Should I use contraception? Part 2

4 Apr

Back in the swing of daily life! I need to do normal stuff or I’ll just keep moping.

A few weeks ago I posted this.

Chances are, if you’re here you’ve probably already read and responded to it.

I’ve been thinking a lot, a lot, a lot about the responses I got.

The most recent comment I got included this: “As you know, the Church teaches that use of contraception is a mortal sin. Think about that! Would you want to discuss the pros and cons of stealing, committing adultery, purposely skipping Mass on Sunday, etc? No, because the cons are pretty dire.”

And it was as I read this that I realized the heart of the issue:

I’ve spent my whole life being told not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to miss church.

And I’ve spent my whole life being told that if I wasn’t ready to have a child, even as a married woman, then it wasn’t fair to that child for me to conceive him or her. Or that it would be wrong of me to have too many kids because kids need a lot of one-on-one time with mom. And I’ve always been told that contraception is the way to safely ensure that.

I don’t know if those statements are right or wrong anymore…I do see some truth to them, but I also see some selfishness. But most of all those statements are a part of me. They are built into my conscience and they resonate as strongly as my beliefs that it’s wrong to steal or murder. They are a part of my morality that I am trying to cut out of my heart.

No one ever told me that using contraception could be on the same “level” as those sins…for twenty (give or take!)  years I just assumed I would have 4 kids, because that was what I wanted. And then I met S and our desires matched up so it felt perfect. So do I go against my conscience and have more than that? Or do I go against my conscience and “plan” my family? I feel guilty just thinking about choosing either way.

I know that for my Cradle Catholic friends, and for my friends from big families, this seems like something that shouldn’t be as difficult for me as it is. But what if one day you found out that something you’d never thought was that wrong is really a sin? What if that thing or behavior you had to cut out was going to have the potential to completely alter your life?

This is going to take time and a lot of the Holy Spirit whispering words of wisdom and strength to me.


13 Responses to “Should I use contraception? Part 2”

  1. SR April 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    Another endearing post! I did not have to go through this as I had a hysterectomy at 28. I did not come into the Church until 20 years later. You know Ellie, you have been through so many things this past week, maybe it is time to rest. Rest your mind and your body for a few days. Give God some time to help you work all of this out. He will. All of this is new right now to you, and there is going to be a lot of decision making in the days, months, and even years ahead. I have faith in you and in God, that all the right decisions will be made. Maybe take a breather and enjoy this weekend. God Bless, SR

  2. theoress April 4, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    Try not to focus on “Do I plan or do I have 12 kids.” It’s really not either or. The truth is, we really just don’t know what the future holds. You might want 4 kids, and not have that many even without contracepting. I urge you to let go of thinking that you can perfectly control your family size if you plan or that if you don’t, it will spiral out of control. God works his own paths.

    Contraception was a real stumbling block to me when I first started dating my husband. He was Catholic, the oldest of a family of 9. I remember saying, “I can’t just keep having children.” Like you, it was definitely hard to accept because the immorality of contraception was not something drilled into me my whole life.
    Then, years passed, we actually married, and we were married 3 years before our first child was born, (we did use NFP). Now that I’m here with baby #1, we are again using NFP to create a reasonable amount of space between him and the next baby. (I hope it will be about 2 years). BUT we’ll just see.

    There might be secondary fertility issues. Who knows? You and your husband might face fertility problems. There are just so many possibilities. Sometimes, couples just don’t conceive for whatever reason. I’m not trying to discourage you, I’m just trying to remind you that the future isn’t written. I know faithful Catholic couples who are childless; I know others who’ve adopted.

    Also, 12 kids don’t just spring out of the ground all at once. You may find that with each child, you heart expands more than you ever thought possible. When my son was born, my heart pulled a grinch, “Stephanie’s small heart grew 3 sizes that day.”

    It’s good to have goals and plans, but recognize that God doesn’t usually follow our plans. He may send you two children, none, three, five or however many. But he will send you exactly what you need to make it to heaven.

    Lastly, there is no need to stress over this now. You aren’t married yet and you aren’t in a situation to make a decision yet. (You sound like me worrying whether or not to homeschool my child before I was even pregnant). Once you get married, take it one day at a time, one child at a time. Let God work when the time comes. He will chart his own course for you that is likely far beyond you could imagine.

    PS: NFP is not contraception because contraception is about blocking the-act-that-makes-babies. Desiring to space child is perfectly acceptable and NFP aims at that without blocking the conjugal act. So the end goal is the same, but the means are different. The means makes all the difference because contraception is an immoral mean, and an immoral mean is not permissible.

    • elliejaneohara April 5, 2013 at 8:07 am #

      I think for me part of my problem is that I want to want what God wants. And generally I think I want the things He does, but in this situation I’m not really sure what either one of us wants or has planned.

  3. Connie Rossini April 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    I hope I didn’t come on too strong in that last comment of mine! No more arguments, I will just pray for you now. Be open, and god will lead you to the truth in a way that you can embrace it.

    • elliejaneohara April 5, 2013 at 8:22 am #

      Not too strong, it just scared me a little and upped my guilt level a bit. You caught me on a particularly emotionally raw day, so when I read “the problem was myself, not the situation,” I read it as you saying that I am the problem, and it hit a few nerves.

      Your comments gave me a lot of good stuff to think about too though, They made me realize that I need to find resources that phrase things in a little more of a Protestant way so that they’re easier for me to swallow. When I was first learning about Mary and the Saints, I had to be very careful to find resources created specifically for converts, because I just did not even understand more Cradle Catholic perspectives. It’s not that I didn’t like them, they just didn’t make any sense to me.

      I’ve got a copy of Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn. I know one of the early things for her was a project on contraception, so I’m hoping that her perspective will give me some of the answers I’m looking for. Just gotta get through all of the other books on my reading list!

  4. singingjaniebird April 4, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    I grew up Catholic but was never told that contraception was a sin. I’m one of those that was catechized in the 70s and 80s. A great book that helped my husband and me when we were growing in our faith is Good News about Sex and Marriage:Answers To Your Honest Questions About Catholic Teaching by Christopher West. We now teach JPII’s Theology of the Body marriage prep classes in our diocese. When you understand the “why” behind the “what” you’ll really see how beautiful the Church’s teachings on sexuality really is. This is a struggle for a lot of people, even some of us cradle Catholics. What’s so great is that you call on the Holy Spirit to help you. Your heart is open and that is important. I’ll pray for you.

    • elliejaneohara April 5, 2013 at 8:22 am #

      Interesting…I will definitely look up that book. (Books are probably the easiest way into my heart haha!)

  5. cinemacatechesis April 4, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    I tend to think of it this way… If God wants it, it’ll happen. Condoms break, the pill gets counteracted by various things, etc, etc. So why set yourself up to think you’re in control – you’re not, at least once it gets to that point. 😉
    NFP works. Anyone I know that uses it knows when the got pregnant and most, when they get going, they find that they are more open to Gods gifts, whatever and however many they may be. Plus, it can be used to get pregnant… And help pinpoint fertility issues if you have any. I’ve been going through some if that. My doc made me take a blood test to see if I was actually ovulating. I knew I was due to NFP… But, had to convince the doc. Anyway… Just saying I’d relax and let God have the same power over your family planning you gave him over your decision to become Catholic. Pray about it. Learn the facts about all the methods. And remember why God made sex (procreation) But, if we didn’t enjoy it, we wouldn’t do it and our species would die off… So he had to give us something else to help “sweeten the pot” so-to-speak.
    Hang in there… Thoughts and prayers!!!

    • elliejaneohara April 5, 2013 at 8:25 am #

      Really good points…I especially like your first thought, that is a really, really good way of thinking about it.

  6. geloruma April 7, 2013 at 4:44 am #

    HI Elllie,
    the thought of giving birth can be scary in itself. The first is unknown territory, and the second – well, that can have its moments too. I can understand your fears; but before I had my children, I couldn’t know or imagine the love I would have for my them and the joy they bring into my life – even if they are hard work at times, the love somehow sweetens it. It is a different love between child for mother, or wife for husband. One I think that brings a greater joy than these; we are closer to the innocence of the Child Jesus in them.
    Being a cradle Catholic doesn’t give us automatic submission to God, we struggle daily.
    I was in prayer once when I felt the Lord give me this ” Don’t plan anything – and ” Keep it simple…”
    It took me a while to figure out that I was being told to become less of an adult and more of a child – trust wise!
    I have been trying to live by those maxims and life becomes has become much simpler when I do. We have only this moment, yet we can waste it on worrying a bout a future which may never come.
    When I feel my peace over these things are being disturbed; I give it over to God as best I can.
    They guy who disturbs your peace is the one with the pointy tail – when you find your peace is waning – rest in God as SR says.
    Picture yourself like young St. John, resting your head on Jesus’ shoulder – Gods just waiting for you to do that!.

  7. Honestly Catholic April 19, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    Its not either/or. Natural Family Planning is endorsed by the Church and an effective means of preventing pregnancy. In China, when their one child policy, the people are extremely motivated to prevent pregnancy.

    “In one of the largest trials of the Billings Ovulation Method™, a 12-month multi-centre study in China, the method-related pregnancy rate was zero. The method-related rate is when couples correctly follow all the instructions for the method of birth control. The use-related pregnancy rate was 0.5%. The use-related rate includes couples who misunderstood or did not comply with all the instructions. These results make the Billings Ovulation Method™ as effective as the Pill, and more effective than IUDs, condoms and diaphragms.”

    Studies in other countries tend to show a high method effective rate, but a 25% user “failure” rate. In studies where couples who use their fertile period are no longer categorized as trying to avoid pregnancy, the user failure rate drastically lowers.

    The key thing to understand about NFP is not that people lack self control and have unwanted pregnancies, but rather that NFP really just gives you information. Avoiding pregnancy becomes linked with avoiding sex. Thus it helps you weigh the information properly. Pregnancy is understand not as something you intentionally do, but something you passively open yourself up to. God is the creator. You are not. But that doesn’t mean that your choices don’t have any bearing. They’re just choices on your sexual behavior.

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