2. Humanae Vitae Dialogue: The People of God

This is the second of several comments on an email dialogue with a gentleman who had, I think, the same orthodox Catholic education that I received at the Institute of Lay Theology in the early Sixties but who dissents from the teaching of Humanae Vitae.  In our conversation he would write statements such as these:  “You are dead wrong in your defense of rhythm and other sexist notions still held by a dwindling minority of the People of God” and “The People of God in large measure disagree with [Humanae Vitae].” 

The gist of this argument, that has been around since the beginning of the dissent in 1968, is that large numbers of Catholics can’t be wrong.  If you were to set it up as an argument, it would look like this.
       Major premise:  If a majority of Catholics believe something, such numbers prove  that their position is the work of the Holy Spirit and therefore true.
       Minor premise:  A majority of Catholics today believe that it is morally okay for them to use unnatural forms of birth control.
       Conclusion:  Therefore, the teaching of Humanae Vitae is not binding.

The only true part of that argument is the minor premise.  The major premise is false; it could never be proven, and it is diametrically opposed to the Biblical treatment of the People of God. 

The People of God were first organized by Moses.  Prior to that time, they were the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their tribal descendants.  Immediately after Moses delivered them from the slavery of Egypt and through the Red Sea, there was great rejoicing, but that soon turned to grumbling, rebellion, and the building of a golden calf to which they rendered homage.  According to the dissenters’ way of thinking, Moses must have been wrong.  The vast majority were against him.  Moses, however, had some more conversation with Almighty God.  He repeated the Commandments.  The conclusion is that God and one prophet make a majority.  It’s the same today.

St. Paul commented on this in 1 Corinthians 10:1-5.  He reviewed the great events of the Exodus — they had all been led through the sea and had all eaten of the supernatural food and drink.  “Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased.” 

In Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality, I review the dissenters’ position much more thoroughly and provide multiple examples from the contemporary People of God to illustrate the error of the dissenting position.  The more you look at the People of God with all of its weaknesses and self-interest, the more ridiculous the dissenters’ argument becomes.  Once again, God has used a reluctant prophet, the Pope, to tell the People what they really didn’t want to hear.  Once again, God and one prophet make a majority. 

Just about your last chance.  Let me remind you that Sex and the Marriage Covenant is normally priced at $17.95, and with 428 pages, that’s a buy today.  Ignatius Press is having a huge August sale, so it’s currently available for only $5.00.  Hurry.  This sale lasts only through August 31.  Sex and the Marriage Covenant costs less than a good hamburger, and it’s got meat that will last you for years.

Next week: Humanae Vitae dialogue on eco-breastfeeding

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant

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