One of a series of six special columns written by Catholic women on family planning issues.
Recently there has been much debate regarding what is best for women. As a woman I feel bombarded by countless messages about what others believe is good for me, my body and my sexuality.
At times I even feel that these messages imply that the amazing ability to conceive a child is a weakness of my body that should be corrected, and that I sacrifice my full potential by embracing fertility and motherhood. These messages can be difficult to sort through, and that is why I am grateful for the teachings of my Church.
I belong to a Church that is concerned for my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. The Church helps me discern all that this world is saying, so that I can reach my fullest potential and know and understand God's design for my life. Through the Church I feel a true freedom from the confusions of this world, a freedom that is attained when I make choices that affirm the respect and love that I deserve. It is because of my desire for love and respect that I choose not to use contraception.
Personally, I feel that contraception weakens the gift of sex that God has given us. I believe sex has two goals: unity (it is pleasurable and brings my spouse and me together) and procreation (cooperating with God to create new life).
Contraception damages the marital act by removing the possibility of procreation from the equation. Thus contraceptive sex does not achieve the true purpose of sex, and to deny either of the goals of sex is harmful to both woman and man.
Sex in a marriage is a total gift of self. In sex I say to my husband, "I give all of myself to you and I accept all of you." However, if I were "contracepting," I would be saying "I give all of myself to you, except my fertility, and accept all of you, except your fertility." Thus, contraception causes sex to become a selfish act by desiring the pleasure but rejecting the person as a whole. To me this would not be a complete gift of myself to my husband.
I can't speak for others, but I have no desire to partake in any activity in which I am used simply for someone else's pleasure. I am a person! I have dignity! I deserve to be loved, cherished and protected, especially by those who claim to love and care for me. I want to be with someone who wants to be with all of me, not just the easy parts.
Giving myself partially to my husband disrespects him and me. I cannot imagine how my marriage could thrive if either my husband or I felt used. My husband and I choose not to use contraception so that we can respect the true nature of the marital act. We can enjoy the pleasure of being together and be open to God's will for children.
Sex is not an either/or proposition. Deciding not to "contracept" has helped us develop self-control and respect for each other. It makes sex about the whole person and respects us as individuals and as a couple. I have never felt used as an object of pleasure to fulfill my husband's desires. I have always been treated with love and dignity.
I can confidently say that choosing not to "contracept" has been the best decision that I have made as a woman and the best decision my husband and I have made in our marriage.
Thank you, Holy Mother Church, for promoting the truth and beauty of human sexuality and challenging our world's contraceptive mentality. The Church is our greatest advocate as women and the greatest promoter of the love, respect, and honor we deserve.
Erin Pohlmeier lives in Sherwood with her husband Jason and their three children. They attend St. Edward Church in Little Rock.
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