Monday, October 17

Not That I Needed Such A Club

Patrick tipped me off to a new student club at Princeton University that promotes chastity before marriage. Believed to be the first such group among the Ivies, the Anscombe Society is "named after an English philosopher and staunch Roman Catholic who defended the church's teachings on sex, and died in 2001."

Elizabeth Anscombe's seminal work -- pardon the pun -- was a lengthy screed written in 1977 decrying contraception, not to mention those "base ways of copulating to avoid contraception," all of which are sins against nature because they involve non-procreative intercourse.

If contraceptive intercourse is permissible, then what objection could there be after all to mutual masturbation, or copulation in vase indebito, sodomy, buggery (I should perhaps remark that I am using a legal term here - not indulging in bad language), when normal copulation is impossible or inadvisable (or in any case, according to taste)? It can't be the mere pattern of bodily behaviour in which the stimulation is procured that makes all the difference! But if such things are all right, it becomes perfectly impossible to see anything wrong with homosexual intercourse, for example. [Ed. - !] I am not saying: if you think contraception all right you will do these other things; not at all. The habit of respectability persists and old prejudices die hard. But I am saying: you will have no solid reason against these things. You will have no answer to someone who proclaims as many do that they are good too. You cannot point to the known fact that Christianity drew people out of the pagan world, always saying no to these things. Because, if you are defending contraception, you will have rejected Christian tradition.

Hello, Mrs. Santorum! With the resurgence of this line of thinking lately, it should come as no surprise that SCOTUS hearings have recently focused on nominees' thoughts about Griswold v. Connecticut. (The 1964 case made it unconstitutional to bar the sale of contraceptives to married couples, invoking the ever controversial "right to privacy.") Simply put, it's a fight that Catholic social conservatives have been itching to reopen for a long time. One has to wonder, however, whether even a majority of their own grass roots followers -- most of whom care only about abortion and maybe gays -- wish to be dragged that far back into the Dark Ages.