Monday, July 27, 2009


Good morning. I am scheduled to have my wisdom teeth removed today and so what follows is a guest post. I have no idea if I'll be posting the next day or so. Sorry for the spottiness of posts lately! Thanks CK

I live a monumentally mundane life. I always tell people that I live under a rock, so if I encounter something regularly, then I assume it happens to the rest of the world super-regularly. There is a subject that keeps coming up in my social circles lately…

Two old high school friends and I met up at a local bar this week and of course we did what old friends do. We reminisced about high school and college, talked about our jobs and kids. And that same awkward, yet sadly universal subject came up that eventually gets discussed between good friends: their bad experiences with birth control.

One of our mutual friends has recently had a tubal ligation and was really regretting it. She said she feels awful all the time. It wasn’t clear whether the problem was the operation itself, getting off the pill, the emotional effects or a combination of factors. As if this weren’t bad enough, she needs a second surgery due to a case of HPV that if left untreated will certainly lead to cancer.

We all went to a Catholic high school together and I feel we were completely misled by our “health” classes. We were taught every form of birth control available. The teachers seemed to give their implicit stamp of approval to using contraceptives – and leaving any girl who wished to follow Church teaching to feeling completely unsupported. Sure we were told monogamous sex was safest, but it seemed like just a wink acknowledging the Church’s antiquated stance.

We were certainly led to believe that condoms would protect us from sexually transmitted diseases. If this is so, then why are over one third of American women infected with HPV? And why is my friend’s life now very likely at risk? We were taught what sterilization methods were available, but I don’t think anyone made the connection that mutilating healthy organs might have very bad physical and psychological consequences.

The other girlfriend I was drinking with that night had told me in the past that she had an IUD. Now apparently she is on the pill. I wouldn’t surprise me if she had unpleasant experiences with the IUD. Another girl I know had one put in by her doctor and it promptly caused a painful infection. Her doctor ignored her complaints of pain until she insisted the doctor take it out – only to find it really was infected.

The girlfriend who made the IUD/pill switch is a nurse and is extremely well read and intelligent. Yet, I don’t think she even notices that contraceptives are accomplishing the opposite of what medicine intends: it makes a healthy reproductive system unhealthy. She strives for perfect nutrition and to eat organic food whenever she can, yet she is willing to put artificial devices, hormones, and chemicals directly into the most delicate parts of her body. She eats grilled food as infrequently as possible in order to avoid carcinogens, yet will take a pill every day that the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control rate as a Group 1 carcinogen. She is environmentally conscious and recycles religiously, but the hormones in her pills eventually end up in lakes and streams, potentially destroying fish populations.

I always assumed that I would get married and use birth control pills, but I just had the random thought one day that the decision to use contraception was going to dramatically alter my life, and since God doesn’t want me to use it, I think I’d rather have my life be dramatically different in the direction of what is good. I decided I would use Natural Family Planning even though it doesn’t really “work”. It is only later that I did my own research and discovered that Natural Family Planning is just as effective as the pill, but has the added bonuses of being 100% side effect free, can be used to achieve pregnancy if desired, and costs nothing.

Being as I am a Catholic, though, what matters to me the most is my friends’ happiness which means I want them to have a happy family in this life and heaven in the next, and contraception has the power to destroy both. It is difficult to share this kind of information, but I try to take advantage of opportunities when I can as warmly, kindly, and delicately as possible. There is so much brokenness in families, pain in human hearts, and disease caused by contraception that fighting it is a cause close to my heart. I for my part am trying to find out how I can learn NFP so I can educate my loved ones, maybe even teach it publically if I can.

The pulpit is the perfect place to say, look, I know you haven’t been told this before, but I’m going to tell you Church teaching as gently and clearly as I can. It’s not your fault if you’ve never been told before. I know you’re afraid, but God doesn’t ask impossible things. I’m going to help you by having the Couple to Couple League in the gym after every mass today to introduce you to what you’ve been missing…or whatever the priest deems appropriate to help us.

I feel that I have done so little to fight the Culture of Death myself, and it seems like the task is impossible, but I intend to do what little I can. If it was God’s plan to have Pope John Paul II smash the iron curtain almost instantaneously without firing a shot, who says God might not smash the Culture of Death through us who are supposed to be His saints today?


Warren said...

Amen, thank you, anonymous guest blogger.


Anonymous said...

Yes, thanks very much for this post.

Anonymous said...

I whole heartedly agree with the points raised by the guest blogger, but I do want to clarify what seems to be a minor confusion regarding the actual purpose of NFP and Church Teaching. NFP is not and never will be a substitute for contraception. Although NFP is a natural way to space children, for a couple to engage in NFP and space children there must be a grave reason. Humanae Vitae, which the Church uses as one of its pillars on its teaching regarding marriage and family life, states: "there may be serious reasons (justae causae) for spacing offspring; these may be based on the physical or psychological condition of the spouses or on external factors. The Church teaches that (in such cases) it is morally permissalbe for spouses to calculate (their fertility by observing the) natural rythms inherhent in the generative faculties to reserve marital intercourse for infertile times. Thus spouses are able to plan their familes without violating the moral teachings set forth above." In a talk given in 1990 to a group of NFP instructors, JPII said regarding the use of NFP, "...Only if there is a basic openess to fatherhood and motherhood, understood as collaboration with the Creator, does the use of natural means become an integrating part of the responsibility for love and life."
The point is if a couple engages in NFP without always being open to the possiblity of life, it is no different than using contraception. Although, NFP "is just as effective as the pill, but has the added bonuses of being 100% side effect free, can be used to achieve pregnancy if desired, and costs nothing" as the guest blogger states, NFP should be used to postpone pregnancy only in grave circumstances, and the couples must always be open to the possiblity of life. -Jonathan Born

ck said...


Totally agreed! I just thought my post was already too long as it was to get into that!


Elena LaVictoire said...

This seems to be a popular topic in the blogosphere this week. I ran across this over at Chocolate for your Brain:

Still, upon reflection, I came to understand that we are NFP poster children. Only if the goal is to have no children, are we not. The fact that we have nine is more a tribute to my stellar book keeping skills and our great love, than the efficiency or effectiveness of NFP. If you succeed in keeping your family small using this method, it is because you have practiced the virtues of obedience and patience and sacrifice --all beautiful virtues which God loves. You have followed God's plan. If you sometimes ignore, forget, or willfully chose to ignore the times when one must abstain to avoid conception, you have abandoned yourself to life, to love, to a future of hope, and allowed yourself to be used in the great first gift of creation, also virtues that God loves. Either way, NFP places you firmly on the path to God.

ck said...

It's a popular topic this week because it is NFP Awareness Week and July 25 is the anniversary of Humanae Vitae.

Anonymous said...


I hope that no offense was taken. I did feel that I should add this clairification as many "Catholics" don't understand the Churches teaching on family and marriage, may be inclined to think that NFP is a good substitute for NFP. Failure to understand contraception and its ramifications medically and morally can understandably lead to this confusion. When understood in light of Catholic doctrine and the incredible insights of JPII in such writings as Theology of the Body, the beauty of NFP becomes apparent and is capable of uniting a husband and wife in a more intimate way. I think it is so important, especially for young adults (I am 28 and married), to understand this teaching and can be a powerful tool used to change the hearts and minds of those promoting the culture of death in our country.

Patrick said...

Im speechless. I definitely think you should go public with Birth Control Awareness. I am terrified at the end result of this new vaccine they are putting in young girls to prevent them from getting HPV. So instead of Birth Control Awareness, they put something else into a women's body to prevent a disease, that could easily be preventable if they just simply didnt use birth control.


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