Category Archives: Theology of the Body

50 Shades of Grey: A Picture of Distorted Love

rock

Home, sweet home.

Apparently, I live under a rock. A big one.

Until recently I had no idea about the book 50 Shades of Grey being made into a movie. Back when the book was first released and all the rage, I knew of a couple of women who had read the book, but instantly chalked it up to yet another book that denigrated women, men and marriage.

Essentially an erotic story of a couple’s sadistic relationship, it was hard for me to understand why so many people, especially women, would buy into such a story until I read this article by Dr. Greg Popcak, Why is 50 Shades of Grey So Popular. As Dr. Popcak says, there is always more than one explanation for such things, but his theory that it is linked to repressed femininity strikes true with me.

I’d like to quote his entire article – it is all worth reading and not very long – but I will restrain myself and stick to this blurb which might capture his meaning:

“[T]here is a major theme that I have observed that contributes to the tendency for many–even, apparently, a majority–of women to desire and/or submit themselves to this kind of treatment. Namely, our prevailing culture’s secular-feminist ethic makes it taboo for women to want to be vulnerable in any healthy ways. Women are told they must expect to take care of themselves. They must be strong, self-sufficient and powerful. Of course there is nothing wrong–and everything right–with being a capable, competent woman. But many women are taught that they must take this a step further. They can never allow themselves to be vulnerable. They must be competent at all things, and at all costs. They don’t let themselves need anyone, least of all a man.”

It is at times like this when I feel the message of NFP is needed more than ever. Regardless of the reason couples choose to begin using NFP, through its practice men and women inevitably gain a greater appreciation of the beauty and gift of their sexuality, and a greater respect for each other. Respect leads to love, not use and thus abuse. We were made to love people and use things. The 50 Shades message would have us believe otherwise.

I encourage you to read his article, and then his subsequent one if you would like ideas on how to Fight the Power of 50 Shades of Grey. In addition to Dr. Popcak’s book, Holy Sex!, below are some books you might want to check out if interested in learning more about true femininity and masculinity:

 

Pope Francis & Responsible Parenthood

Who can be surprised to hear that the news and social media are portraying Pope Francis incorrectly? I love our Pope! I am so grateful that he fearlessly proclaims the truth in every situation and sees questions as opportunities of evangelization. He recently seized the moment to comment about responsible parenthood, a term coined in past Church documents.

Responsible parenthood refers to each couple’s virtuous decision to plan or postpone mom-20666_1280conception based on the needs of the family, existing and future. In our sympto-thermal NFP classes, through the Couple Couple League, we teach briefly about how responsible parenthood is a guide for couples’ use in planning their family. In class, couples learn a NFP method of fertility awareness. Responsible parenthood is the next step: taking that information home and prayerfully discerning together what God may be calling them to in light of their circumstances.

Of course, the media tried to spin his words, but it has created another opportunity for the rest of us to dialogue on this seldom referenced topic.

Rather than listen to me ramble on, I recommend reading Dr. Greg Popcak’s review of the Pope’s comments, Pope Francis and Catholic Rabbits-5 Points to Consider. After reading them, I am reminded of how powerful this teaching from the Church truly is, and how empowering! The truth sets us free.

 

A Time of Waiting

Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar

I love the liturgical seasons! Right now we are celebrating Advent, the days leading up to Christmas. Beginning Christmas Day, we celebrate the Christmas season for almost two weeks (this year it is eleven days, leading up to the Feast of the Epiphany). For now, daily Mass readings and liturgical observances allow us to slow down, enjoy each day, not live tomorrow before it comes, while also building anticipation and thus a more joyous celebration when Christmas begins.

I have appreciated the daily Advent reflections by Fr. Robert Barron (if you haven’t heard about or receive them, you can check them out here). Reflecting on the idea of waiting, I have been thinking about the concept of abstinence, and how it is misunderstood today. (I feel compelled to clarify that Fr. Barron does not mention sexual abstinence in his Advent reflections.) It seems that some people see NFP as some sort of non-sex program. (Yet, others equate NFP with large families…?) These misconceptions are often are based on assumptions, hype, and inadequate information.

Couples using Natural Family Planning plan intercourse around the naturally occurring times of fertility and infertility they see on their personal charts. If they desire children, they use the fertile times to have intercourse. If they desire to postpone pregnancy, they use the infertile times. The counter-cultural idea here is that a couple would have to wait before satisfying a sexual desire. What many, many people miss is that intercourse that is truly loving is not a matter of merely satisfying sexual desire: it is becoming one with your spouse through an act of self-giving. When the desire to become united with your spouse comes at a time that would not best serve the other, couple or family, couples practice self-discipline and find other ways to show love for each other, and they often find that these practices strengthen their marriage as well.

Abstinence is self-discipline. We discipline ourselves through exercise, by refraining from eating sweets while on a diet, and establishing routines and schedules in our lives, all to achieve goals. Discipline can be difficult, but when we value the goal it is worth the sacrifice, and it makes the goal more worthy, while making us healthier persons.

Abstinence means practicing self-discipline and waiting, as in Advent, to celebrate the gift of each other at the right time. And then! When the time of waiting has passed, the celebration is that much richer.

May God bless us with all the graces needed during our times of waiting, and may we give thanks for them.

Need for Clergy to Preach on Sexuality, Fr. McCaffrey

This (very long overdue!) post is dedicated to an excellent article on the need for clergy to preach more on the topic of sexuality found in Humanae Vitae.

Father Daniel McCaffrey, who on behalf of Natural Family Planning Outreach travels the country speaking on human sexuality, marriage and family life, shares with LifeSiteNews the importance of the upcoming Vatican Synod of Bishops on the Family to address this need. Among other things, Fr. McCaffrey says, “Contraception is a cancer destroying our Church today,” and that, “it’s the root cause, in my opinion, for much of the heartache that the Church has today with regard to marriage.” Click here for the full article.

If interested, you can also find the entire papal encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae, on the Vatican’s website. It is a must read!

The New Evangelization & NFP

How do the two go together? Kind of like this…

800px-Pope_Francis_hugs_a_man_in_his_visit_to_a_rehab_hospital

Photo by Tomaz Silva/ABr (Agência Brasil)

Usually I am a fast reader, but when it comes to papal documents I can only absorb bits at a time. I am only a few pages into Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospel), but already I feel the joyful spirit of Pope Francis’ words reinvigorating my zeal for proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. In this document, Pope Francis is asking us to do just that, you and me, in our own homes, communities, in our everyday interactions with those we meet, to renew our lives with the love and joy of Christ. Personally, while reading his words I hear the Holy Spirit calling me to increase my efforts in proclaiming God’s Good News particularly in promoting Natural Family Planning. How is that evangelizing?

Natural Family Planning (NFP) builds up a culture of life, which means a society that respects the dignity of life from conception to death. NFP does this by freeing couples, and thus society, from the harmful effects of contraception, and the mentality that often corresponds to its use (i.e. “It is okay to harm my body to satisfy my desires or for convenience”). When couples begin to use and understand NFP, they naturally begin to understand and respect their bodies more, and they come to see themselves as more than just a body. They are persons.

When men and women begin to see themselves as persons with dignity and worth, they begin to see others that way as well, and so a proper self-love grows and also becomes a love of “my other self.” Parents who have a proper self-love and love of others transmit this image to their children. Then these people who see themselves and each other as beautiful become a beautiful, holy family. This beautiful, holy family, in turn begins to evangelize society with their loving witness. This is the work we do person to person, couple to couple, when we teach and promote Natural Family Planning.

And thus, this is one small way I can participate in the New Evangelization.

Do you feel Pope Francis’ call to spreading the Joy of the Gospel?

Awesome Resource: 1Flesh.org

Have you heard about 1Flesh yet? A new movement (circa 2012), their goal is to promote natural family planning (non-method-specific) through University chapters and media campaigns, such as the one below.

Their tagline, “Bring Sexy Back,” reminds me of the words of Bl. Pope John Paul II. Though speaking about pornography at the time, it translates well in regards to human sexuality in general (taken from Theology of the Body I believe):

“[…]The problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person,
but that it shows far too little”.

Taking it a step further: the problem with Society’s portrayal of sex is not that it shows too much, but far too little. When people learn the truth about sex, the full and beautiful truth instead of a twisted one, they are liberated. Therefore, I wish 1Flesh all the best in their endeavors!

On CCL’s blog, The Art of NFP, there is an article Christina Ries wrote about her interview with 1Flesh’s president, Marie-Claire Reer. You should check it out here.

Incidentally, there is a 1Flesh chapter at Truman State University. Go Bulldogs!

Green Sex by Jason Evert

Green Sex: The Case for Natural Family Planning

In my opinion, the case for natural family planning has never been so well said. This is a wonderful talk! If you haven’t heard or read anything by Jason Evert, I encourage you to do so. Especially check out his Chastity Project website. Jason is such a dynamic speaker and writer. His enthusiasm is contagious!

A generous friend bought this talk for my husband and I to listen to, and we are so grateful. We both enjoyed it. I hope you have the opportunity to buy it for yourselves as well, or perhaps for a friend.

Before listening, I (ahem) thought I would know most of what Jason would talk about because so much of our teacher training for CCL covers Church documents and teaching, among other things. Jason’s approach is totally different from what I expected. For those that might suspect it, this is not a talk about, “how you should be using NFP because contraception is evil.” It progresses very naturally and beautifully beginning with God’s original design for sex and ending with a wonderful description of all the benefits of natural family planning. Why contraception harms us on so many levels makes sense when we understand it from the full perspective; when we take a step back and look at the big picture.

Some of my favorite images from this talk include his description of the traditional Jewish betrothal ceremony. How a Jewish man would propose to his beloved; how her drinking the cup with him was a sign of her acceptance; how he would then, “go to prepare a place,” for his bride; and that “only his father would know” the wedding date as it would be for him to decide. Jason goes into more detail about this and how it all ties into Scripture, as an analogy Jesus used to describe for us the relationship God is calling us to in union with Him in heaven. Jason expounds on the beauty of the marital embrace, how when there is a need for family planning, NFP is the best option because contraception degrades this beautiful gift and hurts us. This is just a sampling. Nothing can substitute for actually listening to the talk yourself.

This has topped my personal favorites chart. Like a favorite book, this is one I will listen to over and over again. I hope in some future posts to explain more fully some of the things I have learned from Jason’s talk, and pull in some other sources. In the meanwhile, go to Lighthouse Catholic Media and check it out for yourself!