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04/10/2005

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Palooka

"No it isn't. Such people are called "Cafeteria Catholics" because they pick and choose which of the church's teachings they wish to follow. They are a substantial phenomenon, especially in the West."

Yes, but the question of pre-marital sex and condom use are linked closely. If one believes the Church is wrong on pre-marital sex, the chances are pretty high they also think the Church is wrong on condom use. I concede the theoretical possibility that someone may believe the Church is flawed in their teachings on pre-marital sex, but not on condom use, but I have yet to encounter such a person.

John Smith

"I concede the theoretical possibility that someone may believe the Church is flawed in their teachings on pre-marital sex, but not on condom use, but I have yet to encounter such a person."

I am such a person. There you go.

John Smith

"If one believes the Church is wrong on pre-marital sex, the chances are pretty high they also think the Church is wrong on condom use."

Not really. I think it's commonplace in Brazil for unmarried folks to have anal and oral sex without condoms because they disapprove of contraceptives, but want to avoid pregnancy. In other words, they disagree with the Church on its premarital sex teachings but agree about condom use.

I suppose if you'd like to understand (instead of deny the existence of) the reasoning, it goes something like this: I have avoided paying taxes for one year, but I don't want to avoid paying taxes for two, because the punishment when I finally pay up will be more substantial.

Less reasonable is to posit the "Why Stop Now?" argument: to posit that someone would think, hell, I've already evaded my taxes, so I'm technically a criminal, might as well kill that mailman I never liked.

You seem to be making a "Why Stop Now" argument, which presumes that Catholics are risk-loving in regard to eternal condemnation.

Palooka

"Not really. I think it's commonplace in Brazil for unmarried folks to have anal and oral sex without condoms because they disapprove of contraceptives, but want to avoid pregnancy. In other words, they disagree with the Church on its premarital sex teachings but agree about condom use."

I think the more likely explanation is that they dislike using condoms, and prefer unprotected anal or oral sex over protected vaginal intercourse. Gotta run for now, but I might post more on this later. If you actually have evidence of the behavior you describe, I'd appreciate if you post it.

John Smith

"I think the more likely explanation is that they dislike using condoms, and prefer unprotected anal or oral sex over protected vaginal intercourse."

Only if you presume that Catholics are not genuine believers in their professed faith. I would suggest you look up the information on sexual activity in Brazil, much like you should look up "The Doctrine of Double-Effect," which Catholics, even Cafeteria Catholics, actually use for guidance, and which body slams most of your arguments.

Palooka

"Only if you presume that Catholics are not genuine believers in their professed faith."

I think the scenario under discussion requires the assumption that they are at least imperfect in their acceptance of Church teachings.

I gave you a perfectly valid (in my view, more likely) explanation for the example you provided. Either your explanation or mine is plausible given the information you provided, though I think human nature favors my explanation.

"The Doctrine of Double Effect" as described by a previous commenter seems like an extremely awkward rationalization. If contraception is abortion, and if abortion is the evil the Church believes it is, then the doctrine makes little sense.

John Smith

"I think the scenario under discussion requires the assumption that they are at least imperfect in their acceptance of Church teachings."

That doesn't mean they must be imperfect in the way you presume.

"Either your explanation or mine is plausible given the information you provided, though I think human nature favors my explanation."

Yes, but your view of human nature and the view of human nature that Catholics share with each other are opposed. That is the point. You are assuming that Catholics think like you. They obviously don't. Case in point:

"'The Doctrine of Double Effect' as described by a previous commenter seems like an extremely awkward rationalization."

Daniel Chapman

John:

I think it's interesting that you make so much sense on the other side of this discussion, but seem to miss the point over here. You make some excellent policy arguments in both places, but the difference is that the Church is free to ignore good policy arguments in favor of devotion to its beliefs.

It really doesn't matter if 95% of the world was infected with HIV, the Church would have no reason to back down from its position on artificial contraception. It's the Word of God!

This hypothetical world might change whether people decide to listen to the Pope (economics and all that...), but the cost of dying of AIDS is insignificant next to the cost of your soul in the Church's eyes.

In sum, you can't expect the Pope to be a pragmatist. Policy arguments don't work.

Palooka

I'd be interested to see if there is a single case (anectodal or otherwise) where a Catholic believes pre-marital sex is morally permissable but condom use is not.

My conjecture that there are very few individuals that hold this view is not based on my perceptions of rationality, but rather the fact that condom use is one of the marginal, least followed moral teachings of the Church. In large part it is not followed because individuals believe the Church is mistaken, not because it is inconvenient. It seems especially likely a Catholic would hold the view that condom use is moral if they also believed pre-marital sex was moral.

John Smith

"It really doesn't matter if 95% of the world was infected with HIV, the Church would have no reason to back down from its position on artificial contraception. It's the Word of God!"

In fact, that is NOT how Catholic Social Thought works. The Church in fact does make public policy prescriptions. It does not base its arguments on Scripture or the word of God at all. It makes certain that its arguments fit with the doctrine of public reasons and natural law so that any person, regardless of their sectarian belief, can access, understand, and reasonably agree with the argument. Quite contrary to your assertion, the Church IS in the business of making public policy, and its resort to Eternal Law (scripture, etc.) is less frequent than its appeal to political philosphy and so on. One could even say that the Church is less interested in spreading the Word of God than it is in curbing the evils of utilitarianism and thus promoting human dignity (which is a good independent of faith in Catholicism). One only has to read an evangelium or an encyclical to find this out.

"I'd be interested to see if there is a single case (anectodal or otherwise) where a Catholic believes pre-marital sex is morally permissable but condom use is not."

I already told you that I am one such person.

John Smith

In sum, you can't expect the Pope to be a pragmatist. Policy arguments don't work.

You can in fact expect the Pope to be a pragmatist. What you cannot expect is for the Pope to be a utilitarian. THAT is the difference.

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