In an effort to justify (and excuse) birth control and require those who conscientiously object to provide it to others, Planned Parenthood has come up with a cute little meme. As Christians everywhere traverse the dangerous territory of skewed morality, our rights to deeply held religious beliefs are being put to the test.
The pro-abortion faction is no longer satisfied with thrusting their ideology on everyone through straightforward advertising. Now they have devised a fraudulent method to entice Christians to conform to their way of thinking. Enter abortion giant, Planned Parenthood. Known for ‘cute’ ways of rationalizing deadly behavior; they have created memes for all of us to share.
contraception. After all, publicly and loudly proclaiming to support a practice that has been condemned by the Catholic Church since her inception certainly is not acceptable for Catholics. Not only does practicing birth control represent a sinful act for these individuals, but by their public support they are also leading others astray by scandal.
The pulse racing response to the counter-meme has been enlightening. There have been arguments for using the pill for everything from acne to poly-cystic ovaries. Some stubbornly relate that the decision is ‘between me and my God”. Referencing Natural Family Planning (NFP) for a preferable and healthy alternative has been mostly met with silence.
What Is Heresy?
Another considerably negative response has been addressed toward the consideration of heresy being committed. I can understand the hesitancy in using the word – heresy – especially when seemly judging the souls of others. But is that what is intended? Is it possible that some of the accused may be committing heresy? Let’s take a very brief, historical walk through the Catholic Church and her approach to both birth control and heresy.
Let us first take a look at heresy and automatic excommunication. According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law (CIC), aside from abortion, “eight other sins carry the penalty of automatic excommunication: apostasy, heresy, schism (CIC 1364:1), violating the sacred species (CIC 1367), physically attacking the pope (CIC 1370:1), sacramentally absolving an accomplice in a sexual sin (CIC 1378:1), consecrating a bishop without authorization (CIC 1382), and directly violating the seal of confession (1388:1)”.
Here it is understood that “heresy is the obstinate doubt or denial, after baptism, of a defined Catholic doctrine”.
Citing Humanae Vitae and Popes
Ever since (and before) Pope Paul VI promulgated his encyclical, Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life), the highest Catholic authority has held to the prohibition of all forms of artificial birth control/contraception. While this teaching was difficult to accept by some, its affirmation of the consistent moral teaching of the Church on the sanctity of life was fervently upheld – by both Saint Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
This uninterrupted teaching of Catholic Doctrine affirms the danger of contraception to the life of marriage/family (and therefore society as a whole). Given the medically confirmed fact that the Pill (as well as some other forms of birth control) acts as an abortifacient agent, the consequences progress even to the ending of unborn life.
Therefore, ignoring this clear position of the Church or doing the mental gymnastics required to justify the use of birth control, could indicate an “…obstinate doubt or denial, after baptism, of a defined Catholic doctrine” – heresy.
Just because birth control, per se, was not specifically mentioned does not negate the severity of departing from a position held by the Church since its inception. Can you imagine how long the list would be if each and every form of heretical belief was individually listed?
When Is It Not Heresy?
It is vitally important for Catholics to realize that “No one is automatically excommunicated for any offense if, without any fault of his own, he was unaware that he was violating a law (CIC 1323:2) or that a penalty was attached to the law (CIC 1324:1:9). The same applies if one was a minor, had the imperfect use of reason, was forced through grave or relatively grave fear, was forced through serious inconvenience, or in certain other circumstances (CIC 1324)”.
However, I do submit that this stubbornly held belief (contrary to irrevocable Church teaching), shouted to the world, can become heretical. Willful ignorance, after being informed of Church law, is also a means of denial.
Meme vs. Meme
Planned Parenthood persists in twisting and misrepresenting people of faith. Historically, their meme campaigns rely on misinformation and skewed logic. Bright colors and catchphrases are employed to grab the attention of the public and lead them to accept a misconstrued sort of reality. When countering sound bites and eye-catching graphics, a similar approach often brings the misconception to light. In creating a similar meme, many people are given the corrected message.
Discussions and even heated debates allowed the truth to break to the surface. I daresay that many Catholics were lead to reexamine their own consciences concerning the topic of birth control and the Church. To this extent, even with the misgivings of some, fighting fire with fire elicited a response that was both educational and effective. Is this method everyone’s cup of tea? No. Just as pro-life advocates and even saints employ(ed) different means of preaching the Gospel, the tone of memes are subject to the particular approach of the messenger.
So, was the intention of the countering meme to unequivocally imply that every woman using birth control is a heretic? Absolutely not. However, I do submit that this stubbornly held belief (dangerously contrary to irrevocable Church teaching), shouted to the world, can become heretical.