Monday, January 04, 2010

Planned Children?

The January 2010 issue of Columbia magazine focuses on the pro-life issue. There are wonderful articles on the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative which allows women to see their unborn children, thereby greatly reducing the chance that they will choose to have an abortion, on Villa Maria Guadalupe, a pro-life retreat center celebrating its fifth anniversary, and on Maggie's Place - a community home for pregnant women.

One article really got my goat, however. "What is a Child Worth?" by Anthony Esolen focused on how, as a society, we do not value children. He rightfully condemns the organization "Planned Parenthood," but then goes on to say, "Even supposing the name 'Planned Parenthood' were truthful, there's something timid and child-hating about the idea that parenthood ought to be planned. A timid person will want at all costs to guarantee his security and to make sure of all eventualities. To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, if you plan an adventure, you are not on an adventure. If you engineer joy, it is not joy. The best things in life come to us as gifts. If you plan a child, that child is but an egotistical expression of yourself, your vanities and your caprices. The family is good for us, Chesterton says, precisely because it does not conform to our wishes - because every child born to us comes to disrupt our routine. God gives us children to break open that hard shell of self."

The last sentence "God gives us children to break open that hard shell of self" I agree with 100%. Children make you much less selfish. Your world revolves around someone other than you on a 24/7 basis. The rest of the paragraph, however, I cannot agree with. ALL children are gifts and ALL are planned by God. All parenting is an adventure, and all parenting offers joy (admittedly sometimes more than others!). Attempting to make responsible choices about when to try to have children is not being timid - it is being mature. For those of us who use NFP, it means not giving into our own desires at all times. It requires sacrifice and communication. The idea that any child is planned by us is insane. We humans cannot plan children. We can only place ourselves in a position that makes conception more likely. Ask any number of people who are struggling to have a child, God decides when and if it will happen. God also decides when we need a child, even if we might be of a different opinion. I have a surprise child and he is a tremendous gift. God knew how much we as a family needed him. I've heard of people who have become pregnant using every birth control method known to man (even sterilization). If God thinks it is time for you to have a child, there is no standing in His way. ALL children are planned by God.

1 comment:

Chris Ryland said...

I think Esolen is dead-on.

It sounds like you're struggling to justify the planning aspect of NFP, which, of course, isn't absolute, as you note.

And one serious problem with using NFP is that it can easily become selfish behavior, even though it's a legitimate method.