Talk To Me Like I’m Stupid: Catholicism and Contraception

Ta-Nehisi Coates used to occasionally do posts titled “Talk To Me Like I’m Stupid” when he wanted to know about some subject. I am going to borrow his line to put some questions to you readers on the issue of Catholics and their opposition to contraception, which has been in the news lately.

I am not a religious person, and never have been. Most of what I know about religion is just the commonplace knowledge one can’t help picking up in our society. But I don’t know much detail, or history, of religious teachings. So, I don’t actually understand why so many Catholics, especially their leaders, are against contraception. I consulted my favorite source, Wikipedia, on the topic, and it reported that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is where it’s all codified.

Unfortunately, having read that article, it’s still not clear to me who originally wrote this Catechism and when. Apparently, it rests on the authority of the Pope–which surprised me, because I was expecting that something from the Bible itself would be the ultimate grounds for this. I was surprised, in fact, by how little the actual Bible got cited in all this.

Now, on to the second issue I don’t understand. If I recall correctly, this whole thing started because religious institutions don’t want to have to pay for contraceptives for their employees. Now, what I’ve never seen actually explained is: might it be the case  that some of  these employees are not followers of the same religion as their employer? If  so, then the question becomes: Is there a “nor tolerate those who do” clause anywhere in the Catholic teachings?

That’s important, because if it turns out there is, it could lead to some serious problems. But quite honestly, I realize that the answers to these questions are probably quite obvious, and that I am displaying an embarrassing ignorance of the subject.


  1. You will never find a right answer for this topic. Not all Catholics believe in the ban of contraception and many that I personally know don’t even care what the Church’s stance is on the issue. What amazes me the most is the inconsistency of what each individual thinks is enough to remain in God’s graces and what the Church promotes. If you look through history, as Catholics become less tolerant of a belief, the Church will become lenient on that belief so that they do not lose attendance. The reason for this could be as simple as the vagueness of the New Testament.

    Something a lot of people don’t realize is that Islam is an offshoot of Christianity. If from what I’ve seen and the little bit I know, Muslims seem to be a lot more strict about their beliefs. Why? The Qur’an (the Muslim Bible and could be considered the Third Testament) is considered the word of God whereas the New Testament is considered the intentions of God. The law is clear-cut in Islam where its made up from interpretations in Catholicism.

    This doesn’t answer your question, but it does provide some information that could be further researched to develop more of a personal opinion on the matter.

What's your stake in this, cowboy?