Open to Life?


#1

I am a Catholic convert. I converted after being married to a cradle Catholic for seven years. It took having a good priest help me to understand more about being Catholic and a part of the community.

I have four children ranging from 11 to 1 in age.

My wife and I have been discussing the future of our family. My wife currently provides support to the family by staying home. Two of my school age children attend Catholic school. We live within our means and are not extravagant in anything we buy or do. We try to live a modest live without trying to keep up with the neighbors. We are also very active in volunteer work for the church/school.

I work approx. 40-55 hours a week in my job that is about 30 minutes from my house. I also am attending graduate school, although I have only three classes to finish my degree. My time at home is at a premium to provide time to four children.

The issue at hand is around contraception. I am at a point that I am happy with 4 children and feel that I am stressed for time for everyone as it is. I feel I have freely been open to life, and I do not want the potential for anymore children. Sometimes I feel that my wife and I have sacrificed aspects of our marriage and closeness for our children, and I am not prepared to sacrifice more. I do not want more children for these reasons. If we have more children, I am not sure what the outcome will be on our family.

My wife and I have talked about this several times, and I am satisfied with the argument that God never gives us more than we can handle. I am not convinced by the logic (or lack thereof) in being open to God’s plan and contraception affects that plan. I think of all the people that are treated and saved from heart attacks everyday. How does that affect God’s plan? If you say that if God wanted them to die they would, is it not the same true for the creation of life? Does God allow us to develop technologies for both good/bad use? I think yes, but I think it is a very narrow view to say that it is sinful to affect God’s plan at the start of life, but it is okay to affect that plan by life saving technologies/treatments. How can one choose?

I feel that I have 4 beautiful children, and I have been open to life. But I am at a point that, I feel I have no more time to give to another. Do I sacrifice a job to work less hours/less money for the time and potentially force my wife to work? Do we try to reduce spending even more to accommodate that different job? How do I make time for everyone, including myself and my relationship with my wife, and be fair? I am at a point I feel that if for some reason NFP fails, the scale will tip. Then what?

As you can see, I have put a great deal of time, thought, and prayer into trying to come to terms with this. I have even considered a celibate marriage, but I think that is counter to marriage itself.

I am open for some different thoughts on this, and humbly ask for prayer.

In God’s Grace, thank you.


#2

I don’t have a lot of advice to offer, but a few things came to mind reading over your post. For one, you mention how busy you are, but that you also only have 3 classes left to take for your degree. That is wonderful as graduating will reduce your workload.

I also think it is wonderful that you and your wife have lovingly accepted 4 children and that you appreciate the importance of having a parent at home. I also applaud you for sending your children to Catholic schools.:thumbsup:

I agree with you that God will not give you more than you can handle. However, you don’t really know that not having anymore children is what is best for you. God, on the other hand, knows.

What I would suggest is that you and your wife learn NFP if you don’t know it already. That you follow it faithfully, and that you remain open to the fact that IF God chooses to bless you with a child, that you can handle it, and that He gives you that child for a reason. Yes, NFP can fail, but if you and your wife follow it faithfully, it is highly unlikely unless God chooses to bless you. And if you have another child, believe me, it is because God really knows what is best for you and your family.

Also, we are allowed to use technology to improve and sometimes save lives (chemo, medicines, surgery, etc.) but we are not allowed to use technology to destroy or prevent life. We are not playing God by prolonging life, but we are if we resort to contraception, abortion, or euthanasia.


#3

May I ask why you have more confidence in contraception than NFP? I apologize if this is not the case; it’s just the impression I got.

Are you intimately familiar with any valid NFP methods? I think that once a couple becomes educated about NFP, the fear of an unexpected pregnancy subsides. :wink:


#4

Contraceptives fail as well. What will you do then? Accept the child lovingly or abort?

Jennifer


#5

that’s the thing, contraceptives fail. And since i hear people on here boasting that NFP is more successful at putting off pregnancy than contraception, in order to be truly open to life you’d think conraceptive would be okay since they are more open to life with a higher failure rate.

I follow the rules, but I think the church’s stance on NFP vs. contraception is completely illogical. (and yes I have read West’s book, several times)


#6

markmallett.com/blog/?p=563
Read this article. I think it gives a beautiful explanation of why ABC is wrong in so many ways.


#7

I don’t think that someone using contraceptives would use them over NFP because they thought their “risk” of pregnancy was higher while contracepting, you know? :smiley:

From what I’ve heard, different birth control methods (and NFP is a kind of birth control, it’s just not contraception) are all fairly good at preventing pregnancy. It comes down to obedience, IMHO. If a married couple does not desire more children, then they can cease marital relations or use NFP, if they want to preserve their souls and stay in God’s grace.

If a couple truly doesn’t want to hurt Our Lord, then they’ll be obedient, even if they don’t always agree or understand (at the time) why they just can’t do it their way. God appreciates our efforts, especially if we struggle with a particular Church teaching but are obedient, anyway. :slight_smile: I have a ton of admiration for those folks who struggle with the Church’s teaching on contraception, yet humbly submit to it. This is one teaching that I was actually relieved to learn about during my conversion, so I never struggled with it. You folks who struggle but submit nevertheless are awesome, in my eyes!!


#8

NFP is much safer and healthier than using chemicals for long term periods to stop natural bodily functions. Learn NFP, you and your wife will be better for it. If you both are involved and praying together it makes things a lot less stressful, on the fertile days. On the infertile days have as much fun as you can.

Taking care of your families health is key these days. You wouldn’t still buy food produced in China would you? It is just to risky with ABC not to mention the spiritual blight it has for you.


#9

The heart surgery you mentioned is crucial to correctly a medical condition in which the heart is not functioning as it is supposed to. Taking a pill or being cut up is not a correction of a medical defect! Fertility is a gift from God, not a disease.

NFP can be abused and/or used for wrong reasons. But it is never the same as using ABC since it does not attempt to sterilize the sexual embrace. Think of it like this: it can be a good goal to lose weight. It is healthy to approach weight loss by increasing excercise and decreasing calories. It is NOT healthy to eat to excess and then puke it up before your body can absorb those calories. Just as purging can lead to bulimia (which includes physical and psychological problems), ABC propels couples towards a using of one another instead of a mutual giving to one another.


#10

I would like to comment that I agree with not taking the pill, but would consider sterilization of myself.

On the thought of medical necessary surgery, is that still interfering with what could be God’s plan?


#11

Big difference between

taking a sick or diseased or injured organ/body system and using Medical Science to make it well

and

taking a healthy, functioning organ/body system and using Medical Science to make it sick or diseased or injured.
:shrug:


#12

How can one have true 100% faith in God and what He has planned for their life if they refuse to always be open to what He has planned for them?

Being open to life for a little while shouldn’t be good enough if one truly wants to be faithful to God and His plan.

To say “Well, I trust in God BUT I am going to mess up his perfect creation(my or my spouses body) with chemicals or surgery to play god on my own” doesn’t make any sense to me.

Then again, I’m not married and not stressed with the responsibility of a family. I feel compassion for your situation cause its definitely got to be hard. I will pray for God’s Will to be done in this situation and for peace and calm for you and your family in this stressful time.


#13

What may be stressful today, may not be stressful tomorrow. As children grow, their needs shift and they can start helping out more. Also, your job situation may change for the better. You just can’t read the future and to permanently alter your fertility based on today’s issues is a mistake–on top of it being against clear Church teaching.

Jennifer


#14

Oh that is a great explanation. :slight_smile:


#15

I agree they probably don’t, but after reading a lot of articles about NFP in our diocesan newspaper and other places, they clearly convey NFP should be used because it’s more effective than ABC. In the next paragraph they will go on to say how NFP is “open to life” but ABC isn’t, so that’s why it should be used too. That doesn’t make any sense when the two are juxtaposed as in a list of reasons for NFP use; they cancel each other out.

Some moons back after many intense threads on this topic, at one point I began to see there is something deeper but most of these written materials fail to capture it. It kind of reminded me of a design engineer seeing how marketing has corrupted the true beauty of a machine in its advertisements. Now I don’t remember what it was, but there has to be something more significant than those two arguments.

I write this not to put anybody down or heat up the discussion, but to amplify the point the OP made, to provide a platform for objective posters who know the right answer to come in here. If these statements are not reconciled or just struck as marketing jargon then being open to life would certainly prohibit NFP.

BTW, NFP to prevent conception is only considered licit for certain reasons. Surprisingly to me, one of them is money. Maybe this was part of the answer to the riddle above; NFP is a powerful tool that should only be used for certain reasons.

Alan


#16

Hi,

Your bone isn’t with a supposed contradiction, it’s with a fundamental misunderstanding of what the church means by “open to life.”

Open to life means allowing your body to function as God designed it. This means if you choose to engage in sexual intercourse it must be without purposely frustrating, damaging or chemically altering your or her body.

Thus, if you choose to abstain from sex when your wife is fertile, then you are not interfering or altering her body’s natural design. This method is called Natural Family Planning by a lot of people in the west.

The bulimia comment was very appropriate. Another good analogy is that of natural death versus murder. I mean, what’s the difference between waiiiiiting for Grandma to die and just killing her when you want her money now? That’s the difference between waiiiiiiting for your wife’s natural infertile period and just pumping her full of artificial hormones to get sex now.

It really doesn’t have to be a religious argument, but one of how much you love and respect your wife’s body and well being. Hormonal replacement therapies have strong, permanent affects on her body, with countless risks of stroke, bloodclotting, cancer and miscarriages/birth defects. There are also annoying side effects such as swelling/bloating, breast tenderness, loss of libido, weight gain, migraines, blurry vision, etc.

Also, what is your view of aborting a child that you conceive, through NFP or ABC? Some forms of contraception tighten the lining of the uterus, which could bar the new child from implanting on the uterus, thus causing an early abortion.


#17

Thank you for your well written reply. I’m still not sure I understand but I think you brought up some good points.

To your question, I was a pro-life conservative Republican (even elected precinct person a few times and helped keep the “moderates” from taking over the district) but since then my opinion on abortion politics have changed some, too complicated to summarize for this thread. Suffice it to say that in this discussion I am willing to discard ABC methods such as IUD and most pills, which cause abortion as you say. Personally I am only somewhat troubled by them, because I think the later the abortion the worse it is – but I don’t want to get off on that tangent. Clearly they cause a moral problem in the teaching of the church.

Alan


#18

I think I see your point. For example, killing a five year old is not as bad as killing a 25 year old. That’s an interesting value argument that would be fun to talk about on an appropriate thread.

I do hope you look into some of those natural methods, though. Sometimes people learn through culture, family, parents, etc…that the church somehow wants us to be baby machines. “Open to life” is just about using your body the way God designed it. That doesn’t mean the church wants you to end up with a million kids.

Our main goal in life is to learn about God’s plan for us and try to follow it. He may be saying 4 kids is your cup of tea, and He did give you ways to maintain that. They might not be easy (although I would argue they are easier than most HRTs or surgeries in the long run) but they do work.

Good luck! :thumbsup:


#19

I once read a great article on this by Dr. William May where he shows philisophically how NFP and contraception are different and how the attitude in contraception has lead to the abortion mentality. One bad seed begets another. I think people in the 40’s and 50’s never would of imagined the evils that have emerged due to contraception. The family is in crisis around the world and it stems from people wanting a life of convenience and devoid of sacrifice. Not saying all people who use contraception have this mentality, but many I have met do and it is so sad to see.


#20

I don’t think I can answer your questions specifically for you. But I can tell you that I have had all the same questions and concerns. I think everyone with a large family has.

But I made the leap of faith nonetheless (or rather, I continually re-commit myself to continuing to make it-- it’s a lifelong process). Result: 9 children.

And all I can say is that it HAS worked out. If you’d told me 15 years ago I would have 9 children, I would have either choked to death laughing hysterically, or died of fright at the thought of the time and money and how-can-I-handle-that? But now that we’re here, having added them one (or two) at a time, it really isn’t overwhelming.

We both work, (I work part time), no executive incomes for either of us, one of us is usually at home with the kids (the oldest are now 18, 16, and 14), we do have time for them and for each other, and we’ve never once worried about how we’re going to feed them.

All I can say is that I’m incredibly grateful when I look at the younger bunch, the ones who wouldn’t have been, had I followed the world’s advice, that I took the Catholic Church’s advice.:thumbsup:


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