In part 1 of this discussion on rethinking your birth control, I defined what it means to be a woman. Not just a modern woman, but a whole woman according to God’s design. Part 2 detailed attributes of her feminine genius in the form of female fertility. The cyclic ebb and flow of her fertile and infertile phases and the means by which she is able to read her own body language. The next two installments detailed how contraceptives help fracture womanhood into parts, many attacking female health by suppressing natural hormones and inducing early abortions. Uncovered also was the dishonesty of pharmaceutical companies and the pressure placed on women by medical providers. Fear being a major factor for couples new to Natural Family Planning, I spoke about the need for couples to address their concerns in part 5. Knowledge is power, as they say, and I think (if you’ve been following along) I’ve covered a fair amount of ground so where do we go from here?
Suffice to say, you need to trash the carcinogenic/abortifacient contraceptives (and the whole mentality that goes along with them) and reclaim your status as a woman. Stop giving yourself away in pieces and demand that your spouse (and doctor) respect you, all of you. Because asking you to jeopardize your health does not equate to respect or love. And by all means start respecting yourself from your imperfect skin and dimpled thighs to your fertile mucus and menses. Ditch your Cosmo magazine and a few Pilates classes for a text on Fertility Awareness and a course in one of the methods of Natural Family Planning. Then, most importantly, begin a communal conversation with your spouse and the One Who made you into the creative being you are.
One of the greatest gifts that stems from NFP is the ongoing discussion it triggers. Unlike long term contraceptives that make family planning a generally mute point cycle after cycle, year after year, natural methods invite husband and wife to relay their thoughts, fears, desires and frustrations regularly so they can decide whether or not to make use of the fertile window. Since human vision alone is short-sighted (and often selfish) when measured against God’s Providence, couples seeking to practice NFP successfully turn toward Him, Who orders all things for good, and seek His will above their own.
Each new cycle leads them to consider, “Should we optimize our chances to conceive this cycle or abandon ourselves fully to God’s timing or do we have a serious reason to postpone a pregnancy?” Indeed sometimes the answer may be an emphatic yes to hoping for a baby and at other times the spouses may discern a genuine need to postpone conception.
We know a woman who has a heart issue and another pregnancy could result in death, so she and her husband sacrifice the fertile time in order to protect her. Another husband could be struggling to provide financially or be in danger of losing his job, or a wife may be overwhelmed with a particularly needy child or suffering from depression, so they too may prayerfully discern a need to abstain for the betterment of the whole family. This is part of the beauty of remaining open to life, it causes a husband and wife to be sensitive to the needs of each other. Our friend’s husband placed her welfare first and he finds non-sexual ways to express his love during the phases of abstinence. Perhaps a wife will opt to work outside the home to help supplement her husband’s income or he might help with the children more often to alleviate some of his wife’s stress, thus possibly alleviating the restrictions that prevented them from seeking another child.
Couples aren’t automatically obliged to practice periodic abstinence and some discern the call to let the Creator alone plan the size and spacing of their family. Not to be discounted, less fertile/infertile couples who dearly desire a child or another child may be asked to carry their cross and/or suffer repeated loss. These couples can also benefit from drawing their strength, comfort and continued guidance from the Lord, Who pours out plenteous grace.
Not infrequently discussions abound about the how’s and why’s of using NFP for the purpose of spacing/limiting children. Some ask if there’s really a difference between contraception and natural methods with regards to morality. There is. With NFP, the wife’s body remains whole and the lovers do nothing to counter God’s design whether they opt to engage in or abstain from relations during her fertile window. As for right reasons to abstain, couples who continually seek God’s will above their own and strive to mirror His attributes can find the correct course.
Remembering that contraceptives sell women on the erroneous idea that they can strip sex of its procreative purpose and craft a happier ending, it’s not surprising that when God foils their intent with a baby they rely on abortion to wipe the slate clean.
Fifty-one percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method in the month they got pregnant, most commonly condoms (27%) or a hormonal method (17%).
Or they accept the unintended pregnancy until some doctor informs them that their child’s imperfections are going to destroy their well-crafted blueprint for 2.1 healthy children (one boy and one girl of course), the white picket fence and dual incomes. Then it’s off to the abortionist to spare themselves the inconvenience of rethinking their dreams.
Divorcing sex from its procreative potential leads couples to view children less (if at all) as gifts to be received and more as property to be obtained or discarded. One doesn’t have to look far to see how this mentality has negatively impacted marriage and the family structure.
As a newlywed, I thought my white-knuckled hold on life would result in fulfillment so I contracepted until we deemed ourselves ready to widen our circle. Like many people, I expected life to unravel according to my ambitions, but three years in God shook hold my clenched grip with the death of my firstborn. Devastated, my eyes were initially blind to the doorway that swung open because of that event.
My husband and I could have chosen to separate or we could have built up a wall of protection, but instead we learned to savor life, to value its preciousness and to accept its unpredictability (as well as sometimes insufficient length). We kicked the Pill to the curb with those revelations and 20 years later, that unobstructed door has welcomed eight unique persons into our family and ushered five more souls into eternity. Indeed in my imagination, I never could have envisioned the abundance of blessings that would pour forth from our willingness to allow God to reign in our marriage.
After you dump the contraceptives and learn to read your body’s language, fortify your marriage by discovering more ways to express your love. Deepen your faith together and agree to solicit His counsel first and last. Finally, when your life changes (and it undoubtedly will) become a witness to Truth. Show the world that women deserve better than abuse masquerading as modern feminism. And prove that God’s ways are always better than anything we can conjure up.
[editor’s note: this article is part of a series on birth control. Read the entire series here.]