Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Form and Function

This two weeks of F4F did not go as planned for me, but that is a story for another day.  Or not. I haven't decided. One thing I can tell you is that I was more than ready for a weekend away, so that's what we did (we being my sister and a friend and I). We'd already had plans for a weekend away at a fancy hotel. I may have to make that a yearly thing. It's all about the ski resorts that let you stay for cheap (well, cheaper) during the summer.

Anyway, the funny thing about these fancy places is what they call style.  Like the bathroom last year that had a glass wall. Still don't understand that one. This year there were three of us, so we were in a room with 2 queen beds, and a bathroom that (thankfully!) had normal walls. But the bathroom did not escape the weirdness with the designs.  For one thing, the faucet of the sink was really high, leading to excessive splashing over the countertop. But the really strange thing was the shower.  It was a normal tub with a shower (except fancy, of course), but the door was not normal. There was a glass door, but there really needed to be two. When I first realized that there was nothing else to slide over to the empty  open space, I figured, "Eh, surely it must work better than it looks like it works."

It doesn't.

By the time we each took showers, it was like Noah's ark in that bathroom.  Even the one door that was there let water underneath, straight onto the floor. Hard to take a relaxing shower when water's going everywhere!  It was bad enough in the summer, but can you imagine coming in from a long day of skiing and trying to take a long, hot shower as the water goes everywhere?  My sister said that she's seen this "design" on a few remodels on HGTV as well.

Whoever designed this place was going for a certain edgy look, which they achieved. But they ignored the fact that there is a function that has to go along with whatever look they pick. The function of the shower doors is to keep the water from going everywhere. The form looked quite nice, if a little different. My problem is that the function was ignored.

Aannd, back to Humanae Vitae. Bathrooms, Spiderman, and Humanae Vitae. They all get mixed up around here. Pope Paul VI acknowledges now, more than ever, the need for responsible parenthood. He knows that there are a lot of complex factors in adding more children to the family.  He is no proponent of the so-called "Quiver full movement". That does not mean that we are good to go to use whatever kind of contraception in order to make these responsible choices: "With regard to man's innate drives and emotions, responsible parenthood means that man's reason and will must exert control over them." (Humanae Vitae, 10)

We cannot decide that sex can take any form that we want it to while disregarding the function.

From this it follows that they are not free to act as they choose in the service of transmitting life, as if it were wholly up to them to decide what is the right course to follow. On the contrary, they are bound to ensure that  what they do corresponds to the will of God the Creator. The very nature of marriage and its use makes His will clear, while the constant teaching of the Church spells it out. (Ibid)
Inherent in what sex is, is the ability to transmit life. It does not mean and has never meant that every act of sex will result in a child. It means that introducing plastic and artificial hormones into sex deprives it of what intrinsically follows from normal functioning. And, for the love of everything, it is not the same thing to only have sex during naturally infertile times! It's not the same thing. Which is more unhealthy? To say that I do not need the calories in that brownie, so I decide not to eat it? Or to eat the brownie and then choose to throw it up?

It is also necessary that sex be for the unity between the couple. That is just as important, and just as inherent in what sex is, and how it biologically works.

The designers of the bathroom wanted to redefine how things looked. They did, but because they ignored what was inherently needed for function, it led to a mess and lots and lots o' extra laundry. Redefining sex without considering what it actually is leads far more mess and headaches than a little (or, rather, a LOT) of water on the floor.


  1. Love this analogy.

    Thanks for these posts the past couple of weeks - I've enjoyed them.

  2. You hit on a strong point in regards to the unifying nature that sex should have. Humanae Vitae is a greater reference for surrogacy and other "new" options.

  3. So, by the brownie analogy, NFP is only eating brownies when we've got the stomach flu and will throw it up naturally? :-)

    Snark aside, help me understand here. I've heard it argued that God made our infertile times, so that we could be clever enough to make use of them. How is being clever enough to chart temperatures to reduce the chance of pregancy any different from being clever enough to block sperm to reduce the chance of pregnancy? The reproductive system has very obvious weak points, which we can only presume are intentionally God-made, and God made us clever enough to see them. What makes some "good" and some "bad"?


  4. Teshumai- Clearly I am not going much into depth here, but please check out 1flesh.org, particularly the tab entitled "consider". If you truly want a better understanding of the consequences of contraception, they've got it all written out and with the research references to back it up. Easy reading, too.

  5. Thank you for the link. I'm reading through it now. Do you want me to not post on your blog any more? I admit I'm snarky, but I'm also frustrated because I just *don't* *get* *it*, and all you guys seem to. I'm trying to figure out what I'm missing here.

    I wrote you a nice long reason for why I'm confused, but it's probably rude to have a comment that long, and I don't want to hijack your blog. The summary is that the reasons not to, so far, are a lot like reasons I should eat my veggies. It's a bit healthier for me to be on NFP. Maybe the sugar-free brownie isn't as natural as the one full of sugar, but why is it such a sin to occasionally have one?

    Off to read more,


  6. Teshumai- I don't know your background at all, so it makes it much harder to fill in the gaps, because I don't know which gaps are missing for you. If you'd like to get into a more in depth discussion of it, please feel free to email me at catholicmutt(at)gmail(dot)com. I don't know if I can help make more sense of it for you, but I'll be happy to try!

    You're always welcome to comment here. Yes, you have a little snark going on, but then I do, too, sometimes. Personally, I can always use someone to keep me on my toes. And I actually do avoid sugar-free brownies like the plague, but that's a whole different story! ;)

  7. Goodness I love your comparisons! They're always spot on.

  8. Love your comparisons!
    It really is too bad about the lack of function in the bathroom. I hate that because it is seen on HGTV, people take things as gospel. When it is not. UGH! My utter frustration with cable is that channel, which, because I work with Kitchens & Bathrooms all day, is what people say the most when they come in ... "I saw this on HGTV ..." UGH!!!!!
    I will refer them to your comment about function!!!