I wrote about birth control. I had enormous reservations about sharing my story. I was worried that my story would read as permission to ignore true doctrine when it's uncomfortable.
God doesn't promise comfort. All our favorite saints embrace discomfort. Dying for the church started in scripture and it hasn't stopped yet. That a thing is hard does not, in fact, mean that it's wrong.
So here's the thing: I think that the teaching is, at it's core, true & eternal. But I also think that it shouldn't be an impediment marriage. That's not the heart of the teaching at all!
The heart of the thing is that your unique and beautiful self joins with your unique and beautiful spouse in matrimony, forming a unique and beautiful union. That relationship is sacred. Two become one. That's not fussy language, it's a reality. The oneness is physically emphasized in a unique physical relationship.
You give fully. You receive fully. All of you. All of him. You are one in a very real and completely mind-blowing way.
If you or he hold back, that changes the thing. It undermines the oneness, whether the holding back is physical or emotional or whatever. You get married and you are fully in. When you aren't you undermine the oneness.
The two become one and the very interaction between them, their love itself, is creative. That's a uniqueness in the marital relationship. If there are no kids, that doesn't change the uniqueness, which is in potential. But what if the couple actively prevents kids? The prevention itself is a fundamental change to the nature of the relationship.
The teaching is sound. It's rich and in my opinion very beautiful. But the heart of the thing is a selfless, unitive love which becomes creative.
I want to tread lightly here, but the question is, what if the procreative function is itself an impediment to the unitive, self-giving, surrender?
That is hard because our culture wants a complete separation. The culture wants sex and procreation to be entirely separate and that is a fundamental challenge. That idea, if we embrace it, doesn't just make chaste living anachronistic prudery. That idea undermines the nature of the sacrament. Love, selfless and unitive, becomes. Creates. We participate in Creation though an act of love. We become creators. The physical expression of unity communicated between a husband and wife is a participation in God's speaking being.
If you can set aside the culture which insists that sex is an impotent carnal delight, and you keep the relationship within the doctrinal comprehension, I think the question is legitimate. So again, what if the procreative function is itself an impediment to the unitive, self-giving, surrender? We have to be careful because people are listening for us to say that the Church was wrong all along. I'm not saying that at all.
I'm saying that prioritizing the sacrament of marriage over children is theologically sound, though perhaps shocking. I'm saying that the teaching about birth control never was supposed to be an impediment. I'm saying that the spirit of the law is oneness in marriage. The spirit is the law is to protect the sanctity of that holy and precious union. Don't hold back. Give your whole self. Receive. Unity and love.
And to be very clear: I'm not offering an answer. I don't have one. Separating the unitive function from sex reduces it. We are not test tubes. We are participants in God's beautiful plan for Creation. In fact, I'd argue that it reduces sex in a very similar way to the more often discussed separating of sex and procreation.
My story is my story, but it isn't as uncommon as you might think. Edited to a few sentences, my story is that my health precludes pregnancy. My treatment involves hormones, among other medications and the other medications also preclude pregnancy. NFP is not a real option for me. Am I supposed to be celibate?
If you are looking for permission to write off the church there are a lot of places to find that, but this isn't one of them. My intent is to look at the teaching with the same regard as scripture and Creation and every other way God communicates his truth. How does this truth apply to me and my life? What is the truth communicated?
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, right? But let's not make excuses. Let's talk.
P.S. I have gotten all kinds of responses to my last post. All of them, so far, have been really kind and respectful- even and maybe especially those who disagree. I'm enormously grateful.