Social media’s not exactly designed for important conversations. Between the anonymous accounts and the trolls, it can be hard to tell what is real and important — after all, much of our approval-addicted society values likes over content.
If regular social media is bad, Twitter is even worse. It’s the drug of choice for people like me with short attention spans and quick thumbs. 480 characters is just enough to deliver a punchline or initiate a massive understanding, but not much else. Genuine questions are often assumed to be attacks. Few debates grow to be anything more than long exchanges of nasty quips.
That’s why a particular thread stood out to me during this past NFP week: for its genuineness and civility.
For real though, I’ve not heard a single sound Catholic apologetic for NFP. Why is *that* antireproductive technology (and it is a technology) permissible but contraceptives like OCPs and IUDs aren’t? I thought the whole point was to be open to children. I’m actually asking.— QuoPeregrinatur (@QPeregrinatur) July 25, 2019
It’s a question we get a lot here at CCL and one that’s particularly prone to misunderstandings.
I clicked and braced myself for an explosive thread.
Sure, there were your standard snarky tweets that generally make up the bulk of Twitter “debate.” But a particular actor in a growing community of kind-hearted Catholic users offered the following reply:
Abstaining is not an action, it’s an inaction, therefore it cannot disrupt the “end” of sex.— emily the embryo incubator 🤰🏼 (@MLE_Allen) July 25, 2019
Taking a pill, pulling out, using a condom- these are all *actions* and *do* disrupt the end of sex.
A couple is never *compelled* to engage in intercourse per se.
As such, if a couple cannot be compelled to have intercourse simply because they are fertile, it would stand to reason that they are likewise not required to refrain from intercourse simply because they are infertile.— emily the embryo incubator 🤰🏼 (@MLE_Allen) July 25, 2019
The church teaches is that, if a couple is using only the natural infertile periods bc pregnancy is not prudent, they must have a just reason for doing so.— emily the embryo incubator 🤰🏼 (@MLE_Allen) July 25, 2019
That said, my experience is most couples desire each other far more than material things, so abstinence purifies intention.
What an excellent answer! So concise, precise, and yet warm and authentic. I’d heard experts like Jason Evert, Sr. Helena Burns, and Janet E. Smith offer answers to the same question, but never with this kind of brevity and confidence. It seems the user who asked the question thought so, too:
This is a much better answer than the deacon at my pre-Cana bloviating about NFP being All Natural / Chemical Free / Good for the Environment when my wife and I asked for clarification. Thank you.— QuoPeregrinatur (@QPeregrinatur) July 25, 2019
I reached out to the answering user, Emily, and asked for her thoughts on the interaction. She was equally humble and unassuming.
“I’m not a philosopher nor am I a theologian,” she replied. “I am simply a woman who is passionate about Theology of the Body, Humanae Vitae, and Casti Connubii. I have personally found the Catholic Church’s vision of marriage to be the most cogent, beautiful, and dignity-based [one] there is, and so it’s a topic I care deeply about.”
Did she expect it to go well? On Twitter of all places?
She replied that she was grateful it went well, especially since “waxing philosophic about the ‘end’ of an action is not typical small talk you make with a stranger,” but that’s something she likes about Twitter.
“I think this [ability to avoid harsh confrontations] is exactly what makes an introvert like myself brave the waters of discussing harder Church teachings. … I also find that while many of us try to make NFP appealing by highlighting the ‘natural,’ aspect of it, I think that ultimately, most people are interested in the heart of the matter — the moral question.”
Well said. Thank you, Emily, for your calm approach and great example of how to defend Church teaching on the internet!
— Forest (Hempen) Barnette
Former Marketing and Communications Associate