To the Young Woman Buying Condoms at the Store

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To the Young Woman Buying Condoms at the Store

Dear young woman who I observed buying condoms at the store the other night,

You probably didn’t notice that we crossed paths the other night.  Coincidence Providence placed us in the same grocery aisle when I was buying baby supplies which someone humorously located right across from the family planning section.

You were there with a girlfriend and you were on your cell phone.  You sounded a bit tipsy.

As I walked by holding my baby, I overheard you explain to your caller, “I’m trying to buy condoms here.”

I admit it: I shuddered when you said that.  Judging by appearances, you must be at least ten years younger than myself. No wedding ring either.

Your girlfriend casually suggested buying someone else a box of condoms too.  And one for herself.  “Might as well,” you said.

Then my heart bled.

Let me explain.  I realize we aren’t personally acquainted.  I’m not here to judge you or belittle you or to lambast you with fire and brimstone over your personal choices but I am here to tell you one thing: you are beautiful.

Let me repeat that.  You. Are. Beautiful.

That’s probably why it hurt to overhear you that night, to watch you and your friend pay for your condoms and walk away laughing into the night.  Because there but for the grace of God go I.

I wanted to run after you and tell you how you deserved better than inebriated “safe” sex, to show you a card of the Divine Mercy, to introduce you to my one-year-old as an interactive example of what sex is actually meant for.

I wonder if you would have listened.

At the pregnancy center I see girls, no, young women like yourself who all made a string of decisions, perhaps starting with buying condoms at the store, only to wind up broken, isolated, and regretful.  It’s nothing I would want for you or anyone and yet I failed to have the courage to dissuade you from your choices that night.

But if I had been more bold, I suppose I would have started with telling you that you are beautiful.  After that would come the heartfelt, motherly diatribe on how condoms are ugly, awkward things and that premarital sex is beneath you and that you could change your life, find a deserving life partner, and discover your true worth at any time.

Again, I wonder if you would have listened.

Perhaps I could have shared my own experience.  You see, I don’t know what condom-sex feels like, but I can’t imagine it’s better than the au natural.

I only know what it is like to have sex with my husband without any barriers between us.  By God’s grace I have been blessed to experience what it is to have a man cherish me for all I am and relish in the joy of conceiving child after child with me, and who desires all of me, including my fertility, in a passionate way.

My question to you, my dear, is this: isn’t that something you want for yourself?

I guarantee you, that stupid family planning (I hate the combination of those two words) aisle isn’t going to stock that degree of commitment for you.

And I promise you this: whether or not you feel what you are doing is wrong, I’m sure there is a question in your heart over whether there is anything more you are meant for.

I’m here to tell you there is.  There is a plan for sex for you and me and everyone.  It is, in fact a perfect plan that is moral, natural, satisfying, fun, pleasurable, marriage strengthening, life-giving, and faith solidifying.

What’s more, you and I, in all of our imperfections and sinfulness, have been made worthy of it because you are a child of God and again, you are beautiful.

Somehow, someway, someday I hope you will listen.  And I pray to have the courage to finally speak this truth in love to you.

Signed,

Your big sister in Christ who would gladly throw herself in front of a bus to keep you from sin, if she could (as would all of your anonymous sisters in Christ who are praying for you.)

Copyright 2014, Marissa Nichols

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13 Comments

  1. My husband and I both waited until we were married to have sex, but we also don’t judge anyone who does differently because it’s none of our business. While your concern for the girls’ well-being may have been genuine, I assume they were old enough to be making their own decisions. Don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than you do.

  2. NotHolierThanThou on

    Are you freaking serious? You know, some people like sex and don’t feel like waiting for someone to come along. Women know they are beautiful, they do not have sex because of a low self esteem. And I don’t feel like popping out a bunch of kids I can’t afford so I still use condoms while married nearly five years. My body belongs to ME, not some guy in the sky. I feel sorry for you having to live your life worrying about how he is shame-shaming you and every choice you make. You exist but you don’t live. I prefer living.

    • I’ve been around women who regret their sexual past. They were broken and in pain–they did not know of their beauty in any substantive way. From a brief glimpse at Marissa’s blog, she doesn’t appear to be worrying about shame. She appears to be a joyful woman who understands that God is pure love.

  3. To the two previous commentators, the author clearly was not judging. She was merely hoping for something different for the woman buying condoms. Hoping for something better. Anne, I don’t think the author or Catholics in general are looking down on someone by lovingly explaining the truth, don’t all people do the same in any form of education? It’s not judgemental for a teacher to correct her students math test. It’s not judgemental to embrace and help a woman with a crisis pregnancy while wishing that life would be better for her, wishing that there was a husband to support her. NotHolierThanThou, I understand that you have financial concerns about having children. While I know it is doable to have babies on a budget, that is between you, your husband and God. Perhaps you are unaware that there are other ways of very effectively (dare I say more effective than condom use if done properly) spacing or avoiding (or achieving) pregnancy (try Creighton fertility system). Natural Family Planning allows couples to give their bodies to each other without barriers and yet still meet the needs of their fertility plans. I don’t think God is shaming anyone for how they live. I know He loves everyone in whatever situation that they are in. I also know that God has a plan for sex and marriage. That is why husbands and wives give themselves completely to each other in their vows on their wedding day. But they aren’t truly married until they consummate the marriage – when they give themselves to each other completely physically, spiritually, emotionally. When a husband and wives have sex they are renewing their wedding vows. Using a condom or other forms of artificial birth control is contradictory to those vows because while the idea is “I am giving myself to you completely” the bodies have a barrier. That is why the Church doesn’t allow artificial birth control. Not because some guy in the sky wants to control you or doesn’t want you to live, it’s because our Creator wants us to live fully and love fully. Without the worry of broken condoms and spouses drifting apart. Without the teenagers giving pieces of themselves away that they can never get back. There is no judgement here, only a hope for something better.

  4. Marissa, I, too, wish I had the courage to speak up beforehand, like in the family planning aisle. I volunteer at a pregnancy center and I work for a program for pregnant teens. When the ladies find themselves there, they are broken and scared. If only someone shared with them, taught them truth, gave them hope before learning the hard way. I guess I fear facing personally the criticisms and responses like some of the ones above. “Come, Holy Spirit, grant us the gift of courage.”

  5. P.S. While my sin is not misusing sex, if anyone in public sees/ hears me sinning (my fault tends to be gossip), please feel free to correct me. I may be embarrass, but I would ultimately be grateful.

  6. @Meghan So what if she is judging? She is mostly judging herself for not speaking up when she knew these girls were sinning. We get quoted and quoted ad infinitum about “judge not lest ye be judged” but people conveniently forget the next part of the sentence “go forth and sin no more.” Christ wanted ALL parties to stop sinning including the prostitute. She doesn’t get a free pass because she is a woman and her sin is of a sexual nature. The use of condoms is sinful in the Catholic religion. Mrs. Nichols is castigating herself for her own cowardice, fear of censure and bowing to cultural pressure (“none of my business'” “live and let live”) to not say anything. Faithful Catholics who understand the Church’s teachings on sexuality must start speaking up, otherwise the prevailing cultural norms exemplified by @notholierthanthou and @Ann go unchallenged and sin continues unchecked.

    @NotHolierThanThou I strongly urge you to study the Church’s teachings on the theology of the body. Sex is a part of God’s plan and an incredibly beautiful creation in the context of marriage and creation. And yes, we are accountable for ALL our actions, including sexual ones. I hope you continue to read Catholic Mom with an open mind. I know your thoughts about the Church’s teachings on sex and women are the mainstream cultural norm and I used to believe the way you do, but once I started opening my mind, heart and soul, my thinking radically changed. I urge you to keep following this bog.

  7. Pingback: This May Horrify A Catholic Mom, But As An Atheist Mom, I’d Be Proud | Godless Mom

  8. Thanks to those who read the column so thoughtfully and defended me so well! You guys should be the columnists – not me! Pray for those who are deeply not at peace and lash out – and thanks for trying to speak the truth to them in charity.

  9. What I’ve learned about judging and sinning is simply this: while we are all only human, some of us strive for connectedness with God. This means avoiding some basic, self-defeating actions that dilutes the holiness/peace we crave – – those things called “sins,” not because we want to judge, or pretend to be “holier than thou,” but because sinning breaks hearts. Example: sex before marriage adds a confusing context to a relationship, and can blur what is really important in developing a permanent relationship; and I’m not even referring to what happens if a baby is conceived. If you’re strong enough to avoid sin, then pray for the rest of us to get there. If you’re not, then I will see you in the line to confession!!

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