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The Church Hurts Our Eyes

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Oct 26, 2007

In a recent episode of Boston Legal, a 15-year-old girl sues her high school for letting her catch AIDS by teaching sexual abstinence instead of promoting condoms. No, I don’t waste my time watching such programs; I learned about this elsewhere. But the argument apparently has a certain attraction, as it has been picked up by members of the United Nations.

Alberto Stella coordinates the UN’s efforts to fight AIDS in Latin America, where 1.7 million people are estimated to be infected with HIV. In an interview with the Reuters news service, Stella argued that abstinence programs are “not working” in the fight against AIDS and that sexually active teenagers won’t use condoms because they have been “demonized” by the Catholic Church.

Actually, this argument has been made many times, and we can expect to hear it more frequently in the future. That it is fallacious scarcely needs comment. It seems clear enough that those who accept the Church’s teaching against non-marital sex are perfectly safe from the disease while those who don’t are unlikely to be influenced by the Church’s position on condoms. In fact, it has long been known that no matter how strongly people may believe condoms offer protection against sexually-transmitted diseases, those who choose not to control their desire to have sex now are often disinclined to bother with a barrier. Moreover, as condoms are nowhere near 100% effective against STDs, even with their universal use AIDS would still spread.

What is interesting is rather the twisted emotion behind the argument. Our Lord spoke a truism of human nature when he asserted that “everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (Jn 3:20). Each of us has a reflexive tendency first to deny the truth of what goes against our inclinations, and second to blame those who promote that truth for the consequences of our actions. We harbor the secret suspicion that, if only we could all agree our vices are virtues, we could engage in them safely.

Put simply, we want desperately to believe that it is all God’s fault. That the Catholic Church has always been, and continues to be, attacked from every side for opposite reasons by those whom her teachings offend is simply one more sign that she is instinctively regarded as having something dangerously to do with the will of God. This unfailing instinct, which can hardly be purely natural, is in itself a strong argument for the existence of that Divine light we call grace. What the argument comes down to is this: Turn off that Church! It is hurting my eyes.

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