Where Logic Meets Love

Escaping the False Dichotomies (or Why I Think *gasp* Condoms are OK)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

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Escaping the False Dichotomies (or Why I Think *gasp* Condoms are OK) | Faith Permeating Life
Sometimes it feels like I'm the only one with a nuanced view of the world.

Some examples:

1) I spent some time recently reading through some blogs talking about Natural Family Planning, to see other people's thoughts on the matter. I found quite a few variations on the "more children=better" theme, and a lot of people who were very active in pro-life and anti-contraception movements.

Mike and I practice NFP, and we love it, and I am absolutely an advocate of it for anyone who is in a stable, monogamous partnership in which both partners can be equally committed to the NFP philosophy. But I believe it's unrealistic to try to operate under this idea that everyone should be abstinent until marriage and that it would be a terrible compromise to meet people where they are. People ARE going to have sex outside of marriage, and I think it's a lot more beneficial to encourage people with STDs to use condoms and people who sleep around to use birth control pills than it is to just try to ignore those people and push for nothing but abstinence and NFP. That's fine if you don't want to be the one handing out condoms, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the people who are.

I think it's possible to be an advocate for and a model of something you believe in without preaching it as the only possible way to live. And I also believe that targeting root problems -- such as poverty and lack of sexual education -- is a more beneficial route than legislating your views.

2) I came across a fascinating debate on the issue of overpopulation in the comments of one of the abovementioned blogs. As far as I can tell, there are two main camps on this issue.
  • The first is "Just look at [fill in the blank city] where there are far more people than can be fed/housed/etc. Clearly the world is overpopulated."
  • The other is "If you took the number of people in the world and divided it by the amount of available food / the amount of liveable space / etc., you would see that there's plenty for everyone. Overpopulation is a myth."

Now certainly, just because one city is overpopulated, you can't extrapolate that to the entire world. And you can't logically tell an American woman that her having seven children is directly contributing to the lack of food for people in Rio de Janeiro.

On the other hand, here's the part no one seems to address: Unless we who have more than enough land and more than enough food are willing to share with those people who do not have enough, the whole "there's enough food and land to go around" argument is also irrelevant. And it seems to me that a lot of the same people who are using "overpopulation is a myth" to argue against birth control and legal abortions are the same people (::cough:: conservatives ::cough::) who condemn any sort of redistribution of resources as "socialist" AND the same people who want to drive out a lot of the immigrants who are "stealing" our jobs/land/what-have-you.

I don't think you can say the world, as a whole, is or is not overpopulated, but I do think we have a commitment to our fellow humans to be responsible stewards of the world's resources.

3) I feel very passionately both about my Catholic faith and about gay rights. The fact that this is somehow considered a contradiction infuriates me. (See this long list for why I don't think this is a contradiction.)

It's frustrating for me in more than one way. It's frustrating to hear hate speech from other Christians, particularly Catholics, and particularly Catholic leadership. I hate hearing the Bible twisted to serve people's political agendas, the same way it was used to argue against interracial marriage, women being able to vote, and many, many other things. BUT I also hate hearing people who are pro-gay speaking unilaterally negatively against religion and religious people.

Now, I completely realize that a lot of anti-gay sentiments come from people speaking from a religious perspective and that this can lead to a lot of confusion and self-hatred for many LGBT people that is only resolved through renouncing religion altogether. But I watched a lot of videos from the "It Gets Better" project and I cringed whenever people made sweeping anti-religious statements. I wanted to yell, "Don't you know that there are people who believe in God who are your allies??"

I was really excited to learn about Catholics for Equality. I found "It Gets Better" videos from a gay teacher of theology and a straight Christian ally. I also spent some time on Saturday watching RobTish's awesome videos, which systematically debunk the main arguments against gay marriage, particularly the religion-based ones. All of these things make me hopeful that religion and homosexuality can stop being enemies someday.

I love the idea behind the Rally to Restore Sanity because it gives me hope that I'm not the only one who wants to have discussions outside of the framework of a false dichotomy. There are so many of these supposedly polarizing issues in this world, and I feel like the generally accepted way of holding an opinion is to plant yourself at one pole and then find evidence to support that view.

I dare anyone to call me wishy-washy on my beliefs for choosing to stand between two fake poles. I feel very strongly about all of the things I've talked about in this post!

My suggestion to you is that next time you stumble upon an either/or debate, ask yourself, "Is it possible both sides are right? Or neither side? Where is the truth is both arguments?"

Naturally, I am open to discussion on any of the above issues or anything else, although I generally find that others have already explained things better than I could. (Thus the rather link-happy post today!)


  1. like. (Where's the button? It seems we have buttons for everything now...)

  2. Thanks for responding some to Magda on Jen's blog. She was kind of ... crazy. (THAT'S RIGHT I'M CALLING HER OUT.) I was tired of dealing with it, tired of being the only one dealing with it, so thanks. :)

  3. Just read this post. I agree with all of this. Nice! It's so refreshing to hear a Christian espousing your position on gay marriage.

  4. @Jaimie Haha, you're welcome. I subscribed to you after reading your comments because I thought, Thank God, a sane person amidst this craziness!

  5. Some time in the future I'm going to start NFP. One step at a time!

  6. @Carla
    Go for it! As much as I dislike CCL's magazine, their book, the Art of Natural Family Planning, is great. I read another book previous to that and it was really confusing. CCL has a very straightforward and easy-to-understand charting method. I've been planning to do a post explaining NFP in more detail, so maybe I'll do that soon.


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