Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fatherly Advice to Newlyweds

Dr. Brian J. Kopp

My advice to the Newlywed?
While you're young, use your head!
Have a baby...
Have a few!
I don't mean one,
or even two.
What about four?
How about eight?
(Making babies is really great!)

Don't worry about braces,
or college, or clothes.
Their every need
God already knows.
Then when you're old,
in time of need,
with no more clamoring mouths to feed,
look to your children
that you (and God) made,
to be your joy,
comfort, and aid.

Your babies today
are your greatest treasure.
You will receive
in the amount you measure.
God's greatest gift
to husband and wife?
A newborn baby.
An eternal life!

* * *

from Amazing Grace for Fathers

(The writer's only attempt at poetry, written on a napkin at a wedding reception.)

Today I did my presentation for apologetics class. It's half my grade, so I was pretty nervous. The topic was a defense against abuses of Natural Family Planning. It's surprising how controversial a topic that really is, even here at Christendom.

I was mainly arguing against the attitude of people who think everyone ought to be using NFP. But I am also concerned about people using it for trifling reasons.

The main point for me is that having children is a Good Thing. And as the poem above says, God can be trusted to work out the details.


Leah said...

Babies are indeed cool. Very cute poem!

I write poetry on napkins, too. ;-)

Santiago said...

God doesn't tell us to surrender our reason, and the use of our reason entails a sober assessment of means and resources at our disposal to raise children.

Sheila said...

For a start:

"Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought, can add to his stature one cubit? And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. And if the grass of the field, which is to day, and to morrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith? Be not solicitous therefore, saying: What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Mt. 6:25-33)

Too sober an assessment of resources tends to leave out the providence of God as the biggest "resource" at our disposal.

Or Pius XII:
"Therefore, to embrace the matrimonial state, to use continually the faculty proper to such a state and lawful only therein, and, at the same time, to avoid its primary duty without a grave reason, would be a sin against the very nature of married life."

I'm not saying we can't consider NFP if there's a serious reason to, but the Church has never taught that it's for everyone.

Raising children is something God asks of us, and if we take care of His things, He'll take care of our things.

Santiago said...

God isn't the Joker in the deck of life, the trump card that can overcome everything. There is a natural order, and we are supposed to make prudential judgments based on the reality in front of us. That doesn't mean we should try to control reality, or worry too much about the future. I think that perhaps your "trifling reasons" might become a little less trifling once you are married and trying to make ends meet. It's difficult to judge the morality of a situation that you are not living in. I guess one of the ways that we can communicate experience is through poetry -- even then, I would still use reason when making a big decision like the making of babies.

Sheila said...

I'm not making this up, I'm giving you what the Church says. Serious reasons have always been required. The rest is just my reflection on why what the Church says is really the best way -- which, as a Catholic, I know it always is.

Andreth said...

I wrote
my moral theology paper on a somewhat similar topic, although I was defending NFP as a virtuous choice given the proper circumstances laid out by the Church. While, as you said, the Church has never taught that everyone should use NFP or needs to do so, John Paul II stated in a couple of his encyclicals and other documents, along with the Catechism, that instruction in NFP ought to be promoted for all married couples, especially as part of marriage preparation. This doesn't mean that everyone will be called to use it in the end, but the education itself would surely help the couples appreciate the immense responsibility their procreative power entails.

Sheila said...

I didn't address that. My point is that NFP can be abused, but it won't be if we keep an attitude of generosity and trust.

Santiago said...

Of course it can be abused. A lot of things can be abused. I'm just saying that it is impossible to judge the "trifling reasons" if you have no experience in the area of life that you are talking about. The way you put it, it sounded like married couples should abstain from making any reasonable judgments based on the concrete particulars of their life. That Church doesn't teach that, either.

Sheila said...

How does "I am concerned about people using it for trifling reasons" imply anything of the sort? Reasons cited for avoiding children can be as insignificant as being able afford a nicer car or fear that they don't yet have enough to send the kids to college. I think that parents need to work on generosity and trust to make sure their "serious reasons" really are. I never set forth a list of what I would consider serious reasons, for the same reasons the Church hasn't: there are just too many factors to consider. The principles are all that can be laid out objectively.

"You have no experience in the area of life you are talking about."

Well, I did grow up in a family. I'm not totally ignorant about what that entails. But I think the principles are universal and don't require experience, only knowledge of the Church's teachings ... something few people seem to want to look into. That's why I did my presentation on the subject I did: to gather together Church documents and set out the principles that everyone can apply, with their "reasonable judgment," to their own circumstances.

Brian Kopp said...

Hi Sheila,
I was just looking for this poem, and thought I'd do a quick Good search as I couldn't find it in my old files. Its been a while since you posted this but it brought a smile to me, not least because my oldest son is now in his third year at Christendom.

God bless,
Brian Kopp