Today we have a guest post from The Practicing Mammal. I encourage everyone to read it because it speaks well of her experience of moving from a contraceptive mentality to the freedom a life without contraception can bring. I asked her to write this because it speaks of her experience of living these two realities and the freedom that is experienced in a non-contraceptive lifestyle. Please keep the comments charitable. I don’t post this to be antagonistic, but to offer the personal side of something Catholics hold dear and the freedom it brings.
At the risk of sounding trite, I have been there.
I have stood firmly against the idea of a God at all, and I have stood firmly not caring if there was a God. What possible impact could that have on my life?
I am a convert from the Dark Abyss.
I have walked the secular walk and laughed at the God fearing men and women beneath me whose lives were upheld by the crutch of religion. I have viewed my own body as a useful tool. I have had mountains of fun and have wielded my feminine power. It was a lot of fun. Sort of.
For a while.
What would convict a young woman, the world her oyster to give up the life of freedom and fun? I’m smart. Smart enough to know that I wanted my life to have meaning. Because smart women know there is so much more.
One day it occurred to me that I was worth so much more than this. I actually remember the moment that everything changed. I was young, travelling, in a bad marriage and, moments earlier, found out I was pregnant with an unplanned child.
I was euphoric. Over the moon. Exalted. It was my first true experience of a profound joy.
In a bad situation, yes. I realized that, but I also remembered who I was and how I had been raised. And it was the first time ever that I considered that there must be a God. This was too big. Too big a gift.
This gift of a baby. An opportunity for redemption. Sound familiar? Nobody knows the power of a baby like God does.
I grew up with a father who would have been called sexist. He’s also the man a hundred women would have married. Why? He opens doors, he brings the first pussy willows every spring to my mom. Never forgets anniversaries and birthdays. He thanked my mom every night of my childhood for making him dinner. Nothing she ever did, no small menial task, was trivialized. He would have been ashamed to have his wife working. Not because he didn’t think women had a place in the workforce. But because he thinks that womanhood, motherhood is so valuable that you wouldn’t entrust in to anyone else.
He asked my mom to marry him and that meant, I love you and my love means that I will care for you and for the fruit of our love, our children. I will make your life as pleasant for you as I am able, because you have a hard and profoundly important task. And I should support and uphold and care for such an important vocation. Because it matters. More than anything.
We are equal. But not the same. You are the life giver.
What woman doesn’t want to be upheld like this by a man? What woman doesn’t want a dragonslayer?
As a young woman, I was honoured. I saw my mom honoured. No one had to ever tell me to fight for equality. Equality did not come to me because I could get grades, pay scale or respect equal to a man’s. The honour bestowed on me transcended equality. Why would I settle for equality?
Let me give just one powerful example of how our culture is duped by the message of equality. Contraception.
You cannot tell me that relinquishing the one profound thing that a woman can do that a man CANNOT do, carry and nurture a human infant, makes women equal to men.
It makes me a slave. A slave because I am now making myself available to a man, or many men, without responsibility. I am slave to a pill. I am slave to the success of that pill. I make myself lesser to be equal?
Not me. No way.
Even as a non Christian woman, one using contraception, I thought this isn’t right. I’m not broken. My fertility means I’m working. I’m healthy. So now I am taking a pill which will take my perfectly healthy reproductive system and render it useless. And maybe even cause it damage?
You see, we think the pill is going to give us freedom. Freedom to get the career I want, freedom to earn what a man earns, freedom to choose my sexual partner, freedom of choice. After choosing that life, I found I was not free. I was enslaved and unhappy.
I chose again. True freedom this time.
This is freedom; to marry a man, for life who will care for me and respect me and love me because I have intrinsic value. This is freedom. Freedom to educate myself, or choose a career, or work at something because I want to, not because I have something to prove or equality to attain. To love him and share union with him and have babies with him. And not every worry about another pill, another unhappy chapter in the book of non committal relationships.
I have lived the last twenty years of my life without fear. Of pregnancy, of contraceptive failure, of being dissatisfied with my life.
Hardship, yes I have experienced that. What life doesn’t? But fear enslaves us, hardship does not.