Rebecca Oas, Ph.D.


The unavoidably human aspect of human sexuality

Rebecca Oas, Ph.D.
By Rebecca Oas Ph.D.

June 15, 2012 ( – It could be said that the common enemy of the diet industry and the junk food industry is self-control.

Information from the World Health Organization indicates that global obesity has doubled since 1980[1], which suggests that self-control is not winning the fight. Many tactics have been attempted to curb this trend, due to the heavy cost of obesity, both to the individual’s health and the society’s health care system. Educational programs have been implemented to teach children good habits early in life, taxes have been levied against foods deemed to be nutritionally lacking, and restrictions have been placed on where and how such foods can be accessed. A recent attempt to ban the sale of soft drinks larger than 16 ounces in New York City drew intense scrutiny, although it ultimately failed to pass into law. Meanwhile, popular diets lure people to join programs promising quick results “without dieting or exercise,” to quote a common slogan.

While psychologists tout the benefits of self-control and suggest that it can be increased through practice, it’s easy to see why campaigns to improve societal health don’t focus on this angle, and not only because impulsive consumption provides economic stimulus. Self-control, self-denial, and a willingness to forego immediate gratification are fundamentally moral concepts. A recent column in Time Magazine presented the notion that self-control, as highlighted during Lent, has benefits beyond the spiritual, referring to this as “the open secret of all religions”[2]. Nonetheless, even if you manage to convince people that self-control has its advantages, developing it in a society that emphasizes convenience, sensory pleasure, and material acquisition is an uphill battle.

One of the central difficulties in the field of public health is the fact that influencing large populations of people to make healthier choices is extremely difficult. This struggle is echoed in the realm of morality as well – both priests and medical doctors know that the advice they give in a confessional or examination room may fail to be effective when met with a lack of compliance on the part of the penitent or patient.

Nowhere is the uneasy association of public health and public morality more fraught with controversy than in the area of sexual behavior. While religious teachings, such as those of the Catholic faith, focus on self-control and a view of human sexuality in the context of the divine plan, public health officials focus on pragmatism, arguing that people will engage in potentially risky behavior regardless of the consequences, particularly when the behavior presents immediate sensory rewards. Public health advocates pay nominal tribute to the fact that reserving sexuality for a faithful and committed marriage affords the optimal outcomes both for the sexual health of the individual and the long-term well-being of the resulting children, but are then quick to point out that many people do not live according to this standard, even among those who claim to uphold it, and cite studies linking increased emphasis on abstinence-only education with increased rates of unintended pregnancy among teenagers[3].


The gap between “ideal” and “typical” behavior exists among users of contraceptives as well as those who aspire to be abstinent. A recent survey of women who identify themselves as being sexually active and desiring reversible contraception measures revealed that the women overestimated the effectiveness of the contraceptives, especially those which rely more heavily on human compliance, such as condoms, pills, injections, patches, and rings[4]. In fact, nearly 60% of participants overestimated the ability of these measures to prevent an unintended pregnancy, a fact which the study’s authors attributed in part to the information contained in the manufacturer’s packaging of these products, which report failure rates with the assumption of perfect use.

It is worth pointing out that this survey was conducted as part of a program designed to promote the use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), including intrauterine devices and implants. Another study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that approximately half of unintended pregnancies are attributable to contraceptive failure, emphasizing human error as the primary cause, again proposing LARC methods as the best solution[5]. However, the effort to promote the use of LARC methods may come at a cost: a recent report in the British Medical Journal indicates that non-oral contraceptives, including LARC methods, as well as contraceptive rings, carry a higher risk of serious blood clots than the pill, and the accompanying press release urged women to consider switching to oral contraceptives[6].

The idea that humans are not perfectly consistent or reliable is certainly no new revelation: the fallen nature of man is a central teaching of Christianity, and our capacity for error is unavoidably evident to religious and non-religious people alike. So it should come as no surprise that people often fail at both abstinence and contraception, in much the same way as we often fail to exercise moderation when we eat. But where the religious and the secular world diverge is in the response after a failure occurs. Within the Catholic Church can be found methods to grow in virtues like self-control, the Sacrament of Confession for when we fall, and a spirit of gratitude and welcome for new life, even when its arrival is unintended. In contrast, the secular world, having long-since abandoned sexual self-control, can only view unintended pregnancy as a tragedy, and one to be avoided by adopting forms of contraception that place a woman at increased risk of life-threatening blood clots, for the sake of avoiding maternity.

In the United States, there has been widespread controversy regarding the sex education curricula presented in public schools, with some favoring “abstinence-only” education and others touting a more comprehensive approach. Critics of “abstinence-only” education object to its moralistic tone, exemplified by the language in its definition that condemns all extramarital sexual activity[7]. While some might argue that this standard, which derives from Judeo-Christian morality, should not be part of a curriculum presented to students who may or may not embrace that worldview, the separation of public health and public morality into discrete boxes is apparently only desirable when it curtails the establishment of moral standards. When Pope Benedict XIV reiterated the Church’s stance against barrier methods of contraception in 2009, it ignited a huge controversy, partly due to the tendency of many news outlets to take his words out of context, but also because he challenged the notion that condoms are the best solution to the worldwide AIDS epidemic. In fact, he went further; lost in the media tempest regarding condoms was his plea for the “humanization of sexuality”[8].

The Holy Father’s words call us back to the recognition that humans are endowed with intelligence and free will[9], and while this means we are capable of falling, it also means we are able to succeed and improve ourselves through the development of virtue. However, the harmony that exists within the Church’s teachings on human sexuality cannot be replicated outside of a framework that acknowledges the importance of self-control, the procreative aspect of human sexuality, and the value of human life at all stages. Only when we acknowledge the harms caused by lust and gluttony can we fully appreciate the benefits of chastity and temperance, and only when we embrace self-mastery can we know both its difficulty and its desserts.




(4) Eisenberg DL, Secura GM, Madden TE, Allsworth JE, Zhao Q, Peipert JF. Knowledge of contraceptive effectiveness. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2012 Jun;206(6):479

(5) Winner B, Peipert JF, Zhao Q, Buckel C, Madden T, Allsworth JE, Secura GM. Effectiveness of long-acting reversible contraception. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2012 May 24;366(21):1998-2007.





This article originally appeared on and is reprinted with permission.


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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent


Paris climate summit kicks off with Prince Charles bemoaning our ‘crowded planet’

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

PARIS, December 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- The COP21 – or 21st edition of the Conference of Parties on “climate change” – got off to a spectacular start on Monday with 150 heads of state joining to speak of the “urgency” of the fight against “anthropogenic” global warming. Even though many scientists disagree with the theory that man’s carbon emissions are causing the planet to heat up, and a good number believe that there has been at least a “pause” in global warming for over 18 years, an overwhelming majority of politicians at the helm of their respective countries are touting emergency measures to keep carbon emissions down. Underlying all this is the Malthusian idea that the Earth’s population is no longer “sustainable.” If man is to blame, that means there are too many human beings on the planet.

That was in fact one of the first points made on Monday, when the 150 heads of state took turns to make 6-minute speeches fraught with urgency and alarm. So many had accepted French President François Hollande’s invitation they had to be separated into two groups in parallel events. As a special guest, the Prince of Wales was one of the first to speak.

jeann“On an increasingly crowded planet,” he said, “humanity faces many threats – but none is greater than climate change.” Prince Charles named several challenges linked to global warming: “our ability to feed ourselves; to remain healthy and safe from extreme weather; to manage the natural resources that support our economies, and to avert the humanitarian disaster of mass migration and increasing conflict.”

What with the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, the rise of the Islamic State and the spectacle of thousands of migrants crossing the southern borders of Europe all summer, this was an obvious play on people’s feelings of fear and desire for security. The operative words are of course “an increasingly crowded planet.”

Now the participants at the COP21 are, in the main, not using the words “overpopulation,” “population control,” or “family planning,” if we can go by press releases at least. But the idea is very much under the surface. The choice of Prince Charles as one of the first keynote speakers at the very opening of the Paris conference makes the point: he has long been making it clear that there are too many human beings around and that it is high time traditional respect for human life adjusts itself to reality.

In 1992, he was already discreetly accusing the Vatican of being part of “certain delegations” who are “determined to prevent discussion of population growth.” In June 2010, during a lecture marking the 25th anniversary of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies of which he is a patron, Prince Charles said the population of Lagos in Nigeria has risen from 300,000 to 20 million in his lifetime: “I could have chosen Mumbai, Cairo or Mexico City; wherever you look, the world’s population is increasing fast. It goes up by the equivalent of the entire population of the United Kingdom every year. Which means that this poor planet of ours, which already struggles to sustain 6.8 billion people, will somehow have to support over 9 billion people within 50 years.”

Speaking of the “very difficult moral questions” raised in this context, he added that we should come to a view that balances “the traditional attitude to the sacred nature of life” with religious teachings that urge humans to “keep within the limits of Nature’s benevolence and bounty.”

This is in obvious defiance towards traditional condemnation of contraception and might even be construed as justifying abortion.

Three years later, in 2013, the Prince of Wales published an official endorsement of Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s (authors of The Population Bomb) latest report on overpopulation, which pleads for universal access to (chosen) contraception and “legal and safe” abortion, on his official website.

All this was left unsaid at the COP21 but it does enter the logic of the talks, as confirmed by international bodies such as the United Nations and its agencies that promote population control in exchange for development aid.

In another noteworthy event, this time on the side of COP21’s first day official meetings, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, met with Barack Obama and François Hollande on Monday afternoon to discuss his “Breakthrough Energy Coalition,” an initiative he is taking together with Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) and his wife, Dr Priscilla Chan, as well as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, and Xavier Nell, the French founder of Free, an internet provider, who made his first fortune with a pioneering French information network Minitel, where he “sold” erotic services in the 1980s.

Bill Gates and his billionaire counterparts are aiming to invest millions in “clean” energy, together with widespread public investment, in order to make the field attractive to investors.

But “philanthropist” Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are also well known for their action in favor of population control and the distribution of contraceptives in poor countries. All the major companies involved in the initiatives are proponents of LGBT rights as are many sponsors of the COP21 in France.

At least one advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is officially taking part in the COP21 on the chapter of “green agriculture.”

Pope Francis himself has reiterated his support for the COP21, hoping together with François Hollande that the talks will lead to a “binding” agreement where rich countries will help poor ones, both technically and financially, to go ahead with the “ecological revolution.” On Monday, the pope called on the international community to realize that global warming is driving the world “to the brink of suicide.”

Saying he was “unsure” of the COP21’s outcome, he added: “All I can say is that it’s now or never.” He was speaking to the press in the airplane that was bringing him back to Rome from his African journey.

As the major anti-global warming demonstration that was to have taken place on Sunday in Paris was canceled because of the November terrorist attacks, the French authorities suggested would-be demonstrators send a pair of shoes to the “Place de la République” to represent them there. Pope Francis agreed to “sign” one of the pairs with the inscription Laudato si’. They were placed there together with two pairs of shoes bearing the cards of Cardinal Peter Turkson and Cardinal Claudio Hummes who personally presented a petition by 800,000 Catholics from 130 countries in support of the COP21 at an interreligious event in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, last Saturday.

Cardinal Turkson, who will be representing the Holy See during the second phase of the climate conference, has taken advantage of his position as president of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice to encourage 5,100 bishops and 413,000 priests to commit themselves in favor of the Paris summit, asking them to check out demonstrations and other events in their dioceses in favor of fighting climate change.

A new “Advent”?


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Saying abortion is ‘killing babies’ is not hateful, it’s the truth: Ben Carson (video)

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By Ben Johnson

December 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Dr. Ben Carson is walking back statements he made over the weekend that seemed to accuse the pro-life movement of spewing "hateful rhetoric."

Dr. Carson told "Face the Nation" on Sunday that there was "no question" that overheated words on "both sides" of the abortion debate may have frayed our social discourse and contributed to Robert Lewis Dear's decision to open fire inside a Planned Parenthood last Friday.

Police have not yet determined Dear's motive, though his mental state has been questioned.

Members of the pro-life community recoiled at the notion that they had engaged in hate speech. "Dr. Carson is sorely misinformed," Lauren Muzyka, the executive director of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, told LifeSiteNews. He "must reacquaint himself with the pro-life movement he loves and claims" as his own.

“Doctor Carson just ended his presidential candidacy," Operation Rescue President Troy Newman told Breitbart News.

On Monday night, Carson appeared on "The Kelly File" on Fox News to address the controversy touched off just 36 hours earlier.

All pro-life leaders "need to do is look at my record," he said.

"I've spent my whole life as a pro-life advocate, trying to save lives" as a surgeon, including operating on premature babies. Carson, a frequent speaker at women's pregnancy centers, added, "I don't think any candidate has been as involved in raising as much money for pro-life issues as I have."

"So, when something is said that someone might try to interpret as anti-pro-life, that's just silly," he said.

When asked what pro-life statements rose to the level of "hateful rhetoric," Carson said he had in mind anyone who would say he "can understand why somebody would come abortion clinic and shoot it up."

Saying that abortionists are "killing babies" does not count, though. "I say that myself," he said. "I don't think that's hateful rhetoric; that's just the truth."

On the other side of the debate, those who favor abortion "engage in such hateful rhetoric by saying that anybody who doesn't want a woman to have an abortion is anti-woman," he said.

Dr. Carson, speaking in his usually low and measured cadences, called for a calm discussion of the rights proper to unborn children to replace shouting.

"Somebody has to be the mature one," he said. "I think the appropriate people to do that are gonna be the pro-life people, because they have much better arguments."

"It's very difficult for somebody who is pro-abortion to sit down and explain why it's OK to take this little baby who has features that we can all recognize – eyes and ears and hearts – and pull them apart," he said. "They have to be able to explain that."

Before switching to another topic, Megyn Kelly wondered if the Planned Parenthood feeding frenzy provided "evidence of the bias in some of these reporters...who are on the pro-choice side" and "think any expression of...the pro-life stance is angry rhetoric.”

Dr. Carson had just completed a tour of Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. He said the displaced persons he spoke to did not want to come to the United States but wanted to return to their homes.

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Fr. Mark Hodges

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Man threatened surrogate with financial ruin if she refused to abort his triplets

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

WOODLAND HILLS, California, December 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – While pro-abortion "Catholic" New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to legalize commercial surrogacy, a case in point demonstrates the ludicrousness of the loveless practice.

A Georgia man hired a California woman to carry his child in her womb, via in vitro fertilization, for $33,000. Practitioners fertilized a 20-year-old donor's three eggs with the rich man's sperm and implanted the conceived humans in Melissa Cook's womb earlier this year, in the hopes that one might survive.

Melissa Cook has never met the father of the children she carries.

It is normal practice, with in vitro fertilization, to implant more than one conceptus, because in most cases, most or all of the babies die.  "Extras" are discarded to die as well.

But all three of the babies implanted in Cook defied the odds. Instead of carrying the Georgia man's baby, Cook was found to be carrying three of his and the 20-year-old stranger's babies – triplets.

Overwhelmed by the thought of fathering triplets, the Georgia man sent Cook a letter demanding that she abort one extra baby. He called it a "selection reduction" and commanded her to kill the child per their surrogate contract.

Cook balked. "They are human beings. I bonded with these kids. This is just not right," she told The Post.

The Georgia man's lawyer threatened Cook with financial ruin. "His remedies where you refuse to abide by the terms of the agreement, are immense" the lawyer's letter reads, enumerating "loss of all benefits under the agreement, damages in relation to future care of the children [and] medical costs associated with any extraordinary care the children may need."

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He further demanded that Cook get an abortion in less than 24 hours of receipt of his letter. Cook, who is a mother of four and a surrogate to a fifth child previously, is now 17 weeks pregnant.

"I have to reduce. I'm scared. I don't want to suffer," Cook, who is separated from her husband, fretted.

"This sad story highlights the fact that surrogacy is based in the sick idea that a human being is a commodity that can be bought and sold, threatened and killed, all at the whim of the powerful," Stephen Phelan, director of mission communications for Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews.

"Here, a mother is threatened by being held to a contract that she mistakenly signed, understanding too late that she signed away her own freedom and risked the life of her unborn child," Phelan said.

Director Phelan noted, "These cases are not anomalies. They perfectly follow the logic of slavery and abuse that underlie the life-as-commodity view, even when these practices are sold as affirming life."

"We pray that those who currently see in vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood as 'pro-life, pro-woman and pro-child' will reconsider and fight any law that allows or encourages the practices," Phelan concluded.

Jennifer Lahl, head of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, commented, "Why on Earth would Cuomo want to set up a system like this in New York? It's parent breeding."


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