A Battle Call – The Fight for Marriage
by Kathleen Billings
This year, on July 25 the Church celebrated the 50th anniversary of one of the most controversial, yet most powerful papal encyclicals ever written in Church history – Humanae Vitae, Of Human Life, written by the recently canonized Pope Paul VI. In this encyclical, St. Pope Paul VI presents us a road map to discover who we are in our nakedness before God and how we are all created to relate, to love, and to be loved. It presents the danger of both contraception and a contraceptive mentality.
When contraception is allowed in marriage, dignity for the human person is lost. It is a natural consequence of taking God out of the marital act; by taking one’s own sexuality into one’s hands, instead of trusting in the Creator’s plan.
Pope Paul VI states, “great fruits are expected when the Divine Law is kept by a devout soul.” Don’t sell yourself short! Marriage is remarkably fulfilling when it is lived as God designed. Do not buy into the lie that contraception is freedom. It actually enslaves you in your own passions, thus rendering you incapable of fully loving and freely giving of yourself in the marital act. Love is not authentic, if it is not free.
Early in our marriage, Troy and I struggled with trusting God with our fertility. Although we practiced natural family planning, we were afraid that pregnancy might come when we were not fully ready for it. Once we fully embraced God’s plan for our family, physically and mentally, our marriage thrived because we were giving of our entire selves as husband and wife. Love between us grew deeper because there was no rejection of what might come as a result of our marital union. To be fully loved is incredible and it is what God desires for married couples to experience through the complete and total gift of self in marital union.
Perhaps you question why you don’t feel fully loved in your marriage or you wonder why your spouse doesn’t feel loved by you enough. If you are contracepting, I urge you to look at this as a plausible first cause. Humanae Vitae states that, “Married love is a love which is total – that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything.” That includes your sexuality. When you make love authentically in freedom and not just ‘have sex’, it is so much more passionate and fulfilling – both emotionally and physically.
The enemy has one goal – to keep us from knowing who we really are; God, however, helps us know who we are. St. John Paul II said, “Be not afraid of the truth of who you are!” Because God became flesh, our bodies are full of meaning. They are not only biological; our bodies are theological. Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body supports and reinforces what Humanae Vitae boldly stated 50 years ago. God’s plan for marriage, presented to us through the beauty of the Catholic Church’s teachings, is worth fighting for.
The battle call is real. As married Catholics we need to fight for the truth of the sacrament of marriage.