We are heading for a world population crisis. Unlike climate change, this doomsday scenario is not open for debate. The mathematics makes it a certainty. Yet the Catholic Church continues to turn its authoritarian face against contraception. Cynics will say that it does so because it is the surest way to grow its adherents; as I said in my last blog, quantity of souls saved is more important that quality of life. Sometimes, the same cynics will see political motives lurking behind the religious injunction to spawn copiously; just ask an Orangeman in Belfast about the implications of deliberate Catholic fecundity! And I am sure the cynics have a point. But at the heart of the ban on contraception lies something much more murky – a distaste for the whole messy business of sex itself. The male dominated Catholic Church fears the feminine. It promotes a wholly fictional idealisation of women on the one hand – modelled on the Immaculate Virgin herself, eternally preserved from the impurity of male members and the defiling process of childbirth. But on the other hand, it locks women away in nunneries; punishes the results of sex outside wedlock; regards new mothers as ritually unclean; and restricts its priesthood to celibate men. And it shrinks from the physical act of sex itself: God gave us sex for procreation; it is not there to be enjoyed, but we should do as much of it as necessary to populate the world with good Catholics. The same sorts of perversions underlie the Jewish religion as well and infiltrate one way or another every faith and sect that derive from it – from Islam to Mormonism.
I have written before about the Judaeo-Christian-Muslim deity’s obsession with sex. The truth of course is that this simply reflects the obsessions of the flawed human beings who invented him/she/it in the first place. No doubt psychologists and psychiatrists can explain it all in terms of individual human development, and evolutionary biologists will have their theories about how the joint urges towards sexual pleasure and procreation mix and mingle in endless combination in the natural world. But the end result of it all is that human beings (uniquely?) have evolved to unlink the two. We have placed the urge to procreate under more or less rational control and we have released our urge to seek sexual gratification into all the gloriously absurd highways and byways of human sexual appetite. The evolutionary cat is out of the bag and no amount of pushing and shoving by religion will ever put it back. The Catholic Church implicitly admits as much. If it really believes, as it pretends to, that sex and procreation must be inseparable, it would ban all methods of contraception – but it doesn’t. It accepts the withdrawal method (despite Old Testament condemnation of spilling seed on the ground). And in doing so, it has ceded (no pun intended) the principle. What on earth is the difference between a Kleenex tissue and a rubber johnny? Apart of course from reliability – and I guess that’s the point!