Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Human Weakness is No Excuse

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me: wonderful are your works! My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you…” – Psalm 139: 13-15

One of the arguments I hear most when people are trying to find reasons not to use natural family planning (NFP) is human weakness. What little faith they have in the most incredible thing on the planet.

Examples of what I’ve heard:
“You can’t honestly rely on the everyday person to abstain from sex.”
“It seems to be working for you. Unfortunately not all women are as devout and strong willed as you seem to be.”
“The less strong and less faithful women are just forced to get pregnant and have an unwanted child.” (Riiiight because someone is forcing them to have sex…)
“Human willpower cannot be depended on to fix anything.”

I’ll admit that my faith does fortify me in doing what I believe to be right. There is no better tool or shield. However, regardless of your faith, a human is capable of extraordinary feats, and yes, abstaining from sex for a few days each cycle is one possible example.
So where did this idea that “human beings will fail if high expectations are set” come from? Haven’t we gone to the moon with a computer less powerful than a smartphone? Haven’t we found ways of performing life-saving surgery with barely the indication of an incision? Haven’t we spanned mountains and seas? The list could go on forever.
This mindset is disheartening for several reasons. The first is that several people gave me the “easy way out” because they thought my human frailty to be too great. On my page about My Story, I noted that I, or someone near me, directly asked experts on the subject matter, doctor and priest, whether birth control was morally/medically OK. Both times I was given an “easy” answer. Just take the pill. They saw a college-aged girl of this generation and underestimated me. “She won’t be able to commit.” Why don’t you let me decide that?
If you set the bar low, then people will only fall further if they fail. What’s the saying, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Seems appropriate.
I say do away with the bar altogether! Why not just give people the facts and let them decide what they are capable of? Why let doctors decide what you are capable of? I want options! I wish my doctor had said, “To treat your irregular cycles and pain, you can start taking vitamins, drinking more water, exercise regularly, and eat healthy, or there’s this pill you take once daily.” Sure the later sounds easier, but what if I wanted to make that decision? The doctor is who I rely on to tell me how to treat my ailments. They are the experts, but they aren’t the experts when it comes to what you and I are capable of.
I wish the priest in my story had told me what Church doctrine was on birth control instead of assuming I’d fail anyway. He is the expert on the subject, but again, not the expert on what you and I are capable of.

And ultimately what were these people shielding me from? I’m sure their intentions were good. They didn’t want to see me have an unwanted pregnancy or continued discomfort. But instead they set me up for mediocrity and potentially caused me more harm than good if I become susceptible to the many harmful and potentially life-threatening side effects of the pill. Also, how many people did I subsequently relay this same information to? I must have told several if not dozens of people what my doctor and priest told me. I was just continuing the cycle until friends of mine didn’t give me the “easy out.”
The human being is an amazing thing. I’ve always known that to some degree, but if there is one thing I’ve learned from NFP that I value more than anything else, it is a profound level of awe at what the human body is and what it is capable of (particularly when it is fertile and when it is not!). I also learned that it is designed beautifully, so much so that it is NOT in fact difficult to learn a form of NFP. After a little bit of learning and practice, it is ridiculously easy and I know my body. It’s incredibly liberating! If the doctor and priest truly knew that, they greatly underestimated me and every other person they spoke to! I won’t do the same thing, and hopefully you don’t underestimate yourself. You are capable of more amazing and good things than you know!

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