25 July 2018

Living with the Effects of a Contraceptive Culture

We live in a world of cause and effect. The choices we make individually (and yes, as a society) bring about effects, some good and some bad.

50 years ago today Humanae Vitae was released.

I have spent a lot of time reflecting on where we as a Church and culture are at with the history and real story behind artificial birth control. 

I have discussed with priests and friends on how prophetic this document was and why its even more relevant now when we look around and see how sexually broken our culture has become.

The Sexual Revolution of the 1960's promised us more freedom and self-expression, but as a culture have a lot of sexual baggage, wounding, and pain.

In drafting this encyclical, Blessed Pope Paul VI did not intend to predict the effects of what contraception could do to marriage and sexuality. 

But I do find it very striking (and timely) that there are several effects that contraception would have on society.

Specifically, he writes that artificial birth control would lead to: 

"an easy path to marital infidelity, moral degeneration, a loss of man's respect for woman whereby he would no longer care for her physical and psychological well-being, governments would impose coercive methods of control that exhibit freedom in one of the most sacred acts, and mankind would think he has unlimited power over his body" (HV 17).

I think his words can be summarized in three specific effects that we live with in a contraceptive culture:

  • Martial infidelity and moral decline
  • Loss of respect for women
  • Abuse of power

Marital Infidelity & Moral Decline

In the past 50 years, we have seen a sharp rise in things like divorce, abortion, infidelity, and cohabitation. The impact of contraception on these issues is like pouring gasoline on a fire. 
Contraception has so trivialized the sexual act so that it exists free from any sense of responsibility. 
I do not think birth control has made us better people.

Loss of Respect for Women

All I am going to say is #metoo.

We are living in a time where we constantly hear about more and more women who have experienced sexual manipulation and abuse from men. Why is no one making the connection from a contraceptive mentality of "sex without consequences" and the disrespect for women as mere sexual objects for me to use?

And don't even get me started on the rampant pornography addiction in our culture. Or that now 46% of Americans think pornography is morally acceptable. That has increased so much physical and sexual violence against women.


Abuse of Power

It is very frustrating to see the promotion of contraception used as a "necessity" for charitable organizations working in foreign countries. People like Bill and Melinda Gates think contraception is what poor countries most needed in the development of poor countries.

Pope Francis denounces this abuse of power calling it "ideological colonization," where too often Western countries seeks to forcibly impose their sexual ethics on another country.

Sure you could easily say these effects have been caused by a wide variety of factors, but it is impossible to refute that they exist today. 

And I would say that a contraceptive mindset has added to these effects.

18 July 2018

Lessons I've Learned Living Alone

I remember growing up I thought I would do things exactly the way my Mom did in her life.

I thought I'd be married with a baby by the time I was 25 and live at with my parents until I got married. I envisioned my life looking very similar to her own. Obviously my life has turned out very different than I initially expected. 

Before I got married, I never lived on my own. After my wedding, I moved from my childhood home to the house I thought I would be building with my then husband.

After my divorce, I moved back home with my parents for about nine months to save money and get my feet on solid ground as I started looking for a new home for myself.

I moved into my new apartment on August 14, 2016, which also happens to be the feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. He is my spiritual BFF and his heavenly friendship has greatly blessed my life.

That first night in my apartment was such a mixture of emotions. I felt overwhelmed, anxious, excited, and nervous all rolled together.

I knew it would be a big transition learning how to live on my own for the first time in my life.

It has been almost two years, and I have found myself thinking about the lessons I have learned in how to live on my own over the last few weeks.

I needed to learn how to be comfortable in my own company

This was a lesson I never knew before I got married. I didn't know how to be comfortable with myself. On some level, I think I was always looking for validation or affirmation from others because of my own insecurities. I avoided facing my wounds and looked for ways that other people could help me feel more loved.

Moving into my own apartment at 30 was a real growth and healing opportunity. It helped me face things I had previously avoided in relationships or hidden in the depths of my heart. And living by myself, I had no option but to face them head on.

I think doing this has made me stronger and more emotionally healthy.

Loneliness is not something to run away from

This was probably one of the most messy, painful things to maneuver and work through after my divorce. 

Sometimes the loneliness just felt so overwhelming. While I knew this time around being in a relationship with a man would not fix me, I still wished there were times I didn't have to come home to an empty apartment or cook dinner by myself with no one to share the meal with. 

There were plenty of times I cried or journaled all the big feelings to help me deal with how I was feeling. I learned over time the only way to get through the mess is by going straight through it.

Eventually I came to a place where I realized loneliness is not something to avoid or run away from. It taught me a lot about myself and showed me how I used it to run away from facing bog feelings or emotions.

Even if its just me, I need to make my home beautiful and cozy 

Even if it was just me living in my apartment, I decided early on I wanted it to be a simple, beautiful, safe space for myself.

I took time to find the right frames for gallery walls. I spent time finding beautiful words to hang in my home and decorate in a way that made my home feel special to me.

Honestly it felt weird at first doing these things all by myself.

Over time I added news pillows, candles, hand painted signs. Each new little touch made my apartment become a home for me.

Have you ever lived alone before in your life? What were some of the lessons you learned through the experience?
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