The Grass Is Just as Complicated on the Other Side
Despite the kind words of Mark Shea, I actually think it’s a good idea for nice Catholic girls to wade into the world of radical feminist blogs from time to time. Why?
The Catholic echo chamber can skew your perception of how many people agree with you. Constant affirmation (or squabbling over minutiae) dulls your debating skills. And it’s healthy and useful to hear opposing argument straight from the horse’s mouth. We also all need to be reminded that even people with beastly ideas aren’t The Enemy—that they and we share a common enemy, Satan. Those of us who know how to pray ought to be doing it for those of us who don’t.
But the main reason I often check out radical feminist blogs? They make me realize how good I’ve got it. This is especially true in matters of sex, and most especially in the contraception vs. NFP debate.
(My standard NFP discussion disclaimer: Some couples are called to radical providentialism, but some are not. NFP is a moral way for Catholics to postpone pregnancy. If you disagree, please acknowledge that you are in defiance of the infallible teaching of the Church.
Also, if you practice NFP with ease and grace, please remember that people who struggle need prayer, not sermons about self control.)
No matter how firmly we believe that sex is intended for procreation and for fostering the union between husband and wife, no matter how well we’ve memorized the concept of the gift of sexual union mirroring the perfect caritas of the Holy Trinity—well, most of us are not entirely deaf to the song the secular world is singing. Those ideas do penetrate.
What ideas? The myth that most of the developed world spends its life in a carefree romp. That, requiring only a consenting partner, most people can have sex whenever they want to—whereas here we are, married, for crying out loud, and we’re chewing the mattress to bits in frustration. In the contraceptive myth, women are never put at a disadvantage as long as they’re exercising choice; and while sex may occasionally be a little silly or disappointing, it’s never really a big problem. If things aren’t going the way you want, it’s just a matter of going back to the doctor for another tidy solution that works better for you.
We know that the contraceptive lifestyle is immoral. But it sounds. So. Easy.
The truth is, of course, that it ain’t. This side of Eden, nothing important is easy. Sooner or later, sex is going to call for some kind of self-sacrifice. Sex is going to cause complications, and this is true whether you’re just going au natural, charting feverishly, or cramming your body with every artificial hormone you can lay your hands on.
So if you, o faithful Catholic spouse, are experiencing some disenchantment—if you find yourself wishing that you could, for once, just ditch these awkward, inharmonious shenanigans called “the fertile years”—if you wish you could just take a break and enjoy some of that easy-peasey secular sex for a change—then think again. There’s no such thing.
Don’t read the mainstream talking points about contraception—read chatty blogs and unfiltered comments from actual people who contracept as a way of life, speaking frankly to like-minded people. First prepare yourself for some nasty language and ugly ideas, but then tolle et lege et start feeling normal again.
Here, for instance, is a post by a women who feels guilty and belligerent about using Plan B as a routine contraceptive.
And this response takes her to task for being childish and illogical and spreading false information, and succeeds in making contraceptive sex sound not only dangerous and disgusting and pathetic, but also like an incredible drag. But she’s not judging!
And read the comments. Says one gal dealing with the vicissitudes of fertility:
The other time I got preggo, my daughter was 3 weeks old and I was breastfeeding and on progestin only pills. Turns out, that doesn’t work for everyone. Don’t know why I was surprised, my little sister is 11 months younger than me.
When I need to use condoms with my BF for whatever reason, we role play that im a hooker, it helps make the condom not so bad.
But phew, at least she doesn’t have to chart!
Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? If you still suspect contraception would make life carefree, just Google “contraception” + “forum” or “discussion” or “chat,” and you’ll see that, when it comes to facing fertility, all God’s children got angst. Take it from women on the front lines: there is no easy way to sidestep fertility. The only way to make sex simple is to opt out entirely and permanently.
If sex is causing complications in your marriage, that’s not a glitch inherent in NFP—this is what sex is like sometimes. It’s not a Catholic problem, it’s a fallen world problem, and anyone who says differently is selling something that is likely to be the object of a class action medical lawsuit in ten years.