Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Condom Confusion

As most people will know, the Pope said a while back that it was not acceptable to use condoms for prevention of spreading of HIV, something he later changed his mind about and said that sure, it is okay to use a condom, as long as it is used for prevention of diseases. Most people did not doubt that this was a PR trick as a response to all the criticism that he had received in his unrealistic standpoint on HIV prevention.

Now, the Vatican has issued a clarification on the Pope's statement on condom use, confusing matters further. The Vatican, in response to conservative Catholics who worry, have issued another statement saying that it is still not acceptable to use condoms as a contraceptive. Contraceptives are not allowed to be used as contraceptives, but for the prevention of spreading STDs, how does this work?

If condoms are used solely not to contract a disease, it will inevitably be used as a contraceptive as well. Sex will be had for the sake of sex, not for the sake of procreation, and the condom involved will thus be used as a contraceptive. Even if you see it in the way that if someone has to have sex it is better to use a condom in order to prevent disease spreading, it is still a contraceptive unless it is a sexual act between two members of the same sex or perhaps sex with a prostitute, but this, according to the Vatican, is still morally wrong. The NYT article reads:
It said that condom use by a prostitute for disease prevention could not be considered a “lesser evil” because prostitution is “gravely immoral,” and that “an action which is objectively evil, even if a lesser evil, can never be licitly willed.”

The whole matter is just really confusing, condoms cannot be used to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, but to prevent disease, is it a matter of motivation, the reason for having sex? But regardless of how one twists it, even if the motivation is condom use for prevention of disease spreading, the sexual act is still not initiated to procreate, so the condom will also be used to prevent any possible pregnancies, because if a person who had HIV wanted a child but wanted to prevent spreading the disease to this child, he or she would probably adopt or try to conceive naturally which would mean a risk of spreading the disease. The whole condom use, according to the Pope and the Vatican is a lose - lose situation.

This all seems like a failed attempt to make the Pope more popular. The criticism for his statement on condoms and HIV, the one where he initially said it is unacceptable to use a condom even for the prevention of spreading the disease was so widely criticised, by Catholics, Protestants, atheists and other people alike, so he went out and condoned condom use in certain situations. This gave rise to a worry among conservative Catholics who were afraid that condoms would be used as a contraceptive against pregnancies, so the Vatican went out and 'clarified' the Pope's statement to appease these people, to solidify the Pope's popularity among that group, and inevitably contradicting what had just been said by the Pope.

The problem with this issue, the use of condoms, is that it is never going to be an issue where compromise can be made. Either you are for the use of condoms, or against it, because either you believe that sex should be had for procreation or pleasure or both. As long as there is even a tiny part of you that believes that sex should be used for pleasure, condoms will inevitably be used as contraception, because even if the major reason for using a condom is to prevent disease spreading, the purpose of the sex is pleasure. If you believe that sex is for procreation, there is no excuse for the use of a condom, because a condom will always partly be a contraceptive purposely used for the prevention of pregnancies, directly or indirectly. There is no compromise. Allowing people to use condoms as a disease prevention mechanism is to encourage, perhaps even condone, sex for other purposes than procreation, i.e. sex for pleasure. And this would open a whole can of worms, it would essentially say that prostitution can be acceptable as long as the circumstances are right, not to mention that it sexual promiscuity would also be accepted.

I suppose the only way to explain this confusing matter is that the Pope and the Vatican seems to think that sex for pleasure is acceptable, but there should not be any contraceptives involved unless there is a known disease in the picture. In that case, it seems that the evil of quenching potential life is lesser than the evil of sexually transmitted diseases. That, or just that the Pope is trying to approach a more mainstream audience and failing greatly.

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