Whence Opposition to Birth Control? A Rebuttal.

The wonderful Libby Anne of Love, Joy, Feminism recently critiqued a poorly-designed graphic made by well-meaning Catholics, saying its “very simplicity…is the downfall of this illustration.” She’s dead right, and I’m thankful that she points it out. Graphics attempting to pixelate the complexities of chastity, marriage, and contraception naturally reduce the intricate, opening themselves to easy criticism.

But if the graphic falls short, Libby Anne’s critiques fall shorter, due — I hope — to a misunderstanding of what the Catholic Church means when she uses terms like “chastity.” Despite this entire affair being a lovely, well-contained, too-simplistic rebuttal of a too-simplistic picture, I’d like to get wild and crazy by suggesting a little complexity and defining a few terms. From Libby Anne:

“For one thing, the idea that contraception is rooted in selfishness as opposed to generosity is wrong. One reason people plan their pregnancies today is so that they can give the children they choose to have more attention and care.”

She’s right. That people “plan their pregnancies” is hardly selfish. But “planning a pregnancy” is not the same thing as using contraception. Catholic women are free to plan their pregnancies, and through the use of effective methods of organic family planning, they do so with 98.2% typical-use effectiveness using the Sympto-Thermal method (1) or 96.8-98.0% typical-use effectiveness using the Creighton Model (2)(3) (to do a little name-dropping up in this blergh). Planning the time of a pregnancy is entirely fitting with the gift of marriage, as the Church makes abundantly, bitch-slap-you-on-the-head-with-a-censure clear in Humane Vitae:

If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained.

So yes, “one reason people plan their pregnancies today is so that they can give the children they choose to have more attention and care,” and no, this is not selfish, but no, this has nothing to do with contraception. When the Church says that contraception is rooted in selfishness, she speaks of the act of contraception, not of “planning a pregnancy.”

I certainly don’t expect Libby Anne to agree with the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church’s particularly resplendent teaching on sexuality, but if you’re going to take down a claim in two sentences, it’s certainly worth understanding the claim, or at the very least investing in some catechetical copying and pasting.

The Church teaches that sex is essentially a unity of persons. It is total self-gift, self-donation, a sacramental offering of the human person’s entire, infinite subjectivity to another. Sexual sin is the frustration of self-gift, the reduction of an infinite unity of persons into anything less. So rape is considered wrong, because it destroys the gift by taking. Sex-just-for-babies is wrong because such sex amounts to the interaction of uterus and sperm, not of total persons.

Now the fertility of a person is an essential part of that person. I think this is seen more clearly in women, for whom the fertile cycle has far more dramatic physical, emotional, and spiritual effects, but the reality of the cyclical woman is the reality of all human beings, for whom the marvelous potentiality of making another human person is an integral part of being human.

When an act of sex up and gets contracepted, the language of sex changes from “all of you” to “all of you except your fertility.” For the Catholic, contraception is wrong not because it allows too much, but because it doesn’t allow enough, namely, the participation of the entire person, which includes their potentiality for the creation of new life, as terrifying as the fact may be. Despite the happy assurances of condom ads, contraception prevents ecstasy, because ecstasy is a total moving-from-the-self, and contraception makes sure a vital part of the self is suppressed and controlled. This is the selfishness which the Church speaks of, this reservation of self via the suppression of fertility via the glories of ethinyl estradiol.

Is this what we desire to do when we use contraception? Of course not. We’re all looking to love in the best way possible, and contraception is haloed by a multitude of loving, altruistic reasonings. We’re to allow pharmaceuticals into our sex lives because, and as Anne mentioned, we “can give the children [we] choose to have more attention and care,” so we can be responsible, so we avoid putting our beloved through a dangerous pregnancy, so we can wait until we have more money, etc. None of these reasons are selfish.

But again, the Church isn’t saying contraception is selfish because all intercourse should bring forth babies. She calls contraception selfish because it disrupts self-gift during the particular act of sex, suppressing through artificial technology the personal fact of fertility, and thus the ability to “bring new life into being.” By saying that “planning a pregnancy” can be unselfishness, Libby Anne frames what the Church agrees with as an argument against Catholic thought, and thereby misses the point. Her next claim:

Similarly, the idea that chastity (meaning no pre- or extra-marital sex) automatically stems from altruism rather than, say, threats of hellfire is also wrong.

I suppose it’s too much to ask that a critique of Catholic teaching is preceded by the accurate description of Catholic teaching. Chastity does not just mean “no pre- or extra-marital sex,” and I’ll straight up bet a sibling on it. The Catholic Church holds the remarkable distinction of writing down every damn bit of doctrine she thinks up, and in her definition of Chastity, beautifully expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we find that:

Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.

Yes, Libby Anne is right, chastity-as-the-absence-of-sex does not necessarily spring from altruism. The fact that I destroyed my social skills in an Arrested Development marathon, losing my ability to even speak to beautiful women without the use of inside jokes, and thereby maintained my virginity is hardly an altruistic act of lily-white chastity. But no one besides Libby Anne and the “purity culture” she mistakes for the Catholic Church is claiming such “chastity” as anything but idiocy.

Chastity is the successful integration of sexuality within the person. Sexual integration that comes from a fear of punishment is not a free, authentic action moving towards a positive goal, but a not-doing moved more by necessity than freedom, a desire to lack Hell that overwhelms the desire to gain Heaven. Chastity is not a flight from God’s justice, but a positive grasp of the self, “an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom.” (CCC 2338) In fact, the Church specifically disallows her followers to be “chaste” by “mere external constraint” — by merely being too frightened to not be chaste.

Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good…” (CCC 2339)

Not, need I note, by being really scared of hellfire. So yes, the graphic is too simplistic, but its critique is worse. What gets parried in clipart and simple sentences needs bolstering all around. From Libby Anne:

Additionally, there is literally no reason that contraception would give flower to divorce.

I can think of a pretty simple reason why an increase in contraception would lead to an increase in divorce. It is a well-discussed fact that childless couples are more likely to divorce than couples with children, and, according to the study “Marital Dissolution: Divorce, Separation, Annulment and Widowhood,” published in the Handbook of Marriage and the Family, “The likelihood of a divorce decreases as the number of children in a family increases.” I am reminded of a study of Qatari women showing precisely the same phenomenon: “For every child in a family, the likelihood that couple will divorce goes down.”

Given that contraception is an effort not have children, it’s a smidgebit optimistic to trumpet the impossibility of a link between contraception and divorce. And I can think of quite a few other reasons contraception could be, at the very least, a contributing factor to marital dissolution, though I don’t have the studies to back me up.

For instance, consider that the weight of contraception falls unfairly on women. Men have to wear a free condom. Women have to suppress their menstrual cycles with hundred-dollar pills. There is one contraceptive device for men, and it comes without health risks. There is no end to the contraceptive devices we’ve developed for women, no drop of ingenuity wasted on developing the plethora of caps, sponges, pills, IUDs, patches, rings, and female condoms that have become “a woman’s responsibility.” This gender inequality inherent to contraception would be bad enough even if most female contraceptives didn’t include health risks (like decreased sex drive. (4)(5)(6)(Not exactly a key to an easy marriage.)) So no, it’s not ridiculous to think contraception could be linked to a greater risk for divorce.

On the other hand, it’s also silly to think that chastity naturally results in volunteerism (or that those who use contraception don’t volunteer!) or that chastity is necessary for satisfying marriages (or always leads to them).

Okay, in fairness, the volunteerism bit sounds stupid. But perhaps it will make a little more sense if we begin with Anne’s claim that it’s silly to think that chastity is necessary for satisfying marriages. If we change the definition of chastity to Anne’s definition — a lack of pre-marital sex — then she’s right. You can certainly have a satisfying marriage having had sex before marriage (though it will make it difficult, what with that oxytocin bonding a person to their past sexual partners). But Anne is critiquing — for better or worse — a Catholic graphic, so once again, we need that Catholic definition: “Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.”

Chastity is certainly necessary for a satisfying marriage, for the simple reason that authenticity is necessary for any sort of self-gift. If we are going to give ourselves, we must be ourselves, and the more we are ourselves, the more we can give. So there is a necessary correlation between chastity — in which a person’s sexuality is held in the hand, integrated into the person, authentically lived, loved, and given — and marriage, which a giving of sexuality to the beloved. If we understand this, we understand why a life of chastity blossoms with charity. Being yourself sexually, which is chastity, helps you be yourself totally, and being yourself totally allows you to give of yourself authentically, leading, yes, to volunteerism (as boring as the word makes the fires of charity).

The moral of the story is this: Catholics, make better graphics. If you can’t, don’t try. Critics, know who you are criticizing. If you can’t, don’t try.

(1) Herrmann et al, The effectiveness of a fertility awareness based method to avoid pregnancy in relation to a couple’s sexual behaviour during the fertile time: a prospective longitudinal studyHuman Reproduction, 2007 February, Volume 22, Number 5, pages 1310–1319,
(2) Hilgers et al, Creighton Model NaProEducation Technology for avoiding pregnancy. Use effectiveness.Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 1998 June, Volume 43, Issue 6, pages 495-502
(3) Fehring et al, Use Effectiveness of the Creighton Model Ovulation Method of Natural Family PlanningJournal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, Volume 23, No. 4 (May 1994)
(4) Battaglia et al, Sexual Behavior and Oral Contraception: A Pilot Study, The Journal of Sexual Medicine Volume 9, Issue 2, February 2012, Pages 550–557
(5) Wallwiener et al, Prevalence of Sexual Dysfunction and Impact of Contraception in Female German Medical Students, The Journal of Sexual Medicine Volume 7, Issue 6, June 2010, Pages 2139–2148
(6) http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/low-dose-birth-control-pills-linked-pain-orgasm-article-1.1338093

  • http://www.facebook.com/balf11 Brian Formica

    Found this beneath Challenge Accepted … is this a typo?
    “The likelihood of a divorce increases as the number of children in a family increases.” If this is supporting your claim, Marc, shouldn’t the likelihood of divorce DECREASE as the number of children in a family increases?

    • http://www.facebook.com/marcjohnpaul Marc Barnes

      It was, I’ve corrected it. Thanks!

  • Teresa

    “I can think of a pretty simple reason why an increase in contraception would lead to an increase in divorce. It is a well-discussed fact that childless couples are more likely to divorce than couples with children [...]”

    But is it staying together as a good marriage or is it not divorcing for the good of the children? Is it just a fear of damage?

    • Philociraptor

      Certainly preventing damage to the children is the reason that couples with children are less likely to divorce. However, isn’t that a good motivation for couples to work through their problems and attempt to heal their marriage?

      Another angle could be that the possibility of using contraception to prevent pregnancy decreases the commitment required in a marriage going in – in other words, if you knew that the likelihood of having children with your spouse was very high (no contraception), then perhaps you’d be be more sure that you really wanted to get married. Taking contraception out of the picture would make couples who get married have to be more serious about their commitment because they’d know they were going to be in it for the long haul, raising children together. I have not researched this, but this just seems like another common sense link between the high divorce rates that have corresponded to the increase in the availability of contraception.

      • Teresa

        “However, isn’t that a good motivation for couples to work through their problems and attempt to heal their marriage?”

        Shouldn’t the desire to heal the marriage be for the good of the other person (as a marriage), rather than just due to fear alone? (e.g. fear of damage to children, fear of never being able to marry again, fear of litigation, fear of social stigma, et cetera)

        • Josh

          I think the children are a great source from which the healing can start. Children conceived during marriage are born from the man and wife becoming one flesh – in other words, the children are extensions of both individuals. By loving them, you love each other. I can’t think of a single couple I have seen so far that don’t visibly represent this concept. Spouses that lack the right foundation of love not only treat each other poorly, but often treat the children equally poorly. Then you also might have other couples who basically coexist in the same house for 18 years, treating everyone in the house with mediocrity, including the children. On the other hand, those who actively cultivate a loving relationship with their children have a natural bond with each other as a response to this inner desire to love and be loved. I’m no scientist, and I haven’t researched any of this. This is merely what I have perceived in families I encounter each day. Maybe the causality is reversed (loving spouses love their children as a result), but it would be very difficult to prove either way. There is at least a relationship between love of the children and love of the spouses. And as such, it would seem that seeking to save a marriage “for the children” would have some degree of effect on the participants, if the spouses actually pursue it in an earnest, loving fashion.

          • The_L1985

            Not necessarily. I know a young man whose parents divorced when he was in his early teens. Both parents clearly love him very much. However, they don’t feel the same towards each other, which is why each of them is now married to somebody else.

      • Sara Lin Wilde

        Lots of people go into marriage wanting to start families together but still using contraceptives for a variety of reasons. People who don’t want to be in it for the long haul do not choose to marry each other. That’s just not how reality works.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angela-Goudman/895600471 Angela Goudman

      I think (as per my above post) that what it fundamentally boils down to is a desire to avoid sacrifice. A couple who has children are already making sacrifices for the benefit of their children; therefore, it is easier to love one’s spouse with a sacrificial love because that love is already made manifest through the care of one’s children. I recognize that the ideal is that children come after marriage, but even so, most divorces do not take place in the early years of marriage (unless the couple was too young and not ready to get married in the first place). You could also say that a couple who are prepared to have children are already preparing themselves to make sacrifices, so they are more willing to demonstrate that through sacrificing for the sake of each other.

      • Teresa

        “what it fundamentally boils down to is a desire to avoid sacrifice”

        In my experience it does not always mean that that’s the case. A couple can, as I’ve discovered on multiple occasions, feel that marriage is a sacrifice and that children don’t factor into that sacrifice necessarily.

        My point, again, is that some couples keep a marriage intact out of fear of certain outcomes (some of which I listed below), not because they have any interest in sacrifice. So, the original claim that couples with children divorce less may be linked to a greater number of negative outcomes that they could fear (in contrast to a childless couple).

        Another possible reason is that people who oppose contraception tend to be far conservative than people who support it (Compare: the classic claim that NFP users having a 3% divorce rate, due to using NFP – again, correlation does not imply causation).

    • Ben Carpenter

      I think children might have more to do in preventing divorce than simply being a liability. I don’t have any children myself at this point, but I would wager that the fact that the couple has to work together to both create and raise them reinforces the bond between the couple.

      • Teresa

        As I said earlier, there is a lot more stigma with divorcing with children than without. It need not be a direct correlation. Your observation also ignores adopted and step-children, as well as the common approach of having children in day care 24/7.

        I’m not saying your point is untrue, but I think it is not representative of the population. (See prior comments of mine for more details.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/MommySohler Mommy Solher

    Rape is not wrong simply because it ‘takes sex’. Rape is usually not about sex. It’s about violence and power. Common misconception (and in a way makes the subject of rape as simplistic as the flowered graphic you pointed out was too simplistic in your opening). Some forms of rape (some forms of date rape, for example) may be in part about sex, but that is not the core of the crime.

    • enness

      It’s possible this was edited, but he just said ‘taking.’ That could be ‘taking’ anything, including the sense of being safe in one’s own body.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Why is it that most people who claim this, are usually on the victim side of the equation?

      • The_L1985

        I claim this, and I’ve never been a rape victim. Rapists talk often about “putting that [insert nasty swear word here] in her place,” or the like. Power is at least as big a factor in rape as lust is.

        • TheodoreSeeber

          “her place” means something different than you think it does, from a man who has been tempted, but never did it.

          • The_L1985

            OK, then what does “in her place” mean, if not “submissive and sexually available to me, a man?”

          • TheodoreSeeber

            “submissive and sexually available to me, a man?”

            Which has everything to do with *sex* and almost nothing to do with *political power*.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Submissive. Dehumanized. A vagina waiting to be f*cked. Not a person, not a passionate, funny individual with dreams, but a nothing, a zero, a blow-up doll.

            That is political, Theodore Seeber. That is as political as it gets.

          • Christian Stillings

            I think we agree that objectification is happening and that it sucks, but we disagree as to whether it’s better described as “sexual” or “political”, and I think the line can be blurry. Men who allow pornography-viewing to influence their attitudes toward women might think of (attractive) women as blow-up dolls, but I think it’s probably (usually) more a matter of “great tits, babe!” and less of “I wish I could beat the shit out of her.” I don’t speak as an expert on psychology, but I’d imagine that most men who “politically” objectify women first learn to objectify them “sexually”.

            As a 20-year-old guy with no particular inclination toward rape, I’d say that most of my inclination toward objectifying women is “sexual” and not “political”. If a gal standing in front of me is wearing yoga pants and has a great butt, my first thought is more “wow, she has a really attractive butt” and less “what a despicable piece of shit she is.”

            Feminerd, how do you personally define “political” and “sexual”? How would you differentiate “sexual” objectification from “political” objectification? I think having answers to those questions might help clear some things up in this conversation.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Short answer: you don’t.

            Longer answer: One of the phrases the Second Wave gave us, which is still relevant, is “personal is political”. There is a big difference between appreciating a woman’s body while still seeing her as a person and making a woman’s sexual availability to you her only salient characteristic. That level of dehumanization is only possible if you don’t see women as actual people, but merely sexual props in your own life. If you notice a woman’s body, but don’t stare or leer or whistle because that would make her uncomfortable, there’s nothing wrong with that, because you are treating her as a person who would, well, be uncomfortable being leered at or stared at or whistled at.

            When someone rapes, ze is trying to remove personhood from hir victim. Sex is the method, but the goal is complete destruction of the self of the other. That’s why the same people who say stupid things about rape (Akin, for example) are also almost universally against other “women’s issues”- access to reproductive care (including contraception, abortion, and sterilization), subsidized day care, universal preschool, equal pay, anti-discrimination laws, Title IX, etc. The same attitude as that of the rapist says they don’t have to care about women because women aren’t, you know, actual people.

          • Christian Stillings

            Feminerd: just to try to improve my comprehension of your perspective, what are the specific differences between seeing a woman “as a person” and “not as a person”? What specifically must I fail to consider in order for my observation of her to go beyond “sexual noticing” into the territory “politically objectifying”?

            One criteria you put forward is that “politically objectifying” includes “making a woman’s sexual availability to you her only salient characteristic” while “sexual noticing” (my term) includes “still seeing her as a person. What other “salient characteristics” would I hypothetically be considering at the stage of “sexual noticing” which I wouldn’t at the stage of “politically objectifying”?

            Short answer: you don’t.

            I don’t what? I looked back at my comment and I’m not sure of what this is specifically referring to.

            In any event, thanks for the conversation thus far! It’s been interesting. :-)

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Sorry to be unclear. The answer to your question “How would you differentiate “sexual” objectification from “political” objectification?” is “You don’t”. You don’t differentiate. What is personal is political and what is political is personal, because in the end politics is a bunch of people making policies and decisions that affect a whole bunch of other people. It’s impossible to separate the personal and the political. I consider it a bad idea to even try, because then we get caught up in an argument about definitions instead of changing the bad things.

            So it’s not when does your gaze go from sexual objectification to political objectification. Objectification is bad, period. I know you know this, I just want to emphasize it. Sexual objectification is also political, because it negates the personhood of the other person, and makes it easier to deny hir equal rights based on (over)sexualizating hir. If all women are is walking vaginas, then we don’t have to listen or care when they complain about hostile work environments or low pay or the double shift or rape culture. If women’s purpose is to be sexually available to men, the rest of their lives as friends, scholars, comediennes, joggers, writers, engineers, star-gazers, and more is meaningless and can be treated as such by society. If women are people, on the other hand, then we do have to listen to complaints and maybe admit that our society is messed up and unfair and we should fix it.

            So there’s nothing wrong with internally noting a woman’s attractive physique. There is everything wrong with seeing that as her only measure of value, and/or making her feel uncomfortable in your presence. I definitely notice the attractive men and women who pass me on the streets, but I don’t stare or leer at them because that would just be unconscionably rude, and because I know they are far, far more than the outside package. They are people. Also, they are not responsible for my hormonal response to them. That’s my problem and my responsibility.

            Addendum: This has been interesting indeed. It’s been a pleasure!

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Nothing preaches that a woman is nothing more than a vagina attached to a uterus as a plaything for men, than universal “reproductive health care” to make women sterile and thus more available to men.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Oh, you poor, poor bastard. You don’t understand choice or consent, do you?

            No one should ever force anyone to take contraception or be sterilized. Ever. It’s just as bad as forced pregnancy. However, the choice should be there so women who want to do that can. It’s all about respecting women’s choices about their own bodies; whether they want kids, when, whether they want sex, when, and with whom. It’s all part and parcel of respecting women and seeing them as full people who get to make decisions about their own lives.

            When you deny women access to contraception, abortion, and sterilization, you remove agency from them. When you argue that women are only ever forced to do these things, you argue that women’s poor little ladybrainz simply can’t handle such difficult decisions and they must be being manipulated by those around them. It is insulting and absurd. Stop it.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            No, I don’t understand choice or consent. Consent to me is a legal contract. I need ceremony to recognize consent.

            And I see no consent in tricking women into taking poison to be more available for men. I see no respect for women’s bodies in destroying women’s bodies on purpose, using them up in the sex trade.

            I see no agency in abortion or contraception, and certainly none in sterilization- all I see is sex slavery.

            And it has nothing to do with “poor little ladybrainz”, because just as many men get talked into vasectomies.

            It has to do with a lack of respect and lying to people.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            How is it poison or destruction, when BC is temporary and easily reversed? I’m terribly confused how taking a medication that clearly states it won’t work as well if you skip one day, and stops working if you stop taking it, counts as either poison or destruction. But silly me, I can only be tricked into doing it. I didn’t weigh the costs and benefits, consider the ramifications, and then do it. I was tricked into it because *oh silly me* I’m just a dumb woman who’s been manipulated to think that having choices is a good thing.

            Clearly a wide array of choices is slavery. Clearly controlling one’s own body and fertility is actually losing control. Orwellian much?

          • TheodoreSeeber

            BC is not temporary or easily reversed. On the other hand it is a major environmental pollutant with effects far beyond the intended original effect. It is fat soluble and can cause problems for many decades after you take the last pill.

            The fact that you believe the lies on the packaging, is NOT proof that you are not intelligent and do not weigh benefits and risks. It is only proof you have been lied to.

          • The_L1985

            1. If hormonal birth control isn’t easily reversed, then how can women get pregnant from missing just 1 dose (which does, in fact, happen)?

            2. If you’re referring to the hormones traveling through sewage to contaminate natural water sources, that is quite frankly a problem with the water-filtration system. Urea, ammonia, and other chemicals common in urine are made of smaller molecules than are the hormones present in a birth-control pill. A good water filtration system should be screening all of that OUT of the water before it is returned to the water supply. The pollution argument more strongly supports investing in our infrastructure than it does a birth-control ban. Plus, pregnant women also excrete the same hormones in their urine (see point #3 below).

            3. The active ingredients of birth-control pills are the exact same hormones that a woman’s body produces naturally during pregnancy. Yet nobody insists that having children “can cause health problems for many decades after the end of your last pregnancy.” It’s the exact same chemicals; in fact, using hormone levels to trick your body into thinking you’re already pregnant is how BCPs work.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            [citation needed]

            Hormonal BC does stick around for awhile when thrown out and through the urine of women (pregnant women pee out a lot of hormones too). However, the amount of “hormonal” pollutants in the environment are mainly from plastics and other chemical processes that aren’t actually hormones; those chemicals merely mimic the action of hormones in the human body.

            So are pseudo-endocrines a big problem? Yes, but not from birth control. You’re going to have to take on companies like Dow Chemical and Monsanto to get those out of the water.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Yep. Dow Chemical especially, which seems to market pseudo endocrines in a huge variety of ways.

          • The_L1985

            “Consent to me is a legal contract. I need ceremony to recognize consent.”

            This kinda creeps me out. Marital rape exists. It is a thing that happens. Consent is granted on a case-by-case basis. Saying “I do” at the altar is not the same thing as “I promise to always have sex with you whenever YOU want it, even if I’m exhausted, or not in the mood, or physically ill and not in condition to have sex.”

            “And I see no consent in tricking women into taking poison to be more available for men.”

            Nobody is tricking women into doing ANYTHING. Women are making choices based on their consciences, their reason, and their desires. For some of them, the choice is “Yes, I want to take birth control.” For others, the choice is “No, I won’t take birth control.” Women are adults, not gullible children who need a grown-up to tell them what is and isn’t good for them.

            “I see no agency in abortion or contraception, and certainly none in sterilization- all I see is sex slavery.”

            I am taking birth control pills because if I don’t, I am too dizzy to stand, doubled over in pain, and thus physically unable to do anything for the entire first day of my period. My PMDD is that bad. So please tell me more about how I’m a “slave to sex” because I want to be able to do things like go to work, walk the dog, or make myself breakfast every day of the month, without fearing the first day of my period.

            Also, you’re the only one who brought up sterilization, and frankly, the evidence I’ve seen seems to indicate that doctors are anti-sterilization. I have personally known individuals who were abused as children, who know for a fact that they don’t know how to parent, and who are terrified at the thought of having children that they are likely to abuse, because they don’t want to hurt people. These individuals (generally in their late 20′s), have gone to several doctors and asked to get a vasectomy or tubal ligation. Every single time, the doctor refused because “You’re young; you might change your mind,” thus completely ignoring the reason these young people had for not wanting children. Lack of respect can go both ways.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Then in that case, the only safe sex is no sex. At all. Even in marriage.

            Your philosophy leads to extinction.

          • The_L1985

            No, it doesn’t. If some of the people are having children some of the time, then there are still new babies being born. If I were to get pregnant unintentionally, it would be my responsibility to talk things over with my partner (except in the case of rape), decide on a course of action, and follow through with it. After all, you can’t un-conceive; either the child will be born, you will miscarry (which is involuntary and can’t be helped), or you will abort*. If you choose to bear the child, you must then choose whether to raise it yourself (which means you’d better start making preparations to care for Baby pretty quick) or put it up for adoption. Not everyone will agree on which of these is the most responsible choice, but SOMEthing has to be done once you get pregnant, because conception and implantation have happened and they cannot un-happen. This is what I mean by “taking responsibility.”

            Similarly, if I had unprotected sex (consensually or otherwise) with someone I’m not married to, it would be my responsibility to get tested for STDs, so I can avoid infecting anyone else. (Please note: I do not consider pre-marital sex to be wrong in and of itself, because it does not violate wedding vows. However, it is a lot riskier, and that risk has to be taken into account.)

            Respect really is as easy as treating people in the way that you yourself would want to be treated. If your partner wants sex (and yes, women DO want sex itself sometimes), then it is not disrespectful either to say “Me too! Let’s have sex!” or to say “Sorry, I don’t feel like it right now” or “No, I’m saving myself for marriage.”

            Think of consent like asking someone to play Scrabble. If you ask a friend to play Scrabble with you, and they also want to play, then all is well. If you ask a friend to play Scrabble, and they don’t feel like Scrabble and say no, you walk away and all is well. If you ask a friend to play Scrabble, and they don’t really feel like Scrabble, per se, but DO want to spend time with you and don’t mind playing, they might still agree to play Scrabble, and all is still well. If you ask a friend to play Scrabble, they say no, and you force them to play Scrabble anyway, that is wrong. If you just get out the Scrabble board and set up the tiles as soon as your friend sits down at a table, without even mentioning Scrabble beforehand, that’s also disrespectful and therefore wrong. If you try to guilt-trip people into playing Scrabble with you after they’ve already said no, that’s wrong. If you assume that just because someone played Scrabble with you once, that they automatically want to play Scrabble right now and don’t even ask, that’s also wrong. If you replace “playing Scrabble” with “having sex,” then you’ve got a pretty good guide as to whether or not you’re being respectful WRT sex.

            And if you have never been in a situation wherein respect and responsibility could be observed, then yes, you should not have sex during those situations. I can think of quite a few situations in which people can have sex without violating my ethical principles.


            * Please don’t derail this into an abortion debate. I’m not trying to say anything about whether or not abortion is moral; I’m just stating the fact that it is currently a legal option.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            I long ago gave up playing board games with random people- it usually only caused anger. I can’t judge consent by such arbitrary methods; there is nothing concrete to hang on to, no paperwork to say “see, you signed this, you must have at least consented at the moment you signed it”.

          • The_L1985

            You trust other people that little? That’s…really, really tragic, actually. :( Asking, “do you want to have sex?” and hearing the response, “Yes,” is pretty concrete and unambiguous. The words “yes” and “no” aren’t exactly arbitrary, and if you’re not sure whether or not someone’s politely declining, you can always ask them to clarify. (“So in other words, no?”)

            Although I do agree that you shouldn’t be having sex with people you don’t trust.

          • TheodoreSeeber
          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Do you ever go to unbiased sources? FRC is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is widely considered to be the expert in such matters. If you want to use them as a source, feel free, but I certainly wouldn’t if I were you. They’re going to be inaccurate, propagandistic, and make you look really silly for citing them.

            As for that video, I think I’ve seen the relevant portions before. Your objections are exaggerated and nit-picky, if they’re the ones I think they are. You’re going to have to be more specific than linking me to an hour-long video of Tony Perkins spouting off.

          • The_L1985

            I tend to avoid groups with the word “family” in their name, as they have a marked tendency to promote an abstract concept of “the Family” in ways that hurt actual, existing families.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            And that affects how your “choice” promotes infanticide exactly how?

          • The_L1985

            My decision to control my PMDD with birth control pills does not in any way promote infanticide. In fact, since I am also prescribed Neurontin (and other psychiatric medications), and Neurontin has a high risk of causing severe birth defects, I am glad that the pills temporarily render me infertile, because it means I am not harming children. In my mind, becoming pregnant while on the medication, knowing that my medication would severely and possibly fatally harm my unborn child, would be infanticide. I could not in good conscience do such a monstrous thing, and in fact, before I start a family I will have a Big Talk with my neurologist and gynecologist about how long I should wait after quitting the medications to start trying for a baby, whether my medications can be transferred through breast milk, and what effects to expect from being off my medications for such a long period of time.

            Believe me, harming any child is the last thing on earth that I would ever want to do, and I find the very concept to be utterly repulsive. People who use birth control aren’t using it out of some sort of hatred of children.

          • The_L1985

            Er…women are choosing whether or not to use each aspect of reproductive health care. The fact that contraceptives are available for free to anyone in the US with insurance does NOT mean that every single American woman feels compelled to get them. Just because sex is involved does not change the dynamics of choice. (Plus, uninsured women still have to pay for birth control pills if they want to take them. And there are millions of uninsured women in the US.)

            If a store is giving away free yogurt, and you don’t like yogurt, are you just automatically going to run out and get that free yogurt, just because you wouldn’t have to pay for it? Of course not. Similarly, people who do not approve of contraceptives, aren’t sexually active, or are actively trying to have children aren’t using contraceptives. This should not be a difficult concept for you. Nobody is trying to sterilize women against their will. The only women who take birth control pills are:
            1) Sexually-active women (many of them married and faithful) who don’t want to make a baby right now, but do want children in the future;
            2) Women with health conditions such as endometriosis that are best treated with hormonal supplements (like the PIll);
            3) Women who are on other medications that would cause severe birth defects and don’t want to risk harming an unborn child by getting pregnant while on those medications;
            4) Women who meet more than one of the above.

            Furthermore, even if I were completely sterile, that doesn’t mean I’d suddenly be willing to sex up any Tom, Dick, or Harry who comes my way, just because the possibility of pregnancy isn’t a factor. If you’re implying that men are just going to assume “birth control is free now, so that hot chick must be on the Pill,” and go out and rape some women, then…you are in serious need of counseling, because this really isn’t how the human brain normally works. If a woman’s consent or lack thereof does not inform your choice of whether or not to have sex with her, then you have a serious lack of respect for the female half of humanity and are, quite frankly, a dangerous individual.

            Just like men, women have sex drives and experience sexual pleasure. Just as with men, the level of a woman’s sex drive, the amount of pleasure she experiences during sex, and the circumstances under which she would be willing to have sex while unaroused differ from person to person.

            Sometimes a woman has sex to show her love for her spouse. Sometimes she has sex because she’s trying to make a baby. And sometimes, she’s just plain horny. Either way, sex is, and always should be, the conscious, voluntary choice of both partners; a thing that you do with another person, never to them.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            If a large enough percentage use them, then yes, the entire population will be forced to use them. Artificial estrogen is already a major pollutant in my state, and works its way back into the food supply in fish, vegetables, and in some cities, even water. There is no conscious, voluntary choice involved at all with this pollutant.

          • The_L1985

            Then your state is doing a horrible job at water filtration, and you should lobby for decent filters to be put into water-treatment facilities ASAP, so that pollution isn’t making its way from sewage into the food supply. I guarantee you, if hormones from BCPs are becoming pollutants, then so are a lot of other unsavory things from ordinary urine, feces, and menstrual blood.

          • Sage

            Plus, agricultural runoff and industrial waste are far, far bigger contributors to the problem of endocrine-disruptors in waster. For example, the amount of estrogen given to livestock dwarfs that taken as BCP’s and that waste is usually not treated.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Yes, they are. But it isn’t as simple as filtration. Artificial Estrogen, in particular, is a water binder, like ethanol. The only way to get rid of it is distillation, not filtration. Preferably distillation by electrolysis, which cracks the hydrogen and oxygen out of the water then recombines them. That’s a very expensive process to do large scale, and very few metro areas do it.

          • The_L1985

            OK, so why single out BCPs when, as Sage pointed out, the agricultural industry is responsible for FAR more estrogen pollution than the birth-control industry?

          • broke_it_bitch

            I’m sterile and not available to anyone but my husband of 26 years. And there are a lot more of us out there than you could ever imagine — nonreligious, no kids, long and successful marriages. As much as my way is distasteful to you, yours is equally distasteful to me. What, pray tell, could I possibly want from any man OTHER than my husband?

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Yes, I’m sure you’d like to get all the breeders off the planet.

          • Ella Warnock

            What does that have to do with anything she said? Where did she say she wanted “breeders off the planet”? She asked you a pretty straightforward question. Hey, man, just own up to the fact that you don’t really have many answers at all.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            “As much as my way is distasteful to you, yours is equally distasteful to me.”

          • Ella Warnock

            Not an answer, I’m afraid. Ah, well . . .

          • TheodoreSeeber

            That’s the quote that set me off. She claimed that my way is equally as distasteful to her as her way is as distasteful to me, thus of course, as an “Evil Catholic Bigot who wants to deny THOSE people the right to marry” that I have been since March 2004 when Multnomah County in Oregon decided to take it upon themselves to utterly change the rules of the game, that must mean that she’d be as against “breeders” as I’m against people taking tax breaks and providing nothing to society.

            Do you understand now?

          • Ella Warnock

            You said, “that MUST mean.” That’s what “you” think it means. It, obviously, was not what she actually said.

            It’s unfortunate you feel that you live in such hostile territory. I live in Oregon as well. I find it quite refreshing compared to, for example, Texas.

            At any rate, if you’re someone who admits that you don’t understand the concept of “choice or consent,” there might be a lot of other things you’re not picking up on as well. And you never did address her question as to how she’s available to anyone but her husband just because they chose to live an unconventional life. Either you think she’s a ho, or you don’t. You’ve admitted you don’t recognize any middle ground.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Choice and consent require free will, which scientists have proven doesn’t exist:

            Apparently, though, sarcasm is beyond your ability to think.

          • Ella Warnock

            Oh, Theo, you’re also quite sure you’re smarter than the average bear, aren’t you? What you think is coming off as sarcasm is anything but.

            Free will exists for me. I’m sorry it you’ve bought into the notion that it doesn’t exist for you. Maybe it actually doesn’t, and that’s unfortunate.

            Never did manage to get around to how she’s available to men other than her husband. Guess that’s not really all that important after all, then.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            1500 WPM reading speed and an IQ of 148 means that yes, I am smarter than the average bear. Don’t know what that has to do with anything at all, other than to cause more prejudice.

            The only free will that exists, exists in God. And he gave it to you to choose what is RIGHT, not to choose what is WRONG. Abandon God, and you abandon free will, and are limited by the wants placed in your mind by simple dopamine addiction.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            “It’s unfortunate you feel that you live in such hostile territory. I live in Oregon as well. I find it quite refreshing compared to, for example, Texas.”

            On the way into work, I realized something: Oregon has something in common with Texas and Pennsylvania- we don’t inspect abortion clinics here, and abortion is legal clear up until the moment of birth here.

            Do you really think infanticide isn’t going on? I have no doubt. Too many people react too angrily towards parenthood for it not to be.

            I don’t think she is a ho, but neither do I think she has a right to judge others as “breeders” (a slur I hear quite often, especially as a parent of a child that some would say should have been aborted). I react to the extreme in an extreme way *because they are extreme*.

            I do believe her and her husband are, at the very least, tax cheats. DINKS have a very privileged position in America, and instead of being grateful for it, they often deride others.

          • Ella Warnock

            She didn’t call anyone a breeder. I didn’t either, for that matter. That just seems to be your go-to, hot button issue, as often as you’ve mentioned it. DINKS are tax cheats? HA! There must be some reason that you’re so hostile to them, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out how it practically affects your day-to-day life in any way. Why does what anyone else thinks of your life, that you’re a “breeder,” matter to you if you know you’re living as your god would wish? Virtue is not its own reward? Whatever gets you through, I suppose . . .

          • TheodoreSeeber

            I live in a city where DINKS are not only common, but celebrated! Where the myth of overpopulation is prevalent to the point of being intrusive. Where people like me and my son, if they ever find a pre-natal test for our condition, will certainly no longer be born.

            Where they use MY tax dollars to kill 3000 children a year.

            Where drinking the water means drinking artificial estrogen.

            So yes, the anti-humanist contraceptive mentality does practically affect my day to day life, thank you very much.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            I’m saying in 99% of cases- the rapist isn’t smart enough to have that as the goal. For the longest time, I discounted rape because I didn’t understand how “destruction of the self of the other” could even result from that. And I don’t think most men that rape, have the faintest inkling about the damage that they are doing, let alone having it as a primary motivation.

          • Sara Lin Wilde

            I don’t think it matters whether the rapist is specifically trying to remove a woman’s personhood or merely treating her as a non-person in pursuit of his own sexual gratification. Depriving somebody of personhood, treating them as an object, is an aspect of the crime of rape whether or not it’s the main objective. The point isn’t whether he means to treat her as an object or not – it’s that he doesn’t give a good god-damn about what she wants or thinks or feels.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            I agree it is an aspect of the crime of rape. But unless we find the original motivation, we don’t know how to stop rape.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            They don’t put it in those terms. They call it “putting her in her place”. As has been mentioned before.

          • ariofrio

            Indeed, rape is all about forgetting or ignoring that the victim is a human being. I’d argue further that any kind of violence is about that. If I know you are a human being, how would I dare to even say something hurtful to you?

            And that brings me to my question. Is there a difference, in your opinion, between verbal violence and physical sexual violence, apart from the degree of harm done? Thank you for indulging Christian and I in our attempt to understand modern feminism.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            That’s a tough one. Degree of harm is how we classify violence in general. Of course there’s a big difference between leering at someone, whistling and yelling at hir, stalking hir, and raping hir. They all express some of the same attitude, but they’re definitely not at all the same thing. People who might do one or some will definitely not do others; people who know perfectly well that rape is really bad may not realize that a wolf-whistle is inappropriate or uncomfortable or part of a culture of devaluing women.

            Let me turn this around a bit. What is the difference between calling a Black person a “nigger” and being part of a lynch mob? What is the difference between calling a Jew a “kike”, vandalizing an empty synagogue, and bombing a full synagogue? They’re clearly very different acts with very different levels of violence and hatred, but they’re also all on a continuum of bigotry.

            To sum up, yes physical and verbal violence are different. They may be motivated by similar attitudes, but clearly violence is a huge step up in misogyny over hateful words. I think it becomes more unclear when you have people advocating policies that hurt women, but that’s still not the same visceral hatred, insecurity, and/or contempt that accompanies to sexual violence.

            I’m glad you do want to understand. I’m by no means an expert, either- I’ve a minor in sociology that was mainly focused on race, class, and gender inequalities, and I’ve done a lot of reading on my own since then. May I suggest you and Christian go to http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/purpose/, a resource for people who are trying to understand feminism. The site is a little hard to navigate, but it should have a lot of answers for you two.

          • ariofrio

            Thanks for that explanation and that link. I don’t remember if I wanted to find out something else as a segway from that question, but I have learned about your viewpoint. And indeed, I think I agree with it!

            I’ve spent some time reading the Feminism 101 blog. I read a lot of (probably understandable) impatience from the people in that blog, so I feel reluctant to post a question there. Maybe I will once I’ve perused their articles a bit more.

            If you have the time, I’d love to have a conversation about any issue that you think we Catholics get wrong about women. This can be either a faulty official teaching, or a cultural deficiency. For example, you might think the Church’s teaching about fetuses is wrong (a fetus is a human being like you and me), or you might think that the Church as a collection of persons are doing something wrong, like being very insensitive to homosexuals in Latin America (or at least Peru, in my small experience). If you have the time, I’d love to hear from you.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            I’ll start by saying I’m not Catholic and never have been. I’ve studied it some, and I’ve talked to many Catholics about things, but I could definitely be under some misconceptions as to Catholic views of women.

            This might be very long.
            1) The angel/whore dichotomy. The RCC teaches that women are either angels (virgins who get married to one man and then have lots of babies) or whores (sexually impure for … whatever reason). Whores don’t deserve respect- they’re “bad women”. Whatever protections and reverence the Church claims it has for women is only for women who follow all the rules. Step outside that, and the protection is gone. The woman is fair game for anyone to take advantage of and it’s all her fault for not following said rules. You can see how that is problematic, I hope? Add to that the Church tendency to call any woman it doesn’t like a whore no matter her sexual proclivities and you compound the problem. Any woman can be called a whore for doing anything the RCC doesn’t like; she can then be treated like a whore; that is, without any respect at all.

            Now, this isn’t explicit. It’s an undertone to a lot of what the Church says and does, but it doesn’t use this language to refer to women. Look at the female saints, though; many of them are saints because they died rather than lose their virginity, their virginity and sexual purity is emphasized in their story, or they died in childbirth. Men become saints because of who they are and what they do without reference to sex. Women become saints in part because they were virgins or mothers. There’s a really toxic message to women in that.

            2) Contraception. A really important part of living in today’s world is controlling the timing of pregnancies and children. It’s essential for having and building a career. That means Church teachings either requires women to forgo careers, forgo marriage for a long time, forgo sex for a long time, or sin. None of those are good options. It’s an additional burden on women that doesn’t have to be there and shouldn’t be there. Women can control the timing of their children and they want to. It’s a critical element of recognizing women as people to let them control their own lives; women aren’t walking incubators, and it is beyond dehumanizing to treat them like that.

            3) Abortion. See my previous comment about walking incubatorship. The Church teaches that womanhood is about motherhood. That’s a falsehood. Motherhood can be a very important part of a woman’s life, but it is not all she is or can be. It’s not the pinnacle of femininity. It’s an important, difficult role that a woman must be able to choose of her own free will.

            The RCC teaches that human life and ensoulment begin at conception. It teaches, as you said, that a fetus is a human being just like you and me. Let’s pretend for a moment I agreed with that. If I was dying, you are not required to donate blood to me. You do not have to donate part of your liver, your kidney, your lung, bone marrow, plasma, or anything to me. Your legal and moral obligations to me are … exactly zero, even if I will die without your organ donation. Heck, if you were dead, I still wouldn’t have any legal right to your organs! If a fetus is a human being just like you and me, a woman’s obligation to that fetus is exactly the same. Zero. She has no obligation, moral or legal, to provide it with blood, organ space, or nutrients. The RCC’s actual argument is that a fetus is more important than the woman it reside within, and that is a ridiculous, immoral argument that devalues women. It’s arguing that a woman’s bodily autonomy is less important than a corpse’s bodily autonomy. Even worse, the RCC is attempting to push that position into law throughout the world, even for non-Catholic women who don’t agree with its stance on the personhood of a fetus.

            4) Eve. Hooboy, Eve. The RCC teaches that through Eve, sin entered what was previously a perfect world and tainted it forever. Thus, all women forever are daughters of Eve. They’re tricky, sly, untrustworthy, stupid, temptresses, seductresses, and generally bad all around. I don’t think I have to go into why this is a bad teaching.

            5) Female priests, or lack thereof. I think religion is silly. I think Catholicism is wrong. That said, the fact that the Catholic church denies women any sort of leadership says more about how they feel about women than anything coming out of their mouths. Women are good enough to clean the cathedral, but not to lead services in it. Thanks, guys!

            6) Homosexuality. It goes without saying that the Church teaching of homosexuality as disordered is extremely harmful. When the RCC tries to deny people families, that’s really bad. When the RCC makes people feel like shit for being who they are, that’s not acceptable. And it doesn’t even make sense! The RCC is all about “natural law”, except that when you point out that nature is full of homosexual behavior, they just ignore that. Wolves, deer, bonobos, swans, penguins, dolphins, and many more species all have homosexual sex and sometimes relationships (swams mate for life). They sometimes raise offspring together (penguins and swans).

            I’m sure there’s more, that’s just all I can come up with off the top of my head.

          • ariofrio

            Thanks for such a detailed response! I really appreciate it. Here is a partial defense of the Church:

            1) I can see how you conclude that the Church treats virgins as more valuable than non-virgins. I’m confused, though, about how you conclude that the Church treats non-virgins as value-less. Especially in the American Catholic Church, I just don’t see it. (I see it in other Christian denominations, though.)

            2) Why do you think not having sex for long periods of time is not a workable option?

            3) I invite you to read “De Facto Guardian”, an counterargument for the bodily-rights argument you posited to me. It’s a light read. Page 2 and 3 have the meat of the argument. Let me know what you think: http://www.jfaweb.org/Training/DeFactoGuardian-v03.pdf

            4) That view of Eve is a pretty unsophisticated perspective. I myself held a similar perspective once. But a more sophisticated view sees that Adam was right next to Eve when she talked with the snake, and he failed to say anything. That moment is seen as a failure of both partners to care for the other. This is much more important than the fact that Eve was the one that grabbed the fruit. Eve didn’t tempt Adam, the snake tempted them both. She failed to protect Adam, and Adam failed to protect Eve.

            5) I understand how the teaching that women can’t be priests, together with these other things, can give the impression that the Catholic Church values women less. But do you also think that this teaching, by itself, devalues women? Doesn’t it make sense that there are some things (very few things) women can do that men can’t do, and vice-versa?

            6) When the Church talks about natural law, it doesn’t mean “it happens in nature, therefore Z.” That’s ridiculous. Instead, it means “the purpose/goal of X is Y, therefore Z.” Like “the essential purpose/goal of reproductive organs include reproduction, therefore sex that intentionally precludes reproduction is wrong/harmful.” Hopefully this seems less ridiculous, even if it doesn’t convince you. Let me know if it is unclear how it works. That this is called natural law is unfortunate word choice.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Also, http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/rape-culture-101/ is a short intro to rape culture, which is what I think you’re really asking about.

          • John Graney

            You know, the funny thing is that the one sort of person on earth who is more or less absolutely guaranteed not to see women in that way is a celibate. Nonetheless, I am quite certain that you oppose vows of celibacy.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            If it works for a person, whatever. I think the required vow of celibacy is a bad idea, because that means that priests see women only as sexual objects. They’re so obsessed with what they can’t have they forget the person in front of them is a person, not a set of “tempting” breasts and vagina. Or why else would priests and the Catholic Church be against anything that might make women’s lives better? Why else would they insist that the nuns sit down, shut up, and stop working so hard on poverty when what really matters is teh gayz, because clearly women aren’t allowed to have their own thoughts, desires, plans, and goals?

            Oh, you meant the opposite? That’s not how it works. Forbid something, and it’s even more tempting. Suppress a perfectly normal drive, and it’ll express itself in immensely unhealthy ways unless the person is extremely careful.

          • John H. Graney

            The Christian ideal–and I may get some opposition here, from Christians–is that a man’s physical response to a woman be precisely the same as that of a eunuch. If that ideal is achieved, there is no risk of sexual objectification.

            Regarding your speculation about what happens about priests’ heads, where did you get that information? Have you ever talked to a priest about this issue, or is this just armchair psychology?

            Oh, the nuns. The bishops aren’t against nuns categorically, but you wouldn’t know it from watching the news. They’re against the unCatholic beliefs of a certain group of aging baby boomers who think that it’s still the 70s. (Not that all baby boomers are bad.)

            How do ANY Catholic teachings discriminate against women unjustly? The Church teaches that artificial contraception (the current biggie) is wrong for men AND women. (The only reason that I think this issue has been so portrayed is that the HHS contraception mandate inexplicably covers contraception for women and not for men.) The Church opposes sterilization for both men and women. Going even further, there were more than a few ruling queens in Catholic antiquity, and no one minded. The Catholic Church says it’s quite all right for women to run for office or have a career, if married, provided that it does not interfere too much with their married life, IF they are married, and She does not require anyone to marry. And the same is essentially true of men: if their careers do not allow them enough time with their families, then they ought to find another career. This whole “the Catholic Church hates women” thing is a bunch of hot air, in my opinion.

          • The_L1985

            If a person chooses celibacy, I’m happy for them–people should never feel pressured to get into relationships or have sex that they don’t want to have. However, you can count me as a person who doesn’t believe that a vow of celibacy should be required for religious leadership.

          • The_L1985

            Not *political* power, necessarily, but definitely power. It’s about the man being so much more important than the woman that he can just take what he wants from her, whenever he wants. It is a form of social dominance through sexual domination, which is depressingly common among mammals.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            I do not believe in any “social dominance”, but perhaps that’s because I reject “social” anything.

          • The_L1985

            That’s funny, because by talking to me, you’re socializing with me on the Internet. I’m talking about “social” as in “society,” not as in “socialism.”

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          I have been a rape victim. So I guess that means my point -of-view is invalid according to Theodore Seeber. After all, victims of violence don’t have anything useful to say to the rest of society about that violence.

          Attitudes like yours, Mr. Seeber, are a big reason (among several) why I and other people who have experienced rape are reluctant to speak up about what has happened to us–because we fear that, if it is known that we actually know first-hand what we are talking about, our perspective will some how be considered suspect. So thank you for contributing to the silencing of rape victims.

          Also, I don’t know the person to whom you responded from Eve and the perspective she gave is certainly far from limited to people who have experienced rape but let’s just say that she has. In that case, you just mocked a rape victim for being a rape victim. You essentially responded “Why should I take what you have say seriously? You’ve been raped so nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah lol!”

          I really cannot think of too many single sentences that are so outrageously morally repugnant that they remove any possibility that the person who uttered them has any decency at all. But now I have a go-to example thanks to you, Theodore Seeber. And you purport to lecture others about morality? Really? Really?

          I have entered the Twilight Zone.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            So, your rapist doesn’t have a brain of his own. Might not have motivations other than those you ascribe. Interesting.

      • Newp Ort

        What are you trying to imply, ted?

        • TheodoreSeeber

          That maybe we should ask the *rapist* why they did it.

          • The_L1985

            Because 99.9% of the time, rapists claim that the victim “was asking for it.” Even if the victim was a 5-year-old girl, in ordinary children’s clothes, who didn’t even know what sex was until her assault.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            So? That changes the internal thoughts of the rapist, talking about his own internal thoughts, from truth to falsehood exactly how?

          • Christian Stillings

            I think the most constructive question to being with is “by what means should we expect to most accurately identify a rapist’s ‘real intention’, and why?” I agree that asking the actor might not be the most constructive means in this case, but I think that Ted’s correct to note that we’ll most accurately “get inside the actor’s head” by asking him (or her). If you disagree with Ted’s criteria (and it seems that you do), what do you suggest instead?

          • The_L1985

            Because of course a person who sees nothing wrong with raping other people isn’t going to lie or anything…

            That kind of “logic” is like trusting a bank robber to watch your purse. After all, he only robs banks, not purses…right?

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Nobody said that the rapist thinks he is doing no wrong.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Actually, I’ve read that rapist like what they are doing which is why it is so hard to rehabilitate them.

          • Good Catholic GIrl

            Why is rapist in quotes? Are you suggesting that rape wasn’t what happened? And really, WHY should we care a whit about why the rapist did it?! It sounds as though you’re taking the rapist’s side!

          • TheodoreSeeber

            The rapist is human too. If anything, the guilty are more in need of the mercy of God.

            Besides, this is one of the reasons I fight so hard against the mortal sin of lust- because if I didn’t- if I accepted moral relativism in sexuality- I have very little doubt this is a path I would have traveled down.

          • The_L1985

            Here’s some moral relativism for you.

            I consider exactly two things when deciding whether or not sex would be ethical: Respect, and responsibility.

            Respect means several things. Am I respecting the other person’s choices? Am I respecting the right of children to grow up without being sexually assaulted? Am I using sex as a tool to manipulate others (which would be disrespectful and thus, bad)? Would sex with this person, at this time, violate anybody’s wedding vows? (Not only is adultery very disrespectful toward one’s spouse, but my religion considers oathbreaking to be a very serious offense in and of itself.)

            Responsibility also means several things. Am I being up-front about the kind of relationship I want? Am I willing to take responsibility for any unintended results of having sex with this person right now? (Emotional entanglements and pregnancy could be good or bad, depending on the context. STDs, of course, are always bad. I use the term “results” instead of “consequences” because the latter has a negative connotation.) If I don’t want children right now, am I being mindful of birth control methods and making sure not to use them incorrectly? Am I being honest about birth control with my partner, so that everybody’s making an informed decision about this? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then I don’t have sex.

            Being morally relativist doesn’t mean you don’t have any ethics or guidelines. It just means that you consider the issue to be as complex as human interaction generally is.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Human interaction isn’t complex unless you turn it into being complex.

          • The_L1985

            So you’re saying that the right thing to do doesn’t depend on context?

            If a woman is trying on a dress and says, “I’m not sure whether to buy this dress or the other one–does this dress make me look fat?” then a “Yes,” if true, would be necessary so that she can make a good choice.

            If you’re greeting a female friend and notice that her dress makes her look fat, you don’t just say so–you keep your mouth shut.

            If your friend says, “I just love this new dress, don’t you?” and you think it makes her look fat, you either say “I like [other, more flattering dress] better on you,” or “I’m not sure it’s really ‘you,’” or else you tell a white lie.

            You can’t do the same thing in all of these situations, because indicating that the dress is unflattering has different connotations based on the context and the way you say it. Moral relativism is simply acknowledging that context matters as much as intent.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Context free communication is much easier than context sensitive communication. Human relationships are much cleaner without context.

            I can be sure of context free communication. I can *NEVER* trust context sensitive communication.

          • The_L1985

            No wonder you avoid socializing with people, then. Everything that ever happens takes place within some cultural context. It’s literally impossible to avoid.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            That wasn’t quotes, it was emphasis, as shown by the asterisks.

          • The_L1985

            That is exactly what he’s suggesting. Despite the fact that unreported rapes are far, far more common than false rape accusations, Theodore seems to think that protecting people from being accused of rape is somehow more important than protecting people from, you know, being raped.

      • Good Catholic GIrl

        Why wouldn’t you be on the “victim side of the equation”?

        • TheodoreSeeber

          Because, I am on the rapist side of the equation. Never went through with it, Deo Gratis, but I have been tempted. And it was *always* about lust, never about power.

          • Sara Lin Wilde

            Frankly, I don’t care if in your eyes it was only about lust. It’s still about power in the sense that you’d be forcing your power on somebody else, putting her in a position of powerlessness where she has to satisfy your lust regardless of whether or not she wants to be in that position. Only by disempowering her can you force her into what you claim it’s really about . . . which means it’s about power, whether or not that’s your main point of focus.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            In other words, it has to be about power and poor defenseless others, right? It can’t possibly be about anything else. And because it can’t possibly be about anything else- we can’t find the truth about how to stop it.

          • The_L1985

            Nobody said it couldn’t be about lust, too. We’re just saying lust isn’t the only factor, and in many cases isn’t even the biggest factor.

          • The_L1985

            Whenever you have sex with another person, yes, that other person becomes part of what’s going on.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Then we should get *both* sides of the story, right?

          • The_L1985

            Look. Rape isn’t a case of “he-said, she-said.” There are no two sides here; there’s the truth, and there’s a whole bunch of things people could theoretically say that aren’t the truth. Unreported rape cases are far, FAR more common than false rape reports. In fact, false rape reports are exceedingly rare and seldom even make it into court, much less result in a conviction.

            This bizarre insistence on “getting the rapist’s side of the story” and “having mercy on the rapist” is precluding the very real duty of making sure that justice is done for the victim. When somebody steals a car or murders someone, nobody goes on about having compassion for the poor, pitiful thieves and murderers. So why do we have this attitude about rape, which does just as much damage to its victims?

        • The_L1985

          Apparently Theodore lives in an alternate universe in which prison rape and sexual assault by a woman don’t exist at all. Thus, men are never raped in Theodore’s world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angela-Goudman/895600471 Angela Goudman

    This is beautiful! I was being attacked by some pro-choice people the other day, and I realized that the fundamental issue at heart with contraception, abortion, etc. is the rejection of two things: sacrifice and suffering. To have ANY sort of “good life”, it is necessary to be wiling to sacrifice at all times. A married couple makes sacrifices for the sake of their children. A priest or nun makes sacrifices. A single person makes sacrifices. But in today’s society, too many people seem to run from the very idea of sacrifice.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1069731366 Karen Cox

      No. Constant sacrifice is a recipe for misery, and if your marriage requires you to sacrifice all the time, please get a divorce. Sacrifice is sometimes necessary, and suffering is part of life, but seeking such things is evil.

      • Luke Streher

        Angela said that you must be *willing* to sacrifice at all times, not that you should seek sacrifice at all times. Marriage will not always be a great experience of mutually positive feelings, and hard times will inevitably hit any marriage – as you note. I believe Angela’s point was that we must, at the very least, be willing to sacrifice our initial knee-jerk desires and work as a couple in marriage to get through these hard times and grow in marriage.

      • Mungling

        Note that she didn’t say you had to sacrifice at all times, but she said that you had to be “willing to sacrifice” at all times. There is a big difference between those two things. How great could you marriage possibly be if you aren’t willing to make sacrifices for your spouse (and vice versa)?

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          I am willing to make some sacrifices, and he’s willing to make some. We both have things we won’t sacrifice, being as we’re fully adult human beings with firm ethical principles and sense of self. Are we doing marriage wrong by standing up for ourselves to each other, when someone asks too much?

          I am not, and never will be, willing to sacrifice everything all the time. Not gonna happen. I value myself way more highly than that.

      • Kristen inDallas

        I can’t think of any person I know who would care very much for being told they should get a divorce based on 4 sentences they uttered one day on the internet. Especially not anyone who entered into a marriage under the notion that it was a relatively permanent thing.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1434900034 Marty Sullivan

      What does that even mean? What kind of sacrifice? What kind of suffering? Should any attempt to alleviate suffering and pursue convenience be prohibited? If not, how can you possibly say that abortion and contraception are fundamentally about that?

    • Tara Brelinsky

      I wholeheartedly agree, Angela as do Padre Pio and many other saints. No, I don’t consider myself a saint or holier-than-thou should anyone confuse my stance, but we are called to holiness and according to Padre sacrifice and suffering are part of the pathway to holiness. No, we should not seek out suffering, but if we are to enjoin ourselves to Christ than we will be brought to the cross and we will willingly share the bitter chalice He offers. We cannot expect to console the Sacred Heart if we aren’t willingly to sacrifice and suffer. Before anyone challenges me on this, I encourage you to get to know Padre Pio because he does a far better job than will I at explain the truth and gift of suffering. Christ held nothing back and we are called to follow this example. Yes, the Church states there are valid reasons for planning families, but for some couples that calling is toward a complete surrender of fertility even if it leads at times to sacrifice (okay let’s face it raising kids always leads to some sacrificing) and/or suffering. Perhaps, this is why Padre Pio and St. Gianna are such popular modern saints because they call us back to the truth through their words and their examples of total self-gift and acceptance of sacrifice and suffering.

    • The_L1985

      Some people consider certain forms of artificial contraception to be a form of “sacrifice” as well. “I won’t get to feel as much physical pleasure with my wife, but I consider that sacrifice necessary so we don’t start a family until she’s finished that college degree she’s working on.”

  • Micha_Elyi

    Dandelions are robust plants that sprout, survive, and flower in rich and poor soils.Roses are fragile, disease and pest prone plants that usually require enhanced soils and added fertilizers.

    The captions are on the wrong plants. Dandelions represent “strong family life” far better than rose bushes.

    • The_L1985

      A lot of the commentors on that LJF article said the exact same thing. In fact, the comment thread eventually spiraled into conversations on things like how to make dandelion wine.

  • Micha_Elyi

    “Security for women and children” – men don’t count, eh?

    “Divorce – single parent mother families – devastated children”, fixed it for you. Females are by far the divorcing sex. Let’s put the bulk of the blame where it belongs. It’s the honest thing to do.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Men are the ones who are supposed to be providing the security, so yes, in the traditional sense, men don’t count.

      And yes, most of the time, it is the woman that leaves- but there are plenty of men who leave also.

      • The_L1985

        “Men are the ones who are supposed to be providing the security”

        Er….I hate to burst your bubble, but I make more money than my fiance. I will essentially be the breadwinner. Also, because he works from home, he will be home more often with any children we may have, and will have more opportunities to clean house. And neither of us has a problem with this arrangement. We’ll still need daycare of some sort while both of us are on the job, but that’s typical of families in which both parents work.

        All marriages are not the same, because all people are not the same. I have relatives who are stay-at-home-moms and are happy that way, so I’m happy for them. I don’t have the personality to be a SAHM, though. If I’m not teaching, I feel like I’m wasting my time and talents. Even vacation makes me go a little loopy unless I have specific constructive projects (like cleaning or sewing) to work on that will take up the majority of my days. I cannot imagine a life in which I am not going out into the world to serve other people through my career. I would suffer severe depression, to the point that I fear suicide might start looking like an attractive option. (I’ve had suicidal episodes in my teen years. If there is a hell, it is suicidal depression. I don’t EVER want to be in that state of mind again.)

        Some men don’t like the idea of their wives being the breadwinner, and that’s fine. Those men don’t have to marry career-oriented women if they don’t want to. But my fiance is not that sort of man.

        • TheodoreSeeber

          You would make more money teaching than he would make as whatever his chosen profession is? Given how rotten teachers are paid, I somehow find that hard to believe.

          • The_L1985

            He does computer tech support, and high-paying jobs for people with CS degrees are few and far between. Believe it.

            Also, I never said anything about where I teach, or at what level. For all you know, I could be in Finland, where public school teachers are paid as much as doctors. (I’m not, but the Internet is a global community, so you can’t always assume the people you’re talking about or to are in the US.)

  • Leah

    There is nothing at all wrong with using contraception in the same way that there is nothing wrong with using a fork to put food into ones cake-hole. Both can be used with feeling-sensitivity. In the case of a fork (and eating) one can eat with feeling-sensitivity to both the quality and the quantity of the food one ingests and of how it affects the energetics of the body-mind altogether. Does it enliven the life-force of the body or suppress/depress it.

    The popular religious scruples about practicing birth control with artificial devices make idols of the processes of nature, rather than permit men and women in their Spiritual Maturity to be responsible for the processes of nature.
    The processes of nature and the body including the production of male sperm and female eggs are not “holy” in themselves. They are made “holy” only through conscious Spiritual responsibility. Human beings, not nature alone, must be responsible for birth.
    The conventional essentially puritannical and double-minded religious point of view tends to keep people irresponsible, eternally parented by an abstract parental deity, as if only nature in the abstract, and not human being in their Spiritual and human maturity, can be responsible for life.
    The naive uninspected notion of not wanting to “interfere” whether responsibly or irresponsibly, in the workings of “mother Nature” is behind the common dogma relative to the use of artificial birth control methods.

    All of which is to say that human beings in the fullness of their Spiritual maturity would choose to use a barrier method of contraception every time that they engage in loving sexual embrace when they do NOT intend for the woman to become pregnant.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Isn’t God supposed to be responsible for the “processes of nature”?

    • Kristen inDallas

      I think the better analogy would be eating food in seran-wrapped bites. Or a gastric bypass or some other technology (not a fork) designed to keep the caloric content from interacting with the body. Turning the act of eating into a purely sensual act of chewing, tasting and swallowing.
      Virtue is tricky. You can go wrong at either extreme. We shouldn’t divorce intercourse from the children in creates or tasty food the the calorie, and expect society to go on hedonistically pleasing itself but only in ways that allow us to glare condescendingly at fat people and children. At the same time we shouldn’t go around high fiving each other over some fluke-natural ability to ingest an entire pizza or have more children than the family in the next pew. Being truly human is about more than just being able to supress nature, or giving in to it.

  • nannon31

    The honest uncensored NFP threads often have accounts of couples being judged with looks and whispers as using abc if they appear at Mass with no children…even if they’ve been trying to have children but can’t. And…there are obnoxious NFPers on the net as bloggers.. Here’s the question, Marc: if NFPers are totally giving in bed, how can they be so much less giving…once they get out of bed?

    • Gwenny

      That could have something to do with the fact that, yes, even NFPers are sinners, too.

      • nannon31

        But they are advanced saints in bed…as “giving all” implies? Doesn’t compute…totally selfless in bed…mixed self oriented sinner out there.
        While you’re here….if NFP is more efficient in preventing unwanted pregnancy, doesn’t that mean that abc users are statistically open to life moreso than nfp users while each are trying to avoid procreation?

        • John Graney

          They are not actually advanced saints. Chastity is just sort of a baseline starting block as far as virtue goes.

          • The_L1985

            I would personally consider the baseline starting block of virtue to be honesty or recognition of the humanity of others, but to each his own, I guess.

        • Laceagate

          They are not advanced saints (rolls eyes). It has to do with taking the body as a whole, from a theological standpoint, and it also has to do with not using an artificial means to withhold fertility from your spouse. The point of NFP is to have fertility awareness while giving your spouse as a whole, rather than parts.

          NFP isn’t “more efficient” in preventing pregnancy. NFP users aren’t supposed to be using it as a form of contraception, as it’s not right to withhold sex from your spouse simply because you know that you are fertile. Doing this essentially turns NFP into a form of contraception, which is sin. It’s one thing to agree together to avoid sexual contact, but you aren’t shutting down an aspect of your body in order to have sex. That’s the point. And how can ABC users be more statistically open to life if they are actually preventing a life by using hormones that make the uterine lining impenetrable, kill sperm, or block sperm from even entering the uterus? NFP doesn’t do any of those things.

          Let’s get one thing clear here– NFP is not 100% effective in the sense that ABC is effective. There is always a chance that close to a fertile day, you can get pregnant. Women can have double peaks. Some women may ovulate differently one month compared to the next. The point is, couples using NFP are supposed to be using it for just reasons, remain open to life because it can always happen, and aren’t shutting down their fertility so they can have sex. Compared to ABC, in the event where a woman ovulates and she can conceive, her body isn’t a hazardous place.

          • PhiloKGB

            Your justifications sound exactly like apologetics. So, job well done, I guess.

          • Laceagate

            If you read my later comments over at Libby’s, you’ll see that I mention how in Church teaching there’s actually nothing said about “open to life” or how avoiding pregnancy for prudent reasons is unjustified. What the issue deals with is the natural process of sex because it’s considered to be part of a person’s fertility. As Catholics, we don’t deal in parts. People don’t get to be compartmentalized and handled by each compartment. People are considered WHOLE, as the teaching reflects that. That’s all I’m trying to say. I do find it interesting that people are coming here to a strongly Catholic-theologically led blog to disagree without taking it into consideration where Marc is speaking from. That’s like me going over to an atheist blog and thinking they’ll change their mind on God when their viewpoint stems from the disbelief in God.

          • PhiloKGB

            “Where X is speaking from” is an odd excuse. OK, he’s Catholic. Is that supposed to make me say, “Oh, since he has a philosophical starting point, he’s beyond criticism”?

    • Newp Ort

      they seem a lot like the breast feeding nazis to me. really into their own subculture and practice/holy mission. completely worth every little bit of hassle, if it doesn’t work for you its because you’re doing it wrong or they doubt your commitment. if you don’t do what they do you are destroying your child/family, with flimsy to no evidence to back up that claim. if you are doing things differently and its working fine then they think you’re hurting yourselves/families you just don’t know it yet!

    • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

      Yes, and Pope Francis had a few harsh words for those who whisper and judge others in Church.

  • Tom

    Merely two points against the article.

    First, your statements on adopting chastity out of the fear of hell and being motivated by “mere external constraint” seem to negate the importance and validity of imperfect contrition (or attrition). The Council of Trent stated, “If any man assert that attrition . . . is not a true and a profitable sorrow; that it does not prepare the soul for grace, but that it makes a man a hypocrite, yea, even a greater sinner, let him be anathema.” I may be misunderstanding or you may have misspoken, but imperfect contrition is listed in the Act of Contrition itself, and rejecting it is part of Jansenism, which is, of course, false.

    Second, and this is less important, but there is more than one contraceptive method for men. In addition to condoms, there are spermicides and vasectomies (and potentially even castration). But that is mostly immaterial to the point of the article, as women still have the majority of contraceptive means and devices.

    • http://www.facebook.com/amelia.wreford Amelia Wreford

      You are indeed correct about imperfect contrition, but I think Marc wants to accentuate the positive regarding chastity – it should be motivated by love of God rather than just fear of Hell. I don’t think God is ever going to reject anyone who comes to him, even if it is out of fear, but it shouldn’t be the primary motivation in one’s spiritual life.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    No form of natural family planning would ever work for me. My family history suggests insane natural fertility (though I don’t know about my personal self), and my cycles are irregular, ranging from 30 days to over 60 days. NFP only works if you have very regular cycles. My menses are also very painful- I get pre-cramps for a day or two before they start, I am in a LOT of pain for the next three days, and then I have after-cramps for a few days. So if I wanted a week or two of “safe” sexy-times only every two months, I could do it, but neither my husband nor I would be very happy about it.

    On the other hand, hormonal BC means I have regular, not-very-painful periods, can have sex for three weeks out of every four, and just feel better generally. Clearly, by Catholic standards, I’m a selfish slut.

    • psykins

      Agreed, NFP just isn’t going to work for everyone. I’m in a similar situation in that when I have ‘natural’ periods, I am incapacitated. The cramps are so bad that last time I was not on BC I almost passed out on a public bus while trying to leave early from work, and ended up literally laying on the side of the road waiting until the pain got bearable enough for me to move. Heck, I’m scared to even go off BC to try to have kids – what if I don’t get pregnant the first or second or third month… o.0 Like hell I’m going to go off BC just so that I can supposedly experience “true” ecstasy…

      Also, unless you have some insanely specific and brand spankin new prescription, BC pills are not typically hundreds of dollars each…and condoms are NOT free.

      • The_L1985

        You were able to get to work? I wasn’t able to stand up for more than 15 minutes and had to spend all day in bed!

        • psykins

          Ha, yeah, mine usually didn’t start really crushing me until halfway through the day. So, I’d start out like “OK, this isn’t bad, maybe this month will be fine!” and by 12 at the latest I’d be puking my guts out. My best friend told me that when I was in high school, there was a rumor I was pregnant because I blew chunks all over the bathroom – if only they knew!

          • Good Catholic GIrl

            Paralyzing is the only way I can describe what I went through but then my doctor discovered I had endometriosis. Surgery helped somewhat but had to be followed up with 6 months of Lupron (scary stuff,that) and then a course of birth control pills. No a cure-all but I was finally able to function. I don’t think anyone can understand what it feels like until they’ve gone through it.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Mine always start at night- I could usually take a painkiller and get to sleep, but knowing how much the next day was going to suck was a real downer. I’d wake up, down the painkillers next to my bed, and hope really really hard that they’d work this time. Sometimes they did and I could get going, sometimes they didn’t and I’d spend the day curled up on the bed in a little ball of nausea and pain.

        • Gwil

          Creighton, which I use works for women who are regular OR irregular, which I am. I was also on ‘the pill’ for years because of debilitating , not leaving my house, curled up in the fetal position cramps. and now that I have everything in my body sorted out (cysts and several other things which I discovered while charting) my body does not revolt. I recommend finding a health practitioner that knows Creighton naPRO through and through and is will to teach the way to chart. it has truly changed my life.

          • The_L1985

            …How does NFP reduce extreme hormonal fluctuations, though? Because that’s the root cause of my lady-problems.

    • lisa

      Actually, natural family planning can work for people who have irregular cycles as well. There are other ways of treating than hormonal birth control. It doesn’t really fix the problem, just puts a band-aid on it instead of treating the cause. If you find a Creighton Model or Billings Ovulation Method practitioner, they can help you chart your cycles and treat your symptoms without having to ingest a carcinogenic pharmaceutical. These methods are scientifically developed and can help treat the problem instead of simply covering it up. As someone with personal experience with something very similar to what you have just described, I would highly recommend trying NFP and see what it would be able to improve your health and strengthen your marriage. I wish you all the best.

      • Good Catholic GIrl

        It’s been proven that birth control pills actually protect women from certain forms of cancer. That said, a women’s health history must be taken into consideration before taking the pill but then, that is true of many other medications taken by both men and women.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I simply have no interest in trying a not-very-effective”natural” family planning method when, thanks to science, I don’t have to rely on such unreliable methods. See, every study of NFP I’ve ever seen is horribly flawed. They make the assumption that any pregnancy that results from sex outside “safe” times is planned, when that simply isn’t so. That’s not the way “typical use” is described for any other form of birth control- the exact same argument holds that if condoms are your primary method, but you have sex without a condom, clearly that can’t be chalked up against condoms’ effectiveness. I also think you misunderstand what hormonal BC is- it’s the exact same hormones that the body produces in pregnancy, just less of them. If BC is carcinogenic, then so is pregnancy only much more so.

        As for painful periods, I can either have a prescription for Vicoden or I can use BC. I don’t like being dependent on opiates to function for a few days every few months- did that in high school, it sucked. I somehow doubt that some pseudo-scientific quack is going to be able to make the pain magically disappear.

        Why do you assume I need help strengthening my marriage? We’re doing fine, actually, and NFP only has the potential to make things worse.

        • http://www.crunchycradlecatholic.blogspot.com/ Crunchy Cradle Catholic

          nfp can help improve a marriage by taking the “burden” of family planning solely off of one person. nfp shares the responsibility of fertility. couples are in open communication about the decision to have or not have a child (vs something we talked about a long time ago, but haven’t discuss since).

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            So communicate better? We talk about it on a regular basis- do we still want them, when, etc. It probably comes up every few months.

            Besides, I consider condoms a joint effort as well. The guy wears them, sure, but both of the people can stop things and say “hey, shouldn’t we get one on now”. Women bear the vast majority of the work and responsibility for NFP; I don’t consider it sharing at all.

          • Laceagate

            I think you’re completely missing the point about what the Church teaches in regards to marriage and the fundamental underpinnings of procreation within a marriage. It’s a lot more than just “sharing” or seeking marital bliss in bed. But I’m not sure you’d really care.

          • The_L1985

            “the fundamental underpinnings of procreation within a marriage”

            This implies that if you don’t have children, you’re not in a “real” marriage, which has serious implications for infertile married couples.

          • Laceagate

            No, that’s not true. It’s about allowing the natural process during sex. You can be infertile and allow the natural process of fertility continue through sex and still have a real marriage. You can be using NFP because avoiding a pregnancy for health reasons due to a surgery and still have a real marriage. The point is about allowing the natural process of sex.

          • The_L1985

            OK. Let’s say that I’m trying to lose weight for the sake of my health. To avoid snacking between meals, I chew a piece of gum, thus tricking my body into thinking I’ve eaten something and quieting my appetite.

            By chewing gum, I am not allowing the natural process of satisfying one’s appetite through the eating of food (much as birth control doesn’t allow the process of reproduction through the action of vaginal sex). I am subverting the natural process of the human appetite–after all, the purpose of the appetite for food is to ensure that we eat.

            So if using birth control is sinful because it “subverts the natural process of sex,” then chewing gum is equally sinful because it satisfies hunger without feeding yourself and is thus subverting the natural process of appetite-satiation.

            The idea that the natural purpose of a drive must always be allowed in the satisfying of that drive just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. I may want to eat something instead of chewing a piece of gum, but that doesn’t mean that all foods are always healthy or desirable (junk food and food allergies come to mind), or that the gum is bad.

          • http://www.crunchycradlecatholic.blogspot.com/ Crunchy Cradle Catholic

            OH, you’ve almost got it. Sex isn’t bad just as you say gum isn’t bad. And you are also right that all drives need not be satisfied. Couples who use NFP know this all too well. If they are avoiding pregnancy, then they are abstaining from sex for several days during the month. Chewing gum doesn’t satisfy hunger, it just distracts from it.

          • The_L1985

            Technically, “hunger” isn’t the state of having an empty stomach. Hunger is solely the drive, the sense of wanting food. You can be hungry without needing to eat. This drive is satisfied by you chewing for a while, because generally when one chews food, it means that one is about to swallow it.

            Because the drive is extinguished by chewing, yes, gum is satisfying your hunger by tricking your hindbrain into thinking that your stomach is full and sending the “I’ve eaten and am now satisfied” signal to the rest of your body. This doesn’t work for more than a couple of hours, because eventually the stomach is going to send “I’m empty” signals to the hindbrain, and then you’ll feel hungry again. But regular eating only satisfies you for a few hours anyway–otherwise, humans wouldn’t eat several meals a day.

            This is also why eating more slowly causes you to be satisfied with less food–the prolonged chewing makes it seem like you’re eating more to the easily-confused hindbrain.

            Again, gum-chewing is subverting the natural processes of chewing and hunger-satiation by causing you to chew without nourishment. In this way, it is exactly analogous to the use of birth control, which causes you to have sex without reproduction.

          • Laceagate

            I had no idea gum chewing was a sinful act at all. Who knew it violated the Catholic Church’s view on the theology of the body.


            You clearly do not understand the theological side behind using NFP. Theologically as a Catholic, the natural process of sex is important because it exists within the context of a sacramental marriage. Let me say that differently this time. NFP does not violate a sacramental marriage in the way using a condom or the pill does.

          • Kate

            I’m sorry, but I’m just having a bit of trouble understanding what’s “natural” about NFP. How is it “natural” to feel for mucus, take your temperature, and keep charts in order to know when you can have sex safely?! What happens when you get the NATURAL urge to have sex with your spouse on a fertile day? I assume that the devout Catholic thing to do would be to do it because it could be god’s way of telling you that you should have a child. But if you don’t do it? Wouldn’t that be not only unnatural but also not being “open to children” as the diagram suggests you should be?

            Sorry but the people who came up with the idea that NFP is okay within a Catholic marriage but other forms of contraception are not sound like they’re grasping at straws. Just another way for Christians to get around their own rules. But justify it all you want…..

          • http://www.crunchycradlecatholic.blogspot.com/ Crunchy Cradle Catholic

            Yes, couples should be talking about to have or not have children on a regular basis, but I can see the situation where a woman puts on a patch or has an IUD inserted and then doesn’t have to think about or talk about it at all. I would hope that the decision regarding children is mutual, but in talking to other couples, it doesn’t always seem to be. When a couple uses NFP, yes the woman must pay attention to her body’s signs, but the man can do the charting, so that it is a shared responsibility. In my own case, the intimate conversations regarding children are more on a weekly or even sometimes daily basis. I would say that the decision is more mutual and not, did “she” take her pill today or time for “him” to put on a condom.

          • The_L1985

            “I can see the situation where a woman puts on a patch or has an IUD
            inserted and then doesn’t have to think about or talk about it at all.”

            That doesn’t mean it’s right for her not to discuss it. At the very least, both parties ought to be talking about the birth control method in question before she starts using it–if you are keeping birth control secret from your husband, it is a sure sign that your relationship is highly dysfunctional for reasons that have nothing to do with sex.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            I can see that happening, but I can also see a situation where the woman does all the checking, all the charting, and tells her husband Yes or No for sex today. Just because NFP allows for conversation doesn’t mean it requires it- communication can occur or not occur no matter what form of contraception a couple is using. Communication and mutual decision-making are not unique benefits to NFP. Why is “this sex could result in a baby” more communicative and mutual when in relation to NFP but not whether to put on a condom? It’s the exact same words at approximately the same time in the exact same situation.

          • The_L1985

            Couples should be openly communicating about whether or not to have children, regardless of whether they’re using NFP. If you’re not talking about important things like that, then you have a pretty crappy marriage.

      • The_L1985

        The cause of irregular cycles is irregular fluctuations in hormonal levels. My hormone levels changed so dramatically from day to day that I had monthly depressive episodes in between periods, and suffered from enough dizziness and pain that I could not do anything at all on the first day of my period. I had to just lie there in bed, all day.

        Birth control pills are nothing but hormones, so they leveled things out. I remember being so shocked when I noticed that not only was I not suffering debilitating cramps anymore, I was no longer suffering from clinical depression. It had never once occurred to me that my depression might be hormonal, until I started taking the Pill and it suddenly went away.

        I can’t change my ovaries. They do what they do without any input from my conscious mind. But if taking medication every day keeps me sane and productive, then by George, I’m going to take medication. I would no more consider going of the Pill and living with PMDD again than I would consider going off my Effexor and living with extreme anxiety disorder again.

        • ForsythiaTheMariner

          I think we may have had some similar experiences. I, too, was diagnosed with PMDD and had such severe mood swings and pain, vomiting, heavy menstrual periods that i was basically out of commission for two weeks of every month. I also suffer from anxiety disorders, for which i took effexor, xanax and other mood stabilizing drugs for many years. I also took birth control for a few years to manage my horrible periods. While it did help in this regard, i had the opposite reaction as you in another way. I felt suicidal most of the time i took birth control. It had a terrible effect on my mind, emotions and well being that i decided id much rather suffer naturally from awful periods amd pmdd than take those pills again.
          I was a really lapsed catholic, too. I didnt agree with the church teaching that birth control could create an abortion by preventing implantation if conception did occur. But, you know, the more i read about it,the more i came to th conclusion i was afraid of- that the church was right about birth control. Trust me,for a long time, i wished i didnt feel that way, and it took me a long time and with much struggle.
          I will just say that, having made many mistakes in my life, having lived a very unchaste life at times, i have truly found that my marriage so much stronger without birth control. My husband,who i should add is not even christian, feels the same way, that he would never want to use contraception.
          Whether you take this into consideration or not, im just sharing the experiences of someone (me) who seemed to throughsome of what you have been through.
          One last thing, regarding anxiety and pmdd. I found i had mAny food intolerances and that when i changed my diet,my symptoms truly got better. .theyre still there and i do still suffer,but theyre more manageable. god bless you and ill keep you in my prayers.

          • The_L1985

            Changing my diet stopped migraines, but didn’t help with anything else for me. It took anti-anxiety meds to help with my anxiety, and it took the Pill to treat my PMDD. As annoying as it is, I’m one of those people who requires “better living through chemistry.” :/

            I’m glad that you’re happy with your life as it is. It isn’t the choice I would make, but I support your right to make it. All I ask of those who disagree with me is the same consideration. :) May the gods bless you as well.

          • ForsythiaTheMariner

            I considered myself, and so did all my doctors, to require medication. Anxiety and manic depresssion have run in my family for a long time. I obviously dont know you, and am not saying you should stop taking medication, i just wanted to gently suggest that, as someone who has suffered a great deal and was told id have to be on meds my entire life, that there is the possibility that diet changes, and i mean really huge changes, can help. Not that they will help, buy that they can. Its not easy to do, of course, and im not saying it would cure someone (iit didnt cure me, just alleviated), just sharing a suggestion i wish someone had mentioned to me many years ago before many hospitalizations.

      • Sara Lin Wilde

        My church put me in touch with a practitioner who I believe taught Creighton. After I emailed to explain my situation – irregular cycles due to PCOS plus a rare genetic disorder that would cause severe birth defects in “surprise” babies b/c I needed to be on a strict low-protein diet with perfect blood-phenylalanine levels from the moment of conception – he just wouldn’t bother talking to me anymore. If only I could’ve walked away from the moral quandary that easily, I might still be Catholic!

    • mary

      Yes, yes. Not all women have cycles, and not all women have regular cycles. Mine range from one a year to one every six weeks, with very little regularity. I, without birth control, had one pregnancy in four years, and three in two years. When we tried for the last one (for years) I found that I could not accurately plot a cycle with ovulation tests, temp, whatever. I just really does NOT work for everyone. I have no problem with artificial BC, but much of my family is solidly against it, so I’m still interested in the issue.

    • The_L1985

      I’m all for people using NFP if it works for them, but as a fellow sufferer (I had to start taking the Pill for health reasons, because I was dizzy enough to be bedridden all day, once every month) I agree that it just doesn’t work for everyone.

      (By the way, I was NOT sexually-active when I started taking those pills. and their contraceptive purpose didn’t factor into my decision to take them. According to Catholic doctrine, choosing to begin a BCP regimen was NOT a sin. So please don’t give me the “you are commiting a grave sin” lecture. I was raised Catholic and I know what the Vatican teaches about this.)

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Heh, I wasn’t raise Catholic. I still am not one, but I am interested in women’s issues. I’m honestly not sure why we’re supposed to take celibate men’s words for how to deal with female problems (birth control, painful and unpredictable menses, pregnancy, etc) seriously, but I am aware of the Vatican’s teachings on the subject.

        • The_L1985

          Indeed. I don’t get car troubles tended to by an Amish person who’s never driven a car, so why would I leave marriage and child-bearing advice to people who have never had a marriage nor children?

        • ForsythiaTheMariner

          Well, alcoholics take the word of those who may have never touched the substance, to help them. Depressed people take the advice of doctors who may never have suffered from it or know the anguish. I dont believe one has to experience something themselves to be able to advise others on it. Just my two cents, though.

    • GK guru

      The Church has no problem with using the pill for health reasons. It’s only when you use it to unnaturally interfere that it’s a sin. The only person calling you a selfish slut is yourself.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I use it for both, because NFP is a really terrible way to avoid pregnancy for a lot of people. Always have. I was even *gasp* sexually active before I got married. So yeah, back to selfish sluttiness, I guess.

        • GK Guru

          Surely you have better things to do than troll, right? Anyway, most of the polls I’ve seen benefit NFP’s stance.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Is it trolling to point out that the author and his premises are wrong and harmful? You are attacking one line in a post full of reasons why NFP won’t work for my circumstances, surrounded by other women who don’t use it for similar reasons to me. Because I dared to call out what the RCC would call me (selfish for not wanting kids earlier than I want them and a slut for having premarital sex), that’s trolling? I’d call it pointing out how horrible the RCC acts towards women.

          • GK Guru

            You know what, you’re right. Troll is the wrong word, I apologize. But just remember that you catch more flies with honey. Your aggressive and hurtful tone to the Church and the other commentators isn’t the best strategy to convince people, considering you’re commenting on a Catholic blog. How about friendly dialogue, instead of accusatory statements?

          • Brian

            Honey is made by bees. Vinegar is made with rotten fruit. You catch more flies with vinegar.

        • ForsythiaTheMariner

          I think the issue may be that it seems no one is accusing you of “sluttiness” . Maybe i am mistaken, but in reading marc’s post, i didnt see that word, npr among the comments. If i a mistaken, i am happy to be correxted.
          Ive never read any Catholic doctrine, dogma or even document from the Church,calling any womana ‘slut’
          I was sexually active for many years before irejoined the Catholic Church and began a chaste relationship with the manwho would become my husband. and while i know im a sinner, i never thought of myself as a ‘slut’.

      • Kat

        “The Church has no problem with using the pill for health reasons. It’s
        only when you use it to unnaturally interfere that it’s a sin.”

        What about when it isn’t an either/or thing, though? Like many of the posters above, I need the pill for health reasons. BUT, since I’m on it anyway, my husband and I rely on it to prevent pregnancy. If I didn’t need it to treat other problems, we’d still use it (or some other artificial form of birth control) to make sure we don’t have any kids right now. So, is it ok because I need it, or sinful because I don’t want to get pregnant? This health reasons vs. pregnancy prevention dichotomy doesn’t really hold up; real life is a lot less black and white than that.

      • The_L1985

        Yet the Catholic Church was against Obamacare’s birth control provision, which makes it more affordable for me and Feminerd to treat our health conditions. Pharmacists and insurance companies don’t know or need to know WHY you’re taking a given medication.

        • Laceagate

          But the pharmacists and insurance companies LOVE the fact that you continue to take a pill to “treat” your health condition! Unfortunately the pills do nothing to truly treat the underlying cause. All it does it mask the symptoms (which the health profession knows, along with Big Pharma), and it’ costing a lot of money.

          • The_L1985

            My underlying condition is a hormonal imbalance that has been a problem literally since I first hit puberty. A hormonal imbalance can be fixed with–surprise!–HORMONES.

          • Laceagate

            What you’re actually doing is introducing synthetic hormones that mask your actual reproductive functioning. Aside from the whole religion debate, access to contraception, whether or not contraception is moral debate– think about it. Why would you NOT want to investigate how to alleviate or cure your symptoms without the use of birth control as a masking agent? Why would you not want to investigate why this has been an issue since you hit puberty?

          • Shannon Hawkins

            You’re amazing…ly stupid. Body parts fail, and we humans have the ability to repair those parts- including our hormonal systems. Hmm, the effects of dysfunctional ovaries can be reduced or eliminated by supplying the body with the correct hormone levels? It’s not a band-aid solution. As a sufferer of severe PCOS, I rather enjoy not having to go to the hospital because a big ol’ cyst just popped, or using an entire box of super tampons in a single day, or having my risk of various reproductive cancers jump up… In addition to the vanity of not being a fattie (PCOS also majorly screws up your thyroid!) with a beard. That was my life before diagnosis and treatment. Progesterone and Synthroid? Yes, please. With insurance it costs me maybe $30. But, according to you religious folk and woo peddlers, treating a simple medical condition before it spirals into any one of a dozen other more costly and dangerous ones is wrong because it’s ‘unnatural’ or ‘immoral’ or both. As an ex-Catholic, I’ve heard all these arguments (and it seems nowadays being a conservative theist goes hand-in-hand with opposition to any science, even the medical stuff -which used to be relatively protected- especially where the female body is concerned). Heck, I had to go to a non-Catholic clinic to get my medicine- which proved to be the last straw in a long, long list of complaints. I can’t get the recommended treatment for my disease because of your beliefs?

          • Laceagate

            As someone with PCOS, I can say you’re the stupid one for believing that taking contraception is an actual course of “treatment.”

          • Feral Dog

            Get rid of the quote marks, moron. It really is an actual course of treatment.

            Look! A source! Information from a respected and reputable medical school/hospital!

            To save you the trouble of reading big, scary words it does in fact state that contraceptives are a possible treatment for PCOS. Which means you (in a manner typical of the religious) have no idea what you are talking about.

            Just because you’ve gone and crawled up the Pope’s rear end doesn’t mean you know what my medical needs are; that’s what trained and certified professionals are for. My endocrinologist prescribed my Synthroid and progesterone pills based on my medical needs. My needs were found out by discussing both the results of my blood panel and the treatment options, and then doing a trial run of the Synthroid. Well, that solved the thyroid problem, but not the androgen problem. Since I’m not looking to reproduce any time soon (I know, according to you it’s my most important function, probably the one I should be dedicating my life to, but please forgive me for not rushing out to fulfill it at the nearest opportunity just for you- I can’t afford a child and in fact am not even looking for a partner. Tragic, I’m sure, because without babies what’s the point of me being female? Can’t believe I just wrote that, even sarcastically), we decided to add a low-dose progesterone to the treatment (instead of, say, Clomid or Metformin), and continued as before with repeated blood panels to see if it was working.

            Guess what? It worked, and in fact continues to work. I no longer look like the Evil Alternate Universe version of me (no goatee, yay). Shockingly, at no point in the process did either of us feel the need to consult a cleric or religious layperson to see what they thought about my medications.

            I wonder why that could be? Is it because other people’s religious beliefs have nothing to do with the effectiveness or… ha… ‘morality’ of synthesized hormones? I wonder if it’s because of that? Could it also be that religious leaders typically haven’t spent years of their life learning about the human body (and in the case of an endocrinologist learning more about a specific system of the human body), and that therefore their uninformed ideas are pointless, deceptive, and likely to be dangerous?

    • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

      feminerd, your logical fallacy is Straw Man.


      As for your cycle issues, the Catholic Church does NOT say there is anything morally wrong with using BC to treat medical conditions.

      But is hormone replacement good medicine? BC only treats the symptoms. While symptom management may be the best option at the given time, fixing the underlying issues is generally a better option. And this is where NFP/fertility awareness is useful: The fertility charts provide doctors with information about your body that they can use to treat the underlying cycle problems. http://kindara.com/blog/getting-over-the-pill/

      As for irregular cycles, that’s not a problem. The Marquette model uses a fertility monitor to detect safe and unsafe times through hormonal analysis. nfp.marquette.edu. It’s highly researched, highly scientific, and far from the rhythm method.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Yes, but I argue that 1) while I should probably know my body better, that is a TON of work I don’t want to go through and 2) I shouldn’t have to and 3) I want reliable birth control AND a healthy sex life, neither of which implies NFP and 4) it’s really none of the Pope’s business what non-Catholics do with their sex lives yet he wants to interfere anyways and 5) what the hell does an old celibate man who hasn’t interacted with women in any meaningful way since he was a teenager (at best) know about women’s health and concerns anyways? I am aware the RCC doesn’t say there’s anything morally wrong with using hormonal treatments for medical conditions, but why do they get to sit in the doctor’s office with me? Why do they want to know what meds I’m taking and why? Why do they want to humiliate me at the pharmacy by pusing laws to let pharmacists not do their jobs, potentially requiring me to beg for legally prescribed medication? That’s the policies they espouse; actions speak louder than words.

        • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

          1) Have you done it? How do you know it’s a ton of work?
          2) Are you arguing that you shouldn’t have to know your body? I guess ignorance is bliss.

          3) We use NFP and have a very healthy sex life and reliable birth control. We trust it far more than any contraceptive we’ve used.

          4) You’re not Catholic, why do you care if the Pope approves of your sex life?

          5) So do the happily married women who agree with the Pope know anything?

          And the rest of your post descends into paranoia. Nobody is stopping you from taking birth control. Nobody wants to be in your doctors office. All the Catholic Church asks is that they have nothing to do with it and that Catholics who do not want to support it be allowed to have nothing to do with it.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Then why do they keep buying hospitals? Why do they support the people who want to deny employees coverage for basic healthcare? I care because the Pope influences policy, which influences my life. If he’d get out of politics, I wouldn’t give a crap what he thought about anything, but since the RCC was heavily involved in trying to make sure no woman in the country would have reliable, affordable access to contraception, abortion, and sterilization, I have to care. When the RCC supports those stupid conscience laws, I have to care. I’ll stop caring when the RCC stops trying to insert itself into my life.

            I’m glad NFP is working for you. ~98% of Catholic women in the US use artificial birth control at some point in their lives, so clearly it doesn’t work for most of them. From what I’ve read, it is quite a lot of work, and I freely admit that I’m choosing ignorance of my body over that work. It’s not admirable, but there it is, and at least this way I won’t get pregnant from forgetting to take my temperature one day. All I ask is that the RCC stay out of my uterus and ovaries, but they won’t; you can’t deny me access to things, then claim you have “nothing to do with it”. You do. You banned it, or over-regulated it, or made sure it was too expensive.

          • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

            Let’s just say your politics show NRA-level paranoia.

            Yes, most Catholic women have used contraception. Many who currently use NFP are in that 98%.


            Anyway, Do you think religious leaders should encourage or discourage behavior that is “not admirable”?

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Encourage, sure. Attempt to force through threats of Hell and damnation? Not so much.

          • Laceagate

            Let’s get some facts straight:

            1. Women have been able to get access to contraception long before Obamacare;

            2. Insurance companies have covered contraception before Obamacare;

            3. Believe it or not– Obamacare is actually making coverage more difficult in various circumstances, which is why they included the contraception mandate. The mandate was a means to impose their rules onto institutions that do not agree with their rules, not the other way around. Let’s look at it this way– if you don’t agree with the rules or the benefits your employer has, find somewhere else where you agree. If you don’t agree with a business practice, take your money elsewhere.

            Has anyone checked the Beckett Fund lately? This isn’t just a “Catholic issue”– the majority of the schools and businesses listed there who are against the mandate are Protestant. It’s because people should not have to fund lifestyle choices for others. Using contraceptives is a decision made by a person for a lifestyle choice.

            4. Drug companies are making things more expensive, not supposed bans or regulation. In fact, lots of contraceptives, medications, medical supplies, etc. are rather cheap to produce but the drug companies would rather increase their profit margin. Has anyone not thought of this in relation to the health care reform? Do people really think Obama instituted the individual mandate just because– or could it have done with the fact that the heads of various health care companies convinced him to include it?

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            1) Yes- if they had health insurance that covered contraception or clinics like Planned Parenthood. Otherwise, not so much.

            2) Yes they have. Well, most of them. A bunch of them that did are actually now talking about dropping it as it’s come into the limelight, including Catholic non-church-related businesses. Mandating coverage makes as much sense as getting rid of the pre-existing condition clauses; that is, it’s clearly the only right choice if you care about people getting access to health care.

            3. You’re right, it isn’t only a Catholic issue. Protestants are fully capable of being wrong too. You’ll note the similarity in rhetoric about controlling women’s bodies and choices for them, though, as well as pointing to the same book to justify it.

            As for getting work elsewhere- let me take a second to stare at you in utter crogglement. Have you paid any attention to this economy? It can be damned hard to find a job, and if (for example) the only hospital in the area is a Catholic hospital, the proper response is not to tell a nurse or doctor or janitor to move somewhere else. No one is being forced to take contraceptives, companies are merely forced to cover it in insurance. No one is forced to have bypass surgery either, but we’d be pretty angry if someone who needed one couldn’t get it because it wasn’t covered by insurance and they couldn’t afford it.

            4. Yes, drug companies do lots of very bad things. They squeeze profits out of people who really can’t afford to pay more. Single-payer, government using its power to negotiate lower drug and equipment prices (as they do in pretty much every other developed country in the world), transparent pricing of services, etc would all be good. The ACA isn’t a good law, it’s just better than the catastrophe before it. I’m not sure what this has to do with access to cheap contraception, though- if it’s not covered by insurance, it’s just not affordable to many people. Since the position of the RCC is that corporations shouldn’t have to cover contraception, abortion, or sterilization (or any other procedure that isn’t in line with the owner’s personal beliefs, potentially including blood transfusions and/or any modern medical procedure), they clearly support making them inaccessible to everyone. That is why I care one whit about what the Pope says about anything: he affects policy that affects other people, including me.

    • crunchy cradle Catholic

      actually, NFP works quite well for women with irregular cycles. there is no guessing or assuming when ovulation will take place, instead you are tracking symptoms of fertility, so you actually know that ovulation is about to occur.

    • Anna S

      Big Caveat: Catholic teaching says there is NOTHING WRONG with the pill when it’s used to treat a medical condition. Nothing. That argument is a total straw men. That said, NFP sure has worked for me the past 3 years. In fact, it has helped explain a lot about WHY my cycles were so insanely irregular (also 30 to 60 days) and painful (blacking out). The information I’ve learned through NFP has helped me get them back on track naturally, without the use of class 1 carcinogens (that would be the pill, which I used for 5 years prior). Yes, it has taken time and patience, trial and error, but it has been SO worth it. I actually know what’s going on with my body now. And really, there’s rarely ever that much abstinence (only time that’s happened was due to a charting error by me), even for us crazy cycle women. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

  • ChevalierdeJohnstone

    Would you (and I invite others as well!) mind commenting on the following conundrum. I tend to agree with the catholic doctrine in these discussions, but I have been asked an interesting question by someone who doesn’t, and I didn’t have a reasonable answer.

    What’s confusing is, is contraception worse (a worse sin?) than fornication? I think here we have to assume it is not the kind of contraception that “accidentally” causes the abortion of a fertilized embryo, so the couple are having sex but artificially attempting to prevent fertilization, not intentionally causing the death of another human.) My (heh – highly unsatisfactory) response was that it’s a holistic interaction and it doesn’t make sense to start from the assumption, “I’m going to sin and fornicate anyways, so how bad is using contraception in addition.” I tried to make the argument that using sin to justify sin is a bad idea. Which is true, but I understand this doesn’t answer the question my friend has.

    Is that the only answer we have? If so it may be right, but I can tell you it wasn’t logically satisfactory as an argument when I tried it. To someone who sees a set of rules rather than a holistic lifestyle, they want to know which is more important, A or B, and how they each relate to C.

    An easy thought-experiment is the comparison of a hypothetical unmarried couple having intercourse without the use of contraceptives (but perhaps using NFP without the family?), and a hypothetical married couple having intercourse with the use of contraceptives. Are these situations equally bad or is there a “worse” here?

    Viscerally, I lean towards the married couple, since they can’t “take back” the prior use of contraceptives, whereas the unmarried fornicators can just go ahead and get married which would seem to solve the problem. However I really don’t have a good answer as to why I feel that way.


    • http://womanofvalorpsalm39.blogspot.com/ Andrea

      I think your point about legalism is the key Chevalierde. Jesus equated lust in the heart with adultery, so one is equated with the other.
      The point here is that in both cases the unitive and procreative are broken. How can it be truly unitive outside of marriage; you havent committed yourself completely to that person? How can it be unitive if there is no opportunity of procreation, as Mark says you are separating that part of the person from them, Hereford reducing them
      Does this help?

      • The_L1985

        “How can it be truly unitive outside of marriage; you havent committed yourself completely to that person?”

        Counter-argument: what about a couple who fully intends to get married ASAP, but can’t yet afford the marriage certificate? Does their lack of money make them any less committed to each other? If not, why not?

        If you are truly committed to a person, then a ritual or a signature on a piece of paper doesn’t change your feelings; it only makes them publicly known. If you’re not, then all the posturing and bluster of an insincere wedding won’t change your lack of commitment.

        • Christian Stillings

          Well, to be sacramentally married in the Church doesn’t require a couple to be legally married per se, though it’s probably a recommendation in most circumstances. Either way, I agree that the intention toward commitment goes a lot further than a piece of paper. However, if a couple has decided that they wish to pursue this commitment and desires to be married into the Church, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect them to abide by the Church’s pre-marriage regulations (like counseling and mutual continence), which are honestly for the benefit of the marriage.

          • The_L1985

            True. However, the couple in question may or may not be Catholic, or even Christian, at all. Yet the “natural law” arguments I see are somehow supposed to apply to everyone, even for members of religions that don’t consider consensual pre-marital sex to be a sin.

    • Newp Ort

      Sex outside marriage is wrong. does using ABC make it more wrong? outside marriage regardless, who cares about ABC at that point?

      • The_L1985

        This is a bad argument, Newp Ort. One could just as easily say, “sex outside of marriage is wrong, does knocking her out with Rohypnol make it more wrong?” by that exact same logic. You really, really don’t want to go down that road.

  • Brad C.

    So, if natural family planning works just as well as artificial birth control, then why would you quote stats about how more children is correlated with lower divorce rates, in support of your argument that an increase in birth control leads to an increase in divorce?

    Either NFP doesn’t work as well as ABC (which I believe, but you don’t seem to want to admit), or stats about the number of children in divorcing families have nothing to do with your claim that birth control is correlated with an increase in divorce.

    [Edited to clarify final sentence]

    • Christian Stillings

      “Why would you quote stats… in support of your argument that increase in birth control leads to an increase in divorce?”

      It’s possible that birth control could correlate to an increase in divorce for reasons not directly related to the number of children. On the other side of the same coin, the non-use of contraception may be beneficial to the marriage for reasons not directly related to the number of children borne in the marriage. (Humanae Vitae no. 17, anyone?) However, I agree that Marc doesn’t draw this out very well in the post.

      Contraception is used with the intention of preventing pregnancy and NFP with the intention of avoiding it, so the intentions are pretty similar, and if the efficacy rates are pretty much the same, so be it. However, the motivation and intention behind not conceiving may be different for a “practicing” Catholic couple and an average couple in American society, and the motivation and intention may impact the health of the marriage in a way not directly related to the number of children the marriage has thus far borne.

      • Brad C.

        Yes, I suppose those other correlations are hypothetically *possible*, but Marc’s post offers nothing to support them.

        I’m not sure what kind of distinction you are trying to make between “preventing” and “avoiding”. Those sound like synonyms to me, a distinction without a difference. (I don’t actually accept that efficacy rates of NFP vs ABC are similar, but that’s a bit of an aside.)

        I can’t think of any reasons that a Catholic couple might not want to conceive that couldn’t apply to any other couple, so I’m not sure what you mean about different motives/intentions. (To be clear, I can see a Catholic couple choosing to allow conception where a non-catholic couple might not, but not the opposite.)

        • http://www.crunchycradlecatholic.blogspot.com/ Crunchy Cradle Catholic

          Preventing pregnancy= intentional manipulation of the body via synthetic hormones barriers, devices, etc. Avoiding pregnancy= not engaging in sex on fertile days. These are two very different things, even if the end is the same. The end cannot justify the means.

    • http://www.crunchycradlecatholic.blogspot.com/ Crunchy Cradle Catholic

      The point is two fold because NFP can be used either for AVOIDING or ACHIEVING pregnancy. If you choose to use it to avoid pregnancy it works just as well as ABC. And if you are trying to get pregnant, works better than IVF.
      Perhaps the fact that couples with more children divorce less is because children can actually be a blessing and a benefit to marriage, and not just a burden to be avoided.

      I think that couples who use NFP tend to be more open and accepting of the gift that children are, which is why they may tend to have more children, not that NFP is not effective for avoiding pregnancy.

  • Newp Ort

    How can Creighton, et al NFP methods be open to life/sharing fertility, but at the same time you mention it’s excellent success rate at avoiding pregnancy?

    Seems contradictory.

    If it works better than condoms or whatever then why aren’t condoms allowed? Or why isn’t NFP to prevent pregnancy disallowed?

    • http://womanofvalorpsalm39.blogspot.com/ Andrea

      To see the difference between NFP and condoms I like to use a metaphor. If you were about to participate in a high wire trapeze act (I know, haven’t we all) then your chances of falling are the same whether you use a net or not. This is actually the case with NFP and condoms.
      However, if you’re not going to use a net you’re going to make sure that the;
      i) you are capable of doing it and
      ii) the person who is supposed to be catching you is capable of that.
      In other words, your are ness of the fact that you may fall is heightened by the removal of the illusion that you will be safe if you do.
      Like all metaphors this isn’t perfect as there is more safety in the net whereas in terms of artficial contraception and natural they are comparative. However, it does serve to prove the point that when using artificial contraception the illusion of safety enables people to behave in riskier sexual patterns. I don’t mean ‘sleeping around’, but possibly engaging in a long term sexual rleationship were you know that you have no intention of introducing children and you are also incapable of providing for any children.
      Artifical contraception can therefore make any child conceived be perceived as ‘accidental’ and therefore increase its chance of abortion.
      Whereas the knowledge of the chance of conception and the submission to God’s will in the matter can make any child conceived more accepted.
      This is why your supreme court ruled that when contraception became a mainstay of society abortion was a pe-requisite right.

      • Newp Ort

        You didn’t really address my question. if NFP effectiveness is equal or slightly betterthan condoms, then why is the NFP allowed? It’s even more closed to life/sharing the whole person than the condom.

        So what’s the difference, all other things being equal?

        NFP seems more natural than bc pill but about the same, maybe less natural than barrier methods. both stop sperm from meeting viable egg.

        NFP: charts thermometers checking for mucus etc.
        barriers: put it on/in. do it

        • http://womanofvalorpsalm39.blogspot.com/ Andrea

          If you used NFP with the intention of never having children again, your right, in essence it is the same. That is what is taught by the Church.

          • Monimonika

            Newp Ort had initially asked this (as have others) and has so far been avoided being answered by all Marc-supporters:

            Why the mention of NFP’s supposedly excellent rate at avoiding pregnancy, when supposedly the very justification of using NFP over artificial contraception by the Church is that it DOESN’T have such an excellent rate of success at preventing pregnancy?

            Also, the very much botched up logic of Marc’s concerning how the likelihood of divorce drops the more children there are, therefore contraception makes divorce more likely. But somehow the excellent number-of-children-reducing NFP doesn’t do the same thing to the divorce rate???

          • Newp Ort

            Yeah but what if youre using NFP or condoms to PLAN, not to avoid ever having children? What’s the difference?

          • Monimonika

            If the “openness to life” intent is what matters, can’t a married couple still use artificial contraception but with the same knowledge that the contraception can fail at anytime and that whatever pregnancy that occurs will be welcome anyway? Say, randomly poke holes in some of the condoms? Or, don’t concern themselves too much if some slippage occurs? Would that be open enough?

          • http://womanofvalorpsalm39.blogspot.com/ Andrea

            Monimonika, if you randomly poked holes in condoms what would be there point?

            Your second point about ‘slippage’ is more realistic, but the point here again would come back to intention. If you’re not concerning yourself with slippage I would suggest that it is not out of a desire to be open to life, but about your carelessness in general.

            As Christians we believe that God has given us free will. This freedom is to be handled by us responsibly, but as we love and trust God we are open to his will in our lives. Therefore the ‘slippage’ situation would lead you to think that they are not being responsible with our free will.

            In Newp’s comments he is focused on the outcome; both can be seen to be similar in terms of actual possible pregnancies that could be experienced by the couple. However there intentions change the nature of the relationship and the attitude towards the conceived person as well as, as a consequence of the relatedness of humanity, the way life is perceived by society in general.

            I think this was best put by your supreme court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which confirmed Roe v. Wade, and in their statement said “in some critical respects abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception . . . . for two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.”

            In other words, it is not because contraceptives are ineffective that women seek abortions as back-ups but the types of relationship we engage that make abortion “necessary”.

            It is this responsibility to wider society that the prophetic humane vitae was referring to when it warned that contraception would result in the dehumanisation of sex and lead to higher divorce rates, the sexual objectification of women, the increase in the states ability to impose contraceptives on society and the lowering of standards in society.

            Again, I hope this helps. God bless and good night. I’m off to bed now as it’s 11pm here and, as I have a blessed little one upstairs, I need my sleep to get up early in the morning.
            Have a good day/night Monimonika and Newp Ort!

          • Newp Ort

            Thanks for your replies, have a good night.

          • The_L1985

            Here are 2 married couples. Please explain to me why they are morally different, because I’m not seeing it.

            1. John and Jane have just gotten married. They have decided that they want to wait 3 years before having their first child. They use NFP to delay the conception of their first child until that time.

            2. Shawn and Bernice have just gotten married. They have decided that they want to wait 3 years before having their first child. They use birth-control pills and other artificial methods to delay the conception of their first child until that time.

            If they’re the same, according to the Church, then why is NFP encouraged, while other birth-control methods are condemned?

          • http://www.crunchycradlecatholic.blogspot.com/ Crunchy Cradle Catholic

            the use of nfp can also be a sin if the intent is selfish. abc disrupts the two parts to sex, unity and pro creation, nfp, or simply abstaining during the fertile time doesn’t attempt to have just unity or just pro creation, without the other.

          • The_L1985

            Please explain how “unity” is disrupted by the use of a condom or pill, because I’m pretty sure that when couples make love, a lot more is touching than just Tab A and Slot B. To imply that a piece of latex in between the genitals is enough to prevent sex from being loving or unitive strikes me as dismissive of all the holding, kissing, and other touch that’s going on.

          • http://www.crunchycradlecatholic.blogspot.com/ Crunchy Cradle Catholic

            Sex is about more than just touching and kissing. Couples have sex to show their love and unity (and to have kids). Words are simply not enough to express the depth of their love, so physical actions are used. Pleasure is a nice “side effect”. Using contraception, says, “I love you so much, but…. I don’t really want to give my whole self, including my fertility to you.” Using NFP doesn’t change the nature of sex.

          • The_L1985

            I do want to give my whole self to my fiance. We just don’t want kids yet. Not wanting to have kids as soon as we get married is different from not wanting to ever have kids. As far as I can tell, using any form of birth control doesn’t change the nature of sex.

            I really do think that you’re reading a lot more into the use of condoms and birth-control pills than is actually there.

          • http://www.crunchycradlecatholic.blogspot.com/ Crunchy Cradle Catholic

            I guess we need to go back to the beginning, sex is meant for marriage. It speaks the language of renewing wedding vows. The hormones released during sex bond individuals together, for life. I think it is easier to NFP in the right light if we see sex in the right light.

          • The_L1985

            “The hormones released during sex bond individuals together, for life.”

            As someone who is not a virgin, and is not in any way involved with the scumbag she lost her virginity to*, no it doesn’t. It strengthens the emotional bond, sure, but if that bond isn’t there in the first place, all the canoodling in the world won’t change that.

            *To be clear, he was a scumbag for a lot of reasons, most of which had nothing to do with our having had sex.

          • http://www.crunchycradlecatholic.blogspot.com/ Crunchy Cradle Catholic

            Why did you sleep with him if he was a scumbag? I’ll bet you didn’t think so at the time. It’s easier to break up (and break that hormonal bond) with someone who is a “scumbag” than prince charming.

          • The_L1985

            Yes, but.

            I have dated lots of men, and that fellow was the only scumbag among them. I have fond memories of all my non-scummy exes, regardless of whether we played around in each other’s pants. I have exactly the same amount of a bond with people I dated 5 years ago, as I do with the fellow from 3rd period in high school that I had a massive crush on and wanted to ask out but never did.

            Sex does not automatically create a bond for everybody. For some people it does; for some people, it definitely doesn’t. How tough a breakup is can depend on whether or not the couple has had sex, but it really doesn’t for everybody. Please stop making blanket statements about everybody’s emotions. You are not them, and Prince Charming is a fictional character.

          • Kate

            Please re-read what you just wrote! “Using contraception says, ‘I love you so much, but….I don’t really want to give my whole self, including my fertility to you.’”

            How can that exact sentence not be applied toward NFP? If you use NFP and your partner wants to have sex on a fertile day, but you have don’t want to get pregnant, then you would have to say that EXACT same thing! If you are using NFP, but avoid fertile days, then you are NOT giving your entire self, including your fertility because you KNOW that you’re not fertile that day!!

          • http://www.crunchycradlecatholic.blogspot.com/ Crunchy Cradle Catholic

            It is different with NFP, because you simply choose not to engage in sex on a fertile day. You are not altering your body (synthetic hormones etc) or placing a barrier between you and your beloved in order to change the nature of sex. Sex is ordered toward unity and procreation (making babies), if you alter one of those then you change the nature of sex. NFP does nothing to change the nature or the order of sex. Contraception changes the very nature of sex, it removes one of its natural ends (children), it reduces sex to something less than what it could be. It is so much easier with contraception to reduce sex even further and reduce it to just pleasure, take love/unity right out of the picture.

      • Newp Ort

        To put it simply: married couple. all other things equal, why is NFP OK, but barrier methods not?

        • Laceagate

          Humanae Vitae puts it simply:

          In the former the married couple rightly use a faculty provided them by nature. In the later they obstruct the natural development of the generative process.

          The former being NFP, and the later being ABC. It has nothing to do with the effectiveness, and I daresay that the Catholics who are always proclaiming the effectiveness of NFP are reducing it to ABC. In NFP if a couple chooses not to have sex, there isn’t any sperm to meet the egg, of course. But that is in line with the functioning of the human body. There are no “oops!” pregnancies or “I was on antibiotics so the pill didn’t work” pregnancies. It’s simply a pregnancy, not an accident. NFP always, always, always takes it into consideration that a life can still happen. Avoiding a pregnancy in itself is not a sin unless you are using a means which subverts the natural functioning of the human body. With ABC, sexual intercourse can happen whenever because during the time where a woman would normally be ovulating, she can’t– but the couple can still have sex during that time. That part is actually having your cake and eating it too.

          • The_L1985

            When I chew gum, I am lowering my appetite without actually feeding myself, thus obstructing the natural process of satiation through eating. This is subverting the natural function of the human body, yet I never hear anyone talking about gum-chewing being a sin.

      • The_L1985

        “However, it does serve to prove the point that when using artificial
        contraception the illusion of safety enables people to behave in riskier
        sexual patterns.”

        Not necessarily. I am fully aware that if I were to have vaginal sex tonight, even though I’m on the Pill for health reasons, there’s a chance I could get pregnant. It’s small, but it’s there. If the fellow involved were also wearing a condom, the chance would be smaller, but I know that it would still be there.

        Choosing to have sex, whether or not to use family planning methods, and whether to use natural or artificial methods of preventing conception are all based on a risk analysis which is highly subjective. Different levels of risk are acceptable or unacceptable to different people.

      • victoria

        Any act of PIV sex is “without a net” unless there is something that makes pregnancy literally impossible (a hysterectomy, being post-menopausal, a bilateral orchiectomy).

        But there is a real difference in the chances of “falling” between NFP and the most reliable other methods available. Marc cites a 98.2% typical use rate for the STM, which is the highest I’ve ever seen cited for any NFP/FAM. A vasectomy has a 99.92-99.96% late failure rate; Implanon is 99.95-99.96% reliable. It doesn’t look like a huge difference but it’s actually enormous in terms of your real-world likelihood of pregnancy. (If you used NFP for your entire fertile life to prevent pregnancy you’d stand a roughly 50-50 shot of having at least one unplanned pregnancy even using the most generous typical use rates; that is not even close to true for the most effective artificial methods.)

        If you believe life begins at conception and abortion is always wrong I’m not sure why the method you use to space your children would affect that. Similarly, if you’re avoiding pregnancy because a pregnancy would kill or maim you, it’s not really relevant whether you’d be willing to expand your family.

    • The_L1985

      I agree. Saying “you can’t use contraception, because you have to be open to the possibility of pregnancy” while also saying “you can use NFP and it has a good success rate at delaying/preventing pregnancy” sounds an awful lot like trying to have your cake and eat it.

    • http://www.crunchycradlecatholic.blogspot.com/ Crunchy Cradle Catholic

      the end doesn’t justify the means. just because the intention is the same, avoiding pregnancy, doesn’t mean you can go about getting there any old way. you can work for your money or steal it. either way you get money, right? you can interfere with the nature and intention of sex, or you can work with your body.

  • Good Catholic GIrl

    OK, now my shackles are up. Why would a report about Qatari women be quoted in this article? I’m not an expert on Muslim divorce law, but unless things have changed drastically, I don’t think Muslim women ask for and obtain divorces. I believe that is the husband’s right, not the wife’s. No where in the article does it mention women seeking divorce from their (hand-picked by her family) husbands. Also, please note that in Qatar, evidently quite a wealthy country, most women have maids, cooks and nannies and they do not work outside of the home. You can hardly compare what seems to be a relatively leisurely Qatari lifestyle to the average American wife and mother.

    • Heather Irwin

      Yes, actually, Muslim women do have a right to seek a divorce, though you don’t hear about it much. It’s not as easy to obtain as the husband’s divorce, but that will depend on local interpretation. And women most certainly do choose their own husbands, in love-matches; arranged marriage exists to varying degrees in Muslim majority places, and is becoming less common. Qatari women do choose their own husbands.

      The question of whether a study of Qatari divorces is applicable to America could be asked. But a marriage is still a relationship, and is still stressful and difficult whether you’re a Muslim couple in Qatar or a Christian couple in America. And I would point out, also, that it’s generally easier to obtain a divorce under Islamic law (for the man, at least) than to obtain a divorce in the most liberal of U.S. states, especially if there are children.

  • Niemand

    You did notice that every one of the studies you cite lauding the efficacy of NFP noted a high drop out rate (>10% within one year), didn’t you?

    • badcatholic

      I truly hope that you just don’t know what you’re talking about on this one. In the world of family planning, that’s NOT a high drop out rate. Have you LOOKED at the dropout rate for contraceptive devices? Let me run a few studies by you, you let me know what you think.

      A 1998 study of 1657 American women found that “six months after a new oral contraceptive prescription, 68% of new starts and 84% of switchers still used oral contraceptives.” So that’s a 32% drop out rate for women who just started contraception and a 16% drop out rate for women who were already using oral contraceptives.

      A 2007 study of 1716 American women found that “60% of subjects discontinued the OC by 6 months.”

      A 1997 study of 402 women using injectable contraception found that “the cumulative life-table discontinuation rate at 12 months was 58%”

      The French are a little better at sticking with their methods. A 2009 study of 2863 French women found that 11% discontinued the IUD within 12 months (30% within 4 years) and 22% the pill (48%, within 4 years).

      A study of 6 countries by the Guttmacher Institute found that contraceptive discontinuation ranged from 37-51%.

      I could certainly go on, but I’ll keep it simple. I DID notice the dropout rate. And it’s entirely impressive.

      • badcatholic
        • Niemand

          The French study that specifically says, “Discontinuation rates were significantly higher for all other methods (condoms, withdrawal, fertility awareness
          and spermicides)”?

          I see your point about 10% being a low drop out rate. Unfortunately, it’s also a vast underestimate of how much drop out there’s going to be from NFP. Thank you for pointing out my error.

          However, I don’t think the study you linked supports your position very solidly. They go on to say that slightly more than 75% of women dropped the fertility awareness method for method related reasons. This compares to about 48% for OCP (with some formulations having significantly lower rates of discontinuation for method) and a bit less than 30% for the IUD. Perhaps this is why IUDs are not becoming more popular as first line birth control.

      • Niemand

        I’d also highlight Victoria’s point, above. The drop out rate for NFP only includes those who have already completed training in the method. There is a huge drop out rate during training. So you have a highly select group by the time you get to the phase where people are even officially looking at drop out rates.

        In fact, looking at the Hermann et al paper in more detail, I’m not sure where they got their claim of a drop out rate of 9.2 per 100, given that they started the study with 900 women and ended it with 229 two years later-after dropping nearly 600 in the initial screening phase for reasons including irregular menses (i.e. they only took the ideal candidates for the study).

  • Niemand
    • victoria

      That’s an interesting review — I just read the whole article.

      The actual numbers for the people who dropped out *just during the training phase* were huge in the studies they could find that met their criteria (and I’ve had some training in how Cochrane does their reviews — they are extremely thorough and comprehensive). Much bigger than that abstract would imply, though they do make clear that there’s never been a high-quality RCT of any FAM. One study reported that 16% and 20% of participants dropped out of the ovulation arm and the STM arm, respectively — but 69% and 62%, respectively, dropped out before the official start of the trial because the training was too difficult.

      Another study lost 31% from the ovulation arm and 30% from the STM arm — but during training they lost 53% and 61%. A third lost 43% and 39% during training, and almost half of the remaining cohort was still considered “in training” at the end of the study so their data wasn’t used. Wow.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    “For one thing, the idea that contraception is rooted in selfishness as opposed to generosity is wrong. One reason people plan their pregnancies today is so that they can give the children they choose to have more attention and care.”

    For those who have siblings that they love, which one would they give up to have more attention and care from their parents?

    • Newp Ort

      Ted, isn’t your point against any planning of families, even NFP? are married couples supposed to crank out as many kids as possible with no regard for how to support them?

      • TheodoreSeeber

        The simple answer is yes, the longer answer is is not quite.

        I use NFP in reverse, and even then, my biggest regret wasn’t starting a family soon enough to prevent secondary infertility from setting in. Which means I may have a bit of a twisted perspective, but here goes.

        The “natural” time of life to have kids, is in your teens. That is the time when you have the ability to help them grow up.

        I think that this “no regard for how to support them” thing is a First World Problem, born not from *personal* selfishness but rather *systemic* selfishness. The whole idea would be laughable in any country outside of the First World, and *was* laughable up until the 1870s or so; up until then, children were not just a blessing, but a secular economic asset.

        Then came the industrial revolution. Labor went out of balance, and into surplus. Suddenly, children weren’t so much of an asset, were quickly becoming an economic burden.

        There are two potential responses to this. Family Planning is the one you are familiar with.

        The other is the Living Wage movement. The Living Wage movement states that wages paid to a worker- male or female- that is also a parent- male or female- should be higher than wages paid to a person who is not a parent. The reason for this is you are asking that parent to take time away from raising the kids- the very kids that in 20 or 40 years time, you will be depending upon for your workforce (and which we are now 55 million shy of in the United States).

        One of these recognizes that we don’t know the potential value of human beings, the other one, doesn’t. I will leave it up to you to decide which is which.

        • The_L1985

          The other problem is that unless birth rates change, the rate of population increase goes up when you introduce vaccines, sterilized delivery rooms, and other such quality-of-life improvements.

          If you’ve got a good chance of miscarriage, a 50/50 chance of a born child surviving infancy, and then a 50/50 chance of each child who survives infancy actually living to adulthood, then it’s in your best interests to get pregnant as many times as possible, so that some of your children will survive to have children of their own. Even with half of all women dying in childbirth, it was still a good idea for them to get pregnant lots of times, to perpetuate the species.

          But we don’t need to have as many children per household anymore. New cemeteries have very few child graves compared to 19th-century cemeteries.

          Plus, the size of the Earth, though very large, is still finite. If people were still routinely having a dozen children, then there would be billions more people on the earth than there are now, and most of them would be starving. The biggest estimate I’ve heard for the human carrying capacity of the Earth is 11 billion, and we’ve got more than half that number already. I honestly believe that for people to choose small family sizes (which, being voluntary, is NOT the same thing as mandatory sterilization, mass abortions, or mass infanticide) is one of the few decisions we can make to improve human quality of life that will remain sustainable in the long term.

          A living wage must also be implemented, of course! It’s no good to have enough resources for everybody if they’re not distributed to everybody in amounts that can satisfy their needs. But that can’t be the only change we make, because if the human population exceeds the Earth’s capacity to feed and clothe them all, then it doesn’t matter how high wages are.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Really? Permaculture experts suggest that if we used all available surface area for permaculture (including vertical farms on skyscrapers to help regulate air conditioning) we could easily hit a carrying capacity of 80 billion.

            We’re never going to pass 10 billion though. At this point, we’re in severe demographic decline in the first world, and birth rates are falling quite severely in the third (10 years ago Uganda had a birth rate of 8 children per family- today it is 3).

            Plus, genius is random. We likely already aborted the researcher who would have cured cancer, the researcher who would have increased yields to the point that no dictator or market could control food prices, the researcher who could have given us in-system extraterrestrial colonization.

            We are not wise enough to know who to abort, and thus, should abort nobody.

            I believe the way forward is a Living Wage movement for 10 year olds. I have no problem whatsoever with teenage pregnancy, except for the way the fathers act.

          • The_L1985

            “Permaculture experts suggest that if we used all available surface area
            for permaculture (including vertical farms on skyscrapers to help
            regulate air conditioning) we could easily hit a carrying capacity of 80

            Citation needed. Also, bear in mind that some of the more dramatic re-hauls of civilization necessary for large numbers of people to survive would require the use of staggering amounts of resources–in order to conserve our resources! The point still stands, however, that the carrying capacity of the Earth is finite, and that if we exceed this carrying capacity, people are guaranteed to starve.

            “Plus, genius is random. We likely already aborted the researcher who
            would have cured cancer, the researcher who would have increased yields
            to the point that no dictator or market could control food prices, the
            researcher who could have given us in-system extraterrestrial

            Where did I promote abortion in the above post? I just re-read it to check and I did not say one single solitary word about it.

            “I believe the way forward is a Living Wage movement for 10 year olds.”

            You have got to be smegging kidding me. CEOs aren’t willing to pay a living wage or hire enough workers to offset unemployment now, with only adults working. If we had children working again, it would be far worse. Plus, when are those kids going to be educated? We’re barely able to fit everything into the K-12 curriculum as it is.

            “I have no problem whatsoever with teenage pregnancy, except for the way the fathers act.”

            The fathers? Does it not occur to you that with teenage pregnancy, teenage girls are suffering the stresses of pregnancy, without the maturity to appreciate the rewards? Or that a lot of teenage girls, post-menarche, are still growing and developing physically, and may not be physically ready to survive childbirth yet?

    • victoria

      I love all my siblings but that’s because I know them and because I have a relationship with them. I certainly don’t mourn the siblings I didn’t have and I don’t wish my parents had had more kids. All of us had times when we needed more than the usual amount of care and attention and I’m glad that was a logistical possibility.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        So, which of your siblings would you give up to have a better material life for yourself?

        • victoria

          Was I not clear?

          • TheodoreSeeber

            You were not clear- and did not answer the question. Since you believe you would have been better off with fewer siblings, which of them would you give up?

          • victoria

            As it happens I do not believe I would have been better off with fewer siblings. Which is why I didn’t say I believed that.

            I am infinitely glad, however, that when my mother’s priest advised her not to have any more children because of the complication she developed on her final pregnancy that nearly killed her, she listened to that counsel.

          • victoria

            A question for you: why do you equate the idea that people might space their births or limit the number of children they have to give adequate care and attention to their living children with the idea that people would want their living siblings dead?

          • Ella Warnock

            Because every child that you COULD have had, but didn’t because it was never conceived, is a slap in the face of god and an act of betrayal to the other children you did have. It matters not that siblings don’t feel that they’re “missing” anyone else. If their parents didn’t have more kids but could have, then they’ve robbed those siblings and they SHOULD feel sorrow and loss and woe is me — even if they don’t.

            Put another way, it’s just my brother and me. Should I be broken and inconsolable because there were potential siblings I never had the opportunity to know? Is that really something I need to be worried about when I have a full plate of actual issues that demand the whole of my time and attention? No. I’m a busy woman, and I’ve no time for coulda-woulda-shoulda games. Unfortunate, colossal wastes of time.

  • The_L1985

    Catholic women are free to plan their pregnancies, and through the use of effective methods of organic family planning, they do so with 98.2% typical-use effectiveness using the Sympto-Thermal method (1) or 96.8-98.0% typical-use effectiveness using the Creighton Model (2)(3) (to do a little name-dropping up in this blergh).”

    Er, statistics indicate that 98% of Catholic women in America have used artificial contraceptives like condoms and birth-control pills. While I’m sure that a lot of Catholic women on the Pill are using them for health reasons instead of birth-control reasons*, this can’t possibly account for all Catholic women who have used the Pill. I think that this should be addressed at least parenthetically. After all, Catholic women aren’t all using NFP. I can grant a high success rate for NFP, simply because one is paying such in-depth attention to one’s own body, but one should also bear in mind that someone can always claim to be using NFP when she really isn’t. Lying in a self-reported study to make yourself look better happens, and since Catholics aren’t any more exempt from human faults than anybody else, this should be accounted for.

    And please don’t use the word “blergh.” I’m almost a decade older than you, and I still get “middle-aged person trying to sound hip for today’s youth” vibes when I read that. Just say “blog.” Please.

    And as for the divorce statistics, I can think of several reasons why you can’t automatically assume that contraception is the main problem:

    1. Many couples with children who have very bad marriages and probably need a divorce will stay together “for the sake of the children,” even though an unhealthy marriage between one’s parents, and the escalated tension it causes in the home, can be even worse for the kids’ psychological development than a divorce! This fact alone has a major effect on divorce statistics, and it cannot and should not be ignored as a factor.

    2. A marriage in which one spouse wants children and the other doesn’t is pretty likely to result in divorce. Surely it’s better to divorce before you have children your spouse doesn’t want, instead of forcing said spouse to pay child support for said children? Better for you, better for your children, and better for the person who didn’t want to be a parent in the first place. (Arguably it would be better if such a couple had never married at all, but you can’t undo your wedding day, just because you picked the wrong person. Being divorced isn’t quite the same as having never been married.)

    3. If you want children, but your spouse is infertile, your only options to have that child are either to do things the Catholic church frowns upon (like IVF), take very expensive fertility drugs, or, if you can afford it, to adopt a child. A proper, legal adoption is very expensive–much more expensive than giving birth to, and raising, one’s own naturally-conceived biological child. Or, of course, you could divorce and hope that your next spouse is able to give you children. None of these options are optimal, and most of them are too expensive for the average American (to say nothing of adults in poorer countries). But there simply are no good options for infertile couples who want children, that are also affordable.

    4. Divorce is much more complicated when children are involved. Custody and visitation rights have to be decided upon, the parent who doesn’t have custody often has to make child-support payments, and of course the child has to deal with the major adjustment to living with only one parent at a time. This can also provide an incentive for a couple that would otherwise have divorced to stay together, just to avoid the expensive hassle of setting up all those legal provisions for their kids.

    I would like to point out that I am not trying to advocate for divorce here. Wanting a divorce is a sign that one is in an unhealthy marriage relationship. I believe that unmarried couples have a duty to one another to clearly communicate the qualities they want in a spouse before tying the knot, so that they don’t waste time and energy getting married to someone who just isn’t compatible with them. (And certainly most people agree that if your options are staying with an abusive spouse, or getting a divorce, the divorce is certainly the lesser evil by far!) I am merely pointing out that correlation =/= causation, and that the reasons people do or don’t get divorces are rather complicated and generally based on several factors. It is overly simplistic, and thus misleading, to say that the difference in divorce rates between couples with children and childless couples is an indictment of contraceptive use, specifically.

    * Endometriosis, PCOS, and PMDD aren’t easily treated with other medications, and birth-control pills are less expensive than other prescription medications that might be used to treat these conditions, especially since the ACA’s birth-control-coverage policy went into effect. Because taking BCPs for health reasons unrelated to family planning is condoned by the Vatican, women with these conditions are not in any way going against Catholic doctrine by being on the Pill.

    • Teresa

      Thank you for putting my thoughts (and more) so succinctly.

  • Katerina

    Since when is menstrual suppression a bad thing? I’m not even sexually active, I got on birth control solely to stop my periods. I love not bleeding non stop for 4 days a month.
    Don’t you Marc? =)

    • The_L1985

      Marc, as a male, has never had a really rough period, and thus has no idea what it’s like. Frankly, I wouldn’t wish PMDD on my worst enemy, because I’ve been there and know exactly what kind of nightmare they’d be in for.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I tend to tell my male friends to imagine blue balls, the worst they can possibly imagine, combined with a charley horse in their lower abdomen that doesn’t go away for three days. Combine that with nausea and the fun-ness of bleeding out your crotch and you have a period! Yay!

        That doesn’t even take into account the mood swings (I do not have PMDD, I can’t even imagine how much that sucks), but I definitely get cranky beforehand. Phantom cramps and just feeling off-kilter do that.

        • Good Catholic GIrl

          What a perfect description of a monthly period!

    • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

      Taking an endocrine disrupting chemical every day probably isn’t good for your health.

      Don’t take my word for it or Marc’s. Here are a few items from some non-Catholic, feminist, women that you may want to consider:



      http://kindara.com/blog/getting-over-the-pill/ (With a ringing endorsement of the Fertility Awareness Method (secular NFP) for women’s health.)


  • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

    Libby Anne was raised in a fundamentalist background. She was also raised in a “quiverfull” family, where couples are supposed to have as many children as possible. In this culture, women are told to be subservient to men and have little value other than bearing and raising children and sexually satisfying their husbands. Men are not expected to be chaste or show self-control in marriage.

    Fundamentalist/quiverfull followers often use similar language as Catholic sources, but it has a VERY different meaning. (Adding to this confusion, some Rad Trads can sound a lot like fundamentalist/quiverfulls. It is possible to be so Catholic you become Protestant.) Reading other posts on Libby Anne’s blog, it becomes apparent that she has confused Catholic teaching with fundamentalist teaching.

    • alwr

      Exactly. She also still sees the world in a very fundamentalist black vs. white way. She often fails to see complexity in any issue or theology. Add to that her apparent belief in anecdote and personal experience over actual evidence–ultimately, her blogging is very immature. I also find that she prefers to stereotype rather than engage in real analysis of meaning or in real dialogue. Her rebuttal to this post does not even begin to address the complexity of the author’s response nor does it address his primary point about the difference between the abstinence/purity culture she grew up in and the Catholic understanding of chastity. Instead, she accuses him of “paternalism” and proceeds to stereotype and oversimplify.

      • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

        Hey, you know what’s really immature? Making an ad hominem attack on the author via a reply to someone else’s comment. If you’re going to insult someone, at least have the ovaries to do it to her face.

        • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

          Whoops, I got confused about where I was commenting. My bad. That is still an ad hominem attack, though. Also, Libby Anne converted to Catholicism after leaving fundamentalism.

        • alwr

          I often reply on her blog to challenge her extremely black and white views of the world. She doesn’t have the ovaries to answer.

      • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

        She was briefly Catholic, and I can tell from her blogging she was very poorly formed in the faith and very poorly catechized. (Sadly, a common problem with many RCIA programs.) Despite her conversion and deconversion, she still sees the world in a very fundamentalist way.

        She holds common misconceptions of Catholic teaching as what the Church really teaches. She focuses on rules without looking for understanding. She has a non-understanding of how the Church is run, holding out the amateurish diagrams of some lay Catholic organization (probably made by some 68 year old woman with a copy of Microsoft Word and some clipart, bless her heart) as official Church positions. She has a non-understanding of Catholic moral teaching, sin, grace, and moral development.

        Most importantly, she has no sense of sacramentiality, which is probably why the Catholic faith didn’t “stick”. Without this sense, Catholicism is no more than fundamentalism with even more restrictive rules. If you don’t believe that the Holy Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, that Confession is truly an encounter with Jesus, or that marriage, including the marital act, is a sacrament, then there is really no point in being Catholic because if the sacraments are not real, the Catholic faith is no more than empty ritual and superstition. As Flannery O’Connor once put it: “If the Eucharist is just a symbol, then to hell with it”. I am not terribly surprised because many RCIA programs are terrible at teaching this aspect of the faith and its importance.

        Libby Anne is angry and her following is mostly women who are also angry. Some are angry because they are former fundamentalists. (BTW, her criticism of fundamentalist culture and its treatment of women is excellent and absolutely spot on. It’s the best part of her blog.) Others are angry because for the usual secular feminist reasons. But that much anger isn’t healthy and it doesn’t make for good debate.

        • alwr

          I worked in a Protestant Christian school for many years and know the kind of people and the kind of abuse she is responding to. I understand that anger. A part of me is quite grateful that I never had the temptation to publicly air my anger in the aftermath of escaping that environment. I also know firsthand that many people raised in a fundamentalist culture cannot let go of the very black/white, good/evil dichotomous world views that were ingrained in them. Fortunately for me, I was educated in a different world view and never succumbed to that thinking. L.A. has much of value to say but she also needs to learn that the world is complex, most questions don’t have easy answers and that tolerance even includes the people you disagree with.

        • Sara Lin Wilde

          I am one of Libby Anne’s “angry woman followers”. I am angry because I was Catholic. I had a sense of sacrament and a great deal of knowledge about church teaching. And I see a great deal of commonality between the experience Libby Anne describes and what I experienced as a young Catholic woman.

          • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

            Yes, there are pockets of “Catholic purity culture” (see above comment about Rad Trads), but my Catholic background was “Jesus loves you, feed the poor”. Nothing like fundamentalist culture at all.

          • The_L1985

            And in socially-conservative areas, that is not what the Catholics are emphasizing. In socially-conservative areas, the RCC, like fundamentalist churches, places far more emphasis on sexual aspects of morality than on the myriad other aspects.

          • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

            I think it depends on the parish. I grew up in the South and I didn’t even know contraception was still a sin until college.
            We NEVER talked about sex in Church.

          • The_L1985

            Yes, but that doesn’t mean that the official “party line,” as it were, wasn’t heavily restrictive of sex practices. It only means that you didn’t know what the restrictions were. I was one of those annoying CCD kids who wouldn’t stop asking questions. I made it a point to find out about every little thing, because I wanted to be as virtuous and helpful as I could possibly be. Not because I thought these things would get me “brownie points” in Heaven, but because I had a genuine desire to do good and avoid doing evil, and I wanted to be sure what the right thing was to do at all times.

          • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

            I don’t see how Catholic sex practices are restrictive. There aren’t that many rules:

            1) The couple must be married. (Ok, this can seem restrictive if you aren’t married. But that’s another discussion.)
            2) The sex must be “procreative”, which simply means it must conclude with normal, all-natural, unprotected regular sex.
            3) The sex must be “unitive”, which means it must be based in mutual love and respect.

            And (obviously) nothing illegal or physically harmful.

            Other than that, have fun!

            It sounds like you may have had a problem with perfectionism. I have had my struggles with that as well both with religion and with life in general.


            Sometimes perfectionism is encouraged in religious circles because, hey, who doesn’t like the person who likes to follow all the rules? But that’s not the right way to view the faith.

            In fact, the Catholic Church teaches that those who try to follow all the rules on their own efforts are “miserably deceived”? Seriously. It’s not a matter of following a series of rules, it’s a matter of developing your “friendship with Jesus”, and, in marriage, your relationship with your spouse.

          • The_L1985

            You forgot “no masturbation.” That is, in fact, a restriction, and has been since Aquinas.

            Considering that the sex drive can be kind of strong, it seems like it would be necessary to have an “out” that doesn’t involve having sex with someone else. By forbidding masturbation, the RCC removes that outlet and, paradoxically, makes young people more likely to focus on sex.

            No, really. I didn’t think much about sex until I realized I wasn’t “supposed” to masturbate. It was just “that thing you don’t do until you’re married and ready to make babies.” Then it was oh no, I’ve done that before! I need to stop touching myself forever! and Let’s see, how long has it been now? A month? Hey, I might be able to really quit this time!…Darn it, no, I did it last night.

            I figured that if it was “intrinsically disordered,” then it ought to be possible to quit. Tough, but possible. But the more I tried to be “pure,” the harder it was to resist the temptation to touch myself. This drove me pretty cuckoo in high school, because I have both a strong desire to do the right thing, and a strong sex drive.

          • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

            Yeah, that issue has been badly taught over the years. Especially in the United States where Catholic teaching combined with Victorian fears of “self-pollution”.

            The more modern materials seem to treat it as a bad habit, which I would agree with. If you get used to yourself, that can cause problems when you’re married, especially for guys.

          • newenglandsun

            “I didn’t think much about sex until I realized I wasn’t “supposed” to masturbate.”

            Welcome to the family. I’m not the only one who struggles with this! :) I’m liking you more already! :)

            From what I have learned though in my own struggles is that the one who recognizes their problems from within is in a much better position already.

            “Then it was oh no, I’ve done that before! I need to stop touching myself forever!”

            Inaccurate. It’s the struggle against the sin that makes us saints. This doesn’t mean that the sin won’t go away. It is challenging but why should life have to be a “walk-in-the-park”? There are people who live without their parents and haven’t done anything wrong at all.

            I think that “intrinsically disordered” refers to the idea of Original Sin and that we are all caught in it. It’s something that we seek to shed but will never rid ourselves fully of in this life.

          • The_L1985

            “It’s the struggle against the sin that makes us saints. This doesn’t mean that the sin won’t go away. It is challenging but why should life have to be a “walk-in-the-park”? ”

            Er…but why would something so arbitrary be classed as such a serious sin? Life is hard enough simply because of conditions that make life and change possible–natural disasters, disease, death–what kind of cruel deity would create a strong sexual urge and then set things up so that the absolute SAFEST outlet for that urge besides marriage is verboten?

            Bear in mind that the earliest condemnation I’ve ever seen of masturbation is Thomas Aquinas’s, in the 13th century. Also bear in mind that he did in fact say that masturbation was “an intrinsically disordered ACT.”

            Then again, I think many of my issues with Christianity have to do with the idea of God the Father–which in my experience would make God a capricious control freak for whom even the slightest imperfection was a grave and personal slight, and normal accidents (think, toddler-spilling-drinks sort of accidents) are treated with the same severity as cold-blooded murder. I don’t want to worship anybody who resembles my father in any way.

          • newenglandsun

            From what I understand, mortal sin is the idea of knowing you are in sin and yet choosing to remain in sin. Masturbation may seem arbitrary but it still kills semen which are potential lives. I think that it’s actually first addressed with Onanism actually.

            As for your struggles with the concept of God as Father, I would highly recommend giving Eastern Orthodoxy a try. They always seem to crack down more seriously on that sort of god you are describing.




          • newenglandsun

            Or are you comparing God to your actual father?

          • newenglandsun

            “In socially-conservative areas, the RCC, like fundamentalist churches, places far more emphasis on sexual aspects of morality than on the myriad other aspects.”

            Is that maybe having to do with the notion that sexual aspects of morality are more of an issue here in America than in other places?

        • The_L1985

          That’s funny. I was Catholic for 22 years. For over two decades, I went to Mass every single week. I went to CCD/PSR every single week that it was offered, from kindergarten until I graduated high school (I didn’t stop after Confirmation). When we lived in areas that had Catholic schools, I also went to Catholic schools. I was inundated with the official Vatican viewpoint at every turn.

          I’m seeing the exact same thing Libby Anne is. So clearly, a Protestant fundamentalist background is not the reason for her views on Catholicism.

      • The_L1985

        The Catholic understanding of chastity, as I was raised in it, is exactly like the “purity culture” of Protestant fundamentalism as I have heard it described. Birth control is painted as a sign of promiscuity; men are described as helpless creatures who need the women around them to be covered at all times to avoid turning into rapists; and women are constantly assumed to have no sex drive whatsoever, thus rendering the issue of a woman’s consent moot.

        The only difference is where they draw the line beyond which you’re engaging in sexual immorality. Mainline Protestants don’t allow sex with a partner, but do allow masturbation; Catholics don’t allow masturbation, but do allow kissing; fundamentalists don’t even allow a chaste peck on the lips.

    • The_L1985

      I was raised Catholic, went to Mass and CCD/PSR every Sunday until I finished high school, and did not encounter the Quiverfull perspective until I was an adult. The only difference I see is that Catholics are not also telling women that they need to be slaves to their husbands. The only difference. The birth-control aspects are justified using the same reasons (with the addition of “outnumbering the heathen” for the Quiverfull folks, but otherwise identical) and both imply that the will of an omnipotent deity can somehow be thwarted by so small an action as taking a daily pill or wearing a piece of latex on your genitals.

      If you were taking birth control pills, and God wanted you to have a child right now, surely he could just make the pill fail?

      • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

        You may have been raised Catholic, but you show the same non-understanding of Catholic teachings as Libby Anne.

        That’s not what the Church teaches AT ALL. That’s a very fundamentalist view of Catholic teaching.

        The problem with contraception is not that the will of God can be thwarted by latex, but that the couple has CHOSEN to make love with latex between them. Sex is an act of unity for the couple and latex between you goes against unity.

        As for quiverfull, this post addresses the MANY theological differences between the two.


        • The_L1985

          I still don’t see how latex goes against unity. I’m still sharing the most intimate possible act with someone; I’m still baring myself to them, physically and emotionally; I’m still in close physical contact. I’m still strengthening the emotional bond within a romantic relationship. All of these things are still happening whether a condom is on anyone’s penis or not.

          This is like saying that if you are wearing clothes during sex, and only pull your pants down to reveal the genitals first, you’re going against unity. The amount and location of the skin that is touching does not affect unity. The mutual decision to put off child-bearing for a few years does not affect unity. It is the willingness or unwillingness to please your partner during sex that affects unity, because if their pleasure (sexual or otherwise) isn’t at least as important to you as your own, then your relationship is a sham.

          I honestly do not believe that a couple, together, making a conscious choice to use a condom is in any way a “problem.” Sure, it would be wrong if everybody avoided ever having children altogether. But nobody’s arguing for that. For some people to use condoms some of the time is not harming any children, threatening the survival of the human species, or causing any other harm other than filling up a landfill or two with used rubbers.

          If a person decides to use a condom to cheat without risk of an illegitimate child, then the problem is the adultery, not the condom. The condom didn’t say, “Hey, you should totally have sex with someone other than your wife!” The cashier at the drugstore wasn’t all, “This is a good brand for cheating on your spouse!” The ads for condoms don’t talk about how convenient they make infidelity! Birth control doesn’t cause promiscuity or unfaithfulness; it only gives an excuse to people who were going to engage in these forms of sex anyway. Yet every anti-BC message I’ve ever seen won’t shut up about birth control causing infidelity, thwarting marriage, and subverting the nature of sex.

          You know what? Pleasure is also a natural purpose of sex, and humans aren’t the only creatures to have sex for pleasure. However, there is a time and place for sexual pleasure, just as there is a time and place for any other pleasurable activity (I shouldn’t try to play tennis in the bathtub, for instance). Wanting sexual pleasure without children is not a problem; failure to respect one’s partner, allowing sexual pleasure to get in the way of more important things, or having sex in inappropriate venues are all problems. Enjoyment isn’t evil, and avoiding an enjoyable activity just for the sake of avoiding it isn’t necessarily good.

          • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

            Wow, that’s a lot of typing.

            What I was getting at was more along the lines of sex with a condom is like wearing a raincoat in the shower-for both of us. It’s not the same.

            And yes, the “contraception causes infidelity” is more of the same simplistic garbage this article was complaining about.

          • newenglandsun

            But the Catholics and the Orthodox believe that pleasure is more of tertiary or secondary purpose of sex. You seem to be trying to argue that pleasure is the primary purpose of sex. If that is the case, then one can have sex all day and all night with whoever they want (I probably exaggerated the last part).

            Comparing humans to other creatures in the natural world is really not a bright idea. I accept the theory of evolution and a lot of Catholics do too but the human is unique because it has a soul and therefore isn’t called to an animal instinct.

            That’s actually one reason why I left humanism. The major reason. I felt excommunicated from it because I still had issues seeing the human as different from an animal.

            Animals act on instinct and cannibalize each other. It’s really not a bright idea in debate about sexual morals to bring up something animals do and then apply that to what humans are allowed to do.

  • Don L.

    When Pope Paul VI was considering the question of contraception, he turned to the thoughts of many theologians of varying points of view. They pesented their best views on the subject. Today, I have noted that many on the pro-contraception side present better reasons for their position than many on the anti side present on theirs. While in itself this does not validate any particular stance, it does give rise to the belief that logic and philosophy are not being as well taught these days as in the past. No wonder the percentage of Catholic married couples practicing contraception is essentially identical to the general population.

    • The_L1985

      Not to mention that Humanae Vitae directly contradicted the majority opinion of the cardinals at the time, and remains controversial today.

      • Teresa

        The Church is not a democracy.

  • Hilary White

    I only have one objection to this. Dandelions are beautiful, tasty, useful medicinal and culinary plants that are unfairly maligned by people who want to create weird, sterile artificial “lawns” in front of their houses.

    Other than that… spot on.

    • newenglandsun

      Your comment on dandelions – lol.

  • RightThinkingWoman

    I just discovered your column (blog?) This is brilliantly written Thank you!

  • Laceagate

    Oh you are so ‘clever,’ aren’t you? First of all, you keep conflating your medications with birth control– which one is it? Are you using birth control pills as a form of treatment, or are you using actual medications? I am well aware people need medications (such as Metformin), but implying birth control pills are a medication the way antibiotics are medication is a far stretch.

    Look, I can post links too! From the NIH, too!


    I’m well aware everyone’s treatment regimens are different, but you just don’t like that I have a different opinion about it and don’t think taxpayers should have to subsidize everyone else’s treatments.

    • Feral Dog

      Your reading comprehension is terrible. Do you filter everything through the Catechism or just things you disagree with? Yes, the birth control pills are part of my treatment plan. They are, in fact, a medication (though yes, you’re absolutely right, they aren’t an antibiotic- what of it? No, don’t answer that, I was being facetious), which is why I refer to them as my medications. It’s not a conflation, it is a fact. You continue to insist that the MEDICATION that I take is not a real medicine because some people use it to prevent pregnancy. You are flat-out wrong on that count. Birth control pills are also known, established, and safe possible treatments for other medical conditions.

      Congratulations on learning to post links and find reputable sources. It took you a couple months, but you pulled it off! You’ll note that your link agrees with mine: Birth control is a possible treatment for some people.

      At what point did taxpayers get involved? This is about private insurance, what they can cover and how. Your personal religious beliefs should not be used to decide my medical care. Similarly, my personal atheistic beliefs have no business deciding someone else’s treatment. I’m baffled that members of Jehovah’s Witness will refuse to accept donated blood in a crisis, but they have the right to do so. As long as they don’t stop me from receiving it in an emergency, that’s their business and not mine. You’ll notice the Jehovah’s Witness do not wedge their beliefs into the medical system that people besides them will use. They are not trying to force unbelievers to accept their version of medicine, they simply expect their followers to refuse treatments they consider wrong. So why is it that the Catholics (and some other sects) are so bent on making everyone, even those who don’t follow their ideology, accept theirs? I’m not out trying to cram contraceptives down your throat, and I’m not telling you that you need to conform to my treatment plan because of my beliefs (as you have done, repeatedly and not just to me).

      You can’t extend that same basic decency to other women? Apparently not- you think you (or, to be completely honest, males of a similar cultural background) have the right to decide how people are cared for regardless of their differing needs and beliefs and/or established medical practice. You get angry when called out on your support of these unwelcome influence on other people’s lives, going so far as to say that requiring insurance companies to do as advertised and cover their clients’ needs without non-medical opinions influencing them amounts to government oppression. It is not. For few religious sects to try to make it difficult or impossible for one specific segment of the population (women) to obtain a specific form of medical care (birth control pills) for absolutely no other reason than their own religious doctrines is, in fact, oppressive. Disagree with other people’s medical decisions all you want. Don’t make your religion law. That is the problem, that is what I don’t like, is your insistence that your religious mandates should apply to everyone, even nonbelievers, and if that means supporting those who try to legally force those mandates on others you will gladly do it.