There’s been a lot of noise in the news circles lately about the new healthcare legislation and birth control. The Catholic Church’s refuses to pay for birth control in their businesses. So, what do I care you’re thinking? I know, I’m Pagan and in real life I complain far too much about legislating morality from an arm chair theoretical perspective – but this issue has been a large part of the story of my real, personal, ovulating life. I was raised in a split denominational household: my dad was Catholic and our family friends were Catholic, my mom belonged to a UCC church. Both of these traditions are close to my heart for various reasons and at the same time, I do not practice either of these traditions. I went to a Jesuit university. My university experience shaped me into the person I am today: for that I am eternally grateful. Some of the most brilliant people I know are products of Jesuit educations and I do truly believe Jesuit educations are world class educations. I thank the Catholic Church, for giving me this precious gift. Finally, I studied theology with the most wonderful, amazing priests and nuns at my university. I feel honored today, years later, to have sat in a room with these people. They taught me so much more than merely sacraments, and concepts: they taught me what compassion, justice, love, and grace really mean. Only because of this experience do I have such great respect and compassion for Christianity. (Something I feel most of the time is pretty lacking in the Pagan community.)
“Cause in God’s name they built a barbed wire fence / Be glad you sailed for a better day / But don`t forget there’ll be hell to pay”
It is because of my compassion that I feel I need to write about this issue of contraception and the Church. I understand and even respect their position that officially, birth control is prohibited. I personally, do not use hormonal contraception and am thankful I understand natural family planning methods. The Marquette Method is no joke, this is a scientifically tested and proven method. For me, this method is a life saver because the negative side effects of hormonal birth control were more than I could personally handle (and I suspect way more than my partners wanted to deal with). That being said, I do not condemn the choices other women make for their bodies. Hormonal contraception like everything else has risks and benefits. It is 99% effective when used correctly. Abstinence is 100% effective and for those that practice this that is also wonderful. There are a ton of ways to meet your sexual needs outside of penis-in-vagina sex. I personally think some of them are even more fun. I don’t believe this is any of my business unless I am your sexual partner. I support all women’s choices – even those I find personally unappealing. I completely believe that my teachers and mentors, the nuns, brothers, and priests who taught me so much would talk about compassion: compassion to try to see from others eyes. They would say that Christ did not teach to judge. It is for God to judge and Christ taught us to love one and another as we love ourselves.
“Rebels are we, though heavy our hearts shall always be / Ah, no ball or chain no prison shall keep/ We’re the rebels of the sacred heart”
That being said, I do not see any compassion or model of Christ’s love in the Church’s position or statements in this debate. This is the same Church that shut down our production of the Vagina Monologues in the same year the president of the university publicly stated he was proud for us to be a part of his university. This Church’s policy refused me, and my friends, birth control on campus. We paid money we didn’t have by the hundreds yearly to fill prescriptions at the pharmacy down the street. Condoms were not available in the C-store – we walked two blocks to get them. Guys on campus often were “out” and pushed for doing it anyway. If you got pregnant you could just “get rid of it” no matter what that mean to their partner involved. It was purely our problem as uterus bearers. Girls who carried condoms were labeled sluts. Celibate priests in training felt so righteous to judge “godless women” who would dare to have an abortion in constitutional law classes. These BOYS speak for women? These little boys so sheltered to never have paid a medical bill or even be acquainted with a woman intimately should lord over the women in their Church with no compassion? These boys and the men they worship think ignoring the sensus fidelium is their right. I have compassion, from my standpoint the Catholic Church does not. For those who cannot have compassion and serve the public, get out of public business. For a Church who refuses to see and serve their people, there is little hope.