Thursday, June 20, 2013

NFP+RP & The "Maybe-Rejection" Philosophy

"Eek! A bad apple! Therefore, apples are evil!"
"One bad apple spoils the bunch."
We've all heard this old proverb. And there is some truth to it, at least in the sense of apples. As an apple rots, the gasses and fungus contained therein spread more quickly to other apples in close proximity, thereby ruining a bunch.
This also applies to perception. We, as fallen humans, tend to focus one or two individuals who "ruin it for everyone." The one kid who can't be trusted to stay of the cookie jar, prompting a total snack lock-down from mommy. The one person who drives too fast and prompts a global speed limit reduction.
So rather than deal with, and isolate, the problem, we succumb to the far-reaching, and unnecessary, effects of lumping everything into bunches. It's a grouping (or group-think) philosophy erred on the side of oversimplification in the name of eradication.
The problem with this philosophy it that it makes a few big assumptions.
And we all know what happens when you assume....

The logic at the core of this philosophy goes something like this:
Wow, look at all of the people misusing X (the cookie jar, their gas pedal, etc.). Either there must be something inherently wrong with X, or we shouldn't let anybody use X in case, maybe, it's abused.
The problems it that this line of thinking fails some basic logical tests. I call it the "maybe-rejection" philosophy.
Maybe someone might abuse it. If it's open for abuse, then it's invalid or wrong in some way.
Maybe someone might abuse it. If people abuse it, then they just shouldn't have it.
Graphing calculators were
actually banned during math
tests at my high school.
Drawn out, it might sound something like this:
Some students cheat in advanced math by storing answers in their calculators. Rather than discuss and treat the problem of cheating, we'll throw our hands up and assume all students are going to cheat. Therefore, we'll ban calculators during tests.
I mean...duh! Calculators are obviously the problem in math class!
Instead of getting to the core of why people cheat, and increasing the virtue of the population to the point where cheating is abhorred, we simply surrender to vice and attempt to ban the occasion of vice.
After all, if there are no baskets, then the bad apples can't spoil the rest...right?

False. Black bears.

But I see this exact same flawed logic applied to NFP+RP.
Some people abuse NFP+RP and approach it with a contraceptive, anti-child mentality. So instead of getting to the root of the problem and raising the bar (seriously, no pun or TWSS intended on that...), educating others in the Faith and in true sexuality, let's just ban NFP+RP  After all, some people abuse it, so therefore it's not a complete view. Otherwise, if it was, people wouldn't abuse it.
The problems with this line of thinking run deep, especially in reference to NFP+RP.

First, all good can be abused. The Liturgy, for example, can be abused. The Bible can be referenced and interpreted incorrectly. Food, even, can be eaten with the wrong mindset ("emotional snacking"), thus causing damage upon the eater. In all of the case, though, it is not the Thing that is the problem - it is the approach of the user to the Thing.
Same with NFP+RP.
Problem with NFP?
It's all in your mind, man....
NFP+RP is not the problem. The contraceptive mindset of the NFP+RP (ab)user is the problem.
Some propose that NFP+RP is bad because it leads to a contraceptive mindset. They call it a "Trojan Horse," a thing to be wary of at best.
But this is a logical inconsistency.
As St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:5 says, and the Catechism in #2368 says, the type of periodic abstinence promoted by NFP+RP  when done through mutual consent and for just reasons, is perfectly moral.
Ah, but therein lies the rub.
You see, some NFP+RP "dissidents" fudge the meaning of "just reasons." In other words, they abuse the Church's teachings, and insert their own stance over it. But this doesn't make NFP+RP the problem any more than it makes someone receiving the Eucharist the problem when someone strolls up with dirty hands, grabs the Host incorrectly, and starts chowing down. The lack of reverence  for the Good on the individual's part does not diminish the Good.
The Middle Ages wrestled a lot with this. In finality to the question, St. Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica, Question 82, Article 5, points out that:
As the same action can be evil, inasmuch as it is done with a bad intention of the servant; and good from the good intention of the master; so the blessing of a sinful priest, inasmuch as he acts unworthily is deserving of a curse, and is reputed an infamy and a blasphemy, and not a prayer; whereas, inasmuch as it is pronounced in the person of Christ, it is holy and efficacious.
So the Good comes not from the doer, but from God Himself. Likewise, the doer does not render the Thing evil. An evil priest will always render a good Eucharist, when that Eucharist is consecrated correctly. Likewise, an evil NFP-er will always render the inherent good of NFP+RP whilst practicing, so long as NFP+RP is practiced as approved by the Church.

I guess this is a long way of saying that what we need is not an overhaul of NFP+RP  No, we're good there. We need an overhaul of the mindset, the heart, and the intentions of the faithful. We need a renewal of souls, aching to reform their consciences. We need prayer and turning to God.

We do NOT need criticisms of the Good that the Church teaches. Such illogic harms the flock.

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