Smart Remarks Are Rarely Smart

March 11, 2013 | 0 comments

I was interested in Catholicism long before I chose to become Catholic. But my interest wasn't always benign. For quite a while what I was interested in was anti-Catholicism. As a teenager, I found an advertisement in the back of a magazine for a course in Catholicism from the Knights of Columbus. When the course materials arrived, I was intrigued to see that they also offered pamphlets on the Catholic Faith. I sent away for them all.

Once the pamphlets arrived, I had a lot of fun reading through them—not so that I could learn about Catholicism but so that I could scrawl what I considered to be witty remarks in the margins. I filled the pages with what I thought were devastating rebuttals that had never been thought of by those silly Catholics who worshipped Mary, thought the pope never sinned, and didn't know the Sabbath was on Saturday. (I grew up in a Seventh-day Adventist family.) Looking back, I can only shrug and say, "Hey, I was a teenager. I eventually grew up."

I also can only thank God that I grew up before the cyber age. Had I been a teenager today, I might not have limited my anti-Catholic graffiti to booklets seen by no one except me; I might instead have turned my snarky comments into Facebook memes.

Here's a recent meme that has been making the rounds of cyberspace:

The author of this meme no doubt thought she was making a devastating rebuttal to the claim that contraception violates God's will. "Ha!" I can almost hear her murmur as she types quickly, "This will show those silly misogynists how bigoted they are! It's okay for men to use Viagra, but I can't use birth control? Bah!"

All such emoting does is demonstrate that the emoter hasn't bothered to stop and think about the claim she is rebutting. Five minutes of hard thought might have had the meme author reconsidering the validity of this response. Or, as Catholic apologist Frank Sheed observed in his book Society and Sanity:

The typical modern man practically never thinks about sex. He dreams of it, of course, by day and by night; he craves for it; he pictures it, is stimulated or depressed by it, drools over it. But this frothing, steaming activity is not thinking.

A blog post doesn't give me the luxury of responding in full to this meme, but here is a quick response:

Birth control works by suppressing the natural functions of a woman's reproductive system. In one way or another—whether it be by suppressing ovulation, impeding fertilization, or preventing implantation (the last actually being an early chemical abortion)—the woman's body is stopped from acting according to the design for which it was created.

Viagra, on the other hand, along with other drugs that treat male sexual dysfunction, works by promoting the healthy function of the male reproductive system. It causes a man to be able to have relations with a woman, which is a positive good if the relations are within marriage and ordered to the creation of a family.

In short, the rejoinder to the meme is simple: God doesn't "will" for a married man "never to have sex again"; he does will that married men and women refrain from engaging in relations while frustrating the natural result of a fully functioning reproductive system, which is pregnancy.

But the larger take-away from this meme is that snarky comments are like candy. They can make you feel good in the moment, but they are not nutritious, and indulging in them too frequently can lead to flabby brain cells.


Michelle Arnold is a staff apologist at Catholic Answers. You can visit her personal blog or contact her online through Facebook.
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