Moral dilemma; please help!


#1

Hi everyone. I would like to hear any wisdom you may wish to share on a difficult decision I need to make. I will try to give you as much pertinent information as possible, although it is impossible to say everything.

Basically, I would like people’s opinions on birth control. My wife feels a strong need for it right now; I basically disagree that it is necessary, but understand where she is coming from. Some background on the situation before you pass judgement (share your opinion)…

My wife (I will use the name Jean for her here, although that is not her name; mine isn’t really javelin, either :wink: ) and I have been married 7+ years and have two healthy children, ages 4 and 2. Both were unplanned pregnancies while practicing NFP (sympto-thermal method) as strictly as she felt we could (which ended up being a mixture of the 7-day and 21-day rules and external symptoms).

Jean recently had a nervous breakdown of sorts that required hospitalization for a couple weeks. Prior to the episode, she had been struggling with trying to deepen her faith and feel right with God, but in the process was questioning much of Church teaching (we are both cradle Catholics). After about a week of not sleeping (really at all), her thinking and behavior became hyper-religious and erratic, requiring hospitalization. About a month prior to the event, she had also suffered a miscarriage due to an ectopic pregnancy that we didn’t even know about until it needed to be sugically removed. Even before that, she had been struggling with depression that partly stemmed from guilt (religious and sexual, I think) and the difficulties of being a stay-at-home Mom with two very energetic and demanding children.

She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is now in recovery from her hospitalization. Needless to say, we still have a long ways to go, and our relationship has been rocky and stressful lately.

Much of the stress she has spoken of relates to issues of sexuality and fertility. She is genuinely afraid of having more children right now; she feels it will push her over the edge. This is only reinforced by the fact that Depakote is a class D drug, meaning there is strong clinical proof that it causes birth defects (cystic fibrosis, I believe). She is terrified of “accidentally” becoming pregnant, not knowing it, and harming the child through the medication before she can go off it. There is then the strong clinical evidence that states 70% of women with bipolar who go off of their medication during pregnancy have serious relapses that put both their life and the life of the child at high risk.

This is getting long, so I’ll leave it at that for now. The doctor insists she go on birth control. Even a local priest she confided in said it would be OK if decided after serious prayer, etc. She has also brought up sterilization and adoption if we felt called to later on (I’m very open to adoption, too). Basically, she wants this stresser removed.

We both want to follow God’s will, but it seems we have no choice but to contracept. Jean’s health and ability to be a good mother are of prime importance.

So you see that it is very complicated.

Please don’t respond with arguments trying to prove the Church’s position that artificial contraception is intrinsically evil. I know it is wrong, which is why there is a dilemma in the first place. What I really need is advice on how to weigh its wrongness with the other perils in the situation, and how to be a good husband to my dearest wife.

Your thoughts? Prayers would be appreciated, too. :slight_smile:

javelin


#2

This is complicated so I would consult with a priest who fully supports Church teaching.

I would focus on diet and exercise. Perhaps you could abstain for a while at least so she doesn’t feel pressured to make a rush decision. Sounds like she needs some rest and space to heal physically and emotionally.

Again, this is complicated so I would consult with a priest who fully supports Church teaching (Fr. Serpa, for example).

Peace to you and your wife,
Greg


#3

First I’ll be praying for you both. Perhaps I can shed some light on this for you…I could’ve written most of your post.

A little background. I was diagnosed with bipolar when I was a teen. I have been on and off meds for 13yrs now…having a permanent change of meds when I got married. There are actually many different drugs that can be used to treat bipolar, and not all are dangerous during pregnancy. Most of the time, the drs say these drugs shouldn’t be taken when pregnant or nursing is because they really aren’t sure if any of the meds will affect the baby.

Anyway, I was on Zoloft. I got married and got pregnant right away with our first child. We have had a child each year after that, with the 5 th being born last october. It is very stressful being a sahm to young children, trying to be perfect in every aspect of our lives, as mothers, wives, christians. There is alot of stress. I’ll admit, after my 3rd was born, I was secretly going to take the depo shot. I prayed and prayed and made my decision, however, something was eating at my conscience. I would have to lie to my husband, I would have to pay for it out of pocket (my ins. co makes it very easy to not want to use abc LOL), etc. And knowing that it was just wrong. I decided against it. If I went ahead, I wouldn’t have my last 2 precious children.

I must say too, after the birth of all my kids, I did suffer a bout of post partum depression, along with the bipolar. The meds worked and got me back to where I needed to be to be a better mother, wife and catholic. BTW, the meds I have taken are Zoloft. It worked real well and is safe during pregnancy and nursing.

The only things I can really say are try to be understanding with your wife (sounds like you already are her biggest support). I would think long and hard before going on any type of birth control…it can do so many things to a womans body, and changing her hormone levels surely will do no good for the bipolar. I know, I was on bcp as a teen to shrink an ovarian cyst, and my moods were just crazy (while on meds) when I took them (I wasn’t sexually active at the time taking them, so…)

I hope I made some kind of sense. I will keep you and your wife in my prayers.


#4

Are there perils in abstaining until she can get her mental situation stabalized? It would seem that throwing a sin in on top of her awful situation wouldn’t help much. I think it would be quite a delicate balance to make sure that she understands that abstaining doesn’t have to be permanent and that you love her despite the fact that you cannot be physically intimate but if she can grasp that you’d do that for her health and welfare, maybe that would make all of the difference.

For what it’s worth, and I think you’ll find this in other places in the forum, life gets a lot easier after the third child comes. I have know idea why but many of us have noticed that. I was completely stressed with my first two and hardly ever left the house. How this plays in with bi-polar people, I can’t tell. It seems the previous two posters would know better. If someone can survive 1 kid a year (I’ve been blessed with a little more space between mine!) and the lack of sleep that goes with it, I’d take their advice!

You will all be in our prayers.


#5

Absolutely do not use chemical birth control while establishing a healthy bi-polar medication routine. Abstain, if your both motivated it wont take long.

A big factor in bi-polar is that it may take a few MD’s before you two happen upon one who wants to work out the chemical maze. Plus you both have to be trained to know exactly whats happening. There are warning signs at and during the switch over, and amazingly periods of normalcy when if you blindly kept on the same med schedule you’d be forcing a flip over.

On the other hand, there’s a huge need in this world for inventors, scientists, artists, mathmaticians, writers,… and the extreemly valuable women whom God has chosen to pass on this gene.

Take a moment to thank God for that gift. Be proud.


#6

This happened to me, too, a few years ago. After just so long of trying to do the right thing and being frustrated and seemingly judged by everyone, including authorities at work, school (kids’ schools), church, and elsewhere, when all I was trying to do is what they asked me to do, it got to me. It is very difficult for an honest person, particularly one as socially naive as I was, to reconcile being honest and obedient with reward systems that punish that behavior.

She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is now in recovery from her hospitalization. Needless to say, we still have a long ways to go, and our relationship has been rocky and stressful lately.

Me, too. Luckily my wife was very loving and patient. There were times she was very frustrated with me, but we got over them and our marriage is stronger than ever.

This is getting long, so I’ll leave it at that for now. The doctor insists she go on birth control. Even a local priest she confided in said it would be OK if decided after serious prayer, etc. She has also brought up sterilization and adoption if we felt called to later on (I’m very open to adoption, too). Basically, she wants this stresser removed.

We both want to follow God’s will, but it seems we have no choice but to contracept. Jean’s health and ability to be a good mother are of prime importance.

Without knowing your situation, I cannot judge you. I know this is going against the teachings of the Church, so I’ll probably be called names for saying this, but I do not think contraception is intrinsically evil. “The Pill” is bad because it is an abortifacient, but although we haven’t looked into it, my wife’s staunchly Catholic gynocologist says there are now some newer pills which do not work that way. As for contraception v abstinence or NFP, I simply cannot buy that there is a moral difference from a pro-life perspective, unless I disregard Paul’s writing on marriage and sex in 1 Cor 7. I’ve heard the intrinsic evil of artificial contraception defended on the position that it is not open to life, in the same article as the claim that NFP is great because it is not evil but it is more effective than artif. conc. at preventing pregnancy. That is self-contradictory, so I tentatively dismiss the “not open to life” argument unless somebody can tell me something about it I haven’t heard already. If “not being open to life” were intrinsically evil, then NFP could only be morally used to maximize one’s chances of having a baby and abstinence would be completely wrong. The “spilling the seed” argument is likewise hollow because gametes are produced by men and women all the time, so NFP or abstinence used for prevention of pregnancy are no better than artificial contraception on that basis.

Call me a cafeteria Catholic, or a heretic. After having six children, psychiatric problems both myself and my wife, post-partum depression, placenta previa pregnancy nearly resulting in the death of one child and mother and leaving the other five children without a mother, we have seriously considered this issue. Any by-the-book celibate priest who thinks my opinion is evil can come examine my heart.

Learn, listen, pray, and let your conscience and the Spirit guide you.

This message will self-destruct in 10… 9… 8…

Alan


#7

[quote=javelin]So you see that it is very complicated.

[/quote]

In reality, there is no dilemma here - only a difficult directive. Javelin, I’m sure you know deep down that the solution is to abstain. The human tendency is to say, “That’s too hard - God wouldn’t ask me to do anything that difficult!! There must be some kind of exception in this complicated situation.” But God does indeed ask difficult things of us sometimes. It is an opportunity to serve Him with heroism. An opportunity to become a saint. An opportunity to receive more blessings from obedience than you would ever receive from the marital embrace.

Your choice is clear. Pregnancy would harm your wife physically and psychologically. Contraception would harm both of you spiritually. Neither is acceptable.

God has presented you with a wonderful opportunity. I pray you accept the challenge and receive the blessings. Please consider abstaining.

Betsy


#8

Dear baltobetsy,

If you believe deep down that the only right answer is to abstain, I can respect that as it is probably in line with the Church’s teachings.

In terms of what God asks us to do, though, I am curious to know how you reconcile your recommendation with Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor 7:5 which tells married people, “do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.”

It isn’t just you that I’m asking. For some strange reason, I have never heard 1 Cor 7 mentioned at all in anything I’ve heard or read about the purpose and practice of marriage and sex. They seem pretty explicit to me, but most Catholics I’ve talked to didn’t even know these teachings exist.

Reference: 1 Cor 7:1-9 usccb.org/nab/bible/1corinthians/1corinthians7.htm

Alan


#9

[quote=AlanFromWichita]Dear baltobetsy,

If you believe deep down that the only right answer is to abstain, I can respect that as it is probably in line with the Church’s teachings.

In terms of what God asks us to do, though, I am curious to know how you reconcile your recommendation with Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor 7:5 which tells married people, “do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.”

Reference: 1 Cor 7:1-9 usccb.org/nab/bible/1corinthians/1corinthians7.htm

Alan
[/quote]

Alan,
Paul doesn’t specify how long a “season” it is acceptable for couples to abstain from relations. Certainly being free to pray one’s way through the crisis of the mental illness Javelin’s wife has undergone would have to be acceptable – in ancient times she would be accused of being demon-possessed, I believe.

Certainly abstenance is difficult, but it can also be a great gift of love. Even a non-abortifacient form of ABC could result in unplanned pregnancy, and where would this couple be then? Surely not contemplating the advisability of abortion!

It’s my opinion that in this case, abstinence is the only reasonable alternative in keeping with Church teaching.


#10

I am a great opponet to artifical contraception, so this may seem trivial, Javelin, but is the doctor insisting that she go on BCP’s exclusively to prevent a pregnancy or will the pill also help regulate the hormonal cycle in her?

I ask because, as the Church teaches, it is not sinful to use BCP’s under doctors orders if the objective is something OTHER than for the abortafacent element of the pill, like menstrual cycle regulation, etc.

This topic has been posted on Catholic Answers in the past, and from those postings I have learned that the culpability for such matters is diminished or even removed completely if your motive for using such a drug is motivated by some other reasonable cause and not just the prevention of conception. In such cases the prevention of conception is only a “side effect” of the medication.

I agree that you should speak with a priest. I wasn’t aware that there are different degrees of “fully” supporting Church teaching. The culpability is primarily on the Priest if he deviates from the teaching of the Church. I would be less concerned about grading the orthodoxy of your clergical counsel and focus your complete attention on healing your wife.

Pax Christi


#11

[quote=AlanFromWichita] I am curious to know how you reconcile your recommendation with Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor 7:5 which tells married people, “do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.”
[/quote]

Alan, I think St. Paul here is talking about normal circumstances, not times of illness. He’s saying, don’t try to be extra holy by abstaining, for you may fall into sin. He’s saying the normal thing, the good and holy thing for married couples in normal circumstances is to have relations. He’s affirming the dignity of married life, not requiring a certain amount of sexual activity.

Clearly, Javelin and his wife have an extraordinary circumstance with her illness and dangerous medications. Let’s reverse things - suppose Javelin himself is ill, say, with a weak heart, and awaiting a heart transplant. His doctor advises against sexual activity because his heart couldn’t take it. This prohibition will last until the transplant can be accomplished and Javelin recovers. That’s going to be a long time without relations, but no one will question it, because Javelin’s health is involved. It’s really the same circumstance here, except there is an immoral option being proposed, while none is available in the case of Javelin’s theoretical illness.

**God is never outdone in generosity. ** If He permits a circumstance to exist where following His will is difficult and requires sacrifice, the grace He gives to those who generously and cheerfully make that sacrifice will be beyond all expectations, both in this life and in the life to come.

Betsy


#12

javelin, how does your wife feel about abstaining? How do you feel about it? I’m not asking you to post your answers here, the questions are for contemplation. It might be helpful to investigate more on the churches teaching on human sexuality. I have found books and tapes by Christopher West are especially good. The marital act is not the only way to show love and affection to one’s spouse. Even though it sounds contradictory, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that even though having sex may not be right for you as a couple right now, your wife still needs to know you love her, find her attractive and sexy. You do too, but I’m putting more of the burden on the person more mentally stable.

I would also suggest reading up on scrupulosity. Although it’s usually associated with OCD, something you wrote made me think of it. Jean could have more than one thing going on.

You both could benefit from wise counsel from someone who has a background in sex and marriage and who is orothodox when it comes to church teaching. Just as you said it’s immpossible to say everything here, none of us can be with you and listen to all the concerns you and your wife have and address each and every one.

I think that the church offers a “one size fits all” morality, however, and it’s a big however, I think approaches to it are more “tailor made.” That’s where private counseling comes in.

God’s peace to you and your family.


#13

Dear Betsy,

Thank you for your well thought out response, and for creating a scenario that does address my question. As another poster has said, individual circumstances are complex enough that individual counseling may be helpful, so please consider this post as theoretical and not necessary a direct recommendation to javelin. It is very well possible that abstinence may be in order, but I’ll be up front about this – I personally believe the teaching on contraception being “evil” is relative at best, for reasons I outlined in post #6 above.

There is another significant difference between the case of javelin as presented and your hypothetical case. That is, in one case javelin’s life is endangered by actually having marital relations, and in the other case it is not the marital relations, but pregnancy as a possible consequence of that act that endangers his wife. For the hypothetical case, there is really no question as you say. For the actual case, I propose that if there is one immoral option being proposed, then there are two.

The immoral option being proposed, if I get your drift, is using contraception. If that isn’t justified by their unusual circumstances, then how is it that you are willing to exempt them from the teaching of Paul by those same circumstances? Doesn’t this put them in a Catch-22? If they are staying apart “by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer” then the exception is built-in. J or his wife at this point does not prefer to consent to that option or this topic wouldn’t even have been posted. We’re back to whether their special circumstances allow them to disregard Paul’s teaching. How is it this teaching can be relative while the use of contraception is an absolute? It sounds like in this case it is the Bible teaching on sex v. the Church teaching on contraception.

Maybe contraception is not the preferred technique of family planning, though I honestly don’t see how it can be any more or less moral than using NFP for the same purpose. Another poster pointed out that even an abortifacient such as the pill can be used if the intentions are not to avoid having babies but to address other health problems. If that is correct, than the use of artificial conception as a technique is relative; it is not intrinsically evil to do something that may result in abortion, if your intentions are not to avoid having babies. If all that is true, isn’t it a bit crazy to say that using NFP for the express purpose of avoiding having babies IS moral?

Unless I’m missing some very important piece of the puzzle, the Church’s teachings are not built on sound logic. Of course, I don’t presume to know the mind of God but when something is this schizophrenic it behooves me to at least keep searching until something makes sense. At this point, and God knows my heart and I trust He will forgive me if I’m stepping over the line here, I wonder whether the clergy can really discern these types of matters that ostensibly don’t even apply to themselves. Are the teachings on contraception considered “infallible” and if not, why is it not OK to make exceptions based on individual circumstances while it is OK to make exceptions to Paul’s clear teachings based on the same circumstances?

Alan


#14

Thank you all for your replies thus far, and moreso for your prayers. I can’t write for too long, but I want to make two points quickly.

First of all, please don’t question the integrity of the priest my wife spoke with because of his answer to her question. That answer came after each of us spoke with him separately for a total of 4 hours. If anyone is aware of the circumstances surrounding our decision, then he is. Trust me that he didn’t counsel her hastily, and he certainly is not dismissive of the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception. Nonetheless, I want to be patient and discern more before continuing.

Second,

[quote=baltobetsy]In reality, there is no dilemma here - only a difficult directive. Javelin, I’m sure you know deep down that the solution is to abstain.
[/quote]

Oh, if it were only that simple! I have already “offered” that option to my wife, but it went nowhere. Abstaining, as Paul says, “by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer” is good and holy if it is done for that purpose: “to be free for prayer”. If one feels they are forced into it by an autocratic Church full of chaste men who don’t understand women, families, or sexual issues, then there is no fruit of it at all. In fact, it only reinforces the stress and feelings of guilt and oppression. Now, I’m not saying that Jean feels the “autocratic Church” description above completely, but there have been good hints of that sentiment, and any more pushing may push her away for good. While I know I could “force” abstaining on her, I don’t feel that it is healthy for our relationship either, which is already strained (it goes against the "mutual consent thing, too).

As for why the doctor prescribed the birth control, I believe it is solely to prevent conception. However, it is preventing conception that is neccessary for her psychological and emotional well-being right now (according to the doctor). I have to admit that her becoming pregnant right now is scary even for me because it will be devastating to her.

Peace,
javelin


#15

Dear javelin,

The first day I met my spiritual director, he told me something that began the rebuilding of my sanity and my faith, which had been severely tested by many factors, including certain clergy and lay leaders in the Church. I asked him why the world was so crazy, and how come nobody, psychiatrists, priests, or anyone else, understood what I had to say.

He told me that a person has components in six realms: physical, mental, social, sexual (identity is tied with this), spiritual, and emotional. Doctors, priests, etc. are specialists who only see the part of the person they are trained in. When they treat the person as they see that person through their eyes, they may actually miss the problem entirely or ignore another problem that they cannot see because they are not trained.

Your doctor can tell you about your medical situation, but is not an expert at spirituality.
Your priest can advise you on theology and spirituality, but is not an expert at your medical situation.

Father Loftus was an associate priest at St. Joseph in Homewood, IL, the parish where I grew up and went to grade school. He was also a psychologist, who counseled patients in the parish, and had a lay practice in Chicago. One of his patients told me that he told her that what she does in her bedroom is between her and her husband, and that God is not interested in micromanaging it. That was 30 years ago, so it may have been pre-Vatican II thinking?

That may sound blasphemous to some, but at some point you have to make decisions based on what YOU believe is best. You have already explained why abstinence is problematic, and it would seem you have some Biblical backing for your position. Is your motivation (yours or your wife’s) for using contraception actually to prevent tragedy, or is it to defy the Church? If the former, do you really think God is going to judge you harshly? That’s for you to decide.

Maybe I’m all wet here but I think it’s possible to get so worried about laws that one forgets about the Spirit. I’m certainly not going to tell you to use contraception, but I do think once you have the facts you have to make your own decision, and be ready to take personal responsibility for it. You only have to answer to God; not me, not any apologist, and not some priest. Will you be condemned by other Catholics or your priest? Not if you don’t tell them. If you think it might be sinful and confess it, and you don’t get absolution, then that is one risk you’ll have to factor into your decision. The priest will advise you the best he can, but ultimately it is you who has to answer to God.

Jesus was the greatest rule-breaker of them all, when circumstances warranted. Many things that are given as absolute are relative, as Jesus clearly demonstrated. Methinks the Church’s teachings against artificial contraception are relative. Were they declared ex cathedra?

2 Cor 3:5-9

Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit for anything as coming from us; rather, our qualification comes from God, who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, was so glorious that the Israelites could not look intently at the face of Moses because of its glory that was going to fade, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit be glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious, the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory.

Alan


#16

Javelin,

Have you and your wife looked into the Creighton method of NFP? It’s based on the Billings Ovulation method, but with certain refinements that were inspired by the most current scientific information. The results are remarkable: 99.5% “method effectiveness” (i.e., if all the rules are followed), and 96.8% “use effectiveness” (i.e., among real-world couples who make mistakes). This is comparable to any form of artificial birth control. It also requires less abstinence than most other methods of NFP…and your wife wouldn’t even need to take her temperature. It seems like it would be ideal for your situation.

creightonmodel.com/

I can’t read God’s mind, but I don’t think He would put you in a position where “doing the best thing for your family” would involve committing a sin.

You’ll be in our prayers!


#17

Dear Javelin,

My heart goes out to you. I will continue to keep you, your wife and children in my prayers.

You said in your first post that you feel birth control is unnecessary in your circumstances, despite the fear associated with your wife becoming pregnant. You also acknowledged that you know using birth control is wrong. I would implore you to hold fast to the truth that God has written upon your heart–He has given you the desire to know and do what is right, a very great gift.

What would happen if you took this stance with your wife and simply said, “Jean, if you feel like the pill is your only recourse, that is your decision and I cannot stop you. I will not condone it nor will I use anything artificial myself. I will periodically ask you to please reconsider your position. I will not deny my body to you, but I will offer myself to you with the same totality of when we began using NFP. When we come together, my intent will never be to contracept. I ask that we continue to practice NFP and abstain for a period of time that we normally know to be when you are fertile, even if you insist on taking the pill. I trust that God is even more fully aware of the pain and suffering you are experiencing now than I could ever be, and I know that He loves us and is a merciful Father. I choose to trust He will take care of us if we choose to do His will.”

If your spouse chooses beyond any doubt to use birth control, obviously you can’t take away their freedom and stop it. But YOU have the freedom to disagree. If he/she refuses to abstain, you should not deny yourself to them. But you are morally obligated to ask your spouse to reconsider their position periodically–whether that be her agreeing to abstain or to go off birth control and practice NFP.

Remember that you are the spiritual leader of your family. Now, more than ever, Jean needs you to protect her. She is hurting and vulnerable to any suggestions that might take away her suffering and stress. If you KNOW birth control is harmful to your wife both physically (the side effects are staggering) and spiritually, do not put her in harm’s way. Sometimes it just takes one spouse to say, “No, I love you and I will not stand by and condone this damage to your body and soul.” As spouses, we are called to insure our other half gets to heaven. Fight for your wife’s soul!

I’m sure this is all very complicated. I pray that you find peace.

Abby


#18

I have nothing to add to this discussion except to say that you and your dear wife are in my prayers. May God bless you and help you get through this.

Oh, one other thing I feel I must correct… to the poster who said that it gets easier after the third child… HAHAHAHAHA! That is tooooooo funny! As a mother of four (beautiful children- thank you Lord!) I can say without any doubt whatsoever that two children are cake compared to four. If your wife is on shaky ground with two, I think she’s correct that one more would push her right over the edge. She knows best and I’m so happy you are the kind sort of husband who listens. <>< CM


#19

[quote=carol marie]I have nothing to add to this discussion except to say that you and your dear wife are in my prayers. May God bless you and help you get through this.

Oh, one other thing I feel I must correct… to the poster who said that it gets easier after the third child… HAHAHAHAHA! That is tooooooo funny! As a mother of four (beautiful children- thank you Lord!) I can say without any doubt whatsoever that two children are cake compared to four. If your wife is on shaky ground with two, I think she’s correct that one more would push her right over the edge. She knows best and I’m so happy you are the kind sort of husband who listens. <>< CM
[/quote]

Well, that poster would be me. Please notice I did not say all of us think that it’s easier after 2. I said many. I’ve noticed this in many threads and conversations.

The fact is, your oldest starts getting older and can actually be of some help and it get’s better. I think people with larger gaps in ages probably have a worse time since it’s almost like starting all over again at one. My kids are all 2 years apart. I spent a lot of time wondering how I’d make it with more than 2 but it suprisingly got much better after my third. Now my oldest is a tremendous help and even somewhat of a companion. We’re all looking forward to number 6 that’s on the way.

There’s a couple of other things I’d like to suggest.

Is there anyway you could suggest abstinence for a certain duration? Say 3 months? Sometimes things are easier to handle when you know there is an end in sight. By then, it could be quite possible that the medications will show some improvement. Sometimes it’s easier to take life in chunks.

The other thing I’d like to say is that Alan From Wichita, like we all do from time to time, seems to be focusing on the here and now. We all need to remember that this life, in the grand scheme, is fleeting. No matter how hellish it is here, it’s nothing compared to spiritual death which mortal sin causes. The laws of the Roman Catholic Church are born of the Spirit. They do not contradict each other. Doctrine is truth and truth does not change - ever.

By the way Alan, we are bound by all of the Church’s rules on Faith and Morals whether spoken ex cathedra or not. There is a common misconception that we are only bound to ex cathedra teachings

I wouldn’t wish Javelin and Jean’s situation on anyone and I’m not saying that the solutions are easy. In fact, the harder ones are usually the right ones. I’m sure everyone here would like to say that it’s just fine and dandy to choose the birth control option but I doubt any of us would be doing you any favors.

Abby is correct in the fact that you cannot choose your wife’s path. You, however, can’t in good conscience condone her actions.

Have you asked the apologetics forum what you can and cannot do in this regard? I am confident, as you, that the birth control option is wrong but I’m guessing Abby’s assumption just may be correct butI am not confident in my guess.


#20

Dear bear06,

Thank you for your considered reply. Certainly I am tempted to focus on here and now, but I not to do it to without considering the eternal consequences. It is in the here and now that we make decisions on how to live our life, and in fact live it, thus bringing about temporal and eternal consequences.

My rebuttal is twofold:

First, many of the Church’s teachings which are often held up as absolute are not; there are exceptions, weasel words, or the claim that it is not “infallibly” taught, etc. to justify this relativism. On any given topic I hear all kinds of justifications for why relavistic teachings and practices are really absolutes in disguise. That’s why I consider it important whether the Church has infallibly declared that ABC is intrinsically evil. If it isn’t, then there could exceptions, possibly like the case at hand.

Second, the blind application of Church teachings against artificial contraception as an absolute is tempting because it is simplistic, but has several negative effects. It denies, or at least ignores, 1 Cor 7 about the behavior of spouses, so could behaving in a way contrary to Bible teachings offset the benefits of avoiding ABC? It also places undue burden on the faithful who are trying to do the best thing under extraordinary circumstances. It misses a large part of Jesus’s message and example, where He showed us that rules can be broken, depending on the circumstances. It also dismisses Paul’s argument that everything is lawful for him, but not all things are beneficial. I believe my suggesting the option of using ABC and keeping it to themselves is also in line with Paul’s teaching. If your freedom causes others to sin, that’s a problem according to Paul – so don’t let them see you doing something that offends them. Further, the Church’s position – if it is in fact her position – that ABC is intrinsically and absolutely evil is arbitrary, justified by faulty and self-contradictory arguments, and puts certain people (such as javelin and his wife) in a double bind where any course they take will violate either a Church teaching or a Bible teaching and thus condemns them unconditionally.

Does it sound like I’m promoting birth control? I’m not. I’m just defending it against the charge that it is intrinsic evil, and I think a Catholic should be able to consider it in good conscience, based on personal circumstances.

Alan


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