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I was recently thinking back to when I was drawn to the Catholic Church and trying to figure out just what it was that attracted me to explore it more and then ultimately become Catholic.
It wasn’t long before I realized that the one thing that caused me so much turmoil in my heart, in the beginning, was the very thing that ‘sealed the deal’ for me in the end. It was what made my heart open up to the beauty and truth of the Church.
Before I was Catholic
As a protestant, one thing that we never really heard about was contraception or birth control. Yes, I knew what it was. But, that was where my concept or knowledge of the subject stopped.
Never did I ever think that there was a whole deeper teaching on it. Or that it mattered in the morality of daily life. And, as I mentioned, the church I went to never even really discussed or thought of it as important to even teach about in any way.
One day while riding with my fiance (now husband), who was and is a devout Catholic, we began a conversation about contraception. He proceeded to explain some of the Church’s teaching on it and how it was considered sinful and didn’t follow what the Catholic Church taught.
What does that have to do with me?
I remember just looking at him, wondering what this had to do with me. I was not Catholic and no church was going to tell me what I was doing was sinful. After all, it was my body and I was just taking a pill to be safe.
From the time of my first physical examination as an eighteen-year-old girl, I had been on ‘the pill’. My doctor had said it was ‘standard procedure‘ and that girls of my age were automatically put on the pill to keep them protected and safe throughout their young adulthood. I never even thought to question “safe from what“?
Since I was shy and usually did what I was told, I just agreed. Now, I think back and I get a little upset that I blindly accepted this introduction and started taking a known carcinogen without a second thought or even asking one question about it.
But, I digress, back to the story.
I remember being on the offensive while my fiance was explaining why the Church taught what it did regarding contraception of any kind.
- My first thought was – why?
- Why was it considered sinful and why should the Church have anything to say anyway?
- What was so important about the subject?
- And why should I even care?
I’m not listening…
As quick as the conversation started – it was over. I sat there silent, arms folded, and feeling uncomfortable because I now had the feeling that I might be doing something wrong.
It also caused me to want to search for answers. I wanted to know just why the Catholic Church would even want to enter into this discussion. And why or how could it be wrong?
What was this all about? I had every right to do with my body whatever I wanted to. It wasn’t even the thought of pregnancy that scared me. I had already had two children and I loved pregnancy and being a mom.
It was the thought that someone was telling me what I should do with my body. I was an adult and I would never let a Church come into something as personal and as intimate as my bedroom.
And so it begins
What happened next was something that I strongly advise against if you want to stay in control and live the way you think is best. I began to pray, research and study the early Church’s Teaching on this whole uncomfortable subject.
This was back before the internet was so available. So I ordered some books. I looked up the teaching on birth control and contraception in the Catechism (a compendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals). And listened to many cassette tapes.
Because this teaching bothered me so much, I knew that I had to find out why it was so uncomfortable for me. The more I prayed and the more I studied I couldn’t help but fall in love with what I was learning. It hit me first in the head and quietly made its path deep into my heart.
For 2000 years!
The Church had retained it’s long-standing teaching on birth control since the time of Jesus and before. I was stunned.
So, for at least 2000 years, up until now the teaching regarding birth control has remained the same within the Catholic Church as it was at the beginning of the Church.
Interestingly, the majority of Christian churches also held this same belief: the belief that it was not permissible to use any type of birth control. Birth control was unanimously considered sinful and associated it with promiscuity and adultery- it was resolutely condemned. This changed in 1930 when the Anglican Church passed a resolution in favor of birth control. The majority of the Protestant denominations eventually followed in their tracks.
This was fascinating to me! All churches agreed until 1930 and the Catholic Church never caved to the secular opinions or arguments of society. Though it still holds the most unpopular view, it has remained unmoved and unchanged until this day.
Basically, the Church holds to the Truth that life is precious and is a gift from God. Given life and dignity at conception, humans are also gifted the privilege to actually be co-creators with God Himself. It is a privilege, not to be taken for granted, and not to be stifled in the name of ‘my right‘, ‘my body‘ or ‘my choice‘.
What is sex for?
When sex, a wonderful and beautiful act and gift created and given to us by God, is enjoyed in its ‘proper context’- which is between a man and woman – we are participating with God in creation itself. Of course, the most appropriate scenario is within marriage. The whole purpose God intended sex for is for babies and bonding. Again simple! How awesome is that?! Who would want to stifle that in any way? Not me.
This learning and studying led me down a path of discovery after discovery. The Church’s teaching on sex, procreation and birth control was so beautiful and complete that I just knew it had to be true! There was an answer to every ‘why’ question I had.
And if that one fundamental teaching was true and was upheld for over 2000 years, I could not ignore it. Beginning with this one teaching, I came to not only learn, but believe that the Catholic Church was, in fact, the Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself. I prayed, I studied and I became convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt.
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
Many, who are uninformed, believe that this means you need to be open to having children at any time throughout your marriage and have plenty of them. That is not at all what it means.
We are called to be open to the possibility of a new life and not to try to prevent it by artificial means or by blocking the natural act of intercourse in any way. Remember it is a gift to be enjoyed.
In the basic Theology of marriage by Christopher West, it states that the marriage covenant calls the spouses to share in the free total, faithful, and fruitful love of God. This total giving of oneself is in direct conflict with the implications of contraceptive use.
For more reading on this subject here is a great book: Good News About Sex And Marriage by Christopher West
The ability to procreate is not a defect or illness that requires a ‘pill’ or ‘appliance’ to fix it. We should not try to manipulate the act. When we try to control the outcome, it changes it from a gift given to us into a tool we can manipulate as we wish. Two totally different perspectives.
Life after birth control
Once I realized that following the Church’s teaching on birth control was something my husband and I were going to embrace and live fully I did have some fears. I did wonder how we would be able to space our children. I come from a line of very fertile women and I knew that pregnancy would come very easily.
One thing about the Catholic Church is that you can find answers to all your concerns and questions within its rich teachings. Natural Family Planning was what we found.
Natural Family Planning
NFP, the term for Natural Family Planning, is not Catholic birth control. This is simply learning how to use your body’s natural signs to pinpoint the time of month you are fertile. If for a ‘just or grave‘ reason you have decided that pregnancy is not a good idea at this time, you abstain from intercourse for an identified couple of days.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is simple, but sometimes not so easy. We are human and it doesn’t always go as we plan. But, it is His way, and He never promised easy.
But, you can absolutely do this without pills, injections, products or appliances of any kind. All-natural and safe for you, your spouse and baby, if you are blessed with one, without the chance of side effects.
It also has the tendency to open up communication between the spouses, which in itself is very building for the marriage.
I have even had the privilege of sharing the beauty of the Church’s teaching with our children. Our 21 and 20-year-old daughters are not on any birth control and don’t plan on it -ever. This fact leaves their peers in disbelief because, like my former young self, most girls by this age have been on hormonal birth control of some kind for several years at least.
Like with all things this side of Glory, there are struggles and inconveniences with learning and practicing Natural family planning. I hope to share our, my husband’s and my, experience and advice about this in later posts or videos.
How Birth Control Made Me Catholic ~ In Closing
Yes, it was the Catholic Church’s teaching on birth control that steered me in the direction of discovering the Truth and beauty of the Church.
But, don’t let me come across as if it were all smooth sailing. A lot of the teachings were difficult for me. I struggled with many of them. But, I knew that just from that one simple teaching on birth control, how it lined up with Scripture and the Tradition of the early Church, that there was a deeper Truth here. Deeper and more profound than I had ever experienced.
So, soon after this struggle and touch of God’s grace, I entered the Catholic Church. I had too! If it was so right on basic Truth which it had protected from the beginning, I knew and trusted it was right through and through.
I am still learning. And there have been bumps. Living out your faith is not for the faint of heart. There are trials, difficulties and hurts that you will have to endure. Sometimes you feel like you are the only one.
But, there is also a joy, strength, and peace you experience in doing so that passes all knowledge and understanding.
I have written more on those struggles and my conversion experiences in another post. My hope is that it can help someone who is also on the path to becoming Catholic or who is Catholic and has yet to learn the beauty of Catholic Teaching.
My prayer is that I at least answered some questions and gave you something to think about.
In This Video I give an abbreviated testimony of my story..
A Catholic mom of 10 & a Deacon’s wife.
A Christian who lives an intermittent fasting lifestyle, my days faithfully begin with prayer & black coffee.
I want to encourage women to realize their life’s purpose, share their faith, embrace God’s Word, grow in confidence, and commit daily to reclaiming overall health while living a life dedicated to their vocation.