Monday, May 30, 2011

The "J"-word

I have been accused of being the "J"-word more times than I'd like. As an out-spoken, conservative, pro-life, and Catholic woman, I am apparently the epitome of the "J"-word. Since I have strong opinions and am very pedantic, I get labeled by the "J"-word quite frequently. If you're not sure what the "J"-word is, I'll enlighten you. It is judgemental.

For instance, I consider the following statement to be 100% absolutely without a doubt true: The Catholic Church is opposed to abortion and birth control. You may say, "But Erika, there are exceptions. You can't just make that statement without qualification." I would say, "There may be exceptions to birth control (NEVER abortion), but the root of the statement is true." Then usually, the conversation degrades to, "You're so judgemental. You can't tell every woman out there that she cannot be on birth control and follow Catholic teaching." My reply is usually something along the lines of, "I am merely stating that the Church prohibits abortion and birth control. In some instances, the Church may say it is ok for an abstinent woman to take birth control for a medical condition.** However, the Church strongly encourages the aforementioned woman to seek out other means of treating her condition." The discussion usually degrades to more name-calling and me preaching on and on by the book (typically Scripture, the Catechism, and science).

A tidbit I like to throw into the arena, at this point, is that by labeling me as judgemental, you are being judgemental. The bottom-line is that, in my opinion, being pedantic is what we are called to be as Catholics. Rules are rules. Even exceptions are supposed to be just that - exceptions. Tolerance to those outside the guidelines can be just as bad, if not worse, than being judgemental. Moral relativism does not conform to God's command to follow his laws.

Yes, I've read Scripture. I've had numerous bible quotes tossed my direction with the "J"-word. I can typically reply with my own bible quotes. Scripture does tell us, "Judge not lest ye be judged." (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37) However, Scripture also tells us to remonstrate the sinner (Ephesians 5:11, 2 Timothy 4:2, Jude 1:15). Actually there is even an instance in Scripture where the initial portion concerns not judging one another, but the second part deals with avoiding putting scandal in front of others (Romans 14:13). Even by the first scripture alone (Matthew 7:1), if someone wants to judge me on the same matter (birth control), then they are free to do so.

Even in the midst of dangerously low iron levels, debilitating menstrual pain, repeated miscarriage, and threats of my death and/or horrible birth defects if I became pregnant too soon after chemotherapy I have never taken birth control. I have stood in front of doctors as they belittled and tried to badger me into taking birth control. Doctors, nurses, and lay-people have laughed at me, given me doom and gloom predictions, and tried to insinuate that I was stupid. I even had one doctor basically tell me that I would never be able to have children if I didn't go on birth control. Even my own husband has, at times, asked me to consider it. However, I have always stood firm in my morality and refused. So, if anyone thinks I'm expecting other women to do what I have not done myself, they are sadly mistaken.

If the above is your definition of judgemental, then I guess you should stop reading my blog & 'un-friend' me on FB. I will not stop my pedantic ways simply to make your life easier. Yes, I may try sweeten my phrasing a bit, but sugar-coating the truth sometimes ends up diluting it all-together. Yes, sometimes after the "J"-word is thrown at me, I react instead of continuing factually. I am human and it does hurt my feelings sometimes to be considered judgemental. Sometimes I may persist in being "judgemental" by pointing out that adherance to the Church's teachings is what makes us Catholic (if you're Catholic). If that hurts your feelings or makes you question your Faith, I'm sorry, but it is still truth. I try very hard not to judge people, only actions. I've been told that saying that is trite and means next to nothing or is infuriating to my audience. Well, I don't know how else to say that I still love and respect the person, but I know the action is wrong. I will never condone immoral behavior simply to make nice. In my opinion, that is part of my personality.

Please know and understand, I do not consider myself better than anyone. I am not holier than thou or perfect by any means. Instead I am just like everyone else, doing my best to live my life according to God's plan. I expect, (more often than not) deserve, and desire to be corrected on certain issues myself. No, I may not always like being corrected, but I try to avoid jumping to conclusions and being hurt. That is one reason why I am so dogged in my explanations. I sincerely want to let others know the Truth (God's), but I don't want them thinking it is my truth verses their truth. Therefore, I use Scripture, the Catechism, and science to offer testimony to my stance. I always try to avoid off-the-cuff answers on topics that I'm not personally familiar with the research and/or Church teaching. However, given my nature, I am likely to try to ferret out the Truth shortly after a conversation. Then I may revisit the discussion with my facts and figures in mind.

**The Church strongly encourages women (and men) to be fully open to life in all phases of their own lives. The Church also recognizes (unlike the secular world) that birth control is almost always a 'band-aid' for women's health issues. Therefore, instead of the woman being cured of whatever ails her, birth control merely gives her some relief from her symptoms while she seeks out moral and ethical means of treating her problem. If a woman is sexually active, due to the abortifacient effects of most birth control, she is called to be abstient while using the birth control drugs - even if the purpose of these drugs in her medical case is not to prevent pregnancy. Birth control drugs, by their own package inserts, "disrupt the lining of the uterus and prevent implantation". Denying that simply because a woman has an underlying problem does not change the fact that those embryos seeking implantation are killed by mechanism of the drug. If you believe life begins at conception then most if not all birth control drugs are abortifacient.

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