Spring is (finally!) in full swing, and with summer right around the corner we have all been audience to endless talk of the “body”. Between Victoria’s Secret’s “ The Perfect ‘Body’” Campaign, the rows and rows of colorful (and, finally, … Continue reading
Today I would like to address a statement that was thrown around after the publication of an article from this blog on the very popular Chastity Project Blog. After reading about my friend Jake, who experiences Same Sex Attraction and has found peace and love in the Holy Roman Catholic Church, many readers felt that it was “so sad” that Jake would be “unable” to “live a full life”, and that the Church was just “so bad” for denying Jake what is clearly a God given right, the joys of a romantic relationship with whomever he should choose.
I’m going to try to make this really clear. I’m even going to put it in capital letters, but don’t feel like I’m yelling at you. I’m not yelling.
BEING GAY IS NOT A SIN. ACTING ON IT IS.
God “makes” people certain ways all the time that he doesn’t want us to act upon. It’s called a cross. In Christian circles, a cross is often referred to as a struggle that one must carry throughout life.
Here are some examples of crosses that many people are called to carry, but called NOT to act upon.
Many people suffer from Depression; it is a combination of life experiences, hormonal imbalances, and natural (usually obsessive or anxious) tendencies that cause depression. Being depressed is not a sin, but committing suicide, or hurting yourself or others, is a sin.
Many people are naturally inclined to anger. Being angry is not a sin, acting out on it in a way that is unnecessary and hurtful is.
Many people (myself included) suffer from Anxiety. Being anxious is not a sin; acting on it in a way that makes one cold, hardened, and controlling, and therefore hurts others is a sin.
Many people struggle with pornography, which is a result of struggling with lust. Desiring sexual intimacy is not a sin, using others in order to gratify your desires is a sin.
God makes people with these crosses all the time. Actually, every single one of us is made with a disordered inclination (or a few) that we need to work our entire lives to control. This is the path to Christian perfection. Just because we are “born this way” (thank you Lady Gaga) doesn’t mean we have the “right” to act on it. A question that I get when I speak to young people about abstinence is, “But haven’t you wanted to have sex with your boyfriends?” The answer shouldn’t be shocking at all. Of course I wanted to have sex with them, that is why I dated them… I was attracted to them, they were attracted to me, I found out they were a good person, they love Jesus…Bam- the recipe for a great potential sexual partner. (aka. Husband)
But here is the catch… just because we want to do something doesn’t mean we should do it. Especially if it would disrespect the dignity of another or myself- and in comes the Catholic definition of chastity:
2339 Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery, which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.126 “Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end.”127
2349 “People should cultivate [chastity] in the way that is suited to their state of life. Some profess virginity or consecrated celibacy, which enables them to give themselves to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner. Others live in the way prescribed for all by the moral law, whether they are married or single.”136 Married people are called to live conjugal chastity; others practice chastity in continence:
There are three forms of the virtue of chastity: the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins. We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others. . . . This is what makes for the richness of the discipline of the Church.137
137: St. Ambrose, De viduis 4,23:PL 16,255A.
The above is taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and is by far not exhaustive, there are many more passages regarding chastity. However, there is not much regarding Homosexuality. It is treated as any other disordered passion, including lust, pornography, etc. Here is what its says:
Chastity and 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 grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 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. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them 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 are Christians, 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.
That last paragraph (2359) could easily replace the words “Homosexual persons” with any of our names.
“Janelle is called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teaches her inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, she can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”
That is not just for me, or people who struggle with SSA (I dislike defining people by their sexual orientation, or referring to them as gay), this is for each and every one of us. Right now, broader society is really bringing attention to this particular group. Soon I am sure people who struggle with polygamy, pedophilia, and other disordered tendencies will make their rounds much like those who support pornography and prostitution have in the past and still do. It is what it is. Our responsibility is to continue to live out chastity, continue to proclaim the Truth, and continue to hold our brothers and sisters to the highest accountability and respect.
In the same way that the Church and faithful friends help Jake to remain accountable, Jake also helps me, as a woman who experiences sexual attraction, to remain accountable to my vow of abstinence until marriage. None of us is better than the other nor are our disordered inclinations more or less holy. We are all just people dealing with various struggles, and we need to come alongside each other to help bring each of us closer to Christ. This is the true purpose of our lives.
“So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.13For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.14Do everything without grumbling or questioning,15that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,among whom you shine like lights in the world,16as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.17But, even if I am poured out as a libationupon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.18In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me” – Philippians 2:12-18
The following is adapted from the tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen
One day long ago, in an Empire far, far away, there was an Emperor, and he was approached by two tailors. They promised to make him the most beautiful, exquisite clothes, which would not be able to be seen by anyone stupid or inferior. The Emperor agreed, and once the clothes were made he went to see them. When he arrived at the shop, he only saw two mannequins, with no clothes on them. The tailors were actually thieves, and they had made no clothes. However, the Emperor, not wanting to look stupid or inferior, praised the Tailors for their fine work and applauded them for the delicate embroidery. He decided to have a parade through his Empire, so that all could admire the clothes.
Despite the fact that he was naked, the entire city, not wanting to be perceived as stupid or inferior, pretended to admire the clothes- and murmured amongst them how beautiful the Emperor’s new clothes were! This continued until finally, one little boy cried out loudly, “The Emperor is naked! He isn’t wearing any clothes!” Finally, the entire city realized that he was right, including the Emperor. The Emperor was in fact, naked.
When I heard this story repeated on the radio a few days ago, I was shocked when I realized that this is how our society has been fooled. In order to avoid appearing “intolerant” or “backwards” we have agreed to ignore a myriad of obvious truths, such as, “Babies in the womb are human” or “The birth control pill causes cancer” or “God exists”. Even when a seemingly endless array of scientific data, research, and theories prove these things and many others- we continue to ignore the obvious, because we want to be tolerant. We want to be open- minded. It’s like we are pretending the Law of Gravity doesn’t exist and everyone is moon walking all over the place to make it true. As if we ever really could.
Truth is objective. So lets try and find the truth instead of imagining it, for the sake of reason.
In honor of Memorial Day this week: (an excerpt taken from “America the Beautiful”)
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
I just got notification that this awful, disgusting page was removed- thank goodness! Guys, if there is something out there that is just plain wrong… say something! This page was clearly insulting Christians and all those who believe Jesus made a positive impact on the world, and it was also making abortion fodder for its hatred! Abortion, which is not only the heinous murder of a child but also the cause of so much heartbreak and sadness for men and women who feel they have no choice but to undergo one. To essentially make fun of this is despicable.
Everyone has the right to an opinion, they are like bellybuttons, and we know this. However, everyone also has the responsibility to express his or her opinion in a sensible and defensible manner. Lets please do so going forward.
Amber Fernandez is a student and friend of mine. I am delighted to feature her guest blog article, which eloquently expresses the exaggerated malice this society has expressed (and obvious pain we have felt) towards the natural differences between men and women.
Call me naive, but I don’t really believe in the political idea of feminism. Yes, I believe in equal rights for women. I believe that women should legally be allowed to vote, make equal salaries as men in the workplace, and be entitled to the same inalienable rights as men. I don’t believe women should have the right to terminate a life they helped conceive, breed hate towards the family structure, or condemn men simply because of their genitals.
I value my femininity. I treasure my softness and grace, and I protect my spirit and virtue. Some see this as oppressive, but maybe I just believe in a deeper meaning of feminism. I find solace in what comes naturally to me. The Lord has blessed me with inherently female talents and tendencies. I excel at cooking and baking; I enjoy shopping and pampering myself. I love wearing dresses, jewelry, and make-up. I’m not saying that women who don’t find joy in these things aren’t feminine, but I recognize and embrace that these attributes make me feminine. I am able to differentiate that there are natural male and female qualities, and I love the idea that God made us separate and unique to each other!
I believe in something called Complementarianism. It is the theological view that God created specific, but complementary roles for men and women. I don’t think there should be a standard patriarchy or matriarchy, simply because neither can flourish without the other. Menand women were made to complement each other: physically, emotionally, and politically.
That being said, while browsing through Facebook one day, I came across a satirical article on “PIV”.
I had no idea what PIV even meant, so I did some further digging. PIV is an abbreviation for “Penis in Vagina” sex. One would think that most could deduce what sex is without an abbreviation, but after reading more, I realized there is a radical feminist movement that classifies PIV (aka sexual intercourse) as rape. Has our society really perverted the union between husband and wife into this? Are we that sensitive and desperate to be politically correct that we need to objectify men as phallic symbols, existing only to oppress women?
Sex, in my opinion, has two main purposes: procreation AND recreation. I understand that sex is designed to create a family, but I also understand that sex was designed to create a physical and emotional bond between man and woman. If you don’t agree with the latter, I suggest you read Song of Solomon and get back to me. Sex (or PIV, as self titled “radfems” like to call it) is not rape, however.
Just to give you some insight into this “revolutionary” movement, here are some main ideas that I believe are perverting the true purpose of sex and love as God intended it:
“trauma bonding”- the theory that sex (PIV rape) is a traumatic experience that degrades women into believe their captors hold life or death powers over them. Women must feel that their captors have shown them some sort of kindness, and see their perspective as the only perspective. They must be isolated and alone. (By the way, captor is nut a synonym for kidnapper, etc. Radfems, according to their PIV idea, believe ALL men are captors, and romantic relationships are a facade)
Female child grooming- the idea that young girls are bombarded with ideas of Prince Charming, being a “daddy’s girl”, etc, so they become brainwashed into believe men are dominant and more powerful. This brainwashing idea leads to “forced child bearing” and “rape”, even if the acts are consensual.
Radfems who hold these beliefs also consider sex as PIV rape because it is harmful to women. Why is it harmful? Because sex can result in pregnancy. Since when is the capability to produce life considered harmful? If more women (and men) understood what sex is intended for, I think that concepts like this wouldn’t exist.
By accepting and embracing our differences, we can better understand the opposite sex. Ladies, embrace your femininity! Men, be masculine and recognize that it is your responsibility to defend our femininity. There is nothing shameful in this! Defy the ever-changing norms and trends of society, and be radical by living as God intended us to. Trust that God is the constant in our lives, and He will overcome the distorted world we are living in.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Upon hearing about the murder of Emmett Till as we were discussing the Civil Rights Movement in history class, one of my more troubled students muttered, “If he had known that that was going to happen he should have just raped her.”
My shock rendered me speechless, so I was only able to mumble something stupid like, “He didn’t know what was going to happen…” How I wish I could go back in time.
This response to a horrific act of murder, saying that it would have been worth it had the woman in question been raped, is the consequence of a society that has completely ruined sex for those who don’t have parents to raise them and teach them the true meaning of the gift. This distorted view of sex is not helped by shows such as Game of Thrones, which recently boasted an incestual rape scene, which the director said, “…became consensual at the end…” (If you choose to watch it, you can clearly see that there was no consent.)
I am deeply troubled at the world that is being created. Of course, rape is not a 21st century invention, and I don’t pretend to think that sex, for every person, has always been free, total, faithful and fruitful as it should be. However, can we at least try for that? Can we at least try to create a world in which this incredible act of procreation and bonding between a man and a woman be between two people who desire it, give themselves completely to each other, and only each other? Can we just try?
Please, if you have been a victim of this gruesome crime, know that it is not your fault, ever. Call this Hotline, or look up more information and resources that are available to you at the same link.
If I have to make the choice between being a baby and milk machine for the rest of my life or having the decision to abort and use contraceptives, I choose the former, every time. Bringing life into this world is far more worthwhile of a calling than even having the option of ending the life of my child and using group 1 carcinogens (hormonal and oral contraceptives cause cancer) on my body (this list also includes the Nicotine compound, known as N’-Nitrosonornicotine (NNN), meaning oral contraceptives are on the same list as cigarettes).
Fortunately, I don’t have to choose between those two options, as there is now the gift of the Natural Family Planning, including NaPro technology, which is an idiot proof way of determining whether or not you are fertile. Yes indeed, planning your pregnancies naturally has never been easier or safer!
Now, before I am accused of committing treason against my gender, you should know that I believe women are equal to men in merit and intelligence and all that jazz.
I just also happen to not find killing babies justifiable, in any circumstance.
If you are tremendously offended at one or more of the statements above, take a cold hard look at why this sets you on fire. Does the idea of not being able to do whatever you want with your body just make you red with anger? Well, in a country where you can’t even attempt to kill yourself without being committed into an institution (the nerve!), how can we have the ability to kill a child?
If you, right now, are about to even THINK about using the word “viable” in an argument against this, please stop- go volunteer in a nursery, and then get back to me. Children are not viable until they are about 5 years old. Get over this argument. If you are about to say, well it’s not a person; it’s just a clump of cells! Again, stop, give yourself a hard slap in the face, and then ask yourself the question, “What am I? What is every living thing?” Thank God for science. And then lets think, “What can two humans create?” The only answer being, obviously, another human. So the growing clump of cells CAN ONLY be a growing human. Humans cannot grow anything else. Unless it’s an abnormal growth, which would be growing inside of you NOT because of the contributions of another human (unless its an STD…) but because of other reasons… and, obviously, that abnormal growth won’t pop out 9 months later with ten fingers and toes and a personality to boot. Ain’t nothing abnormal about the fact that sex makes babies. You don’t need a college degree to figure that one out.
Here’s the good news, if you would prefer not to have a child, you have a few options: first, don’t have sex. Second, use contraceptives (Oh wait, they don’t work all the time, as noted author and former Planned Parenthood Clinic director Abby Johnson informs us, as she got pregnant THREE TIMES while on contraceptives, and she was considered an expert! Off the list.) Second, use your brain to learn about your body and determine when you (or your wife) are fertile so that you and your loving spouse can plan intimacy accordingly. There are many gynecologists and family planning experts at various Churches and institutions across the United States. Google them. Third, don’t have sex. Oh wait.
Since I can already hear the tirade of morons chirping, “You think sex is bad! You are getting your ideas from an archaic institution that needs to get with the times!” Stop it. Sex is wonderful. I’m very excited to have it. The intimacy of the marital union is something that is unparalleled on this earth and the fact that GOD CREATED IT AND ORDAINED IT (and because the Lord ordains it the Catholic Church does too, so…) makes it even better. It’s good. SEX IS A GOOD THING. I am not saying otherwise.
However, it is something to be participated in responsibly. And the lack of such responsibility should not be greeted with the option to murder a baby human. So you can keep that freedom.
Please Note: While I absolutely welcome comments and discussion, please keep them intelligent and respectful, free from cursing and nonsense. Thank you!
About two years ago, Julia Bluhm gave a magazine an idea that could have propelled it from mediocre (at best) to groundbreaking. I am bringing it up now because I recently wrote a rant on magazines, and I don’t like complaining without offering a solution. Granted, the solution for the over-sexualization and dumbing down of women’s magazines should be obvious (stop reiterating the same (weird) sex advice and start putting current events in your magazines). But nevertheless, this is a push in the right direction.
On May 3rd 2012, Jim Dwyer for the New York Times wrote a story on a red-headed, blue eyed cherub who led an online petition asking seventeen magazine to publish one untouched photo-spread per magazine in order to show what “real girls” look like, in the hopes of removing the impossible standards that have girls nation wide purging and starving. This impressive feat began in ballet class, where she claims her fellow dancers, like most adolescent women, “declared that they were having a fat day. Or that their skin was pimply or blemished. Or that they looked disgusting.” Which she, of course, thought was ludicrous.
To say the least, publishing unretouched photos would definitely cause a dent in the whirlwind of self- loath that has ravaged the nation since Twiggy first sat in front of a camera. In fact, many others agreed and she got 46,000 people to sign her petition. In addition, Bluhm actually managed to receive an invitation from Seventeen’s editor in chief Ann Shoket to discuss the matter. Did I mention? Julia Bluhm was fourteen at the time. Oh, the courage that comes from the mouth of babes.
Unfortunately, nothing really happened. Shoket and Bluhm exchanged emails, and although it WOULD be really cool if Seventeen led the way down the road of self- worth and body appreciation by not choosing emaciated waifs to grace their glossy pages, lets face it, its a stretch.
However, I do know this. At some point, some day, women are going to start getting fed up with the standards (if we are not already). The National Women’s Health Information Center states that fashion models weigh 23% less than the average female- and that is supposed to be seen as normal (Adolescent Girls and Body Image, NASW, 2001). Women nationwide are going to get fed up with feeling abnormal. And then, some mainstream magazine (Seventeen, possibly) will catch up with this trend and begin to actually show real girls in their magazines. They will defame the other magazines, saying they are contributing to the rise in eating disorders (which this magazine has already done, but never mind that). And do you know what will happen with this intelligent magazine? Their sales will skyrocket. Having already made a name for themselves in the conventional way, they will now use their name to promote something that girls and their mom’s have been praying for. Reality. Quite frankly, it was idiotic of Seventeen to refuse this offer. Yes, Bluhm singled them out of dozens of other magazines that do the same thing. But this was not a stroke of bad luck- this was an opportunity. Dove has been immensely successful with their campaigns for Real Beauty; it would have been nothing less for this magazine.
But, alas, they decided to maintain the status quo and continue along their fake, plastic and retouched way- to the detriment of their readership (and they call themselves feminists….). Perhaps one day (hopefully soon) another magazine will get the hint and start the revolution. Until then, we will wait.
This week’s guest writer, James Rooney is proof that the Holy Spirit is intimately involved with the inner workings of your life and will do anything, and use anyone to bring you closer to him. I am so honored that this blog was chosen by God to play a role in building a stronger marriage for James and Alyssa. Their story is an inspirational example that it is never too late to begin following God’s will in your relationship. James and Alyssa were married November 2013.
The Holy Spirit has taken me for a spiritual roller coaster ride these last couple months and for that I would like to thank the Holy Ghost and blame Janelle!! J Seriously though, I am so grateful for my sister in Christ having tasked me with the writing of this blog. It has forced me to take a long hard look at my spiritual life and remedy the sinful nature of my relationship. When I was initially asked to write this blog on chastity and engagement I thought Janelle knew my fiancé and I were living together. I proceeded to write a draft of my blog and sent it to her. She informed me she couldn’t post anything condoning cohabitation, which in turn motivated me to contemplate even more about the state in which I was living and the damage I was causing to my relationship by continuing to live contrary to what I believed was right. I figured it would be ok for my fiancé and I to live together so long as we weren’t engaging in sexual activity. Long story short, I called off the engagement and we separated shortly thereafter. The following couple months would be full of heartache and spiritual growth, both for myself and my fiancé Alyssa.
I think it is important to first understand how the Catholic Church defines cohabitation, which is exactly how it is defined in the dictionary. Cohabitation is living in a sexual relationship with your significant other as if married without legal or religious sanction. I justified living with my fiancé because we were not having sex. However, there are two parts of that definition. Though we weren’t having sex, we were still living ‘as if married.’ I’m not even going to begin making excuses for why Alyssa and I decided to move in together. It was a whole series of events and circumstances that led us to make that decision and I admit it could have been avoided if we had been willing to live with those events and circumstances. Now that hindsight is 20/20, we gave up certain hardships to take on a monumentally more difficult one. Remaining chaste while living under the same roof was far more difficult than I had anticipated.
Why is it so difficult? Why is remaining chaste so important if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will be marrying this person? If we started fooling around, there is no sense in stopping now right? The damage has been done hasn’t it? And there is no way either one of us is moving out now that we have a place together, which would be ridiculous. Well that’s what I used to think. And with the permission of my ever loving fiancé, she has allowed me certain liberties so that I may share a little about her life as well as my own.
We had both previously been in sexually active relationships throughout our high school careers and college. I had only been with one person ever, in a relationship that spanned the better part of 6 years. I had been raised Catholic and I guess I harbored some good old fashioned Catholic guilt so for the longest time my girlfriend and I refrained from actual intercourse and just did everything else as if that was better in some way. I also convinced myself that it didn’t matter if my girlfriend and I were sexually active because we “KNEW” beyond the shadow of a doubt that we would be married one day. HA! As the years went on our relationship became nothing more than hanging out and fooling around. About a year before our relationship would come to a close, a night of heavy drinking led to the “actual” deed being done. And since the damage had been done, why not just keep doing it? So from that point on our relationship took a nosedive and finally we went our separate ways. I spent that next three years remaining celibate and swore that I would not make the same mistakes in any future relationships.
I felt much guilt and regret over the course of those years. And looking back on it I felt that way because of what I was doing to her, not necessarily myself. I should have been her rock and not taken advantage as I did. You can nit-pick a relationship to death trying to figure out what went wrong, but I promise you that if you are sexually active with your significant other outside of marriage THAT is what’s wrong. If you love someone enough to have sex with him or her, then why aren’t you married? We come up with all sorts of creative and seemingly believable excuses as to why we won’t marry someone, yet we will continue to selfishly take advantage of that person’s body while possessing no respect for our own as well. It is important to understand that when you have sex with someone out of wedlock, you are consummating a marriage that doesn’t exist!! You are telling that person that they can have all of you, except your hand in marriage. When we realize that marriage is far more than a couple signatures on a piece of paper, is when we can truly start to understand why this no having sex before marriage thing is so important.
My fiancé had also been sexually active in the past and had no real intentions of saving herself until marriage. I remember when we were first talking I had mentioned that I would not be engaging in sexual activity until I was married. She later admitted to not taking my claims seriously and entered into our relationship with expectations of sex before marriage. When she realized I was being serious she was somewhat intrigued as to why I held those beliefs so firmly. I explained to her my past experiences and gave her a brief overview of Catholic theology on the matter and she began to see the parallels between her past relationships and my own. Having come from sexually active relationships, living together was definitely a difficult task and ultimately led to our separation.
My advice to couples who are cohabiting, whether engaged or not, is to respect each other as children of God. Furthermore, the need to live separately should be seriously discussed and followed through with. If your marriage date is close, maybe someone lives with a friend or family for the time being. If not, someone needs to move out and find a place of their own. The sacrifice may seem extreme but your relationship will benefit from it greatly. Know that marriage is more than the signing of documents and moving into the same building as the other. If you are sexually active with your future spouse, please consider learning more about the Theology of the Body and abstaining till you are both bound in marriage. Understand that marriage is a beautiful way that God channels his grace through two individuals and it is not until then that we can truly be open to life and love. I would ask that you and your significant other pray about your current sexual state and consider a life of loving sacrifice over a life of selfish desires.
As of about two weeks ago Alyssa and I decided to continue with our engagement. We are living separately until the wedding and couldn’t be happier. We have both grown so much in such a short period of time. I realized that the Lord had a plan amidst all the heartache and now I feel we are better because of it. Know that if you claim to love your significant other you will do anything to preserve your relationship. I avoided weighing this blog down with statistics and percentages because I believe that these matters, and whether they are right or wrong, are written on our hearts. Know that if you are living together before marriage the odds of your marriage lasting, or even making it to your wedding day, are not in your favor. Remember, Christ didn’t say it would be easy. He said it would be worth it!!!
I am so honored to feature this blog article from my friend, David Schonacher. David and his beautiful family are an incredible example to all of us about accepting what life brings you. Thank you for being such an amazing testimony for life!
Am I Pro-life? Sure. Pro- Derek? Absolutely.
When a 17-year-old boy is faced with the news that his girlfriend of less than one year is pregnant, time can stand still. In those moments, he and everyone around him find themselves reciting every moral conversation, scripture or advice they’ve ever been exposed to. Without the benefit of a sound spiritual upbringing what could one possibly use to begin to make sense of the decisions before him? Decisions need to be made, not only for himself but for the future mother, her family, his family and now this new being we know nothing of.
Where did this story begin?
I was a junior in high school, defensive captain of the varsity football team, spending most of my time in the gym, on the field and finding myself wanting nothing more than to dominate anything between the tackles. This is my ground, my turf, and I’m in control. I’m an average size, below average speed middle linebacker who has a well above average heart and desire. I make up for what I lack physically with smart decisions, efficiency and overall effort. Prior to this, I had never faced any major obstacles I would consider life changing or path altering. I did however face larger pulling guards and stronger blocking backs. After short struggles with each I found a way to create success.
Shortly after Christmas break our senior year my girlfriend and I were faced with the news that she was pregnant. All the hours of training, college prep, studies, college visits and fantasies of my future stood still. All of those moments seem to pale in comparison to the news we’d just received. None of those moments on the field seemed to any longer have significance. None of my trophies provided certainty that I was capable of handling what I had just been called to. The intimate details of the moments, hours and days shortly after are foggy at best. I’m not sure my brain has ever struggled so hard in computing the problems that just fallen before us.
I’m the oldest grandchild on both sides of my family. The pressure to succeed and the self-assumed pedestal I stood myself on was crumbling beneath me. In hindsight it would seem almost as though I was losing, in those moments, the very identity I had worked so hard to create. Every decision in front of us seemed to have little to do with where we were headed prior to this information. I can recall the individual moments in front of each of our parents, the awkwardness, the uneasiness, and the shame. My father, as he often did, made jokes of it helping us bring a smile to a seemingly hopeless moment of our path in life. His efforts were effective to a degree but could not help us escape the reality of what was to become of us.
In almost an instant the relationship became no longer about her and I; but immediately a soul we had yet to meet started to chart our course. I do not recall any specific moment in any conversation where anything other than how to move forward with this child was discussed. I don’t recall any pressure to do anything but the “right thing”. But I’m a 17 year old college bound, non-spiritual boy. I am by no means qualified to make the right decision here, or am I? The conversations are mostly a blur, faded memories of supportive family counseling us, expressing their disgust, but still opening their hearts and providing even the faintest confidence that we are capable of handling the burden we’ve brought upon ourselves. I can’t recall any specific moment where the final decision, if any, was made. I cannot recall any singular moment where aborting the child was discussed. I can only recall my desire to take the burden, the struggle before me and show them all I am capable. I subtly recall the frailty we suddenly seemed to possess. I recall the sadness, perhaps a result our own insecurities. Certainly we were not qualified for what came next. I don’t recall much in the moments following about concern of what people thought. I don’t recall any friends or extended family giving any negative thoughts towards our decision to have this child. If anything, my only memory is that of a slow fade into the ocean. We became instantly not like everyone else, we instantly became different. We became that couple that was destined for something no one around us could comprehend at such a young age.
After the initial shock and emotion of the first week or so we moved slowly towards regaining the life we had. We attended functions, studied for tests and planned out our college future. It all seemed normal and possible, yet each decision now had a different and unavoidable reality. Visiting Tulane University in New Orleans made so much sense, but the reality of leaving the support of family behind made such a dream impractical, but not impossible. Our hopes and dreams were by no means crushed, but inexplicably altered. Our future, once clear and wide-open, now seemed like patchy fog at best. Our future may involve these hopes and dreams we once desired, but they were now bound by this very concrete reality.
Fast forward 18 years, I’m now a 35 year old father to a 17 year old man. He is talented, joyful, funny and nothing like me. He has the heart of a lion, he’s three inches taller and will never play middle linebacker. He may soon become an Engineer like his father, but he’s mechanically inclined, a talent I do not possess. He’s a mess, a burden at times, but smiles like his mother. He is imaginative, creative and produces his own version of comedy while his father is calculated, dull at times and only recently found an imagination. He speaks Spanish fluently, English poorly and can recite more science facts than many museums. He played sports most of his life, perhaps only to please his father, but he is clearly charting his own course in life. He listens, strives to be a good man, but finds himself combative in talks of morals and justice. He is his own man.
I’m now a practicing Catholic for 13 years. We have a 13-year-old daughter as well. She’s an angel, the perfect combination of her Mother and Father with her own unique beauty mixed in. Until just recently I had not studied the Church’s pro-life position in any great detail. In fact, prior to this, I studied intently John Paul II and his “Theology of the Body” discussions. I spent hours upon hours reading and reflecting on the magnificence of our creation. I spent time understanding the amazing uniqueness we were each made with. I’ve spent three years now looking out at friends and family with a new perspective. Because of these revelations I’m now able to see the beauty in each and have begun to learn finally how to love and to be loved.
At 17 years old, with little to no spiritual direction, perhaps I was intent on having this child because I refused to fail and I saw an abortion as a failure. But now I know different. I now know our gut feelings, our conscience would never allow us to consider anything else but to meet this beautiful creation of ours and to do the best we could with what we had. We were fortunate to have family support. Everyone played a part in our journey. Parents babysat for us. Grandparents sent supplies and money when needed. Friends, albeit rarely, offered time and tender support. We even found decent assistance from the local, state and federal government.
Not a day goes by that I don’t get up and go to work and genuinely desire to succeed, but no longer for myself nor for the approval of others. I knew the second I saw Derek what my purpose was. I was a father. Every step I took from that moment forward was to provide for him and to ensure his protection and salvation. Just like I failed to make the right decisions as a teenager, I have failed at times as an adult. I have had more periods of sin than purity, more episodes of shame than exalting, and more times of struggle than success. But, with Derek around I find victory each day. He is our creation shared in God’s touch. He is beautiful, unique and has no clue yet how great he can be. I suppose I am now officially “Pro-Life”, but before that I was always Pro-Derek.