never articulating the covenant theology of the marriage act—“Sexual intercourse is intended by God to be, at least implicitly, a renewal of the marriage covenant.”  “Covenant” is a basic biblical theme, and this brief theological statement applies to all the sexual acts condemned as sinful in the Bible.

3.  Seminaries and canon law (32-49). I had no idea how bad the situation was in some seminaries. “In various seminaries homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries…”(33).  In the seminary I attended, the rule book instructed us not to engage in “particular friendships” if I recall the word correctly.  At the time I assumed that meant no special cliques that break up overall community.  The idea that men could be sexually attracted to other men simply did not occur to me.  After three years in the military and graduate school, I had my first real job in New York.  I replied to an “apartment to share” ad.  After a few other questions, the two guys asked me if I was gay.  I told them that I supposed I liked a good party as well as the next guy.  I did not receive an invitation to move in with them.

4.  Meaning (50-61). I very much appreciated Benedict’s emphasis on the need for meaning.  The covenant theology of the marriage act is an effort to describe the meaning that God has built into the human sexual act.  With the biblical condemnation of all non-marital sexual acts, God makes it clear that the human sexual act is meant to be exclusively a marriage act.  And God’s Church has clarified that within marriage, the sexual act ought to be a true marriage act, for better and for worse including the imagined worse of possible pregnancy.

5.  The Holy Eucharist (62-66). It may seem strange that in a document dealing with sexual abuse Benedict has five paragraphs on the Holy Eucharist.  Perhaps this struck me because my first article was titled “Holy Communion: Eucharistic and Marital.”  Here I proposed a five-fold analogy between the worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist and the worthy marriage act.  It was published 17 months before Humanae Vitae.  (See http://nfpandmore.org/Holy%20Communion%20-%20Eucharistic%20and%20Marital.pdf ).  This is also Chapter 4 in Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality.

The Church (67-80).  In one sense, I can understand why the priestly sexual abuse of children and young men has led some people to lose their faith in the Church.  I have a 100% different take on the matter.  To me the Scandal shows what happens when priests do not accept the teaching of the Church about sexual morality.  The fundamental idea that is behind the acceptance of marital contraception is that modern men and women can take apart what God has put together in the marriage act—making love and making  babies.  Once you accept the idea that you can take apart what God has put together in the order of love, marriage, and sexuality, there is no logical stopping point short of the practical—messing with minors is against the law.

We have  been convinced from the time we started our NFP apostolate in 1971 that it is important to explain the Church’s teaching without being bashful about our Catholicity.  In recent years we have become even more clear.  That’s why we let our clients/students read and hear the threefold promise of Jesus at the Last Supper to send the Holy Spirit to lead the Apostles and their successors into the fullness of the truth.  The question is really this:  Do we believe the promises of Jesus?  Every person taking an NFP course under any sort of Catholic auspices ought to know these promises.

I recommend reading the commentary by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.  If you have read other papal documents, you may be pleased with this: it is actually easy to read.

The good news.  Putting these things on the table for all to see is a positive step towards remedying the situation and authentic renewal within the Church, ourselves, and our culture.

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality (Ignatius)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four reasons to pray for our bishops this week

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

First, see 1 Cor 12:26 about hurting.  I maintain that when 95% of Catholics, to say nothing about other baptized persons, are hurting by reason of their sinful contraceptive lives, then 100%  of the body is really hurting because so many are not pulling their weight in the work of building up the Body of Christ.  That sinfulness makes it more difficult for priests, as well as everybody else, to be chaste.

Second, the bishops have not yet repudiated as horribly wrong what they or their predecessors wrote in their 1968 response to Humanae Vitae, namely their “Human Life in Our Day.”  It contains a section titled “Norms of Licit Theological Dissent.”  Obviously, if there can be dissent against the centuries of teaching against marital contraception, there can be dissent against the centuries of teaching against sodomy.  The acceptance of marital contraception is the acceptance of the idea that we modern men and women can take apart what God has put together in the marriage act and, by logical extension, everything else in the area of love, marriage and sexuality.  There is no such thing as licit dissent from Humanae Vitae or the teaching regarding sodomy.

Third, the bishops have failed to emphasize that God has built into the human sexual act its intrinsic meaning.  Humanae Vitae teaches that the contracepted marriage act is “intrinsically dishonest.”  That means there must be a marriage act that is intrinsically honest.  JPII introduced to Papal teaching the idea of the marriage act as a renewal of the marriage covenant.  I submit that this meaning can be summarized this way: “The human sexual act is intended by God to be, at least implicitly, a renewal of the marriage covenant, for better and for worse including the imagined worse of possible pregnancy.”  First, only a marriage act.  Second a renewal of the marriage covenant.

Fourth, we don’t need more abject apologies that stop there.  We need our bishops to reaffirm confidently and firmly that the priestly sex abuse Scandal clearly points up what happens when priests do not accept and live by what the Church teaches.  The disaster of the whole sexual revolution including the current huge out-of-wedlock pregnancy rate shows what happens when fertile-age people do not accept the biblical norm that the human sexual act ought to be exclusively a marriage act. 
 
“What God has put together let no one take apart.” It applies with equal force to the marriage act and to marriage itself. 

Pray for our bishops as they meet this week.

John F. Kippley