On Birth Control: Is the Church Utterly Irresponsible?

Seeing my poor sister-in-law hosting her boys’ graduation party (one from high school, the other from college) this past weekend made me glad once again that I’m done with all that.  The party was lovely, but just like me last year, she was too spent to eat any of the wonderful food there.  She and my brother were exhausted from the weeks of preparation, the anxiety of not being able to control the weather, and just the emotions involved in wanting everything perfect for celebrating an important milestone.  Sorry boys, but when you graduate from college, I’m taking you out for dinner!

If Big Daddy and I were obedient Catholics like we were taught to be during 12 years each of parochial school, we would have perhaps 10 more graduation parties to look forward to hosting.  If we weren’t in a straight jacket in a padded cell.  If we were still speaking to each other.

This July marked the 40th anniversary of the Humanae Vitae, the encyclical written by Pope Paul VI on the Catholic Church’s teachings against birth control.  They do allow one hopelessly inefficient and time-consuming method of birth control, the CMBBT (or rhythm method) which involves taking body temperature readings and other scientific measurements to make sure you don’t have relations at the peak fertility times.  But why do they scorn other scientific methods that truly achieve the goal of responsible family planning?  They claim that using this Russian Roulette method will promote healthier happier marriages.  Ha!

Forty years ago, the pill and some other forms of birth control were still relatively new.  I can understand the initial wariness.  Today, however, despite rampant disease and poverty in many underdeveloped countries, families unable to survive on one income even in developed nations, and overpopulation concerns on an already overtaxed planet, it is clearly irresponsible and even misogynistic to forbid married couples from keeping their families to a manageable and affordable size.

I totally understand the Church’s position on abortion and against any form of birth control that acts as a abortifacient (such as the IUD which may cause the expulsion of an already fertilized egg).  Any form of birth control that does not cause harm to an already fertilized egg, however, should be encouraged just like the ridiculous CMBBT method.  Birth control pills, barrier methods preventing fertilization, and permanent sterilization should not only be allowed, but should be encouraged to promote healthier less stressful marriages and a more sustainable planet.

Despite the Church’s teachings against birth control, I personally don’t know a single Catholic family that lives this way.  Mel Gibson may, but he can afford 7 or so kids.  And the destitute Catholics in third world nations may be doing so, which is why this whole stance is so wrong!

Leave it to men to not care how many pregnancies a woman has to endure!  And if our husbands wanted to be celibate, they would have become priests.  Because, mark my word, after three kids, if there was even a remote chance that I could get pregnant again, we wouldn’t even be making eye contact.  How does this promote a healthy marriage?  Maybe the whole thing is a ploy to lure more men into the priesthood!

Without a doubt, my kids are the most wonderful gifts in the world.  They make each day more special and worthwhile.  If I had many more kids, however, I would not be able to financially provide all the things children require.  This would break my heart.  I don’t know if I could have wedged any more activities into our already busy lives, and everyone would have been shortchanged.  God works in mysterious way, and perhaps technology promoting effective family planning is one of those ways.

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8 Responses to “On Birth Control: Is the Church Utterly Irresponsible?”


  1. 1 Michelle July 28, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Amen. I wish I’d wrote it first.

  2. 2 Pastor John July 28, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Excellent view – perfectly expressed.

    The rhythm method does not always work anyway; and when it fails, the only advantage is that your kids can dance.

    “we wouldn’t even be making eye contact.” – almost fell off my chair!

  3. 4 politicalhousewyf July 29, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    You’ve apparently been lied to about what the Catholic Church teaches about birth control. If you’d actually read what the Catholic Church has written, you’d know that they teach that as a parent, you’re supposed to prayerfully decide with your spouse whether or not you’re called to have more kids. Not everyone will have ten, or even two. But condoms and drugs aren’t the answer.

    Birth control pills do, in fact, cause abortions at least sometimes; go read the fine print on the package. Our water supplies are being poisoned by leftover hormones from the Pill that aren’t treated by sewage plants. Our society is being ripped apart by people sleeping around, before and during marriage, thinking they can avoid consequences by using “safe sex.” The number of STD’s has skyrocketed, in spite of free condom distribution in many schools. We’ve legalized abortion because people “weren’t planning on getting pregnant” but were having sex, so we kill the evidence to the tune of about 4,000 dead babies a day in this country alone.

    Birth control drugs have not made our society happier.

    Yeah, one of my previous ob/gyn’s mocked Natural Family Planning, too, pointing to her poster (printed by a drug company that was, surprise!, encouraging you to buy their birth control drugs) as proof of her point.

    NFP has an excellent success rate. It is not just the “rythym method”, and taking your temperature in the morning is a lot easier than popping a pill and poisoning yourself.

    Yes, you’re going to have to abstain from sex for a few days a month. If you and your husband can’t handle that, though, what happens when you’re sick and “unavailable”? Or you take the kids to visit the grandparents and he stays home for a week? Does he go find someone else to sleep with? I hope not.

    You can mock it all you want, but the truth is what it is. You can get some cheap laughs from other people too scared to really examine whether the Church is right on this, but it doesn’t change the reality.

  4. 5 mamaneeds2rant July 29, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    No, I haven’t been lied to. It’s in black and white. Every Catholic I know has heard the drivel and goes ahead and uses contraception anyways. Because they don’t want to have more children than they can handle, emotionally and financially. And because they want something more reliable than the “poke and hope” rhythm method. On top of that, and I didn’t want to get graphic, I don’t particularly want to take my Basal Body Temperature every day or–disgusting as it sounds–measure Cervical Mucus. I don’t even want to know what that is, thank you very much. The number of abortions has steadily declined in the US as has the ratio of abortions to live births since the mid ’80’s, no doubt due to better family planning methods. You can pray all you want but if that sperm meets that egg, you’re gonna have a baby. And scaring destitute third-world Catholics that they’re going to go to hell if they choose to use condoms so that they can feed the kids they already have is irresponsible and reprehensible.

  5. 6 politicalhousewyf July 30, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Well, now you can’t say anymore, “But EVERYONE else does it!” as an excuse.

    Because I don’t use contraception and I don’t think the Church’s teachings on the subject are “drivel”.

  6. 7 mamaneeds2rant July 30, 2008 at 11:37 am

    I think it’s wonderful that you are capable and willing to raise however many children you are given. I would do the same if I had no control over how many children I was given–like I said, my kids are the greatest gift. However, I know my limitations and I am grateful I did not have to raise more than I was capable of properly taking care of. I also appreciate the fact that you have pointed out that the pill can sometimes lead to spontaneous abortion of a fertilized egg–I believe this is rare and not the main way the pill works, but people should be made aware of this!

  7. 8 Peter September 16, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    As someone who lives in one of the poorest countries in South America (Peru) I can tell you that Catholic Church teaching has very little to do with the high birth rate here. People in general could give a flying flip about what the church teaches. There’s more of family-oriented value system here historically which, though it’s rapidly disappearing, accounts for a continued higher birth rate. Catholics here show up for church less frequently than in the States (church attendance runs about 15%) and what the church hierarchy teaches carries less and less weight with every passing day.


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