“Two roads diverged in a wood…” Once I had a similar experience to Frost’s. I was climbing Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire and about halfway up the mountain came to a fork in the path. On my left was a grassy plain that went across one side of the mountain. It didn’t have a steep incline and looked fun and easy. Straight ahead of me, however, was a steep path that appeared to go straight up to the summit. Through the trees I could see the path wasn’t really a path, but more like a gathering of huge gray boulders that the poor climber would have to conquer. Undoubtedly that path would be hard, and it would require some pain in the knees and thighs along with a lot of physical exertion.
“Is the view at the top worth it?” I wondered.
I think the current culture war over contraception brings to light two different options, like the paths I faced, when it comes to views on love, human sexuality, and contraception.
First let’s examine the grassy plain. The Guttmacher institute claims that 99% of women aged 15-44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one method of contraception. Without judging any of the individuals that make up that 99% percent or taking up the issue of the reliability and bias of this statistic (as the Guttmacher institute was founded as a division of Planned Parenthood), the truth is that the majority of American women choose to use contraception.
Why is the contraceptive lifestyle like the grassy plain that slopes across the mountain? Why is it the path of least resistance? Contraception provides quick and easy solutions to the problem of unwanted pregnancy. It allows men and women to have sex without consequences, which means they are free to give in to their urges. You want to have sex but not get married? That’s fine. Contraception is here for you. It offers a cheap, quick, and easy version of love, which is more like plain lust. It’s often short, lasting even for just one night, a “hook-up.”
In the third-world as well, contraception is a quick solution for many problems. People dying of AIDS? Give them condoms. Starving children on the streets? Sterilize the lower classes so there won’t be more mouths to feed.
But is putting a band-aid over a gaping wound a real solution?
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I, - / I took the one less traveled by,” writes Frost near the end of his poem. Why is the road less traveled preferable? Why did I eventually choose the rocky mountain path that took me straight up to the summit of the mountain?
The hard path doesn’t always give fast results or fix things quickly. Choosing not to use contraception or support abortion is unpopular and requires education, self-control, and effort. Just look at what the website www.chastity.com says on its home page:
“Hook-ups, friends with benefits, safe sex, and now safer sex? Our generation found out the hard way that none of it gives us the love we long for… If you want [real romance] be prepared to sacrifice. Only then will you see that the peace and joy that comes from chastity is worth more than all the pleasure in the world.”
Living a life of chastity and not using contraception has countless long-term benefits gained after much sacrifice and effort: real respect for one’s self and partner, greater love and commitment between partners, the discipline to make sacrifices and wait, freedom from slavery to one’s sexual urges, and obviously a much lower risk of STDs and unwanted pregnancies.
After my arduous hike to the top of Mt. Monadnock, I took in the spectacular view of southern New Hampshire’s rolling hills. The sun shone clear and the cool air filled my lungs. Yes, the summit was definitely worth the climb.
“I took the one less traveled by / And that has made all the difference.” Choose the road less traveled. It’s worth it to be the 1%.
Frost, Robert. "The Road Not Taken." By Robert Frost : The Poetry Foundation. The Poetry Foundation. Web. 16 Mar. 2012.
Mosher WD and Jones J, Use of contraception in the United States: 1982–2008, Vital and Health Statistics, 2010, Series 23, No. 29.
"Chastity.com." Chastity.com. Catholic Answers. Web. 16 Mar. 2012.