Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #99

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Well, I was scheduled to speak at a conference in Indianapolis on November 1st, but the conference was postponed until sometime next year, so no travel on the calendar right now until February when I go out to California and Texas.

Just to let you know as to an upcoming change in my modus operandi, something I’ve mentioned as a possibility before but will soon become a reality: I’m going to put up an “Apologist’s Advice” page or “Ask the Apologist” page on my website. Right now, I spend an hour or two, sometimes as much as 3-4 hours, per day, just answering individuals’ apologetics questions. And even with that, there are more questions than I have the time to answer. Because of the time spent answering these questions, I am unable to develop new talks, work on my apologetics book, develop tracts, develop apologetics programs for parishes and schools – all these things I have on the drawing board but never have the time to do.

Plus, only a very small percentage of the folks whose questions I answer ever make a donation to this apostolate, even though I can spend anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours answering their question…which doesn’t quite seem just to me. If I was independently wealthy, that would be no problem. But I’m not. I work one full-time and 3 part-time jobs to make ends meet. That old adage, “time is money,” applies doubly so in my case. So, once this new page goes up, I am going to start prioritizing the questions according to donations received from the parties asking the questions. For questions that take me 10 minutes or less to answer, I will ask for a $10 donation. For a question that takes me 10-30 minutes to answer, a $25 donation. And, for questions requiring more than 30 minutes, or for questions where I’m asked to review dialogues someone is having with a non-Catholic and to give advice or write a response, a $50 donation.

I’m not saying I won’t answer the questions of those who do not make a donation, especially if they are a student or on a fixed income or unemployed and such, I’m just saying that the questions that are accompanied by donations will be answered within days, if not hours, instead of months. And, if you are in a situation as I’ve just described, with little income, I will prioritize your questions, as well.

Again, I wish I had the time and the budget to spend answering as many individual questions as possible for free, but the reality is that I simply cannot do so. I hope all of you can understand my situation.


After sending out last week’s issue, I received a number of questions, comments, and rebuts, so I’m going to address several of those in this newsletter.

WARNING: Some material in this particular newsletter may not be suitable for children under 15 or so. Adults, please read through this before allowing any kids to read.


Before I get to the questions and the comments I received, and my responses, I just want to mention a couple of things:

1) As one person who sent me an email pointed out, I stated that someone should use NFP only if they have “serious” reasons. That is what I have heard many times from many different sources. However, in the Catechism, the actual terminology used is “just reasons.” He mentioned that he thought the term “serious reasons” laid too much of a burden on couples considering using NFP. Well, it seems to me that a “just” reason, would pretty much have to be a serious reason. A reason involving mental, emotional, or physical health. Serious financial reasons. And so on. Not something along the lines of, “Well, we want a new car and we really want the new Mercedes convertible, but if we have another child, we’ll have to get a van, and probably a used one.” Whether one uses the word “serious” or “just” to describe the reasons to use NFP, I think a couple should thoroughly review paragraphs 2364-2371 when trying to decide God’s will for their particular situation.

2) Some scripture verses to consider: 1 Cor 7:5 – “Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer…”

Eccles 3:1,5 – For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing."



Question/Comment: In the interest of it mattering that the means justify the ends, I have to take issue with you. I don’t disagree with your overall “ends” (conclusions), but some of the ways you get there fall out of your usual extremely logical progressions. Particularly:

“Physical death in the form of AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases that flourish because of promiscuous sex made possible by contraception and the widespread acceptance and practice of homosexual sex that is the natural consequence of separating the unitive (love-giving) aspect of sexual relations from the procreative (life-giving) aspects of sexual relations.”

I believe condoms prevent the “flourishing” of AIDS by having a 99% success rate in preventing it’s spread, which is higher than the condom’s contraceptive rate. Additionally, I believe the hundreds of thousands of babies born with HIV each week in Africa would argue with you that contraception hasn’t necessarily promoted the spread of AIDS or promiscuous sex. If contraception were being used, they wouldn’t be being born, right? People are promiscuous and spread disease regardless of the availability of contraception, this is well documented in public health records. It is the natural (or unnatural) progression of temptation and evil.

In addition, the last 15 years have seen the rates of HIV among homosexual men plummet with public health and awareness initiatives, while rates have risen drastically in heterosexuals, IV drug users and, particularly, in third world countries where little contraception or education is available but promiscuous sex is common. Again, promiscuous sex is not “made possible” by contraception nor by the acceptance of homosexual practice. Promiscuous sex among gay men was far more rampant before being gay was widely accepted and many, many more men were “in the closet” when HIV was being spread unchecked. That doesn’t mean contraception is right, and I’m not saying that, but I think your statement in this case is wrong and weakens the rest of your argument. Speaking as a physician, these are the battles I fight every day in arguing against contraception, so your facts have got to be straight.

Response: I believe part of this objection to what I said is based on some poor wording on my part, but I will also have to say that I disagree with some of what the doctor is saying here. Regarding my wording, promiscuous sex is not necessarily “made possible” by contraception – people can and do engage in promiscuous sex with or without contraception. So, that was poor wording on my part. What I was saying, even though I didn’t say it clearly, was that the incidence of promiscuous sex greatly increases with the widespread availability of contraception and that it is the mentality which accepts the separation of the unitive (love-giving) and procreative (life-giving) dimensions of the sexual act as being “legitimate” or a “good thing,” which makes promiscuous sex possible. And, as the incidence of promiscuous sex grows, so does the incidence of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).

Regarding where I disagree with what the doctor says, it’s that while condoms may indeed reduce the rate of the transmission of HIV among homosexuals, they do, however, ‘make possible” a lot of promiscuous sex among homosexuals. I also disagree with his conclusion regarding promiscuous sex among homosexual men being far more rampant before being homosexual was widely accepted. He should have said promiscuous sex among homosexual men was far more rampant before HIV hit the scene. It has nothing to do with the fact that homosexual sex is, unfortunately, much more accepted by the general public today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. It has to do with the possibility of dying if you engage in certain sexual behaviors. Plus, according to things I’ve read lately, the homosexual male community is not taking the threat of AIDs as seriously as it did in years past, and the incidence of promiscuous sex is rising among this population.

Furthermore, the doctor’s comments focused specifically on condoms in regard to the transmission of AIDs. In the heterosexual population, AIDS is not the #1 sexually-transmitted disease, and condoms take a backseat to the birth control pill – which does absolutely nothing to prevent the spread of STDs. Also, in third world countries, sex education and the availability of contraception has been a factor in increasing the rates of promiscuous sex. And, even with the availability of condoms, which are shipped to Africa by the millions, the spread of HIV has not slowed down. Only in Uganda, which has heavily promoted abstinence, have they seen a significant decline in the rate of HIV infection.

The fact of the matter is, that since contraception has become widely available, the incidence of promiscuous sex has multiplied many fold. The level of public morality has greatly decreased. The incidence of STD’s has shot through the roof. The objectification of women has taken firm root. Divorce rates have increased. The incidence of adultery has increased. The incidence of pre-marital sex has increased. Contraception does not make promiscuous sex itself possible – as there are people who will engage in promiscuous sex regardless of the availability of contraception. However, contraception does indeed make the widespread increase in promiscuous sex possible, because many people would not engage in such behavior were it not for the availability of contraception.

But it all comes back to the fact that sterile sexual acts, whether it be contraceptive acts, homosexual acts, or masturbation…are all made possible by the mentality that it is okay to separate the life-giving and love-giving aspects of sex. If one accepts the premise that these two aspects of the “marital embrace” can indeed be morally separated, then one has no moral grounds to argue against pre-marital sex, extra marital sex, homosexual sex, masturbation, contraceptive sex, or even bestiality.


Question/Comment: I really object to your analogy of bulimia in comparison to contraception. My wife has this horrendous eating disorder, and I can tell you beyond the shadow of a doubt, it is NOT voluntary, it may have begun that way for some sick reason such as a mother telling her she MUST LOSE WEIGHT!!, SHE WILL NEVER MAKE THE CHEERLEADING SQUAD AS FAT AS SHE IS!!!!, it soon becomes a mental illness. I really don’t think you meant to offend anyone, but please change your analogy to something else.

Response: This is really just a misunderstanding of what I was saying. The act which is at the heart of bulimia – the deliberate and self-induced regurgitation of food – is analogous to contraception in the sense that it is an unnatural act that deliberately frustrates the end of a natural God-given process…just like contraception. The analogy has nothing to do with whether the action involved is voluntary or involuntary or whether or not it is sinful. The analogy revolves solely around the frustration of a process that is a natural God-given good, by an action that is unnatural and harmful to the person or persons involved.

My analogy between contraception and bulimia is not to infer – in any way, shape, or form – that bulimia is something that is intrinsically evil, as is contraception. Nor is it to imply that someone who suffers from bulimia is participating in a necessarily sinful act, as is someone who uses contraception. As this person wrote, his wife is suffering from a mental illness. So, while the action of repeated self-induced vomiting is intrinsically disordered, the person suffering from bulimia is not committing a sin, as free will is no longer involved.


Question/Comment: I already know the answer, but I was hoping you could elaborate on two points so I can explain this to my Messianic Jewish friend. What about vasectomies (or tubal ligation) and practicing contraception if your spouse strays and becomes infected with an STD?

Response: With vasectomies and tubal ligations, you have intentionally rendered the sexual act sterile by engaging in some unnatural means to frustrate the ends of God’s design. You have made the transmission of life through the sexual act impossible. You have separated the life-giving and love-giving aspects of the sexual act. You have, essentially, rendered asunder what God has joined together.

Regarding a spouse that strays and contracts an STD, from a practical standpoint, by the time the cheating spouse realizes they have an STD, or admits to having strayed, the non-cheating spouse has usually already been exposed to the disease and may have already contracted it. But, even if that is not the case, then the morality of contraception stays the same…it is intrinsically evil and should not be engaged in. Is this a difficult thing to accept and to live with for those in that situation? Undoubtedly. Does the difficulty of the situation cause the immorality of the act to somehow be lessened? Absolutely not. In situations like this, the spouses have to weigh all of their non-contraceptive options and choose accordingly.

The only options may be to abstain from sexual relations or to engage in them and take the risk of contracting the disease. In such situations, one needs to rely more completely on God than ever before, because only with God will it be possible to live through such a situation. Jesus never said that following Him would be easy. If doing the right thing…if living a moral life…was easy, then Jesus never would have said that the path to Heaven is narrow and difficult and few there are who follow it. A situation such as this is the result of sin and, unfortunately, sometimes the sin of one makes the life of another very difficult…but through such difficulties we are given an opportunity to grow closer to God.


Question/Comment: I’m replying to your comment on NFP, as being used only when there is a serious or grave problem, and that pregancy has to be avoided. Are you saying that all Catholic couples using this method have great dangers and serious problems? If the Catholic couples are not to use NFP as a ongoing form of contraception, what else can they use?? There are a lot of families i know that use this method and they use it as a contraceptive, and to me thats no different from taking the pill or other metods, you are still avoiding pregnancy. If you want to say that the use of contraception today makes it easy for people to have casual sex when they please then i agree…… but that is another issue. We need to address the issue of what is the right form of contraception and really at the end of the day you really didnt make a strong point. You were too busy going on about, sex, homosexuality, pornography and so, these issues have nothing to do with birth control. If you cant use the pill, or condoms or what ever else there is to prevent pregnancy, and you cant use NFP unless you have serious health issues, then what does a couple use??? You have left no options for people to choose. You stated that a Catholic couple can not use NFP as ongoing contraception and couple shouldnt use any other form of contraception, then what option have you given people???? NONE. And just for the record, i dont use any contraception as ive had a hysterectomy due to illness, so i dont have that problem. I just feel you didnt leave any answers for couples to go on. Contraception is one thing, the abuse of sex is another, they are two different topics, instead of giving advise on what couples can use, you tended to linger on all the morally wrong uses of contraception. I would have preferred you to give informative information for couples to use, not opinions of the abusive use of the contraceptive pill and so on.

Response: The answer to this is…there is no “right form of contraception.” The Catholic Church teaches that contraception is “intrinsically evil.” The whole point of my last newsletter, which was apparently missed here, is that Natural Family Planning (NFP) is not the same thing as contraception. Contraception is inherently wrong…NFP is not, although it can be used in an improper manner.

Also, I did not say that someone cannot use NFP unless they have “serious health problems.” I said that someone should not use NFP except for serious reasons. These reasons have to be determined by each individual couple – through prayer, through discussion with a priest or other spiritual guide, and so on. They could include health reasons, or financial reasons, or a number of other reasons – but it is a decision that should not be taken lightly.

The comment, “Contraception is one thing, the abuse of sex is another,” is simply wrong. The use of contraception is always an abuse of sex. Again, NFP is not contraception. When practiced in accord with Church teaching, it is different in practice, in method, and in philosophy from contraception.


Question/Comment: Major flaw in your arguement is that everytime you eat, as God intended, you take on additional calories to maintain your body functions. But it should be obvious thay God did not intend that every sex act(between husband & wife) to have the possibility of creating new life, by the fact that in a women’s natural monthly cycle, she is only fertile for a small period of time(where an egg is present to be fertilized by the sperm),in fact that is the premise of NFP, through the thermo-syptom method, you know when the fertile period is and you abstain from sex then. If God had intended that every sex act between a husband and wife to have the possibility of creating new life, God would have had to made women fertile with an egg all the time. The fact is, the opposite is true. Also how “natural” is NFP when you use thermometers, plastic spoons, charts, pencils, (all these come in your NFP kit which you can buy at many Catholic bookstores), etc to determine a women’s fertile time. I am not for sure it is that much less “artificial” than some of the other artificial contraceptives.

Response: I got a bit of a chuckle out of this one. To say that NFP is somehow not “natural” because you use “thermometers, plastic spoons, charts, and pencils” is a rather ridiculous claim. None of these things are used “in the act,” as contraception is. None of these things directly frustrate the purpose of God’s design, as contraception does.

Now, regarding the “major flaw” in my argument, again, the analogy was simply that someone suffering from bulimia does something unnatural to deliberately interrupt and frustrate a natural process, designed by God, and to interfere with the end of that process. Contraception does the exact same thing. The analogy, when limited as I have limited it, does indeed hold. Are contraception and bulimia 100% analogous in all of their aspects? No! But that’s irrelevant to my argument.


Question/Comment: My wife and I have been blessed with four beautiful children – two boys and two girls ages 15, 12, 9 & 6. I am 40 and my wife is 37 and I must say at this time in our lives we are not planning on having another child. I’m not sure what constitutes a grave reason for not having more children, but for me I think another child at this time in our lives would send my wife (and possibly me) to the ‘looney’ bin. Please don’t misunderstand. We love our children more than anything and consider them gifts from God. As a parent yourself, however, I would think you would understand how raising children is a lot of hard work. I guess my question centers around the fact that doesn’t there come a time in a couple’s life that the number of children they have been blessed with becomes ‘enough’ and NFP becomes a more or less permanent means for avoiding pregnancy? Is it immoral to reach that point or are we always supposed to be anticipating that ‘one more child’ until child bearing becomes naturally impossible?

Response: As I mentioned earlier, each couple has to decide for themselves what constitutes serious reasons to use NFP. Parenting is indeed hard work. I have four children ages 11, 8, 6, and 3. Because of them I don’t get as much sleep as I could otherwise. I don’t have as much money in the bank. I have to spend a lot of time doing things that, given my druthers, I wouldn’t do. I don’t get to just sit back and relax or read books like I would with fewer children. And, in spite of all of that, and in spite of the fact that I am 50 and my wife is 42, I would love to have another child. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, that has not yet happened.

Now, this is not to imply in any way that I am somehow “better” than the person who wrote this question because I want more children and he doesn’t. Not at all. It’s impossible to know the full extent of the circumstances these folks find themselves in from such a short blurb. But, one question I ask folks is this: Do you truly believe that God will not give you more than you can handle? It’s easy to give mental assent to this concept, but to give the assent of the will to this concept is a little bit more difficult. I’ve doubted God so many times, and He has proven Himself to be true to His Word so many times, that I simply don’t doubt Him any more. Just like I doubted the Church so many times, but she has proven herself right so many times, that I don’t doubt her any more.

Maybe the reason we haven’t had any more children is that He knows we couldn’t handle it. After all, my wife has absolutely horrible pregnancies. She has morning sickness morning, noon, and night for eight months. She’s miserable. I’m miserable. But, if God does give us another child, then I know that no matter how difficult it is, He will give us the grace to get through it…as long as we turn to Him instead of relying on our own powers. It wouldn’t be easy, but it is through those difficulties that we are given the opportunity to grow in grace…to grow closer to God…to become saints.

Jesus said that the greatest love a man can have is to lay down his life for another. Well, I think that giving up your life – as you would live it given your druthers – in order to bring forth life in cooperation with the Creator of all life, kind of falls under the category of laying down your life for another. No greater love can you have than to lay down your life for another. And what blessings will result because of that?

Again, though, this is not to say that you just have to push out as many babies as possible. Mother Teresa taught NFP to thousands of Indian women whose whole families lived in the streets. They had sufficient reason not to bring forth more children. Each couple has to decide for themselves, through prayer and possibly through consultation with their priest, what, for them, is a serious or sufficient reason to engage in the practice of NFP. It may be that for this particular couple, four kids is the number God wants them to have. That’s between them and God.


Question/Comment: You always seem to make sense John.But your e-mail brings up an interesting question. A number of the guys get together for some bible study and moral discussions . Most of us are 70 or some older ,not able to have sexual relations so we try to satisfy other ways and vice versa for the wives.

And we wondered what was the difference ,that is, once in a while when you really get the drive and also for health reasons ,referring here to the prostate,you masterbate. We wondered how sinful that is. MIND you there is a lot of restraint but sometimes that just goes so far. Any how we would love to hear you remark on the subject because we are in the dark on it. thanks a lot John . We read aloud all your e-mails and every one is impressed.

Response: To respond to this question I will point to paragraph 2352 of the Catechism, which states that masturbation is an “intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” This is true whether it occurs inside or outside of marriage. However, the circumstances of the sin (see paragraph 2352) may lessen the gravity of the sin. But, this sin could indeed be a mortal sin for any individual engaging in such an act. I recommend that if one has trouble conquering this sin, that they go to Confession often and that they always go to the same priest. There is one exception to the general rule that I have heard moral theologians speak of, and that is if a woman is stimulated in such a manner as to reach a climax, but that it is necessary for this action to immediately precede or follow the “marital act.”

In Conclusion

Still no response from Pastor Walker. If it comes in early in the week, I’ll put it in next week’s newsletter, if not, I might finally start on my “Salvation By Faith Alone?” talk – Protestant-friendly version.

I hope all of you have a great week.

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Apologetics for the Masses