Let’s talk about a basic human need: food.
What is your favorite food to eat? Maybe you have a sweet tooth and a warm fudgy brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate sauce is what tempts you. Or, perhaps you prefer something a bit more savory like a big plate of nachos with smooth, melted cheese, fiery jalapeño peppers and olives just salty enough to remind you to drink that ice-cold glass of soda sweating on the table next to you. Is it succulent fresh lobster tail dripping with hot, melted butter? Is it a thick, juicy filet mignon seasoned to perfection?
We are attracted to foods because they’re tasty. Probably, at least one of the foods described above sounds delicious to you and may have made your mouth water just thinking about it.
What happens if a person decides that he will only consume foods that taste good? What if he decides that from now on he will only eat for pleasure - whatever tastes best to him? It won’t be long before he will start to suffer the ill effects of his decision. He may become deficient in vital nutrients and his health may suffer; he may find he has less energy to do the things he needs to do; he may find it difficult to concentrate or focus on tasks. But why has this happened? Food is meant to taste good; there is nothing wrong with finding pleasure in eating. So what’s wrong with only eating foods that he finds delicious?
What’s wrong is he forgot the other vital purpose of food. Its nutritive qualities.
Food also supplies the fuel the body needs to sustain us in our daily lives. Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals are all important components in our food. In fact, in order for our bodies to function optimally, we have to get enough of everything, but not too much of any one thing.
Because we know that food has nutritional value, most of us eat more than just brownies and lobster. We also eat our steamed vegetables, our grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts, our apple or orange for a snack. And because man does not live on whole grain bread alone, we allow ourselves to enjoy an ice cream cone on a hot, summer evening, knowing that it is appropriate to enjoy our food as well as to get nutritional value from it.
Sexual intercourse also has two purposes. It is both unitive and procreative. Is it any wonder that, much like with food, when we divorce ourselves from one of its purposes we suffer harmful consequences?
Today’s contraceptive culture has told people that they can engage in the unitive aspect of sex while insulating themselves from the procreative aspect of it. The hook-up culture goes a step further than that even by telling people that they can have all the fun of sex, without any commitment whatsoever to their sexual partner and, of course, without the commitment to any lives that may be created in the process. What has been the result of these messages?
The pain of a broken heart when a girl finds that he was only after one thing. The pain of a vaccination against a disease that could have been prevented by abstinence until marriage. The pain of an STD that has robbed a couple of their fertility. The pain of a child being raised in poverty because his mother can’t identify his father. The pain of lost self-esteem when a person’s been used time and time again for another’s pleasure.
For a moment, consider the other extreme. What results when couples focus only on the procreative aspects of sex? Sadly, the outcome is more pain.
The pain of a couple who has forgotten how to enjoy each other in their quest to have a child. The pain of invasive and dehumanizing medical procedures meant to produce a child at any cost. The pain of a father working three jobs to support a family he sees only in passing. The pain of a mother’s depression as her body struggles to keep up with the demands of pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing.
Reject these lies that bring destruction, pain and misery to so many people!
Modern Natural Family Planning methods allow couples to enjoy both aspects of their sexuality. NFP users recognize and are open to the possibility of life with every encounter. Couples are encouraged to let the fruit of the Spirit flourish in their lives by practicing patience, faithfulness, gentleness and, most of all, self-control. By embracing the natural rhythms of our bodies we enjoy both the unitive and procreative aspects of this powerful gift and bring balance to our lives and glory to our heavenly Father.