The Facebook post showed a series of pictures of a young, apparently in-love, couple. In the first, the man, his arm around the woman, is holding up “tighty-whitie” male underwear with the words “Snip-Snip” impressed into them.
For anyone who might be confused, the accompanying words clarify: “We have a very exciting announcement to make! We are expecting…NEVER! Got snipped mid-December and looking forward to the child free life.”
While the couple’s motives cannot be fully known, they shared, very purposefully, a typically private decision with the world, and I can’t help but wonder if their public declaration to forgo the possibility of parenting revealed far more than they intended.
The message certainly fits the current societal mindset that Pope John Paul II called the Culture of Death. By design, marriage implies an openness to life, a fruitfulness. Marriage that closes into itself cannot help but be, above all, self-interested.
Recently, an interviewee reminded me that, from the Christian mindset, all relationships should ultimately open outwardly to God and benefit others. Relationships focused only inwardly are doomed to suffer. In her wisdom, the Church warns us of this through her teachings. Few, however, are paying attention to these urgent warnings.
We cannot judge this couple’s hearts; that’s God’s domain. But we can assess the message being conveyed, and whether it’s good. From that light, many questions arise, along with a sadness. I don’t find cause for jubilation here, nor a yearning to offer fist-pumps to the couple. Their closedness to life seems dark to me, similar to the bleakness I feel while praying at North Dakota’s only abortion facility.
Some might challenge me, asking, “But what if this couple feels they would not be good parents?” I answer by saying that most parents, if not all, have felt ill-equipped at some point in the parenting journey. Feeling reluctance toward the very big task of parenting is natural. But here, there’s no allowance for the reality that feelings change.
People with wounds can heal. Those who feel ill-equipped in one phase of their lives might find themselves feeling differently later. The permanency of the decision is what seems so grim. It does not allow for hope, for change, for life, for an expansion of love.
When we make permanent decisions based on temporary situations, we can create real hardship for ourselves and others. To me, that is what is at the heart of the many bewildered reactions I got from those who commented on this post on my timeline. While a few sent giggle emojis, the majority expressed sadness.
Many years ago, I interviewed a couple who had had a vasectomy, and, to their surprise, despite this decision, they conceived and welcomed into their lives a beautiful little boy. He was the light of their lives, an unexpected, late gift to their marriage.
Vasectomy reversals are also possible. I’ve read about success stories on these as well.
Though not all regretted decisions can be reversed, in Christ, there is always hope.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Feb. 21, 2022.]