Closing doors, opening windows

Back to back these two great articles from two great women offer a one-two punch.

First Jen Fulwiler asks us to consider who we are shutting out when we make the choice to contracept.

While not every woman who uses contraception would have an abortion or even necessarily supports the pro-choice movement, it became clear that, on a society-wide level, the widespread acceptance of contraception makes people feel like abortion is necessary. When women are told to go ahead and participate in the act that creates babies, even if they are certain that they are in no position to have a child, babies become the enemy, and women begin to feel like the only way they can have real control over their bodies is through the services of their local abortion facility.

But that was only the beginning.

The more I studied the Theology of the Body and took a look at human sexuality through the lens of millenia-old Christian teaching, the more the problems of contraceptive culture came into relief. I noticed that with abstinence-based methods of child spacing like Natural Family Planning, there remains a mental and physical openness to the potential for new life. Couples may try to avoid pregnancy, and may even be able to do so with a high degree of accuracy, but there is always an acceptance that new life could be created, an ever-present understanding that an inherent part of this most sacred of human acts is a willingness to care for any new family members God may give you through it. And, because it involves abstinence, there is an inherent element of personal sacrifice. You live daily with the reminder that life isn't about doing whatever you want, whenever you want.

In contrast, I began to see that contraception tempts us to value human life according to how it impacts us. Contraceptive culture tells us that we're entitled to the pleasurable aspects of sexuality, even if we reject any new life that could be created. It tells married couples that we can and should exercise complete control over our fertility so that we only add children to our families when we are one-hundred percent certain that we want them  -- in other words, to value other human beings according to how they impact our own lives. Columnist Mark Steyn summed up this mindset well when he wrote in a 2006 article:

One consequence of abortion is that, in designating new life a matter of "choice," it made it easier to make judgments about which lives are worth it and which aren't...But it's foolish to think you can raise entire populations to make self-interested judgments about who lives and who doesn't and expect them to remain confined to three trimesters. The "right to choose" is now being extended beyond the womb: the step from convenience conception to convenience euthanasia is a short one, and the step from convenience euthanasia to compulsory euthanasia shorter still.
Though he was speaking specifically about abortion, this mentality of "convenience conception" is rooted in the acceptance of contraception. And we only need to look at history to see where this line of thinking goes: Any time a society accepts it as true that it is okay to value other human beings according to how much we want to deal with them, there will always be death. At a minimum, it leads to spiritual death, when people begin to live their lives closed to deep connections with other humans, but there is usually also bodily death, as those who cramp the lifestyles of those who are more powerful are gotten out of the way once and for all. And thus we end up in a "culture of death."

Then Simcha the Wise explains why NFP really makes us open to life:

For me and my husband, learning how to reach the fabled marriage-building aspects of NFP was a slow and tortured process.  You'd think that a couple who practices NFP would grow more and more entrenched in an attitude of control -- that learning self-control and prudence would, almost by definition, make a couple less and less willing to accept and be at peace with the unexpected.  You'd think a couple using NFP are all about saying no, to each other and to God.  That's how the then-me imagined the now-me, fifteen years ago, when I thought about learning to use NFP.
But in fact, the opposite has happened:  as we learn self-control, we are both a thousandfold more at peace with the idea of giving up control to God -- accepting the unexpected, adapting, being grateful.  This is what self-control has taught us.  That was unexpected! 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/simcha-fisher/nfp-providentialism-and-future-you#ixzz1tJ52B1Uu

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