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Life-Giving Love: Embracing God's beautiful design for marriage, Kimberley Hahn
(Servant Publications, 2001, 375pp, $26.95. Available from AD Books)
Scott Hahn, in his foreword to his wife Kimberly's book, Life-Giving Love, writes that it "offers a fresh but deeply-rooted perspective on the true meaning of marital love and its implications for a number of significant issues: NFP, contraception, infertility, abortion, sterilisation and miscarriage. She draws from Scripture and Church teachings as well as poignant personal experiences from dozens of families who share their stories. Their testimony will help you rediscover the path of prayer, sacrifice and self discipline that God intends for married couples - the path of life-giving love."
Kimberly beautifully describes the relationship between love and life, with God "the very essence of love and the source of all life" who joyfully created us out of love, so that we could be life-giving lovers and life-loving givers, like Himself.
Marriage is compared with the Trinity: "Two persons become three persons in one family, reflecting the three in one Trinity". As Kimberly's husband Scott says, "The one flesh union of persons in the act of marriage is so powerful that nine months later you might have to give it a name."
Kimberly states that according to God "children are always and only a blessing - no Scripture or Church document declares a downside of openness to life." Nowhere in the Bible will you find the following proverb: "Blessed are the man and woman who have at least four years spacing between their children, because they will never be stuck double-diapering."
Beginning with clear insights from Scripture, Kimberly shows how Natural Law "helps us to see that the truth about openness to life is truth for the whole world." She explains that contraception degrades human sexuality with a myriad of negative relational and health consequences: "In summary, contraception is against nature, Scripture, Tradition, virtue and common sense. We have to be more than anti-abortion, we have to be pro-life." Contraception is not a solution: it is in fact "contra-life, contra-woman, and contra-love."
Kimberly then gives the testimonies of couples who had used contraception but then saw through the lie, embracing God's beautiful design for marriage. One couple felt their communication was stifled and their dignity denied while using the pill. But after 20 years they saw the light, becoming more intimate than ever, with the wife no longer feeling used.
The author begins a chapter on NFP by relating that when she and husband Scott informed family and friends of their change from birth control to NFP, they were told that they were foolish because they were risking pregnancy: "We realised that all of us, though we were Christians, had bought into the cultural mindset that pregnancy was a risk."
Kimberly uses this chapter to extol the wonderful way that NFP can integrate with God's beautiful design for marriage. However, she takes this further: NFP needs a pro-child attitude; and while NFP may not be available in some situations, God's design for marriage always is.
Common objections to welcoming one more soul are answered with Kimberly dealing extremely well with the commonly asked question, "was this pregnancy planned?"
From her pain and the pain of others, Kimberly offers solace, support and encouragement to those who have miscarried, given birth to handicapped children, or experienced still birth. She offers suggestions on what others can do and say to help a grieving family.
In a chapter on infertility, Kimberly speaks with sincerity to those who are suffering, explaining in 14 pages eight things that can be said to couples struggling with infertility. She also offers spiritual comfort, practical suggestions and the testimonies of other couples' experiences.
This easy-to-read book is highly recommended to all married and engaged couples, as well as to priests, religious, grandparents and friends of married couples. It is a book with heart enough to enable readers to relate to the author and those providing their testimonies so that they will feel they have a new bunch of supportive friends.
The book's approach to God's design for marriage, communicating as it does an intelligent faithfulness to God and the Church, wins the praise of philosopher Peter Kreeft: "This book is the book to give to the world to explain and defend the Church's teachings on this issue."
Leanne and Michael Casanova are a Melbourne Catholic couple and parents of a young family.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 16 No 4 (May 2003), p. 16
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