by Chris Beneteau
As the only practicing Catholic in my workplace, my 'lifestyle choice' is frequently a topic of discussion. The majority of my co-workers simply do not understand the Churchs teaching around contraception and family planning. Most know that the Church officially condemns all forms of contraception, but they also understand that many Catholics choose to ignore the Churchs prohibition regarding contraception.
In many ways, my workplace could be seen as a microcosm of society. There is a pervasive ignorance about why the Church teaches what it does. There is also a misunderstanding of how some Catholics are able to conform their will to these teachings. It is therefore imperative that married Catholic couples be able to explain the Church teaching as well as how they have been able to live up to it.
One approach is to call a spade a spade when confronting the current culture. In other words, you tell the pagans why they are wrong, why you are right and why they will go to hell if they dont stop doing what they are doing. While this approach may has its place (i.e., telling a priest who should know better to stop promoting homosexual behaviour) in most cases, it would lack charity. Additionally, I would argue that many individuals who contracept probably do not meet all of the conditions necessary to be committing mortal sins.
With this in mind, faithful Catholics must discern how they should go forth and make disciples in their everyday lives. In my experience, I have found that it is better to discuss what the Church is for rather than what the Church is against. The old saying that you attract more bees with honey is the idea here. Secondly, we must also be able to explain in simplest terms the philosophical difference between contraception and natural family planning so that more people will see NFP as a viable alternative to contraception.
In his book Sex and the Marriage Covenant, John Kippley provides a simple explanation for those who argue that NFP is nothing more than a Catholic form of contraception. Kippley points out that the end does not homogenize the means; that is, the same end or purpose does not make all the means of achieving that goal moral. For example, owning a nice car is a reasonable goal, yet no one would argue that stealing a car or working five days a week at McDonalds in order to buy the car are morally the same. Secondly, Kippley says that there is an infinite difference between DOING and NOT DOING. The couple that uses contraception is DOING something that acts to prevent the possible creation of a new human being. In contrast, the couple using NFP to avoid or postpone pregnancy is simply NOT DOING intercourse during the fertile times.
Ultimately, however, I have found that people respond positively to stories of love. Any story that compels the listener to consider the divinity of Christ is the most effective means I know to change the culture.
When explaining the difference between natural family planning and contraception to my co-workers, I encourage them to visualize a scenario that was described to me a few years ago. I begin by telling them to imagine for a moment that Christ has come to the door of their home. Christ then knocks on the door and desires to come in to your home and have dinner with you and your family. The NFP couple that desires to have a child has left the door open and they rush to the front door upon hearing the gentle knocking of Christ. They then fully embrace Him and invite him to share a piece of his cross with them. If the NFP couple does not want a child at that time, they have at least left the door unlocked. They recognize the depth of their sin and may not want Christ to enter their home. In their hearts however, they say to Christ "We are not worthy to have you in our presence, however, if you so will it, come on in, the door is open." In contrast, those who use contraception lock the door to their home and ignore the One who desires to come in. In essence they say, "go away, for you will be a burden and we will have to feed you." The motivation for the NFP couple is an uncertain future, but one that is filled with trust. The contracepting couple, in contrast, is motivated by fear and in some cases selfishness.
Make no mistake about it, contraception, if taken to its logical conclusion, is the death of the human race. Throughout centuries of war and conflict, Satan has always sought this end, but to no avail. Contraception is a hidden war as the body rages against itself. It is a re-ordering of the natural biochemical processes within the body so that there is conflict and chaos. Death enchroaches on the beginning of life through stealth as if life itself was the enemy.
While the future looks bleak, we must remind ourselves that there is always hope. Life will spring forth from those who leave the contraceptive culture and the forces of light will grow strong again. NFP couples will bring forth new reinforcements for the culture war. The new recruits will stand firm until Christ makes his return. Victory is assured, although many souls will be lost. Recalling the last instalment of the Lord of the Rings, the poor, deluded souls who serve the contraceptive culture will share the same fate as the orcs at the gates of Mordor: after the defeat of Sauron and the return of the KING, they will be swallowed up into the abyss.
The Catholic Legate
January 22, 2004