Last month February 2019, the recurrence of a supposedly resolved issue surged forth with a force as the Department of Health distributed free condoms on Valentine’s Day as part of their campaign to prevent the spread of the escalating disease, HIV/AIDS. This act, in result, caused violent reactions from the clergy, proclaiming that the distribution of these condoms was an “immoral” act, headed by an also “immoral, non-Catholic” government official. The condemning of artificial contraception, as a supposed means to prevent disease and save life, is a clear cut example of the Church meddling with the political state affairs.
As these leaders battle it out on the grounds, one never really thinks about the onlookers watching on: the people of this very Catholic country. Seeing the blur between these two powerful forces, the nation is, in effect, confused. Who is it that we truly follow? What is morally right in this world we live in? What and who do we condemn? What must we do? Come to think of it, most people in this country are uneducated and unable to comprehend what these powers are even battling about. They do not understand that they are slowly being taken away the right to have options regarding family planning. As the Church continues to pursue their quest to eradicate all things artificial, they are slowly taking away our right to the basic human nature to have sex without endangering our own lives.
Certainly, the Church has a vital purpose in society. Its main task is to enrich the nation by instilling moral and ethical values onto a society full of mayhem and corruption. Their law is imperative as well, that we must understand. But in this modern, ever changing and complex world, are their doctrines still applicable to us?
The separation of the Church and State must be established. Biblically, Jesus clearly states its independence from each other, one serving a nation in preparation for an eternal salvation, the other for temporal order on Earth: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:17). According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Article 2, Section 6: “The separation of the Church shall be inviolable.” These statements are clear. The Church is there specifically to mold our spirituality in order to create a balanced society. The State is there to govern us by upholding laws that should benefit us and preserve our rights as Earthly beings. They are two different powers, whose roles can only be mixed to a certain extent. And even if the Bible also state (Roman 13:1), that the Church’s power is placed by God, thereby overruling governments, abiding and supporting state laws should not be forgotten. The State, therefore, should not curb to the whims of every bishop that would threaten their position in power because according to the 1987 Constitution, Article 2, Section 15, the State too has a vital obligation to the society: “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”
According to a recent article by Ricky Poa, writer for the Inquirer, he writes that the Church believes that the distribution of condoms should be condoned because it promotes promiscuity. It desensitizes the morality of any Catholic person. To say that artificial contraception isn’t vital in preventing pregnancy and disease is a mythical thought. For overpopulation truly isn’t existent here in the country, it is the unequal distribution of wealth among the people. Japan, for example, is a first world country whose biggest problem is its low birth rate. If overpopulation should ever be our problem, it is to these First World countries that we should pattern ourselves to. The best thing that our government is tasked to do is to keep the importance of the nation’s values and not further demoralize them by offering “anti-life” methods such as the condom.
But while each make highly acclaimed points, one must think that the Philippines cannot be patterned after a First World, for the Philippines is not a First World – for one, we are struggling Third World country who cannot even distinguish the separation between the Church and the State and for another, Japan is a country that already openly promotes sexual activities, artificial contraception and promiscuity. Their birth rate and disease rate are low because they make use of contraception. The Church claims that contraception is immoral because it promotes promiscuity, but a condom is a mere “tool” that cannot be claimed to be good or evil. On how it is used is what makes a mere “object” morally repulsive. And so we turn to man itself. The Church is stating that the morality of man is frail and fickle. This clearly makes another statement that makes us conclude that the Church isn’t doing their job right, which is to enrich man through moral values in order to create a balanced society. Why attack the immovable tool? Why not instead seek programs to better enrich the morality, preach onto the people about what is truly right and what is truly wrong, instead of corrupting their minds even more by destroying the name of an official merely doing her job for the sake of her people?
Both powers are equally powerful by their own right. So powerful are they that they can corrupt the minds of an entire nation, keeping them uninformed about the true issues that go around society. But the people here in this Third World country are entitled to be given the right to have choices, plural. The rates go higher each day. The State, meanwhile, is too corrupt, too weak, vying only for their own position and power, to oppose against the Church. For without the Church’s support, they no longer have a position to sit on.
What the people must do now is to educate themselves in order to be able to fight for their rights, powerless though we continue to remain. This is what we need, and we cannot allow for our disillusioned leaders to think otherwise. As we live by a democratic system, why does it seem that our very own leaders (both State and Church) opt for a whole nation to remain in ignorance and remain unable to think for ourselves? We must allow ourselves to be able to think on our own, for our great powers offer us no help at all. Being able to think requires education for all, rich or poor. It is every individuals’ right to be educated in order to preserve our own lives and to attain true freedom. That is the very definition of “pro-life” and anyone who doesn’t give us the right to do that must have their heads severed off.