While engaged, my husband and I decided to take an unnerving leap of faith and not use artificial contraception in our marriage. A friend who knew this recommended a book to me. While I didn’t agree with its entire worldview, the book was a sweet and earnest celebration of marital love and rebuke of contraceptive culture. The most unusual thing about it, however, was that it was written by a Protestant couple. I found it to be a useful resource in that regard, as it allowed me to share the message of natural family planning with non-Catholic friends.
Years later, she contacted me with a disheartening update. Five years and four children after its publication, the couple had taken to their blog to publicly repudiate the message of their book. Three years after that, they had divorced. The next year, they had taken the book out of print and become agnostic (her) and pantheistic (him).
In the message to the followers of their blog, they compared their former position on contraception to the Pharisees, about whom Jesus said, “They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders” (Matthew 23:4).
I was heartbroken to learn of the crises of faith and personal tragedy of divorce in this family, but I was angry to see them misrepresenting Jesus’ words, twisting them to try to convince their followers to take what they now (mistakenly) believed to be an easier path.
The Pharisees, “preach but they do not practice,” “their works are performed to be seen,” their goal is “places of honor at banquets” (Matthew 23:2-6). If any of that applied to the couple promoting natural family planning, then certainly they owed their followers an apology.
But there is a big difference between inauthentic acts of religious show by the Pharisees, and the sincere sharing of difficult truths by people trying to live our faith. We should all avoid the first. But we must embrace the second. And we shouldn’t misquote Jesus to try to get out of it.Live our faith. // @kendra_tierney Click To Tweet
Have you listened to Dr. Janet E. Smith’s talk, “Contraception, Why Not?” Nineteen years and ten children later, Kendra still believes not contracepting is a burden well-worth bearing.
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