The Pill, Me, and NOT the Catholic Church
People generally accept that the Catholic Church is unreasonable, so they are shocked to find that she allows doctors to use scalpels to cut people! Can you believe that?! A Church which supposedly opposes physical mutilation has no objection to people being chopped up if they have a measly little excuse like surgery necessitated by disease.
Oh, no, wait. No one is shocked by that. Because as unreasonable as we may think the Church is, we know it isn’t really that crazy.
But somehow reproductive issues throw people into utter confusion about what the Church teaches. Let’s do a quick refresher:
- The body is good
- The natural reproductive system is a good part of the body
- Deliberately suppressing any aspect of the reproductive system for the sake of being able to engage in sexual acts without the natural reproductive consequence (babies!) is bad
- Pregnancy is not a disease
This does not mean that the Church teaches that disease is good or to be passively accepted as part of the good of the body. The body is good, disease is bad. We should do what we reasonably can to eliminate disease.
This holds true in the case of the reproductive system just as much as anywhere else in the body. And sometimes this means that the ultimate function of the reproductive system (reproduction, in case you were wondering) must be compromised in order to combat disease.
We are not supposed to run around cutting out Fallopian tubes or suppressing ovaries just for fun, but it is perfectly legitimate to do so if needed for therapeutic reasons. The Church stipulates that suppressing fertility to avoid pregnancy (which remember, is not a disease) can never count as therapeutic, but there is not a problem with fertility being hurt by treatment of a disease.
This rule holds true for all people–men and women, celibate and sexually active.
Because I went to the source of modern Catholic teaching on contraception from the very beginning, I have known that the pill is allowed for therapeutic reasons for as long as I have believed that contraception is significantly less than ideal.
I have many qualms about the pill, but none of them are religious.
Perhaps because I am a practicing Catholic people tend to assume that I feel guilty about the pill for Catholic reasons. I don’t.
In fact, almost a year ago I went to confession to deal with the issue that I was failing to live a good Christian life because I was avoiding the pill for selfish reasons. You read that right, I confessed my sin of not being on the pill. The priest hearing my confession was completely in line with the Church’s teaching on contraception etc. I won’t tell you all that he said, but I will tell you this–he is completely in line with the Church’s teaching. That means that his concern was for my underlying sin, and he left the specifics of medications to the doctors.
I made a deal with my conscience (I never make deals with God, that is too dangerous!) that I could stay off the pill for half a year as long as I spent that time pursuing alternatives. I did. They didn’t work.
So why am I concerned about being on the pill if there is no Catholic guilt involved? Because taking the pill is a sign of failing myself. I’m not failing God or the Church, I am failing me.
I don’t like the idea of suppressing my fertility, and I like the reality even less. I hate the thought of slowly poisoning myself. For so long I bought the story that somewhere out there was a natural cure. And it is distressing to read about women who were able to eradicate their pain with lifestyle changes such as taking vitamins and avoiding wheat and then get to the end of the list of the changes and see that this included taking the pill.
I cannot escape the nagging thought that somehow I am missing something I should be doing to heal myself. If only I found the magic supplement or quit my job and did yoga… if only… I would be able to function without the pill.
So there you have it. My aversion toward the pill has nothing to do with the Catholic Church, and everything to do with me.
- Yoga and Children
- 3.5 is half of 7
There may be another alternative treatment out there that hasn’t been discovered yet. Hopefully it will be available to you soon!
Good point, and thank you!
I like reading your posts on this subject. I sure hope some sort of treatment for your condition is available soon. But in the mean time, I am glad that the pill brings you some relief (because not being able to function due to pain is terrible! I really feel for you!) And you don’t fail yourself in these matters, in my opinion. Here’s to mucho time off purgatory, right? (I know…small consolation while you’re writhing in pain… )
I sometimes try to tell myself that I should at least be thankful that I am shortening Josh’s time in purgatory.
It is so sad that people want to equate your situation (a true medical reason for the pill) to all of the other “medical” reasons…it’s such a part of the problem.
Thank-you so much for putting yourself and your story out here, it’s so important.
And prayers, always prayers, coming your way!
Thank you so much for your prayers.
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I’m not clear- are you using the pill for reasons other than birth control (like controlling horrible PMS, etc)- so do you lessen the abortifacient aspects by abstaining when you suspect you ovulate? This is very personal- but you started it!
EDIT: I decided that the other subject was more fitting for a post of its own, so I deleted my previous response.
The concise version is that I would have talked about failing my children in this post if my concern were engaging in behavior likely to increase the likelihood of miscarriage.
thanks for the answer! and yes- we are very conservative after a baby (well- when we were young and crazy- my first girls are 51 weeks apart- got my period at 10 weeks post partum- baby 2 conceived at 12 weeks happily) we have 12. 5 year old 11.5 year old- a 20 week miscarried boy who would be 7- a 4.5 boy and a 2.5 girl. So NFP has been very effective for us- but yes- the truth is that after a baby one has to be pretty diligent to keep reasonable (for my health) spacing
Thanks for your response! That’s not exactly what I meant, but I was off on a crazy rabbit trail, so I hope you’ll forgive me!
Speaking of rabbits….
Thank you for writing a post like this. I read your previous, pre edited, reply to PW; can’t wait to read the new follow up. Keep writing about this topic!!
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