Using a question and answer format, Wendy Cukierski has written a booklet which will be a great help to other wives and married couples. In the first part, on marital sexuality, she asks "Is it anyone's business what a married couple does in their bedroom?" Her answer: "Yes. It is God's business..." When you think about it, the most important human activity (apart from the sacraments) is the intimacy of a husband and wife. Wendy cites I Cor 6 to show that God indeed is concerned about that activity and has established some clear rules.
With that starting point she gives short responses to questions many married couples have: Is refusal of marital relations wrong? Is oral stimulation forbidden? Clitoral stimulation? Anal sex? Sex toys? Reading or viewing erotic materials? Every confessor has heard these questions, especially the first one. But he also knows that many married people never bring them up either because of embarrassment or because they have somehow separated their "spiritual life" from their "flesh" or bodily existence. Wendy's book joins them nicely back together.
The most terrible area of that separation (which Pope John Paul calls a "New Manicheism") is "birth control." It is amazing that so many couples consider it a "non-issue" or one they want their doctor to decide for them. But is there a greater choice a married couple can face? This one after all involves the very meaning of their self-giving to each other. And that self-giving has the potential for calling a new human life into this world. Could any moral decision be more momentous? Yet I assure you that for many engaged couples the selection of the wedding dress and suit receives more attention. For those who see something wrong with that picture, Wendy's booklet is a nice place to start.
Once again using the question and answer format, she briefly explains what the Bible and Church teach about birth control, why it is a moral evil. She then explains the difference between contraceptives and abortifacients--and why the IUD, Norplant, Depo Provera and even the Pill are potential abortifacients. The booklet describes what is involved in tubal ligation and vasectomy--and why they are "intrinsically evil." She concludes with a question on "withdrawal" which besides being forbidden is "highly ineffective." This not a medical treatise, but what Wendy writes is well documented scientifically.
The same can be said for the final section which discusses Natural Family Planning. She explains what NFP is, how it differs from calendar rhythm method. The various signs of fertility are mentioned and how they can be effectively used to postpone or acheive a pregnancy. The benefits for marriage are layed out, including the almost non-existent divorce rate among NFP users. A common question is not avoided: If it works so well, "how come most couples who use NFP have large families?" Finally she talks about "creative continence" and how it can put "S.P.I.C.E." into a marriage relationship.
This booklet is still waiting the "Imprimatur," official approval by a Catholic bishop. It does have a warm endorsement from Wendy's own pastor, Fr. Edwin Comeskey, STL. I also consider "What Every Catholic Couple Should Know" to be an accurate presentation of our Church's teaching in this delicate and vitally important area.
Copy(s) of What Every Catholic Couple Should Know may be obtained by writing to Wendy at the above address. She also has available rosaries and devotional materials available for a small donation.
Check out the Cukierski Family Apostolate Home Page. Many good articles.
Damaging Effects of Artificial Birth Control and Benefits of Natural Family Planning.
Other Recommended Books.
*According to research of Dr Erik Odeblad it is possible to detect fertility with much simpler observations.
Interview on Birth Control
Human Cloning: A Catholic Perspective (How the Unthinkable Became Inevitable)
Mary Bloom Center for Natural Family Planning
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Birth Control (by Protestants Against Birth Control)
The Preacher and the Pill (How the Church and feminism gave a woman control of her body)
Artificial birth control as a major root cause of poverty: Keynote Address to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Gathering, May 16, 1997.
What Every Catholic Couple Should Know
For more on the struggle between dissent and orthodoxy see my review of Flawed Expectations.
Why Humanae Vitae Was Right An excellent book on the Birth Control Debate edited by Dr. Janet Smith
Review of Why Humanae Vitae Was Right
A clear and concise Summary of Church Teaching on Contraception
Chemical Abortions (Interview with Dr. Thomas Hilgers, M.D.)
To plan or postpone pregnancy: Billings Method
Cukierski Family Apostolate
"Not Your Mother's Birth Control"
Infertile and Catholic: Help for Catholic couples who have been unable to have children.
The Moral Difference between NFP and Birth Control. (Response to letter from Ken Stuart.)
He Approached the Victim: "It's much more likely one of your relatives will lose his life by surgical abortion than by heart attack."
Surviving as a Catholic Family (Archbishop Charles Chaput reflects on the difference between Birth Control and Natural Family Planning)
Stem Cell Research: Teaching of Bible & Catholic Church
Germaine Greer on Birth Control