It’s Been 50 Years Since Humanae Vitae, How Do I Tell My Friend’s Contraception Remains Wrong Today?
Q: How do I have a candid modern conversation with my best girl friends about contraception? They’re on the pill and want to ask me why I think it’s wrong, but how do I articulate in a way that will really make them think twice? I don’t want to miss the opportunity.
By: Anamaria Scaperlanda Biddick
A: How wonderful that you have friends who are willing to consider something that they are doing is wrong! What a testament to their humility – how few of us are open enough to look at our own actions for moral failure. As you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in talking with them, keep the gift of their openness and humility in mind.
Begin, of course, in prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your conversation and speak to their hearts. As you pray, think of your friend: would a letter or an in person conversation work best for both of you? What aspect of the failings of contraception would most resonant with her? Think of each friend, individually—and, if at all possible, talk to each friend individually.
For example, when one of my best friends from college was engaged, she asked me why contraception was wrong. She was open to the idea that it was, but she just wasn’t convinced. At the time, I was single and not anywhere close to marrying, which made me feel utterly unqualified to give any sort of advice to a woman who would be married in a short time. She first asked me over the phone, and I, in my lack of anything close to real-life experience, hemmed and hawed in embarrassment. In the end, although she would have listened in person, I wrote her a letter. As I wrote and prayed, I thought of her: she taught me a new celebration of the embodiment of the human person. She saw our bodies as a gift. I thanked her for helping me understand that in a new way and told her that our fertility is part of that gift. Contraception thwarts that gift, treats the gift like it is a mistake. Embracing our fertility, both by having babies and by using natural child spacing methods, respects that gift.
Another woman from my church, during our first meeting, told me that she had a lot of brokenness in her own family. She didn’t go into details but I could see the pain in her eyes. She told me that she and her husband wanted to wait to have children until things were “right” between them: until they had learned to communicate well and smoothed out differences. Since I had just met her that night, I did not respond then, but if it comes up again, I have a better idea of what to say. Things between husband and wife cannot be right if you are thwarting the very purpose of your life together. Learning to communicate is very commendable but it will not work if your most intimate communication is cut off at the source.
In addition to prayer and contemplation, re-read other people’s arguments. Paul VI’s prophetic encyclical, Humane Vitae. Janet Smith’s articles (or watch her videos). This fantastic blog post by Leila Lawler. They may help sharpen your own thoughts, as long as you remember your friend asked you. She wants to hear why you think it is wrong, in your own voice. You don’t have to be as eloquent as the experts. You need to be prayerful, thoughtful, honest, and real. Many blessings and good luck!
Written by Anamaria Scaperlanda Biddick