Does “subdue it” in Genesis refer to birth control?

Question:

Those against family planning never tire to quote that passage in Genesis about increasing and multiplying and filling the earth. However, the quote does not end there but continues with “to subdue it.” The definition of “subdue” is to control or overcome.

There is nothing in the Bible that condemns the prevention of conception; that is, the mingling of sperm and egg that produces life. The couples themselves are to decide what method to use, how large a family they can raise with dignity, as responsible citizens and true followers of Christ.

As a matter of fact, the so-called natural birth control is against Nature because it prevents the couple from enjoying each other precisely at the time when they most want to have sexual relations. That is precisely why they get married; the couple’s natural inclination to have sex when this is most desired should not be curtailed by such an unnatural method. Besides, the rhythm method is not only unreliable, it also causes psychological problems that affect not only the couple but the entire family. St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and Thessalonians where the early Christians were warned that such an unnatural practice makes the couple vulnerable to the temptations of Satan.

There’s a strong connection between size of population and socio-economic resources. Most significantly, it shows a deep understanding of human nature.

Response:

Submitted on 2012/12/14 at 11:40 pm | In reply to Noel.

Noel,

That is an interesting interpretation that you give. Below is the actual quote in Genesis:

“God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.* Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.” (Gen 1:28)

The “it” in “subdue it” does not refer to “be fertile and multiply” that you use to justify contraception or birth control. Rather, standard grammar rules say that the pronoun “it” refers to the closest noun mentioned (called the antecedent), which is the “earth”. See? “Fill the earth and subdue it.”

It is time to brush up on our Grammar. Here is from Grammar Girl:

What Is an Antecedent?

Whatever kind of pronoun you have, the pronoun takes the place of a specific noun you’ve already mentioned. The noun that a pronoun refers to is called an antecedent.

That’s spelled with an “a-n-t-e,” not an “a-n-t-i.” “Anti-” is a prefix meaning “against,” as in “antisocial.” “Ante” is a prefix for things that go before other things; “ante mortem” means “before death,” for example.

In the sentence “The driver totaled his car,” the word “his” refers back to “driver,” so “driver” is the antecedent of the pronoun “his.” It would sound silly to repeat the noun: “The driver totaled the driver’s car.” So, in simple sentences like this, readers are clear on what pronoun is replacing what noun.

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Draft for an anti-RH Bill: Maternal Health Bill of 2011

The Catholic Church and anti-RH bill lawmakers have always been on the defensive after years of siege by the proponents of the RH Bill. The RH bill forces will never tire: they have the funding of multinational pharmaceuticals who make contraceptives, abortion companies like Planned Parenthood, and UN commissions who push for reproductive health.

What the anti-RH Bill forces need is a counter-attack on the RH-Bill forces’ flanks.  We must fight the RH Bill by proposing a contrary bill (read the parable of the unclean spirit (Lk 11:24-26)).  The Reproductive Health Bill is a misnomer and a lie: the bill does not concern reproduction but contraception and contraceptives endanger the woman’s health.  The Maternal Health Bill that I propose is really for maternal health, which concerns both the mother and the child:  the word “maternal” does not only refer to the woman but also to her child, for how can a woman be a mother, a “mater”, if she has no child?  A woman’s right over her body should never trample on the rights of the child in her womb over his body.

This anti-RH bill shall divert the time and resources of the pro-RH forces, for one cannot fight at the same time both the impregnable wall that is the Catholic Church and the new menace that may spell the doom of RH in the Philippines.  (News Flash: Cong. Manny Pacquiao’s anti-RH bill  knocks out Sen. Miriam Santiago’s RH bill).   And if this anti-RH bill becomes a law, it will be one layer of defense wall against the renewed assault of the pro-RH bill forces in the future.  As Gandalf would said to the Balrog in the battle of the Bridge of Khazadum: “You cannot pass!”

Below is a draft of the bill that I propose, following the outline of the Consolidated RH Bill,  House Bill 4244, “The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health andPopulation and Development Act of 2011” and Senator Miriam Santiago’s Senate Bill 2378, The Reproductive Health Act.  I hope a congressman or senator can improve my draft bill and sponsor it as a congressional or senate bill.  Please spread the word.

Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr., Monk’s Hobbit

St. Albert the Great, pray for us.  

St. Bobo, pray for us.

Section 1.  Title

This act shall be known as the “Maternal Health Bill of 2011”.

Section 2.  Declaration of Policy

“The state recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic, autonomous, social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of the parents in rearing of the youth into civic efficiency and the development of the moral character shall receive support from the government.” (1987 Philippine Constitution Art. II, Sec. 12)

Section 3.  Guiding Principles

This act declares the following as guiding principles:

  1. A human being is formed when a sperm fertilizes an egg.  Many contraceptive pills are actually abortifacients because they prevent the fertilized egg to cling to the uterine walls and the fertilized egg dies.
  2. Every child has a right to be conceived in his mother’s womb through the union of his father’s sperm and his mother’s egg through sexual intercourse.
  3.  Every child conceived has the right to be born alive.
  4. The use of condoms and contraceptive pills makes fornication and adultery easier because the woman involved will not get pregnant and the scandalous affair is not brought to light.  Fornication leads to low marriage rates and adultery increases the breakdown of marriages.
  5. The use of condoms and and contraceptive pills contributes to environmental pollution.  In particular, when the contraceptive chemicals are excreted from the woman’s body through urine, these chemicals enter the sewage  system,  down to our rivers and streams, and back to our drinking water.  The female sex hormones in the water contributes to the impotence of males.
  6. Contraceptive pills interrupt women’s natural fertility cycle. Furthermore, the use of contraceptive pills has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer.
  7. The use of condoms and contraceptive pills lessen the respect of the husband to the wife, making her an object to be used anytime, anywhere, without regard to her natural fertility cycle.
  8. The use of condoms increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases: those who use condoms think that having sex is safer, so they increase the frequency of their sexual intercourse and the number of their sexual partners.
  9. The use of condoms and contraceptive pills leads to a notion that a child is not a gift but a burden, so that if the contraception fails and a child is conceived, the next recourse is abortion.  Countries who made contraception into a law ended up making abortion into a human right.
  10. Willful abortion is a criminal offense because a human being is killed.
  11. Growing population is not a problem, but graft and corruption.  Decline in population leads to a graying population which would decrease the number of taxpayers and increase the numbers of old pensioners, leading to economic collapse.
  12. The children are the hope of our country, said Dr. Jose Rizal. It is not the duty of the state to mandate the number of children per household, but to provide opportunities for each child conceived to grow to become responsible citizens of the country.
  13. Those who contribute to the pollution of our environment or to the destruction of our families must be must be the one who shall be taxed in order for the government to clean up the mess.
Section 4. Definition of Terms
  1. Maternal health refers to the biological capacity of a woman to do the all of the four functions: (a) conceive a child through sexual intercourse with a man, (b) carry the child in her womb for nine months, (c) give birth to the child through normal delivery, (d) and breastfeed the child immediately after birth until the child does not anymore need breastmilk.
  2. Maternal death is defined as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes (World Health Organization)
  3. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman as witnessed by the State for the the purpose of raising a family.
  4. Fornication or pre-marital sex is the sexual intercourse between the unmarried man and an unmarried woman
  5. Adultery is the sexual intercourse with a partner who is married to another.
  6. Contraceptives are devices or chemicals that hinders the meeting between the sperm and egg during sexual intercourse
  7. Abortifacients are substances or chemicals that induce abortion.
  8. Sex hormones are sex-specific chemicals that are naturally produced by the human body.  Males have male hormones, females have female hormones.
  9. Abortion is the killing of an unborn child in the womb.
  10. Fertility cycle is the reproductive cycle of which define the days when she is fertile and when she is not.
  11. Natural family planning refers to the study of the woman’s fertility cycle to determine the proper times for sexual intercourse for the proper spacing of births.
  12. Sexually transmitted diseases refers to diseases that are transmitted through sexual intercourse, such as AIDS and HIV.
Section 5.  Contraception, Abortion, and Fertility Treatments
  1. Contraceptives imported from other countries are subject to 100% tariff. Contraceptives donated from other countries will also be subject to 100% tariff based on their estimated value.  Thirty-five percent (35%) of the tariff shall go to the National Treasury, 30% shall go to the Department of Health (DOH) for its Maternal Health Programs, 15 % shall go to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and 15% shall go to a special research fund of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).  This special research fund shall be awarded to research proposals for development of ways to monitor and remove women sex hormones in rivers, lakes, and drinking water.  These funds shall be included in the yearly appropriations of the Philippine government budget.
  2. Contraceptives produced in the country are subject to 50% production tax.  Contraceptives sold in the country are subject to 50% sales tax.
  3. Contraceptives that do not require surgery or taking in of chemicals can be purchased over-the-counter in pharmacies, e.g. condoms.  Contraceptives that require the absorption of chemicals in a man’s or woman’s body can only be bought through doctor’s prescription.  Contraceptives that require surgery shall be considered contraband goods.
  4. Ligation in men and women as a form of contraception shall not be allowed.  Doctors and nurses who took part in  these surgeries shall have their medical licenses revoked for three (3) years.
  5. The Department of Health shall provide a list of chemical contraceptives that are abortifacients.  The importation, manufacture, and sale of these contraceptives shall be prohibited and these contraceptives shall be considered contraband goods.
  6. Willful termination of a normal pregnancy (abortion) is a criminal offense.  The doctor or nurse who took part in these surgeries shall be tried in a criminal court.
  7. Fertility treatments which require fertilization outside the woman’s womb shall not be allowed in the country.  Doctors and nurses who took part in these treatments shall have their medical licenses revoked for three years.
  8. Contraceptives shall not be classified as essential medicines and their purchase shall not be covered by PhilHealth.  No government fund must be used for the purchase of contraceptives or for the promotion of their use.  Government funds shall only be used by DOH for Natural Family Planning and other Maternal Health Programs.
  9. Hospitals shall be required to have pregnancy crisis centers for counselling women who are thinking of aborting their child due to rape, incest, abandonment, etc.  These centers will be staffed by DOH and DSWD personnel or DOH and DSWD-accredited personnel.  They shall also be funded by donors from the private sector and NGO’s.  The purpose of these centers is to convince the women to let their baby live, and give it up for adoption at least.  The women shall be shown the ultrasound–in 4G if possible–what their baby looks like in the womb–pointing out the head, the arms, the feet, fingers, and toes.  Once the baby is delivered, the mother of the baby may decide to keep the baby or give him up for adoption.
  10. The DOH and DSWD shall publish a joint list of accredited pregnancy crisis centers and child adoption centers.  This list shall be made available to all hospitals.
Section 6.  Marriage and Sex Education
  1. All couples who wish to get married must attend lectures on possible sources of conflicts in marriage and how to resolve them to make marriage and family life wonderful.  The Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) shall conduct these lectures at least once a year.  The DSWS can also accredit centers who shall do these lectures.
  2. The couples who wish to get married must also take lectures on natural family planning, fetal development, breastfeeding, and child development.  The Department of Health (DOH) shall conduct these lectures once a year.  The DOH can also accredit centers who shall do these lectures.
  3.  Sex education in elementary and high schools is only limited to that body’s fertility cycle, sexual reproduction, and child development as taught in Biology.  The harmful effects of chemical contraceptives may also be taught.  The use of condoms should not be taught in elementary and high school.
  4. Values formation classes should stress the dignity of marriage, the gift of a child, and social responsibility.  These classes should discuss the problems  resulting from the contraceptive mentality such as pre-marital sex, adultery, and divorce, and abortion.  These classes should discuss how these things destroy family and society.  The Department of Education shall review the existing curriculum on values education and incorporate these topics if these were not included before.
Section 7.  Maternal Health
  1. Couples may use PhilHealth for the ultrasound imaging of a developing fetus in his mother’s womb, provided that such a procedure is prescribed by a doctor.
  2. The benefits of paternity and maternity shall be availed by the couples as stipulated in the existing laws.
  3. The delivery efficiency of midwives shall be labeled in their DOH certified identification card.  The delivery efficiency is the ratio of two numbers: total live births delivered divided by total births delivered, computed since the start of her career.  Both the fraction and percent efficiency should be displayed.  Midwives with the highest yearly number of live births  assisted with 100% delivery efficiency shall be given an award by the provincial DOH at least Php 10,000 in cash and a plaque of appreciation.
  4. All midwives, nurses, and doctors who have assisted delivery cases wherein the infant or the mother died or both shall inform the DOH.  A  DOH personnel shall interview the medical practitioners involved on the sequence of events and the possible causes of death.  These interviews shall be recorded in text, audio, or video.  The transcribed interviews shall be sent to provincial DOH centers for making a yearly report.  From this data, midwifery practices that are shown to correspond higher incidence of infant and maternal deaths shall be eliminated or modified.  DOH shall then issue revised protocols on child delivery and maternal health.
  5. All hospitals in a province are required to submit to provincial DOH centers the statistics on infant and maternal mortality, starting from the child is in the womb until the child is released from the hospital.
  6. At the end of each year, the provincial DOH centers shall make a summary report of the child mortality per hospital and and health center.
  7. Doctors, nurses, and midwives must see to it that the newborn child is breastfed by the mother.
  8. Hospitals should only display the benefits of breastmilk in posters.    Dairy products should not be prominently advertised in hospitals as breast-milk substitutes.  Purchase of breastmilk substitutes require a doctor’s prescription.
  9. Malls must have designated breastfeeding stations where a mother can breastfeed her child in private.  These stations should be clearly marked and its location should be available in the information booth and the mall map.  Mall owners shall be given a year to comply to this requirement.  Malls that fail to comply shall have their business permit revoked .
Section 8. Separability Clause, Repealing Clause, and Effectivity
  1. Separability Clause.  If any part of this act is considered invalid or unconstitutional, other provisions not affected thereby shall remain in force and effect.
  2. Repealing Clause.  All other laws, decrees, ordinances, rules and regulations which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed, amended, or modified accordingly.
  3. Effectivity.  This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.

Standing up for the Gospel of Life

CBCP Pastoral Statement on Reproductive Health Bill

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative power of God (CCC 2258). The Church carries out the mandate of the Lord to go and proclaim to all the nations the Gospel of Life. The protection and preservation of human life and the preservation of the integrity of the procreative act of parents are important elements of our mission from the Lord. It is our fidelity to the Gospel of Life and our pastoral charity for the poor that leads us your pastors to make this moral stand regarding Reproductive Health Bill 5043 that is the object of deliberation in Congress.

The Bill makes a number of good points. Some of the issues that it includes under reproductive health care, for instance, are the kind of things no humane institution would have any reason to oppose—maternal, infant and child health and nutrition, promotion of breastfeeding, adolescent and youth health, elimination of violence against women, etc.; but the Bill as it stands now contains fatal flaws which if not corrected will make the Bill unacceptable. It is our collective discernment that the Bill in its present form poses a serious threat to life of infants in the womb. It is a source of danger for the stability of the family. It places the dignity of womanhood at great risk.

The Church has always concerned itself with the poor. It has innumerable institutions and programs meant to help the poor. Our objection to this Bill is precisely due to our concern that in the long run this Bill will not uplift the poor. “The increase or decrease of population growth does not by itself spell development or underdevelopment”. (CBCP Statement, July 10, 1990)

Even as we recognize the right of the government to enact laws, we also reiterate that there must be no separation between God and Man. We appeal to our legislators to state in the Bill in clear categorical terms that human life from the moment of conception is sacred. We appeal to our legislators to insure that the Bill recognize, preserve and safeguard freedom of conscience and religion. The Bill must inspire parents not only to be responsible but to be heroic in their God-given and State-recognized duty of parenting. Without these conditions, the Bill if enacted into law will separate our nation from Almighty God.

Sacredness of Life from Conception. The current version of the Bill does not define clearly when the protection of life begins. Although it mentions that abortion is a crime it does not state explicitly that human life is to be protected upon conception as stated in the Constitution. This ambiguity can provide a loophole for contraceptives that prevent the implantation of the fertilized ovum. The prevention of implantation of the fertilized ovum is abortion. We cannot prevent overt abortions by doing hidden abortions. It is a fallacy to think that abortions can be prevented by promoting contraception. Contraception is intrinsically evil (CCC 2370, Humanae Vitae, 14).

Even in the case of doubt as to the precise moment of the beginning of human life, the mere probability that the fertilized ovum is already a human life renders it imperative that it be accorded the rights of a human person, the most basic of which is the right to life (Evangelium Vitae, #60; cfr. Declaration on Procured Abortion, Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, November 18, 1974). When there is doubt whether a human life is involved, it is immoral to kill it. This is not just specifically Catholic Church teaching but simply natural law ethics.

Freedom of Conscience. By mandating only one Reproductive Health Education Curriculum for public and private schools, the Bill could violate the consciences of educators who refuse to teach forms of family planning that violate their religious traditions. This provision also could violate the rights of parents to determine the education of their children if the proposed curriculum would contradict their religious beliefs.

The Bill mandates that employers should ensure the provision of an adequate quantity of reproductive health care services, supplies and devices for their employees. This provision could be a violation of the conscience of employers who do not wish to provide artificial means of contraception to their employees because of religious reasons.

The Bill’s provision that penalizes malicious disinformation against the intention and provisions of the Bill (without defining what malicious disinformation is) could restrict freedom of speech by discouraging legitimate dissent and hinder our mandate to teach morality according to our Catholic faith. The Bill does not mention any consultation with religious groups or churches which could be interpreted to mean that religious and moral beliefs of citizens are not significant factors in the formation of policies and programs involving reproductive health.

Heroic Parenting. Family health goes beyond a demographic target because it is principally about health and human rights. Gender equality and women empowerment are central elements of family health and family development. Since human resource is the principal asset of every country, effective family health care services must be given primacy to ensure the birth and care of healthy children and to promote responsible and heroic parenting. Respect for, protection and fulfillment of family health rights seek to promote not only the rights and welfare of adult individuals and couples but those of adolescents’ and children’s as well.

We admonish those who are promoting the Bill to consider these matters. It is the duty of every Catholic faithful to form and conform their consciences to the moral teaching of the Church. We call for a more widespread dialogue on this Bill.

As your Pastors we speak to you in the name of the Lord: Choose life and preserve it. Stand up for the Gospel of Life!

May Mary, Mother of Life, who carried in her womb Life Himself, guide us to the Truth of Life.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

+ANGEL LAGDAMEO, DD
Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
November 14, 2008