Friday, July 5, 2013

Socially conservative Catholicism

Earlier today I was blogging about when some forms of social conservatism and some forms of  feminism line up. It reminded me of a conversation I had a while ago with a Catholic woman who put of sex until marriage and didn't get married until her very late twenties.

She started by running down this long list of health problems she had in her twenties, most of which were the sorts of health problems that show up in people who are not happy and are living stress-filled lives as a consequence. Then she tells me about these long arguments she had with her doctor. This doctor had tried to convince this young woman that she'd be happier and healthier if she was sexually active. My friend was incensed at this and triply so because the doctor was also a Catholic and woman, which my friend regarded as betrayal of the values that go along both with Catholicism and womanhood.

I bit my tongue, as I so often do in conversations with socially conservative Catholics or feminists but the truth is that she most likely would have been both happier and healthier if she had been sexually active. No, she should not have had sex if she believes it is morally wrong to do so; no one should have sex ina situation where they feel it is morally wrong to do so. But, that said, there is lots of evidence that having sex is physically and mentally more healthful for women than abstaining (but not promiscuity which tends to be bad for both physical and mental health.)

Both social conservatives and feminists reflexively bristle at any suggestion that men might be good for women.

I'm a traditionalist Catholic myself, especially with regards to the liturgy. But sometimes when I talk to other traditionalist Catholics I find myself wondering at the tendency they have to assume that simple factual disputes will always line up with their moral views and, consequently, the tendency they have to exaggerate or even simply make up facts to support their arguments. Traditionalist Catholics, for example, regularly make claims about the degree of risk of breast cancer associated with the pill that are so far out of touch with reality as to be insane. Likewise, the claim that the pill is a a potential abortifacient at all  is far from clear and yet many traditionalist Catholics argue as if the pill always has abortifacient effects.

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