Thursday, November 1, 2012

Judge Not

I'm going to attempt to be kind as much as possible, but a blogger spoke some things that upset me.

I realize that NFP is promoted heavily as basically just another tool for birth control use.  There is a reason that people cattily call it "Catholic birth control."  That being said, I also don't go flinging stones at people.  I cannot look from the outside of a couple's marriage and determine whether their reasons for using NFP are legitimate or not.  That's between them and God to determine.

Rebecca writes:
  I can only apply it possibly to a circumstance where a woman might die if she becomes pregnant. She thinks by not becoming pregnant she will not die, and so uses NFP to avoid conception.  My issue here is this… Death by drowning is a death caused by an “evil” circumstance. Death because you allowed another soul to enter into the world for the greater glory of always noble and beautiful. It is indeed heroic and the choice a saint would make.

The analogy she is referring to is the flood scenario where God sends a boat to rescue a man.  She says the analogy doesn't work, but respectfully I disagree.  Having a natural disaster is not an evil circumstance.  Neither is developing cancer or a blood clotting disorder.  They just are. 

While on the surface it may seem great to add another soul while at the same time dying, I feel it's selfish on a couple's part to try to get pregnant knowing that the mother could die in the process (as well as the baby) given a mother's medical history.  Let me explain...

Pregnancy itself is not a disease but it can exacerbate diseases.  I've had liver problems since I was three.  There is no known reason behind it.  And up until recently I've thought that perhaps I was "cured."  Granted it's always been in the back of my mind that since I don't know what the cause is and neither do the doctors it could always come back.  And it did (although at least this time it's not as bad as before). 

When I was three I was put in the hospital and my parents were told to prepare themselves for my death.  I was fortunate.  They discovered a medication that could control my disorder.  And I eventually was weaned off it.

But pregnancy is taxing to the liver.  The liver has to process higher blood volume.  And my liver started to give out as it did before.  I should have guessed that the horrible bout with morning sickness may have been due to liver trouble, but I didn't.  It wasn't until the problem didn't go away that my husband insisted that I go to the doctor.

I also go back to ovulating right after giving birth.  LAM doesn't work in my case.  So I could have taken Rebecca's advice and sacrificed myself without knowing what was wrong with me and threw caution to the wind.  If I had gotten pregnant again immediately, I would have continued to kill my liver without giving it a break to repair itself. 

And if I try to achieve pregnancy now without knowing a cause or even if a solution would work, I would be essentially killing myself slowly.  My children could potentially wind up without their mother.  And my husband would have to deal with the pressures of having no wife to care for his children, extra financial hardship, and additional pressure to both find a job and care for his children.  It would be incredibly selfish of me to put my family at risk simply to "allow another soul to enter the world."  We are after-all not Mormons.  There is no rush to create another life at this point.

I would love to have more children, but I also would like my liver to be in much better shape so that when I do tax it to the max I won't be killing myself and any children.  I don't consider that to be selfish.  I consider it to be unselfish.  I am giving my children the best future I possibly can.  Maybe that makes me sound like I have a contraceptive mentality.  But I look at it this way.

I could stop brushing my teeth.  Brushing your teeth is a preventative measure.  It's meant to keep your teeth from rotting.  Oh, sure.  You could not brush your teeth and leave them in the state God intends for them, but modern science tells us that it's better to brush your teeth.  And since brushing your teeth or not brushing your teeth is morally neutral, why are we even arguing about it?  It's the intent behind brushing your teeth.  Sure you could poison your toothpaste and violate God's law by killing yourself through tooth brushing, but if your intent is to protect your teeth not kill yourself, again, what's wrong with that?

In other words, if the Catholic church in her infinite wisdom says that it's not immoral to sacrifice your ovary to protect your own life or to undergo chemo while pregnant, why are we arguing about the Church's wisdom that using NFP to prevent exacerbating medical conditions and thus killing potential mothers/children is fine? 

I trust the Church's wisdom in these matters.  Why is this even an issue?

For me personally, I find it's rather cruel to say that I'm not being saintly if I don't want to kill myself or another child simply because I use NFP to prevent pregnancy.  I don't cast stones at those who don't use NFP because nobody has to.  So why cast stones at me for following the Church's teaching about discretionary uses of NFP?


  1. I'd say you have one of the very best reasons I've ever heard to use NFP!!! And I think one would have to be very far out there to even question your use.

    I remember how sick you were during your last pregnancy, that's just frightening.

    In our personal case we've always thought we'd only use NFP again (to avoid) if it was a life threatening situation... but it's not as thought the Church says that's the only reason and certainly tells us that there are other acceptable reasons. I think most of the backlash against NFP is from reading online the reasons some people give that come across sounding rather frivilous... but just because some people struggle in determining seriousness, doesn't mean that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater!

    And prayers for your health! I'd think any reasonable person would see that being there for your children is one of the best possible reasons to use NFP!

  2. Laura, thank you for this informative post. I'm not criticizing the original blogger, because her non-use of NFP is her private business, and good for her that she wants to have a big family. That's wonderful. But in my opinion (for what it's worth) I think that projecting negative intentions on many that use NFP is unfair. I find it very difficult to believe that any couple that is eschewing the extremely popular and pushed agenda of artificial birth control, and is instead using NFP, is doing so with a selfish mindset and as immoral "Catholic birth control." I mean, technically, it is *possible* to use NFP selfishly, but I think that it is very difficult to do so. By it's very nature, NFP is using our bodies' natural God-given cycles to achieve or avoid pregnancy and it requires abstinence for a decent portion of a given month to avoid. What couple is going to use that willy nilly? I mean, it would be so much easier to just use the pill. :)

    What I'm getting at is that I think we should see both NFP and using "nothing" if you will, in a positive way. Why shoot down couples that are doing their best to follow Church teaching and not use abortifacient contraceptives? There are many reasons a couple may feel compelled to avoid pregnancy, and are *all* (or even most)of those reasons just "excuses?" I don't think so. Nor does the Church, in my humble opinion.


I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!