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Man Enough To Love Like That

September 8, 2010

I never thought I’d write a trilogy.

When I wrote my first blog post about Natural Family Planning (NFP), The Best Secret I Know, I thought that would be it. But, it didn’t feel complete, so I wrote a follow up, The Best Secret I Know –Part 2.

The response, quite frankly, has been overwhelming. There have been many kind words and almost triple the number of blog visitors to This Pilgrim’s Progress over the past two weeks.

And yet, there is more to say and, as a result, you’re getting what I expect to be the final piece of this trilogy… and a big announcement.

You’ll notice this post is directed towards men, but women, you’re invited and encouraged to stick around and read it too. Maybe you can even convince your reluctant man to check it out.

Alright men, I get it.

I’ve seen your blank stares. I’ve seen you check out mentally. I’ve even seen some of you get angry when someone brings up the topic of Natural Family Planning (NFP).

I’ve tried to appeal to your reasonable side by showing you that practicing NFP is a great way to help your marriage succeed.

I’ve tried to appeal to your spiritual side by showing you the spiritual truths that stand at the heart of the Catholic Church’s teaching on NFP.

Now it’s time to shift the discussion yet again and face the hesitancy that most men have to embrace NFP.

As men, we like to be in control, don’t we? I understand that using contraception is reassuring to men. After all, birth control has the word “control” right there in it. It means that a man has the power in his own hands (with the input of his spouse) to decide when sex will be “fun” and when it will be “productive.” It also gives couples the power to decide when they can be sexually active without the risk of pregnancy.

Really, I get all that. The problem is that our desire to control often becomes a desire to possess.

For men, sex, at the most basic level, is about conquest, an expression of possession. Unfortunately, that is a product of living in a world wrought with sin. In the original plan, sex was about mutuality and giving. For most in today’s world, it’s about taking, having and possessing. This is why men are so widely addicted to pornography: it allows them to consume the bodies of women, in their minds and with their eyes. This makes men feel powerful and in control. It appeals to their desire to possess.

Unfortunately, contraception plays a similar role by taking consequence (pregnancy) out of the equation and opening the door for a man to “consume” his partner sexually without concern. It seeks to control the body’s natural function of fertility, so that domination and possession can occur at will.

Members of the women’s liberation movement claim that chemical contraceptives like the pill were tools for women’s empowerment and the sexual freedom of women. I’m not so sure a man didn’t originate those ideas and sell them as a bill of goods. The simple fact, women, is that contraception doesn’t make men respect you more; it makes you more available for men to possess.

Be honest for a minute, men: What is it about NFP that really bugs you? Is it the concept itself, or the idea that you might be restricted (if trying to avoid pregnancy) from being able to be with your wife sexually?

You might say that you just want to avoid pregnancy, but NFP is proven to be every bit as effective as contraception in doing so. However, it relies on willful abstinence and self control and that’s just not something we’re quick to embrace, is it? It poses too great a threat to our power.

A New Kind of Love
Men, it’s time to turn the page. It’s time to look at marital and sexual love in its proper context and step up, as men, to answer the call.

As we’ve discussed before, the Apostle Paul gave us the proper motif by which to understand marriage. “Husbands,” he said, “love your wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

If Jesus’s love for the church is our model, then domination and possession should be the furthest thing from our minds.

Remember, Jesus could have commanded our love. He was tempted to do so in the desert, when Satan offered to make him ruler of every human kingdom (Luke 4:5-8).

Jesus, having the power of God, certainly possessed the strength to call down the angels of heaven and demand obedience, claiming the creation that rightfully belonged to his Father in heaven.

And yet, he didn’t. Paul reminds us in the book of Philippians, that Jesus, who was “in very nature, God… did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant… and became obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2: 6-8).

In short, if God is love (1 John 4:16) and Jesus was “God from God, light from light, true God from true God,” then Jesus provided us with the perfect example of what love looks like. The love that Jesus exemplified was not a love of dominance and possession; it was a love of submission, of subordinating himself to others.

This is the love we’re told to have for our wives: a love that is built on the idea of giving ourselves to another, rather than claiming another as our own and seeking to possess her.

To do so is to willfully give up power. It takes a real act of manhood to do that.

The question is, Are you man enough to love like that?

An Announcement
This “Man Enough to Love Like That” idea is a seed that has been planted in me and it’s one that has only begun to germinate. Over the next month or so, I am going to be working on my first ebook publication, entitled Man Enough to Love Like That – Every Man’s Call to Life Giving Love.

I will be asking men to stand up and declare, unequivocally, “I am man enough to love like that.” In that declaration is a commitment to break the cycle of dominating, possessive love that leads to the embracing of contraception as the norm in sexual relationships.

I’d love to see thousands of men step up and make the pledge so please pray for me over the next couple of months as I work to help develop the message that God is putting on my heart.



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