Friday, February 19, 2010

Catholic Infertility

I mentioned the pre-marital counseling DH and I went through before we were married in the Catholic Church. As part of that, we also had a one day workshop for engaged couples. One talk as part of that workshop was given by a nun and focused on how important a healthy sexual relationship is to marriage. We both sat there thinking, "they have the lay married couple give the financial talk and the celibate nun give the sex talk?"

It is these types of experiences that make me frustrated with the Catholic Church. I mean, if you are going to insist on celibacy and rely on (nearly all) men, you should expect people to not want to listen to advice on certain topics where being a celibate male is not that relevant.

So I wasn't too surprised with what I read in the Catholic bishop's advice for infertile couples. The first half reads pretty much as you might expect since it was written by a bunch of men who have never been married or had sex (or at least not in a very long time). I tried to not get upset when one of their touching little statements from actual couples made is sound dangerously close to the advice of "just relax" when a couple described how they considered IVF, but then tried a more "natural" approach and had a positive, successful outcome. Good for them. Too bad it won't work for most others. If the bishops want to talk about finding peace in this struggle that is one thing, but telling us we should just relax is quite another.

My anger boiled over about halfway through when I reached the cloning section. Yes, you read that right. A document supposedly about infertile couples and ART made a direct comparison to cloning. I can understand the moral concerns with IVF (I have them myself), but to put IVF and cloning in the same breath is just not honest. It's not like cloning is an alternative considered by infertile couples and including it in a document targeted to this population just insults us, most of whom are trying to figure out the morally appropriate way to proceed.

Luckily the bishops then moved in a little light humor. At least I assumed they must have been joking when they described using locating the woman's fertile time to maximize chance of conceiving in the married couple's loving act of union. hahahahahaha! I mean, which couple actually pursuing timed intercourse while trying to conceive would call it a loving act? Timed sex is one of the most stressful and least enjoyable parts of the whole process. I felt closer to my husband praying together after our IUI than some of the times my fertility monitor said we needed to have sex that day.

I understand the teaching about procreative and unitive love in marriage. But intercourse is not the only way to have unitive love. In fact I am not sure it is even the most important way in which two people unite themselves in marriage. So why is intercourse the only way to express procreative love?


  1. The way I see things, God is still the creator of life. Even in IVF, it's not like science itself creates life and maintains it. Otherwise, IVF would be a guaranteed thing. God is still the giver of life! And, I don't really understand how they say that IVF does not create life out of love between a couple- why else would the couple spend $10k+ to try and have a baby?!

  2. completely agree with A.

    it is always amazing to me the ways in which infertility brings out the real idea of intimacy in our relationships. there are so many more occasions than in the bedroom where i feel closer to my husband than i ever thought possible. it really is an amazing gift.

  3. Interesting article. I don't know *much* about the Catholic position, but there is quite a difference in how I see protestants proceeding with fertility treatments. Granted, there are no established "guidelines" for us and it can vary from church to church or individual Christian, but your views seem to align with the general protestant views. (Sorry, not trying to label you or anything, just pointing out that people of Christian faith agree with you out there).

  4. I find it interesting when our spiritual leaders make statements about aspects of life that they have never experienced. I hope you are able to come to some sort of peace with what your denomination says is 'right' and what you need to do to build your family.

    And btw, I totally agree... there are plenty of moments where I feel more intimate with my husband than when we are having the 'must-do-it-now' timed sex.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...