Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Domestic Church: Are large families harmful to the environment?


From the outset, I'd like to state that care of the environment is a Christian responsibility. We all must be good stewards of God's creation, and concerted efforts must be made to ensure creation is passed on to future generations in the same or better state in which is was passed to us. Living in moderation, and avoiding conspicuous consumption, are not only good for the environment, they are integral parts of seeking holiness and detachment from worldly things.

That said, the biggest issue with many "environmentalists" today is that they have turned advocacy for the care of the environment into a secular religion. A hallmark of this movement is placing a greater importance on the environment, or animals, than on the welfare of human beings. This type of "extreme" way of looking at care for the environment isn't so extreme anymore. It is slowly making its way into mainstream thought, and large families are at the forefront of those who have been, and will increasingly be, bearing the criticism and disdain of society.

For instance, let us consider the following article, entitled "Meet the Woman Who Won't Have Babies -- Because They're Not Eco-Friendly", and its main subject, Toni Vernelli. Toni believes the most environmentally responsible thing we can all do is to have no children. She has been sterilized to prevent herself from ever becoming pregnant, and very sadly had an abortion when she became pregnant prior to her sterilization, all because of her strong beliefs about the environment. Some quotes from her:
"Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet," says Toni, 35.

"Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."

"We both passionately wanted to save the planet - not produce a new life which would only add to the problem."

"I didn't like having a termination, but it would have been immoral to give birth to a child that I felt strongly would only be a burden to the world.

"Every year, we also take a nice holiday - we've just come back from South Africa. We feel we can have one long-haul flight a year, as we are vegan and childless, thereby greatly reducing our carbon footprint and combating over-population."
More about the supposed problem of overpopulation in a second. The article goes on to interview Sarah Irving and Mark Hudson, the latter of which got a vasectomy to ensure they never had a child due to environmental concerns. Some quotes from them:
"I realized then that a baby would pollute the planet - and that never having a child was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do."

"I'd never dream of preaching to others about having a family. It's a very personal choice. What I do like to do is make people aware of the facts. When I see a mother with a large family, I don't resent her, but I do hope she's thought through the implications."

Mark adds: "Sarah and I live as green a life a possible. We don't have a car, cycle everywhere instead, and we never fly. We recycle, use low-energy light bulbs and eat only organic, locally produced food. In short, we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint. But all this would be undone if we had a child. That's why I had a vasectomy. It would be morally wrong for me to add to climate change and the destruction of Earth."

"Sarah and I don't need children to feel complete. What makes us happy is knowing that we are doing our bit to save our precious planet."
However disturbing, this type of fanatical viewpoint isn't going away. Half-way around the world, in Australia, we also have Dr. Barry Walters alarmingly telling the Australian public that a baby tax is needed to save the planet.
Writing in today's Medical Journal of Australia, Associate Professor Barry Walters said every couple with more than two children should be taxed to pay for enough trees to offset the carbon emissions generated over each child's lifetime.

Professor Walters, clinical associate professor of obstetric medicine at the University of Western Australia and the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth, called for condoms and "greenhouse-friendly" services such as sterilisation procedures to earn carbon credits.

"Every newborn baby in Australia represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions for an average of 80 years, not simply by breathing but by the profligate consumption of resources typical of our society," he wrote.

"Far from showering financial booty on new mothers and rewarding greenhouse-unfriendly behaviour, a 'baby levy' in the form of a carbon tax should apply, in line with the 'polluter pays' principle."
Dr. Walters is proposing a tax of $5,000 per child for every child more than 2 in a family.

Instead of worrying about whether "breathing" human beings will tank the planet with their "carbon footprints", officials should be finding ways to convert technologies to clean energy (as many are), which offers a far greater potential to reduce carbon emissions than having less children. But this isn't really about carbon emissions. Couched behind all this is the notion that the world is overpopulated and that we won't have enough room to hold us all on this planet, nor enough resources to feed ourselves or run our societies.

Far from the certainty which pervades every claim of overpopulation, the "population bomb" has been debunked as a myth. This article, by Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), gives an inside look at the UN agency that perpetuates this myth (the UNFPA), and the other UN agency (the Population Division) that shockingly refutes them. Money quotes:
UNFPA, which is in charge of U.N. programs for population control, asserts that as a result of uncontrolled population growth, billions of people are poor and hungry. They also fully expect just about every animal species to be skinned, gobbled, or stuffed into extinction by the great hordes of humanity.

The problem with the UNFPA report, however, is that it is flatly contradicted by a more credible U.N. source — the Population Division, the official U.N. number crunchers. The differences between the two reports were so stark and so embarrassing that Population Division chief Joseph Chamie announced that UNFPA's report amounted to little more than propaganda. "The relationship between population and the environment is very complex," he said. "UNFPA is a fund; they have an agenda."

UNFPA claims that population growth has led to intractable poverty, and that "poverty persists and, in many parts of the world, deepens." The Population Division disagrees. "From 1900 to 2000, world population grew from 1.6 billion persons to 6.1 billion. However, while the world population increased close to 4 times, world real gross domestic output increased 20 to 40 times, allowing the world to not only sustain a four-fold population increase, but also to do so at vastly higher standards of living." The Population Division adds that "…even many low-income countries have achieved substantial improvements in the quality and length of life."

According to UNFPA, "In many countries population growth has raced ahead of food production," and as a result "some 800 million people are chronically malnourished and 2 billion people lack food security." The Population Division, by contrast, contends that "Over the period 1961-1998 world per capita food available for human consumption increased by 24 per cent, and there is enough being produced for everyone on the planet to be adequately nourished."

...the Population Division began a drumbeat in 1997 to the effect that, far from facing a population explosion, the world risks a population implosion, and a demographic shift with truly catastrophic consequences. Indeed, in the past three years the Population Division has hosted two expert group meetings at U.N. headquarters where demographic experts from all over the world have agreed that the current downward fertility trajectory will bring about population decline, intergenerational financial warfare, and a pension and health system meltdown. They concluded that, without massive immigration, the developed world faces a future of economic crisis.

UNFPA is looking to use the threats of environmental degradation, poverty, sickness, etc., to advance the spread of its favorite things: contraception, sterilization, and abortion. UNFPA's tired argument is that people are the problem, and so the fewer of them, the better. UNFPA is therefore ideologically unprepared to recognize the gravity of the real population problem — fertility decline in the developed world — let alone to address it.
The developed world, including the U.S. and especially Europe, Russia, and Japan, are heading into a population crisis in the next 50 years... a crisis of not enough children. Populations in much of Europe will begin falling within the next two decades, and by mid-century the economic consequences will be disastrous without mass immigration (which would mostly be accomplished by muslim populations). The U.S., Europe, Russia, Japan, and others desperately need more children. Vladimir Putin has started offering cash payments for couples to have a child, and even days off from work to try to conceive a child (!). Consider this from the wonderful John Stossel of ABC's 20/20 (the "give me a break" guy), who included the overpopulation myth in his top 10 "Media-Fed Myths" (you can almost hear his distinctive voice reading this):
We've heard protests about this for decades: News articles warn of "the population bomb," and "a tidal wave of humanity," and plead: No more babies.

The world population today is more than 6 billion. It seems like so many people. But who says it's "too many?"

There are lots of problems all over the world caused by too many people

But there's no space problem. Our planet is huge. In fact we could take the entire world population and move everyone to the state of Texas, and the population density there would still be less than that of New York City.

But, you might wonder, won't we run out of resources, like food?

Paul Ehrlich wrote the book "Population Bomb," and warned 65 million Americans would starve in a "Great Die Off" in the 1980s. The 1973 movie "Soylent Green" predicted food riots would erupt in the year 2022 but it doesn't look like that will happen.

According to media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner, population growth is "a time bomb waiting to happen." If it continues, at the current rate, according to Turner, "Eventually you stand around in a desert with nothing to eat." But that too is a myth. We see the pictures of starving masses in populous places, but the starvation is caused by things like civil war and government corruption that interfere with the distribution of food.

With more people, we also have more smart ideas. Every year we learn how to grow more food on less land. Thanks to improved technology, the United Nations now says the world overproduces food.

About 15,000 babies are born every hour. But they are not a burden, they offer more brains that might cure cancer, more hands to build things, more voices to bring us beautiful music.
I could not possibly have said it better. Even developing countries need lots of children, to innovate and solve problems like hunger and lack of medical care. As John Stossel noted, a far greater cause of these tragedies in developing countries is civil war and corruption, preventing abundant aid from being used wisely and economies from getting on their feet, not a supposed problem of too many people. Children are our greatest resource and our greatest blessing. The notion that the world is overpopulated, or that the world's "carbon crisis" will be solved by eliminating human beings is not only irresponsible, it's root lies in evil itself.

So, all large families out there, and all those considering them, to quote our Heavenly Father in the book of Genesis: "Be fruitful and multiply"! Know that you are doing the world a great service in welcoming children from the Lord with generous hearts, even if the world doesn't realize it.


Anonymous said...

It's so difficult responding to people with that type of view (children tax the environment) because the fact that the Lord is the giver of life is so foreign to them. However, The Lord IS the giver of life, and He must know what he's doing as He populates the earth! (What verse was it again, that says for future generations to moderate their childbearing in response to the aging and exhausted world?)

Randall Floyd said...

100 years ago the farming community was the at the core of our nation, and without the technological advances we have today, there was a need for large families to keep the family farm running. Today, we do not have those same needs for such large families, so I think the line of 'everything in moderation' is a bit more appropriate. It does seem a bit extreme to sterilize yourself, but there is nothing wrong with recognizing that the human population has had an adverse effect on our planet, and for some people, not having as many children and opting for birth control is a viable and smart option.

Brendan Koop said...


Thanks for your comment. If by "birth control" you mean the methods of natural family planning, then yes if necessary it can be morally licit for a state to provide information to its populace regarding NFP in order to reduce population growth (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2372). However, this can never be forced on spouses, who have the primary responsibility for procreation and the education of their children.

Spouses themselves can certainly prayerfully decide to postpone pregnancy (temporarily or indefinitely) using NFP for serious reasons (such as the well-being of their family). But, just speaking personally here, worrying about overpopulation (especially in a developed country like the US, which has a looming low fertility crisis in the future) would get zero consideration my book in deciding to avoid pregnancy with NFP. One must always be open to life in a marital relationship, and though spouses may use NFP to postpone or avoid pregnancy, they must never have a mindset that they will not accept children from the Lord. Using "overpopulation" as a reason to avoid pregnancy in a developed country (where overpopulation is manifestly not a problem) would call into question whether the couples' motives are really in regard to overpopulation or perhaps are oriented toward a non-openness to life for more selfish reasons.

If you are referring to "birth control" as artificial contraception or sterilization, then this is never morally licit and contravenes the life giving love between husband and wife (see the Catechism, 2370). Indeed, the Church rightly refers to these methods as "intrinsically evil."

Keep in mind, having a large family really has nothing to do with utilitarian reasons (such as necessity of extra help). It has to do with openness to life and the children the Lord wills for us to have. This is an exercise in generosity and personal sacrifice. This does not mean everyone needs to have a large family. But being open to life and prayerfully discerning God's will (not our own) for the size of one's family are necessities for any Christian.

God bless,


Brendan Koop said...

Just as a follow-up to my previous comment, one should also carefully delve into the areas where the human population has had an "adverse effect on our planet" and really determine if that has to do with a problem of too many people, or whether it has to do with how people live and run our societies. I've seen much more evidence for the latter being the cause, in both developed and undeveloped countries, than the former. Any claim that the source of adverse effects on the environment is too many people should be seriously investigated, including the motives of the organization making the claim and whether the group has connections to abortion and other idealogical biases.

Anonymous said...

Can you explain 1 Corinthians 7:4-5 which states explicitly not to deprive yourselves except by mutual consent SO THAT you may devote yourselves to prayer (NOT so that you can avoid conception) in light of NFP? Also, can you also give an explanation as to how actively practicing NFP (which is very effective - more so than birth control pills, if done correctly)and therefore consciously thinking about how if you "engage" now you will likely conceive, so you'd better not, is different than being on the pill and thinking the same thing, basically? Isn't your intention the same and therefore your attitude? Now, I will say that I believe typically people who use NFP are more open to the idea of children than those who go on the pill, but still, the basic human attitude of not really fully trusting God is there.
I realize that this has little to do with the original topic, but just curious as to your thoughts.

Randall Floyd said...

I agree with annonymous on this, and to take it a step further, I have a very difficult time with the idea that artificial contraception is "intrinsically evil."
Yes, we need to be open to God's will and respect the creation of life, but God created us with a consciousness and the ability to make choices, one of these choices is procreation. There is nothing evil about making this choice either way in God's eyes. If there was He would have clearly explained this to us in the Bible. I don’t see an '11th Commandment' forbidding man and wife to choose when to have a child... Sure, the Catholic Church says it is "intrinsically evil," but they also say its wrong to eat meat on Fridays during lent. Is this"intrinsically evil"? No, like most of the invented 'evils' in Catholicism its purely economical. In the mid 1800's the fishermans guild in Italy was struggling to compete with a strong beef and poultry market. They pulled some strings with the Pope and got the church to declare it unholy or 'evil' to eat meat on Fridays, claiming that Christians need to make more sacrifices…of course the fishing industry boomed and all was well again. I am not sure the history on contraceptives becoming evil, but its fairly easy to figure out- the Catholic Church has been declining in membership for decades now, and how better to keep those numbers up than to keep good Catholics reproducing? Brendan you are very quick to attack the motives and biases of environmental organizations and are quick to dis-credit them, and I am sure any other organization that comes into conflict with 'the church'. I just wish more Catholics would take this same stance with their own organization and its 'idealogical biases'. It started right from the beginning with indulgences and has continued ever since.

Brendan Koop said...


Thank you for your very good questions and thoughtful way of expressing them. I don't pretend to be an expert on the verses you cited, but only can offer some thoughts off of the top of my head. For instance, Paul here is talking about the importance of each spouse giving of themselves freely, and does not address contraception. So it wouldn't logically be correct to read the verse as promoting periodic abstinence exclusively for purposes of prayer. Rather, taking time away from one another for prayer is one laudable goal and reason for a period of abstinence (i.e. Paul is giving an example here, "perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer." (my emphasis).

The more fundamental issue relates to your second question, which boils down to "how is NFP different than artificial contraception?" This is probably the single most common question in regard to NFP, so you are not alone. First and foremost, even when employing knowledge of the natural cycle of the woman to postpone pregnancy, the couple are to remain open to life. That is to say, at no time is it morally licit to close one's mind off to the acceptance of a child. NFP, properly practiced, is a simple use of God's design for the female body to implement a prayerfully discerned desire to postpone pregnancy on the part of the spouses, with an acknowledgment that if God has other ideas that they will conform their wills to His. There is no prohibition on using simple knowledge of how the female body works to decide when and when not to have marital relations. To be otherwise would be irrational, implying that we must intentionally ignore the female cycle, or impose some sort of guaranteed randomness to marital relations to ensure we at no time use knowledge of the female cycle to decide not to have relations. This is different than artificial contraception, which not only disregards the natural design of the female (or male) body, but expressly and overtly contravenes it by chemical or mechanical alteration. Such an act is an explicit statement that a child is not welcome. Additionally, it fundamentally contravenes the purpose of human sexuality, which is primarily procreation (obviously, from natural law). The spouses are saying to themselves that they want to interact sexually, strictly for that purpose. The spouses are in essence saying to each other that they are willing give themselves to each other, but not their fertility, which is the whole purpose of sexual relations.

Think of it another way. A couple is planning their wedding and they can only afford to invite a certain number of guests. Out of prudence, they decide not to invite a certain person simply as a matter of not over-spending on their reception. So they don't send that person an invitation. This is not offenseive or rude, but a legitimate response to a legitimate concern. Now, suppose that person still shows up at their wedding and reception. The couples' response will likely be one of surprise, and maybe some misunderstanding, but they accommodate the person.

What if instead, the couple not only decides they cannot afford for the person to attend their wedding and reception, but they also feel it necessary to send a specific "dis-invitation" telling that person that they are specifically NOT invited. This is far more rude and offensive than simply not sending that person an invitation. And what will happen now if that person still decides to show up? Anger, bad feelings, and a harmed relationship ensure.

Artificial contraception is in essence sending a "disinvitation" to God. It's saying, "we know how you designed our bodies and sexual intercourse, but we're not willing to accept that design, and we're certainly not willing to accept a child. We're going to do things our way, against your natural order." This is in contrast to the couple who simply says to the Lord, for instance, "we cannot afford another child right now, so we will abstain from sexual relations during God's naturally designed time of fertility in the woman's cycle. In the end, we acknowledge God's design of the human body, and his purpose for sexual relations, and let God's will be done." One mindset is inherently sinful, while the other is not.


It does seem as though you have some misperceptions of the Catholic faith that I hope you consider taking the time to do research on the background of any particular Catholic teaching you are interested in. For instance, your explanation of abstinence from meat on Fridays and most definitely your claim that the "Catholic Church has been declining in membership for decades" are at odds with the facts. The number of Catholics around the world has never been at a higher number than it is now (over 1.1 Billion, the largest organized body of any world religion, and an increase of 45% since 1978) and it is growing on a yearly basis. And abstinence from meat on Fridays can be traced in the Church all the way back to early Church councils and the early Church fathers. Not everything can be explained by and reduced to strictly "utilitarian" motives (i.e. as another example, large families prior to the 20th century had nothing to do with the needs of farming, and everything to do with the fact that spouses did not contracept).

More importantly, you are confusing Church teaching on matters of discipline (abstinence from meat on Fridays during Lent), which can change according to the determination of the Church (and is not "intrinsically evil" but rather a good that we give up as a sacrifice), with Church teaching on matters of faith and morals (doctrine or dogma) which does not change. Church teaching on the immorality of artificial contraception has never changed throughout history, and the Catholic Church stands alone as a Christian body in holding firm in this regard (which the correctness of it's position is only now becoming apparent). The immorality of artificial contraception need not be explicitly stated in the Bible to be immoral, for the Bible was never meant to be a handbook on every unknown future technology the human race can come up with (or come up with ways to use immorally). That is why Christ established the Catholic Church to be His visible Body on Earth, and is why He gave the guidance of the Holy Spirit specifically to the Church to protect the truth and pass it on throughout the ages. This includes matters of teaching in faith and morals. It's a widely held misrepresentation that in order for some individual teaching to be true it must be specifically elucidated in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

I still believe that a person can have just as strong of a desire NOT to have children when using NFP as when using other forms of contraception. I just cannot separate the two attitudes in my mind as one being overtly immoral. It is still an issue of lack of faith. And understandably so. We are by nature inherently sinful after all.
Also, in regard to your follow-up comment to Randall, I have to add that while I happen to agree with your stance, Brendan, I cannot help but wonder what people are going to respond to better...someone telling them that contraception is immoral or someone encouraging them to be led by the Holy Spirit in the matter of children, how many, when. Then you are leaving the matter as a heart issue between that individual and God rather than coming at it from the "Levitical Law" angle of "thou shalt not" when no, we cannot point to a verse. This approach strives to change a persons actions only, sometimes with much guilt or shame involved, while the first approach invites change from the inside out and a deeper knowing of the character of God, and the best part is that the person gets to discover it on their own. Kind of like getting to unwrap a beautiful present picked out just for you versus someone telling you what is in the package a few days in advance.
Just some thoughts. Hope they're coherent.

Brendan Koop said...


You are definitely correct on everything you said. First and foremost, it definitely is possible even for those who are practicing NFP to have a sinful mindset of not being accepting of children. One can use NFP while having a mindset that any child is unwelcome under any circumstances. The difference, however, between this sinful mindset and that of contraception is that it is only the mindset that is sinful. In terms of artificial contraception, both the act itself (contraception) is intrinsically evil and is therefore a grave matter (because it contravenes natural law and God's design and purpose for sexual relations) AND involves a sinful mindset of being closed to life.

What I have found (both in Molly and myself and in speaking to others) is that that simple practice of NFP orients one towards an openness of life. It fosters wonderful communication between husband and wife (helping the marriage), involves self-control and personal sacrifice (helping growth in holiness), and in the end orients the husband and wife toward a careful and prayerful consideration of the sanctity of life and being open to God's will for the number of children in their family.

In terms of catechesis on the issue of contraception, it is always best to teach why the Church teaches the way it does and why it is beneficial for all people. That approach in turn does involve a person being open to hear that message and being willing to consider honestly the position of the Church with an open mind. In terms of my response to Randall, I was merely responding to the points that were raised and correcting certain misrepresentations. I wish I had more time in the day to type out every response with an exhaustive treatment of every issue.

Randall Floyd said...

Anonymous, thank you for your comments, you have such an eloquent way of expressing your thoughts, and it makes me proud to call myself a Christian when I read comments like yours. Brendan, I would take to heart the comments made by anonymous. Your responses really have a judgmental tone to them. You state “I wish I had more time in the day to type out every response with an exhaustive treatment of every issue.” Yet you have paragraphs of rhetoric that sound like the church could tell you the sky was purple and you would correct all those who thought it might not be. I will not argue contraceptives when up against ‘Catholic doctrine’ because obviously your mind has been closed on this.
I HAVE actually researched the facts though, and yes, ‘The number of Catholics around the world has never been higher’, but this is only true because the world population also is growing. The overall percentage has decreased, and Islam is by FAR the largest religion in the world.
The Bible IS the one and only TRUE word, and unfortunately Catholicism has moved further away from the gospel and more into their own doctrine.

Christ did NOT establish Catholicism!!!!! Christianity was banned after Christ ascended, and the church was not established until 300 years later when Roman Emperor Constantine “legalized” Christianity. The origin of the Catholic Church is the tragic compromise of Christianity with the pagan religions that surrounded it. Instead of proclaiming the Gospel and converting the pagans, the Catholic Church “Christianized” the pagan religions, and “paganized” Christianity. By blurring the differences and erasing the distinctions the Catholic Church made itself attractive to the people of the Roman empire. One result was the Catholic Church becoming the supreme religion in the “Roman world” for centuries. Constantine, and his successors, gave their support to the bishop of Rome as the supreme ruler of the church. Of course it is best for the unity of the Roman empire that the government and state religion be centered in the same location. While most other bishops (and Christians) resisted the idea of the Roman bishop being supreme, the Roman bishop eventually rose to supremacy, due to the power and influence of the Roman emperors. When the Roman empire collapsed, the popes took on the title that had previously belonged to the Roman emperors – Pontificus Maximus. The Catholic Church excuses and denies its pagan origin beneath the mask of “church tradition.” Recognizing that many of its beliefs and practices are utterly foreign to Scripture, the Catholic Church is forced to deny the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

Randall Floyd said...

One last comment- My 'facts' don't come from Catholic Websites...yes they are more credible than wikipedia, but...

Brendan Koop said...


To be honest, based on your tone I didn't recognize that you were a Christian. You might consider your tone before attempting to point out any deficiencies in others'. You may be "reading into" a supposed "judgemental" tone on my part only because I have disagreed with you and am willing to provide evidence to refute some of your claims. You seem to have some significant biases against the Catholic Church which have colored your reading of history (which is very much against the actual facts). It does not sound like you are open to discussion on the matter, so I will refrain from providing a response to the inaccurate picture of history you gave (and it's always better to cite sources). Even though fruitful discussion may not occur now, I honestly hope you continue to read and interact with our blog, you are more than welcome any time. May God bless you in your walk with Christ.

Ex Umbris in Veritatem,


Anonymous said...

I do agree with you that NFP does seem to foster a more open-mindedness regarding children - I would just stress that, bottom line, I believe that just like a follower of Christ would seek the will of God on vocation, on marriage, on a move, so should we also seek the will of God at all times in regards to children - ALL of us, even those following NFP and thinking maybe, that it is a "holier" approach and maybe even "the lesser of two evils" and leaves it at that. Always seek the will of God, don't just fall into routine practices. (These are general comments, not aimed at you personally, Brendan)

I do have one specific response to your last words:
"it is always best to teach why the church teaches it the way it does"
you said. However, wouldn't an even better approach be this: "it is always best to constantly be testing and measuring with Scripture why the church teaches it the way that it does? I do have to say that I believe that the holy catholic (universal) church needs to guard against corruption in this way whether from the Holy Catholic Church, or other branches of the body. Church doctrine should not be glorified to Biblical Doctrine unless it actually is, and I believe, should not be taught as such.
To Randall: Be careful, corruption can be found everywhere! All have sinned, and sadly, it shows up everywhere, even in churches. I think about Jesus' prayer in the garden when he prayed for all believers, that we would be one as He and God were one, and I know we fall way short of the mark. I also know that this is a tall order in these days, if we want to hold on to TRUTH sometimes division is necessary. However, the body needs to be built up whenever possible, wherever we can do it, not torn apart.

Brendan Koop said...


"I believe that just like a follower of Christ would seek the will of God on vocation, on marriage, on a move, so should we also seek the will of God at all times in regards to children - ALL of us, even those following NFP"

I agree with you. One can use NFP in a sinful manner, and it cannot be approached as a "different form of contraception." As Pope John Paul II said (and Paul VI before him) there must be serious reasons to employ NFP. On the other hand, there is also a phenomena in some Catholic circles to inflate "serious reasons" to such a level that NFP can almost never be used, and that is a false extreme as well.

In regard to doctrine, protection of the Truth throughout the ages requires the "three-legged stool", with one leg being Sacred Scripture, another Sacred Tradition, and the last the Magisterium (teaching authority of the Church). All are interdependent on each other and necessary. Though, all are different means to transmit the Truth, lose one of them and the rest fall. It seems that you are expressing this reality in your comments as well.

Thanks for your comments!

Paul said...

If you really want to short-circuit your internal biology (or that of your beloved wife) with huge doses of cow hormones, go ahead, be my guest. But don't blame me when you get cancer, can't later have a child when it's "convenient" for you, and all the male fish die because there's more estrogen in our water than at a filming of "Oprah." I'm sorry that folks don't understand. I'm glad that others, such as the Koops and JPII, have more patience and time to explain it all than I do. But I will say one thing -- the revolution begins when the folks in the original post stop being just crackpot jerks in supermarkets and start being the folks in charge of the government.

Paul said...

One more thing, re: "it is always best to constantly be testing and measuring with Scripture why the church teaches it the way that it does?"

Uhm, no, not at all. From an academic standpoint it is useful to consider such questions so that we may grow in understanding and knowledge of God. From a personal moral standing, however, we are called to obedience. We are to eat what has been placed on our plates, and we are not to sit and whine like the spoiled, incredulous, absurdly post-modern brats that we as society are. "Measure against Scripture?" The Church wrote the Scriptures -- they only exist as they do because the Church in her authority has given them to us.

If American Protestants weren't so infuriatingly ignorant of all history, they might know that a wide variety of books and writings contended in early Christendom for canonical status (and still do -- the Orthodox have different Biblical books), many of which on their face do not appear any more or less "inspired" than any other. The Scriptures aren't self-defining, they are defined through the authority of the Church -- which makes the task of considering them the sole arbiter of the limit that authority somewhat risible. For a millennia, the authority of the Church cut it for the entire Christian world. For the millennia since then, it's sufficed for the majority of the Western world -- I shall refrain from thinking myself sufficiently important to decide otherwise. That is what my testing and measuring concludes, just as did that of my ancestors before me.

Brendan Koop said...


Really, it's not going to help anything to write like that, though I know the things you were trying to point out. I was going to get into some of those points myself but refrained (of course you'd want to steer away from saying that "the Church wrote the scriptures" - though I know what you were trying to say - and just focus on the fact that every Christian rests on the authority of the Catholic Church in that it was the Church that decided which books were inspired by God and which were not). We always need to communicate the truth, but if it's packaged like you did then it's not going to be considered or recognized as such. We have a wide readership on the blog, including many wonderful non-Catholic Christians, and so we always need to try to maintain a spirit of charity and good will (while always remaining faithful what is true).

God bless and I hope you keep commenting in the future,


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