So you’re going to have a baby. Congratulations! Now let’s sit down and discuss how much that’s going to cost you, exactly. I think the going rate is like 300K from birth through college, but I don’t really have time to google it. So be my guest. Anyway it’s a crapload of money, so I hope you’ve got a great job, a banging 401K, and an unlimited slush fund for plastic surgery, because also, your midsection is headed down the road to ruin.
I’ve heard over and over again from plenty of people all the reasons why having more kids is stupid/too expensive/too dangerous/not possible in their situation.
I don’t want to make light of suffering and real, incredible hardships. Are there couples who absolutely cannot find another penny to afford another morsel of bread or drop of milk to sustain the lives of their children and should therefore be conscientiously choosing to postpone or avoid the conception of additional offspring. Absolutely. All over the world. In our county too. There are couples who are suffering and whose families are under incredible strain, both financial and otherwise.
And to these couples the Church champions the ONLY sane, compassionate and 100% failsafe approach, and that is abstinence during times of fertility.
To act otherwise, to do the thing with your body that says “I am open to life, I am doing the thing which has the potential to create new life” and then to be shocked or saddened or horrified when life finds a way (as it often does, Dr. Grant) is madness.
Here’s the bottom line here: when there is a circumstance that would make having another baby absolutely positively bat shit out of control crazy … you should not have sex, which is how babies are made.
Now let’s talk about the less serious issues driving the “we just can’t have any (more)” narrative. I get it, kids are expensive. The economy is crazy. Life is uncertain.
But that’s just it. Life is uncertain. You never know what the next year or hell, even the next day is going to bring. There’s just no way to entirely leverage your risk and manage your exposure in this life. And that includes the realm of family planning.
Now, the Church does not encourage wild, unfettered pop-em-till-you-drop copulation at the expense of the mother’s (or father’s, or family’s) health or sanity. That’s a tired old stereotype that was probably born out of some poor pastoral care and some truth. But we have such beautiful, life giving and profoundly freeing teachings on sex and love and marriage literally at our fingertips. It’s breathtaking.
(Go ahead and google “Humanae Vitae” right now. I’ll wait. Okay, now leave it open in your window and promise you’ll read it next. It’s like 5 pages long.)
Meanwhile, we are trying so desperately and so futilely to control and to manage and to arrange every single aspect of our lives – it’s as though God is not present at all, or at best is some doddering deadbeat of a deity who grumps at us from the Old Testament and shouts “thou shalt not’s” at us from his celestial perch.
The Church’s teaching on contraception is not a restriction. It is not a “thou shalt not.” It is an invitation to freedom. To wild trust and abandonment. To another way of living, to a fuller way of living. It is, quite simply, utterly counter cultural and completely unreasonable.
But whose standard of reason are we applying?
How’s that working out for us?
I’m extending an invitation to you to take a second look. To open your mind to the possibility that it might not be completely stupid to take the the Bride of Christ, the Catholic Church, at her word when she invites her children to not do the thing which will harm them. Jesus asks hard things of us when we take up our crosses and follow him. Sometimes the hard things are shaped like babies. And sometimes they’re shaped like seasons of abstinence and self denial. And sometimes they’re shaped like little pink pill cases nestled into the bottom of the bathroom trash can, opening up a new chapter and a new season of possibility.