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Saturday, June 04, 2005

C. S. Lewis on contraception (Contraception, Part IX)

When speaking of Man’s power over Nature in The Abolition of Man,* C. S. Lewis mentions contraception. I did not include this in my review (see sidebar) because (1) I covered the points for which contraception was used as example, (2) I didn’t want to distract from the main discussion, and (3) I wanted to devote a separate post to it. This is the post :-).

In the beginning of Chaper Two, “The Way,” Lewis writes that, having “debunked” rationality as originating in what is absolutely true and can be known to all men, i.e., the Tao, (see part I of my review for further explanation), the “Innovator” must therefore find another basis even more “realistic.” He suggests that this basis might be Instinct – an instinct of self-preservation. Since “[we] have no instinctive urge to keep promises or to respect individual life: that is why scruples of justice and humanity – in fact the Tao – can be properly swept away when they conflict with our real end, the preservation of the species.”

That, again, is why the modern situation permits and demands a new sexual morality: the old taboos served some real purpose in helping to preserve the species, but contraceptives have modified this and we can now abandon many of the taboos. For of course sexual desire, being instinctive, is to be gratified whenever it does not conflict with the preservation of the species. It looks, in fact, as if an ethics based on instinct will give the Innovator all he wants and nothing that he does not want. (p. 46)

Whether or not the ultimate motivating factor of any human endeavor is preservation of the species (or even preservation of oneself in all regards), I think that the latter statement contains great insight. The charge that contraceptives allow consequence of breaking taboo to be avoided and therefore allow men and women to indulge in what they want is something that Pope Paul VI repeated in the Humanae Vitae.

Lewis makes no specific mention here of contraceptive use within marriage. I would assume that the abandonment of taboos he speaks of are fornication and adultery, not contraception within marriage, although I am not sure of this. Perhaps other writings of Lewis’ can shed some light on the subject. One cannot rule out the reading of this particular taboo into Lewis’ statement, although I do not know of anything in Lewis’ background to suggest that he held it.

Later, in Chapter Three, “The Abolition of Man,” Lewis gets into a much pithier argument. He begins by discussing “Man’s conquest of Nature,” something “used to describe the process of applied science.” It represents the hope – indeed the belief – of many that eventually man can conquer nature to the point of greatly reducing or even eliminating its “harmful effects” upon mankind. I have met people who believe this, people for whom technology is the savior of mankind. Lewis wishes to
make it clear that I do not wish to disparage all that is really beneficial in the process described as “Man’s conquest,” much less all the real devotion and self-sacrifice that has gone to make it possible. But having done so I must proceed to analyse this conception a little more closely. In what sense is Man the possessor of increasing power over Nature?

Let us consider three typical examples: the aeroplane, the wireless, and the contraceptive. In a civilized community, in peace-time, anyone who can pay for them may use these things. But it cannot strictly be said that when he does so he is exercising his own proper or individual power over Nature. If I pay you to carry me, I am not therefore myself a strong man. Any or all of the three things I have mentioned can be withheld from some men by other men – by those who sell, or those who allow the sale, or those who own the sources of production, or those who make the goods. What we call Man’s power is, in reality, a power possessed by some men which they may, or may not, allow other men to profit by. Again, as regards the powers manifested in the aeroplane or the wireless, Man is as much the patient or subject as the possessor, since he is the target both for bombs and for propaganda. And as regards contraceptives, there is a paradoxical, negative sense in which all possible future generations are the patients or subjects of a power wielded by those already alive. By contraception simply, they are denied existence; by contraception used as a means of selective breeding, they are, without their concurring voice, made to be what one generation, for its own reasons, may choose to prefer. From this point of view, what we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument. (pp. 66-67, italics added for ease of reference)

(This conclusion regarding Man’s power over nature is important to the main thesis of the book.)

Before commenting on the previous quote, I must supply what follows:

It is, of course, a commonplace to complain that men have hitherto used badly, and against their fellows, the powers that science has given them. But that is not the point I am trying to make. I am not speaking of particular corruptions and abuses which an increase of moral virtue would cure: I am considering what the thing called “Man’s power over Nature” must always and essentially be...unless we have a world state this will...mean the power of one nation over others. And even within the world state or the nation it will mean (in principle) the power of majorities over minorities, and (in the concrete) of a government over the people. And all long-term exercises of power, especially over breeding, must mean the power of earlier generations over later ones. (p. 67, emphasis added)

I am not yet considering whether the total result of such ambivalent victories is a good thing or a bad. I am only making clear what Man’s conquest of Nature really means and especially that final stage in the conquest, which, perhaps, is not far off. The final stage is come when Man by eugenics, by pre-natal conditioning, and by an education and propaganda baed on a perfect applied psychology, has obtained full control over himself. (p. 69)

Lewis uses the airplane, the telegraph, and contraception as illustrations of things whose use, by their nature, is a privilege held by a few and accessible to others only insofar as it can be purchased or allowed. In this way these things are instruments for the wielding of power by some over others. Lewis here does not say that the airplane, the telephone, and the contraceptive are bad in and of themselves, or that all uses of them are bad; he merely shows what they, by their nature, are in relation to mankind.

Lewis suggests that in using any of these three things, a person is not necessarily “exercising his own proper or individual power over Nature.” This is not to say, however, that Lewis is also saying that a person is not ever exercising a proper power by using any of them.

Lewis’ statement that contraception embodies a “paradoxical, negative sense in which all possible future generations are the patients or subjects of a power wielded by those already alive” could be taken as an opinion against contraception; Lewis characterizes the power wielded over future generations by contraception as negative. But he is pointing out the paradox here, that, in thinking contraception to be a tool for his betterment, man is actually using it as a power over his heritage, his future progeny – the future of his race. This seems to be more to Lewis’ point than being a specific statement against contraception. He is also illustrating the thesis that “all long-term exercises of power must mean the power of earlier generations over later ones.”

That contraception denies the existence of future generations is a concept both practical and theoretical. If every single person on the face of the earth contracepts every sex act from now to forever, and said contraception never fails, then no future generations will be produced. More specifically, contraception may deny a couple future generations of their family lines. But to say that the future generations themselves are denied existence presupposes their existence before appearing on earth. If this presupposition is correct, then what are we to say? That every sperm and every ovum are linked to a soul somewhere? Do gametes already possess the same kind of life as a zygote? Or are only the gametes that would coincide with a fertile act of intercourse linked to a soul? How can someone figure out which ones these would be? Might a marital spat resulting in abstinence during a fertile period (for a couple not using contraception) deny a soul existence on this earth? Might any sort of lack of marital copulation during a fertile period deny a life? What if a person or a couple puts off marriage for weeks, months, or even years, for various reasons? What if a couple puts off the marital act from one day to the next? The available ovum remains the same, but does the sperm? Does it matter? This seems to me to be a insoluble problem, and one that is clearly bigger than contraception itself.

The same presupposition lies behind the statement that one generation decides for another without their “concurring voice.” Whether denial of existence to “someone” who will never exist equates with exercise of power over those who have not yet been brought into existence is difficult to decide: is an act of omission the same as power exercised over those who will in fact exist in the future? Such wielding of power is clearly done “without their concurring voice.”

In speaking of contraception as “selective breeding,” Lewis must be referring to “the power of one nation over others,” of “majorities over minorities,” and of “a government over a people.” This would mean eugenic manipulation of populations. I’m not sure it can be said that a couple’s personal decision to attempt or avoid conception is “selective breeding,” since the kind of selection involved is of timing and numbers rather than of individuals themselves or their characteristics. (A side note: natural family planning makes use of such selective timing, as might someone who for any other reason abstains during a fertile period, even if indirectly. This is one reason I believe NFP to be a form of contraception, although the Catholic definition of “contraception” is based upon something else, namely, the sterilization of the sex act itself.)

Does contraception violate natural law and the Tao? Perhaps in some ways it does, yet in other ways it does not. As a tool for responsible family management within marriage, it cannot be any greater violation than other violations it seeks to avert. That a person or persons may wield a power over the future of mankind by contracepting, I do not deny. However, we all wield power over future members of our race, in many different ways. The real moral question, then, is whether a particular power thus wielded is benevolent or malevolent, and what characteristics constitute benevolence or malevolence. It truly may be an ambivalent thing, as Lewis says. Perhaps a final judgement can be found only in accordance with motives of the heart before God.

I welcome comment! (Please, be nice :-) )


*The book’s text can be read online here.

27 Comments:

  • Very fascinating reading. As a conservative homeschooler, it is nice to hear another perspective and interesting to read Lewis' thoughts on this. A couple of ideas I have pondered: re: NFP - I have read that bc always provides a barrier of some type between the married couple, which is an intrinsically divisive thing. Even the pill provides for thickening of the uterine wall, etc. which is a barrier of sorts. NFP does not present a barrier - does this make it more acceptable and not qualify it as bc? Also, should each marriage act present with it the possibility of life? I realize this will not occur during pg, nursing, menopause, etc., but in general, should this be the rule? Is it immoral to make love, and intentionally negate the possibility of life emerging from the union? Just a few questions.
    Lydia

    By Blogger L, at 11:55 AM  

  • Great questions, Lydia.

    A few thoughts:

    NFP does not provide a barrier between the married couple, except during their fertile period – and then the barrier is one far greater than those presented by AC.

    A couple’s fertile period lasts for 3-6 days, but for purposes of ensuring a lack of conception, the window is 5-9 days. Combine those days with the number of days a woman is menstruating and there is a total of about 8-15 days per menstrual cycle of abstinence if one is practicing NFP. Questions that may arise from this are: does God require this sort of abstinence in marriage, and does it allow for sufficient maintenance of the other aspects of sexual unity (also taking into account other factors that life may put in the way) which are ordained, even required, by God for a marriage?

    If not, then the alternatives are: 1) a practice akin to “quiverfull,” i.e., no limitation of sexual relations or unity of any kind during the marital act, and 2) some form of artificial contraception, even if only during the fertile period. Or some combination of these options plus the NFP option (which may not, indeed would not, be acceptable to many). Of course, there is also the option of physical intimacy other than intercourse during the fertile period, but this also is not acceptable to many.

    According to the basic design of fertility, each marital act cannot present with the possibility of life, unless each act occurs only during a fertile period. The ovum itself only lives about 12 hours, ovulation only occurs once per cycle, and fertility-related cervical mucous is only present for about 3-9 days. For the rest of her cycle, a woman’s cervical mucous actually plugs the cervix and destroys sperm. Infertility is actually “built in” to a woman’s body for the majority of her cycle.

    To your very good question, “Is it immoral to make love and intentionally negate the possibility of life emerging from the union,” I would answer that it might be, but if so, then it must also be immoral to abstain within marriage for the sole purpose of avoiding the period of fertility during which a life may possibly emerge from sexual union.

    The deciding factor would be whether God favors the withholding of the marital act itself over the withholding of any certain portion of it. Catholic teaching states that the integrity of the act is destroyed if gametes are withheld or artificially destroyed during the act. My question in response is, might not the integrity of the marriage itself, as well as part of the purpose of conjugal activity, be compromised if a couple regularly abstains for the sole purpose of preventing conception?

    (I should throw in here – I do not believe that God desires a fertile marriage to produce no children at all. )

    Thanks for your comment and questions, Lydia; hopefully some others will jump in as well.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 12:29 PM  

  • Thank you for your reply. I have been an interested listener to both sides of this issue for many years. I really don't know what I think about it myself. We practiced birth control after the birth of our first two children, and then after our last three, I discovered that I would not get pregnant while nursing and have relied on that method. I have just weaned my youngest this week and so your post was especially applicable to my current thoughts. We do know that we want to have one more child - and then not only does contraception become an issue, but also intentional sterilization. And what of the husband's desire? Whether right or wrong, isn't the wife under an obligation to yield to his firm resolve on the matter? My husband has made it clear that he would love to have six and no more. I think six is very generous and am content to stop there out of respect for his wishes. I think if it was only my choice, I might choose to have more. Yet, as much as I love every stage of childhood, and especially infancy, I must admit to a feeling of relief that the final decision is out of my hands and not my responsibility. Anyways - I like your thoughts. I guess there are could be the sins of ommission and commission even in this area? Preventing pregnancy by refusing to act may be (is?) equal to active prevention? Lydia

    By Blogger L, at 2:00 AM  

  • Lydia,

    I do think that a wife must ultimately defer to her husband. That’s not to say that there should not be extensive, thorough, and open conversation, especially on issues of such importance to the marriage. My husband and I have some differing views, but, like you, I am happy to have him take final responsibility! ;-) At the same time, though, I warn him of concerns, both moral and personal, as I think a wife should. And he listens :-) But I leave the final decision to him.

    Blessings to you and your family!

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 8:01 AM  

  • Thank you for your thoughtful review and blog. I have enjoyed browsing the site.

    By Blogger Annie Crawford, at 4:51 PM  

  • I know this is a big issue for you and I'm sorry for my lack of communication. Perhaps I can remedy that now, at least in part.

    In the first place, while I am sure that you are making an honest effort to be intellectually open to arguments against artificial contraception, reading between the lines, I get the idea that the thought of foregoing contraception gives you anxiety. This is the kind of fear that requires a lot of prayer. It is not easy to open oneself completely to God's will. Without such openness, it is impossible to consider the issue disinterestedly.

    One cannot rule out the reading of this particular taboo into Lewis’ statement, although I do not know of anything in Lewis’ background to suggest that he held it.

    (You mean, other than that Lewis prized the Christian tradition? More on this later.)

    I hope I am not being too bold in observing that you seem to be reading your own suppositions into Lewis's putative silence.

    In "The Abolition of Man" chapter of the book of that name, Lewis draws the similarity of the scientist to the sourcerer:

    There is something which unites magic and applied science while separating both from the wisdom of earlier ages. For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique; and both, in the practice of this technique, are ready to do things hitherto regarded as disgusting and impious—such as digging up and mutilating the dead.

    Artificial contraception uses technology in place of moral effort.

    The idea of moral effort leads to my second point: there is a big moral difference between actively doing a bad thing and refraining from a good thing. Abstaining from marital intercourse is not intrinsically bad (St. Paul for example allows it); in fact it can even be a great good to a relationship. A husband in particular can be strongly tempted to objectify his wife. Abstinence within marriage helps a man to see his wife as something larger than an extension of his nervous system.

    Perhaps we can compare a period of abstinence with the "dark night of the soul" of which St. John of the Cross speaks. At times God withdraws the spiritual milk that has sweetened our prayer in order to ween us off anything that is not Him. God wants us attached to Himself--not insofar as He gives us pleasure, but insofar as He is Himself.

    Similarly, abstinence can purify a married couple's love of self-seeking pleasure. It can also make the times together more precious.

    All the preceding I say without any consideration of particular circumstances required to justify marital abstinence. My point is merely that abstinence is not a categorical evil in marriage, but can be a great blessing.

    MJ

    By Blogger Lawrence Gage, at 1:46 PM  

  • Returning to Christian tradition on the topic, this is an instructive page from which I am clipping some excerpts below:

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Birth_Control.asp

    In A.D. 195, Clement of Alexandria wrote, "Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted" (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2).

    Hippolytus of Rome wrote in 255 that "on account of their prominent ancestry and great property, the so-called faithful [certain Christian women who had affairs with male servants] want no children from slaves or lowborn commoners, [so] they use drugs of sterility or bind themselves tightly in order to expel a fetus which has already been engendered" (Refutation of All Heresies 9:12).

    Around 307 Lactantius explained that some "complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife" (Divine Institutes 6:20).

    The First Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council and the one that defined Christ’s divinity, declared in 325, "If anyone in sound health has castrated himself, it behooves that such a one, if enrolled among the clergy, should cease [from his ministry], and that from henceforth no such person should be promoted. But, as it is evident that this is said of those who willfully do the thing and presume to castrate themselves, so if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians, or by their masters, and should otherwise be found worthy, such men this canon admits to the clergy" (Canon 1).

    Augustine wrote in 419, "I am supposing, then, although you are not lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility [oral contraceptives]" (Marriage and Concupiscence 1:15:17).

    The apostolic tradition’s condemnation of contraception is so great that it was followed by Protestants until 1930 and was upheld by all key Protestant Reformers. Martin Luther said, "[T]he exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches . . . is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime. . . . Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore, God punished him."

    John Calvin said, "The voluntary spilling of semen outside of intercourse between man and woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall on the ground is doubly monstrous. For this is to extinguish the hope of the race and to kill before he is born the hoped-for offspring."

    John Wesley warned, "Those sins that dishonor the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he [Onan] did displeased the Lord—and it is to be feared; thousands, especially of single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls." (These passages are quoted in Charles D. Provan, The Bible and Birth Control, which contains many quotes by historic Protestant figures who recognize contraception’s evils.)

    By Blogger Lawrence Gage, at 2:09 PM  

  • A Touchstone sidebar:

    http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=18-01-040-f

    Bonnie, the entire Jan/Feb 2005 issue on marriage an family is excellent; I'd like to hear your thoughts on it.

    This is another very good article from that issue available online:

    http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=18-01-018-v

    MJ

    By Blogger Lawrence Gage, at 2:15 PM  

  • Good to hear from you, MJ; I appreciate your engagement in this discussion. You have brought up a lot of stuff here; it will take me awhile to respond fully.

    Just briefly, I appreciate your concern very much. I am aware that you are a perceptive person and seek to "read between the lines;" I can identify because I too am an analyzer. But I also want to caution you that, without really knowing someone well, it is difficult to be accurate in suppositions about personal motivations.

    I can assure you that I am not fearful of foregoing contraception. At the same time I cannot say that there is no personal aspect to my considerations; nor is there not to yours, I would allow; I don't believe it is possible for anyone to consider any issue 100% disinterestedly. Yet my main motivation is really a quest for truth. Part of the reason I've latched on to this particular issue is that I haven't found much precedent for where I'm going with it in anything I've read. I've observed movements, and I've read arguments based in various philosophies and traditions, but am trying to get beyond all that to a complete and essential treatment. I don't know if I will succeed; I don't know if there is a "perfect" answer. (You may disagree with me on that and that's OK :-)

    Besides, I really find this quest fascinating!

    As to Lewis, I wouldn't say that he prized Christian tradition per se. He prized a tradition that would come under the category of "natural law."

    When you characterize things as "good" or "bad," you make a value judgment. I think we need to look at the reasons we think things are good or bad.

    I think it can be seen from my writing that I do not view abstinence in marriage as "intrinsically bad," indeed, it is often unavoidable and sometimes necessary for many and various reasons. Should one of those reasons be avoidance of procreation? That has been my question.

    I will continue to respond as I can. Thanks again.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 11:25 PM  

  • continuing here...

    I hope I am not being too bold in observing that you seem to be reading your own suppositions into Lewis's putative silence.

    I would rather assume that if someone doesn’t say something, they don’t mean to say it, than put words into his/her mouth, or pen, as the case may be. I considered the context of what Lewis did say very carefully.

    Regarding the quote from TAOM, I understand that you, as a Catholic, are saying that it refers to, or applies to, AC. But I do not believe that Lewis is saying that.

    Artificial contraception uses technology in place of moral effort.

    This is well-put, and the best succinct presentation I’ve seen so far of a truly moral objection to AC. I think that in many instances, perhaps in most uses of AC, this statement is true. But I do not think that it always is true, within marriage.

    Another comment on abstinence – to say that abstinence in marriage is not intrinsically bad is not to say that it is never bad, or always good.

    On your quotes:
    Clement of Alexandria: if the seed is truly not to be ejaculated in vain, or wasted, then sex should never take place outside of a fertile period.

    Hippolytus of Rome: the problem here is avoidance of a consequence of an immoral act.

    Lactantius: I would question whether there is Scriptural support of this

    1st Council of Nicaea: fine

    Augustine: he speaks of obstruction, which would refer to an act committed. Yet can it be proven that a sin committed is greater than that of a required work omitted?

    Luther: I agree with Luther’s statement, but not for the reason you do. I covered my consideration of Onan in the discussion with Elena, links to which I provided in an email to you. Let me know if you’d like them again.

    Calvin: Does “extinguishing the hope of the race” refer to any limitation of the meeting of gametes? If so, NFP would qualify, as well as the type Calvin refers to. That said, does it extinguish the hope of the race to limit the allowance for procreation, but not entirely prevent it? A couple could entirely prevent it both via AC and NFP, or limit it via both methods. I would think that NFP would be open to some of the same putative abuses as AC.

    Wesley: See my previous considerations of Onan. Wesley’s concern here, while against what is referred to as Onanism in toto, is also especially directed toward single persons.

    A further note on quoting historical figures of authority in a religious tradition: they are all human persons, and can therefore be wrong. As can I, as can you. I do not believe that there is any final truth in any human person. There may be final authority, as in a husband over a wife, a parent over a child, a boss over an employee, a government leader, or a religious leader. But authority is to be distinguished from truth.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 11:03 PM  

  • On David Mills:

    There is genuine disagreement regarding issues of responsibility, stewardship, and trust. They can be quite complicated, involving many situational concerns as well as issues of the heart, as Mills mentions, though no man (or woman) can know another's. I do not know Mr. Wills; I would be more inclined to consider his statements seriously if he is of a “quiverfull” mindset rather than an NFP one.

    On Claire Barsheid’s article:

    I have written about this, here (link to part 4 which contains links to parts 1-3).

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 10:00 PM  

  • I can assure you that I am not fearful of foregoing contraception.

    Please pardon me for my continued incredulity. I suspect you are confusing an intellectual openess with a fully personal openess (that includes the "chest" or emotions Lewis speaks of). In some of your previous posts, your fear of the burden of more children is hard to miss.

    At the same time I cannot say that there is no personal aspect to my considerations; nor is there not to yours, I would allow; I don't believe it is possible for anyone to consider any issue 100% disinterestedly.

    Certainly, 100% disinterest is only possible with meaningless subjects. I do think detachment from an issue is much easier when one has no personal stake in the outcome. Other than my assent to the Catholic, Apostlic Faith, I have nothing to bias me one way or another; and in fact my full assent to that Faith was contingent on my understanding this difficult issue (among others).

    Yet my main motivation is really a quest for truth.

    I do not doubt your search for truth, and I commend you for it.

    Part of the reason I've latched on to this particular issue is that I haven't found much precedent for where I'm going with it in anything I've read. I've observed movements, and I've read arguments based in various philosophies and traditions, but am trying to get beyond all that to a complete and essential treatment. I don't know if I will succeed; I don't know if there is a "perfect" answer.


    If I'm understanding you correctly, getting beyond "philosophies and traditions" is misguided. Perhaps you should try to understand those sources of guidance before dismissing them.

    (more to come...)

    MJ

    By Blogger Lawrence Gage, at 4:48 PM  

  • "Artificial contraception uses technology in place of moral effort."

    This is well-put, and the best succinct presentation I’ve seen so far of a truly moral objection to AC. I think that in many instances, perhaps in most uses of AC, this statement is true. But I do not think that it always is true, within marriage.


    Thank you. Perhaps you can explain why you take exception. How does using technology to avoid conception not substitute technology for moral effort EVER?

    Chesterton wrote very aptly:

    "What is quaintly called Birth Control... is in fact, of course, a scheme for preventing birth in order to escape control."

    "Birth Control is a name given to a succession of different expedients by which it is possible to filch the pleasure belonging to a natural process while violently and unnaturally thwarting the process itself."

    (clipped from American Chesterton Society.)

    Another comment on abstinence – to say that abstinence in marriage is not intrinsically bad is not to say that it is never bad, or always good.

    I certainly agree. The point of my remarks is not to defend all forms of abstinence, but (if you'll pardon my bluntness) to condemn all forms of AC as an abomination against the created order and its Creator.

    (more to come...)

    MJ

    By Blogger Lawrence Gage, at 5:03 PM  

  • The problem with contracepted sex (as opposed to abstinence) is that the couple actively severs the natural link between love-making and life-giving.

    Just as IVF is life-giving without love-making, contracepted sex is love-making without life-giving. In fact it is throwing the Creator's plan back in his face, and makes a cruel caricature of His intention.

    Now, you may object that love-making during infertile periods also dispenses with life-giving, but notice that the infertile period is part of a woman's God-given nature. I agree with you that love-making exclusively during infertile periods is open to abuse, but I think it is justifiable for grave reasons.

    Marital relations during the infertile period (exclusive or not) works with the woman's nature--not against it by tricking her body into thinking itself pregnant.

    A side benefit to occasional (mislabeled "periodic") abstinence (i.e., NFP) is that opens communication between the spouses. With AC, the husband only need grunt "let's do it" whenever he gets the urge; with occasional abstinence he has to ask his love about her cycle (temperature, etc.). Her fertility, instead of being an obstacle shoved aside, is more akin to a dance partner.

    A key belief in Judaism and Christianity is accepting what God has given us, instead of futzing with it to suit our preferences. That's Lewis's point in The Abolition of Man: that we aren't masters of our own nature and to grasp at such mastery is to further enslave ourselves to brute nature.

    MJ

    By Blogger Lawrence Gage, at 5:49 PM  

  • MJ,

    Please pardon me for my continued incredulity. I suspect you are confusing an intellectual openess with a fully personal openess (that includes the "chest" or emotions Lewis speaks of).

    I can pardon your incredulity, but remember, your incredulity and suspicion are yours. You are not privy to my personal life and history nor to my motivations beyond whatever I have shared in my writings. I also wonder why you would suspect that my “head” is somehow disassociated from my “heart.”

    Please know that I am of the belief that it is entirely possible to discuss arguments strictly on their own merits, or lack thereof, otherwise I would not attempt to do so.

    In some of your previous posts, your fear of the burden of more children is hard to miss.

    Please provide examples.

    May I point out that if there were no concern for ability to properly care for children, or, as you characterize it, no “fear” of the “burden” of children, then there would be no reason to practice NFP. If such concern truly represents fear, then there are an awful lot of frightened NFP practitioners out there.

    The reasons one couple would use NFP for “family planningare the very same reasons another couple may use AC. This is to be distinguished from the objection to AC on the grounds that it destroys the integrity of the sex act by altering or destroying gametes.

    Certainly, 100% disinterest is only possible with meaningless subjects. I do think detachment from an issue is much easier when one has no personal stake in the outcome. Other than my assent to the Catholic, Apostlic Faith, I have nothing to bias me one way or another; and in fact my full assent to that Faith was contingent on my understanding this difficult issue (among others).

    MJ, I don’t know that anyone could not have a personal stake in an issue that matters to them, or in the outcome of their beliefs. Your assent to a certain system of beliefs does not bias you any less than my beliefs might bias me. You also have a bias that stems from your life experiences, as do I. As does everyone. Regarding the beliefs that you assent to concerning NFP, they represent an attempt to bring the directives of God in Christ into real-life situations. My beliefs are no different.

    If I'm understanding you correctly, getting beyond "philosophies and traditions" is misguided. Perhaps you should try to understand those sources of guidance before dismissing them.

    Perhaps you should not assume I have not understood them.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 9:35 PM  

  • (cont.)

    How does using technology to avoid conception not substitute technology for moral effort EVER?

    Why must using technology to avoid conception always substitute technology for moral effort? Why can it not be part of a moral effort?

    "What is quaintly called Birth Control... is in fact, of course, a scheme for preventing birth in order to escape control."

    I’m not clear on what is meant by “escape control” -- control from God in the form of bearing and raising children? If so, I return to my question, “if it’s OK to abstain in marriage in order to avoid the control of children, or the gift of children, or, let’s just say, children – then why is it not OK to accomplish the same purpose via contraception?” Then you may answer, “the integrity of the marital act.” Which is a separate issue.

    "Birth Control is a name given to a succession of different expedients by which it is possible to filch the pleasure belonging to a natural process while violently and unnaturally thwarting the process itself."

    The term “birth control” is itself worth discussing. For, if AC is birth control, then NFP certainly is also. It is an attempt to control procreation. Regarding “filching the pleasure...,” this would only be true during a fertile period, if it were true. As to “unnatural thwarting,” if this is in fact true, then abstinence for the sole purpose of avoiding conception represents the unnatural thwarting of God-ordained marital intimacy.

    The point of my remarks is not to defend all forms of abstinence, but (if you'll pardon my bluntness) to condemn all forms of AC as an abomination against the created order and its Creator.

    You may do so, and I do not find it blunt. I just do not agree.

    The problem with contracepted sex (as opposed to abstinence) is that the couple actively severs the natural link between love-making and life-giving.

    Is there a difference between active severing of this link and passive severing of this link?

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 9:38 PM  

  • (cont. again)

    Just as IVF is life-giving without love-making, contracepted sex is love-making without life-giving. In fact it is throwing the Creator's plan back in his face, and makes a cruel caricature of His intention.

    How can it be said with certainty that abstinence for the sake of avoiding conception does not throw the Creator’s plan back in his face, and make a cruel caricature of His intention?

    Marital relations during the infertile period (exclusive or not) works with the woman's nature--not against it by tricking her body into thinking itself pregnant.

    I don’t know what you are referring to by “tricking her body into thinking itself pregnant.” But I would ask, how can it work with a woman’s nature to abstain in marriage for the sake of avoiding procreation?

    A side benefit to occasional (mislabeled "periodic") abstinence (i.e., NFP) is that opens communication between the spouses. With AC, the husband only need grunt "let's do it" whenever he gets the urge; with occasional abstinence he has to ask his love about her cycle (temperature, etc.). Her fertility, instead of being an obstacle shoved aside, is more akin to a dance partner.

    It would be interesting to consider who has come up with these characterizations of a sexual relationship that involves use of contraception. I certainly don’t recognize them, and I’ll bet a lot of other folks wouldn’t either. I also wonder how it is known that only couples who use NFP are obliged to communicate about cycles, etc. Granted, they may not discuss matters related to fertility every month (or they may, depending on what form of AC they are using and their knowledge of their own cycles), but monthly fertility is only one aspect of many concerning a sexual relationship that couples may discuss.

    And then there are infertile couples, and couples past menopause – do they not have occasion for loving communication regarding their marital intimacy? Is there no dancing in a sexual relationship besides the dance with fertility? (Actually, if you are using “dancing” as a euphemism for the avoidance of the fertile period, then that would be “dancing around,” not dancing with. And if fertility is avoided via abstinence, then it is being treated as an obstacle: an obstacle to sexual intimacy.)

    Regarding NFP as involving “occasional abstinence:” what frequency qualifies as “occasional?”

    I see many statements in Catholic writings addressing male objectification of female sexuality, but very little that addresses things from the female side. It’s too broad a topic to cover now, but I wanted to mention that it goes both ways, if not in precisely the same forms. The male portion of the species does not have the corner on objectification by any stretch.

    A key belief in Judaism and Christianity is accepting what God has given us, instead of futzing with it to suit our preferences.

    Agreed. And perhaps NFP involves futzing with the marital sexual relationship in order to suit preferences. (BTW, Judaism is certainly not monolithic in its stance on AC, either at present or historically, from what I’ve been able to gather.)

    Why the assumption that the only motivation one may have in attempting to manage one’s procreation via use of AC is the suiting of one’s preferences?

    That's Lewis's point in The Abolition of Man: that we aren't masters of our own nature and to grasp at such mastery is to further enslave ourselves to brute nature.

    Agreed. The debate lies in the understanding of exactly which things represent that nature, and how they interact.

    Thanks for the discussion!

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 9:42 PM  

  • Bonnie,

    Please provide examples.

    I have to apologize. I think I found the post I had in mind, and I had misread it rather badly. Please forgive me.

    It seems to me your underlying misunderstanding is a confusion of legitimacy of ends with the legitimacy of means (I believe it's called consequentialism). AC is not wrong because it aims to control family size; it is wrong because the couple actively thwarts God's plan for each marriage act to be open to children. If a marriage act is infertile through no fault of the spouses, there is nothing wrong with the act itself.

    A friend of mine is having difficulty conceiving: does that make her love-making to her husband illicit? I think you will agree: no. She and her husband are very open, indeed very desirous of children. It is through no fault of their own that they cannot conceive, but it is in God's plan somewhere, you can be sure. My friend and her husband are not withholding themselves from each other; the problem is that (for some providential design) God hasn't given them in their gift to each other the ability to conceive. Infertile sex is not in itself illicit. What is illicit is **the act of thwarting fertility**.

    (BTW, Judaism is certainly not monolithic in its stance on AC, either at present or historically, from what I’ve been able to gather.)

    That depends on what you mean by "Judaism." Judaism in the broad sense is not monolithic on anything, including the existence and goodness of God. Judaism that has any legitimate claim on faithfulness (i.e., Orthodox Judaism) essentially prohibits marital relations outside the fertile period.

    Why must using technology to avoid conception always substitute technology for moral effort? Why can it not be part of a moral effort?

    Perhaps I am underestimating the moral effort required to don a condom or remember to take a pill as compared with mastering one's carnal (and, in marriage, legitimate) desires. Please remedy my ignorance of the great moral effort contraceptive practices require.

    I find it interesting that you keep deflecting my criticism of AC onto NFP. As I said emphatically, I am not (here) defending NFP.

    Your demural was similar with regard to David Mill's article. You didn't actually address his argument. He does in fact subscribe to the "quiverfull" mindset. Does that change the merit of his argument?

    I assert that AC is evil. You respond by saying essentially, "What those people are doing is bad too!" Is morality relative to what other people are doing? I suspect you would say no, but the form of your argument says otherwise.

    The question is the morality of AC in itself. Perhaps I should surmise that the issue is too discomfiting for you to engage.

    MJ

    By Blogger Lawrence Gage, at 1:14 PM  

  • MJ,

    Please forgive me.

    Forgiven; apology accepted.

    It seems to me your underlying misunderstanding is a confusion of legitimacy of ends with the legitimacy of means (I believe it's called consequentialism).

    No, I’ve questioned the pronouncement that one form of means (AC) is wrong if another form of means (NFP) is not considered wrong, when the arguments used against AC also apply to NFP.

    AC is not wrong because it aims to control family size; it is wrong because the couple actively thwarts God's plan for each marriage act to be open to children.

    I believe I made that distinction quite clear in my previous responses. I pointed out the fact that there is no moral difference between thwarting the plan of a marriage act and thwarting the plan of marital intimacy, according to Scripture and to natural law.

    (God could not have planned for each marital act to be open to children, else there would be no natural period of infertility)

    If a marriage act is infertile through no fault of the spouses, there is nothing wrong with the act itself.

    Of course not. I never said there was.

    What is illicit is **the act of thwarting fertility**.

    Which is what NFP does if that fertility is avoided via abstinence. I’m beginning to feel like a broken record.

    Perhaps I am underestimating the moral effort required to don a condom or remember to take a pill as compared with mastering one's carnal (and, in marriage, legitimate) desires.

    Are God-given sexual desires always necessarily carnal? I believe that the general understanding of the term “carnal,” especially in relation to sex, is a pejorative one, one connoting an absence of any spiritual legitimacy. In such an understanding, I do not consider purely carnal desire legitimate even in marriage.

    Please remedy my ignorance of the great moral effort contraceptive practices require.

    Your sarcasm does not become you, MJ. I alluded to this moral effort in my previous comments regarding the purpose of a sexual relationship within marriage. I do not believe it is merely procreative, though yes, procreation is a important part of it. A great part of the moral effort involved in a marital sexual relationship, in my humble opinion, is the relating to one another, the consideration of one another in a most complete and deep sense – the ministry to one another. Yes, this may also involve the conception of a child, but not always. I am sure you would not disagree. If it is legitimate to decide when to allow this aspect into a marital sexual relationship via willful abstinence or lack thereof, then it cannot be illegitimate to decide the same thing via AC.

    Yes, I know – the means is the issue, not the end. I just cannot understand how keeping gametes apart via purposeful abstinence is any different from keeping them apart via AC. If you are going to say that it’s because sex is “enjoyed” without the consequences, I say, why is that a problem? God gave married people sex in order to complete, consummate, and foster their relationship. Does he want them to abstain if they feel the legitimate need to “family plan?” Perhaps. I never meant to argue that abstinence definitely is not a legitimate option. I just think that if it is a legitimate option, as the Catholic position holds (right?), then AC used for the same purpose is too.

    I find it interesting that you keep deflecting my criticism of AC onto NFP.

    See above. No deflection; I am trying to show that the arguments that are used against AC also apply to NFP.

    As I said emphatically, I am not (here) defending NFP.

    You did? I guess I missed it. You seem to speak favorably of NFP in your comments.

    Your demural was similar with regard to David Mill's article. You didn't actually address his argument.

    Which arguments? Many of his arguments were similar to other material you included in your comments.

    He does in fact subscribe to the "quiverfull" mindset. Does that change the merit of his argument?

    Somewhat, yes. There are other considerations involved with “quiverfull” thinking.

    I assert that AC is evil. You respond by saying essentially, "What those people are doing is bad too!" Is morality relative to what other people are doing?

    Of course not! I said no such thing.

    I suspect you would say no, but the form of your argument says otherwise.

    I repeat: I am trying to show that the arguments against AC also apply to NFP.

    The question is the morality of AC in itself.

    I’m aware of that.

    Perhaps I should surmise that the issue is too discomfiting for you to engage.

    I’ve in no way indicated that. I’ve engaged full hilt. I haven’t avoided anything. Why would you – repeatedly, I might add – brush off my arguments in such a way?

    If there’s something I didn’t specifically respond to, you seem to assume that I “avoided” it, and for an illegitimate reason. Again, you are making assumptions as to my motivations – you are treating me with suspicion and disdain. Which is your prerogative, of course, but it doesn’t make for charitable discussion. And, frankly, it makes me wonder about your motives.

    It is also strangely inconsistent with your stated apology.

    Perhaps I am shattering some of your pre-conceived notions?

    And perhaps this discussion is reaching its closure...

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 9:36 AM  

  • Dear Bonnie,

    Charity is admittedly the virtue I need most to work on (excessive sarcasm is one manifestation), so I appreciate your pointing it out. For my lack of charity I apologize.

    A simple explanation of what I find missing might be helpful. I've given you arguments against AC without reference to NFP. What I'm asking from you is an argument in favor of AC without any comparison to NFP.

    It's possible that I've simply missed your argument to this effect (there's quite a bit to read and I read slowly), and I beg your patience in repeating it. I trust you will confirm that my pre-conceived notions are unfounded.

    Again, please accept my sincere apology for my sarcasm and general lack of charity.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    MJ

    By Blogger Lawrence Gage, at 10:13 AM  

  • MJ:

    I accept your apology and thank you for it.

    I've given you arguments against AC without reference to NFP.

    Your point?

    The following are arguments you made in this comment thread that reference NFP :

    “The idea of moral effort leads to my second point: there is a big moral difference between actively doing a bad thing and refraining from a good thing. Abstaining from marital intercourse is not intrinsically bad (St. Paul for example allows it);...”

    You followed this statement with this: “All the preceding I say without any consideration of particular circumstances required to justify marital abstinence. My point is merely that abstinence is not a categorical evil in marriage, but can be a great blessing.” Which is odd, seeing as how it followed on the statement I quoted above.

    You quoted Lactantius: “Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife"

    “The problem with contracepted sex (as opposed to abstinence) is that the couple actively severs the natural link between love-making and life-giving.”

    “I agree with you that love-making exclusively during infertile periods is open to abuse, but I think it is justifiable for grave reasons.”

    “A side benefit to occasional (mislabeled "periodic") abstinence (i.e., NFP) is that opens communication between the spouses. With AC, the husband only need grunt "let's do it" whenever he gets the urge; with occasional abstinence he has to ask his love about her cycle (temperature, etc.). Her fertility, instead of being an obstacle shoved aside, is more akin to a dance partner.”

    “AC is not wrong because it aims to control family size; it is wrong because the couple actively thwarts God's plan for each marriage act to be open to children.”

    What I'm asking from you is an argument in favor of AC without any comparison to NFP.

    Why didn't you say so, specifically, before?

    If you read through my comments in this thread with your question in mind, as well as through my contraception series and the comment sections of those posts, I think you will spot some of the answers you are looking for. There are a few in my last comment.

    I would be glad to repeat arguments, if necessary, and answer any other questions at another time. This is not an evasion, and, though an explanation is not owed, I will provide it: I need to focus on some other things for the time being, and think it would be best to let this discussion rest a bit.

    Thanks, and blessings.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 11:03 PM  

  • You've obviously gotten some people's interest! C. S. Lewis did write about
    birth control in marriage, at least fictionally, in That Hideous Strength. See
    here for an
    article I wrote on his bioethics (unfortunately the ASA posted it with my name
    spelled wrong) which has a paragraph or two on Lewis and birth control, with
    references.

    By Blogger Martin LaBar, at 8:34 PM  

  • Martin! Now you tell me! LOL! Thanks much!

    Terrific article. I must spend some time thinking about it.

    Guess I should also read That Hideous Strength.

    In looking over what you wrote, I see nothing inconsistent with what Lewis wrote in Abolition of Man, and I would say that the instances he speaks of regarding artificial contraception (“birth control”) represent misuses of it. He does not appear to consider family planning (as a matter of personal stewardship). Someday, (in my next life ;-) ), I will research all of this as thoroughly as you have. Thanks again!

    A side note: I appreciate that you have noted the fallibility of Lewis’ statements, as indeed the thoughts of any human, no matter how brilliant or wise, are so. I think it is important to maintain this awareness when discussing the statements of others and offering our own.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 11:04 PM  

  • I would say that the instances he speaks of regarding artificial contraception (“birth control”) represent misuses of it.

    You might similarly say that Lewis condemns only misuses of pick-pocketting, or onanism, or what have you.

    Is there any indication Lewis believes there are legitimate uses of it?

    Also, is Lewis's statement in
    Mere Christianity
    that Martin quotes ("the biological purpose of sex is children") so insignificant as to merit not even a mention?

    Respectfully,

    Jimminy Cricket (a.k.a. MJ)

    P.S. Still waiting for that defense of AC that makes no mention of NFP. MJ

    By Blogger Lawrence Gage, at 3:02 PM  

  • You might similarly say that Lewis condemns only misuses of pick-pocketting, or onanism, or what have you.

    Why? You’ve told me that a gun can have both a legitimate and an illegitimate use, therefore a gun would not belong in the same category as pick-pocketing or other always-wrong wrong. I say AC belongs in the same category as a gun, but you do not. Your reason is that it is always wrong to arrest a certain portion of the marital act. I have not seen convincing proof of that, as I’ve said and explained before. Lewis was not concerned with uses vs. misuses, nor was he outright condemning anything in Abolition of Man.

    Is there any indication Lewis believes there are legitimate uses of it?

    Read the post above, MJ, as well as my comments higher up in this thread.

    Also, is Lewis's statement in
    Mere Christianity that Martin quotes ("the biological purpose of sex is children") so insignificant as to merit not even a mention?


    Not even a mention by whom?

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 1:41 PM  

  • You’ve told me that a gun can have both a legitimate and an illegitimate use, therefore a gun would not belong in the same category as pick-pocketing or other always-wrong wrong. I say AC belongs in the same category as a gun, but you do not.

    Bonnie,

    I think you're misunderstanding. I agree with regard to contraceptives, but not with regard to contraception. I really thought I had made this point clear, if not for the masses, then at least for someone as obviously bright as you:

    As far as the concept of neutral instrumentality is concerned, the Catholic (and historical Protestant and Christian Orthodox) objection to artificial contraception is not over the device itself, but over its use.

    As I summarized that whole comment:

    So, contraceptives are morally neutral, but using them for contraception is wrong.

    Let me be more explicit: there is a difference between the instrument and the act. While the instrument that is per se morally evil is very rare, acts can very easily be per se morally evil.

    So as to leave no doubt: there is a distinction between the contraceptive instrument and the act of engaging in contracepted marital intercourse. The latter is always wrong.

    "Is there any indication Lewis believes there are legitimate uses of it?" Read the post above, MJ, as well as my comments higher up in this thread.

    I have and about all I can find that comes close to addressing the question is when you say that Lewis's statements are "not inconsistent" with what you maintain.

    But I may simply, in my slowness, have missed where you actually address the question. I wonder if I, as a brother in Christ, can ask for your extraordinary patience and charity in repeating your answer. I would greatly appreciate it.

    Not even a mention by whom?

    I was trying to be polite, but I suppose I ended up as vague. I meant you. You don't even seem to take note of that statement by Lewis. If I'm wrong, I ask in all humility that you point out my error.

    Respectfully,

    Jimminy Cricket

    P.S. Is there any way that we could merge this conversation with the other thread? This one has gotten so long that it takes forever for my modem to download it. Thanks! JC

    By Blogger Lawrence Gage, at 1:55 PM  

  • MJ wrote: “A side benefit to occasional (mislabeled "periodic") abstinence (i.e., NFP) is that opens communication between the spouses. With AC, the husband only need grunt "let's do it" whenever he gets the urge; with occasional abstinence he has to ask his love about her cycle (temperature, etc.). Her fertility, instead of being an obstacle shoved aside, is more akin to a dance partner.”

    Thoughts: Since we have gone to NFP, my husband is more involved in the decision. It has brought us closer.
    Let me ask you and others to answer yourselves honestly and clearly this question – if you would get pregnant today, how would you feel? How would your hubby feel?
    In other words, would you both be instantly elated to be blessed to bring another child into this world? Or would you dread telling him? Would you feel you had somehow “failed” because you didn’t practice birth control correctly or because it did not work? How would your hubby react? Would he be shocked? Angered? Would there be a huge adjustment in your lives should you get pregnant?
    The answers to these questions might shed some light on this issue as to your personal decision and ultimately your position on this topic.
    I also ask these questions to those using NFP (which I do not consider contraception) and would be interested in hearing their answers. My answers are we would both be delighted to welcome a new little one. I would not be hesitant to tell my hubby. I have been before when we used bc. I think because our basic assumption was that we were “done”. And all of our forward thinking, plans, etc. revolved around that assumption. Therefore when I got pregnant it required a major overhaul of all that we thought about regarding our future. Now that we have given over our womb to God (and we consider NFP as that), a new little one is always in our picture regarding the future and the adjustment would be small if any.
    With 8 children, we are constantly asked if we are “done” or if we hope to have any more. Hubby told me he finally found an answer to the question “Are you going to have anymore?” His answer? “I certainly hope so.” And that is his heart. Words cannot express how beautiful that is to me, how freeing it was for me to hear him say that. How would you feel if you knew that was your husband’s heart?
    Just some thoughts to ponder. Take it out of the technical realm into the heart issues and it dawns new light on the topic, I believe illuminating a deeper truth.

    “So, contraceptives are morally neutral, but using them for contraception is wrong.

    Let me be more explicit: there is a difference between the instrument and the act. While the instrument that is per se morally evil is very rare, acts can very easily be per se morally evil.

    So as to leave no doubt: there is a distinction between the contraceptive instrument and the act of engaging in contracepted marital intercourse. The latter is always wrong.”

    I would say that contraceptives are evil and wrong. It is an entire industry built upon (largely) the death of children. The contraceptives most widely used are those with abortaficient properties. A discussion could be made in regards to nonabortive contraceptives but still it is a profit made from denying life. I do not see the parallels with NFP. NFP to me is a couple seriously considering the outcome of their behavior – contraceptives to me are couples who take no thought of the outcome of their behavior or more aptly they have already made a decision regarding the outcome (so they think). I don’t think – and I know we did not – couples using contraceptives engage in intercourse saying to themselves “you know this only has a “success” rate of ____%. I think most couples convince themselves that they are “done” and have a mindset that they will not get pregnant and when they do it is a great shock and disappointment resulting in much adjustment due to the heart attitudes. I am not sure if any of this makes sense, but it does to me. It is a deeper personal issue regarding our hearts and our submission to God on a DAILY basis. Does that make any sense? In using NFP we think on God’s plan for us regarding children on a very regular basis, we seek His will. When we used contraceptives, we just assumed so much and really were not open to what God wanted nor did we ask him. We really felt like we were “handling” it. I am not sure that is a good place to be.

    By Blogger jo, at 6:47 AM  

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