Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

November 26, 2010

Being Contra-Contraception

Edith's post on the pope, the media, and condoms is so good, and one that I need to respond to at length. There has been so much discussion on this in and out of the Church. My students, colleagues, friends, and friends on Facebook (huge distinction...topic for another time) all have been buzzing about it. All that I can think to ask is, "Does anyone feel like they don't want to hear the word 'condom' anymore?"

However, the issue of contracpetion rang a little closer to home this holiday weekend, and kind of pierced my heart. I think it's a safe wager that I might be one of the the only members of my family, both immediate and extended, who supports the magisterial teaching on contraception. And it's a hard place to be in, as my friends begin to have children and as (though I'm not currently in a serious relationship), my family asks me things about how I would have children should I be in that position. There are comments passed because my friends are having their third or fourth child, or how it will probably be difficult for me to settle down with a man if I don't compromise on the birth control issue, which, though stated out of ignorance and out of love, still cuts to the heart of who I am as a Catholic woman, faithful to our beliefs out of joyful obedience and a rich understanding of why we believe what we do.

I know this issue was a huge issue to grapple with for my parents' generation, who was poorly catechized and who had to navigate their way through the sexual revolution, the implementation of Vatican II teachings, and of course, their own relationships and sexual experiences. And since the beauty of this teaching was not really made clear (in my theological opinion) in a way paralleled to the Theology of the Body at the end of the last century, moral confusion and cloudy judgments about assent of our mind and will abound. I try to be cheerful and joyful when explaining the why and the what of our beliefs, but it's not always met with understanding. Sometimes I wonder if my parents or my sibling or my cousins will ever fully understand who I am. Maybe that is the real question I'm asking: How much of a 'cause of division' is the Lord even within family members who all profess belief? How do I avoid the sin of pride or the passing of judgment on others close to me, who have a very deep faith and relationship with the Lord, too?

Dont' get me wrong; I don't walk around with a book charting who believes what in my family. I just feel a little bit of a sting when it's suggested that I'm too rigid or uncompromising when it comes to certain doctrines. I can't pull out theological discourse on the subject (this one has one of the best explanations of Humane vitae, in my opinion) at the dinner table. I suppose I can only witness it in my own life. And since I am not now in a position to be open to new life, I'd better find other ways to demonstrate what this looks like for the single woman.

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