I Read Humanae Vitae, And Woke Up A Catholic Hipster

"St. Gwyndaf's Church, Llanwnda" by Hippy-dippy (2014) via Flickr, Public Domain

“St. Gwyndaf’s Church, Llanwnda” by Hippy-dippy (2014) via Flickr, Public Domain

Altar boy, youth group, Mass on Sundays (even in college)…

That pretty much describes this cradle Catholic’s journey from childhood to marriage.

I was proud to be Catholic!


I was a Cafeteria Catholic…at best.

I was all about the judge not, help the poor, God is love stuff, but as for all the other stuff like marriage between one man and one woman, the intrinsic evil of contraception, and chastity before marriage…eh, not so much.

I carried that cafeteria perspective through my wedding day, and up until the time that we had our first child.

At that point, my wife and I felt God tugging at our hearts, calling us closer to him. We desired to live a more authentic life now that we were parents, and that drove our decision to give the Church a serious listen before we rejected it in favor of what we simply felt was easy for us.

And so, we took on our number-one disagreement with the Church: contraception.

For us, as a young married couple looking to move up in the world, contraception seemed like a necessity. We wanted to be in control of our lives, and it seemed like an easy way to achieve that control.

As far as the morality of it? Honestly, it seemed at the very worst, morally grey. I had a little bit of Catholic guilt about it, but was quick to rationalize it away with my “we’re actually still open to life since birth control pills are only 99% effective” mentality (the use-related rate, not the method-related rate, of course).

But, with a child on the way, it was time to give the Church a chance. We were willing to read what those old dudes in Rome had to say, although we were sure that it was outdated and irrelevant.

We printed out Pope Paul VI’s infamous document, Humanae Vitae.


It was like God hit us over the head with a 2×4. We knew it was the truth, and after a little more time fighting it, we gave in to God, and started our long journey with NFP.

While ditching contraception and finally deciding to love each other unconditionally changed out lives in so many ways, one of the most important ways that it impacted us was by leading us to become better Catholics.

When we realized that the Church was right about contraception all along, it quickly became the first domino to fall, and one issue at a time, we moved out of the cafeteria and into the full banquet.

When we realized the Church was right about our number one issue, we decided to look into our other issues with Church teaching.

Guess what? They were right on everything!

And so, I offer you a challenge.

Is there one specific teaching of the Catholic Church that you have a difficult time with? If so, take the time to look into what the Church actually teaches about that issue, and allow yourself to at least be open to all that the Church has to offer.

Disagree with the stance on contraception? Read Humanae Vitae.

Disagree with the stance on abortion? Read Evangelium Vitae.

Disagree with the stance on marriage? Read Theology of the Body.

Diagree with the stance on female ordination? Read Mulieris Dignitatem.

The point is, be brave enough to face your big disagreement with the Church head on.

It only took 31 paragraphs of an almost 50-year-old document to change my life, and I know that God has something similar in store for you too.


Copyright 2015 Tommy Tighe.
Photo: “St. Gwyndaf’s Church, Llanwnda” by Hippy-dippy (2014) via Flickr, Public Domain


About Author

Tommy is a Catholic husband, father of four boys, and the author of The Catholic Hipster Handbook (available now!).


  1. I never had a problem with prevention. I was taught self control and there is a reward for self control. That is not taught in the church. There is a real reward for self control even if God is not involved = you get stuff. But if God is involved you get more.

    Sad, no one teaches that. Self control is the opposite of many sins.

    • Tommy Tighe on

      Thanks for the comment. You are so right that self-control and self-mastery are so important, and thanks be to God that we have a plethora of amazing saints who show us the truth of how self-control set us free!

  2. I love the challenge you throw out here, Tommy! I knew nothing of the Church’s teaching on this issue until I was well into my 20’s, and once I read up on it, my ambivalent heart was changed forever. And thank God for that!

  3. I read this and its been an issue for me since I got married. I’ve always had irregularities in my cycle. My sisters and I and I think my mum as well. How do you consider people with such issues? A lot of people have this problem

    • Hi Uzo! I’m sure Tommy can speak to this too, but I thought I’d leave a quick note with my experience. The different methods of Natural Family Planning (I’m thinking of Creighton in particular) do account for irregular cycles. If you contact a practitioner of this method, he or she could speak to your specific situation and how to handle it, whether to achieve or avoid pregnancy. Good luck to you!

    • Hi Uzo!

      Thanks for the comment!!

      Tiffany is totally right. Natural Family Planning takes into account cycle irregularities…just think about how crazy it can get for nursing moms!!

      Thanks again!

    • Chiming in to say that you CAN use NFP with irregular cycles, and because I had lots of data about my cycles, and what was normal and not normal for me (even with irregularities) I was able to get treatment for endometriosis. And women are not supposed to have 28-day cycles every month. NFP helps you know what’s going on, and what’s normal for you.

  4. Fantastic article, Tommy! My husband and I have taught NFP for 10 years and are big fans of Humane Vitae and Theology of the Body. I love stories of how people’s eyes have been opened to the beauty of Church teaching! Thanks for sharing!

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.