I’m watching with some interest the irritation that has arisen in some circles over 1flesh, a site with an anti-contraception message that just happens to be consistent with the Church’s teaching on artificial birth control but packages it in more of a secular, flashy package. For example:
There are also case studies of how women gave up birth control they were using for medical (non-contraceptive) reasons and couples who found that using natural family planning bolstered their marriage. And there are a series of arguments against the use of birth control for reasons such as women’s health and the environment.
Let’s see how this message is being accepted, shall we? Here’s one example:
facebook feminists - on.fb.me/LHW64y << this is an anti-contraception campaign by conservative catholic fundamentalists. destroy.—
Aurora Adams (@aanadams) July 01, 2012
Hmmmm. This wasn’t the only reaction of revulsion, but at least it was the most honest, though Catholics aren’t, of course, fundamentalist, so let’s send our friendly detractor to the library for some research. Flame wars, indeed, broke out on 1flesh’s Facebook page, with a few people claiming they appealed to Facebook to get the site shut down. So perhaps this message isn’t being received well by some.
The detractors immediately claimed that 1flesh’s information was wrong, misleading, and/or harmful. Since I’m not a public health expert and I don’t have hours to dig through all the references, I won’t try to evaluate 1flesh’s claims, nor their detractors’ claims, though if 1flesh is using any faulty information, they should fix it. (Because, duh.) What I’m more interested in, I think, is the idea of trying to make inroads against the dominant line of secular logic about sexuality. (Pardon as I put my journalist/analyst hat on.)
I’m not surprised that there was so much complaining, given that birth control is widely accepted in society. It’s tough to speak out against the dominant paradigm, in which sex is healthy outside of marriage–“when you’re ready”–and the benefits of birth control, either inside or outside of marriage, vastly outweigh the possible risks. And there’s a lot at stake here, if you think about it. Consider the reaction already. There’s a concerted effort to attempt to marginalize 1flesh and discredit it before it even gets off the ground, aided by more mainstream sites such as Jezebel (1flesh responded here). Many of these folks sincerely believe that 1flesh is harmful.
Indeed, detractors probably sense that they need to take the attack — and perhaps have just that little bit of fear that they might be wrong, because the site is challenging what they believed to be, essentially, dogma on this issue, and no one likes getting what they believe challenged. And if 1flesh is right, so’s the Catholic Church, as the site is grounded in Church teachings, though it uses secular arguments. The Church’s position on sexuality is consistent (all sexual acts must be “open to life” and between a married couple, and all of its teachings on sexuality flow from this principle), so if the Church is right on birth control (because the sex wouldn’t be open to life) and it can be demonstrated by science and reason, it strengthens the Church’s arguments on other topics such as homosexuality and cohabitation. Better for the detractors to fire away now to keep the Church and its followers from gaining ground on these other issues.
So let’s keep an eye on this. 1flesh runs the risk of flaming out quickly, either by its own fault or with the help of its detractors. But the message that 1flesh has needs to get out. They’ve made mistakes early (now they’re collecting medical professionals who support their mission? Should have been done before the site launched), but it’s a more positive message than its detractors are willing to acknowledge. In the end, I think the message is one that should be out there. If others disagree, c’est la vie. I know plenty of folks who will discount 1flesh’s message out of hand. But it needs a chance to be heard.
For a longer explanation of the Church’s teaching on birth control, click here