The Federal Government (The Department of Health and Human Services) says that Catholics must pay for contraception. This is bad news. But why? Mostly, we hear the religious liberty argument, which goes roughly like this: the Catholic Church says that Catholics must not pay for contraception; people should be free to follow their own religious rules; so Catholics should not be required to pay for contraception. The argument is meant to appeal to a broad audience. Who, after all, could be against religious liberty?
The religious liberty argument, however, can distract us--if we are not careful. Don't forget how the federal mandate violates our religious liberty; don't forget what the mandate will force us to do. Remember that it forces us to pay for contraception.
If we focus entirely on religious liberty, then we will miss the chance to say what's wrong with contraception. And this is a real shame. The Church has (enjoys?) a lot of public attention as a result of the mandate. Why not use this time to speak, not only about the importance of religious liberty, but also about the Church's positive teachings on life, marriage, and the family, and how contraception is poison for all these things. We should be using this time to communicate. Regardless of whether or not the mandate stands, contraception is an enormous problem. We have to deal with that problem, and this is a good time--perhaps the only time we have left--to deal with it.
This is also the perfect time to deal with contraception within the Church. The Bishops say they will go to jail before following the mandate. That's quite a witness. Let's talk about contraception against the backdrop of their witness. It is a perfect time for Catholics to step back and say: "Wow. Apparently contraception is a big deal to the bishops and priests. Maybe there is something wrong with what I'm doing. Maybe I shouldn't be on the pill." A perfect opening for teaching--or for discussion.
I propose, for the next few posts or comments, that we talk about reasons for the Church's position on contraception, in its various forms.