NFP: Help! I\’m Being Oppressed!

JoAnna Wahlund - Oppressed


According to some of the commenters on Dr. Kaczor\’s post “Does the Catholic Church Hate Women?” at Strange Notions, I\’m just an oppressed victim of an corrupt hierarchy – or something.

Many of the comments on that post (which I thought was excellent, by the way) left me baffled. I have to wonder if these people realize just how condescending and patronizing they sound when they tell Catholic women that we\’re all essentially brainwashed automatons incapable of independent thought or action.

That mindset reminds me of a passage from the book I\’m currently reading, \”The Children of Men\” by P.D. James. In this particular passage, the protagonist, Dr. Theo Falon, is talking to the female protagonist, Julian, and trying to convince her to leave a group of dissidents who are against the British government:

“You\’re doing it because you\’re married to Rolf. He\’s dragging you into dreadful danger to satisfy his own ambitions. He can\’t compel you. Leave him. Break free.”

“She [Julian] said gently: \”I can\’t not be married to him. I can\’t leave him. And you\’re wrong, that isn\’t the reason. I\’m with them because this is something I have to do.\”

\”Yes, because Rolf wants you to.\”

\”No, because God wants me to.\”

He wanted to bang his head against the totem pole in his frustration.  \”If you believe He exists, then presumably you believe that He gave you your mind, your intelligence. Use it. I thought you would have been too proud to make such a fool of yourself.\”

\”But she was impervious to such facile blandishments. She said: \”The world is changed not by the self-regarding, but by men and women prepared to make fools of themselves.\”

I\’m used to being called a fool (and worse) as a result of my decision to be a Catholic. I\’m told that being a Catholic woman is just like being trapped in a FLDS cult, so I guess I\’m too brainwashed to realize I\’m being oppressed.

Or maybe I\’m too busy to notice my own oppression – see, I work full-time outside the home and have done so ever since earning my Bachelor of Arts degree in 2003.

Maybe I\’m oppressed, because I have seven children (five on earth and two in heaven), even though my husband and I freely chose to conceive each and every one of them. See, through the Church I learned Natural Family Planning. I use NFP to chart my long and irregular menstrual cycles, so I\’m very cognizant of when I\’m in the fertile phase of my cycle and when conception is most likely.

But apparently the Church is oppressing me when She encourages me to know my body and, with my husband, discern our family size. According to those commenters, I\’m also being oppressed, because the Church controls me by not allowing me to use contraception.

I\’m really confused by that. I\’m still trying to figure out how exactly the Church controls me. If I want contraception, there are three stores within a mile of my house – several within walking distance – that sell condoms and have pharmacies that dispense the Pill. That doesn\’t include the Wal-Mart less than three miles away, where I can purchase hormonal contraceptives at $10 for a 90-day supply if I wanted to do so.

The Church does not physically prohibit me from going to these stores and availing myself of said contraception, nor does she prohibit me from visiting an OB-GYN and obtaining a prescription for same. I don\’t have Swiss Guards standing at my door and following me around whenever I leave the house, making sure I don\’t buy contraceptives (if I did, that\’d be great — maybe I could rope them into free babysitting, or doing the dishes once in a while?).

Does the Church teach that contraceptives are intrinsically immoral? Yes, She does. But the Church does not force me to be a Catholic, and the Church does not force me to adhere to Her teachings.

I wasn\’t always a Catholic, and I knew full well what I was getting into when I became one. I chose, of my own free will, to be a Catholic. I chose, of my own free will, to adhere to those teachings. If a person was born and raised Catholic, there is nothing stopping him/her from denying the Church and going to another denomination, or leaving Christianity altogether. After all, if a woman was convinced that the church was teaching error as doctrine when it came to contraception, why would she want to remain a Catholic? Who would want to remain in a church that teaches error? I certainly wouldn\’t. That\’s why I left the Lutheran church.

If the Church is trying to \”control\” women with Her teachings on contraception, She\’s failing pretty miserably. Granted, the statistic that \”98% of Catholic women use contraception\” has been proven false, but there\’s still an abysmally high number of women who self-identify as Catholic that also use contraception.

So, if anyone can enlighten me on how a Church that I choose to follow of my own free will, and can freely choose to leave at any time, is somehow “controlling” me as a result, I\’d appreciate it. No one yet has been able to explain it to me.

© 2014.  JoAnna Wahlund. All rights reserved.

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6 thoughts on “NFP: Help! I\’m Being Oppressed!”

  1. Swiss guards? No. But the Church does indeed prohibit you from letting your husband use a condom. It is a mortal sin. That carries more weight than ten Swiss guards.

  2. Thank you for writing this, JoAnna!

    I don’t have Swiss Guards standing at my door and following me around
    whenever I leave the house, making sure I don’t buy contraceptives…

    …or nuns with rulers! 😉

  3. I love this JoAnna, and I’m right there with you girl! I was once asked why I would ever want to be a part of something that is so like the “dark ages.” I had to really think before I replied to such a strange question….lol! Great story and so completely relevant to our times in which we are living.

  4. It’s a funny thing. If I had to make a list of the 10 strongest, most independent thinking, influential, go-to for advice, smart, trust worthy, making a difference type woman I know, 8 would be catholic moms with many kids. At least two come to mind who work outside the house. Total opposite of the cultures preconceived idea.
    And just the other day I tried to sneak by those Swiss guards with a pack of condoms and was tackled to the ground. I’m trying to picture a guard with rolled up sleaves and big yellow dish gloves working at the kitchen sink. Hahaha

  5. Nice essay, thanks! I’ve never really understood this complaint from anti-Catholic folks that the Church is somehow controlling people. In 43 years I’ve heard exactly 1 sermon on contraception, none on abortion and nobody from the Church has EVER asked me anything about any of these issues in my life or my own opinions on them. The Catholic Church is a voluntary organization and what each member practices is really left up to the individual. Obviously, there are doctrines and one is supposed to follow them as perfectly as possible, but nobody is checking up on you. This is something that non-Catholics seem to miss quite often.

    1. Hmmm……..someone is kinda checking up on you. That’s why He gave us a conscience. God’s voice within us. 🙂

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