declare your bias … what are you afraid of?
In the last wee while, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend for Christians to be given a platform in secular debate without explicitly declaring their religious bias. Please don’t get me wrong, I insist all voices have a right to be heard, but I do think there is a necessity to declare all factors of outside influence, especially when discussing matters such as women’s rights to have access to family planning.
For instance, Catholic doctrine states that any sex without breeding intentions is evil, yes – EVIL, even within marriage:
some maintain that the Church considers the use of contraception a matter for each married couple to decide according to their “individual conscience.” Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. The Church has always maintained the historic Christian teaching that deliberate acts of contraception are always gravely sinful, which means that it is mortally sinful if done with full knowledge and deliberate consent (CCC 1857). This teaching cannot be changed and has been taught by the Church infallibly. (catholic.com)
Therefore, a Catholic entering a discussion about family planning and contraception is saddled by the notion that any couple using natural human technological advances to plan carefully for when they can best provide for children, is commiting grave and even mortally sinful acts. For most humans, this is not a sound basis for a logical discussion, and I believe it is a serious bias that should always be declared.
In the spirit of being fair and transparent about bias, let me declare my own factors of outside influence. I want the kindest and fairest society for everyone I love who exists in this world (and indeed for myself) and this influences my decision to evaluate every subject on which I form an opinion, based on the evidence available. This means I am open to changing my mind on any subject because only I evaluate my own opinion. This also means I can listen to expert organisations who collect and evaluate the latest information on every subject, as well as religious bodies formed centuries ago who invented their opinions in times of great ignorance, based on how selected men interpreted the will of invisible gods. (When it comes to the Catholic Church, it’s particularly comical that the men who developed these opinions on family planning were forbidden from having sex, but that’s another story or ten.)
The nut of this problem is that Catholics, and many other people from other religions, by definition can’t be open to changing their minds on many, many subjects. Because to do so, in spite of overwhelming facts that indicate they are wrong, would be a grave and mortal sin, or would suggest that perhaps their ‘ancient laws’ are nothing more than ’empty traditions’ – and not the will of any invisible god.
But, who knows? I wouldn’t like to make that call. All I’m asking is that if you do have an underlying bias contributing to your opinion on a serious subject, please don’t be afraid to state it.