There was a long period of my life when I couldn’t understand why the Catholic Church taught birth control was a moral problem. If I was honest, I’d say that I believed women needed it. I thought that without contraception, married women were doomed to celibacy or to (gasp!) nine kids. And though I am a Catholic who has always used NFP when I needed to postpone or achieve a pregnancy, my doubts profoundly affected my spiritual life.
If my belief about birth control was true—that women needed it be free, equal, and happy—then God was to blame. God had designed us to be shackled by our own bodies. Why wouldn’t it please God when we used our intelligence to overcome this? Furthermore, God didn’t seem to care about all the women who lived for eons before the 20th century. And why would God want us to use the brains He gave us to suppress the bodies that He also gave us? We’re not talking about treating an illness or ailment, but about correcting a major flaw in our design—God’s design.
I couldn’t believe those words, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And, though I didn’t realize it, I couldn’t quite fully believe the words, “God loves me.” Sure, on the conscious level, I believed it, but I couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that there was something wrong. I wondered why God the Father, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, seemed so distant. For years, I never thought through all of these questions and doubts. I decided, instead, to push them to the back of my mind and hope that the answers would come one day.
And the answers did come. They came when I learned why my Church prohibited contraception: because life and love go together; because people are good; because real love doesn’t hold back any part of one’s self; because the way our bodies function is good and not a disease to be suppressed; because some birth control does cause abortions; because some birth control impairs women’s health; because widespread use of birth control can lead to everything from divorce to women’s exploitation to coerced abortion. These insights came as I really experienced Natural Family Planning and learned that it was effective, free of side effects, available to anyone willing to learn, and helpful in diagnosing and treating gynecological problems. They came as I slowly started to shed the prejudices I didn’t know I had against children.
When, as a woman of faith, you start to view your fertility as a gift rather than as a burden, it changes so much in your spiritual life. Now, I can actually praise God for the way He made me. I find freedom when I use my intelligence to understand my body.
My faith has grown in other ways, as I can trust that God’s plans are good, and not designed to make me miserable. Sure, NFP is hard sometimes, but it’s the good kind of hard, the kind that comes when sacrifices mean growing in love. Best of all, I can teach my daughters that they are made to be free, equal, and happy…no drugs or devices required.
Laura Doroski is a homeschooling mother to 3 young children. A graduate of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA, Laura founded the college’s Catholic Student Union and Students for Life. Because freedom of religion, women’s and family issues are now inextricably linked, Laura is doing what she can for the sake of her kids to speak out about the consequences of women suppressing or circumventing their reproductive systems and denying life to their own children.