Someone once told Michigan State’s legendary football coach Duffy Daugherty that football is a contact sport. The quick-witted coach promptly corrected him. “Football isn’t a contact sport, it’s a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport.” Football is battle without guns, 22 warriors fighting over every inch of a 100-yard stretch of turf. And yes, there are collisions-big ones. Americans can’t seem to get enough of them. Professional football has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Its star players have become cultural icons.
Football is a no-holds-barred sport. In the war for turf, money, and prestige, football opponents are not just opponents. They are enemies who must be broken. Unfortunately, this is more than the imagery used to hype games. The National Football League recently suspended several players and coaches for implementing a bounty system. Players could receive cash for injuring an opponent, more for knocking him out of a game, and still more if done during the playoffs. The bounty system took winning at all costs to a dangerous and frightening level.
To be fair, football players are not the only ones who create enemies. All of us are guilty of demonizing those who stand in the way of what we want. It happens in business. It most certainly happens in politics. Worst of all, it has become the way of life affecting the most intimate thing we can do as humans.
To understand the problem, we must return to our origins. The author of Genesis tells us that God worked from day to day on His creation. Every day, God found that what He created was good. On the sixth day, God did something He found to be very good. He created a man and a woman in His image. He brought them together to live as one, and He gave them instructions: be fertile, multiply, fill the earth, and have dominion over it. His love for them was so great that He gave them the power to cooperate with Him in the creation of human life. In God’s plan, no human comes into being without our participation.
Just as God takes pleasure in creating life, He lets us take pleasure in living it. The body’s systems perform functions but also do more. Our eyes help us avoid walking into walls but also let us see the beauty of a waterfall. Our lungs process oxygen, and this lets us delight in hiking through a pine forest. And our reproductive system not only allows us to transmit human life but also to know the pleasure of real love.
But we can abuse God’s gifts. The bloated gluttons of ancient Rome stuck feathers down their throats so they could vomit their food and start again. It was the mark of a rotting culture. Today, we abuse our systems through overeating, smoking, drinking, drugs, and lack of exercise. It’s pleasure seeking gone bad. We can also abuse our sexual function. It’s called contraception, and it has wreaked more havoc than we ever thought possible.
Contraception is the act of placing our desire to get our way ahead of God’s plan for us. God intends that in sexual union a husband and wife give themselves so completely that their love overflows into new life. The act is profound and sublime, for it brings a committed couple into contact with God’s will. A child becomes a true blessing to the married couple and to the world. But contraception turns the sexual act into something far different. By removing the possibility of transmitting human life, contraception turns sexual union into mere pleasure seeking. In many ways, contraception has become the feather in the throat of a culture engaging in sexual gluttony. Our contraceptive mentality is destroying us.
For one, it ruins marriages by devaluing spouses. Contraception sends a message between spouses: I want you, but not all of you; I want to give myself but not my entire self. Over time, sexual intercourse can devolve into self-taking rather than self-giving. When pleasure becomes more important than commitment, partners become objects rather than persons. Spouses stray in search of greater pleasure. If current trends continue, the divorce rate may exceed 50%. One of the suspected causes of divorce is the lack of children. And children of divorced parents are four times more likely to divorce. It’s a downward spiral.
Contraception also opens the sexual act to unmarried people lacking any commitment to each other, some mere adolescents. Emotionally, casual sex has done a lifetime of damage to those unprepared for it. Physically, it has caused rampant disease. In the ’60s, the only two sexually transmitted diseases were syphilis and gonorrhea. Today there are over 25 STDs, some of which are incurable. There are 15 million new STD cases annually.
Worst, the contraceptive mentality leads to the abortion mentality. Contraception treats human life as the enemy to be blocked at all costs. But it often fails. Male and female condoms fail at a 17% combined average rate. Those are worse odds than playing Russian roulette with a six-shooter. That’s why abortionists provide free condoms. When contraception users become pregnant, they are only a small horrible step away from abortion. Even before conception, the enemy already had been targeted. And the abortion mills stand ready to collect the bounty.
There are better ways to go. We preach zero tolerance for smoking, drinking, and drugs but distribute condoms to kids. It’s like telling them to smoke filter tip cigarettes. We must teach abstinence; it always works. We must also instill the value that true love waits until a lifetime commitment has been made. As married couples, we must responsibly plan in natural ways that cooperate with God’s wondrous plan for us. All can be done.
It makes no sense make enemies out of the next generation. We’ll never win.
Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois, and have six kids.
© 2012 Paul V. Esposito. Culture of Life. Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted. Comments? Visit us at http://www.the-culture-of-life.com/