Monday, May 01, 2006

Open Embrace... Unless It's Hard

A while back a Protestant couple, Bethany and Sam Torode, wrote a book called Open Embrace in which they detailed their journey to a sexuality within conformity to Catholic teachings; specifically to practice Natural Family Planning and to do away with artificial contraceptives.

Catholics around the world lauded them for their discovery, as it was evidence of the plain, discernible truth of the immorality of contraception.

Sadly, the Torodes have reneged on their discovery.

In an open letter on their site, they explain their reasons.

Reading it is almost repugnant to me. They try to justify their decision to use barrier methods by stating:

We now fully believe in the power of the Resurrection and we no longer live our lives constantly on the alert for "selfishness." Yes, we are marred by sin, but God has given us new hearts with his image strongly growing in them -- which means our deepest desires are true and good.

In other words, "When we love God all our desires are holy, and thus selfishness is a virtue. I can do no wrong." What a magnetic lie. What utter claptrap.

This is a prime example of how Protestants flip-flop on so many of the great moral issues of the day, and why their various subgroups can never agree when one has flipped and the other has flopped. Aren't they all following the voice of God, and thus not in the wrong? The lack of a central teaching authority, which does not simply make up the rules, but rather receives them in the fullness of revelation from Christ himself, is to blame. Shades of Henry VIII in the Torodes here today.

They claim that a lifetime of abstaining during ovulation, the peak time of a woman's sexual desire, is a "theological attack on women." As for the more extended times of abstinence, such as after pregnancy and during menopause, they "didn't know" the self control would be "more harmful for a marriage than good."

Now I'm the kind of guy who can read between the lines quite well, and what I see in their letter is a capitulation to the world's overwhelming pressure to view sex as an end in itself. They hadn't broken out of the contraceptive mentality when they wrote their book. While they claim to see sexuality as something beautiful, they still don't get it.

Interestingly, they had also recently become members of the Greek Orthodox Church. This is a step I've seen several almost-converts taking when they can't get over the stigma of Catholicism. They just can't submit to an absolute authority unless it agrees with what they believe.

G.K. Chesterton, of happy memory, famously said, "We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. What we want is a religion that is right where we are wrong." That assumes we are willing to admit we can be wrong about something, about anything. That assumes we want to be right about everything, even if it's hard or requires that we change.

But some people refuse to turn off their brains when they turn their lives over to Christ. Some people are too damn smart for their own good. There is a universe of wisdom in Christ's instruction to become like little children (Matthew 18:3,4). Children accept what they are taught, if it's taught well. They listen, if the speaker is gentle. They obey, if the reward is worth it, or if the punishment is frightening.

That's what being Catholic means to me. Sure, some will say that I'm demeaning myself by shutting off my intellect when it comes to the mysteries of the faith.

Let 'em. My Father will take care of me.


  1. I suppose the flip flop mentality along with the lack of authority is what has enabled them to turn their back on 1,900+ years of Christian teaching. After all, until 1930 EVERY Christian believed that artificial birth control was contrary to the Gospel.

  2. Further to athanasius contra mundo...until 1968 all orthodox also believed artificial birth control is contrary to the Gospel. That's when John Meyendorff broke off - and the rest is sad history for the Orthodox on this topic.


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