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
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?