Old Contraception Talk Given Youthful Jolt

Interesting and well-done story at the WaPo, which profiles a young woman who actually took the time to learn the Catholic position on our bodies and birth control and “fell in love with it”:

Ashley McGuire fell in love with the Catholic Church five years ago, after reading its teaching against artificial birth control.

McGuire, then a skeptical Protestant college student, initially saw the ban as a mandatory march to “domestic slavery.” But the more she read, the more she was blown away by the idea that sex — and women’s bodies — must be about more than physical pleasure.

Okay, that’s inartful but stick with it. President Obama and Sec’y Sebelius have opened a door, and young women with fresh perspectives and no old resentments or rhetoric playing like tapes in their heads are walking through.:

Yet the images the church uses to promote its own method of birth control freaked her out. Pamphlets for what the church calls natural family planning feature photos of babies galore. A church-sponsored class on the method uses a book with a woman on the cover, smiling as she balances a grocery bag on one hip, a baby on the other.

“My guess is 99 out of 100 21st-century women trying to navigate the decision about contraception would see that cover and run for the hills,” McGuire wrote in a post on her blog, Altcatholicah, which is aimed at Catholic women.

McGuire, 26, of Alexandria is part of a movement of younger, religiously conservative Catholic women who are trying to rebrand an often-ignored church teaching: its ban on birth control methods such as the Pill. Arguing that church theology has been poorly explained and encouraged, they want to shift the image of a traditional Catholic woman from one at home with children to one with a great, communicative sex life, a chemical-free body and babies only when the parents think the time is right.

The movement sees an opportunity: President Obama’s decision this year to require most religious employers, like employers in general, to provide contraception coverage. The move angered Catholics so much that it cracked open a discussion about contraception that has been largely taboo for decades because there’s so much disagreement about it.

You’ll want to read the whole thing, and consider what we’ve talked about before the paradox of negative-seeming stories that end up resulting in positives.

And speaking of positives

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Pingback: Old Contraception Talk Given Youthful Jolt | Foundation Life

  • Mandy P.

    I have to say that I am really bothered at our cultural attitudes towards children and parenthood nowadays. It’s like we went from one extreme where families were unrealistically portrayed as perfect and no trouble whatsoever, to the opposite one where families are almost universally portrayed as being dysfunctional, where children are an unruly burden, and the parents are miserable and unfulfilled. Reality is somewhere in between. Family life is not perfect, and so long as we’re talking about human beings it will *never* be perfect. But this idea that having a family is the end of your life is extremely unhealthy. Having a family is hard work, but it’s also very worthwhile work. We need to get back to a place where we remember and appreciate that.

  • Romulus

    babies only when the parents think the time is right.

    Is this really a Catholic understanding of NFP? It is so easy for even the well-intentioned to fall into a contraceptive mindset. It is asking more than what’s realistic or fair to expect Catholic couples to be generous and receptive about life while regarding themselves morally as completely entrusted with the question.

    Ashley McGuire has come a long way and I don’t wish to detract from her impressive honesty and independence of thought, but I suspect she’s still on a journey to a fully Catholic sensus fidei. Or else, perhaps the WaPo reporter misunderstood the point of NFP. That too is asking a lot, that a (probably) secularized person appreciate the subtlety of spousal cooperation with God in the matter of procreation.

  • enness

    Romulus, you zeroed in on exactly the same thing I did.

    I do think she probably has a point about PR and cover photos — I’m not saying eliminate pictures of babies, but maybe it would be fine to have just a happy couple embracing on some of them.

  • Judith W

    I think the “move angered Catholic [hierachy] so much . . .” – i think the majority of lay Catholics already use and support birth control.

    Just my opinion.

    [It's possible. But the thing is, even if every Catholic in the world uses artificial birth control, the church has the right to its teaching, and it has a responsibility to hold up the ideal and try to convey to people that the ideal is difficult but attainable, and the reasons why it's worth striving for. People are free to make their own decisions and account for them, but the Church's responsibility is to teach the thing clearly, openly and in a way that speaks to people at their depths. Failing that is what the church will have to answer for. -admin]

  • Mark Greta

    We just had an amazing presentation in our parish on the issue of birth conrol and it was overflowing with young couples filling our gym. They came to hear about Church teaching which many, especially those from other parishes, had not heard or understood. They also came to hear about NFP and many have signed up for a 3 week course on this ‘natural’ method of family planning with God. There was a Dominican nun who was a practicing physician, a NFP only OB/GYN whose practice is doing quite well and growing as he lives his Catholic faith, and a nurse and mom who has been heavily involved in the issue of Catholic teaching around birth control and its medical impacts for years. As they outlined the many dangerous issues for women on birth control and the explosion of ever younger women with breast cancer and other issues, it was a real eye opener and backed up with a lot of documentation from places such as Mayo Clinic. Once again, it looks like Catholic teaching is again coming out as something we all should trust and obey not only for our soul, but also because God wants what is best for us to become a better version of what we were created to become with His will in our lives.

  • http://housewifething.blogspot.com Robin E

    Right. So a woman at home with kids is NOT one with a “great, communicative sex life”, and seeing pictures of babies makes her want to “run for the hills.” Hmm…. Maybe McGuire is not yet a great spokesperson for the Church’s (and orthodox Catholic women’s) views on sexuality.