Today I had the opportunity to meet about fifteen seminarians from around the country. With each, I discussed a different life issue, depending on the particular interest of each seminarian. For some it was current events, for others it was activism, and for others it was all an area of interest because this was their first encounter with the pro-life movement. The most compelling discussion was with Eric from Portland, Oregon. With him, the area of interest was a proper understand of human sexuality.
In the other brief discussions, I noticed that we focused on the defensive, on each little battle that is being fought by the pro-life movement. It is clear that while pro-life warriors fight on one narrowly focused front of abortion, the root of the problem of the culture of death continues to thrive. Currently, their tragic victory is expressing itself in legalized homosexual unions, OTC status for Plan B emergency contraceptives, sex-promotion education to our youngsters, destructive embryonic research, and more. A quick glance at Life Site News, or any other pro-life news source, reveals a shocking amount of current events that are on our plate.
One thing is missing from the pro-life agenda, however. The pro-life agenda is missing the call to promote the proper understanding of human sexuality. Bloody pictures of aborted babies, statistics that show a plummeting population due to disease and low birth rates, and studies showing that children are raised better in a traditional home will not convert hearts. They will only serve as evidence of the culture of death.
The answer lies in getting back to the basics of our human sexual relationships. Pro-abortion groups such as the Planned Parenthood recently celebrated a dark anniversary, the 40th year of legalized contraception. Pro-life forces said nothing. The pro-abortion forces used this opportunity to call for a greater use of and accessibility to contraception not only for Americans, but for people in all nations of every age, especially the young, poor and minorities. Margaret Sanger's birth control movement started with the conviction that birth control must be "legal and accessible," and grew to the barbarism of legalized, restriction-free abortion a few short years later.
The root of the culture of death is seen most tangibly in the common practice of contraception. Though most young Catholics do not understand the Church's teachings on birth regulation, most reject her teachings during or before high school. This is in part due to the sex education programs pushed by pro-abortion forces such as Planned Parenthood. When the time for marriage comes, their misunderstandings and rejections follow them, breaking down a marriage even before it has begun.
Marriage preparation classes are meant to introduce couples to the reality of married life, including the blunt truth about contraception. Sadly, most couples I have spoken with hear only one line about NFP during these classes, and that line says it is "one of many options" that a couple may choose in "following their consciences" in planning their family. Couples remain ignorant of the Church's teachings, teachings that are meant ultimately to help them grow in their marital love and lead them to heaven.
The Catholic Church is not yet prepared to fully address this topic. The knowledge is there in the documents of the Church and the writings of intellectuals such as Pope John Paul II in his Theology of the Body. The courage and conviction are not yet present. As new seminarians are being formed and prepared for the priesthood, they are embracing these teachings with vigor and determination. Young, vibrantly Catholic couples must continue to step forward to run marriage preparation courses, giving a true example to couples preparing for marriage.
We must change our game plan and be on the offense. We must, must, must use our influence, resources and talents to restore a proper understanding of human sexuality. With that, all of our other problems will naturally fix themselves. If the pro-abortion movement boldly recognizes that contraception advances their agenda, why can't the pro-life movement recognize urgency of this topic?
Two real life stories on Why we quit contracepting in this week's National Catholic Register.
Marriage prep program modeled on Theology of the Body has been developed by Christopher West. Please contact Ascension Press.