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Comments (15)

TorahJew

#1, Jan 23, 2012 9:57am

I agree entirely with the conclusions, but being a Bible nut myself, I have a problem with the premise. Specifically, it is hard to reconcile eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, with awareness that nakedness is wrong.

The best explanation I have found is here.

Jules van Schaijik

#2, Jan 23, 2012 11:18am

Thanks for the post Colleen. It is true and well said. There is definitely a way in which contraception actualizes and perpetuates the rupture between the sexes that began in the Garden of Eden. It is not giving, but taking; not loving, but using.

It is anti-life, of course, but also anti-woman because motherhood is so deeply connected to the core and meaning of femininity. That is why Adam called his wife Eve (i.e. source of life). She was the "mother of all the living."

I once heard about someone, not religious, nor very moral either, whose reaction to contracepted sex was "Yuck! That's like having sex with a corpse!" I wish that the intuition expressed in that reaction was more widespread.

TorahJew

#3, Jan 23, 2012 11:44am

Sex is imitatio dei - it is a creative act.

Katie van Schaijik

#4, Jan 23, 2012 11:51am

TorahJew, Jan. 23 at 11:44am

Sex is imitatio dei - it is a creative act.

Yes. It follows, doesn't it, that contraception is a destructive act.  

Sex gives life; contraception takes it away.

TorahJew

#5, Jan 23, 2012 12:24pm

Almost. Sex has the *potential* for life, but the certainty of building love. So it has value regardless of whether conception can actually occur.

As such, contraception is not purely destructive, but it does limit the way in which we can follow in G-d's path.

In Jewish Law, a man is required to procreate. A woman is not. So a man cannot waste his seed, but a woman can decide, through various means, whether the seed will find fertile ground. It is her option.

In general contraception is discouraged, but it is not considered fundamentally wrong. Love still has its value.

Colleen Toder

#6, Jan 23, 2012 12:28pm

Torah Jew, the writing to which you linked appears to be arguing that Adam and Eve clothed themselves to show the holiness of the body?

I am not sure I agree. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph #377 says,

The "mastery" over the world that God offered man from the beginning was realized above all within man himself; mastery of self. The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence that subjugates him to the pleasures of the senses, covetousness of earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason.

After the Fall, concupiscence, or man's tendency toward sinfulness, enters into the relations between the sexes. This makes them realize that they can hurt each other, and the trust between them is broken. They cover up to hide their essential selves from someone they no longer trust.

Katie van Schaijik

#7, Jan 23, 2012 12:35pm

TorahJew, Jan. 23 at 12:24pm

Almost. Sex has the *potential* for life, but the certainty of building love. So it has value regardless of whether conception can actually occur.

Yes, of course.

But contraception is a deliberate human intervention to block the pro-creative power (and God's collaboration).  That is what makes it evil.

In Jewish Law, a man is required to procreate. A woman is not. So a man cannot waste his seed, but a woman can decide, through various means, whether the seed will find fertile ground. It is her option.

Sorry, but this strikes me as a entirely spurious distinction.  It is "her option" in the sense that she's at liberty to do it.  But so is the man to "spill his seed."

Both acts are violations of the moral law, offenses against the nature and dignity of sex, and offenses against God.

TorahJew

#8, Jan 23, 2012 12:46pm

Colleen Toder, Jan. 23 at 12:28pm

Torah Jew, the writing to which you linked appears to be arguing that Adam and Eve clothed themselves to show the holiness of the body?

Their view of their bodies did not reflect they way their souls saw themselves. The fruit allowed them to see the dualisms that fill our world.

It is not actually that different from your Catechism - that man saw his body and soul as being a union before they ate the fruit.

But it is OK if our conclusions differ - it would follow, since our assumptions are different.  I just was sharing my Torah-centric viewpoint FWIW.

TorahJew

#9, Jan 23, 2012 12:51pm

Katie van Schaijik, Jan. 23 at 12:35pm

Sorry, but this strikes me as a entirely spurious distinction.  It is "her option" in the sense that she's at liberty to do it.  But so is the man to "spill his seed."

Both acts are violations of the moral law, offenses against the nature and dignity of sex, and offenses against God.

I think the source of the difference in Jewish Law is that G-d does not require anyone to risk their lives. Pregnancy was historically a very real risk for women, and not for men.

I see how your logic is consistent, though. Would you view a hysterectomy (for medical reasons) as similarly an offense against god? In Jewish tradition, women were free to make that choice, though it was sorrowful for their husbands.

Katie van Schaijik

#10, Jan 23, 2012 1:18pm

TorahJew, Jan. 23 at 12:51pm

Would you view a hysterectomy (for medical reasons) as similarly an offense against god? In Jewish tradition, women were free to make that choice, though it was sorrowful for their husbands.

Not if it were for medical reasons--true ones, I mean.

As for God not requiring anyone to risk their lives, I wonder why you think so?  Seems to me He requires it quite often in the face of moral absolutes.  Isn't the OT full of iterations of the basic principle that it is better to lose one's life than to break God's commands?  In the NT, we find, "He who loses his life for my sake will save it."

But apart from that, if a woman's health were truly at risk if she were to become pregnant there is and always has been the possibility of abstinence.  

TorahJew

#11, Jan 23, 2012 1:46pm

Katie van Schaijik, Jan. 23 at 1:18pm

As for God not requiring anyone to risk their lives, I wonder why you think so?  Seems to me He requires it quite often in the face of moral absolutes.  Isn't the OT full of iterations of the basic principle that it is better to lose one's life than to break God's commands?  In the NT, we find, "He who loses his life for my sake will save it."

In Judaism we are not supposed to seek out risk. So while there are (a very few) instances in which we must lay down our lives, we are generally commanded to live. As the Psalms say, "the dead cannot praise Him."

Colleen Toder

#12, Jan 23, 2012 1:56pm

I think there is a difference between seeking risk and trusting the Lord. Take Judith -- she might have not succeeded in cutting of Holofernes' head, but she didn't worry about that because she trusted the Lord implicitly. Is this not the same thing asked of us all? When she chides the people for their cowardice, she is speaking to us as well. Trust in the Lord, and He will save!

TorahJew

#13, Jan 23, 2012 2:06pm

This comes down to doctrinal differences. Judaism does not require that G-d be involved in natural world; his connection to this world is through people. We can agree to disagree on the differences that follow.

Jules van Schaijik

#14, Jan 23, 2012 4:18pm

Colleen Toder, Jan. 23 at 12:28pm

They cover up to hide their essential selves from someone they no longer trust.

That's interesting.

I usually think of the purpose of clothing as hiding sexual values in order to draw attention to the value of the person. In some ways that is almost the opposite of what you said: we cover up to reveal our essential value to those who might be tempted to view us as a mere object.

But your way of putting it highlights a different and equally valid point. Namely, that our sexuality embodies our deepest secret, our most intimate self, which we must protect until we can give it to our spouse.

Hermitess21C

#15, Feb 12, 2012 10:54pm

Lovely to read your thoughtful, beautiful piece, Colleen...I will more likely be around here more often than our other meeting-place...(Maybe a "meet-up" for folks at TPP?

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