Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Culture of Contraception and Infertile Catholics

I posted this in response to A reprinted article at Inside Catholic. Well, not in response to the article as much as in response to some of the comments posted. I'm RE-posting it here (with a few edits.. yey Google spellcheck!), because I run into a lot of Catholics who think that, just because they don't contracept, they haven't bought into the contraception mentality. They're wrong. It slips in everywhere, and it shows, especially in our treatment of Catholic couples with few or no children.


I think our contraceptive culture is one of the reasons why the infertile people ARE getting blown off...

The culture of contraception has definitely leaked into the church... so where once people without children were considered "barren" and were objects of prayer and sympathy, they're now considered selfish, assumed to be using contraception or NFP with a contraceptive mentality, and we heap scorn and derision on them.

Look people, being an Orthodox Catholic does NOT automatically protect you from imbibing our culture's sick attitudes. Do you find yourself thinking that that wealthy, childless couple at Mass is living in mortal sin and has no right to be receiving communion? Maybe they just don't know you well enough to give you the complete history of their long line of miscarriages, or her hysterectomy. Maybe they're struggling to accept that God's will isn't theirs--that they desperately want children, but since they're unwilling to take immoral measures like IVF, they're stuck with parenting 'spiritual children' instead.

You really can't know from the outside. But you've drank deeply enough of the culture's tainted water that deep down, you believe fertility is a mechanism that can be turned on and off at will (either by contraception or NFP) and that if someone is 'off' it must be their will, not God's.

When a couple says "We're not planning on a baby right now," it's true that they could mean they're avoiding pregnancy. But often they mean "It would take a miracle for us to get pregnant right now, so we're trying to follow God's plan for us, and our medical history is none of your business."

I really admire those women. How they can take this constant questioning of their morality and fertility without bursting into tears or smacking someone is beyond me. They're hidden saints, the Sarahs and Elizabeths among us, and most of us treat them like dirt.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps the bigger question is why you and others believe a decision not to have children is immoral. I fail to understand it at any level.

Perhaps those delaying children or deciding against them have reasons of their own which lead them to believe that it is better for the children not to be conceived. One reason could be financial. Irish and Italian Catholics made their way up the social ladder in the U.S. when they started using birth control. Fewer kids meant more money and hence more opportunity for the kids they had.

It is not your place, nor the Church's place, to judge those who decide not to have children. Let Got judge them, if judging is appropriate.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Anon-- Since this was a post specifically about the teachings of the Catholic church, well, the Church CAN tell Catholics what to do.

If you are NOT Catholic, then noone expects you to adhere to Church teachings or judges you for not adhering to them! I'd presume that you DO adhere to the teaching of whatever religion you profess! =)

If you ARE Catholic, you ought to keep in mind that the Church's teachings on contraception are part and parcel of the whole package---

Remember, one of the promises Catholics make at their weddings is to accept lovingly the children God sends them. In fact, entering into a marriage with an intention NOT to have children is grounds for an anullment! Basically, intending not to have kids but marrying in the Church is LYING -- you're making a vow with the intention to BREAK it!

Like I said, this post is really only about how the Catholic church affects Catholics. Just as an Orthodox Jew doesn't expect the rest of us to keep Kosher, a Catholic doesn't expect everyone else to follow the rule on Contraception. (Other rules, like the whole "Thou shalt not Kill" thing, ARE universal, though....)

Anonymous said...

So your theory is that one should not be Catholic unless one adopts every teaching of the Church? Or is it that if one chooses to be Catholic and does not accept every teaching of the Church, that person should be judged by you? Since when is dissent a bad thing? Why is the Church so fearful of it?

Deirdre Mundy said...

How closely have you studied the Church's teachings on contraception, anon? Have you actually read and prayed over Humanae Vitae?

(If encyclicals are too dry, I'd also reccomend the work of Janet Smith and Mary Ann Glendon-- they've written some brilliant stuff.)

I think, as Catholics, if we believe that the Church is what Christ said it is, then our first job is to try to understand the Church's position when we disagree. Not just intellectually, but with a healthy dose of prayer. (I say this as someone who, in my younger days, was totally into WOC, etc, but has come to accept the Church's teachings, btw.)

Also, I'm NOT judging you. I don't know how you were catechized, or what your life's been like. ((And if you noticed, the whole piece above was about NOT judging...)

I am confused, though, why someone who DOESN'T accept the Church's authority and teaching would choose to be a Roman Catholic. I mean, if you don't believe that what the Church teaches is true, why not join one of the religions that you DO agree with?

And if you DO believe the Church was instituted by Christ and teaches with His auithority, then shouldn't you make an effort to follow Church teachings, even when they're hard ones?

The Church isn't AFRAID of dissent -- it just teaches that on certain questions there are definite RIGHT and WRONG answers. And if you're wrong (like I was on Women's Ordination, back in tghe day) they're not going to mince words when they tell you so...)

Actually, (random personal tidbit, take it if it helps, leave it if it doesn't) I found that the life, writings and intercession of St. Thomas More was the greatest help when I was struggling with similar issues.

After all, he was a man who really uinderstood what it's like to be torn between, on the one hand, culutral norms and acceptance, and, on the other, what the Church asks of us.

(Of course, he was much braver than most of us, but if you asked, he'd chalk it all up to the Holy Spirit....)

Anyway, have a good day...I hope you're in another time zone... otherwise, the time of your comment gauruntees a very BAD day! You need sleep, even if "Someone is WRONG on the Internet!"

the need for a father? said...

Get well for free, see the third paragraph of >


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Deirdre Mundy said...

Hey DA-- just wanted to let you know, I'm not ignoring your comment--I just feel like it deserves a longer post of its own, and I haven't had time for a long, thoughtful post recently...

So I'm hoping to get to it this week, weather permitting. (As in, if we get a rainy day so I have time to write --otherwise we'll be outside!)

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