My column at Catholic Mom this month is a thumbnail of the basics of the Theology of the Body:
“Love one another as I have loved you.” John 13:34-35
As baptized and confirmed Christian/Catholics, Christ resides in each of us. If we consider the love that Christ gave us when he died on the cross was his freely chosen gift, totally given, faithful to the point of death and that gift was fruitful (redemption of mankind which opened up the gates of heaven), and if we consider that we are called to image Christ, then we must love our spouse in the same way.
Our love must be free. “I lay down my life…No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (Jn 10:18) We cannot be coerced to love or forced to engage in relations, even marital relations. Our love must be freely-given. Couples who use contraception have the potential of being slaves to their passions. If one cannot say no to sex, then their yes means nothing.
Our love must be total. “Greater love has no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15:13) There can be no holding back. Within the context of the conjugal bed, this self-gift must be total: no contraceptives or contraceptive behaviors.
Our love must be faithful. “I am with you always to the close of the age.” (Mt 28:20) Christ was faithful to the Father and faithful to each one of us. In the sacrament of marriage, we have made a lifelong commitment/vow to our spouse and we must remain faithful in everything we do. It is obvious that we ought to be faithful with regard to the conjugal bed, but there are many other areas we can be unfaithful that do not include sexual relations (fantasies, flirting etc). The use of contraception or contraceptive behaviors separates a couple during their most intimate act.
Our love must be fruitful. “I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10) Christ’s death brought life to us and opened up the gates of heaven. Married love must also bear fruit. The most obvious fruit is the gift of children. Couples who contracept are purposefully thwarting this essential life-giving aspect of conjugal relations.
Following God’s Joy-Filled Plan for Marriage, that is, refraining from using birth control (and using NFP for serious need to avoid pregnancy) can, at times, be challenging and difficult. Without Christ’s grace, it would be impossible.
Christ trusted in the Father’s plan that he die for our sins…He didn’t really want to suffer, but knew that it had to be done (“not my will, but yours”). We, as married couples need to trust in the Father’s plan for married love which includes openness to life and, if there are serious reasons to avoid pregnancy, the use of Natural Family Planning. Even though NFP may be difficult, it will be worthwhile because if we trust God, God is very trustworthy and graces abound for the spouses individually and as a couple. The couple who trusts in God’s plan will be very happy together, are able to help each other get to heaven and will remain as good examples not only to their children but to all those around them.
As baptized and confirmed Christian/Catholics, Christ resides in each of us. With regard to God’s plan for married life and love, we need to love our spouses as Christ loves us: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully. We need to allow Him to work more in us and to trust His plan for us.
Text Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Photo Copyright 2011 Josh Hrkach