If harmony and peace are dominant in our sexual sphere, then all other dimensions of our life can remain in harmony as well.
I am sure that many of us have heard about the methods of natural family planning. Usually, these methods are discussed within the context of considerations for responsible parenthood. Namely, they are discussed when there is the question on how the married couple has to regulate their amount of children. Nevertheless, the full essence of natural family planning methods is not limited only by that context since they play another important role in the life of spouses. So, they have to be considered.
From the physiological point of view, different methods to discern fertility are diagnostic. They let a woman identify fertile and infertile days during the cycle of menstruation and periods when conception can happen. The possibility to know the days of fertility is the basis for the married couple to build their relationships, in particular, sexual ones, according to natural dynamics of the woman’s body treating the truth about the essence of human sexuality with respect.
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Learning methods of natural fertility regulation and introducing them into relationships among spouses build a style of life which is radically different from the one which is suggested by the contraceptive and abortive mentality. Natural methods teach spouses to appreciate the gift of fertility and parenthood more and to accept it in the proper way, to respect each other and to accept a new human life. The realization that human sexuality is not limited by personal desires and passions opens itself up towards the needs of the beloved and serves as a basis for a true good for the other human being.
In a contrast to the contraceptive-abortive style of the realization of love among spouses, the natural methods save the sexual life from becoming trivial, subjecting or, even, humiliation. The methods give the married couple the possibility of the full pleasure of sexual life without usage of the external methods and fear or anxiety because of the “unwanted” results. Such a fullness of the gift during the period of infertility gives the inspiration to find once again the new ways to express their love during fertile days, when the spouses decide to restrain themselves from the sexual relationships.
The contraceptive style of life foresees that one of the spouses, mainly a woman, has a duty to keep certain rules (with all the outcomes!) in order to make sex easily achievable. In a contrast to that, natural methods foresee that both a husband and a wife form an adequate attitude towards sexual relationships and grow together in the understanding of the true meaning and reality of the human sexuality. In such a way, the feeling of responsibility for their marriage increases. Especially, this is true for a husband who, due to his wife and together with her, understands the dynamics of the menstrual cycle. The married couple develops a sincere and open dialogue, and it leads them towards the understanding that the sexual act is not a goal in itself but that the experience of a deep and intimate unity of them together, through their fleshliness, is the most important. The mission of natural methods of family planning is not to control the amount of children and when to do it but to save the authenticity of family love, preserving the sexual life of the married couple from egoism and the slavery of instinctive impulses.
Of course, to enter the atmosphere of natural methods, a minimal understanding of its reality and the readiness to keep certain rules are necessary. It is necessary to cherish the virtue of restraint when a couple decides to restrain from sexual contact, while continuing personal communication, saving the harmony of the relationship as spouses. Such a dynamic demands continuous building and deepening of the aforementioned features and virtues of the spouses. Nevertheless, the truth is also the exact inner content of the methods which provides the couple with the necessary resources and energy for such growth. Primarily, the methods change the mentality and attitude of the husband and wife toward each other, and it helps to open the richness and potential of the Sacrament of Marriage. In such a way, what seems to be a huge challenge for the married couple, at first glance, is, in fact, the source and basis for their common life and all-embracing unity.
Sexual unity in marriage can be called the special language between a husband and wife. Every sexual act has to express something, to underline and to deepen love that has united those people. It has to testify that one person accepts the other totally, with all their qualities and gifts, including the gift of fertility in particular. The language of sexuality does not tolerate the vulgar intrusion of different kinds of contraceptive and abortive means, moreover. Such means pervert this beautiful language. Any gesture that expresses egoism or looks for pleasure as a goal in itself, using the other person to please instinctive whimsies, is the sort of vulgar expressions that the person introduces into the language of sexuality. Such vulgarity does not decorate this language but brings chaos and destruction. Sooner or later, the spouses will feel that. The sacramental language of sexuality that is called to unite people and to give a gift of true happiness becomes a trivial source of “immediate” pleasure. And, very often, the result of that is the rejection of a sexual relationship by the married couple because it brings neither unity nor happiness but only frustration and disappointment for them.
In one of his teachings, the Metropolitan Andew Sheptytskyi says that if harmony and peace are dominant in our sexual sphere then all the other dimensions of our life can remain in harmony too. Yet, if chaos and disorder conquer our sexuality, then all the other spheres of our life will be out of order.
By Orest Demko