Sunday, February 16, 2014

What is so wrong with women's bodies?


"Suppression of what is distinctly woman = oppression of women"
-- "LJP", (a really smart Bubble reader)


So there I was, sitting in the Great Clips waiting room as my 13-year-old son was getting a haircut. I started flipping through a Glamour magazine and was drawn in by a slick double-page ad for an implant contraceptive called Nexplanon.

A beautiful, smiling young woman beamed out from the page, with all her potential life plans laid out attractively: "get a job", "find my own place", "fall in love", "save up", "take a trip", "finish school" (strange how "get married" was not among the desired options, hmmm...).

http://www.nexplanon.com/en/consumer/
Considering the risks and side effects, why is this woman smiling?
Oh, wait, she's "not an actual patient".

Now, the cultural assumption is that all healthy young singles have lots of healthy sex of course, and Nexplanon reminds us that a healthy young woman would be wise to have a plastic stick full of synthetic hormones surgically implanted under her skin for three years so that her perfectly healthy female body is thrown into biological disarray through the release of chemicals into her system, purposely derailing her natural, healthy female functioning, so that she can live a full and happy and healthy female life.

Make sense?

And after her healthy female body is made to malfunction as planned, the young woman (who, remember, is not being treated for any sickness or pathology) may experience the following "frequent" and "common" side effects, according to the manufacturer:

Changes in menstrual bleeding patterns
Mood swings
Weight gain
Headache
Acne
Depressed mood
Vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina)
Breast pain
Viral infections such as sore throats or flu-like symptoms
Stomach pain
Painful periods
Mood swings, nervousness, or depressed mood
Back pain
Nausea
Dizziness
Pain
Pain at the site of insertion

Aaaaand, "This is not a complete list of possible side effects". Nice. Sounds great so far.

But to keep smiling and fulfilling her dreams, the chemically-altered woman must not only expect "side effects", but must take on actual "risks", which include:

Problems with Insertion and Removal (may require surgery)
Ectopic Pregnancy
Ovarian Cysts
Breast Cancer
Serious (deadly) Blood Clots
High blood pressure
Gallbladder problems
Rare cancerous or noncancerous liver tumors

You know, so that she can get her own place, fall in love, get a job, save, finish school, travel, and such. What a deal!

Staring at that Glamour magazine, I wondered as I often do, "What is so wrong with women's bodies?"

What have modern feminists done? Why have they turned on their own nature?

I flipped forward a few pages and yet another two-page contraception ad assaulted my eyeballs: ParaGard copper intrauterine device (IUD) with the tag line (I kid you not):


"Birth control that fits your life, naturally" 

...because apparently nothing says "natural" like a copper device being surgically forced all up into one's female parts! Foreign metal objects stuck into the womb are just what I envision to feel like a natural woman. Am I right, ladies?

A full and beautiful female existence is promised with this device, too, telegraphed via cutesy, artsy animated scenes of the good life. Whoops, but the usual nasty side effects, risks, and warnings have to be presented as well, in the fine print. I find the the sixth warning particularly appealing and empowering for today's young woman, don't you?
6. Perforation -- Partial or total perforation of the uterine wall or cervix may occur rarely during placement, although it may not be detected until later. Spontaneous migration has also been reported. If perforation does occur, remove ParaGard® promptly, since the copper can lead to intraperitoneal adhesions. Intestinal penetration, intestinal obstruction, and/or damage to adjacent organs may result if an IUD is left in the peritoneal cavity. Pre-operative imaging followed by laparoscopy or laparotomy is often required to remove an IUD from the peritoneal cavity.
What a "natural" fit!

Forgive me, dear reader, but what the hell is wrong with everyone? Feminists should be about affirming women, affirming all that is uniquely feminine, correct? And yet current feminist orthodoxy is all about the opposite, with its slavish worship of the contraceptive indicative of its disdain for the functioning female body. The very things that make us female are, in feminist eyes, the very things that block our human fulfillment.

If you disagree, then show me how and where I am wrong. I want to be wrong, truly.

Of course, this contempt for healthy female function goes further than just derailing the reproductive system with contraceptives. If the best attempts to impair a woman's biological processes don't work and a pregnancy occurs (i.e., if healthy bodily function continues), we must necessarily then advance to the killing of our offspring as the way to achieve our womanly goals.

Just listen to lead feminist Barack Obama; he'll tell you so. Last month, he celebrated the anniversary of Roe v. Wade as he has before, by affirming the necessity of women to access abortion, "[b]ecause this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams."

See that? It's consistent with the whole philosophy. The very opportunity for women to fulfill their dreams hangs on their ability to negate what their female bodies do naturally. Contraception will mess up menstruation, ovulation, and conception, and as a necessary back-up, abortion will end gestation. Menstruation, ovulation, conception, gestation -- all those uniquely female things that hinder women's lives!

Which brings me back to the first quote up top:

"Suppression of what is distinctly woman = oppression of women"

I challenge secular feminists, pro-"choice" activists, and reproductive rights advocates to refute that statement if you can. How can you claim to champion women and to love women's bodies when you promote contraception and abortion, which are pitted directly against a woman's biology, which assault her very nature? I don't see men's groups fighting against all that is distinctly male, do you? So, what gives?

Why do you rebel against the functioning female body?

Why do you seek suppression of what is uniquely female?

What is so wrong with women's bodies the way they are?





Related links:

I HATE the Essure commercials

Your periods, your way

The Natural Family Planning post


1,027 comments:

  1. I don't think it's that women intend to mess with their bodies, I think it's more that women just want to be able to have sex without pesky consequences like a baby. I'm guessing most women probably don't even really think about the harm caused by contraception.

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  2. Right, the masses are ignorant. But I'm really addressing the feminists who seem to hinge the whole movement on suppressing what makes us unique as women. I want to get at that question.

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  3. You know, when I saw the title of this post, I thought Leila was going to bring up a video that Jennifer Fulwiler had on her 7 Quick Takes last Friday. (You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRlpIkH3b5I ) The video shows women who are given a fabulous make up session, then photographed. But even after all the make up, their photos are airbrushed. The women are not happy with their airbrushed images. They would rather be themselves than an airbrushed fabrication. I think it is a great message, and I honestly want it posted at every single grocery store checkout counter in the world. We are lied to in so many ways, and the lies lead to hatred of ourselves and of our uniquely feminine abilities. I agree, Margo, that women don't think about the harm caused by contraception (What harm, right? That young lady in the ad looks so happy!), but I do think that all of this adds up to a world that makes women reject themselves on every level. Thanks for calling attention to it, Leila!

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  4. I also have to say, those ParaGard (sorry! "ParaGard®") people need a new writer. First they say that the IUD can migrate into your peritoneal cavity, then they say if this happens, "remove ParaGard® promptly." I'm thinking, how am I supposed to remove something that has migrated into my peritoneal cavity? But wait! They tell you later that they don't really mean YOU should remove it, at least not unless you have some laproscopic tools handy. Well, that's a relief!

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  5. Love this. Unfortunately.

    (It's sad to love a post you agree with that tells a sad truth about women.)

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  6. Yes, Paragard and Nexplanon are both incredibly unhealthy for women, as are all other hormonal contraceptives and devices. Paragard is often sold to women as a "hormone free" alternative to birth control pills, but both the copper ions and the inflammation from the foreign body reaction indirectly impact hormone levels.

    The book Sweetening the Pill touches on many of these questions from a feminist perspective.

    That being said, Leila, what would you say to a woman who wants to get her own place, fall in love, get a job, save, finish school, travel, and such and has little to no interest in having children?

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  7. One thing that is so beautiful about our Catholic faith is that it is so pro-woman. It knows that women are better than birth control and abortion. It boldly teaches that these things are wrong and, far from liberating women, they actually enslave them. It teaches the truth about sexuality being a beautiful act of love between spouses and doesn't cheapen it as the world does.

    Also it honors our "tainted nature's solitary boast" the Immaculate Virgin Mary - a woman - as the greatest of all God's creatures. God's greatest creation is a woman.

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  8. James, you asked:

    That being said, Leila, what would you say to a woman who wants to get her own place, fall in love, get a job, save, finish school, travel, and such and has little to no interest in having children?

    It's too easy (is this a trick question? ha ha): I'd tell her not to have sex. Don't want babies? Don't partake in the baby-making act. Simple. And, sex is a privilege of marriage, after all. Everyone remains healthy, and no hearts, bodies, or children are hurt in the process. The Church's teaching leads to human flourishing.

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  9. I thought "falling in love" implied the desire for a sexual relationship. I guess I wasn't specific enough.

    So what would you say to a woman who does desire a sexual relationship but has no interest in children? (For the sake of argument, let's assume her partner has no particular interest either.)

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  10. I would say she is confused. If one partakes in the biological act that is designed to create babies, one should expect babies. It is healthy and right to have a reverence for the sexual faculty. Treating it as recreation has led us to the mess we are in today. I'd love to sit down with her and explain her human dignity and the nature and meaning of human sexuality. Living according to our natures is how human beings flourish.

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  11. By the way, both of my daughter's have "fallen in love". My oldest married and then consummated the marriage (as it should be) and my youngest will not partake in the marital act until after she is married, this summer. Falling in love implies a desire for a sexual relationship, and if that is rightly ordered, it happens as the consummation of the marriage, after the commitment has been made. Falling in love does not mean we lose all ability to control our actions. Our intellect controls our will, no?

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  12. So you're saying this woman (and presumably the man as well) would have to choose between being single and having babies?

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  13. James, yes. Just like in every society from all time, before recently. When one was ready to get married, it meant and implied that one was ready to begin childbearing.

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  14. And you don't see where women would want more options?

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    1. Options? Like... being in a sexual relationship where the man doesn't respect my body's design? Where he expects me to be on cancer-causing drugs to fulfill his desires? Where, if we accidentally get pregnant, he pressures me into an abortion? Where, I realize that now that I am in love and have given him my body, I want more, but he doesn't, and I feel desperate and confused and rejected? Options where I stress about being exposed to STDs, including HIV?

      Been there, done that. (Yes, all of these things, including HIV testing, and no, I wasn't the kind of girl who causally slept around. I was "looking for love"). There is *nothing* glamorous or "pro-woman" about recreational sex.

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    2. I guess the point I am trying to make (which isn't very clear), is that 98% of the time even if a woman goes into a relationship thinking she just wants to act on desire with no intention of ever having children, that changes over time (or the issue is forced upon the couple when the contraception fails). I don't think it's wise to encourage women to enter into a long-term, sexual commitment (marriage or not) where children are out of the question as that is just not living in reality. A child is either going to happen as a natural consequence of sex and then the couple will be facing a crisis pregnancy or one partner's desire changes, and they reach a devastating crossroads (or, a more subtle sense of dissatisfaction sets in as they give so much to one person with the pressure to never procreate for fear of going against the "rules" of the relationship). It's just a lose-lose, and typically the biggest loser is the woman. The idea that women really "want" this option seems to be one of the biggest lies sold to women over the last couple of decades (and yes, I realize you can find exceptions to the rule, but odds are, the woman is going to get hurt if we market "consequence-free" sex to her).

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  15. Options such as…?

    Of course people will always hope to have sex purely as recreation. Is that a good thing?

    I like what Jennifer Fulwiler has to say, about her change of heart:

    I came to see that our culture's widespread use and acceptance of contraception had led to this mentality toward sex being the default position. As a society, we'd come to take it for granted that we're entitled to the pleasurable and bonding aspects of sex -- even when we're in a state of being vehemently opposed to any new life it might produce. The option of abstaining from the act that creates babies when we feel like we'd be unable to care for a baby had been removed from the cultural lexicon. Even if it would be a huge crisis to get pregnant, you have a right to have sex anyway, the cultural wisdom whispered.

    If this were true -- if it was indeed morally okay for people to have sex even when they felt that a baby would ruin their lives -- then, in my mind, abortion had to be okay.


    Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jennifer-fulwiler/the-enemy-of-sex#ixzz2tXEyXR2q

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  16. Humans aren't Vulcans, nor is life decided in the abstract.

    So what would you say to a woman who had a very strong mutual interest in a particular man. They both enjoy each other's company and would much rather spend their lives together than apart, but although they are physically able to have children, neither has any particular interest in them.

    Should they get married? Not get married? Wait until menopause to get married? What options would you offer this couple?

    What actions would or would not be unreasonable for this couple to take?

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  17. Also many birth control pills act as abortifacients, meaning they cause early abortions. Not many women seem to know this. I remember when my wife brought this up to a married family member that was using birth control. The family member's response was "who cares!". I remember thinking, "What a chilling attitude that is! You are doing something that could kill the life of your child within you, and you say 'who cares'!" The family member thought it was a necessary evil. A baby was not desired by her, at that point. How sad.

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  18. James - part of getting married is being open to life. If two people aren't open to life, then they shouldn't get married.

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  19. James, Mike is exactly right. If two people don't want children, they should not get married. But here's the problem with your question. What you propose is analogous to a person saying, "I really enjoy eating and tasting food. I really don't want to digest anything though. What do you suggest I do?" Well, I would tell that person that certainly the body can be rigged to reject digestion, and also bulimia could be an option, but both of those would be immoral, as they go against the very design of the digestive system, and they are disordering the act of eating by disconnecting it from its end. Not healthy, doesn't lead to human flourishing.

    As for a couple of people who want to be together but do not want children, they certainly can maintain a nice level of interpersonal intimacy by way of a close friendship, no?

    And, not that this line of discussion isn't interesting (I often like tangents), but I really am interested in the question posed in the OP: What is wrong with women's bodies? And how can it be that the "champions of women" constantly seek to suppress and distort all things that are unique to women? I am dying for that contradiction to be explained away….

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  20. As for question in the OP, I think many "champions of women" do see women as inferior to men due to biology (either inherently or as a social construct) and believe that the only way that women can be equal is to alter their biology. Others are victims of abuse and believe that men are inherently savage, controlling, and/or untrustworthy and that biology makes women more vulnerable to abuse.

    This is also what drives much of the hostility toward NFP and even male contraceptives among these "champions of women".

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  21. James, I think a lot of that makes sense. I am curious about the hostility of feminists towards male contraceptives, though. I hadn't heard of that, so if you could elaborate. Thanks!

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  22. "Forgive me, dear reader, but what the hell is wrong with everyone? Feminists should be about affirming women, affirming all that is uniquely feminine, correct? And yet current feminist orthodoxy is all about the opposite, with its slavish worship of the contraceptive indicative of its disdain for the functioning female body. The very things that make us female are, in feminist eyes, the very things that block our human fulfillment." AMEN! So true and so sad. As a therapist, at a crisis pregnancy center, I see this disdain for all things truly feminine everyday. Our young women are left confused, broken and hopeless when they walk the path the culture calls them down and find nothing but destruction and despair. "Feminists" need to wake up.

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  23. we have no savings, haven't been on a trip in years, and we still rent our home.
    maybe I should give nexplanon a try!

    kidding of course

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  24. It's not so much an outright hostility toward male contraceptives as it is a dismissal of them.

    Condoms are in every Walgreens, Walmart, Kwik-e-mart, and sketchy restroom in America. They're not great aesthetically, but they work pretty well for pregnancy prevention if the couple actually uses them, they have no side effects, and can reduce the risk of STD transmission.

    So why do women need free birth control when condoms are everywhere? Because men can't be trusted! Why not promote NFP as a healthy and extremely cost-effective way of preventing pregnancy? Because men can't be trusted!

    Get into feminist theory and you'll quickly find a lot of it is based on fear and distrust of men, not all of which is unjustified. Modern third-wave feminism can be very dark, much darker than the second-wave feminism you are probably familiar with.

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  25. Leila! How could you put up such a great GFNY-bait post when I am trying to tear myself away from the computer and get things accomplished? :-)

    Okay, another 2 part response coming up. **Looks at piles of unwashed laundry.**

    Part 1

    James B, a woman can "fall in love," "travel," etc., without having sex. It's a desire. Indeed, it is fun and enjoyable. You will get no arguments from me on that. However, it is not a bodily function without which one will die, yet it is promoted as THE ultimate, good, need, and right 24/7/365 throughout the entertainment industry, in advertising, in media, online and in magazines. There is, and has been, a relentless desensitization to the purpose, responsibilities and consequences of sex. Again, look around at the broken marriages, children, and our broken culture for proof.

    Television is not a necessity. Neither is cable television. Having contacts in the cable TV industry, I can tell you that cable TV was (and still is) promoted so that its subscribers (so they would upgrade services) and non-subscribers (so they would subscribe) grew to think of it as a utility (water, electricity, gas) and thus as a need. Doing so = profit. It's worked really, really well. Same thing applies to other non-necessities, including birth control to make sex recreational and - here's the fallacy - without consequences.

    Never promote as an option what you can promote as a need, and/or a right. That’s marketing. That’s business. That’s what birth control is. It’s not healthcare. It’s behavior care. These companies, with the collusion of the feminists and “progressive,” left-wing politicians (both whose mottos are: “We trust women to make their own decisions!” and “Church/Republican/Conservative War on Womennnnnnnnnnn!”) in their back pocket$, want you to alter your behavior to make money for them.

    It's sad and hilarious that the left, the progressives, the anti-Catholics, the liberal Catholics, etc., say that the Church is obsessed with sex. Really?

    The Church isn't promoting it. It's trying to counter the irresponsibility and deception that are promoted that harm people on a secular/physical level and on a spiritual level.

    There's huge profit in sex. The same folks who would likely rail against big tobacco (as I mentioned in the previous post, CVS is going to stop selling tobacco products this year) and big oil and how terrible these greedy companies make profit off people will turn a blind eye to the profit that big pharma and condom makers make off birth control, and abortion providers make when birth control fails, which it does. (Where’s Occupy Wall Street when you need them? Oh wait, we don’t them. Nevermind.) The companies don't give a damn about women's health. They care about profit. They are businesses. Never forget that. They will tell women anything to get them to sign up for 30+ years use of their products. The girl in the ad that Leila highlighted is gorgeous. Who wouldn't want to be a seemingly happy, lovely girl with so many options? Oh, but if you want all those options, a baby will get in the way, so birth control is a need. Get the psychology? Just don't read the fine print that comes with your birth control, and if you do, tell yourself that that will NEVER happen to you.

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  26. "Why have they turned on their own nature?"

    Good question, Leila! It jumped out at me. Mankind is indeed, so bizarrely, so surreally, turning on itself, almost as if it hates itself - like Satan hates himself. (Funny, that.)

    Consider all the self destructive behaviors we're indulging in, from consumer madness financed by stifling levels of personal and national debt, to gluttony and addictive intake of foods and substances leading to obesity, heart disease, diabetes..., hedonism and narcissim leading to broken homes and chronic depression and misery, serious communal divisions and polarisation with little prospect of achieving essential consensus on anything (despite knowing that "a house divided unto itself cannot stand"), destruction or circumvention of every age old institution, constitution, law and tradition, violence begetting violence, hatred begetting hatred... you name it!

    Here's a wee salutary tale about it.

    When I was a kid, growing up in Calcutta (India) I'd witness a strange phenomenon during some summers - flying ants. They'd suddenly appear on our verandah and even inside the house at times (and they'd bite the hell out of you if you didn't look out!). To look at, they were identical to normal red ants - the humble, crawling type - except this lot had suddenly sprouted shiny new wings and transformed themselves into majestic flying creatures! But the accompanying weird thing was that in about 12 hours they'd all be on the floor - dead! That's how shortlived their "high life" was, from the time they'd sprouted wings - according to my dear old grandmother (R.I.P.).

    Alluding to this phenomenon, whenever Gran would hear about someone being headstrong and doing really crazy things, she'd sigh (in Bengali) "Palokh uthey che" - meaning, "he/she has sprouted wings!" Something tells me, looking out at the world today, she'd pretty much say the same thing!

    Yes, we've sprouted wings. The man with the microphone and the golden tongue, flanked by the beaming blonde and the facilitator brunette, is seductively calling to us, "Come, fly with me! Yes, you can! We can fly,,, we can be like unto God!" And right on cue, the rapturous crowd is turning on itself, deforming its own intrinsic nature for twelve hours of soaring glory. While, subdued under all the party sounds, a little clock beats, "Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick..."

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    1. My wife is an entomologist. Those flying ants were likely male drones looking to mate.

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  27. SHINE, lol!!

    Infertile Minnesota, that is the part that gets me, too. The girls who've bought the lie are left in a heap of ruins. It's the saddest thing to witness and so unnecessary.

    James, got it. Yes, it's dark… I have seen the ugly underbelly of feminism and there are some wounds there so deep and black that I have wanted to run and flee.

    As for condoms, I have to shake my head… There is no "one flesh" union, no real intimacy, when the people uniting have placed a physical barrier between them! It's like the woman is simply some kind of apparatus for the man, not beloved. Even if the couple do share real love, their bodies and actions are speaking a whole different language.


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  28. Francis, I love that story!!! And GFNY, you really, truly need to be a regular blogger! You have such an insight. Thank you! (Looking forward to Part II.)

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  29. Part 2:

    I have said this before, here and elsewhere:

    Women are profit mules. The earlier they can be convinced at how awesome, good, consequence-free (but not really) and a functional need and right that sex is, the more money can be made on them over their lifetimes. Can you (generic "you") not see that?

    (Then, when they've contracepted themselves into infertility (through birth control and/or time lost on careers so they can "have it all"), the baby-manufacturing indu$try anxiously awaits. But I digress.)

    They want to encourage women of all ages (including children under 18) that sex is good, fluffy, fun, a right...just pop that pill and all will be well. If, oops!, birth control fails, you can get an abortion. There's always someone who's going to make money off your gullibility and your pain.

    Meanwhile, men have been trained by the culture to expect women to be on birth control and therefore don't have to invest in genuine, sacrificial commitment (marriage) to any woman who's going to have sex with them. Even better if they can convince her to live with them for easier booty. That's not a commitment. That's usage and objectification, and it's so sad to see otherwise smart women fall for that. Then men, who’ve been brought up with such low expectations of true love and responsibility and act logically upon such low expectations, are considered pigs. Yes, but the culture reaps what it sows. (Pig – sow – no pun intended!) I don’t think the sexes, even before the sexual revolution, had mastered self and mutual respect (to include love, responsibility and sacrifice) perfectly as a whole, as there were certainly terrible marriages (I grew up in one) and failed spouses prior to then (and there always will be), but since the revolution, the ability to have healthy relationships has been more deeply, grievously damaged by sexual gratification without consequence as a foundation for a relationship or simply as recreation.

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  30. Funny how these advertisement women and Pres. Obama's hypothetical women need birth control and abortion to 'fulfill their dreams', when my one and only dream since I was a little girl has been to be a mother. Lucky me - instead of one of them, I got a *not so well functioning* female body and was diagnosed with moderate to severe endometriosis at 18 years old. Between the disease itself, multiple surgeries, the occasional *necessity* of hormonal birth control to correct what my body doesn't do right (because I do believe it can be necessary IF a woman's body is not functioning normally, like mine), and all the radiation I've been exposed to all the zillions of times I've been to the doctor or the ER for severe pain, I may never be able to have children. If these militant feminists and the president are so keen on women being able to fulfill their dreams, why are we not seeing this same kind of support for the battle infertile women fight? They - we - deserve to achieve our dreams too - including dreams of being a mother - do we not?

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  31. I lied - there are three parts!

    I’ll take this in a slightly different direction. Has anyone heard some snotty, know-it-all college kid (or some other snotty know-it-all) talk down about Thanksgiving being a celebration about white man imperialism and destruction of the Native American Indian culture? I have online and in person, and have found such ironic as that same person has enjoyed the benefits thereof and is not apparently interested in moving from this awful country with its white man imperialist history.

    Look at Leila's side bar. You will notice a link for a blog called, "Culture of Life Africa." People, please, read that blog. All of it. Melinda Gates – a super, rich, white woman, married to a super rich, white man - is financing billions of dollars to encourage African women to "empower" themselves by taking birth control. Actually, Melinda Gates and her ilk are empowering these women to destroy their culture and become profit mules. Think of how much money big pharm has at stake in this. (How is this not similar to what white Europeans did to the Native American Indians?) Now, the pill, in all its forms, is probably not as profitable in this stage of its life cycle, since it's been around awhile. That's why the companies need more customers, and they need them for as long as possible. Africa is a fertile market (pun not intended), so BOOM! There are all the new customers, a whole new market, just for the taking. All one has to do is market it as a good, and relentlessly. Pair that with encouraging girls in industrialized countries that they should be having sex so that they will go on the pill at younger ages so they will be customers for long periods of time = do the math. Come on, please don't be ignorant, anyone. Think of the profit that will come from convincing these millions of women to take the pill or some other form of birth control. How about spending money on, say, food, water sources, and genuine healthcare (i.e., not abortion)?

    And, there's more psychology to this attempt - the money is coming from a woman (not Bill, not a man) so of course these African women will identify with her on a gender level and think she has their best interests at heart. Bullshit. This is exploitation. Where’s the white imperialist outrage from the "progressives"? **pin drop**

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  32. Okay, now I am really, truly, signing off and doing laundry and cleaning the new ecosystem that has grown in my kitchen!

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  33. Leila or anyone,

    How many women do you know who are less than satisfied in their sexual relationship or just arent that interested in sex/ what do you think the rates are compared to men. (This has a point I promise)

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  34. As for condoms, I have to shake my head… There is no "one flesh" union, no real intimacy, when the people uniting have placed a physical barrier between them! It's like the woman is simply some kind of apparatus for the man, not beloved.

    Are you implying that women aren't interested in sexual pleasure without wanting babies? Because that isn't the case at all.

    Going back to the earlier question, what does one (man or woman) do with sexual desire and attraction—especially attraction to a specific person—if one has no interest in making babies?

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  35. Katie, it's so sad!! And just to be clear, you weren't using "birth control" as contraceptives, you were using medication that could help your pathology or disorder. So, in those cases, hormones and steroids can be licitly, morally used.

    I totally agree with your points. I will pray for you!

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  36. CS, I haven't done the math, but I am sure that women who feel unloved, tired, used and objectified are less happy than men in a sexual relationship. Women who are on the pill also have depressed libidos, often.

    If you are asking for anecdotal, I can only speak for my circle of Catholic (normally cycling, non-medicated, well-loved) wives, and we are very, very happy in that department! ;)

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  37. "Are you implying that women aren't interested in sexual pleasure without wanting babies? Because that isn't the case at all."

    I never said anything of the sort. I lived the Planned Parenthood lifestyle in my youth, so I know very well that women can be just as pleasure-seeking as men, and use them just as surely as men use women.

    "Going back to the earlier question, what does one (man or woman) do with sexual desire and attraction—especially attraction to a specific person—if one has no interest in making babies?"

    Again, is this a trick question? It's so obvious. Exercise self-control. Chastity is a wonderful virtue. Are you implying that people must act out on their sexual impulses? Are orgasms necessary for the sustaining of life? People can't be expected to not have sex when single? (I hope you are not raising teens if you think that's the case, and I think the joyful priests and nuns I know would take issue!)



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  38. "Are you implying that women aren't interested in sexual pleasure without wanting babies?"

    Also, James, it's an known fact that women can be interested in sexual pleasure and not be beloved at all. My statement to which you were replying was this one:

    "It's like the woman is simply some kind of apparatus for the man, not beloved."

    What does it mean to be beloved? It doesn't stop at an experience of physical pleasure, I hope we can agree.

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  39. Re: Women less satisfied in relationship:

    Statistically, when one partner is complaining about a lack of sex, about 2/3 of the time it is the man, 1/3 the woman. The underlying cause of the complaint could be due to one of many reasons. Hormonal contraception can not only decrease a woman's libido, but can also decrease a man's interest in her. (Phermones, FTW.)

    As for satisfaction, men nearly always complain about quantity, while women more frequently complain about quality.

    From more devout Catholic couples I know, most are quite happy with each other, with the exception of a few newlyweds who haven't quite figured things out yet and a few couples who have bigger marital problems. Beyond that, the number one complaint I hear is frustrations over a lack of sex in the marriage due to extended periods of abstinence while using NFP. Men complain more often, but women complain louder.

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  40. That’s Good Leila, Genuinely,

    From experience both personally and from talking to older women it seems there are a lot of women who don’t enjoy sex or orgasm often, it’s just something they do. Whereas men in general seem to, as a whole, enjoy each encounter and always orgasm.

    Biologically women get a bit of the short end of the stick when it comes to sex, it’s easier for us to get STD’s, pregnant, and takes more attention to orgasm. I think most women would prefer their bodies be less susceptable to STDs and they could orgasm during intercourse, but we aren’t designed like that—I don’t think women not liking this aspect of womanhood is problematic, I just think its pragmatic. Men don’t ‘rebel’ against any of the things that are essentially male because they are fun lol. Male reproduction is fun. Sex and getting off is typically fun. Periods, pregnancy, and giving birth on the other hand, aren’t fundamentally enjoyable. That’s not to say pregnancy isn’t fulfilling, but is anyone arguing giving birth is as fun as orgasming?

    CS

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  41. James, I would agree, generally. One note: While some folks using NFP are frustrated by the days of abstinence, I can tell you that since we switched to NFP, the frequency of marital relations is much greater than when I was on the Pill, for various reasons. Night and day. Wouldn't go back for the world.

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  42. Chastity is a wonderful virtue.

    And one the Church herself says is difficult to master.

    Are you implying that people must act out on their sexual impulses?

    Of course not, but I am well aware of the limits of human self-control. It seems like you think that sexual desire is a switch that you can turn on or turn off and that controlling is a matter of an exercise of the will, but that's not the case.

    What does it mean to be beloved? It doesn't stop at an experience of physical pleasure, I hope we can agree.

    Of course not, but must being "beloved" always include openness to life? This assertion of the Church simply does not match the experience of most couples.

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  43. CS, are you really saying that things are better to the extent that they are "fun"? I don't know what to say to that. I have a different mindset about what fulfills and what brings deep joy (and yes, pleasure). It's not about scratching an itch and waiting for the next itch to scratch.

    I would tell you more, but this is a public forum!! :)

    I will tell you that when I was secular in my approach, women in my circles were much less satisfied and frustrated. Makes perfect sense to me. When we use things as they are meant to be used, it's always infinitely better. Again, that is how human beings flourish. I hope you have read all the comments here carefully.

    And can you answer? What uniquely female thing do feminists celebrate and cherish and promote? Because I don't see anything.

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  44. James, is there any virtue that is not hard to master? Once I mastered chastity, it became a habit and very fulfilling (for the unfamiliar, married couples are called to chastity, too -- it doesn't imply abstinence, it's a way of living out one's sexuality according to the design of God). The virtues I struggle with are not chastity. It really changes as we grow, and as we master one virtue and work on the others, etc.

    And because a virtue is difficult, that means God has exempted us from the practice of it? I guess I am not getting where you are coming from. Help me out and just tell me straight up: Do you dissent on the issues of human sexuality and chastity?

    (Assuming you are Catholic.)

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  45. Wait, I just re-read something you said James. Are you saying that controlling one's sexual faculty is NOT a matter of an exercise of the will? I need you to clarify. Think of the implications if that is true! Oh, my!!! Humans cannot control their sexual urges and appetites? Really?

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  46. One note: While some folks using NFP are frustrated by the days of abstinence, I can tell you that since we switched to NFP, the frequency of marital relations is much greater than when I was on the Pill, for various reasons. Night and day. Wouldn't go back for the world.

    Interesting, because I know of several women who are quite angry at the Church over NFP struggles. Weeks and weeks of abstinence, unclear fertility signs, difficult unexpected pregnancies, and severe marital strain. The stories are heartbreaking and a few have even left the Church over it.

    Statistically, these stories are the exception, but they aren't uncommon.

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  47. James, then you and every one of those women should read Simcha Fisher's book, The Sinner's Guide to NFP. It would help a lot, and put things in perspective. It's like she says…NFP is the worst thing out there, except for everything else. ;)

    http://www.amazon.com/Sinners-Guide-Natural-Family-Planning-ebook/dp/B00FRM6Q72

    And please forgive me and don't take this the wrong way, but a person who would leave Christ's Church and the Eucharist because they want to have more sex and contracept has more issues with God than NFP. They might have found another excuse to leave the Church as well, or stayed and been very lukewarm and uninvolved. I understand frustrations with trying to live a virtuous life, but Christians are called to carry a cross to death if need be, so I think the issue there might be a need for conversion, not contraception.

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  48. Just to confirm what GFNY said in Part 2 of her thesis ( :) ) about easy sex making men far less keen to commit long term to a woman, I was once running (wild) with a group of male friends who firmly subscribed (and surely still do), to the adage, "When milk is cheap, why buy a cow?"

    Oh, how delighted we were with this whole women's "liberation" business, how glad to let the girls have all the "power" (read: contraceptives) they wanted! Truth be told, we baulked if we had to pay for their pills - baulked, that is, for about a minute, which is about the time it took for us to figure out the trade off!

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  49. Humans cannot control their sexual urges and appetites

    Not without divine help, they can't. Surely you are not a Pelegian?

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  50. Francis, that's also why the biggest cads and misogynists (read: Kennedys, B.Clinton, etc.) are the biggest champion of abortion! It's a win-win for them!

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  51. Yes, James, I am a Pelagian. How'd you guess? (eye roll)

    Humans cannot do any good without divine help. But are you saying that only baptized Christians (or saints) can exercise their will toward virtue? All others get a pass and are free to scratch their itches with impunity? Help me out. What are you saying, exactly….

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  52. Do you dissent on the issues of human sexuality and chastity?

    The Church's teaching is logical and well reasoned. The Church interprets the Natural Law the only way she can.

    Nevertheless, the teaching is highly impractical for some, if not most, couples. I don't think that extended periods of abstinence are good for any marriage (See 1 Corinthians 7). I also think some Catholics put too heavy an emphasis on the objective meaning of an act while downplaying its subjective meaning to the individuals involved.

    As for Sinners Guide to NFP, the couples who struggle nearly all have method-related problems, and Simcha's book is not very helpful for those issues. Both the Marshall study and the more recent Fehring study on how NFP impacted relationships found that method problems were very serious concerns for some couples.

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  53. James,

    "... must being "beloved" always include openness to life?"

    Decoupling the pleasure of sex from openness to life is precisely the "contraception mentality" which constitutes the thin edge of the wedge that splits open the entire continuum of the culture of death - from disease and debility to abortion, and all the way to euthanasia, Surely you've read Humanae Vitae and have compared its prophecies with what has occurred in Western culture over the past half century?

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  54. What are you saying, exactly….

    Let's start again. Can you turn off your desire for your husband? Can he turn off his desire for you?

    Perhaps this is not an issue for you, since you say chastity is not something you struggle with, but for many couples it is. Married couples don't like telling each other no, and, generally speaking, that's a good thing.

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  55. Francis:

    https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/slippery-slope

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  56. James, you said:

    "I don't think that extended periods of abstinence are good for any marriage"

    But contraception is? Because if you compare the divorce rates of those couples who contracept vs. those who use NFP, there is not contest. NFP is remarkably better for marriage.

    I am guessing that this issue is personal for you, and you have a vested interest in defending a break from chastity and the moral law. I won't press you on it, but remember that virtue is always worth it. Always. We are trying to conform ourselves to the Lord, and obedience and humility and virtue are the hallmarks. God greatly, richly rewards those who follow his law and observe his statutes.

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  57. Here's my take, after having a recent conversation with a middle-aged feminist on Twitter. In reality it's all about control. Modern day feminists see men as in control of their wants and desires especially regarding sex. Mainly because men do not bear the "burden" of carrying children, i.e. they do not have to endure the consequences of creating a child directly and unfortunately too often are not held accountable for that act. As a result modern day feminists believe that they, too, should have the "right" not to endure the consequences.

    Ultimately they want to control nature, which is another way of saying they want to control God (even if they don't believe in Him).

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  58. Ok, Leila, what would you say to Anonymous? I am, quite frankly, out of ideas.

    http://realcatholicloveandsex.com/2014/02/05/church-teach/

    My husband and i pretty much had a non-existent sex life for a year because of NFP and postpartum. there wasn’t anything a doctor or specialist could have done: my signs always said was fertile and instructors said, for over four months, “looks like you will ovulate soon”. i haven’t healed from that experience. i’m still sad for that year where i couldn’t be the wife i should be. MY EXPERIENCE IS NOT THE EXCEPTION. now cycles are regulating and there is still a lot of abstinence. i have little hope for the future.

    In cases like this, I have difficulty defending Church teaching in good conscience.

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  59. And, James, the slippery slope on matters of "progressive" sexuality and the Culture of Death is very, very real, not a fallacy.

    Bethany, so basically the feminists do not care about a woman's nature, or what is uniquely female. So, the whole movement is a farce, if it's not about championing the things that make us different and special as women. It seems that they hate those things, and seek to annihilate them. Why has no one clued in to this? There is such a hatred of the feminine, of our bodies, and yet they scream about our bodies all the while. Crazy...

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  60. James, honestly, it seems as if she had very poor instructors. I am not sure how someone could say, "looks like you will ovulate soon"? That's not really how NFP works. So, I am at a loss about that.

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  61. James,

    "Can you turn off your desire for your husband? Can he turn off his desire for you?

    It is one thing to turn off (sexual) desire and another thing to channel the energy (for that is all it is) into something else temporarily - and even very "productively" - until we can joyfully sing with Mr Rod Stewart, "Tonight's the night".

    I read the autobiography of Björn Borg (the great tennis player) many years ago. In it he described how a reporter once asked him where all his explosive power on the court came from. He replied that he had developed a discipline not to sleep with his wife for seven days/nights prior to any big match, no matter how much the desire - so he could harness all that energy. Then when he hit the court, he let it all explode. The rest is history.

    Even now in confessionals across the world priests counsel people with overwhelming and unholy sexual urges to do the same thing - divert the mind and energy elsewhere. Why do you think contact sport is so popular? :) Why are even women taking to it so keenly these days? Jogging? The gym? A handy punching bag? :) There are umpteen ways really - if we're serious - to order our lives and our bodies/energies into healthy rhythms without caving in to every dissipating urge within us. Just takes a bit of learning and training - especially for the young. It's not like anyone's advocating universal celibacy or something!

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  62. Poor NFP instructors are, unfortunately, rather common. I can tell you some true horror stories.

    But extended abstinence is not unusual. If you never had method issues with NFP, consider yourself blessed.

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  63. Leila - Very true! The divorce rate overall is 50-60% sadly. The divorce rate of couples using NFP is less than 2%. The very best thing a couple could do to "divorce-proof" their marriage is NFP.

    And the times of abstinence (while that can be difficult) encourages the couple to focus on other aspects of their relationship, which is good. It lets them focus on just holding hands (like when they were dating). Plus, when it is time to abstain, the couple can offer that up, which brings down grace from God.

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    1. My parents used NFP and they divorced. (For unrelated reasons).

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    2. James, I am very sorry to hear that. Divorce is always hard, especially on children. I was blessed to come from a loving home with a strong marriage between my mom and dad. But I have seen how terrible a thing divorce is.

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  64. Francis, perhaps I'm crazy, but I don't see how spouses rechanneling their desires away from each other is good for a marriage.

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  65. Mike, agreed!

    James, I recently had an exchange with a lady who is overseas and no NFP teachers nearby. She and her husband were completely abstaining during breastfeeding. I was horrified and offered to find her a teacher who could skype. I easily found her three teachers, all of whom agreed that there is no reason to abstain during breastfeeding! There are competent teachers out there, and they are willing to help.

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  66. James,

    You didn't confirm that you've read Humanae Vitae and that you (are compelled to) agree that its prophecies about the slippery slope have been stunningly fulfilled. I give you solid, undeniable, proven, empirical evidence, and you respond with a link to an intellectual theory! Not fair, buddy! Come to think of it, I don't need any theory against slippery slopes to know that if I touch a hot stove against my mother's warning, my hand will indeed burn, that an ambulance will indeed arrive, that the paramedics will indeed apply a sticky salve to my hand while I scream, and then produce a great big terrifying needle which they will indeed proceed to stick into my good arm to inject stuff that'll prevent my burnt arm from becoming gangrenous. Once we reach the age of reason, these profound insights are simple renamed commonsense. :)

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  67. Skype is fantastic! We found a great teacher via Skype.

    But in the era before Skype, finding help was a bit of a crapshoot.

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  68. Leila, there's still a lot of abstinence during breastfeeding, even if you've taken instruction and you're charting.

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  69. "Leila, there's still a lot of abstinence during breastfeeding, even if you've taken instruction and you're charting."

    Why would there be? I've used NFP during nursing for the past five babies and I'm not sure what you mean.

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  70. No they don't seem to care. What they want is to control their biology so they can be as "free" (that word came up a lot in our discussion) as men are in their unaccountability to the reproductive process.

    I find it dishonest at best, and really more dellusional, than anything else. The entire concept of reproductive control is a vain and prideful
    attempt to control nature.

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  71. "Francis, perhaps I'm crazy, but I don't see how spouses rechanneling their desires away from each other is good for a marriage."

    Ask a professional marriage counsellor then! He/she will explain to how how, to keep a relationship fresh and even sex "novel" partners should also spend quality times by themselves or with their own friends, pursuing their unique interests. Speaking from experience, I wish I had a dollar for every relationship I've seen grow rapidly stale from two people living in each other's pockets day in and day out! When we talk of "two becoming one", that's actually two whole, healthy, beings becoming a united pair, not two half functioning creatures becoming one functional whole, if you get my drift.

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  72. Leila, some women have long stretches of fertile CM before they actually ovulate, then ambiguous symptoms of fertility after their cycle comes back. We took both the Creighton and CCL classes and never could figure out postpartum NFP, so we gave up for a few years, very angry about the experience.

    If that isn't the case with you, then you are VERY, VERY blessed.

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  73. CS - I used to feel as you felt. Like women get the raw deal. I no longer believe that. You asked if people are seriously arguing if giving birth is as fun as orgasm. Well, actually, some really crunchy, natural birth advocates WOULD argue that. :) Read Ina May Gaskin's "Guide To Childbirth." It's eye-opening. She really sheds light on the amazingness of childbirth throughout the centuries and various cultures as well as ways women used to empower each other in the childbirth process.

    As a woman who has had one baby and is due to have another one in a month, I personally am not going to make that argument or comparison because it's unnecessary. As Leila pointed out, what brings true, deep abiding joy in life is often now really related to the "fun factor." Having my first child was life-changing and profound. I will never forget the experience, and it was a privilege to go through it, even the pain. The only thing I can compare it to physically was running a marathon or even better, competing in the Olympics. The physical intensity and even pain (no, I didn't get one of those euphoric, pain-free births some women experience) was all worth it for this incredible higher purpose. Would anyone argue the Olympic athletes get the "short end of the stick" because they have to experience physical pain and uncertainty in their training that those the rest of us don't? No, because we recognize how amazing and valuable their experiences are. (And I honestly look back on that labor and delivery with great fondness and warm, gushy feelings whereas my husband, like a lot of men, look back on it as the most stressful event of their lives. Who says men aren't involved in that process??).

    There's just so much more to life, love and sexual connection than a little "easy fun." And if you find the right person and wait until marriage, susceptibility to STDs won't be a factor, pregnancy won't be devastating news, and finding joy in your physical relationship as equals won't be so impossible. :)

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    1. Ugh, sorry, typos as usual "What brings true abiding joy is often NOT (not 'now') related to the "fun factor."

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  74. Sarah, that was awesome, thank you!

    James, that is a tad more personal than I want to share in great detail, ha ha, but I will tell you that in peri-menopause we are all over the place, as my cycles can be anywhere from 14 days (CRAZY!!) to almost 40. But the charting is still not difficult (we went to a refresher course with our NFP office for pre-menopausal charting tips), and we have navigated it fine. There is no "average" number of days of abstinence for us anymore, but we make the most of our infertile times, and we still have a better marital life than we did when young and on contraception, both in terms of quantity and quality (oh, maybe that is TMI).

    Once God's will is known, how could someone go back, even if it seems like it would be easier? The weight on one's conscience would be worse than the waiting times. And maybe if we were a culture that trained up children from a young age to be patient, to wait, to delay gratification, we would not be in this pickle. Gosh, I have a daughter who is about to marry a Navy man. He will be deployed for months at a time. They are not sexually active now, in their engagement, and they will be abstaining -- both of them -- for months at a time after marriage, as he will be at sea. Praise God for virtue training! And I can tell you that they have a young love that is making people swoon…. They are brimming with joy and excitement that is contagious, and yet somehow, they are able to contain themselves since God is placed first. It is so beautiful to see!! I wish, wish, wish I had lived the life of virtue they are living. My husband and I have those regrets and memories of sins that can never be washed away. We've been forgiven and we have a beautiful, grace-filled marriage now, praise God! But the self-control and virtue not practiced before is something we utilize now, in our "older" married years. What a blessing!

    Anyway, God cannot be outdone in his generosity or the graces he gives to those who are willing to submit to his plan, and obey his moral law. It's not there for our harm, but (wait for it) for our human flourishing.

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    1. just read this comment after I posted. This was encouraging. Maybe I just have to post this in front of my face and keep reminding myself of encouraging things like this to get me through the next many years of abstinence, lol! Clearly my attitude is not the greatest. :P

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  75. Oh, sure, James, now you delete the personal question, ha ha! Just kidding. I guess I answered it before you deleted it.

    Bethany, yes! The feminist movement today is about power and control, not about celebrating what is uniquely woman. So sad, truly. As a woman, it makes me sad how much they seem to disdain their own nature. I so love being a woman!!

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  76. I hate NFP. But I hate all contraception. It all sucks. I only wish I could be one of those women who joyfully accepted babies as they came without worrying about the future at all. I am not there. So NFP it is, and I get to look forward to another 10-15 years of abstaining during every, single cycle for the rest of my fertile years since my husband and I both feel very, very done. I know we have talked about this Leila, and I have read Simcha's book. It was great and everything, but did not change the issue for me or give me any lasting insights. It was a nice commiseration while I read it, though. Our sex life has, frankly, always sucked, and now that we are not particularly wanting anymore babies and my libido has a chance of returning (I have virtually no libido while pregnant or breastfeeding), I get to abstain. Yay, one more cross to offer up, I guess. As if having sex thus far in my over a decade of marriage while I never really wanted to isn't enough. Sometimes this marriage thing sucks.

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  77. Kristi, do you have an NFP teacher you like? And, a good medical doctor (to deal with hormones, libido issues, etc)? Also, please take it from a veteran, married for almost a quarter century: Things will not look the same to you in 10-15 years. Not even close. They won't even look the same to you three years from now. That is the thing… nothing is static, everything is changing. I didn't believe we'd get a night out, and now we have four built in babysitters (five if you count the married daughter who could come over) and we go out (and go on 24-hour getaways) any time we want. Life is utterly different, even from year to year. Hang in there, friend!!

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  78. "just read this comment after I posted. This was encouraging. Maybe I just have to post this in front of my face and keep reminding myself of encouraging things like this to get me through the next many years of abstinence, lol! Clearly my attitude is not the greatest. :P"

    Kristi, it's also late at night when all problems and struggles look the bleakest. You need to get your sleep, Mama! Hugs, xoxoxoxo!

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    1. true. My mom always told me that. :)

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  79. No, we have never had an NFP teacher, I taught myself the FAM years ago and have super-reliable fertility signs, so it's never something we've had to guess at. Thanks for the encouragement. :)

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  80. Once God's will is known, how could someone go back, even if it seems like it would be easier? The weight on one's conscience would be worse than the waiting times.

    And that's why I can't believe for a moment that such a situation could be God's will for married couples.

    There is a very real danger of prolonged abstinence in marriage and Scripture warns about this. "Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control." 1 Corinthians 7:5. Note that St. Paul did not specify sexual temptation.

    Perhaps we were poorly instructed, and looking back I'm almost certain there were physical issues (possible PCOS and PPD) that were never addressed, but our bad experience with NFP caused far more pain in our marriage than all the other sins in our past (and we have plenty). Her libido was improved, but we could rarely do anything about it. We were told that we would have a great sex life, but the reality was mostly abstinence and uncertainty. Her libido was up, but we couldn't do anything about it, and our frequency was way down. As for the theology, let's just say sexual shame and guilt has no place in a marriage.

    FWIW, it was her decision to give up on NFP.

    Contraception is horribly unhealthy for women. We've learned that the hard way. So, when we tried NFP again, it was not by choice, but by necessity. And yes, we've had a good experience with NFP too. When done with proper instruction and proper medical support it can be really good for couples. But there is no guarantee of such support and without it, the risks for couples and their marriages is very high.

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  81. I'm very sorry for your awful experience. But as you say, contraception is no answer to the problem. NFP, for all the pitfalls, is better than the alternative (see OP). And it is consistent with the moral law and the teachings of Christ's Church (which cannot err on faith and morals, due to the promised protection of the Holy Spirit).

    I do so wish you had had some competent instruction and medical attention, and that the two of you were on the same page. That last part is a huge part of not only successful marriage, but successful NFP usage. If God is first no matter what, the rest will fall into place, without doubt.

    Is there a reason you had to abstain? Abstaining is not required by the Church, ever. You needed to avoid pregnancy, I am guessing?

    I'm not sure what is meant by this: "As for the theology, let's just say sexual shame and guilt has no place in a marriage."

    I've never seen a theology of sexual shame. Just a presentation of the Truth that God wants for our (yes, again here it is…) human flourishing.

    The Natural Law* and conformity to it is not a punishment, it's the way things work best, even in a fallen world.

    *For new readers, the Natural Law is not the same as the "laws of nature", it's the universal moral law, written on our hearts and accessible by human reason.

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  82. I wonder: how many people, struggling with crosses (sexual, marital, or otherwise), have a robust inner life, nourished, most essentially, by a structured prayer life? A life centered not just around occasional prayer or just Sunday Mass, but incorporating exclusive time set aside daily, for silence, meditation, contemplation, scriptural and spiritual input, and recollection, recollection, and more recollection.

    The greatest angst and dysfunctions in our lives (engendering the deepest depression or the quiet desperation that almost everyone in the world seems to be experiencing these days) arise from the forgetting (for all practical purposes) of who we are and what we're about. This is why recollection is so vitally important - without it we're just hungry and thirsty bodies with a bunch of powerful passions perennially demanding satiation, instead of serene and purposeful beings controlled by a powerful will, which in turn is directed by a quasi divine spirit. It's no coincidence that all those I know who cope most admirably with life's sticks and stones (and are even able to smile composedly through its inevitable tears) almost invariably happen, for example, to pray the Rosary every day!

    Structured prayer time. Don't live life without it! Only then will all be revealed!

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  83. Is there a reason you had to abstain? Abstaining is not required by the Church, ever. You needed to avoid pregnancy, I am guessing?

    Yes, thus the abstaining.

    I'm not sure what is meant by this: "As for the theology, let's just say sexual shame and guilt has no place in a marriage."

    I've never seen a theology of sexual shame. Just a presentation of the Truth that God wants for our (yes, again here it is…) human flourishing.


    The theological side was presented as a list of "do's and don'ts" and we were asked we were regularly asked very personal questions about our sexual habits. When we had problems, she was told to be more open to life and I was told I wanted to use her for sex.

    As for "human flourishing", language like this sounds like a "prosperity gospel" of sex.

    There certainly is a lot of good there. With proper medical support, it's amazing. One of the most amazing things is reading about how non-Catholic couples had their relationships changed by NFP. Of course, they are usually using barrier methods instead of abstaining during the fertile period, which makes a significant difference. Nearly all the people who are complaining are Catholics trying to follow Church teaching, not secular couples doing as they please.

    Why do you think that is?

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    1. **Even with proper medical support, some issues can be extremely difficult to resolve. So better classes and support is not necessarily a cure-all.

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  84. Planned Parenthood and Barak Obama are telling everyone that fertility is a disease. They are liars.

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  85. James, I'm currently four months postpartum and not practicing extended breastfeeding (I work full-time outside the home and pump during the day). We haven't yet needed to abstain for any period of time other than the initial 6-week postpartum period. We use the Marquette method of NFP (NFP.marquette.edu) and they have a protocol especially tailored to postpartum while breastfeeding women. Sounds like this method could be extremely helpful for the couples you know who are having trouble.

    The excerpt from the site you posted (on my phone, so can't easily quote it) - it just sounds bizarre. If a woman has a cycle where her fertility signs indicate she's "about to ovulate" for MONTHS on end? That is indicative if a huge medical issue. What do ovulation tests say? Has she tried using a fertility monitor to get a more accurate picture of what is going on? Has she had an ultrasound to check for ovarian cysts or tumors? Etc. That situation is not normal and should not be taken as a typical NFP user's experience.

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  86. Getting back to the side effects of chemical/hormonal contraception—I'm always struck by the cheerful voice in commercials that narrates them. The list ends on an upbeat note with "stroke and death." Oh, yeah. I'd rather have a stroke or die than get pregnant. NOT! (My husband is dead and I'm past child-bearing age anyway, so I'm in the Titus 2:3-5 phase of life, btw.)

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  87. As for "human flourishing", language like this sounds like a "prosperity gospel" of sex.

    James, except that it's exactly not. Surely you are clear that the Church teaches the opposite of the "prosperity gospel"? This is so glaring it is weird that you even brought it up. So, the human flourishing we are talking about has absolutely nothing to do with material wealth and good fortune, obviously. Shaking my head at this one.

    What do you suppose that human flourishing, in God's view, might mean?

    Nearly all the people who are complaining are Catholics trying to follow Church teaching, not secular couples doing as they please. Why do you think that is?

    Because being a practicing Christian is hard? Because virtue and taking up one's cross requires sacrifice and self-discipline? Because most folks avoid suffering or discomfort at all costs, but Catholics understand that it's redemptive and meaningful? Because we conform ourselves to Christ and not the world? Because eye has not seen and ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love him? And because if one follows the laws and statutes of God, one really does find inner joy and peace, and a great, holy marriage?

    Yes, those. ;)

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  88. Sarah,

    “Would anyone argue the Olympic athletes get the "short end of the stick" because they have to experience physical pain and uncertainty in their training that those the rest of us don't? No, because we recognize how amazing and valuable their experiences are.”

    Great question. I would say that if a certain group of people were expected to compete in the Olympics than yea that would be a little bit of a burden on them. I think being an Olympian carries a lot of respect..but a hell of a lot of people have no desire to become one, to devote their lives to the sport and to put everything on hold. I’m not saying that hard things are not worth it, most likely they are often the things that are most worth it. But the question your asking; why do women want to have sex and not give birth to children, seems awfully silly and obvious. Why do you want to eat an ice cream cone when you could run a half marathon instead, and the thrill you’d get from accomplishing the marathon is more than the quick pleasure you get from including in ice cream. But c’mon you know the answer. Don’t you?


    CS

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  89. I have been a long time reader and I am curious about this discussion of NFP/birth control..

    What do you say to Catholic couples who use the withdrawal method? Many women are choosing this now since they don't want to be on hormonal birth control or alter their bodies.
    Here's a good article on this:
    http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/09/11/the-pullout-generation-is-here-but-what-do-sex-educators-think/

    I realize that it's not necessarily lined up with the Church's teaching but am having a hard time understanding why. Can you explain why it's not a good idea?

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  90. This Anonymous woman has been commenting for awhile. She's had a lot of frustration and it seems like she's not getting much help from her instructor.

    Nor is she the only one in this situation.

    Help is spotty: I've also heard of a woman who was told that her erratic cycles were because "she didn't appreciate her husband enough".

    This is perhaps the most shocking story.

    http://heresyintheheartland.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-stress-of-natural-family-planning.html

    And this is the saddest (read the comment thread)

    http://caelumetterra.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/is-natural-family-planning-really-natural/
    (Same woman) http://womenintheology.org/2012/02/21/women-speak-about-natural-family-planning-ks-story/

    Here's another one:

    http://womenintheology.org/2012/02/25/women-speak-about-natural-family-planning-gss-story/

    From this story, long periods of abstinence postpartum are common. Marquette seems to have been a big breakthrough, but this matches our experience.

    http://www.aknottedlife.com/2012/04/so-we-all-in-this-together.html

    NFP pioneer, Dr. John Marshall's studies found that most couples struggle with abstinence and that only about 1/3 actually avoided genital contact. Dr. Marshall was on the Papal Birth Control Commission and recommended a change in the teaching. In all fairness, the study was based on an older method of NFP that required more abstinence.

    http://www.glowm.com/section_view/heading/Fertility%20Awareness%20Methods%20of%20Family%20Planning%20for%20Achieving%20or%20Avoiding%20Pregnancy/item/383

    The often quoted Frank-Hermann study likewise found that only about 1/3 of couples avoided genital contact.

    More recently Dr. Fehring at Marquette University took a similar study of marital satisfaction. The study found that most couples' experience was positive, but that a small but significant number of couples really struggled. It noted that several women struggled with determining signs of fertility, leading to unplanned pregnancies and extended periods of abstinence. Other couples found abstinence to strain their marriage more than help it.

    http://epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1008&context=nursing_fac

    The Church can interpret the Natural Law as she sees fit and can direct the faithful as she sees fit, but the data does not support the assertion that following Church teaching always leads to "human flourishing".

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  91. There are a lot of great questions to ask surrounding hormonal BC. I for one think women are pushed on to it when it does have a lot of sideeffects. I’m especially surprised that feminists have championed bc and have no encouraged women to have less intercourse frankly, which is a lot less risky and carries more reward for women, but I digress.

    But your not asking why women are on dangerous chemicals your asking why they haven’t just accepted that they should only have sex with men they want to have children with, and that they should just want to have children…And that is the answer to your question. I really believe in NFP as birth control and wish more people knew about it/wish there are more advancement in men’s bc. But if you want to know why so many people are on bc, its because no one is giving them a real option that they are going to take. You’re not trying to get rid of hormonal bc your trying to get rid of recreational sex and the opinion that having a baby messes things up. You don’t have women’s interests at heart, you have the catholic church’s interests (you’ll argue these are the same thing but hear what I’m saying. The people on this blog won’t even acknowledge that having a baby kinda a wrench in the plans, of course no one is going to listen to you on bc. You won’t acknowledge that falling in love and traveling and getting a dream apartment are hindered by a baby. Why would anyone buy a product to keeps animals away if on the label it said, but animals are a gift and if one gets on your property that’s actually worth celebrating…you would doubt the efficacy of their product. (No I’m not saying babies are vermin I’m just making the comparison. You seem continually shocked that people want a way to facilitate what they want to do…I don’t get why.

    CS

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  92. So the Church's teaching leads to human flourishing because the Church tells us that the consequences of following its teaching are human flourishing.

    Isn't that a tautology?

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  93. margaraet m, the general reason is that, like other acts of contraception, it purposely renders the marital act sterile. In fact, the marital act is not completed in the woman's body at all, so there is no ultimate union there at all. At the moment that should be unitive, there is separation, for the purpose of separating sex and procreation.

    Onan in the Old Testament was struck dead by God for using the withdrawal method to avoid impregnating his wife. Pretty serious stuff.

    Again, if one cannot accept a child, one must sacrifice the act that makes the child. One cannot take the pleasure of the act, but reject its meaning and purpose. With NFP, there is no "taking" of the pleasure, there is a sacrifice of it. The act, when performed, must maintain its integrity. It's a holy act, and the utmost respect is necessary. It's the act that creates new human life, souls and bodies that will exist for all eternity, and we cannot mess with the very nature of the act.

    That's what it all comes down to: If we don't respect the act that creates human life, we end up disrespecting human life itself (we see that glaringly today).

    Hope that helps!

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  94. "You seem continually shocked that people want a way to facilitate what they want to do…I don’t get why."

    I'm not at all shocked that people want to do what they want to do, even if other people get in the way. That is the fallen human condition. We all struggle with it. I am not at all surprised with sin in general, it's all around us, constantly. I am not surprised that we put ourselves and our desires against the good of others and the common good. I am not surprised at all. What I am saying is, it's not a good thing, to the extent that it goes against the moral law and virtue. It's not good for us, not good for women. Again, back to your statement that your friends saw no down side to the hook-up culture "except for the constant sobbing". The moral law is there for our good, not for our harm, not to be "mean".

    James, when did I use a tautology? I never said what you said. I did say that living a virtuous life and following God leads to peace and joy -- I hope that is not a problematic statement for you as a Catholic? Jesus said as much and the saints are evidence of that in spades.

    Okay, off to get some breakfast. Forgive me if I don't respond for a while...

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  95. CS, maybe this will clarify. This post is not about being "shocked" that women use birth control or don't want babies (I lived that life, remember?). It's a question about why feminists say they champion women, when they seem to disdain everything that is unique to women. I hope that clears up what I was saying in the post.

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  96. So if what you are saying is not a tautology, then how would you define "human flourishing" and how would you measure whether a human was flourishing?

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  97. So I've been thinking a lot about the issues James has brought up.
    I hate being presumptuous. I am also one of the last people to comment on "serious" or "grave" or "just" reasons (depending on translation) for why couples are practicing NFP.

    However, here are some thoughts rolling around in my sleep deprived head (2 sick kids and 1 teething baby).

    1. NFP in reality is a data collection system. There are several different systems, that collect different data. What is done with that information is up to the collectors (the couple).

    2. Unless there is a 100% gurantee of death when pregnant: the idea of "I can't get pregnant" is a fallacy. There is a difference between don't want to, won't, shouldn't and can't.

    3. I am fearful of people who are using an NFP method and end up abstaining for months on end or longer. I fear that they are abstaining for so long out of their own fear of having a baby (or another) and the accompanying consequences. This is not practicing NFP, this is using the data collected as contraception. It might not be artificial, but they are not being open to life.
    4. I do not mean that NFP, as is properly understood and practiced ,is a bad thing. On the contrary, we're practicing NFP right now (8 people in a 3bdrm 1.5ba house, I literally have no more space in rooms, hah!) The difference is, we try our best, we chart, and sometimes we have to ask God through every kiss some evenings, "Help me through this. Can we move forward? What do YOU from us right now?"
    Trusting in God and his plan is hard, but abstaining for a year or more, even with weird cycles and chaotic data, strikes me as an attempt to control nature, and bypass God's will. Like I said, that's not practicing NFP as properly understood, that's contraception.

    I don't know... I 'll have to think about all this some more.

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  98. James, if a society of people lived out the virtues every day, all the time, would that society flourish? Would they be living according to the way God made them to live? If you can grasp that, then you can understand flourishing. Again, look at the saints for your answer. Imagine all of us living as the saints did, as Christ did. How would that look, and would it be a good thing?

    Catholics would say yes, holiness is a good thing, and leads to human flourishing. Life, souls, relationships, would be rightly ordered.

    I guess I am not sure about your question? Which of the virtues do you not think should be lived out? Or do you at least agree that if the virtues are lived out, it's ordered to the common good?

    Sorry, still no breakfast, gotta go… hope that made sense. Look to the saints, look to the saints….

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  99. Whoops, one more! Bethany, I love your thoughts and I agree that unless both spouse really want to live as brother and sister, it's not a good thing to abstain like that. However, I want to caution against calling abstinence "contraception". I wrote about that here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-nfp-plea-stop-giving-warnings-and.html

    Couples have free will to decide not to have sex, but if it's only out of fear, then yes you are right that it's not ordered correctly and they need to prayerfully step out in trust (and get much better NFP instruction!).

    Off to get breakfast… for reals!!! ha ha

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  100. Ok, what I am saying is that the data does not support the assertion that Church's teachings on marital chastity leads to the common good. Specifically, the data says that the danger to the marriage from the deprivation (not to mention the stress of unplanned pregnancies) outweighs the benefits of developing the virtue.

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    1. That being said, this may change in the future as the "data collection" becomes more accurate and the abstinence less burdensome.

      When we all have fertility tricorders, perhaps the Church will be vindicated.

      As for right now, you repeatedly say "get much better NFP instruction". How does one go about doing this instead of bouncing around from bad instructor to bad instructor? Many of the options for couples now weren't available 10 years ago. There were only two instructors in our area when we were learning and one was bad and the other was worse.

      Delete
  101. Yeah, I was thinking about that post, too. And I agree. I don't think it's the abstinence in and of itself that I would call contraception. It's the fear of not wanting another child to the point where they are abstaining for super long periods of time... I think this what is meant when people use the phrase "using NFP with a contraceptive mentality". They're using a good, abstainence, continuously to effectively render themselves sterile out of fear of having a baby. Abstinence is not contraception. How it's being used... I could argue that it is that contraceptive mentality.

    Hope that makes sense.

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  102. Abstinence is not contraception. How it's being used... I could argue that it is that contraceptive mentality.

    Hope that makes sense.


    Not really. Abstinence is abstinence and such a problem would be more a matter of insensibility (dislike of sex) than contraception.

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  103. "...that the data does not support…"

    What data?

    Sorry, in a rush. Daughter getting a 3-D ultrasound today and I'm going, wheee!

    Bethany, I get what you are saying, but I still would not use "contraceptive" when abstinence has nothing of contraception about it. Different things entirely. But I do definitely agree that there is disordered thinking if the couple is not having sex out of fear. Disordered for sure!

    Sorry if it sounds curt, don't mean to, typing fast…

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  104. I think you asked the wrong question in the headline. I think the question should be is why do many woman dislike themselves/ourselves so much that they allow men to use them and toss them? Why do women allow harmful substances and devices (like the IUD) into our bodies?

    A few other comments: it is SO aggravating to hear married women complain about not getting enough sex when some woman go for decades without any sex? If you are married, chances are you are having tons of more sex than single women of a certain age.

    Reading and listening to married woman talk about sex especially good sex and good relationships is like listening to a bunch of girls talk about the FANTASTIC part
    they all went to, but you didn't because you weren't invited. Yep, feel like a dork sometimes.

    I'll toss this out. Sometimes mothering small babies and children seem like a horrible way to live thanks to blogs I read (mostly Catholic), and stories and complaints I hear. Oh, the children and babies themselves are cute and adorable bundles of love, but the mess, the cost, the lack of sleep, the chaos, the poop, the vomit, the screaming and crying - well, I guess those are the reasons that valium was known as mother's little helper. Oh - the endless laundry. So I think mothers console themselves that they are doing the most important job in the world to make themselves feel better. Yet, if their mothering is the MOST IMPORTANT JOB that puts down all the roles and jobs I do. After all, I am not mothering. Sometimes I am very, very grateful I can spend an ENTIRE Saturday afternoon reading a really, really good novel.

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  105. What data?

    Did you read the links I posted above?

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  106. James, you are well-instructied in NFP (at least in terms of effort - you may be saying that you yourself did not always get quality instruction) so maybe you're already aware of NaPro Technology. It was designed for use with couples having fertility issues. It has a greater pregnancy/delivery success rate than IVF centers have. Anyhow, their success comes from recognizing and treating the actual issues that are affecting fertility. I would definitely encourage any woman who is having abnormal signs of fertility to contact a NaPro-trained physician. Something is causing those abnormal signs, and I think NaPro-trained doctors could be very successful at helping them to identify the exact issue. I'm very grateful that my married daughter, who is having signs of endometriosis, lives near a NaPro ob gyn in the Baltimore area. She plans to go for a consultation with that doctor soon.

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    1. Website, for those in need: http://naprotechnology.com. Please spread the word. Many pro-lifers aren't even aware of the availability of this treatment, which is 100% in line with Catholic teaching.

      Delete
    2. Our bad instructor was a Creighton instructor. My wife had a very difficult time with that method. The Drs. Billings' criticisms of Creighton were very informative when we found them.

      As for NaPro, she was referred to a NaPro physician, unfortunately, they misdiagnosed the problem and made the cycle issues even worse. Our experience is that NaPro is that it is very heavily focused on TTC and considerably less so on clearing up cycle problems.

      Delete
    3. As an FCP, I am sorry your wife had such a bad instructor and a bad experience with a NaPro doctor. I can assure you that the general NaPro approach is not simply TTC, though. For most NaPro doctors, the main goal is to restore health (and that is our goal too as "support staff" as FCPs). There are many who read Leila's blog and who are featured on her sidebar who have been NaPro patients for infertility and other issues who have benefited greatly. I know we did as we also are NaPro patients. We initially began treatment not for infertility but to treat health reasons that had baffled mainstream doctors for years (but were quickly assessed and treated with our NaPro doctors).

      Delete
  107. Great post. I had my IUD removed over a year ago. It took three tries and eventually had to be surgically removed. There was nothing natural about it. Believe it or not, Hollywood is doing a documentary on the negative side effect of the pill. I'm not sure if they will be covering all chemical birth controls, or just the pill, but this might wake some women up, even if just a few.
    http://www.deadline.com/2014/02/ricki-lake-abby-epstein-push-sweetening-the-pill-birth-control-doc/

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  108. I guess I'm thinking about it differently.

    Abstaining from eating high-caloric, super sugary foods is a good way to lose weight.

    Abstaining from eating all together to lose weight is called anorexia and while a debilitating disorder is also sinful.

    And I'm saying something different James, It's stemming not from a dislike of sex, but from a greater fear of getting pregnant.

    Basically, if a couple is practicing NFP because, after prayerful discernment they have determined God is not calling them to have another a child (this can manifest in many different ways), but are willing to accept a child if God determines, in spite of their challenges, another child is a greater good, then great.
    But if a couple is practicing NFP out of fear of getting pregnant and/or not being in total control of the how's and what's - to such the extreme that they're abstaining from sex for months or more - then, quite frankly, they need to talk to God more, reevaluate, in prayer, their reasons for postponing pregnancy, and whether or not God is calling them to the challenge of pregnancy and parenting, and trust that God will provide if He decides that pregnancy.

    In other words: You're right, the Church is not calling married couples to year-long abstinence marathons in most of the cases where that's happening. My guess is that many couples are so afraid of relinquishing control and remaining open to the possibility of a baby that they simply are refusing to have sex all together. The detriment of their marital lives, is not caused by practicing NFP, but because they're not putting God as the central figure in their marriages.

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  109. Bethany,

    If a couple has discerned that they need to avoid pregnancy and their charts show a constant pattern of possible fertility requiring months of abstinence, then what?

    Sometimes couples have very good reason to fear pregnancy and complete abstinence is a licit, though difficult, way to avoid it.

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  110. "Basically, if a couple is practicing NFP because, after prayerful discernment they have determined God is not calling them to have another a child (this can manifest in many different ways), but are willing to accept a child if God determines, in spite of their challenges, another child is a greater good, then great."

    Is this the reasoning that makes NFP a preferable birth control method to, say, using a condom. Is it the greater reliability of the condom that makes the act not open to the will of God?

    So, if you botch the NFP and get pregnant, that would be taken as a sign that God wants you to have another child. I see.

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  111. I realize I'm not being very clear here and I apologize, trying to record my thoughts all from my phone, while tending to sick children and dealing with ice and snow, I'm incoherent at best.

    James: I think if a couple has prayerfully discerned that they need to avoid pregnancy and the charts are showing constant fertility, there are a few scenarios, 1: they discerned incorrectly, this should be on-going monthly discernment. 2: they are so scared of "making a mistake" or "reading a sign incorrectly" and winding up pregnant that they either misinterpret the signs or the fear and stress actually interferes with their hormones. 3: at first glance they seem to have possible fertility, but when looked at more closely there is a pattern within the pattern that is observable (no woman is fertile for her entire cycle). 4: there is a larger medical (hormornal) issue at hand that needs to be dealt with.

    And I think many women do fear pregnancy, but I think fearing pregnancy to the point of living ina marriage devoid of sexualy intimacy exhibits a profound lack of trust in God.
    Then to blame that lack of trust in God on the Church's teaching regarding contraception is dishonest.

    No, Bill, the reason a condom is not licit is because it interferes with and inhibits the natural reproductive act. It blocks the bodies from truly becoming united.

    If one fails at NFP and gets pregnant, it's not so much that it's seen that God wanted the couple to have a baby, but rather an understanding that God has allowed the conception of a new life, in spite of any and all challenges, and that new life fulfills some part of God's plan. Therefore God will provide the strength and grace needed by anyone and everyone to help that child fulfills God's will. The key is they have to ask for that grace and place their trust in God.

    I'm probably still not being very clear. Ugh, I think my headache is getting worse.

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  112. "the reason a condom is not licit is because it interferes with and inhibits the natural reproductive act. It blocks the bodies from truly becoming united."

    Is there something bad about interfering and inhibiting a natural reproductive act? What is the significance of a condom blocking the bodies from truly becoming united?

    Are these the Catholic Church's reasons for allowing all of the consequences of people being afraid to use condoms?

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  113. James, sorry, I wish I had time to sit and go through all the links people send. What you gave me were anecdotes. I appreciate that folks struggle with NFP. I appreciate that folks struggle with many, many things related to sexuality, related to marriage, related to anything that has to do with human interaction (I mostly struggle with holding my tongue and not being disrespectful or critical to my husband/children). We all struggle with living up to the ideals that God has set for us, and we struggle being virtuous (that's why it's called taking up one's cross). But that in no way means we give up the struggle. It by no means implies that human flourishing does not happen by following God's law. Quite the opposite. With God's grace, we move forward and live a life of joy and peace, submitting our will to Him. Without God's grace, everything, including marriage and sexuality, is a mess in this fallen world. Why do you think there is such a higher divorce rate among those who do not use NFP? Why do you think there is such a higher rate of sexual satisfaction among faithful Catholic couples?

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  114. Bethany, I would add a fifth reason to your four, which is that sometimes ovulation can get "stuck" during the return of fertility postpartum, leading to a constant fertile discharge. Dr. John Billings suggested changing breastfeeding patterns to get it "unstuck".

    http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/bil/bil_08ovulationresearch.html (Under Problem Cases)

    #3 is a teaching issue and #2 is often related to it. If a couple doesn't have much confidence in the instructor or the method, they are going to be more afraid and more conservative with it. If problem #2 is during the postpartum period (and it almost always is) PPD may be an issue and should not be overlooked.

    #4 is the big problem—Hormone imbalances. Sometimes these are easily fixed, but often they are the symptoms of long-term chronic conditions. Even with professional assistance, an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan is no guarantee. (See our experience with NaPro upthread.) PCOS is a common problem that basically makes NFP hard in every way. (Long cycles (though not always), long fertile patterns, ambiguous peaks, short infertile periods, and crazy hormone swings.) The underlying problem is blood sugar control. The Woman Code dietary system shows promise for this and usually NaPro treats with Metformin.

    If NFP failed, it means that a healthy sperm met a healthy egg and everything worked as expected. The question isn't a matter of divine intention, but why didn't the couple expect the egg to be around?

    This is a bit of a rambling thread, but the questions that never seem to get answered are: Why are "surprise" pregnancies so common among NFP-using Catholic couples? (I suspect some of the teaching is substandard, but I don't think that's the only reason.) And why do Catholic NFP couples seem so much less "filled with peace and joy" about the method than their non-Catholic FAM counterparts?

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    1. Just wanted to comment on this part:

      "..and usually NaPro treats with Metformin."

      That's actually not quite true. That's the biomedical treatment for PCOS (mainstream OB/GYN). NaPro has many, many more options, most of which start with diet and hormonal supplements (not Metformin). That may have been *your* experience with a NaPro doc, but coming from my experience (as a woman with PCOS and the wife of a NaPro doc), it's not the fall-back method encouraged by Dr Hilgers or NaPro, generally.

      Delete
  115. Bill, sex is about full union with another, becoming one flesh. It's the closest we can get to another human being on this earth (and I'm talking conjugal union, not any type of sodomy). It is the mechanism that is so life-giving, so profound, that it brings new human beings into existence. To put a barrier between two people when they are "speaking the language" of total union, is to lie. One does not make love by gearing up as if one is going to battle. It's a contradiction. Using a condom in lovemaking is a contradiction.

    A light analogy might be if a man says, "I love you" and then puts a bag over his beloved's face before passionately kissing her. They aren't even touching! They are not united. It's a lie.

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  116. Is there something bad about interfering and inhibiting a natural reproductive act? What is the significance of a condom blocking the bodies from truly becoming united?

    For starters as the reproduction and the reproductive act was designed and created by God, then interfering with and inhibiting it would be not only interfering with and inhibiting God (thereby promoting one's self to a god-like status) but tells God in a not so subtle way, "I know better than You." Which is profoundly untrue. It is prideful.

    The bodies become fully united at, well, to be blunt, ejaculation in the vagina, thus fulfilling the necessary requirements to allow the potential of reproduction to take place.

    In other words: It cannot be a truly unifying act without the potentiality of procreative act (that which is in our control, things such as infertility and age are out of our control and therefore are not seen as inhibitors of the potential of reproduction).



    I am confused by your third question, Bill.


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  117. James, just quickly… are you aware of how many "surprise" pregnancies happen with contraception?

    And, we are all clear here that sex makes babies, right? If married couples engage in sex, the natural end is babies. It's actually a really good, good thing (by design). Now, having said that (and hopefully getting our perspective straight), NFP is effective if the users use the method correctly. Will there still be "surprises" in the form of a child? Yes, because biology is biology! Barring complete abstinence, there is the possibility of life. When this happens with contraception users, the mindset would then tend toward the "back-up" plan, which is abortion ("we made a deal that no babies would come from this act", is the mindset). With NFP users, the mindset is, "life is good and we accept this new child into our life and marriage".

    Night and day.

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  118. Leila,

    That's a funny, SNL type, explanation to defend the Church's prohibition of condom use.

    "To put a barrier between two people when they are "speaking the language" of total union, is to lie."

    What you won't do to defend the Church. It's comical and predictable.

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    1. Bill, you are disrespectful. The only thing that is truly predictable is your Donkesque questions followed by your tired, robotic, culturally exhausted broken Donkism answers. Whats also very predictable is that in 12years while Leila is welcoming her 23rd grandchild and her backyard parties look like the opening scene to the Lion King, you will be banging on your bedpan demanding some "GD attention around this dump! And desperately hoping that young Catholic nurse is on duty tonight. Check Yerself dude!

      Delete
    2. Chris,

      Trolls. Every blog/combox has one! :) (Best left ignored.)
      I wanna be at that backyard party for the Millers' 23rd grandchild!

      Delete
  119. Here is the study about the 3% divorce rate of NFP users from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Satisfaction/dissatisfaction rates are comparable to Marshall and Fehring.

    Not surprisingly, more religiously devout couples had the lowest divorce rate, however, the least devout couples had a divorce rate 1/4 of the national average.

    http://cssronline.org/CSSR/Current/63%20-%20Natural%20Family%20Planning%20as%20a%20Family%20Binding%20Tool%20A%20Survey%20Report%20-%20Walter%20Rhomberg,%20Etc.pdf

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  120. When this happens with contraception users, the mindset would then tend toward the "back-up" plan, which is abortion ("we made a deal that no babies would come from this act", is the mindset). With NFP users, the mindset is, "life is good and we accept this new child into our life and marriage".

    Wow, that's a broad generalization on both counts! I can think of quite a few counterexamples on both sides.

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  121. The Chinese are breeding (and about to step it up by loosening their one child policy). The Indians are breeding. Muslims are breeding. Look at the trajectory of their growth, power and influence in the world today. These three groups now comprise over half the world's population. Given the trend, we're heading into a world dominated by Communists, flanked by Hindus and Muslims.

    While in large parts of the "Christian" West, where fertility levels are dipping critically - even below population replacement levels - "traveling and getting a dream apartment" seem to be the priority of many today.

    Even forgetting what God wants, and the little inconvenient "accidents" He causes, is Western man really prepared to pay the price of extinction for his current must-haves?

    List of sovereign states and dependent territories by fertility rate

    (Note: the replacement fertility rate is roughly 2.1 births per woman).

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  122. James, just quickly… are you aware of how many "surprise" pregnancies happen with contraception?

    Quite a few. Most "surprise" pregnancies happen with condoms and the Pill.

    NFP is effective if the users use the method correctly.

    Yes, and this involves both proper instruction and proper use. What I am asking is which is more likely to go wrong.

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  123. "One does not make love by gearing up as if one is going to battle".

    Touché, Leila! Friend of mine used to say "Having sex with a condom on is like having a shower wearing a raincoat!" :)

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  124. James, event the liberal Supreme Court members agree with the Church that abortion is a back-up for contraception, and it's a mindset that we have adopted reflexively, as a culture:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/01/contraception-leads-to-abortion-come.html

    Of course there are always counterexamples on both sides! But that is relevant, how? We can find examples of anything. I am sure there have been Catholic NFP couples who have aborted an unexpected child, and I am sure that there exists secular pro-abortion advocates who don't want kids and have sex for pleasure only, but who have always been open to life should it come. But I'm guessing those are rare, rare exceptions.

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  125. ...and on that note, I just received an email from a devout and frustrated Catholic woman entitled "Hopeless frustrations with NFP".

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  126. James, there is just something I cannot put my finger on. You turned this post into a debate on NFP. It's obviously personal for you. My question: What would you have the Church do? Change the moral law?

    I guess I am just so unclear about what this is all about.

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  127. How did we get on this topic?

    I believe I started by asking what options do the Catholic Church give for women who want all that birth control is promising? You said the Catholic Church teaches that women cannot have it all and I responded that don't you think that women want more options?

    Then the conversation moved over to NFP when I mentioned about women complaining about abstinence with NFP, which started that issue.

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    1. My beef with NFP is that it is too often presented as a positive when for a significant number of couples, it really isn't. It is also often presented along with gender stereotypes, which can be harmful to many couples.

      One can obey the Church, but what about non-Catholics? Non-Christians? Non-religious?

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  128. Truly unexplainable pregnancies with NFP are rare (yes, they happen, but they are rare). I would like to ask how you define "surprise"? With Creighton (and perhaps other methods - I have no experience with other methods so I can't speak about them), we do thorough pregnancy evals to help date pregnancies and to help couples understand what happened if they feel surprised. 99% of the "surprise" pregnancies are emotionally surprising... in other words, biologically they can be explained, but emotionally, for various reasons, they didn't expect it that cycle.

    Sometimes couples are taught incorrectly or inadequately. A good teacher will acknowledge if she failed in an area. Sometimes couples "talk themselves out of their fertility" not really believing this cycle will result in pregnancy (there is a HUGE psychological component to NFP that still needs as lot of study), sometimes couples have *very* difficult to manage or read charts. A good teacher will stick with them to help them manage the charts or even refer them to a different method that might be a better fit for their situation.

    At the end of the day, as Catholics, we are called to be open to life whenever sex occurs. The unexplainable 1% is one reason this is so! We will never have complete control or perfect understanding. There is no "method" that is 100% except abstinence. This is where faith and discernment come in.

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  129. James- I'm sorry you are having difficulties and I hope things work out soon and you find someone who can help you out.

    That being said. You really have to remember that pregnancy is always possible. Condoms break and birth control fails. NFP sometimes doesn't work. At the end of the day one of the primary purposes of sex is to create children. You cannot separate that fact and I think your struggle to do so is part of what is causing you such mental turmoil.

    I think it is easier for women to understand the link between sex and children because it is drilled into our heads when we are still children. We are taught by our mothers how children come into the world and we are reminded that all the options for an unwanted pregnancy require sacrifice.

    Men....typically have very different experiences growing up. They tend to link sex with pleasure more than with children.

    To me, your posts just make no sense because if you are going to have sex at all you have to be prepared to accept the child that might result. Sure the failure of a condom might be very remote......but if it does fail you would be in the exact same position you would be if NFP fails. Can you take care of the child or not?

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    1. Oh, we've gotten through our own issues, but thanks anyway.

      There are a lot of people still struggling, though.

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  130. Sarah, thank you for your clarity and wisdom and practicality on this subject! It's refreshing, as is Kat's comment. Clear, to the point.

    Chris… the Lion King scene, lol!!

    James… I still don't get it. What do you want the Church to do? Deny the moral law? The moral law is for everyone (that is why Gandhi was utterly opposed to contraception, and why Freud was able to say that the break between sex and procreation is how we actually define what becomes sexually deviant). There are two options for married couples who do not want or cannot accept children. One involves breaking the moral law (and usually messing up a woman's body), the other does not. The Church teaches the latter.

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  131. There are two options for married couples who do not want or cannot accept children. One involves breaking the moral law (and usually messing up a woman's body), the other does not. The Church teaches the latter.

    I didn't think a Catholic married couple was allowed to not accept children.

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  132. As a copy writer I find these claims so hilarious--"want to buy a house, don't have a baby!" "Want to fall in love, don't have a baby!" "Want to travel, don't have a baby." As a single Grad student, I did none of the above. As a pregnant woman, I fell more in love, got better at my career, and bought a house. Oh, and now I'm learning French so that I can take my darling six year old daughter to Paris.

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  133. "I didn't think a Catholic married couple was allowed to not accept children."

    You are right. But you asked me in general about everyone and what they are to do if they don't want/can't have kids (that's what I thought you meant/asked). The answer comes down to two basic options. That's all.

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  135. I think it is easier for women to understand the link between sex and children because it is drilled into our heads when we are still children. We are taught by our mothers how children come into the world and we are reminded that all the options for an unwanted pregnancy require sacrifice.

    Men....typically have very different experiences growing up. They tend to link sex with pleasure more than with children.


    More so, yes, but not always. I think outside the "Catholic bubble", many women also link sex with pleasure more than with children.

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  136. "More so, yes, but not always. I think outside the "Catholic bubble", many women also link sex with pleasure more than with children."

    And all that really matters is what God thinks.

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  137. Remember everyone, when we hit 200 comments, you must either subscribe via email to this post, or keep "reloading page" to get to the rest of the comments. What a pain, sorry!!

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  138. What can the Catholic Church offer women who want "all that birth control offers?" The Church can't do that because what contraception offers is a against the design of marriage. The Church can offer clear guidance on the meaning of sex, love and marriage. She can and should support us and guide us in our sufferings and in various complex situations. She can often offer solutions to many of our problems or better alternatives to contraception. But the Church can't offer *all* that contraception offers. It would be more beneficial to ask why we want what contraception offers at all? Does it really offer anything good? Because a lot of what contraception "offers" really isn't even pleasurable on the most basic level. Visit an online forum of women talking about their various methods of birth control and all the side effects, relational problems, etc. I don't want the Church to "offer" that.

    I guess we can spend all night bashing NFP for not being "all that contraception offers," but for most of humanity, NFP wasn't even an option (nor was modern contraception). It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall of various conversations about sex and family planning hundreds of years ago. Or even a hundred years ago. One thing is constant though: This life will always have challenges, sufferings and crosses for us. For some, it will be in the realm of family planning. We need to try to be supportive and helpful, but none of us have the power to eliminate every single complex or difficult situation. Contraception can't even solve that.

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  139. "More so, yes, but not always. I think outside the "Catholic bubble", many women also link sex with pleasure more than with children"

    Baloney! I spend most of my life outside of the Catholic bubble and I can tell you right now that many women who are sexually active are always talking about babies. Maybe not using the word baby but.....

    "Gee, I am late.......I hope aunt flow comes soon or I'm going to have to go to the clinic."

    "What BC are you using? How do you like it? Any strange side effects?"

    "Yeesh, We had a great time but we forgot the condom......oh well, I took the morning after pill."

    "Oh man, these cramps suck......oh well, better than a kid and at least I can drink, am I right?"

    Yeah.........women don't associate sex with babies at all.

    By the way, I have heard every single one of those statements come out of classmates or friend's mouths

    Sorry, James, recreational sex for women is all about avoiding their biology

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  140. Yeah contraception definitely does not solve the reality that women must deal with the connection between babies and sex, and most women are all too aware of that (men must deal with this too, really, but sometimes they don't realize that and are deluded into thinking there is such a thing as sex unconnected to babies. Sometimes that lands them in all sorts of legal trouble devastating circumstances).

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  141. I think there is a misunderstanding.

    I'm saying that women often do want sex for pleasure (broadly defined) and take efforts to disconnect babies from it. Sex for pleasure is most definitely not just a male thing.

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  142. I never meant to imply that women don't want sex. Of course we do! But it is like eating ice cream......it is a lot of fun, but can you afford the calories.

    Having women disconnect from their natural concern about children is what leads to women, who have never shown any psychopathic tendencies, to say "Oh, I will just get and abortion."

    We are SUPPOSE to be concern about our kids. That is what keeps them safe from the world......including us. Pushing the idea women should "disconnect" is not healthy.

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    1. Oh my! Please forgive my typos and errors. Can I blame the dog for jumping on me?

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    2. Lol oh my we are both talking about ice cream. Maybe we should go get some to eat, haha. Just to clarify, my ice cream example is referencing a comment waaaay earlier by CS, hope nobody gets confused!

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    3. Ha Ha Ha! That's too funny! Ice cream does sound good..........

      By the way, I am loving your comments. Every time you post, I think, "Yeah! What she said!"

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  143. CS- the only point I am trying to make is that you can't equate eating an ice cream cone to running a marathon. :) Yes, eating an ice cream cone is fun. But running a marathon has a deep significance to it. Just because one involves pain or sacrifice doesn't mean it's bad or that eating the ice cream is "better" or a privilege. You can pick any meaningful goal... we all want to live lives of significance don't we? We don't want to die having just eaten a lot of ice cream cones, right?

    I am challenging you to see the female body and the capacity to give birth as a good thing, even a privilege, not merely a burden. It's something wonderful and meaningful and doesn't have to be a disadvantage but a source of fulfillment and strength. It might sound crazy but I was more concerned about my husband's stress and discomfort during labor than my own (and again, I experienced the height of agony during a certain stage in my labor *and* needed medical intervention, so I am not deluded as to how much of a sacrifice it can be. I still wouldn't consider myself having gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to being female. Different, yes, disadvantaged, no).

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  144. Getting back to Leila's post.

    I always remember growing up in the 90's a number of older women would come up to my friends and me to talk to us. Usually, these women were mothers, grandmothers or neighbors of one of us. They would always talk about how we had so many more options than they ever had growing up. They would tell us not to "settle down" or "get married and have kids right away" and to "go and do something worthwhile with your lives."

    It was always a very awkward conversation because they always seemed so wistful and yet insisted we must not follow down that path. (Some were outright bitter.) It always left us wondering what was so wrong in their lives or in their marriages that they would say those things.

    I doubt those women ever really understood how much their comments disturbed us. It seemed to imply a very dark undertone to marriage and motherhood. Add that to the stories about women drowning their kids in the bathtub and we all started to wonder what makes a happy marriage and what just makes you crazy.

    We were taught from a young age that what we have was better than what our mothers had because we have more choices. We also had a lot of pressure put on us to not "waste" opportunities that (apparently) a lot of other women would have loved to have.

    I guess, I think of our current time as a bit of growing pains for women. We are reassuring ourselves we have the choices and now we need to remember our choices have consequences.

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  145. Kat,

    Your comment reminds me of Chelsea Clinton's public lament that her grandmother didn't, unfortunately, have the option of "reproductive healthcare" (i.e., contraception &/or abortion). Cognitive dissonance at its finest! :) But then again, a world without Hillary Clinton, winner of the 2009 Margaret Sanger Award, championing the "health" of women around the world, mightn't be such a disastrous prospect after all!

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  146. Sarah and Kat, you ladies crack me up! And, you make my job here a whole lot easier. Thank you!!

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  147. Going back to the questions posed at the beginning of this post "Why do you rebel against the functioning female body? Why do you seek suppression of what is uniquely female? What is so wrong with women's bodies the way they are?" I think many advocates for contraception and other birth control methods would argue that there is nothing wrong with the functioning female body. The issue lies rather with society. Women may be open to having children, want children, but they may also want a career. How can women become equal members of society, valuable surgeons, lawyers, scientists, or business executives if they are following "God's plan" and having a child every two years or so? I personally cannot name any well known, highly publicized Catholic women who fits into that category. The issue I have with this, is while men can have large families, follow NFP, and still be successful, women cannot. That is where the imbalance lies. That is why so many people advocate for contraceptive methods. God didn't give us penicillin either, but we still use it or its derivatives to fight infections and have a more fruitful life. There are dangerous side effects to most drugs, so if we are open to life by not using birth control, should we also be open to illness, disease and death by not using antibiotics or other curative drugs? Isn't our death a part of God's plan too? Let me be clear, I am not saying that society is in a good place right now and I agree that waiting to have intercourse with the person you want to be your life partner is an excellent idea, but how can women be as successful as their male partners (and I am talking about filling in the top ranks of fortune 500 companies etc) or is that just not possible because God created them in the female form?

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  148. "How can women become equal members of society, valuable surgeons, lawyers, scientists, or business executives if they are following "God's plan" and having a child every two years or so?"

    Kristen, did you just say that a stay at home mother, self-sacrificially slaving away day and night, birthing, nursing, nurturing and forming the next generation of citizens of this world (and, hopefully, inhabitants of heaven someday, if you're Christian) is not an equal member of society or as valuable/indispensable to it as a surgeon, lawyer, scientist or business executive? Sheesh! This is precisely the commercially inspired utilitarian mindset that is pushing us headlong into the valley of death and euthanasia. A "throwaway" culture, as Pope Francis puts it, in which the worth of people is ranked only by whether they're a doctor, a lawyer, a corporate hotshot - or a "noddy nobody".

    Never forget that behind every "valuable" man or woman, stands an "invaluable" and self deprecating mother and wife - who is more often than not his/her "equal".

    If you're Catholic, you'll also know that it was the most humble and obscure handmaiden of this world who is now Queen of Heaven and Earth! Above every man and woman other than Christ. The "people of Tyre" now "seek her favor with gifts, the richest of the people with all kinds of wealth" (cf Psalm 45:12)!

    "I assure you: unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop" (John 12:24)" Here's to every noddy nobody in the world currently producing (and nurturing) a "large crop"!

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    1. The fight of feminists shouldn't be to dislodge mothers from their indispensable roles, but rather, for those roles to be honored, recognized and rewarded adequately!

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  149. Wow, Kristen. That was an amazing comment. The responses will focus on motherhood and how important it is for propagation of the human race. You go, girl.

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  150. Someone had better call my boss and tell him that I am a failure as an employee because I have five kids.

    Thanks, Kristen. We working Catholic moms really appreciate being told that we can't possibly succeed in our careers unless we choose to contracept. What a triumph for feminism.

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  151. Kat,

    Some women simply don't like having children.

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  152. Leila, Francis, Chris et. al.

    Please accept my apologies for my recent posts. It's obvious that I have an axe to grind, but this isn't the venue.

    I'll try to fight the urge to be cynical and disrespectful. And if I'm really good, I will put my phone away and not blog at all.

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  153. JoAnna,

    There are as many ways to live as there are people. My wife had two and went back to her career. You had five. Some choose not to have any. To each her own.

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  154. Way to completely miss the point, Bill. Personally, I resent being told that I can be a success at my chosen career or have many children, but not both. Shouldn't the goal of feminism be to make it possible for women to do both if they so choose, instead of telling them they have to choose one or the other?

    Shouldn't the goal of feminism be to acknowledge the immense contributions that stay-at-home moms make to society, instead of telling them that they're not worth anything unless they have a career outside the home?

    Thank God for John Paul II.

    Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of "mystery", to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_29061995_women_en.html

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  155. JoAnna, I have utmost respect for you and any working mother out there (Catholic or not) who works for their family. I know how much you want to be home with your children, so I also know how comments like ones above can be hurtful. I think I've told you this before, but at one time, I also had to work. It was so hard for me. I am beyond grateful to be home with my kids. It's a priveledge, in todays world to be able to do this. And yes, a sacrifice as I sacrificed my "career". But to Kristin, Bill, and anyone else out there--guess what. You put your dreams on hold for your family (and for some women this is a huge sacrifice, hence, great love!) but you get back to them when your kids are older. This is what I plan to do when my kids are all in school and what my mom did before me. Yes, I will be older but these days everyone is encouraged to go to school no matter what they age.

    Anyway, this comment is all over the place, but just wanted to throw some encouragement out to you. You are not a failure, just the opposite and I have always admired you!

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  156. Ok, my issue is that if a woman doesn't want to have children (or be a religious sister) her options in the Catholic Church are much more limited than in society.

    Or as one woman put it: "Mary was both virgin and mother. I can't relate to either one."

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    1. **Of course, a woman could marry, use NFP carefully throughout the marriage and never have children without violating the Natural Law or dealing with unpleasant side effects of contraception. But in the eyes of the Catholic Church, this would not be considered a valid marriage.

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  157. Kristen,
    Penicillin restores the body to health. Contraceptives inhibit the body. They are mechanisms against the natural function of an otherwise healthy body. It's not an equal comparison.

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  158. JoAnna,

    All I am saying is "to each her own". I wasn't trying to imply that a woman can't have both. I am just saying that it is OK for a woman to choose not to have children and focus exclusively on a career. It is not a put down for people like you who do both or stay at home moms who focus on raising their kids and not on a career. My mother fit that description. Would I put her down? I know some people on this site think I would in a heartbeat. But I wouldn't.

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  159. "... my issue is that if a woman doesn't want to have children (or be a religious sister) her options in the Catholic Church are much more limited than in society.

    Too right, James. The draconian Church (like a draconian mother) is ever putting prudential limits on this and that! Something about a narrow road or the eye of a camel or something... :)

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  160. Limited by whom, James? A woman, despite her vocation, is part of the corporate body of Christ. The last institution to limit women is the Church. No glass ceilings, no demands of ambition, no PR's (performance reviews) to be anxious about, no worldly pressure.

    The Church sets no limits because the Church is about wholeness and vitality in freedom via virtue.

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  161. So what would the Church say about a woman who didn't want children, fell in love, got married, and used NFP her entire marriage to avoid pregnancy (but was willing to accept any children that were made despite her efforts to avoid)?

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  162. James, why did God establish marriage, a one-flesh union? Was it just to give folks sexual pleasure? Serious question. What is marriage?

    Kristen, so since society is messed up (not women's bodies), we mess up women's bodies in order to fit nicely into the messed up society? How does that make sense?

    And, what uniquely female thing/trait/biological process do today's feminists hold up for celebration, rather than hope to suppress? I still have not heard that answer. You are telling me that suppression of the female (for their own good?) is what feminists are about, since society is messed up. That's what I am getting from your comment. Help me out.

    And I'd like your thoughts on this quote, from a woman who is wise to point out that we have forgotten what business and economy is all for (we have somehow lost touch with our human dignity, I fear, as we place Fortune 500 success above even our own biology as women):

    There was a time when each household had to provide everything for itself. Economy, in fact, comes from the Greek word for household management, and it refers to all the activity necessary for a household to have what it needs. Each family planted crops, hunted game, spun its own cloth, and so forth in a division of labor that assured that everyone in the household had what he or she needed to live well. And a household typically included not only a nuclear family, but also extended relatives and servants, because it took a lot of people to perform all the necessary tasks.

    “Business” is a form of task specialization by which the household outsources to others what it used to have to do by itself. Increasing specialization of this kind has led to massive changes in social organization, but it hasn’t changed the essential nature of the activity, which is to provide households with what they need to live well. We don’t talk about economics in these terms because we have become philosophical materialists, interested only inwhat and how, never concerning ourselves with the questions of origin (Why does this arise?) or purpose (To what end is it ordered?). It’s not necessary for a woman to “contribute” to the world of work. The world of work exists to be sure she has what she needs for her family.


    I would really, truly love your thoughts on this, specifically.

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  163. "So what would the Church say about a woman who didn't want children, fell in love, got married, and used NFP her entire marriage to avoid pregnancy (but was willing to accept any children that were made despite her efforts to avoid)?"

    I obviously don't represent the Church, but I think it would feel sad for someone who chose neither motherhood nor some sort of consecrated devotion, assuming she chose to live a sort of feminist career first lifestyle. I would say that isn't what the Church had in mind when Paul VI offered NFP (not in those words) to control family size.

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  164. James, I think if a married Catholic woman used NFP to avoid pregnancy altogether, the Church would view her marriage as null and void:

    Vatican: For Catholic marriage to be valid, couples must be open to children

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  165. Catholic Marriage: Unitive and Procreative

    Leila, a very good resource from the USCCB, that might be of use in your forthcoming pre marital counseling sessions.

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  166. Kristen, I wish you could have been with me last month when my friend Bridgette spoke before 600 people at a Theology of the Body event. She was a high powered career woman who had broken glass ceilings at Motorola and was one of their best, highest paid executives. The only woman to hold her position back then, and she turned entire divisions around. She slowly had a conversion to the Church and yet still was very happy to work. She had power, money, satisfaction. To the everlasting credit of Motorola (kudos to them!), when she began having more babies, they accommodated her and sent her with nursing babies to international meetings in Japan and Europe, etc. They'd have done anything to keep her, but at a certain point, she of her own volition decided she wanted to fulfill herself by being a full-time mother. She gave it all up and never looked back. She is still a powerhouse of a woman with amazing kids and a wonderful marriage. She just shifted the venue. She has five children now I believe, and would have had several more, but had multiple heartbreaking miscarriages.

    I also wish you could meet my dear friend Dorinda Bordlee, co-president of Bioethics Defense Fund (they are on my sidebar), high powered attorney (if filing briefs for national cases and filing them often at the Supreme Court, and working with nations like South Korea and Poland and many state legislatures to draft laws count as "high-powered"). She is one of only a handful of full-time pro-life attorneys in the nation/world, and she is AMAZING. In her forties now, four amazing children and a wonderful husband. Her career has not been hindered by her feminine genius and in fact, she embraces all the teachings of the Church on human sexuality to the degree that she teaches it and lives it 100%. Beautiful woman! So strong and inspirational!

    These are just a couple of my personal friends, so you can imagine that there are many others. I just had to throw that out there before breakfast. Oh, and I almost forgot my friend Karen, also a local Catholic woman who has four children, embraces every Church teaching with passion, and is a very high-paid, high-ranking attorney in a major corporation here.

    JoAnna, you rock!!

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  168. Second, how many of your high-powered Catholic friends could not have been in the position they are now if not for use of contraception in their youth? (It may be none of them, but it is a possibility.) Furthermore, with friends like that, I am guessing your family is far better off than the average Catholic family.

    I get VERY frustrated when well-off thirty-something Catholics talk about the beauty of Church teaching and large families when they spent their twenties avoiding children (either through delayed marriage or contraception) which put them in a position to be well off in their thirties.

    And yes, this IS personal!

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  169. James, those marriage are still ordered toward procreation, even if procreation never occurs. The nature of the marital act is still the same. By the way, I know MANY infertile couples who have gone on later to conceive. And as for age… do you remember Abraham and Sarah? ;) Just because the effects of the Fall hinder procreation (aging and pathologies and disorders are a result of a fallen world) , each couple still must be open to life in their marriage. God opens and closes the womb.

    Of course, consummation is required for marriage (at least once… or else all they have is a close friendship, no?). If a man is impotent, if he cannot perform the marital act to become "one flesh", then there can be no marriage. Even the civil laws understand this, as non-consummation has always been a reason for civil annulment.

    You didn't answer my question, though:

    "James, why did God establish marriage, a one-flesh union? Was it just to give folks sexual pleasure? Serious question. What is marriage?"

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  170. James, I'm 33 years old. My husband and I only used contraception for two years when we were first married (we had our 12th anniversary in September). Our oldest child was conceived a year after our joint conversion to Catholicism, and born when I was 24.

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  171. James, these ladies had their babies in their youths. I can't speak to everyone. By the way, the beauty of Catholicism is that in my (devout, practicing) circle of Catholics, there is the very rich and the very poor. And we all support and love each other, through some very hard times. Sorry you can't understand how that might be possible.

    And if I could ask: What is "wealth" to you? What makes a man "rich" in your eyes? I am disturbed to read so much in these comments about monetary wealth and economic prosperity, etc. What on earth? Where is that a priority in Jesus' words or the fulfilled life? Help me out. I am growing more and more troubled. And maybe I see the issue now? Why is it personal?

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  172. Perhaps they came to appreciate and embrace the teachings late. At least they were embraced. Let's not be envious of grace at any pt., right?

    And why the resentment of well off 30 something Catholics? You're assuming they designed around kids when they may have been suffering something unbeknownst to you.

    I hear your frustration. I think it's shooting wide, though.

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  173. I actually did have an answer to the couple who never wants children:

    If a Josephite (asexual) marriage is licit and valid, then an NFP-only marriage can also be licit and valid. However, it would be extremely rare for either to be God's will for the couple.

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  174. James: as I stated somewhere above, infertility and age are out of our control (but they're not out of God's control). That's why.

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