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By Paula Cheng
This is the first in a series of articles on why I DO NOT support the RH Bill. This is also in concert with a campaign that the Filipino-Chinese Catholic Youth is launching to promote awareness of this issue. Please bear in mind that I am coming from a Catholic’s perspective and that I cannot separate my views and principles from that which I firmly believe in. As a final disclaimer, I am by no means an authority in this matter. I am merely writing about my point of view regarding the issue, and sometimes, interject what I’ve researched/learned from various sources such as books, journals, encyclicals, pastoral letters, doctrine classes, etc.
Should you wish to talk more about this, contact me here.
With that, happy reading!
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
I’ve been to many weddings (whether as a guest or as a wedding coordinator) and it never fails to move my heart whenever I see couples exchanging their vows. For me, this is one of the most self-giving experiences one could possibly have. To give yourself fully and unconditionally to a person, to promise to love and to cherish your spouse till death do you part, to bind yourself to another with God as your witness.
Marriage is such a wonderful gift that God has given us. Aside from the unitive nature of this sacrament, uniting and binding two people in love, marriage is also procreative. It allows us to participate in the creation of new life. We become co-creators of God through marriage. In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI tells us: husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives. Through the sexual act, man and woman are not only able to “complete” their union, they also become instruments for God to bring new life to the Earth.
So how does this whole thing relate to the RH Bill?
For one, the RH bill has a provision which prohibits medical practitioners from not performing sterilization procedures such as vasectomy or tubal ligation on the basis of lack of consent from the spouse of the person undergoing the procedure. While the underlying principle of this provision is the autonomy of the person who will have the operation, we cannot discount the fact that it destroys the unity and harmony that should be protected between a man and a woman bound by marriage. It creates an environment of distrust between husband and wife by virtue of not consulting with the other an act which can gravely affect their married life. Many would reason out that this is the only way to prevent abusive husbands from “using” their wives which result to another pregnancy and another child, adding to the already too many mouths to be fed, but when we look at this more closely, what is the true root of the problem? It’s not the pregnancy or the children themselves, but rather, the attitude of the husband and his notion that he is more powerful than his wife. We cannot solve a problem by just addressing the symptoms, we have to solve the underlying cause, otherwise, it would just be a band-aid solution, and the real problem will just come up in another form in the future. When you think about it, undergoing sterilization procedures will not even prevent husbands from abusing their wives. Rather, it just prevents the creation of new life, but the real problem of abuse is still there. The wives will still feel hurt and used. Therefore, I believe it is more imperative for us to focus our attention on addressing the root causes to really eradicate the problem.
Furthermore, the underlying ideal that we can do whatever we want with our own bodies because it is ours is objectionable. In the latest pastoral letter of the CBCP (Choosing Life, Rejecting the RH Bill, 30 January 2011), the Bishops re-emphasized the teaching of the Church that everything comes from God and that we are tasked to take care of these “things” including our bodies. For, indeed, as created by God our bodies are given to us to keep and nourish. We are stewards of our own bodies and we must follow God’s will on this matter according to an informed and right conscience. Such a conscience must certainly be enlightened and guided by religious and moral teachings provided by various religious and cultural traditions regarding the fundamental dignity and worth of human life. We do not own our bodies, we merely “borrowed” it from God. Just like borrowing books from a library, our usage of the books must be according to the “rules” set by the librarian. With our bodies, we must take care of it according to how God wants us to take care of it.
Finally, the sexual act is a gift from God that makes something necessary (the propagation of life) pleasurable. Just like in eating, we derive pleasure from something that we need to do in order to live – take in food. But anything done in excess, or done just for the pleasure of it, is, at the very least, questionable. When we eat in excess of what we should, we become fat and eventually develop illnesses related to obesity. When we eat just for the pleasure of eating and vomit it afterwards to prevent the “negative” consequences, as in the case of bulimics, we call it a disorder. Such is also the case for the sexual act. Contrary to becoming “masters” of our bodies, we in fact become slaves to them, giving in to every whim and desire, without exercising our free will and moral judgment. When we perform it in excess or do it just for the pleasure obtained from it, it loses its inherent God-given purpose of uniting a couple bound by marriage and the possibility of creating new life. On the other hand, when done in the “right manner”, it becomes a sacred act which fulfills God’s plan for humans. The sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is, as the recent [Second Vatican] Council recalled, “noble and worthy.” (Humanae Vitae 11).
There, that ends my first installment in these series of entries. I’m not really here to force you to jump over to our side . I’m just trying to let you see the another option, a counterargument, just to get you thinking, to give you more knowledge on why some of us do not support the RH bill.