Skip to comments.Why We Quit Contracepting (Two couples tell their ‘conversion’ stories)
Posted on 08/16/2005 1:48:10 PM PDT by NYer
Having married in 1985 when both were medical students, Ann and Michael Moell had their life together planned out.
Once they established medical practices and had a big house with a sprawling back yard, they would begin to have children. Until then, Ann would take the birth-control pill.
Although both had grown up in large Catholic families in Ohio, neither was well versed or much interested in the Churchs teaching on birth regulation.
While we were in medical school and residency, we didnt think we had time for a child, Ann says. We had the American dream in mind, not just for ourselves but for the children we would have.
Their plans began to unravel four years into the marriage, when Ann stopped taking the pill because of persistent headaches.
Here we were, both studying medicine, and neither of us knew anything about the pill and its side effects, she recalls. It just isnt a topic in medical school because the pill is assumed to be a good thing.
They used periodic abstinence, condoms and other barrier methods but, within a year Ann became pregnant. They welcomed the child into their lives, yet continued to contracept.
After their third child arrived, Ann says, That was it. We were still young, with three children and growing medical practices. We thought we had to do something foolproof that would keep us from having more children.
They discussed the possibility of a vasectomy for Michael.
We thought it would be the best thing for our family, Michael explains.
Something happened, though, in the Moells pursuit of the American dream. Ann began to pray. The couple had begun attending Mass again with the birth and baptism of their first child, but they were just doing the Catholic thing, Michael says. We didnt know anything about contraception being sinful or that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. We were missing so much.
To actually ask God to give us an answer was something new, Ann admits. I was praying at Mass, God, show us what to do about this issue. A month later, I was pregnant. It was Gods answer. It was so immediate, so direct, and I was elated. It changed our whole attitude about who was in charge of our lives and our marriage.
They began using natural family planning, and have welcomed two more children into their lives.
But God was not finished with them yet. Ann was a family-practice physician who prescribed the pill. Michael was a pediatrician who was prescribing the pill for young girls. Someone gave them the videotape Contraception: Why Not? by Janet Smith. It changed the whole direction of our practices, Ann says. We started looking into the side effects of the pill and I knew I had to stop prescribing.
Now Dr. Ann Moell is a stay-at-home mother who volunteers as a prenatal-care physician at a pro-life pregnancy center in Dayton, Ohio. Michael left a pediatric partnership to open Holy Family Pediatrics, in the same building as the pregnancy center. About half his patients are pregnant teens referred by his wife. They recommend abstinence before marriage and NFP in marriage to their young patients. Many Catholic parents travel long distances to bring their children for routine care to Holy Family Pediatrics.
This has been a huge spiritual journey as well as a growth and learning experience in proper health care, says Ann.
It was a huge financial leap and leap of faith, to give up the partnership and open my own medical practice, Michael adds. Four months after I opened the door, our fourth child was born. I was questioning God the whole way. But its worked out better than I could have dreamed.
Conversion is a word Penny and John Harrison use often to describe their experience with birth control. They were married in 1983 in Pennys Protestant church; a Catholic priest witnessed the ceremony for John, who was raised in a Catholic family.
They used various forms of contraception for the first 10 years of marriage and had two children pre-conversion, as John describes it.
A Catholic Marriage Encounter weekend opened Pennys heart to the Church, and, when she decided to become a Catholic, all the assumptions of their lives were uprooted. While she was going through a parish RCIA program in their hometown of Kansas City, Mo., John began looking at his own faith and asking questions. He had no problems with the sacraments or the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, but his vague knowledge of the Churchs teaching on contraception nagged at him.
When he and Penny asked a priest about the issue, we got some confusing and unspecific answers, John recalls. We ultimately were told to follow our conscience. Unfortunately, thats the answer too many Catholic couples get today, and theyre not being told the full beauty of the truth.
Penny entered the Church at the Easter Vigil in 1993 and shortly thereafter she and her husband went on a 10th-anniversary vacation without their two children.
We were both very uncomfortable using contraception on that trip, John said. We came back and just stopped using contraception of any kind, and prayed and hoped for another child.
Key to their decision was hearing a talk by Catholic evangelist Scott Hahn, a former Protestant minister, and reading Rome Sweet Home, in which Hahn and his wife, Kimberly, defend the Churchs teaching on contraception.
We date our deeper conversion to the heart of the Church primarily from the fervor we took from listening to Scott Hahns talks, John says.
Since their conversion, the Harrisons have had three more children, including twins in 1999.
I come from a Protestant background where it is considered irresponsible not to practice contraception, so Ive come a long way, Penny says. The problem was that when I was preparing to enter the Church, we knew what Catholics were supposed to believe but we couldnt find any Catholics who actually lived the teaching on contraception.
As teachers with the Couple to Couple League, which promotes NFP, John and Penny are seeing more and more couples open to the gift of life, she says. I tell them that, in the Nicene Creed, we call the Holy Spirit Lord and Giver of Life. If we take that title seriously, we cannot shut the Holy Spirit out of our marriages.
John says he tells couples who are not particularly religious that contraception is disrespectful to your wifes body. You expect a woman to take these hormones that make her body think shes pregnant just so she can be available to you sexually all the time. And it goes the other way too. Your wife expects you to put on a special device. Thats not very respectful of the man, either.
Love means giving your whole self to your spouse, adds Penny. And thats the great gift of NFP.
NFP saved my marriage. There's just so much more to it than "abstain during fertile days". I wish every couple would take classes and see what is available to them! I'm glad we found it when we did. :o)
One More Soul (A Non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the truth about the blessings of children and the harms of contraception..)
NFP is so great. It just makes you rather wow-ed about your own body --- and your spouses body ---- and the great way you-know-Who designed this whole sex project. I mean WOW!
I have tried to see the difference, spiritualy speaking, between NFP and birth control. I am a diehard Catholic and I'm coming up real short about the differences.
For instance........why is the couple who uses NFP any more within the guidelines of Jesus' teaching than the couple who uses birth control. I'm not trying to start any wars here or trying to interject my own beliefs, etc. I am having real difficulty seeing the difference. A couple practicing birth control is trying to prevent a pregnancy as is a couple using NFP......someone please clarify. Again, I'm not trying to place a wedge, I'm just really trying to intellectually and spiritually seek some clarification. At best, I believe the difference in the two birth control methods to be nominal.
If God gave you a birth control device as part of your anatomy, there would be no difference.
The God-given method of birth control is knowledge of fertility cycles and abstinence. If you use these, you use your body as intended. If you divert, block, or render infertile the sperm, you pervert the sexual act to exclude
(1) God, who is a partner in the procreative aspect of the marital act;
(2) Your spouse, who is no longer fully engaged in the unitive aspect of the marital act.
Dearest and I talk about this a lot. We just had our first interview with my local church. The deacon was very delighted to hear we intend to follow church teaching on this.
I understand your difficulty. I admit that intellectually, it's tough for me to see the difference. I accept on faith.
However, you ask:
"A couple practicing birth control is trying to prevent a pregnancy as is a couple using NFP......someone please clarify."
Here's a helpful analogy. A dieter is someone who is trying to lose weight. So is a bulimic. One does so by abstaining from overeating, the other by eating all he cares to eat, and then purging.
Both are aiming toward the same goal, but one METHOD is legitimate, and one METHOD is not.
Hope that helps.
Good for you and Dearest. The use of NFP to avoid pregnancy can be a struggle, but compared to the alternatives ... egad! Besides, starting a family at your stage of life, I'd think "avoidance" is the last thing on your mind :-). There is nothing more enjoyable than a Personal Relationship during your ovulation. The Urge to Merge is an unfailing indicator of fertility, at least in my experience - I even note it on my NFP charts, when I'm bothering to chart! Gosh, what was God thinking?
Getting one of these so I can get used to it. I find that I'm getting more in tune with my body. I also know that eating no meat shortens my *moon time*. If the urge to merge indicates fertility then I'm very fertile :O)
This is an excellent question and one that many other catholics wrestle with. No need to don the asbestos suit :-). Perhaps the following can provide you with a clear and concise response.
"Apart from the issue of side-effects, which is decisive in itself, one must recognize the difference between an end and a means. Most of morality, in fact, is concerned not about ends but about means. The end, moral as it may be in itself, does not justify the employment of an immoral means. Having a child is a good end, but surely achieving that end by means of kidnapping is morally distinguishable from becoming a parent by means of loving union with ones spouse. Money may be a desirable end, but obtaining it through theft, blackmail, or extortion, as opposed to earning it justly, is the difference between immorality and morality. Virtually everyone in the history of moral philosophy recognizes the validity of this distinction. Contraception violates the order established in nature by God between intercourse and procreation."
Contraception and Catholic Teaching
Really? Maybe I should try that, eventually. (6 more months of pregnancy, plus 9-10 months after, before I need to worry about it.)
Do you have "Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition" by Marilyn Shannon? Very good information there.
All life is sacred.
Thanks for the response! On one level I understand all the spiritual references to which to you responded. But I'd rather go to practical application to see if you can somehow hit a nerve with me and my spiritual blockage on this subject. So let me pose this practical situation upon two couples.........Couple "A" practices NFP from the beginning of their marriage to the end of their fertile lives never having conceived, never having bore a child but having followed the letter of the law of the Catholic Faith to a "T." Couple "B" practices interrupted coitus during every single love making act. During the course of their lives they have 4 mistakes and bring each of these pregnancies to full term and birth. They raise the children happily ever after and those children go on to give them grandchildren. Which couple has done God's work?
Oh yes and also very pain free. There are others good stuff but I don't want to gross out the freeper men ;-)
Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition is on my wish list now.
**If you divert, block, or render infertile the sperm, you pervert the sexual act to exclude
(1) God, who is a partner in the procreative aspect of the marital act;
(2) Your spouse, who is no longer fully engaged in the unitive aspect of the marital act.**