Krista and I feel like we dodged a bullet. We were totally foolish; we got engaged and hadn't given serious thought to contraception or children at all. By God's merciful grace, we stumbled upon some 45 year old document of a long-dead pope, and it saved us not only from grave perversion in our marriage but also from missing out on our greatest joys.
I am more convinced every day that getting married and starting a family after becoming an adult should be normal. But instead, in our contracepted world in which pleasure is a right, chastity is unhealthy, adolescence is extended indefinitely, commitment is shunned, and service to others is a burden, something as simple as getting married soon into adulthood and allowing fruit to naturally come therefrom has become a revolutionary act.
Indeed, if the arguments of Humanae Vitae are right, contraception is an attack at the very foundation of human society: the marriage bed. And it has been an attack virtually global in scope and with almost universal acceptance, with billions of dollars spent in its promotion. In just a few decades in the 20th century, the world went from largely rejecting its use to considering it to be a form of necessary preventative medicine (the natural functioning of a healthy body is a disease?) and access to it to be a human right that trumps the right to conscience of anyone who thinks otherwise (and in some countries mandating its use). Of course, the world will go on, and so will the Church, but many souls can be lost in the process.
Our new convictions deeply shook Krista's and my confidence in Protestantism and played a significant role in our decision to join the Catholic Church. With small exceptions consisting mostly of individuals or small communities, virtually all Protestant denominations have been incapable of preserving this most basic moral truth.
The Catholic Church remains the only major organization on the planet that has held the historic Christian line, and it has done so despite enormous pressure to capitulate from without and from within. The successor of St Peter's promulgation of Humanae Vitae in the tumultuous year of 1968 stands as strong confirmation that Christ really did build his Church on Peter the Rock (Matthew 16.18-19).
Thankfully, it looks like some evangelicals are starting to take a second look. Lutheran pastor Russel Saltzman last year wrote in a piece for First Things:
I am rethinking Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical condemning artificial birth control. Well, actually not rethinking since I cannot remember ever thinking about it much at all, ever, except dismissively. So best to say, I am considering it seriously for the first time. I actually sat down to read it.In an old piece re-posted in the last year on his website entitled "Can Christians Use Birth Control?" (to which I responded here), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler, though he refrains from endorsing the full Catholic position, challenges his readers:
[W]e should look closely at the Catholic moral argument as found in Humanae Vitae. Evangelicals will find themselves in surprising agreement with much of the encyclical’s argument.And just last summer, evangelicalism's flagship magazine Christianity Today published a review of Mary Eberstadt's recent book Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution entitled "The Consequences of Contraception: Evangelicals need to reckon with the empirical evidence of what the sexual revolution has wrought". The review encourages its readers:
In this day and age, such a suggestion will seem ridiculous to Christians and non-Christians alike, but the data is undeniable. If we want to think seriously and Christianly about sex, then we need to think seriously about contraception.I am greatly encouraged that some evangelicals are beginning to rethink contraception. I hope my readers will as well.
This coming August will mark the beginning of our fifth year of marriage. Looking back, we wouldn't have done anything different, whether it was getting married when we did or having the children when we did. We don't feel like we've missed out on anything and none of the nightmare scenarios have come close to materializing. On the contrary, we've seen all the great joys and blessings we could have missed out on.
We have no regrets. I have written this with the hope that other couples won't either.
Keep Reading: Post Script
This is Part 6 of a six-part series:
Part 1: Asking the Question
Part 2: Flipping the Switch
Part 3: No Longer Afraid
Part 4: Hey Baby
Part 5: Tested Twice
Part 6: No Regrets
- Humanae Vitae
- Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan
- Children of the Reformation: A Short and Surprising History of Protestantism and Contraception
- Sanger's Victory: How Planned Parenthood’s Founder Played the Christians—and Won
- Birth control is moral (but not all methods)
- Organic Sex, Organic Farming
- The Vindication of Humanae Vitae
- Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution
- Find an NFP class