Sunday, February 18, 2007

Condomnation

I recently ran into the father of one of my son’s classmates. Both boys graduated from high school last year. His son went to a state university and my son to a private Christian university. We talked for awhile and the conversation got around to our common concerns of having our boys in college. I’ll call this gentleman Jack. That’s not is real name. At least, I don’t think it’s his real name. I don’t know his real name.

Jack told me his son had drifted away from his faith shortly after high school graduation, but was now going to church again after experiencing the loose moral life existing on many college campuses today. He told his dad of returning to his dorm room one weekend night to find his roommate in bed with a girl, and another girl, provided by his roommate, waiting in his own bed. The boy had the fortitude to turn around and walk out.

Jack went on to talk about the orientation day on campus he and wife attended with their son last summer. Neither Jack nor his wife had ever gone to college. The orientation was a new experience. My wife and I had been through it a few years ago when our oldest son entered another state university. Their orientation day was similar to ours up to a point. In both cases, we attended a meeting in a large lecture hall with a number of other parents. Eventually, they broke us down into small groups of about ten parents. Spouses were not allowed to be in the same group. Each group was given a topic for discussion, and of course, there was a facilitator to keep things moving in the direction the facilitator desired.

I have little recollection of what topic we were given. It has been quite a few years ago since my wife and I first went through this. I do remember feeling awkward about the whole situation. It felt odd trying to problem solve with people we had just met, and I did not understand the intended purpose of all this. In the case of Jack and his wife, the purpose seemed quite clear. They were asked what they would do if they arrived to pick up their child for Christmas break and found a pack of condoms on their child’s dorm room dresser.

Not knowing Jack well, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by his answer. He said most of the parents in his group were in denial. Most every one said the condoms could not possibly belong to their child. They would have to belong to a roommate or someone else on the floor. Jack seemed to find this amusing, saying that these parents must be na├»ve to think their kids are not sexually active. He said while he discourages his son from being sexually active, he did tell him to use protection if the situation ever arises.

About this time, the conversation ended and I was left to ponder all of this. I found it disturbing from a number of views. First of all, to what position is the university attempting to orient these parents? Is the message that we know your kids better than you do and you might as well get used to the idea that they will be having sex with one another and it’s okay? It would seem that way to me.

Secondly, Jack’s son wants to get into youth ministry. Is this the mindset we want our youth ministers to have? No wonder kids think pre-marital sex is acceptable behavior these days. A local radio station regularly carries Dr. Dean Edell’s medical minutes. I often want to bang my radio with a hammer when I hear his reports. Recently, he criticized government funding for programs that teach Abstinence only. According to the doctor, these programs are ineffective and a waste of money.

I was immediately reminded of something I heard Catholic Apologist Tim Staples say on an audio tape of his conversion story during an impromptu response to a question about the effects of Protestant philosophy on our society. The tape was produced by St. Joseph Radio of Orange, California in the 1990’s, and his statement made such an impression on me that I transcribed it many years ago for my archive. Tim was speaking about justification, specifically the Lutheran idea of covering over as opposed to the Catholic understanding of the infusion of grace. Luther supposedly used the imagery of cow dung covered in snow to represent us being covered over by the righteousness of Christ. This is in contrast to the Catholic Church teaching that through the infusion of Sanctifying Grace, we are actually transformed. Tim went on the say the following:

“Listen, I know from being a youth pastor in the fundamentalist church, not having this understanding of the infusion of grace, and the real transformation that is going on and is necessary in our lives, that deep down in our psyche, we really don’t believe that people can really live a holy life. Whereas, the Catholic Church teaches, not only can you, but you must. ‘Be ye perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,’ you see. There is a depth to the spirituality that results from this.

“Now listen, our kids today are told in the schools, you know, they throw condoms at them, right? This is the answer, you know. What does our culture say to our young people when they say, ‘You guys, I know you’re just little animals and you’re gonna have sex anyway so we’ll throw condoms at you. What are they saying to them? They’re saying that you’re really not good. You really can’t live a chaste life. So, we’re just going to throw condoms at you and have you go in the back seat of your car and do whatever you want. Just protect yourself. The message is, ‘You’re cow dung!’ I really believe it’s an influence of a bad philosophy of the human person that really comes down to us through Protestant culture, which the United States is, a Protestant culture. We’ve come from Protestant roots.

Tim hit the nail on the head. This is exactly the message being sprayed on our young people and even their parents on college campuses today. It is the same message Jack conveys to his son, the future youth minister, when he tells him to use protection if the situation arises. It is a bad philosophy of the human person that has succumbed to this notion that sin is part of our nature, that we have no control. It is a denial of free will, and it is wrong.

The rest of Tim’s answer: “Whereas the Catholic Church says, ‘No, you’re not cow dung; you’re created in the image and likeness of God, and you don’t have to live like an animal. And then further, with the sacraments and the infusion and transformation, you can live a holy life.”

Next year, my youngest will be enrolling in a state university. I have been asking myself how I would respond if faced with the same orientation exercise as Jack. I imagine myself surrounded by a gaggle of early Gen X parents and a liberal academia nut facilitator, trying to gently bring me to the realization that my daughter is cow dung, which of course, they already know without having ever met her.

I would answer by saying, “We are Catholic. Condoms, and in fact all artificial forms of birth control, are not permitted even between husband and wife, let alone by our unmarried children. To those who accept artificial birth control as a routine part of your lives, this may be difficult for you to understand

“I recently heard it explained by comparing sex to eating. Both acts sustain life, and both are pleasurable. We get into trouble when we try to separate the pleasure from the intended purpose. If a man eats for pleasure and then goes into the bathroom and purges the stomach, we call it an eating disorder. If a man has sex for pleasure and then spills the seed, it is also disordered.

“Some of you here may be Christian, but not Catholic. Do you realize that even Protestants forbade birth control until 1930? Since even the most fundamental Christians have caved in to the pressures of our secular society, today we Catholics are viewed as the oddballs. We are merely holding firm to the Apostolic teaching handed down and supported by Scripture. In our family, we try to live our faith in the way we conduct our lives. I hope you can understand that, and if any of you would like to discuss it further, I would be more than happy to have a dialogue with you.”

So you see, using condoms to prevent pregnancy resulting from pre-marital sex between teenage children is morally wrong on many levels, and you should not allow anyone in contemporary academia to pressure you into thinking otherwise. And if they do, you may want to consider spending your hard-earned money sending your son or daughter elsewhere.