It is never easy to publically talk about one’s past sin. But I have immensely benefited from the testimony of others and I would like to add to the thousands of women who have suffered because of their birth control use.
I used birth control.
I used it before I became Catholic, and because of fear, I used it for a time afterward.
The first three months of my birth control use were arguably the worst months of my life. The changes it made to my body were slow but the changes to my mind, my soul even, were immediate. I spent those three months in agonizing depression. I could not function properly. I would mark on my calendar with a green highlighter, all the days on which I cried and saw in disbelief how every single day of the month had a green mark. I grew increasingly suicidal and detested myself. After the three months, the depression did not go away, but the crying became less frequent and was replaced with numbness. The pain remained, but I was able to function, at least.
Was it the birth control that spurred my depression? Yes, it definitely was a large contributing factor. When I went to my family doctor to ask for help with my depression, he told me that most women on birth control also suffer from depression. And then he gave me anti-depression medication and I was on my way.
But of course, it wasn’t just the pills. It was my knowledge of sin. My awareness that this was not natural. The birth control did not help my acne. It did not solve my problems.
Why did I continue taking it?
It was fear and weakness. I was weak and too afraid to stop. Every month I had the choice–to stop or continue. I had bursts of rebellion and anger. I clung to my sin. Every month that I chose sin, my soul grew colder within me. Every month I chose sin, I rejected God and withheld myself from the sacraments.
So what changed? All I had to do was to start obeying and God was ready to pour his grace into my life. My husband and I began to pray the rosary daily, we began attending mass regularly. We began to take up spiritual reading and surround ourselves more with faithful Catholics. The change did not occur overnight but after months of suffering, we decided that enough was enough. It was time to completely submit to the teachings of the Church. It was time to live an authentic Catholic life, with no reservations or hidden sins.
There are many reasons people choose birth control. I want to make it clear that birth control, when not used as contraception but to help with health issues is not a sin. I would simply ask that those who go to birth control would educate themselves fully about the risks (as you would with any medication).
I want to tell those who do use birth control as contraception–that God loves you. You are a good girl. But you are disobeying God and this is the root of your pain. Whether to cover sexual sin or to eliminate the possibility of having children, you are putting substances in your body which harm it and even worse, it harms your relationship with the Living God. I know it is difficult but as a sister, I implore you to flee from sexual immorality and to cling to Christ. He will give you strength. Do not turn away from him. Chastity is a beautiful virtue that will benefit your entire life. Like a fountain, if the self-discipline of chastity is put into practice, it’s waters will overflow over the rest of your life. The sacrifice of developing chastity cannot be compared to the plentiful blessings that you will reap. But if you fail, remember to look to Christ, confess and partake in the sacraments. Do not neglect your prayer life, nor allow the devil to fill you with his lies.
For the married who have “determined by objective criteria” to regulate procreation, there are many resources available to you. The Church, in her wisdom, has made Natural Family Planning an option for you. I encourage all to seek out advice from a local priest and to research. The leap from contraception to Natural Family Planning can seem to be huge, especially for those who did not develop the discipline of chastity. But God in his goodness can lead you in the right direction, you just need to take the first step of obedience.
I encourage you all to read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say with regard to chastity and marriage.
Birth control is just a bandaid solution. It tends to be the expression of hidden sin, whether fornication or just plain selfishness. I encourage all who have suffered so long under the yoke of sin to be liberated through the Precious Blood of Christ. He is a loving Saviour, ready to forgive and wipe away our tears. But as He knocks on the doors of your heart–Are you going to let Him transform you?
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20
St. Maria Goretti
St. Michael the Archangel
Sacred Heart of Jesus
Immaculate Heart of Mary
Ora pro nobis!