Thursday, February 05, 2009

Fast Food and the Contraceptive Mentality

As a relatively new Catholic, I have to admit the teaching on contraception is one of the more enigmatic. However, I fully agree with the Church's teaching on contraception as summarized in Humanae Vitae, Evangelium Vitae and other documents. We are to avoid any form of artificial contraception because it is contrary to the dignity of the human person and the beauty of the conjugal union between husband and wife.

I frequently try to think of complex theological concepts in terms of everyday experiences so I can more fully embrace them and explain them to others. Today I was trying to envision something in our everyday life analagous to contraception in such a way it could be used to explain the teaching. This morning such an analogy popped into my head.

We live in a fast food world (at least in the US). At the root of this fast food mentality is an attitude that we can have whatever feels good when we want it with no consequences. We base our food choices on what happens in our mouth alone. There is almost no consideration to the long term effects of consuming large amounts of fast (or otherwise unhealthy) food. If our mouth likes it, there must not be a problem! We have effectively severed the union between good food and good health and made good health take a back seat. We ignore (to our demise) the natural, objective fact that food is directly related to health.

This is the same as contraception. We want sex without boundaries. Without regulation. Without consideration to anything other than how it feels to me. We choose to ignore the obvious, objective and complete reality of the conjugal union. This union is ordered toward procreation AND enjoyment. Separate procreation from enjoyment and you miss out on both. Sure, there is a carnal enjoyment while ignoring the procreative element of the conjugal union, but this is far from what God intended when he invented our sexuality.

Good food and good sex requires one to consider both the obvious temporal reality AND the deep reality of the union between the temporal and eternal. How we treat our bodies - whether with food or with sex - effects our soul. Ignoring this fact does not make it not true.

Interestingly enough, I heard other people discussing this same topic this morning on the way in to work. The subject articles are: Is Food the New Sex? and Sex - anything goes; food, not so.

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