Yesterday, my attention was caught by this demographic milestone that our Mother Earth’s population has reached the 7 Billion mark! The thought of seven billion people inhabiting the planet boggles the mind, particularly when one considers that the Philippines, where joblessness and poverty are the norm in a vast swath of the population, contributes as much as 94.9 million to the figure.
Based on my internet research on the countries ranking in the top 10 in terms of both total population (more than 15 million people) and population density (more than 250 people per square kilometre), I found out that Philippines ranked number 4 with nearly 95 million, at 313 people per square kilometre, and is rated as a fast growing country.
Is this good or bad? Will the “Reproductive Health Bill” be the answer? This RH Bill is a very hot issue of today which involves two powerful institutions, our Government and the Catholic Church.
The Government is pushing the RH Bill for the sake of helping less-fortunate segment of our society. The Pros says that the reproductive health (RH) bill promotes information on and access to both natural and modern family planning methods, which are medically safe and legally permissible. It assures an enabling environment where women and couples have the freedom of informed choice on the mode of family planning they want to adopt based on their needs, personal convictions and religious beliefs.
The RH Bill will let couple (husband and wife) choose the perfect family planning method, whether artificial or natural birth control. On the other hand, the Catholic Church and related Associations are firmed with their stand about this issue, “No to RH Bill”. They condemned the artificial method because they believe that some of the listed contraceptives on the RH Bill are immoral which are more likely as an abortion.
As a concerned Filipino citizen, I would like to share my thoughts on this issue too, which I understand delicate and may not be like by some, particularly the Catholic Church, where I still belong. In doing so, please note that I have considered certain views I have gathered during my research and my previous religious activities I participated in.
The Freedom to Choose
When I was still in college, in search of truth and without my parents knowing it, I explored other religious denominations, i.e., Atheists, Muslim and other Christian sects. I did attend some religious doctrination and Bible studies too.
In one of those Bible studies, we read in the Book of Genesis, about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or the tree of knowledge, a tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden. God directly forbade Adam (Eve having not yet been created) to eat the fruit of this tree. A serpent tempted Eve, who was aware of the prohibition against eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge. The serpent had suggested to Eve that eating the fruit would bestow wisdom upon them. Eve and then Adam ate the forbidden fruit, and they became aware of their nakedness. After confronting their disobedience, God banished the couple from the garden in order to deny them access to the Tree of Life, which would have bestowed immortality onto them. God cursed both the snake and the ground, obliging Adam to survive through agriculture "by the sweat of his brow." He told the woman that her childbirth pains would be greatly increased and that the man would rule over her. God set guards (Cherubim) at the east side of the garden to protect the way to the tree of life from Adam, Eve, and their descendants.
The Preacher asked me to share my thoughts on the passage we have read. Then I said: “Shouldn’t we be grateful to the Serpent, had not of the suggestion, maybe we are still in the Garden of Eden, all naked! Here we are, well dressed and have freedom to choose -- which is good or bad for us. Is God really selfish to restrict us to know what is good and evil?”
The Preacher replied, “We’ll it is written and thus came to pass -- destined as God’s Plan, where I objected, saying, “If that the case, then Life would be meaningless, if all scripted and destiny.” Nonetheless, I believe and still maintain as of today that it is God’s will that we should have the freedom to choose.
Those who are opposing the RH Bill refer to the "Go forth and multiply" credo of the Catholic Church, which is a passage in the Bible and I quote: “And God blessed them; and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
The Credo served it well in centuries past when the earth's population was small and all manner of resources were in abundance. Today, the entire planet is in peril, and the Philippines in particular is rapidly slipping into the status of a third-world state. Most of its urban poor live in shanties that have no running water or toilets.
I understand that Natural family planning (NFP) methods are the only approved by the Catholic Church. In accordance with the Church's requirements for sexual behaviour in keeping with its philosophy of the dignity of the human person, natural family planning methods exclude the use of other methods of birth control.
Periodic abstinence and the natural infertility caused by breastfeeding are the only methods deemed moral by the Church for avoiding pregnancy. When used to avoid pregnancy, NFP limits sexual intercourse to naturally infertile periods; portions of the menstrual cycle, during pregnancy, and after menopause. Various methods may be used to identify whether a woman is likely to be fertile; this information may be used in attempts to either avoid or achieve pregnancy.
The central argument in the basic Church doctrine against the use of contraceptives is that the Church has a privileged knowledge of natural law, and that the use of contraceptives violates this law since it prevents sex from undertaking its “natural function” of procreation.
However, the above methods have the highest failure rates. Furthermore, I think Sex is not only meant for procreation but for the couple to enjoy the most of it within the bounds of marriage. We should be thankful that the God in his kindness designed Sex to feel good, but the natural law should be complied with, apparently.
As for me, I would prefer that the Church leaves it to the couples to decide on the method to use. The Church with their clergies or priests don’t have experience and may not be in the position to advise, particularly what do in the bedroom on the first place. Can they really control the couple when the wife on her fertile days not to have sex with the husband? I don’t think so. Needless to say, few of them (clergies or priests) can’t even control their own sexual urges; see those reported cases of sexual advances committed by priests or those who cohabit with mistresses and had sex against their own teaching.
I do believe that Life begins at conception, not birth. Hence, as long as the contraception methods used are not abortifacient then I guess they’re alright. No conception no abortion.
I agree and to be sure, children occupy the highest rung of delight on the family scale, particularly in our country where the birth of a child is generally welcomed for a variety of reasons—as a blessing from the divine, an affirmation of the couple’s ability to reproduce (especially, in these sexist parts, the man’s virility), a guarantee of the clan’s continuity, and, in the lower-income strata, a promise of another pair of hands to help in the livelihood.
However, we should be all diligent to consider if we have to keep multiplying beyond our means. Just take a look at the scarcity of resources: not enough classrooms, not enough agricultural produce, dwindling seafood sources, continuous destruction and unabated rape of our natural resources, increasing ignorance of people, imbalance in the sharing between human and animal habitat, dwindling supply of water to drink, disappearing agricultural lands, and many more.
Unfortunately, man cannot report back to God now: “Umm, Lord, we enjoyed multiplying so much that we are seven billion now, and we are just multiplying the poor and human misery. Can we at least slow down this multiplying now?”
For those who say that it is OK to continue to multiply, I could say they sure don't have their feet on the ground. If we want our children to inherit a better century than our own, we owe it to our own children to help restore worldwide respect for the intrinsic dignity and incomparable worth of the human person. We must affirm the founding truth our civilization: that each of us is made in the image and likeness of God.
I believe God would not be happy to see mankind suffering due to overpopulation.
Until then my humble regards.
BLMabeza is a concerned citizen.