There seems to be a case of the “gimmie-gimmies” going around. While the First Amendment is essentially on trial before the Supreme Court, a student group at Villanova University wants free contraception offered at the Augustinian University, modeling itself after similar programs at Georgetown University and Boston College. While the student group would not be an official part of the University or receive financial support from Villanova, the group would provide contraception and even condom delivery to students on campus. There are, no doubt, many students who do not share the worldview and moral views of the University they attend. This aside, the reasoning offered by students quoted in the school paper in support of the group is disturbing. Given their tone, you would think the University had turned off their water or denied them access to the cafeteria. Access to contraceptives is taken to be a given by these students and their words reveal the new contraceptive orthodoxy.
One freshman provides some startling insight into his own psyche. “If you’re [sexually involved] with someone, and you don’t have a condom, you’re not going to just stop and say, ‘Oh wait, let me walk a mile to CVS and get a condom’,” explains the freshman.
God forbid one should be expected to practice self-mastery! And a whole mile? Really? Is it uphill both ways in the snow? The Proclaimers would be disappointed. But consider this line of thinking: He’s saying that the woman with whom he decides to fornicate shouldn’t expect him to interrupt their sexual proceedings, should he find he doesn’t have a condom. After all, who can reasonably be expected to stop themselves? Does this attitude reflect reverence, respect, recognition that the other is an “I” and not an “it”? Does this not sound like the tacit acceptance of rape culture?
From another freshman: “Regardless of the University’s stance on contraception or sex before marriage, people should have access to preventative and safety measures if they so choose.” Don’t they already have widespread access to contraceptives? Aren’t contraceptives practically hanging from trees in Western culture? Even Olympic athletes get a per diem condom allowance. And apparently there’s a CVS just a mile away!
The language these students are using is instructive. Contraception is “preventative”. This is taking a page from the Kathleen Sabelius playbook who once compared hormonal contraception to flu shots, noting that both were “preventative”, though she failed to note that while flu shots prevent an actual disease, a pathology, contraception prevents a new human being, which is not a pathology. What’s being “prevented”? A new human life. A new immortal soul, Imago Dei, a living icon of the invisible God. “Safety measures”. From what? Pregnancy is not a disease. Maybe they mean safety from commitment, obligation, and responsibility? It does not occur to the students that if a freely-chosen act is dangerous or might result in serious unintended consequences, then perhaps one ought not engage in the act in the first place.
Another freshman has this to add: “The University’s current policy encourages risky behavior, because in a setting where a condom would be necessary, if you don’t already have one and they’re unavailable, it’s unlikely for someone to go out of the way to access them.” Again we hear the suggestion that one can’t reasonably be expected to stop or control themselves. When and where is a condom ever “necessary”? Necessary for what? How, exactly, the University “promotes risky behavior” by not providing students more opportunity to engage in it in the first place is unclear.
In the often (and unjustly) maligned 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI makes a prophetic warning concerning what would follow in a culture that accepted the contraceptive mentality. It is not difficult to see that he has since been vindicated in his predictions. Even a recent article in Business Insider admits as much.
In paragraph 17, the Pope predicts,
“Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.”
Promoting and providing for easy and free access to contraception promotes behavior that college students may already be tempted toward anyway. This is where the University needs to pastorally explain that by not providing for or supporting the distribution of contraception, the University actually does the students a tremendous act of charity by limiting their ability to engage in sinful and destructive behavior. Contrary to the suggestion of one of the freshman quoted above, it is not the University that promotes such behavior, but the contraceptive mentality that sees fornication as an unstoppable and unavoidable force of nature. “Necessary”, as one student called it. It is the widespread availability of contraceptives that encourages and promotes “risky” behavior.
The Pope writes,
“…A man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”
Not only is there an implicit objectification of sexual partners in the comments of the above-quoted students, but the level of care for the women (let alone “reverence”) involved is so low that the students do not even think it reasonable for them to be expected to stop themselves once the act has begun. Welcome to Brave New World where contraception is just a given. It has become enshrined as a “right” in secular conscience and now even in the minds of students at a Catholic institution of learning. Somewhere Pope Paul VI is saying, “I told you so.”
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