Regarding the use of birth control, Fulton J. Sheen says this: “So-called birth control, which assists in neither birth nor control, is based on the philosophy that love is without obligations.”
Fulton is on to something—birth control, when used for contraceptive methods, doesn’t help us to control anything—rather, it allows us to give and take without consequences. It gives us an escape from responsibility. With birth control we fall into a trap of taking, taking, taking—to only look at ourselves and our own needs. It helps us to be one thing: selfish.
Birth control fuels our passions. It fuels our vices. It fuels our love for pleasure. It fuels our desire to control things, hence the name.
Sex is a gift—a gift of one’s very self, so it’s not something we should take lightly. This is a person we are talking about. A person who has value, dignity, and worth. This is you we’re talking about: Your gift of yourself to another.
Imagine giving a gift to someone, but withholding part of it. It’s still a gift. But that wouldn’t be much of a gift, would it?
When we withhold a part of the gift of sex, we are not giving an authentic and full gift of ourselves to another person. This is why sex is so awesome! It’s a beautiful gift of oneself, and it’s meant to be complete, total, and forever.
Sex is meant to be as an expression of a couple’s love for one another, in addition to their openness to that love growing into another person. It’s giving of itself – to the point where another human being could come from it!
But that’s the key: sex is two-fold. You can’t have a partial gift. It isn’t the same. You can’t have sex as God planned without being open to life and desiring to bond with your spouse. Otherwise we objectify one another for pleasure or for children. We treat one another as a means to an end.
Being the master of your own mystery isn’t some weird fancy term I made up; it’s directly from John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Being the master of one’s own mystery essentially means this: knowing who we are, who we were made to be, and what we are worth. It means knowing that we are made for something important: self-gift, and that gift of ourselves is meant to be total and complete. That gift isn’t cheap; it is expensive. That gift is worthy of sacrifice and love. That gift is worthy of more than “love… without obligations,” as Fulton said.
Master your own mystery so that you can experience sex as it was meant to be: free, total, faithful, and fruitful. Master your own mystery so that you may bring life to your spouse, life to your relationship, and perhaps even life to another person. The beauty of sex is that it is mysteriously these two things—union and procreation—and you can have both! You’re worth it.
Ashley Ackerman is first and foremost a daughter of God, and after that she works for His glory as a high school religion teacher, campus minster, speaker, and blogger. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she earned her master’s degree in Theology. You can read more of Ashley’s blog posts by visiting her personal blog, “A Heart Made for Grace” where she shares her musings on all things Catholic.