Sunday, August 10, 2008
Natural Family Planning: A nice article, a cheesy picture
Taking a page from Catholic doctrine, Protestants are avoiding artificial contraception for religious reasons
By Eileen E. Flynn -- AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Sunday, August 10, 2008
"Phaedra Taylor abstained from sex until marriage. But she began researching birth control methods before she was even engaged, and by the time she married David Taylor, she was already charting her fertility. . . ."
We didn't know the newspaper article would make front page of Sunday's Austin American Statesman. We didn't know they'd choose a very, very cheesy picture. "Ahhhh, wife, you look so lovely sitting there to my left." "No, husband, you look lovely." "No, darling, you do. And now let's just sit here and gaaaaaaze at each other while we hold for 300,000 people to see a record of how many times we've had sex in the last month." "Yes, let's gaze. I love gazing. Ahhh."
But after all these years of trying to get the Statesman to print something about the church and the arts in Austin I now have the honor of having a portion of my sex life on the front page.
Eileen Flynn did a good job, I thought. Naturally she wasn't able to say everything that could be said about NFP or any of our various experiences (see the lively comments section to view un-boring opinions). Shoot, Phaedra and I have been married only 6 months. We represent a very small part of what is a grand experiment and experience by the communion of living saints around the world, most of them Catholic, plenty of them married vastly longer than ourselves.
But Eileen's doing solid work here in Austin covering its religion beat. I respect her as a journalist. I'm glad she got ahold of Amy Laura Hall. Dr. Hall's a sharp cookie. If I end up studying at Duke Divinity I'm sure our paths would cross often. And way to go Katie Fox.
The topic of what we do with our bodies, in particular the sexual part, is volatile stuff. For your average Austinite I imagine they view it as a right--to do with it as they please, so long as they "do others no harm," however that's interpreted. For me it's straight-up theology: what it means not to have a body but to be a body, the incarnation, the resurrection, the relational dimension of our embodiedness, etc. On my end it's presently more theology than biology since the weight of the NFP physical experience lands more heavily on Phaedra. But I'm with her 100%.
And I've got plenty to learn. It's stretching my sense of what it means to be a man. On our wedding day I spoke these words: "With my body I thee worship." My body is not my own. I want my body to honor Phaedra and I want to honor hers. NFP is teaching me how truly my body is not mine to do with as I please. It's mine to steward. It's mine to give in love. And that is easier said than done, thank you very much.
As we got out of the car this afternoon after a long day of church and lunch with family, we half expected our neighbors, while pushing the lawn mower or washing the car, to wave at us, Truman Show-like: "Hey Taylors! How's your sex today?" And then give us a thumbs up.
It's a weird feeling to see the piece in today's paper. But if it encourages somebody out there to think more deeply not so much about NFP, as about sex and marriage and the mystery of both, then that's fine with us. Even better, in honor of our good friend and counsellor, Kyle Miller, if this piece inspires one spouse to pluck the courage to say to the other spouse, "Honey, can we have a conversation about our sex life at some point in the near future? I think it might be good to have a check in," then it will have achieved a very beautiful thing.