Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in spirit, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

Oh Lord,

Teach me to seek You and reveal yourself to me when I seek You.

For I cannot seek You unless You first teach me, nor find You unless You first reveal yourself to me.

Let me seek You in longing, and long for You in seeking.

Let me find You in love, and love You in finding.

~Saint Ambrose of Milan

<< # St. Blog's Parish ? >>

Name: Erin Yonke

Location: Aurora, IL

Info: I'm happily married to my husband and champion pro-life activist, Matt. I stay home with my three small boys; Ambrose (11/06), Peter (3/08), and Joseph (9/10).

Sunday, October 29, 2006

a story about birth control.

First, I should say that the teaching of the Catholic church on birth and life and birth control has come to be a great (big, HUGE) source of relief to me. Second, I’m usually not one for long-winded personal stories, so my apologies for that. Still, I think the point is worth making.

Somewhere along the line, in the years I spent growing up in a family of seven children, I forgot that life is precious.

Don’t be mistaken. I have always been taught that children are a blessing from God, and I adore my sisters (and there’s some affection for my brother, too;-) —but as far as I could tell, they were falling from the sky (and, possibly, every other high-up place, and that one ought to wear complete body armor in order to avoid injury).

Life was always readily accessible, and apparently infinite. Babies were a dime a dozen. That was that.

When Matt and I were engaged, this “life” that I saw running through the halls, spilling grape juice on the counter, and leaving sticky finger prints on every glass surface within reach was far too close to a reality, too close to invading the life I was about to begin. It must be prevented, I was convinced, and I was advised that it was the “wisest” thing to do.

I admit, it seemed backwards even at the time, that I would marry the man I loved, to become one flesh with him and create a picture of the beautiful union between Christ and His church, yet religiously down a little pink pill every morning in order to ensure that I would not have his children. I couldn’t help but wonder what better thing there was for a marriage to do than to bear fruit. Nevertheless, I was full of excuses. It was practical, and I was young. I said that it would be good for my marriage to put off having kids, knowing full well that there was not a higher blessing for a marriage than children, and that God, in His infinite wisdom, would provide for us everything we needed to sustain any life He chose to give us.

A month into our marriage, the Holy Spirit took hold of our consciences, and we threw away the pills.

That wasn’t the end. We took up natural family planning. While a considerably better option, my heart remained only very slightly changed. I didn’t want kids. They were an obligation, I would lose my figure—not to mention that I might have to wear ‘mom jeans’. Kids are messy, they are loud, and they would rob me of my sleep—and I knew this for a fact, from many years of first-hand experience.

This “natural” birth control wasn’t as extreme as contraception, I told myself, although I would have liked it to have been. I wanted to be in control of this. Desperately. It frightened me to know that I wasn’t.

Certainly, I knew that whether or not I tried to manage it, if God willed for us to have a child, we would—no matter what. It wasn’t a question of how I was effecting what God was doing, it was a question of my heart’s response.

Months passed, and the Holy Spirit was faithful to convict me of my sin, though I was still fixed in it. One moment I would say, “God, please bless us with children” and the next it was, “Oh wait, no! I didn’t mean it!” For months and months this repeated itself, almost daily. Knowing that God is the giver of all good things, knowing that He, Himself loves children, and wanting to love children myself—and at the same time resisting, and even fearing that He would bless me with such a duty.

This struggle didn’t end until Thursday, March 16, 2006 at 2:00pm—ten days before my first wedding anniversary, in the very moment when I realized that there was an unmistakable pink line on my pregnancy test.

From that one moment, I could write page upon page about how differently I view the world, how gracious God has been, how amazing life is…and this baby has not even entered the world. I will speak quietly, because I have so much to learn…but the honor, and the joy of giving life to another person has been unbelievable. The beauty of a home filled with children marks a life filled with fruit and with God’s blessings, things with which I cannot wait for my own home to be filled to the brim.

And the truth is this, friends: when Christ took on flesh, He did so that He might offer it to us, to give us life. The prosperity of the womb is a picture to us of this very thing—it is our opportunity to offer our bodies to our children, so that they may have life. I’m not going to get into a discussion about abortion—but to address the idea of “when life begins”—we, as Christians, cannot simply hold to the idea that “life begins at conception” for our own lives. In the same way that purity and faithfulness to your spouse applies even before marriage, love for your children is required before their conception. As Christians, we must believe that life begins in the hand of God, as soon as we reach the marriage bed. Until we do, I believe that abortion and contraception will continue to be rampant amongst pagans and Christians alike.

The opening of the womb is the opening of the heart. It is being charitable and hospitable to your children before their very conception. Christ never turned a child away, and likewise, we should not either, from the moment we choose to fulfill the marital act. To close our wombs is deny the sufficiency of Christ, His bloody death on the Cross, and it is to refuse to lay down our lives for another in light of His sufficiency.

Had Christ carried even an ounce of my selfishness to the cross, had He hung a “closed for business” sign on His neck (as I had, in theory, done to my own children), if He had said, “Sorry, number 4, but I think that three’s a good number…” My life would be a wreck.

Comments on "a story about birth control."


Blogger Chad Toney said ... (October 29, 2006 7:20 PM) : 

Oh, this is such a good post.

Before and even into my marriage, my friends and I would mock the large families, with their 15-Passenger Econolines, their buzzcuts and bible names.

We firmly stated that 2 or 3 children would suffice and we were happy to put them off as long as needed.

However, when my son came into the world, that crappy attitude was soon replaced.


Blogger erin said ... (October 30, 2006 8:44 AM) : 

Thanks for the comment! It's been heavy on my mind lately--not only the sin that contraception is, but how sad it is that the beauty of life and the ability to create it has been so skewed in our culture.
Anyway, blessings to you, your wife, and your son!
Also, you all really should move to Chicago!


Blogger eLr said ... (January 16, 2007 11:22 AM) : 

I appreciate your point that natural family planning is no different than the pill, or any other form of birth control. For just that last word: control.
No matter how you do it, you are seeking to be in charge, to plan your life.
Very interesting post: thanks!


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