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Monday, March 08, 2010

Condoms vs. Catholics in the Philippines

Let me start by admitting I have an uneasy relationship with the Catholic church. As a Christian who belongs in the "protestant" category, I have well-researched reasons for being there. I am too wise to fall into the "we-all-believe-the-same-thing-anyway" crowd. Frankly, we don't.

But, there is much good in what the Catholic church teaches.

For instance, I agree that in an ideal world, people abstain from sex before marriage, there is no promiscuity, and wise choices are always made.

But... we're talking the Philippines, here, people.

My brother is married to a Filipina and he currently supports some of the children in her family. I have an ex-fiance who's a conflicted "Flip" (Filipino). He's American, and his relatives accuse him of being the "whitest" Flip they know. But, he has visited his homeland, and he is only one generation removed from the islands.

Obviously our family has often crossed paths with the Filipino culture, so we have a great deal of knowledge about them.

One of the things that is striking about the Phillipines is the rampant promiscuity that exists. For example: As a result of this being an ego-centric culture, children are often thrown to the wayside. After all, kids can get in the way of a budding romance, so they are usually discarded. Yup - discarded like yesterday's fish.

It is not uncommon for a divorced or single mother to kick her young children out into the street or fend them off on relatives who abuse them or neglect them. Why? Because the new man in her life is going to want to start his own family and he doesn't want the burden of some other man's children. And, it's likely that her mother did the same thing to her.

Obviously if this is the way that many mothers feel about their children, most men are more than happy to take advantage of it. And this is just one example of the wanton lifestyle that exists not as an aberration, but as the norm.

So it is certainly no surprise to find that AIDS is soaring in their population.

The Philippine government has decided that they need to do what they can to reduce the STDs that are rampant over there, and they are especially concerned about AIDS. The cold, hard truth is that the government may not have to pay for all the street urchins, but they certainly don't need a plague on their hands. Homeless children aren't a direct concern, but AIDS could become so.

So, the government decided to put their workers on the streets to hand out condoms and roses to those who were passing by.

But, as the Associated Press reports, "It didn't get far. Within days, leaders of the powerful Roman Catholic Church began urging the faithful to reject condoms, reigniting a long-running battle over contraception in the overwhelmingly Catholic nation."

OK, yay for the Catholic leaders: They get to stand on principle. But do we really need to subject these people to such restrictions even when they're not truly practicing (or believing) Catholics?

Because, let's face it, a practicing/believing Catholic wouldn't be indulging in promiscuity anyway, nor would they disregard the care of their children. Therefore it's logical to conclude that most Flips really are Catholic in name only (at best).

Taking away a person's options to do what they want to do is not truly promoting belief. Instead, it is promoting restrictions. If the Catholic church wants to take control of the population, they should take over the government first. But if the Catholic church wants to control their hearts, it's going about it the wrong way.

Let's face it, the Bible teaches that God gave man free will. Even God doesn't want man to be forced to come blindly to him: God wants man to approach him with an open heart.

Why should the Catholic church behave any differently?

18 comments:

Ed said...

As a Catholic married to a Filipina, I feel I must comment. I pretty much agree with you. I think on this issue, the Catholic church has been sticking their heads in the sand for too long. But I think this matter is on its way to being changed because the younger priests (say in their 50's or younger) that I have talked too tell me it is not a sin to practice birth control. Only birth control after conception is a sin. So I suspect once the old crop ruling the Vatican die off, the new ones will change the rules on this and perhaps even allowing priests to marry though that one is not so certain in my mind.

Underground Logician said...

As a Catholic, I too must comment. you said:

Taking away a person's options to do what they want to do is not truly promoting belief. Instead, it is promoting restrictions. If the Catholic church wants to take control of the population, they should take over the government first. But if the Catholic church wants to control their hearts, it's going about it the wrong way.

1. You are making a whole host of assumptions about the Catholic Church's belief and methodology, and even how we humans behave, Saur. I know you are concerned for these people, which is laudible. However, you not only create a dilemma for the Catholic Church, but for all Christians. The first horn is either the CC or any Christian group takes control of the government, which is highly unlikely, or they only promote belief and proper thinking, which a a Nomimalistic population will reject. No doubt their needs to be a conversion of souls in the Philippines, but until this happens, the problem continues.

2. You are arguing from effect that assumes a pragmatic approach only. Why? Do we only promote what people accept? Doesn't this give people's moral relativism the upper hand? I do NOT accept moral relativism as a governing principle. More on this later in #4.

3.You are assuming that one can only have a change in belief and thinking prior to a change in behavior. This is a reductionism in human psychology and hardly fits the way humans think and behave. Human beings change beliefs to match behavior every day. If a man deeply desires to live a life of orgasm with any woman, man or animal (including himself) that will accept him, he'll construct a god or deity that will justify this behavior. People change beliefs to match behaviors all the time.

4. You said,"I am too wise to fall into the "we-all-believe-the-same-thing-anyway". This this the state of affairs in the world, but is it acceptable? Do you actually promote a relativism, even in Christianity? Please realize that the relativism that promotes "individual truth" actually destroys our understanding of Truth, whether it is religious belief or public morality, except for the maxim of Relativism itself. Here, Relativism's credo is universal, objective and absolute. We must never come against for if we do, we incur the wrath of the priests and priestesses of the religion of Relativism.

5. Christ in the Church has domain over all the world and He will subject everyone to beliefs and moral standards that he chooses. People need to know how He thinks and how He will judge the world. Christ is still Prophet, Priest and King, and the Church, who is one with Christ, will function in this capacity, whether it is popular or not. And some people will listen; most will not. But didn't Jesus say, "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who choose it?"

I must say, though, Saur, I appreciate the fact that you are open, and though you freely share your misgivings, I know that you listen and ponder these things. I mean no offense to you AT ALL. Thank you for sharing your views here. Peace!!

Sam

Scott said...

I think that I am going to ignore the blanket statements about Filipino culture. Toronto has a very large Filipino community and I have not heard of the rampant child neglect and such that you speak of. There is certainly a great deal of poverty in certain places that have all kinds of social problems but I do not believe that it is the norm.

That being said... I have a great distaste for any Religion that goes out of its way to stop individuals from gaining access to public health initiatives. To tell people to just abstain is simply not a viable solution in the world. Without proper education about safe sex practices we see the spread of disease in astronomical numbers. The promotion of safe sex in the First World has had an immense impact on the spread of HIV. The countries where HIV is still spreading like wildfire are most often poor and under the foot of an unrealistic Religious aid organizations. ie... churches that will provide aid but not condoms to AIDS ravaged Africa. Seems a bit crazy to me.

Gary Baker said...

Saur,

Full disclosure first - Not Catholic, and seem to agree with your general view of the Catholic church as stated (not all of the doctrines seem Biblical to me, but it has a lot going for it).

How I would fall on this argument depends on what the Catholic church has done here, and from the description I am not really sure. You say that "Taking away a person's options to do what they want to do is not truly promoting belief." I agree, but from the story line you quoted it is not at all evident that is what occurred. The AP quote you listed states "It didn't get far. Within days, leaders of the powerful Roman Catholic Church began urging the faithful to reject condoms, reigniting a long-running battle over contraception in the overwhelmingly Catholic nation."

If the Catholic church how the power to outlaw condoms or their distribution based on religious doctrine, that would be a church taking away choices. Urging people to reject an activity that goes against the religious tenants is what religious organizations do. We may argue about how scripture the doctrine is, but that certainly is a part of what church leadership is charged by God to do.

I also have one major problem with your argument: On the one hand, you seem to be arguing that the Catholic church is so powerful that it is stopping people from using contraception, yet in your background information you state that most Filipinos are Catholic "in name only." That would indicate to me that the influence of the church is marginal at best in these matters.

It seems hard to me to make the argument that the Catholic church is so all powerful that it is stopping people from using condoms, yet at the same time seems to be getting nowhere in the realm of promoting parental responsibility, self control, and monogamy. To me, it seems a lot more likely that people are using this as an excuse to not do something that they would rather not do anyway.

Scott,

"churches that will provide aid but not condoms to AIDS ravaged Africa."

At least church organizations provide aid. Atheist organizations generally provide either dictatorships or nothing at all. Your criticisms will have more (i.e., some) credibility the day that non-religious organizations make a significant positive contribution to the state of the world. As it is, the areas where atheism has achieved dominance are marked by deprivation and persecution. I'll take my insanity with a nice helping of liberty and grace, thank you.

Scott said...

Gary,

There are a lot of aid organizations out there that have no capital R Religious affiliation. I do not condemn all people who believe I just think that putting conditions on aid is a slippery slope.
It just happens that you can see a very negative impact that this kind of assistance creates in some areas of the world, Saurs example being a good one.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Everyone, Brilliant comments, thoughts, discussion. Thank you.

Ed and I see eye-to-eye on this.

Underground Logician, You are so very correct about the dilemma created. As a society, where do we draw the line? I am tired of hearing politicians say that they're personally against abortion but believe it's OK. What is THAT all about? Talk about pandering to weak-minded voters.

And there's no doubt that a little bit of leaven spoils the whole loaf.

And yet... where do we draw the line? At what point do we say "this is a religious restriction" or "there is legal and social validity to this restriction".

The truth is that it's not that easy to distinguish between the two. After all, WHY do we think sex with a child is wrong? WHY do we feel that nudity isn't acceptable in public? The case against illegal drugs is strong from a secular view, but these other restrictions aren't as clear... unless you look at it from a religious standpoint.

OK, all that being said:

Protestants (in general) believe that birth control is OK. So, you're already dealing with someone who has a cemented belief in them. BUT, we also believe that sex should only be within the bounds of marriage.

1. Pretty much answered, somewhat agreed upon.

2. You are correct but only to a certain extent.

3. Definitely agreed upon.

4. I think you misunderstood what I was saying? I was saying that many people mistakenly believe that Christians all believe the same thing. And don't forget, of course,that Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons label themselves as "christian" too. Yet all our beliefs are different enough to cause us to attend different churches. There's a reason for that. I know you'll agree.

5. I agree that Christ has the ultimate call in the affairs of the earth, but don't forget that Satan is termed the Prince of this world and he usually gets to do things his way without divine intervention. And, frankly, there isn't a lot of divine intervention right now (for whatever reason).

To sum it up: I will pull a politician. I personally believe that sex outside of marriage is wrong. BUT... it happens. And the Philippine gov't. is not going to ban it. Therefore, if it's legal, there's little that can be done except to try to minimize the physical damage that comes from promiscuity.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Scott, You wouldn't hear of the rampant child neglect in the Philippines. The Flips over here are a world apart, just as Chinese Canadians differ from the average Chinese person wandering through Hong Kong.

There are many things we don't hear about, because the news has found that Beyonce's latest flouncing video generates more interest.

If you look at Ed's comment, you'll find that he agrees with my assessment of the culture. And, may I add that most Filippinas/Filippinos (in the Phillipines) see NOTHING wrong with this, so they have no reason to deny it.

Otherwise, I agree with your opinion and thank you for it.

Gary, Good points. I didn't make myself clear enough. Yes, the Catholic Church in the Philippines cannot make the rules, so they're certainly within their rights to encourage dissent.

However, there are enough faithful Catholics to make a stink about it and create such a stigma about condoms that the average person will not want to openly obtain condoms, but will happily continue to covertly have unprotected sex. Therefore, the practice won't stop but there will be no barrier to the choice except for the ultimate result of death and disease.

SIDE NOTE TO UNDERGROUND LOGICIAN AND GARY

This comes down to the argument: Did God create AIDS (or your STD of choice) to kill the promiscuous?

This one I can't answer. But my guess is that these STDs (like all disease) are a product of the fall of man and our choices put us in the path of danger. We don't take care of our bodies, we get sick. We don't abstain from sex, we get unwanted pregnancy and disease.

BUT, we also fight disease with modern methods. Yeah, we might not eat right and we get high blood pressure, but we take meds. We might put on weight, but we get liposuction. We smoke and get lung cancer, but we get chemotherapy. We get an STD, we take antibiotics (unless the STD is a virus).

So... does a condom fall under the label of preventative medicine?

I believe it does.

Back to Gary

You are correct that most atheistic gov'ts are hardly in favor of treating the people well. After all, why should they? They have no spiritual obligations to them.

Ed said...

I should have been a little more specific. I agree with you on your view of the Catholic church and their stance on birth control. I do disagree with your views on the Filipino culture having rampant child neglect issues or being Catholic in name only.

I've spent lots of time in the Philippines and believe that they as a culture have a better sense of family than we Americans do. Yes kids do get sent off to other family members but usually because the parents can't take care of their children. My mother-in-law took in a baby boy whose mother couldn't care for him and raised him as her son even to this day. The boys mother is still in his life but still can't provide for him. I don't call that neglect, I call that remarkable.

Also, Filipinos being Catholic in name only is the understatement of the year. They make us appear that way. When I'm over there in country, attendance to church is everybody that can still get there. Many go every day and give large percentages of their meager incomes to the church. Also, priests over in the Philippines are held in high regard and if they tell their flock to do something, I would bet money that the flock listens.

Gary Baker said...

Saur,

Responding to your side note because it kind of pertains to many of the underlying issues:

No, I do not think that God created AIDS to kill the promiscuous. I think that God warned against promiscuity because it naturally leads to consequences. These can take the form of illness, broken relationships, ruined lives, etc. In most cases, God doesn't have to whip up a special punishment for any class of sin. The reason that God has warned us about it is that it will eventually lead to its own punishment. His nature is that He wants us to avoid those consequences.

A note about "safe sex" with regards to statistics and probability - Assume a condom is 90% effective against STDs. That means that by the time you have protected sex with a person with an STD eleven times, you still have a 90% chance of being exposed to the disease. By the time you have sex with a person with STDs 25 times, you have over a 99% chance of being exposed. If casual sex is a rare occurrence in your life, a condom offers some protection. If it is a way of life, the protection is largely an illusion.

Scott,

Yes, you will find lots of aid organizations without a big R affiliation. You will find almost none that either were not started by people with a strong religious affiliation and don't depend on the labor and donations of religious people. Atheists talk a good game, but in practice they give about 30% of what believers give, and that goes for time, money, blood, just about any measure. That's why instead of forming their own organization to train young men, atheists tried to sue the Boy Scouts to force them to accept atheists even though a basic part of their creed is a belief in God. Atheists are a lot better at corrupting and destroying organizations than creating.

And as for placing conditions on aid, I never heard of any organization that did not. In general, about the only consistent "condition" placed on aid by Christian agencies is that the aid cannot be used to support something contrary to their mission. We have a good chance of seeing that soon over here. In at least one version of the health care bills being considered, hospitals would be required to perform abortions. So would doctors. The Catholics have said that they would close their hospitals rather than comply. I am not Catholic, but I would do the same. And this is another thing that relates back to the condoms issue...

I don't believe you can compromise with evil. You can't negotiate with evil. You said it, Saur. A little leaven infects the whole loaf. We all do wrong, and I'll put myself at the head of the list, but when I do I am honest with myself and God. It's wrong. It's failure. It's not "a little" wrong. It's not "a mistake." It's rebellion. I knowingly violated the will of God because at the time I saw the perceived advantage as more important. Learn from it, move on. No compromise. Anything less and you're telling the world that you're up for sale.

I yield the remainder of my time on the soapbox...

Until later...

Scott said...

So the Boy Scouts have been destroyed? The YMCA (started at a Christian organization) has been destroyed? I don't know that I agree with you. I understand your point of view but I see opportunity in having these organizations being open and welcoming to people of all Faiths and those who do not have a chosen Faith.

I also understand that "Believers" give more than Atheists, but I think that statistics probably show that most people are not actual Atheists, they are of some Religious affiliation. It is hard to say that Churchgoers give more because so much of that will be tied to how much they give to their chosen place of worship which amounts to a large amount of money. It would be more interesting to see a giving comparison that did not include tithing.

The Health Care debate in the States and the impact of Religion again becomes a slippery slope. I do not believe that Doctors who are anti abortion should be compelled by law to perform them, though deciding to work in an Emergency Room may become difficult if somebody is forced to make a decision between having an abortion or the death of the Mother. I guess then they would have to choose to work elsewhere where they are less likely to fact that dilemna. I just always thought that the US had a strong separation of Church and State. The Church being involved in legislation obviously contradicts that very notion.

For the record... I am not an atheist, just not a capital R religious guy. Not Christian either, but there is spirituality in my life.

Saur said...

Ed, The people that I know who actually live in the Philippines tell a completely different story - that's all I can say. And those who have visited say the same thing. Perhaps you haven't heard much about it, but it may be that you didn't get a chance to really live in that culture and see / hear what a casual visitor wouldn't.

As for Catholic church attendance: Standing in a garage doesn't make you a car, and attending church doesn't make you devout. Just because they go faithfully doesn't make them faithful.

Gary, we're in complete agreement.

Scott, Interesting point about tithing. Most people consider it an "obligation" and I even knew of a Catholic church that told a couple what they'll be giving each week - no room for argument. But it's SUPPOSED to be freely given. And if it is, then I would lump it under charitable contributions.

geri said...

Hi, my first time to comment in your blog. I am a filipina.

While I do agree with what you said about the Catholic church, I was very surprised with the very broad brush you painted about the filipinas and single moms in the Philippines. While there are young women who engage in pre-marital sex and get pregnant in the process, to say that filipinas in general are promiscuous is very surprising especially since in our culture pre-marital sex, whether you are of legal age or not is generally considered taboo because of our being Catholics. Here in the U.S. I've had officemates who live with their boyfriends and not bat an eyelash while in the Philippines it would take certain guts and conflict with family to do that.

True, I find many filipino males taking advantage of this and often leave their girlfriends when they get pregnant, but the women who were in this situation that I know finished school, raised the kids themselves with the help of their family. I never have known one to be abusive to their child. I have heard of moms leaving their children, but to work in another country to provide for them.

I am sure that abuse exists. I am sure that many women separated from their husbands leave their kids to relatives (mostly to their grandparents) for another men (btw, there is no divorce in the Philippines) but I assure you it is not the norm.

The women you described in this post described the american women I've read and seen on tv, and from stories I've heard from friends/relative who became US citizens before I came to this country, would you say that this "wanton lifestyle" is the norm in the U.S. too?

Lest you say I don't know much about the Philippines, I have lived there for 30+ years, in different cities and understand/speak several different dialects to know what is going around me.

Gary Baker said...

Scott,

"So the Boy Scouts have been destroyed"

No, they have been sued. They have also been discriminated against by city governments for exercising their freedom of religion as a private organization. There is absolutely nothing stopping atheists from organizing to form their own groups. Instead, they are choosing to use the force of government to make the group bend to them. Sounds a lot like tyranny.

"I understand your point of view but I see opportunity in having these organizations being open and welcoming to people of all Faiths and those who do not have a chosen Faith."

Really? Assume for a moment that I, as a Christian, want to join the free thinkers or some other organization. But I don't want to follow their rules. In fact, I take them to court to insist they accommodate me. Sound reasonable?

Your argument seems to boil down the idea that diversity is so compelling that a group must be forced to violate its own rules and principles to accommodate outsiders who wish to be associated with the group. Why yes, I would call that attitude destructive. When the force of government is behind it, I would call it tyranny.

"It is hard to say that Churchgoers give more because so much of that will be tied to how much they give to their chosen place of worship which amounts to a large amount of money. It would be more interesting to see a giving comparison that did not include tithing."

As a note, the giving that I mentioned was "per capita", as in normalized down to a per person basis, so total number of givers is corrected for.

As for your note on tithing, you would be disappointed with the outcome. I believe the most recent stats show that only ten to fifteen percent of church members tithe. Twenty percent of the church gives over eighty percent of the collected money, but even at that, their giving favors much better than non-affiliated. By the way - The stats that I am quoting do not specify atheist vs. non-atheist. The dividing line is "regular church attender."

As for your note about so much being tied up in place of worship, again not as you would think. For instance, our church is also a gym that is used for community camps and sports leagues. Churches save municipalities big buck by reducing the number of recreational facilities needed. We also host major community events. Under the Baptist Cooperative Program, ten percent of everything we collect goes to overseas missions which is not simply preaching but medical aid, construction projects, farm assistance, etc. We also hold training courses for emergency first responders.

Little known fact - Months after 9/11 had occurred, there was still a huge pile of rubble where the two buildings were. Baptists, along with many other religious groups, were quickly on the scene providing aid right after the bombing, but we kept an eye out. The city was in trouble. The cost of debris removal had stalled the project with the union crews. The Baptists said we'll take care of it, and they did. Now I speak preferentially about Baptists because that's the news I get in my church. I know that a lot of other denominations do a lot of good works as well. But when I go on line looking at what atheists are doing, I find most of their organizations are spending their time trying to minimize the impact of religious organizations. Now I guess there are some legitimate concerns from time to time, but personally I think that feeding, clothing, and healing people would be a lot better advertisement for their cause.

Gary Baker said...

"The Health Care debate in the States and the impact of Religion again becomes a slippery slope."

Next lesson on Constitutional Law for the US - Article one of the Bill of Rights states that Congress shall pass no law establishing a religion or interfering with the practice of same. That means that Congress should not be able to mandate any law that would violate a religious conviction. Religion is a guaranteed right. So is speech. Health care is not. It is not the church that is pushing people down the slope by mixing in health care.

As far as your note about the "Church being involved in legislation," why wouldn't it? The church is not a building. The church is the people. None of them lose their right to vote or petition by having membership in a religious organization. Why would anyone think they should? I don't know of anyone involved in politics who does not push for what they believe is right. The only difference with the church is that their standards of right and wrong have been written down and accepted by believers for thousands of years. Can you give me a good reason why they should be given any less attention?

Interestingly, what so many people forget about our form of government was that it was designed with Christianity in mind. If you read the augmenting works of the authors, you get the strong impression that faith in God was assumed to never come into question. They just didn't want the government to be the ones directing that faith. They wrote on several occasions that our Constitution would not work for a people without faith, and we are seeing the results of that now.

I am truly not trying to be offensive when I say this, but saying that you are "spiritual" doesn't tell me a thing. I could say I worship pancakes, and that could still be considered spiritual. You are certainly entitled to your beliefs. I have no problem with that. But if you tell me that you are Christian or Hindu or Muslim, I at least have a start of understanding of what you are all about. Spiritual really tells me nothing.

A side note on international relations - My sole experience with people from the Philippines was while I was in the Navy. I ran into several men who came back from the islands with Filipino wives, and it seemed to work out better than average. However, considering the divorce rate among sailors, that's not necessarily saying a lot. For what it's worth...

Saur♥Kraut said...

Geri, Frankly I've been around the block too many times to take your assertion that you're a Filipina for granted. My bet is that you aren't... you have no blog, no real history, nothing.

So, I'm sorry, but I can't really count you as an expert.

On the other hand, I can certainly count my ex-fiance and my sister-in-law as experts.

Gary, You're doing great, I have nothing to add to what you're saying.

geri said...

Saur, sorry, I thought google would automatically link my blog together with my name:

www.thoughtsontransitions.com

Scott said...

So much to say Gary, but I am sure there will be many more posts to debate! haha

Underground Logician said...

Saur:

As to your questions:

1. Did God create AIDS and STD's to punish the promiscuous? Uh, why don't you ask? >:) He certainly could see ahead of time how degraded sex acts could bring on disease when you use parts of your bodies for something other than what they were intended. This is why God prohibited these acts; not only are they against His purpose and against nature, they are harmful when misused or abused. For instance, it is no surprise that when a male inserts his penis into another male's anus (and act of sodomy by the way that has absolutely no natural purpose), said male's penis has crap on it. I guess if anyone handles feces in any manner, something bad will happen. My mom told me not to step in dog crap, since crap is bad, stinky and full of germs. There are reasons why flies love crap. There are reasons we bury crap. For the simple minded, food = good; crap = bad.

2) Do condoms fall under the form of preventive medicine? Not sure, since I'm not a doctor. But what I do know, condoms can't stop viruses like AIDS. There are microscopic holes in condoms that are as wide open as super-highways for viruses. So as an effective preventive measure for AIDS, it's useless. But, hey, when people want maximum pleasure, why use a sheath? And if they already have AIDS, and they know they're going to die, and they already have a proven record of wanting to achieve orgasms to the detriment of others, who'll trust them to do anything other than going ala natural.

Sorry, Saur, safe sex is fantasy thinking.