To Cohabitate, or Not to Cohabitate. That is The Question

Celebrity couples live together, regular couples live together, if everyone’s cohabiting, that means there has to be some benefit to it, right? Not so fast…

A new study published by the Institute for Family Studies found that cohabitation is rapidly becoming more popular than marriage, even “shotgun cohabitations” are statically more common than “shotgun marriages.” However, research released by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and The Wheatley Institution at Brigham Young University has reveled that married couples report three key differences in the quality of their relationships than couples who are cohabiting. 

According to the results of this research, the first statistically significant difference in these relationships revels that married couples are more likely to report relationship satisfaction than couples who are cohabiting. After controlling for factors such as age, education, and relationship duration, it was found that 54% of married women report higher levels of satisfaction while married men report 49% relationship satisfaction. When compared to their counterparts of cohabiting women and men, these individuals reported 40% and 35% satisfaction rates, respectively. 

Next it was found that married couples report greater levels of commitment in their relationship than couples who are cohabiting. As the top three reasons for couples to cohabit include convenience, financial benefits, and “to test a relationship,” it should be no surprise that 46% of married couples report higher levels of commitment in their relationship, compared to approximately only 30% of cohabiting couples. 

Finally, research has found that married couples are more likely to report relationship stability than cohabiting couples. When respondents were asked how likely they were to say that their relationship would continue, 54% of married adults reported relationship stability and continuation, while only 28% of cohabiting adults reported stability and a future for their relationship—this includes cohabiting relationships that include children. 

This and further research reveals that cohabitation fundamentally changes the way that couples view marriage. Couples who cohabitate naturally develop the mindset of, “What if it doesn’t work out?” This thought pattern that a cohabiting couple can simply move out and move on with someone else distresses these three important factors of relationship satisfaction, commitment, and stability that are essential to a successful and thriving marriage. 

When discussing these results, the Institute for Family Studies reports, “despite prevailing myths about cohabitation being similar to marriage, when it comes to the relationship quality measures that count—like commitment, satisfaction, and stability—research continues to show that marriage is still the best choice for a strong and stable union.”

For information on how to have a successful and thriving marriage, check out Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five years of Marriage, and find more resources by visiting us at CatholicCounselors.com!

Popcaks to Discuss Paths to Healing with Diocese of Pittsburgh

Lisa and I will serve as the keynote speakers for an event hosted by the Diocese of Pittsburgh intended to help clergy, catechists, parish ministers, and other church personnel minister more effectively to those whose faith has been shaken by the scandal of clerical abuse.  Our talk, titled, Dealing with Desecrations: Pathways of Healing for Spiritual Trauma, will explore healthy ways to respond to the spiritual wounds caused by the scandal in the church due to clerical abuse.

We’ll explore research describing the process of recovery from spiritual trauma and other “desecrations,” the term used by psychologists-of-religion to describe events that threaten a person’s faith or make it difficult for people to access spiritual resources in times of trial. We’ll also discuss how spiritual trauma can affect people at different stages of faith development (from childhood to adulthood) and make recommendations for how pastoral ministers can be sensitive to each person’s needs accordingly.

The event, titled, To Whom Shall We Go:How To Accompany Parents, Teens and Children in a Time of Crisis, will be held on October 3rd on the grounds of St Paul Seminary and be open to clergy, parish and diocesan ministers, teachers and catechists. In addition to our keynote, the event will include panel discussions and opportunities for Q&A with pastoral ministers, theologians and canon lawyers from the diocese.

We are humbled to have been asked to assist the Diocese through this difficult time.  Please join us in praying that this event will help to bring healing and grace to the people of Pittsburgh.

The Pope, The APA, and “Born That Way.” What Science Really Says About Homosexuality

As you have most likely read, recent news outlets quote clerical sexual abuse survivor, Juan Carlos Cruz, saying that Pope Francis told him that his homosexuality “does not matter.”  In Juan Carlos’ words, the Holy Father told him,  “You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say.”

What’s Said In the Vatican, Stays in the Vatican

It is hard to know, of course, what Pope Francis did or did not say.  The reports quote Juan Carlos’ recognition of events, not the Pope’s actual words, and no good pastor would ever publicly reveal what was said during pastoral or spiritual direction even if the directee were to make his or her version of those events public.  Such comments are the domain of what the church calls, “the internal forum” and, as such, enjoy an even more serious level of confidentiality than doctor-patient priviledge.

That said, the Holy Father’s reported comments give the faithful another opportunity to address the idea that “science has proven” that LGBT people are “born that way.”

What Science Has To Say

Here is how the American Psychological Association responds to the question, “What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation?” which is posted on their FAQ page titled, “Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality.”

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

So What?

For any Catholic, especially the Pope, to imply or directly state that homosexuality is somehow ordained by God would be both theologically incorrect from a Catholic point of view (see below),  and, even more importantly, scientifically incorrect, since the prevailing, professional view is that we simply don’t know what the origins of homosexuality are.  In light of this, I do find it difficult to imagine that the Pope would have said exactly what Mr. Cruz claims.

Not Lying

Incidentally, I am not accusing Mr. Cruz of lying.  As a counselor, I know that what I say to a client in a session is often repeated to a spouse, child, or other person in a manner that has absolutely no resemblance to what I actually said or meant to say.  The client isn’t lying.  They are simply using their own words to communicate what they honestly thought I meant, or the feeling that I conveyed to them, even if it is not exactly what I said.

I would not be surprised to learn that the Holy Father told Mr. Cruz that God loved him deeply, or that Mr. Cruz’s homosexuality should never be seen as an obstacle to the movement of God’s grace and healing in his life, or that Mr. Cruz deserves the love and support of the Church regardless of his sexual identity, or that God has profound compassion for the struggle Mr Cruz has faced.  All of these things would be thoughtful and authentic pastoral responses to someone in Mr. Cruz’s situation.

Good Pastors Serve The Truth

But a good pastor has an obligation to the truth, as does any Christian.  No client or spiritual directee is ever served well by platitudes, half-truths, or useful fictions, even if they are offered with the best of intentions.  Lying, or misrepresenting the facts, even for a good cause, is still lying.

Even if people were inclined to believe that the Holy Father could arbitrarily change doctrine, even the Pope can’t change science.  The simple fact is, even those scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying LGBT issues, and who would have no objection to asserting that homosexuality was genetic (and, in fact, could be thought to be in favor of such an assertion) can’t bring themselves to make the claim that LGBT persons are “made” to be LGBT from birth.

What YOU Need to Know.

Whatever the Holy Father did or didn’t say to Mr. Cruz, the most important thing for Catholics to know and share with their friends about the Church’s pastoral response to LGBT issues is that neither we nor scientists know why people have the sexual orientation that they do, but that regardless of their orientation, all people are loved by God, invited to share in his life of grace, called to repentance and communion, and deserving of the love and respect of their fellow human beings.

Dr. Greg Popcak is a pastoral counselor, an associate professor of pastoral studies, and the author of Holy Sex!

*NOTE: The following is the what the Catechism teaches about Homosexuality.

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of gravedepravity,140 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”141 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they areChristians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

 

Parenting in the Age of Weinstein

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Almost every day, new allegations of sexual harassment are in the headlines. The #metoo campaign has exposed the abusive behavior of power-brokers in Hollywood and DC helped victims, who have been silenced for too long, find their voices again.

One parent, despairing at the onslaught of depressing headlines and salacious stories recently asked me, “What can we do to raise boys not to act like this?  How can we protect our girls from a culture like this?”  While we can never control every variable, the truth is that parents can do a lot to raise young men who can be respectful of women and young women who know how they deserve to be treated.  Interestingly, the answer to both questions involves the same two things.

Attend to Attachment

Research consistently shows that a child’s attachment style predicts both how likely a child is to victimize others as he or she grows up as well as how likely it is that a child will be able to set appropriate boundaries with those who try to hurt them.

There are three basic attachment styles (secure, anxious, and avoidant) that determine a child’s basic sense of how they should both treat others and expect to be treated by others. Which attachment style a particular child develops is determined by how promptly, generously, and consistently his or her parents respond to the child’s emotional needs.

Securelyattached children are raised by parents who are generous with affection, employ gentle discipline that teaches good behavior instead of merely punishing bad behavior, encourage healthy emotional expression, and model the healthy give-and-take involved in loving relationships.  Securely attached children are naturally empathic, and are naturally repulsed by the idea of using or hurting another person.  They also have a gut-level sense of when they are not being treated properly and so are much more likely to sense and avoid dangerous situations, set boundaries early when someone tries to take advantage of them, and be confident about seeking help when they feel like they are in over their heads.

Anxiously-attached children are raised by parents who tend to be conditional about giving affection and praise, tend to use harsh, emotionally-driven discipline that blames rather than teaches, and tend to be too distracted by their own problems to consistently respond to the child’s emotional needs.  This child grows up feeling like it is their job to make other people meet their needs and it is their fault when other people don’t treat them well.  As adults, anxiously attached children often have a hard time recognizing unhealthy relationships. They tend not to notice that others are treating them badly until its gone too far.  And then, when they do notice, they tend to blame themselves, thinking they somehow caused the problem or even deserve the poor treatment.  This makes it difficult for them to set limits, or seek help.

Avoidantly-attached children are raised by parents who are unaffectionate and emotionally shut-off, tend to use heavy-handed approaches to discipline, and tend to leave children to themselves.  Avoidantly attached children grow up to become adults who, because they have never been taught to connect emotionally or spiritually with others, over-emphasize the importance of sex.  The more seriously avoidant a child’s attachment style is, the more likely that child will be a bully, a sex-addict, or, in the extreme, a sociopath who takes joy in hurting others.

If you want to raise a child who knows how to treat others well and knows how he or she deserves to be treated, the most important thing you can do is teach your child what a healthy relationship looks like by engaging in those practices that promote secure attachment.

LOVE VS. USE

The second most important thing a parent can do to raise children who know how to treat others well and know how they deserve to be treated is to teach kids, from an early age, that everything we do to another person is either ordered toward loving them or using them. When we are affectionate and respectful, when we do things to build them up, or look for ways to make their lives easier or more pleasant, we love others and help them become the persons they are meant to be.  By contrast, when we disregard others, when we are critical, mean, or derogatory, when we use people as a means to some end, or act in ways that say we don’t care about what they are going through, we treat people as things to be used, abused, or neglected.

A Catholics, we believe that the only appropriate response to another person is love, never use.  Children as young as 4 or 5 can understand the difference between love and use in relationships.

Parents who foster healthy attachment and teach their child the difference between loving and using another person from the earliest days not only are prone to raise healthy kids.  They strike a blow against a culture that sees people as objects and relationships as exchanges where the powerful use the less powerful as a means to their selfish ends.

Dr. Greg Popcak is the author of many books including Beyond the Bids and the Bees: The Catholic Guide to Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids.  Visit him at www.CatholicCounselors.com

Think Contraception Prevents Abortion? New Study Says, “You’re Wrong.”

shutterstock--The PillYou’ve probably heard the slogan, “You can’t be opposed to both abortion and contraception.”  Or, alternatively, the accusation,  “If you opposed abortion, why don’t you support greater access to contraception?”  The idea, of course, being that if everyone was on the Pill, we wouldn’t have abortions anymore.  Well, a new study by Britain’s most prominent abortion provider, British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), shows just how wrong that is.

It turns out that over half of women (51%) who procure abortions do so because of the failure of their contraceptive method.  In fact, the study of over 60,000 women, found that contraceptive use contributes to a greater likelihood that women will have later term abortions (20 weeks and later) because they assume they can’t get pregnant using contraception and miss early pregnancy signs as a result.  Late-term abortions are not only more morally objectionable to the general public, they also carry higher health risks for the mother.

In response the study, Anna Furedi, BPAS chief executive said, “Our data shows women cannot control their fertility through contraception alone, even when they are using some of the most effective methods. Family planning is contraception and abortion. Abortion is birth control that women need when their regular method lets them down.”

This finding comes on the heels of an earlier study that found that when the UK decreased funding for contraceptive services, unintended  pregnancy rates actually decreased as well–in direct contradiction to dire predictions by family planning agencies.

And again, the reason for this is that the efficacy of artificial means of family planning are oversold.  Women are led to believe that as long as they are “practicing safe sex” and using one form of artificial contraception or another, they cannot get pregnant.  But because of  both the built-in risk of method failure and life circumstances that prevent perfect use of contraceptives in the real world–many women using artificial means of contraception can find themselves pregnant and scared.  They are, in essence, being set up to feel that they need abortion by the very agencies that promote contraception and abortion services.

Again, Ms. Furedi says, “When you encourage women to use contraception, you give them the sense that they can control their fertility – but if you do not provide safe abortion services when that contraception fails you are doing them a great disservice.”

The research is clear.  Artificial contraception use increases the likelihood of both unintended pregnancy and abortion and, in fact, increases the potential that a woman will choose a higher-risk, later-term abortion because of her misplaced confidence in her method of artificial contraception.

Despite what the anti-science left would have you believe, the only way to be truly opposed to abortion is to oppose artificial contraception and promote life-affirming, relationship-building methods of family planning, like Natural Family Planning and Fertility Awareness Methods. To learn more about you can experience a healthier, happier, and more graceful sexual life, check out Holy Sex! The Catholic Guide To Mind-Blowing, Toe-Curling, Infallible Loving. 

When Sex Isn’t About Sex: 3 Things You Need to Know

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The Church’s teachings on sex and love are among most provocative and the least understood things in Catholicism.  What difference does it make what we do in the bedroom?  Does God really care about our sex lives that much?

St John Paul’s Theology of the Body reminds us that the Church’s teachings on love and sex aren’t just about sex, they are ultimately the way that lay people can give their whole selves–soul, mind, and body–to Christ.  Because of the incarnation, Christianity is an embodied spirituality that has to be expressed not just spiritually or mentally, but concretely and physically.  Just like clergy and religious practice celibacy as a way of giving themselves totally and completely to God, living the Catholic vision of love and sex is the way lay Christians can make a total loving response to Jesus giving himself to us body, blood, soul, and divinity. God holds nothing back from us, even taking on a body so that we could feel his love more concretely. How can we hold anything back from Him. God doesn’t just deserve our minds and hearts. He deserves for us to dedicate our bodies to his service. Living the Catholic vision of love isn’t always easy, but it is a privilege that lets us make an embodied response to Christ’s gift of his body to us.

Whether you’re a life-long Catholic or just learning about the faith, there are three things that you may not have known about the Church’s teaching on sex and sexuality!

1. Your Body is A Prayer–Most people tend to think that as long as they pray and go to church, what they do with their bodies doesn’t really matter.  But this belief is a heresy called gnosticism.  Gnosticism is the disembodied spirituality that grew up alongside of Christianity but has always been rejected by the Church since the beginning. God created our bodies. He pronounced them good. He loves our bodies so much that he plans to save not just our souls but our bodies too, that’s what believing in the resurrection of the body means! For the Christian, the body isn’t just something we can choose to do with as we please. It is a prayer, that allows us to be God’s physical presence in the world.  When we use our bodies in ways that God didn’t intend, its like defacing the image of God. Treat your body like the prayer it is. Dedicate yourself to learning how to use your body to love others only in the ways that respect God design of your body and the godly purpose of your body–that is, to bring his free, total, faithful, and fruitful love to the world.

2. Your Body Requires Healing–Most people recognize the value of diet and exercise.  These things are hard, and often, not a lot of fun, but we do them because we recognize that our bodies don’t always tell us what is best for them. Because of sin, our body’s desires are out of whack with reality. If we give our body whatever it says it wants when it says it wants it, we’ll become sluggish and unhealthy.  But if that’s true in the way our body’s express its appetites for food and for rest, isn’t it the same with the way our body expresses its appetite for love?  The desires for food, rest, and love aren’t bad, but sin makes the body want to express those desires in ways that are bad for us and others, and can even make us sick. Like a healthy diet and exercise, practicing Catholic teachings about love and sex bears tremendous benefits.  Maintaining a healthy diet teaches us to eat well.  Maintaining a healthy exercise schedule trains our bodies to move well.  And practicing the Catholic vision of love heals our body so that it can love well.  Our bodies require healing to be as whole and healthy as God created them to be.  Let God give you the healing you need to live and love more abundantly.

3. Your Body is a Gift–We tend to think that what we do with our body is entirely personal. That’s why so many people believe the pro-abortion statement, “My body, my choice.” But the Christian knows that our body is meant to be a gift. We were given our bodies not to do whatever WE want with them, but so that we can work for the good of other people. Each one of us is, literally, God’s gift to the world, and our bodies are the means of communicating that gift. If you wanted to give someone a gift, would you just throw it at them? Or try to shame them into accepting it at some inappropriate time? Or just leave it laying around? Of course not! You’d look for just the right way, just the right time, to give the person you loved your gift in a way that would be really meaningful. Not just once, but EVERY time you gave them a gift. Practicing the Catholic vision of love allows you to pick the right way, the right time, and the right means by which to give the gift of yourself in the most meaningful and beautiful way to the person you love. Your body is a gift. Practice the Catholic vision of love and learn to appreciate it for the gift it is.

For more information on the Church’s teaching on sex and sexuality, check out my book, Holy Sex! and discover many more resources—including information about Catholic counseling services—at www.CatholicCounselors.com

Zombie Apocalypse: Spirituality, Sex, and the Lay Vocation

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At the upcoming USCCB Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando, my wife and co-author, Lisa Popcak, will be leading a panel titled, The Family and Sexuality:  Challenges and Opportunities.  One of the first questions the panel will address is, “What is often overlooked when attempting to evangelize people about the Catholic vision of sex and love especially in marriage and family life?”

Our response? The single most overlooked point  in communicating the importance of the Church’s view on sex in marriage is that sex stands at the center of the lay vocation. Attempting to practice a lay spirituality while ignoring sex is like living a zombie spirituality that divorces the body from the soul.  If the Church is serious about the universal call to holiness, she has to get serious about proclaiming and helping people live the Catholic vision of sex and love.  What am I talking about?  I’m glad you asked.

 

Lay People: Spiritual Also-Rans?

Historically speaking, until Vatican II, lay people were all-but officially considered to be “spiritual also-rans” who, if they wanted to be serious about their faith, were welcome to borrow whatever spiritual equipment (e.g., Liturgy of the Hours, Lectio Divina, contemplative prayer, etc.) they could from the spiritual A-Team—clergy and religious.

But it isn’t always easy for lay people to use these tools.  Lisa and I regularly hear from listeners to More2Life who complain, “Since I had kids, I just don’t have time to pray like I used to.”  The problem isn’t that lay people are spiritually lax.  It’s that many of the tools Catholics consider to be our spiritual stock-in-trade were primarily developed for clergy and religious and don’t easily translate to life in the domestic church.

Until Vatican II’s earth-shattering proclamation of the “universal call to holiness” declaring that priests, religious, and lay people alike are capable of real sanctity, no one really considered what an authentically home-grown, lay approach to spirituality would even consist of.

 

Lay Spirituality:  A New Approach

Enter St John Paul the Great. As (effectively) the first post-Vatican II pope, he dedicated his life to laying the foundations of a lay spirituality that fit the demands of the domestic church.  Because lay people’s lives are consumed the minutiae of paying bills and raising families, he made St. Therese of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church. Her “Little Way” of holiness offers a path to sainthood that consists of doing even these little things with great love. Acknowledging how few examples of sanctity the Church offered to lay people, he canonized more lay and married saints than any pope before him.  Considering the challenges lay people face trying to live a holy life in the midst of a troubled world, he promoted devotion to Divine Mercy.  Viewing the rosary as the layperson’s easiest entrée into contemplative prayer, he wrote an apostolic letter on how to pray it properly and added an entire set of mysteries highlighting events every family could relate to; a baptism, a wedding, teaching children life lessons through stories, a father raising up his beloved son, a family meal.

And the crown jewel in this effort? St John Paul’s Theology of the Body, through which, week-after-week, over the course of 129 Wednesday audiences, he promoted a marriage-centric, nuptial view of the pursuit of holiness, the sacraments, salvation history, the Church, and the gospel itself.

 

Sex: The Heart of the Lay Vocation

And what was at the center of the Theology of the Body, this massive reflection on lay spirituality?  Sex.  Why?  Not, as some critics alleged, because St John Paul had a weird obsession with pelvic issues,  but because virtually every waking moment of the lay person’s life is spent seeking a mate, maintaining their relationship with their mate, conceiving children, dealing with struggles related to conceiving children, and raising those children to find good and godly spouses. It all comes down to tasks related, in one way or another to sex and sexuality.

Christianity is an incarnational faith. It begins with conception; with God emptying himself and becoming embodied.  As such, an authentically Christian spiritual life must also be embodied. If celibacy allows priests and religious to dedicate their bodies to work for the good of God’s Kingdom, how could a lay person share in this work? The Theology of the Body answers this question by encouraging lay people to resist the secular world’s reconception of fertility as a disease, and to refuse to engage in sexual practices that treat people as sexual objects, create barriers to the two becoming one flesh, and think of children merely as a burden.

That’s why any lay spirituality that seeks to divorce itself from the sexual character of the lay vocation is little more than a zombie spirituality; a body stumbling around desperately seeking redemption for its basic hungers. Christians, especially lay Christians, can do better. It’s time for Church to give lay people their rightful spiritual inheritance by boldly proclaiming and supporting lay people in living an authentic, embodied, home-grown, nuptial, spiritual life.  And it is time for lay people to claim their sacred right to live the universal call to holiness in the unique ways only lay people can.

When we talk about the Church’s teaching on sexual love, and NFP in particular, we as a Church need to do a better job to help people see that we aren’t just talking about a way to regulate fertility. We’re really talking about the foundations of a lay spirituality where couples join priests and religious in bringing their sexuality to God for the greater glory of his Kingdom and the building of an authentic Civilization of Love.

To learn more about how you can begin to celebrate the Catholic vision of in a way that can invigorate every part of your life–especially your spiritual life–check out Holy Sex! The Catholic Guide to Mind-Blowing, Toe-Curling, Infallible Loving

Hormonal Contraception Affects Future Children’s Health (UPDATED)

Image via Shutterstock.com

Image via Shutterstock.com

A new study published in the journal, Evolution Psychological Science found that hormonal contraceptives make women prone to choose mates with an immune system to their own.  This study found that children born to these couples are more sickly, more susceptible to common illnesses, and require more trips to the doctor do children of women who were not on the pill when they chose a mate.

According to one of the authors of the study,

One cue for mate suitability is odor, which signals compatibility between potential mates’ immune systems. Specifically, odor indicates the extent of overlapping between potential mates’ immune systems, such that more attractive odor signals less overlap between mates’ immune systems. The larger the dissimilarity between mates’ immune systems, the more threats the immune system can combat…..

Unfortunately, contraceptive pill use interferes with mate selection and reverses the natural preference for mates with dissimilar immune system, such that women prefer the odor of partners with similar immune system over that of partners with dissimilar immune system while on contraceptive pills2. This shift in preferences corresponds to the one occurring across the menstrual cycle. In particular, naturally cycling women experience male preference shift throughout their menstrual cycle that helps them obtain resources relevant to their current fertility status (fertile versus infertile).

…Results have revealed that children to mothers who were on the pill are more infection-prone, require more medical care, suffer from a higher frequency of common sicknesses, and are perceived as generally less healthy than children whose parents met on non-pill circumstances. These findings indicate that a key factor in securing children’s future might be traced to a choice people made years before their children were born: the decision to use a contraceptive pill. 

The aftermath of these numbers is gloomy: The immune system of current-generation children might be more fragile than that of our ancestors, leaving the current and future generations more susceptible to pathogens and more dependent on medical care as its effective line of defense.

Previously on this blog, I have shared the mounting research demonstrating that the Pill leads to a host of medical and behavioral complications, that the Pill use leads to an exponentially higher rate of depression for women in general and teen girls in particular,  and that the Pill is bad for the environment.  Now we find that the Pill is poisoning future generations of children, making them more susceptible to disease, increasing the need for more antibiotic use, which leads to the evolution of more antibiotic resistant superbugs.  The Pill is, literally, killing us.

How much longer will people continue to perpetuate the myth that Hormonal Contraceptives are a safe, healthy means of promoting “reproductive freedom.”  True freedom comes from knowledge.  Natural Family Planning gives women the knowledge they need about their bodies to exercise TRULY healthy, safe, ethical choices about family planning.   NFP is not without its challenges, but at least it isn’t poisoning you, the environment, and your future children’s health.  In fact NFP promotes good health practices by giving women better knowledge about how their bodies work and when they are not working properly.  NFP promotes healthy mate selection by letting women know in advance if a man is too immature or selfish to be a good mate. It strengthens relationships by making couples do the hard work true intimacy requires.  It is good for the environment because it is completely natural.  And it does not jeopardize your future children’s health in any way.

The truth will set you free.  The sooner the world acknowledges the truth of Catholic teaching that rejects artificial means of contraception in favor of Natural Family Planning and Fertility Awareness Methods, the sooner we will all be free to live healthier, happier lives. To discover how you can experience the joy and freedom that comes from living the Catholic vision of love, check out Holy Sex!  The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-blowing, Infallible Loving.

(Note: the original article neglected proper citations. That has been corrected.  I regret the error and thank my conscientious readers for bringing it to my attention.)

Does My Husband Have a Right to Sex?

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On her Facebook page, Rose Sweet, who has a wonderful ministry to divorced Catholics, posted the troubling story of a woman whose husband was cheating on her.  The couple’s pastor counseled the wife that her decision to place a moratorium on her sexual relationship with her husband as long as he was cheating on him actually placed an undue burden on her cheating husband and was driving him away further in part, because sex is a “right” of marriage.

A little clarification might be in order. Yes, according to the Church, sex is a “right” of marriage. But the Church defines “right” a little differently than the world does.

To say that sex is a “right” of marriage means that marriage is the right place for people to have sex. It does not mean you have a license to demand sex no matter what.

Marriage is the normative–that is, “right”–place for sexual love to be expressed between a man and a woman. Assuming a healthy, loving respectful relationship, this is true. It is also true, as St. John Paul observed that a couple who does not love, respect and cherish each other could very well commit the sin of adultery even in marriage by using each other as objects rather than loving each other as persons.

Assuming you have a healthy, loving, cherishing relationship, marriage is the right place for sexual love to be shared. If you don’t have that kind of marriage, then you have a right to stop having sex and start learning how to actually love each other.

Older texts on moral theology and canon law tend to use words like “right” and “marital debt” when discussing sex.  These words are technical terms and taking them at face value can lead to a lot of problems.

Properly understood, referring to sex as a debt that husbands and wives owe to each other means that, in a loving marriage, loving spouses do not have a right to withhold sex from each other.  As St Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 7:5

The husband should fulfill his duty toward his wife, and likewise the wife toward her husband. A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife. Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another….

All of this means that marriage is the right place for sexual love to be expressed–assuming the couple is living their marriage as the Church defines it. Namely, as an “intimate partnership.” (c.f., Gaudium et Spes).

But there is a deeper debt the married couple owes to each other that precedes sexual union. They owe each other the love, respect, cherishing that characterized their dating relationship—the relationship that continues to serve as the foundation for their marriage. Sex, if you will, is the house that sits on this foundation of love, respect, and cherishing. If the “foundation” (love, respect, and cherishing)  is bad, the “house” (sex)  is unsafe to live in. Why? Because if love, respect, and cherishing are absent, sex stops being sex and becomes mere lust and using. Marriage is no place for lust and use.

No one has a right to abuse someone else. No one owes someone else the “debt” of using them.

To discover more about how you can live the Catholic vision of love and sex in ways that are healthy and fulfilling, check out Holy Sex: The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving.

The Common Pill That Negatively Effects Women’s Wellbeing

shutterstock--The Pill

In the secular world, birth control is essentially represented as a worry-free form of contraception. However, new research suggests that this may not be the case.

Dr Niklas Zethraeus, a scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, stated, “Despite the fact that an estimated 100 million women around the world use contraceptive pills we know surprisingly little today about the pill’s effect on women’s health.” This fact prompted the study of 340 healthy women between the ages of 18 and 25, divided equally into two groups: a group who took a combination of ethinylestradiol and levonorgestre and a control group who received a placebo.

The results of this study indicated that the women who took a combination of ethinylestradiol and levonorgestre (a common combination for contraception pills) reported lower mood, self-control, and energy. While there was not a significant difference in risk of depression when compared to the control group, the remaining negative side effects were undeniable. Moreover, after three months, women taking the pill reported a general lower quality of life.

For more information on how you can celebrate a healthier, more intimate and graceful approach to sex, marriage. and family planning, check out Holy Sex! and tune in to More2Life, Monday-Friday 10am E/9am C, on EWTN Global Catholic Radio – SiriusXM 139