The Pope and Unprotected Sex November 23, 2010Posted by Metabiological in Ethics.
Tags: condoms, Pope, utilitarianism
Scratch another notch under “old dogs can learn new tricks.” The Pope came out with a statement today affirming that condom use can be morally justified if the goal is to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS. Now for those of us who do not live our lives bound by Catholic doctrine this may seem to be a rather obvious statement. After all in a choice between inflicting unwarranted suffering and slipping on a piece of latex I imagine most of us would consider anyone who chooses the former to be a sociopath at best. For the Catholic Church however this is enormous.
Now it must be said that the Pope by no means endorsed the use of condoms. The pontiff’s standard position that the use of artificial contraceptives are an affront to God still applies. But for all the liberal believers in the church this signals a momentous shift in policy especially coming as it does from a very conservative Pope. More importantly this means that church leaders in Africa, which I will remind you is still mired in the AIDS epidemic, may finally start to put forward some sensible solutions to the problem instead of trying to do what religion has largely failed to do for the past few thousand years (i.e. control people’s sexual urges.)
It goes without saying that I am complete supporter of both family planning and contraception. I see no problem in either sex before marriage or recreational sex if undertaken in a sensible way wherein precautions are taken to ensure undue consequences are prevented. Done properly no suffering is inflicted, indeed quite the contrary. This is in line with my own utilitarian beliefs and a very common viewpoint among much of the western world. The reason I point all this out is that it is worth remembering that much of the world does not share this view. Much of the world is still stuck in antiquated moral systems whose precepts are in direct contrast to the furthering of human well-being. It is a war of ideas and the smallest concession of the other side is cause for celebration.