Babies are not blessings? A reply to Ana Santos of Rappler

A newborn baby glistening in amniotic fluid (Wikipedia)

A newborn baby glistening in amniotic fluid (Wikipedia)

Ana Santos of Rappler wrote a piece entitled, “Babies are not blessings.” Santos quotes the figures related to having babies as given by Dr. Emma Llanto of UP-PGH and Society of Adolescent Medicine in the Philippines.  The whole article hinges on the definition of a the word “blessing,” so let us examine Santos’ understanding of this word by dissecting her statements one by one.

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.

Catholic movie review: Prometheus and the Christian God

Prometheus movie

Prometheus movie

Prometheus provides an alternative mythology to Genesis.  And there are some references to Christian theology.  Notice the Christmas tree and the Crucifix.  And the Crucifix is seen again and again in the movie as a sign of faith or its loss.

Let us focus on Prometheus and Christ.  Prometheus gave up his life so that the evolution of man can start.  Christ, on the other hand, gave up his life to save mankind from sin, and on the side of Christ flowed the water of life and his life-giving blood.  Prometheus  (it need not be the same person)  slept in a tomb and was resurrected from sleep by the humans.  Christ was buried in a tomb and rose from the dead by his own power.  Prometheus has human DNA.  And so is Christ.  But the similarities ends here.

Even though the whole ship is filled with runes of the ancient tongue, Prometheus can’t talk.  And he refused to talk to reveal himself.  He could have said, “Why did you open the Stargate?” Or “Remove the sandals from your feet because the place you are standing is holy.”  The humans attempted to communicate with him, but he just killed them.  That was disappointing: a god who can’t reveal himself.  Just like the idols of Israel: they have mouths but do not speak.  But the Christian God reveals Himself: “I AM WHO I AM”.  He gave the Ten Commandments.  He sends prophets who proclaim: “This is the word of the Lord!”  And in the fullness of time He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, the Word Made Flesh.

God is our Father.  If God is an alien, then the bond uniting the whole human family breaks down.  Heaven becomes harsh inhospitable planet for the human crew that seeks to finally meet its creator.  Sexual intercourse becomes sterile.  The child in the womb becomes an alien that should be aborted.  The only way to conceive a new life is to destroy the old one.  And even in human relationships,  father becomes emotionally distant from his daughter, the automaton becomes valued as a son, and compassion is dulled even in sight of a bloodied and suffering woman.

But God is a loving Father and that is what the Parable of the Prodigal Son teaches us.  Jesus promised us that He will prepare a place for us in heaven.  And in heaven, God awaits for the homecoming of his beloved sons and daughters.  And when He sees us from a distance, He will run towards us, and embraces us as His long lost children.  He will give us robes to wear, put rings in our fingers, put sandals on our feet, and announce a feast. As Jesus promised, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.  A society built on the vision of God as a Father results to families and communities bound by love.  The swords will be beat into plowshares.  The lion will lie down with a lamb.  And death would lose its sting: it would be true immortality when the soul reunites with the body in the Resurrection of the Dead.

Prometheus is a bleak movie for Atheistic Materialism and Scientific Darwinism.  Is Prometheus the God atheists and Darwinists longed for?  David, the android, says it best:

David: Why do you think your people made me.

Charlie Holloway: We made ya ’cause we could.

David: Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator?

Like David, humanity without God will be humans without souls.  And even if humans attain eternal life, it would be one long and dreary life of a disembodied head watching the sands and stars.

Transforming Earth Hour as the Hour of Creation

If you are supporting Earth Hour, do it for a more edifying purpose: gather the family members, turn off the electric lights, light the candles, and pray the Holy Rosary. Then read the first chapter of the Book of Genesis:

“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth— 2* and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters—b 3Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light.c 4God saw that the light was good. God then separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Evening came, and morning followed—the first day….*”

The Earth Hour becomes the Hour of Creation. The Church for centuries has adopted pagan practices but baptizing them with Christian meaning, in the same way as the Church accepts Gentiles and baptizes them as Christians. We can adopt the secular practice of the Earth Hour and turn it into a Christian practice. The Book of Genesis is the First Reading in the Easter celebration, that is why before Easter Sunday, it is Black Saturday, and on Easter Eve mass, the Church is dark, to symbolize the darkness of sin that covers the entire world.

Then read the Prologue of John in Chapter 1:

“In the beginning* was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.a
2He was in the beginning with God.
3* All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.b
What came to be 4through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;c
5* the light shines in the darkness,d
and the darkness has not overcome it….”

The Earth Hour becomes the Hour of Creation, as Sunday, through the Resurrection of Christ, became the day of the New Creation; the Hour of the New Creation is better designated to the first hour of Easter Sunday. The light of Christ shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. You see this in the seal of Ateneo de Manila University and Manila Observatory. The light of the world is not the sun but IHS, Christ. It is the Mystery of Incarnation. Gazing at the whole world–the Earth–is one of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius: to see the world as the Holy Trinity sees it. That is why, the Jesuits produced the greatest geographers like Mateo Ricci, because geography is an aid to the Spiritual Exercises. The Holy Trinity sees the world of men engulfed by sin. And so the Holy Trinity decides to send the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, who became flesh in the Person of Christ.

These prayers, readings, and meditations would fill a whole hour. Many indulgences can be obtained here from the praying of the rosary, the 30-minute reading and meditation of the scripture–and more if done in front of the blessed Sacrament in a Holy Hour.

A blessed Hour of Creation to all.

On the nature of homosexuality and Original Sin

Question

Hi Dr. Sugon,

I sent you further inquiries about your thoughts on the nature of homosexuality last May 18, and I was wondering if you have received it. I am very much looking forward to discuss and be enlightened about matters which I still am not aware of, and I think that this conversation wonderfully helps me in doing that. In case you haven’t received it, I’ll be copying my reply here. Again, thanks, and I hope to hear from you soon.

“Yes, I say that homosexuality is partly a biological phenomenon, however, I did not say that because it is a biological phenomenon that homosexuals do not have a choice on their lifestyle. Homosexuals have the choice to live conservatively, that is not denying their homosexuality, but living in a way which does not scream the essence of stereotypical homosexuality (i.e. cross-dressing, application of excessive make-up). They also have the choice to dress and express their ideas more through clothing and other sociocultural avenues. But, what they don’t have a choice at is their attraction orientation – just as a straight man does not have a choice to get attracted to women and vice versa, unless society affects them to act otherwise. The same thing goes with your example of a murderer. I do not claim that killing is good, but a murderer who was born with schizophrenia or other psychological disorder is not deemed morally responsible for the act of killing, because he technically did not have a choice; his body was programmed to act that way. Therefore, this murderer, instead of being sent to jail, is sent to a psychological facility in which he will serve his term. What I think then is that, generally, homosexuals must not be held responsible for their orientation, and thus be condemned for it, because they don’t have a choice on who to get attracted to. (One particular exception may be a man who was born with the probability of getting attracted to women, but chooses to engage homosexually.)

To clarify, are you suggesting that homosexuals can be “trained”? I disagree with this point, and I will provide sociocultural references that show that such a transformation to becoming a heterosexual is improbable. Although we can try putting homosexuals in psychological facilities, or perhaps have the Church assist in an action to rehabilitate them from their homosexuality, society is not designed to act upon such an action. The case is different from the psychologically impaired, because there is a probability that they hurt themselves or others when they do not get treated. It is improbable that a particular gender is more inclined to doing harm to people than other genders, so it is not necessary to “treat” them. Also, becoming stable and constant in early years, gender is part of one’s identity (Kail, 2010). Therefore, trying to manipulate one’s gender through conditioning entails tainting one’s identity. With that, society deems that a mandate or even to advocate change in gender is unethical. That is why centers for homosexual rehabilitation do not exist.*But, I do not deny that there are still people who try to convert homosexuals, however, because gender is established and constant, these most of these people fail. Stories of fathers drowning their children in a drum of water and physically abusing them seem to attest to this.

Yes, man has free will, but this free will is affected by many factors. Thus, human behavior is not governed by biological instincts alone, but rather affected by it, together with the environment. We do not just punch the person who accidentally stepped on our foot, because we think that he did not mean and know what he did, even if, by our fight-or-flight mechanism, our bodies tell us to punch him or flee the scene. Homosexuality acts in the same way. Since social mores and teachings do not give enough reason to convince homosexuals to constrain their biological instnict to get attracted to the same sex, homosexuals think that they are justified in following their biological instinct.

Moreover, the link you provided me is Vatican’s official statement on the nature of marriage and homosexual unions alone. I am still stumped on what the Church claims about the essence and nature of homosexuality: where did it come from, for example.“-

*I have looked into this matter, and I stand corrected in saying that there are homosexual rehabilitation centers. However, it is highly frowned upon by the society and by the Catholic Church herself, because, again, it’s unethical.

Response:

Dear ____

Yes, I received it a long time ago, but it got buried in my many emails for not responding soon enough.

The short answerto your question on the nature of homosexuality is this: I don’t know.

The long answer is: God created only male and female.  And God blessed them: “Be fruitful and multiply!”  If God only made male and female, how is it possible that some men are attracted to men and women to women?  The answer to this question is related to the more fundamental question: If everything that God created is good (read Genesis 1), why is there evil in the world? Answer: God made the angels good, but He gave them free will to reject or accept his love.  Some angels used their free will to reject God’s love, and they became demons, with all the powers of angels before their fall, but filled with malice and hatred against God.  Their choice is irrevocable.

Now, if God made humans only male and female, why are there lesbians and gays?  Answer: before their Fall, Adam and Eve have perfect control over their passions.  This is called Original Justice.  But Satan, the leader of the fallen angels, is envious of the privilege of Adam and Eve, for they and their descendants shall become children of God if Adam and Eve pass the test.  But misery seeks company.  So Satan tempted Eve to disobey God’s commandment not to eat from the forbidden tree, and she brought his husband Adam with him in her disobedience.  Because of their disobedience, Adam and Eve lost their perfect control over their passions.  This is Original Sin.  And this defect of Adam and Eve is passed on to their descendants, together with increase birthpangs, difficulty of tilling the ground, and ultimately, of bodily death.  Thus, homosexuality is a result of Original Sin.  It is very difficult to cure, but the struggle to overcome ones homosexual tendencies is itself a path to sanctity, a cross that a homosexual has to bear in order to reach heaven.  God can provide us with all the graces that we need to overcome temptation.  We only need but ask.  As Christ said: “For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened….how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Lk 11:9-13).

Let us always pray and fast.  Fasting helps us control our passions.  If a homosexual can learn how to control himself from eating meat on Fridays, he will build up spiritual reserves to combat his hunger for the human flesh during sexual intercourse with a fellow man (or with a fellow woman as in the case of lesbians).  Some passions are difficult to remove; they are like stubborn demons that refuse to get out of a man.  The apostles, too, encountered several cases of demonic possessions that the apostles have difficulty sending out.  The apostles complained to Christ, and Christ said to them: “”But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.”  In the same way, homosexuality can also be cured, but it can only be done by prayer and fasting.  The only way to see if this method works is to try it.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Sugon