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Religious Studies > Catholics and NFP
cagnew's Avatar cagnew 04:53 PM 09-22-2010
I am currently studying marriage, sexuality, and the history of NFP in the Catholic Church. I am doing this because I have been feeling like something is not right about the use of NFP these days. I understand that Paul VI said it was okay in his encyclical Humanae Vitae. I understand that Pius XII CAUTIOUSLY said it was okay if used for very serious reasons (in his Address to Midwives... which, incidentally is a beautiful thing to read). I know that some people interpret the encyclical Casti Connubii (sp?) to say NFP is okay (but that is open to debate). I know the issue was also addresses a bit in the 1800's, at which time it was okayed as a "lesser of two evils" if the spouse was practicing onanism (pulling out).

I have read all the major works that deal directly with the matter. What I notice is a dangerous pattern- first it's the lesser of two evils (still making it an evil). Then it's okay, but only in very serious circumstances and even then the option of complete celibacy is pushed. Then it's okay if you have just reasons (this was said when the 60's when the Church was dealing with the Pill). Then it's pretty much just okay as long as you think your reasons are good enough. Like the teaching is slowly being watered down and made to be more and more like the secular use of artificial birth control.

So... I tend to be suspisious of everything said of NFP from the 60's on. Because this has become so important to me, I have decided to push on and seek a better answer. I am researching in order to make a decision about NFP in the light of Catholic tradition. And what I have found so far makes me think the Church's pushing of NFP is dangerous.

If my research confirms my suspicions, I plan on writing a book about it.

However, I want to make sure I remain open-minded. I could be wrong and I am open to that. That's why I as hoping to start a discussion on it here.

What do you think about NFP? What do you think is good about it? Do you think there are limits to it? How do you think it differs from birth control use?

cagnew's Avatar cagnew 04:58 PM 09-22-2010
This is a little stream of thought thing I wrote before I started my research (although I had already read many of the major documents concerning NFP). Perhaps reading this will help you to refute the challenges I have with regard to NFP use:

"Humanity went thousands of years without NFP (in the modern sense). Suddenly, it is something that is so important that all engaged couples have to learn how to use it. The NFP book even says there are circumstances when we are OBLIGED to use it. Why would we be obliged now- but not before the discovery of cycles? It isn’t like times are more dangerous now. They are better now than ever. Pregnancy and childbirth have never been so safe. Why would God suddenly OBLIGE us to avoid children by using NFP? In the past, couples refrained from sex altogether if it was really important to avoid pregnancy. Janet Smith talks about how awesome NFP is to encourage couples to talk (shouldn’t they be talking anyway?) and remain open to God. I think practicing complete celibacy during tough times would encourage couples to talk and be VERY honest about whether or not another child would be okay. Celibacy was once held in high esteem, when it was in its proper place.

Assuming it was used only in grave matters (like it was intended by Pius XII), would todays widespread abuse of it make NFP an occasion of sin? And shouldn’t we avoid all OOS? Would the abuse be considered a “fruit” thereby rendering NFP bad according to its fruits? And does it matter that at the time of Pius XII’s midwife address NFP had a large failure rate. It worked much less like birth control than it does now. Now we can pinpoint ovulation to the day, making pregnancy “on accident” very unlikely for couples who are serious about it. Does this make a difference?

I feel like NFP is a compromise and nothing more. “Well, you can’t use unnatural b.c, but you can use NFP… just use it wisely.” That sounds like “Don’t have sex- but if you do, use a condom.” And the emphasis on it being natural is dumb. First of all, by saying “Unnatural” birth control is wrong, you are basically saying that natural birth control is not wrong. “Natural” or unnatural, it’s still called birth control. Are we called to control our births? Does something being natural make it great and wonderful and okay? Marijuana is natural. Smoking it is not. Fertility cycles are natural. Temping and charting and avoiding sex to avoid making use of a woman’s fertility is not. Denying yourself or your spouse sex for the purpose of not having children is not moral. Refraining from sex as a sacrifice to God during fertile AND infertile times is moral. It’s the purpose that makes a difference.

How is NFP not birth control? It allows you to have sex while not getting pregnant. They both have the same ends. People argue that it’s the means that makes the difference. That birth control has no sacrifice involved since you don’t have to refrain. Give me a break. Refraining from sex for 4 days is considered a huge sacrifice? Most wives I know are fine with refraining from sex for 7 days or more… and it’s not a sacrifice. It’s a break."
LessTraveledBy's Avatar LessTraveledBy 05:56 PM 09-22-2010
Just a couple of thoughts after I just lost a long message...

Where do you get the idea that couples need to abstain for 4 days?

Sperm can live for up to 7 days and you need to have 3 days of elevated temps in order to be sure ovulation has passed. That right there is 10 days and many couples need to abstain for much longer. Would that be a huge sacrifice to me? Nope. But, apparently, some people have more trouble and, without nfp, being responsible and good parents would be much harder for them. (It was not all rosy before... Not everyone wanted to abstain, even if it might have been beneficial.)

However, maybe what you really need to study is the teaching that Church teaching can and should evolve (is that the right word.. non native here?) as we learn more about things. So, as a practical example, the Church will never say that contraception is ok but, as we have learned more, it makes complete sense to first be cautious about nfp and then to even recommend that couples know it. That does not mean every couple will have a use for it, but it is so much harder to learn post partum than before kids... (I, for one, diagnosed myself with hypothyroidism thanks to nfp... we have also been blessed with a child due to knowing how to reverse it. Knowing out later fertility issues, we might be childless had we not known nfp.)

So, to be honest, I just don't see the problem at all. JPII once wrote that it was now his experience that nfp was also great in working the other way: If a couple is practicing nfp without sufficient reasons, it often becomes difficult for them and they will come to see that they don't need it. It will open their hearts. On the other hand, if they truly do need it, they will be very motivated and it will not be very difficult for them. (Sorry, he certainly said it so much better but it was something like that. Once again, he was expressing how through the couples' use of nfp, we had come to know more about it and appreciate something new about it.)

A rather small % of Catholics worldwide use nfp. Some don't need it, some don't care, some have not learned, etc. I am actually more worried for those families who seem to choose only openness, but not responsibility for the ones they already have. (I love big families, btw, and was converted partly due to one. It is a great blessing to be called to have many children, if one indeed is called.) There are people who can be good parents to 10+ kids and it is beautiful. However, it is very sad to see families where kids are more or less neglected. (I see this more with groups other than Catholics, luckily.)

Sometimes keeping your pants on, whatever it is called at any time in history, is the right thing to do. Sometimes not. And only God knows which he is calling each couple at any given time.
JMJ's Avatar JMJ 07:04 PM 09-22-2010
I'd be interested in learning more about what you find out. I'm still forming my conscience on when NFP to postpone is warranted or not. My immediate thought on reading your posts is that throughout history, ecological breastfeeding gave proper spacing to babies. Some people will argue that ecological breastfeeding is the original NFP. In our time and culture, ecological breastfeeding is not as common, really not supported at all, and with our Western diet, it is not as effective in spacing babies properly as it is other places.

I personally don't anticipate needing anything other than ecological breastfeeding to space my babies in the forseeable future, but I'm ecoBFing my 18 month old with no cycles in sight and following a traditional foods diet.

Other people I know, for whatever reason, have had cycles come back at 3 months. There are many Catholic families who have a child every year, and I don't think that was God's design either. I do feel more comfortable with living and mothering naturally and experiencing the natural child spacing that goes along with it, but I don't think it's a sin not to, and using NFP to give prudent spacing to your children seems at least as good as total abstinence.
Trigger's Avatar Trigger 07:20 PM 09-22-2010
Mods, can we have this moved to RS so we may properly debate the topic without getting in trouble?
cagnew's Avatar cagnew 09:40 PM 09-22-2010
anu: Actually, you are correct about the number of days. For some reason I was only thinking of ovulation day, plus 4. Skip of the brain As for the lifespan of sperm, while it has been shown that they can live for up to 7 days, the norm is up to 4 days, and that is if fertile mucus is present. It will vary according to each woman's cycle. With OPK's (ovulation predictor kits), fertility monitors, and mucus observation, you can figure out when you ovulate before having to wait for 3 days of high temps. Most people wait just to be sure.

Using NFP to find out when you are fertile is fine, except that once you learn those signs, you can't forget them and they can be an occasion of sin. When you know you are probably fertile and your husband is all about getting it on, it can be very tempting to turn him away because you just don't feel like chancing a pregnancy, regardless of whether or not circumstances are appropriate. I know I have had the thought... "I really want to be able to drink a few pina colodas at the beach and if I get pregnant right now, I won't be able to" and that led me to be tempted to refrain from sex even though I normally would have been up for it. After all, I was open to life... I just wanted to wait another couple months so I could enjoy my vacation time the way I wanted. It's just a personal example and it's just thought.

When you read the documents prior to Humanea Vitae, it is very clear that NFP should be reserved for grave times. Very clear. Why would it suddenly be okay to evolve into something else? What changed in that 10 years or so that made NFP acceptable in maybe not-so grave times? I would argue that Paul VI was getting a lot of pressure because of the sudden popularity of the birth control pill. He knew he couldn't say yes to the pill, but he also knew a complete "no" to birth control would cause a lot of problems. So he pushed NFP.

Incidentally, the first mention of NFP that i have found is in St. Augustines day. There was a group of people in the church who somehow got into their heads that having babies was wrong because it caused a soul to become entrapped in flesh. They suspected that females were only fertile half the time and were instructing couples to refrain during the time they expected fertility. St. Augustine's reply:

"Is it not you who used to counsel us to observe as much as possible the time when a woman, after her purification, is most likely to conceive, and to abstain from cohabitation at that time, lest the soul should be entangled in flesh? This proves that you approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage, and makes the woman not a wife, but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her is joined to the man to gratify his passion. Where there is a wife there must be marriage. But there is no marriage where motherhood is not in view; therefore neither is there a wife. In this way you forbid marriage. Nor can you defend yourselves successfully from this charge, long ago brought against you prophetically by the Holy Spirit."

Those are some strong words! Note that he didn't just condemn their reason for using "nfp"- he condemned the whole idea of refraining during the fertile periods.

As for people who have big families and neglect their kids- that is a parenting problem that has nothing to do with family size. Does having a big family make it seem worse? Yeah, because there are more kids for them to neglect. If they only had 1 or 2 kids, would they do better? Maybe... but that sucks for the other 5 that never have a chance at life or eternal happiness in heaven.

The reason God gave us breastfeeding is to feed our children. It's good and natural and, in the past, was the only way to feed a baby (besides wet nurses I guess). For many women it spaces out the children by 2 years. Since breastfeeding is the God-given way to feed the children He blesses us with, and it naturally causes our cycles to be on pause, I think it's safe to say that it is God's way of spacing children. Is it okay to breastfeed for the PURPOSE of spacing kids? I would say that having that attitude would be wrong. I mean, you can be happy that BF'ing spaces kids, but to prolong it just for that reason wouldnt be right.

So, back to "grave" reasons. Times have changed. Most families have two cars and decent houses and take vacations. They have cell phones and computers and i-pods- and so do their kids. We live in a time that is full of materialism. We live in a time when having a college fund is something "required" for raising a child. Because of all these "needs" we have two-income families. And daycare and babysitting costs. And let's face, it's expensive to live these days.

Many people say they can't afford another baby and that's why they avoid pregnancy. It's very tempting to think that we HAVE to live a certain way and we HAVE to give our children a certain American lifestyle. I have an aquaintance who freaked out when he heard me questioning NFP. I asked him why he and his wife used it. He said because he lives in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in DC and he can't afford to have another baby (and his wife can't afford to stay home, much to his sadness). I'm sorry, but he is wrong. Using NFP because you want to have a certain lifestyle is not right.

We do not have to have college funds and nice houses and cell phones and whatnot. Those things aren't important and certainly are not more important than bringing a child into the world.

Remember, every child born is a gift from GOD. He created that child and gave it to you. It was not an accident or a mistake. Every child has an eternal soul capabale of glorifying God and living for an eternity in heaven. That is NOTHING compared to cahsing the American dream.
cagnew's Avatar cagnew 09:56 PM 09-22-2010
If NFP was ever okay, what circumstances would be grave enough to use it?

A mother that knows another pregnancy would in all likelihood kill her and leave her husband alone with their five small children- that couple might have a good reason to use NFP.

A couple living on the streets might have a good reason.

A mother going through chemo might have a good reason.

A mother whose spouse is abusive might have a good reason.

But the only thing I have a hard time with in any "good reason" is Divine Providence. Do we trust God or don't we? He has to be the one to instill a soul into an egg, thereby making it human. If a child is born it is because He specifically willed it into existence. He knows our situations and circumstances, and He knows what is best. If He gives us child at a time that seems inopportune, who are we to say "Uh... I think you got it wrong... we can't have another child right now." Remember, God will never ask us to do anything impossible. If He gives us a child, it is not impossible to take care of it ina way pleasing to Him.

This all gets a bit overwhelming to think about. That's why I am research history. And something currently stands out to me is the change in the purpose of marriage. I think it has something to do with all this, but I am not sure what at this point.

Until Vatican II, marriage was always, without exception, said to have a primary purpose and a secondary, lesser purpose. The primary purpose was the procreation and education of children. The secondary purpose was the union of the spouses, companionship, etc. It was stressed that the 2nd purpose was always to be subordinate to the first.

Then, at some point, it changed a bit. The purpose were made equal. I have even noticed that in Humanae Vitae, Paul VI always mentions procreation AFTER companionship, and in some instances procreation almost sounds like an afterthought.

I don't have the source on me now, but I read an account of Vatican II once that talked about the marriage-thing. When the matter was brought up and they started messing with the language (primary,secondary, etc), several clergy present began to shout "Beware! Beware!" because they were waking on dangerous waters.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent says that if you mess with marriage, you will cause great damage to the Church. Their words are more eloquent than mine

How this relates to NFP isn't completely clear to me, except to say that reducing procreation to something equal to companionship makes having many children seem less important.

Thanks for putting up with my rambling. I hope I don't sound too argumentative. It's important to me to hash this out, even playing devil's advocate if I need to, just to make sure I cover all the bases.
cagnew's Avatar cagnew 10:12 PM 09-22-2010
Another quote, this one from St. John Vianney. He was comforting a woman who was afraid she was too old and tired to have another child:

“Be comforted my child; if you only knew the women who will go to Hell because they did not bring into the world the children they should havegiven to it!”

Also Pope Innocent XI condemned the following statement: "The act of marriage exercised for pleasure only is entirely free of all fault and venial defect.”
Trigger's Avatar Trigger 10:47 PM 09-22-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by cagnew View Post
Another quote, this one from St. John Vianney. He was comforting a woman who was afraid she was too old and tired to have another child:

“Be comforted my child; if you only knew the women who will go to Hell because they did not bring into the world the children they should havegiven to it!”
Personally, I wouldn't have found that very "comforting". And stuff like that is so easy for a MAN to say.
cappuccinosmom's Avatar cappuccinosmom 11:24 PM 09-22-2010
Not Catholic, but I'm living with my very Catholic family. My parents are doctors, and my sister is in med school, so we often discuss the medical/practical aspects of Catholic doctrine (over supper )

We have talked about this and even in the Couple to Couple League writing, there are so many glowing NFP "testimonies" that do not seem to qualify as the kind of serious situations necessitating holding off conception that the original teaching would imply. My sis and her fiance are super conservative Catholics, and my sister does not feel that being in med school is sufficiently dreadful to practice prevention measures, even NFP. They lean more towards complete openness, with NFP to prevent as an "allowance" but not an acceptable full-time lifestyle.

Also, Corrie, you are absolutely right about the "evolution" of beliefs like this. I used to have a fascinating book detailing this same process in the Mennonites (going from essentially the same as Amish to rejecting almost all of their traditions and some churches being on the left of left, socially and politically). It was amazing to see it all laid out in chronological order.
Shami's Avatar Shami 10:11 AM 09-23-2010
How is nfp different than any other medical knowledge we have gained over all of these centuries?

Since God is the source of everything and He arranges our lives and allows whatever we go through, then maybe we shouldn't take medical treatment for anything since that would be interfering with what God is doing. Some groups feel like they should trust the Lord and through prayer they believe their bodies will heal. I guess if they don't heal then they believe that it is God's will.

Sorry if it's a dumb question. I don't have much knowledge of the original documents and intentions of the Churches stand on procreation.

I was wondering something related to this. I have one child and am having trouble conceiving again. Should I just accept it as God's will or should I try and do everything possible to conceive again? Maybe God doesn't want me to have another child? Not trying to derail the thread. If God gave us all of this medical knowledge should we assume that God wants us to use it?
cagnew's Avatar cagnew 10:41 AM 09-23-2010
Trigger: St. John Vianney was not just any man. I highly recommend reading about him. He was one of the most holy priests I have ever had the pleasure to learn about (hence he is the patron of priests). God used him to do countless miracles of healing. He hardly ever ate. He hardly ever slept because he spent 16 hours a day and sometimes more int he confessional. Plus, when he did go to bed, Satan would throw his stuff around the rooom and move his bed all over to try to freak him out and break his spirit. Awesome, awesome saint.

capp: so far, I tend to agree with your sister. And if its true that it is acceptable only as an allowance, it's silly to assume that all couples will have to prevent pregnancy at some point. Teaching every couple about NFP before they get married is ridiculous. Technically, a priest is not suppose to agree to marry a couple if he knows something stands in the way of a valid marriage. Knowing that you are going into a marriage with the intention of avoiding pregnancy is not acceptable and could very well make a marriage invalid, especially if you go by the old definition of marriage. Sooo... preparing a couple to undermine the purpose of marriage- and requiring that training, as most states seem to do- seems wrong to me at this point. Plus, we are strive for purity in our lives. Talking about intimate topics in detail befoer marriage seems to be an occasion of sin as well. Yes, it's an old fashioned way of thinking, but I refuse to discount something just because it seems old-fashioned.

I'm not a fan of Vatican II (if you can't tell), but I am trying very hard to keep that out of my opinions and determinations on NFP.
cagnew's Avatar cagnew 11:07 AM 09-23-2010
Shami: Not a dumb question at all! I think you have a valid point. However, not all medical procedures are considered moral and acceptable. Abortion has evolved over time, but it's still not okay. The so-called "death with dignity" movement has found "humane" ways of killing yourself if you want to end your life, but that's not okay. Catholics do not believe in vitro or any other artificial reproductive technology is acceptable, even though the end is something that seems good. Science has given us a way to practically choose the sex and looks of our children, but that's not okay either. So, we (catholics... not sure if you are Catholic... sorry to keep saying we) have to use the light of tradition to determine if a new medical procedure is acceptable for a christian to use.

I have given thought to the use of NFP to acheive pregnancy, as well as the use of fertility drugs (which the Church okays because it doesn't interfere with the sexual act, etc). If you believe it's wrong to do anything to prevent pregnancy because you believe God is in control, than it would seem it would be wrong to do anything to purposely get pregnant. What I have come up with so far is that, just as NFP might be okay in certain circumstances, maybe drugs like Clomid are okay in certain circumstances. For example, say a couple gets married and wants kids right away. The woman is fairly sure she has PCOS and therefore does not ovulate all the time. I don't think it would be okay to run to the doctor and get Clomid right away. I think they should give it time and see what happens. If, after an extended period of time, pregnancy still has not occurred, maybe then it's okay to use Clomid? I don't know. Because really, no matter what you do, you arne't going to get pregnant unless God allows it. On the flip side, God allows things all the time- but sometimes those things He allows are because we have free will, and the person responsible for that thing will be punished for their action. I guess I am thinking of unwed pregnancies and pregnancies that end in abortion whenI say this... God knew the couple was sinning, but He allowed a baby to be created anyway. It really gets a bit confusing, which is why I think I need to do more reading and research.

If pregnancy does not occur for a woman, even after the use of NFP and fertility drugs, I do not believe using further methods to conceive are moral. The reasons change with the methods. FOr example, creating embryo's outside of the womb and implanting them is wrong because #1. conception occurs outside of the marital act (sex) and #2. this often results in the destruction of some of the embryo's, which is the killing of human lives. Plus, freezing those embyro's is clearly wrong- a poor soul is frozen in time... how horrifying!

I don't think children are an entitlement to women. Shortly before I got married, a doctro told me I would never have children naturally. She implied that my only hope was in vitro or something like it. Because I believe those methods are immoral, I knew I couldn't use them. I was devastated. My whole life all I wanted was to get married and have a big old family (well... I wanted 4 or 5 kids). I was never interested in a career or anything like that. When the doctor told me I couldn't get pregnant, I freaked out. I even thought about cancelling the wedding. Over the next couple months I learned that the doctor was slightly wrong- that I could probably use Clomid to increase my chances. Still, I had to accept that kids might not happen. Luckily, the doctor seemed to be wrong all the way. I don't seem to have a problem getting pregnant, although my cycles do take a loooong time, so ovulation doesn't occur every month. And I do seem to have miscarriage issues.

In our society we are taught that we can have whatever we want, and we have the right ot demand it NOW. That's not God's way though. God has a plan for our life and that may or may not include children. We have to have faith that His way, no matter how hard, is the best way for us. And if we believe God loves us more than we can imagine, than the way He chooses would certainly be in our best interest.

Well, I better run. Thanks everyone for humoring me with this conversation
Trigger's Avatar Trigger 12:11 PM 09-23-2010
Slightly note:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cagnew View Post
If pregnancy does not occur for a woman, even after the use of NFP and fertility drugs, I do not believe using further methods to conceive are moral. The reasons change with the methods. FOr example, creating embryo's outside of the womb and implanting them is wrong because #1. conception occurs outside of the marital act (sex) and #2. this often results in the destruction of some of the embryo's, which is the killing of human lives. Plus, freezing those embyro's is clearly wrong- a poor soul is frozen in time... how horrifying!
With all due respect - if you are planning to write a book, you might want to brush up on the proper use of the apostrophe. The above is possessive, not plural.

Regarding Vianney's comment - I find it offensive on a lot of levels, but especially since it seems to negate the whole purpose of Christianity in general - salvation through Christ. To boldly state that anyone "will go to Hell", for whatever reason, is not his judgement to make.
cagnew's Avatar cagnew 05:05 PM 09-23-2010
Trigger-In college I was an English major with a concentration in writing. I did very well in all of my writing classes. However, I am no longer in college- I am a mother. I have 2 small children and not a lot of time. I type fast and that results in typo's galore. This is an internet forum so I don't really care about gramma' and spellin'. I'm sorry if my lack of editing bothers you.

It's fine if you find St. John Vianney offensive. Apparently the Mother of God didn't think he was- she visited with him regularly, as did several other "heavenly beings." Too bad he isn't alive today for you to talk to. Perhaps you would change your mind.

PS- It says in the bible that women are saved through child birth. I will quote the whole thing to give you the context: "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed: then Eve. And Adam was not educed: but the woman, being seduced, was in the transgression. Yet she shall be saved through child-bearing: if she continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety." 1 Timothy 2:11-15

And it is perfectly acceptable to say someone will go to hell if they do or do not do something. The Church is very clear that certain actions are considered mortal sins, and if someone dies in a state of mortal sin without repentance, they will go to hell. What we cannot say is that someone WENT to hell, because we have no way of knowing that. So... YOU WILL GO TO HELL... yes... IS IN HELL... no. See the difference? Now, you can take issue with his particular statement, but I for one would tend to believe him. Other saints have said very similiar things. When I have time, I will provide the quotes or references.

And IT IS his judgement to make because he was the parish priest. It is percisely his judgement to make! It's his job/vocation/calling. His very soul would be in danger of going to hell if he refrained from making judgements such as those. GOd put him in charge of the people in his parish- he was the chosen shephard of their souls! And he did a miraclous job of turning around a dead, sinful village and inspiring them all to holiness. Really- his story is amazing!

This is off-topic, so I will end here. You are entitled to your opinion on the saints, their actions, their statements, and the Church's decision to canonize them.
cagnew's Avatar cagnew 05:53 PM 09-23-2010
I had another thought- what do you think of this?

It's true that God allows babies to be conceived when the parents are clearly not supposed to be having babies (example being unwed couples). So, obviously, pregnancy has it's time and place- but can occur outside of that appropriate time and place. It might be possible that pregnancy is inappropriate during certain circumstances even within marriage. And just like before marriage, the holy road to take would be total abstinence.

HOWEVER... because most people, especially men, are not on that level of holiness, complete abstinence would be very difficult for them. If they tried to go "cold turkey" without being spiritually ready, it could lead them to sin (masterbation, adultry, etc). So, until the person is ready and able to have the self-control needed to practice complete abstinence, and IF the circumstance is truly a grave one (meaning they would actaully be obliged to avoid pregnancy), NFP would be an acceptable allowance. It would be the lesser of two evils, just like the Sacred Pen. said in the 1800's. However, during this period of time when NFP is being used, the couple should be doing whatever necessary to strengthen themselves spiritually so that they could have the self-control needed to practice the holier and more perfect option of complete abstinence.

Perhaps God saw how sexually saturated society was going to become so he had mercy on mankind and provided this little help for extreme times. Because most men enter marriage without having lived a previously pure lifestyle, and because you can't go anywhere without being bombarded with sexual images and immodestly dressed women, it is harder than ever for men to maintain purity. So, in His infinite wisdom, He guided us to discover fertility cycles as a way for married couples to avoid sinning while they work on their self-control issues during hard times.

What do you think? Remember, prior to the sexual revolution, Catholics were expected to maintain chastity in marriage- the whole "anything goes" thing was not accepted. Sex was for procreation first, and even though sex for pleasure within marriage was not condemned per se, it was taught to be lacking virtue and couples were warned that indulging your sexual appetite whenever you feel like it was dangerous. Just like too much food is a serious sin (gluttony), so is too much sex. I know popular Catholic thought and popular trends within the Church at this time do not teach this, but I tend to think the older teachings were right. They made more sense and seemed to lead people down a more clear road of holiness.
LessTraveledBy's Avatar LessTraveledBy 06:03 PM 09-23-2010
Hmmm... There are some problems with this topic: We are not allowed to have a debate in this forum. Also, I don't think you are going to get a lot of responses from practicing Catholics in this thread.

Basically, what you are asking is that people should be interested in a discussion where a Church teaching is being questioned... What this thread seems to suggest is that a single person doing a bit of research can come to the conclusion that s/he is right and the Church is wrong. (The whole "more Catholic than the pope" thing comes to mind.) That would of course be just fine coming from a non-catholic but I don't think a lot of Catholics will wish to participate. We will see.

I don't think a lot of conclusions can be drawn from the St. John Vianney example: He obviously must have known this woman and her needs well to offer such interesting support. I doubt that he would have said it in such a way to someone without knowing her character and situation. No one can go to hell for something they don't know to be a sin. In order for something to be a sin, it needs to be committed freely and with full knowledge. I suppose there were such women at this point in time who felt it would be sinful for them not to have more kids, and yet chose it, without weaknessed and with full knowledge. Who knows. Even saints are not infallable. However, these things are so much between God and the couple that, even if you could find couples practicing nfp for poor reasons, I doubt that you could find many for whom it would actually be sinful. They obviously either have character traits (weaknesses, whatever) or they believe themselves to be acting in good conscience, no matter what it looks like from the outside.

The example of someone who uses nfp due to living in an expensive area makes me more sad than anything... Such a couple probably needs encouragement and patient guidance, not to be used as an example of wrong behavior. They may also have other reasons for nfp which they don't want to share. (How about something like "my husband is falling apart, mentally" or something. You bet I would also feel it was not my place to tell everyone exactly why there were no more kids coming at the moment.)

We all have our background which we can't escape. Due to mine, it always seems strange when nfp is discussed as the "easy way out", something people do when they don't want more children. I understand that there are women out there who don't want more children, now or maybe ever. However, I bet there are as many of maybe many more women (and men) who would so very much want another one right now but need to sacrifice and use nfp for the good of the family or the future child. The other side of being called to procreate is the responsibility that comes with it. Catholics, unlike some others groups, simply do not believe in trying to have as many children as possible.
JMJ's Avatar JMJ 06:15 PM 09-23-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by cagnew View Post
Using NFP to find out when you are fertile is fine, except that once you learn those signs, you can't forget them and they can be an occasion of sin. When you know you are probably fertile and your husband is all about getting it on, it can be very tempting to turn him away because you just don't feel like chancing a pregnancy, regardless of whether or not circumstances are appropriate. I know I have had the thought... "I really want to be able to drink a few pina colodas at the beach and if I get pregnant right now, I won't be able to" and that led me to be tempted to refrain from sex even though I normally would have been up for it. After all, I was open to life... I just wanted to wait another couple months so I could enjoy my vacation time the way I wanted. It's just a personal example and it's just thought.
I think that using our sexual faculties is always a difficult task. I think it was Christopher West (I'm sure you're not a fan of him.) who explained that celibates have it easier in some ways because they just do not have sex. Married people have many factors that must be taken into account when they have sex. Certainly, you should not refuse to give yourself to your husband only because of the alcohol you would like to drink while on vacation, but you could do that even if you did not know when you were likely to get pregnant. You would just assume (rightly) that if you have sex, you may get pregnant.

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When you read the documents prior to Humanea Vitae, it is very clear that NFP should be reserved for grave times. Very clear. Why would it suddenly be okay to evolve into something else? What changed in that 10 years or so that made NFP acceptable in maybe not-so grave times? I would argue that Paul VI was getting a lot of pressure because of the sudden popularity of the birth control pill. He knew he couldn't say yes to the pill, but he also knew a complete "no" to birth control would cause a lot of problems. So he pushed NFP.
I know I should really be more up on some of these earlier documents. Could you share some quotes?

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Incidentally, the first mention of NFP that i have found is in St. Augustines day. There was a group of people in the church who somehow got into their heads that having babies was wrong because it caused a soul to become entrapped in flesh. They suspected that females were only fertile half the time and were instructing couples to refrain during the time they expected fertility. St. Augustine's reply:

"Is it not you who used to counsel us to observe as much as possible the time when a woman, after her purification, is most likely to conceive, and to abstain from cohabitation at that time, lest the soul should be entangled in flesh? This proves that you approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage, and makes the woman not a wife, but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her is joined to the man to gratify his passion. Where there is a wife there must be marriage. But there is no marriage where motherhood is not in view; therefore neither is there a wife. In this way you forbid marriage. Nor can you defend yourselves successfully from this charge, long ago brought against you prophetically by the Holy Spirit."

Those are some strong words! Note that he didn't just condemn their reason for using "nfp"- he condemned the whole idea of refraining during the fertile periods.
It seems to me that St. Augustine is against the idea that you can have marriage without children. What was being practiced was not family planning at all since they did not plan to have any family. Still today, the Church is very clear that marriage is for procreation and upbringing of children. NFP is not to be used to never have children, only to prudently cooperate with God to bring children to life in his timing.

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As for people who have big families and neglect their kids- that is a parenting problem that has nothing to do with family size. Does having a big family make it seem worse? Yeah, because there are more kids for them to neglect. If they only had 1 or 2 kids, would they do better? Maybe... but that sucks for the other 5 that never have a chance at life or eternal happiness in heaven.
I agree that this is a parenting problem more than anything else. At one point in time, my mom and 5 of her siblings (who were born in mostly in pretty quick succession) were all talking and discovered that they all believed that they were the favorite child. My amazing grandparents had parented them in ways that made them each feel loved especially well.

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The reason God gave us breastfeeding is to feed our children. It's good and natural and, in the past, was the only way to feed a baby (besides wet nurses I guess). For many women it spaces out the children by 2 years. Since breastfeeding is the God-given way to feed the children He blesses us with, and it naturally causes our cycles to be on pause, I think it's safe to say that it is God's way of spacing children. Is it okay to breastfeed for the PURPOSE of spacing kids? I would say that having that attitude would be wrong. I mean, you can be happy that BF'ing spaces kids, but to prolong it just for that reason wouldnt be right.
Yes, God gave us breastfeeding to feed our children, and if we get pregnant again when our babies are 3 months old, we will likely not have the milk that we need to provide their nutrition. I do not know of anyone who would breastfeed only because they wish to space their children. If they really desired the spacing, there are much easier ways of creating space between children. The point of using breastfeeding to space children is not so much to have space between children, but to make sure that children who still need so much milk that their nursing is keeping their mother from ovulating get the milk that they need.

Personally, my daughter does not get enough calories from solids yet, and even though she is 18 months old, I would be very concerned about her getting enough to eat. She nurses 20-30 times a day and sleeps at the breast almost all night. There is a very good reason why my cycles have not returned, and that is because my toddler still needs my milk. While I sometimes wish I could have another baby on the way, I know that meeting my daughter's needs right now is more important, and God will (I hope and pray) bless me with a return of fertility and another child when he knows that my child who is already alive is ready to get her nourishment from other sources.

I just wonder, because there are mothers who cannot breastfeed ecologically for whatever reason or whose fertility returns very early after their babies are born due to diet, body type, or other factors. Their babies may still need more milk for their nutrition even though they are fertile again. In our society, with easy access to formula, getting pregnant again and needing to supplement with formula would not likely be a death sentence for the child as it might have been in the past, but it would certainly be better for the child to continue to receive milk from its mother's breasts. I just think that it is more important to make sure that you are able to care for the children you have before you start focusing on the children you could have in the future.

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So, back to "grave" reasons. Times have changed. Most families have two cars and decent houses and take vacations. They have cell phones and computers and i-pods- and so do their kids. We live in a time that is full of materialism. We live in a time when having a college fund is something "required" for raising a child. Because of all these "needs" we have two-income families. And daycare and babysitting costs. And let's face, it's expensive to live these days.

Many people say they can't afford another baby and that's why they avoid pregnancy. It's very tempting to think that we HAVE to live a certain way and we HAVE to give our children a certain American lifestyle. I have an aquaintance who freaked out when he heard me questioning NFP. I asked him why he and his wife used it. He said because he lives in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in DC and he can't afford to have another baby (and his wife can't afford to stay home, much to his sadness). I'm sorry, but he is wrong. Using NFP because you want to have a certain lifestyle is not right.

We do not have to have college funds and nice houses and cell phones and whatnot. Those things aren't important and certainly are not more important than bringing a child into the world.
Even in recent documents and NFP literature, this mentality is strongly criticized. HV is very clear that selfishness is not a good reason to use NFP to avoid pregnancy.

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Remember, every child born is a gift from GOD. He created that child and gave it to you. It was not an accident or a mistake. Every child has an eternal soul capabale of glorifying God and living for an eternity in heaven. That is NOTHING compared to cahsing the American dream.
Amen. Part of responsible parenthood, using NFP or not, is being open to the gift of life that God may give you with every sexual union. Using NFP to postpone pregnancy should always be to tell God, "We do not feel like you are calling us to have another child at this time, but if we have misunderstood your call, please let us know." In this case, a surprise pregnancy is never considered to be an accident or mistake, but rather, a clear answer from God and a blessing.
zinemama's Avatar zinemama 07:54 PM 09-23-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shami View Post
How is nfp different than any other medical knowledge we have gained over all of these centuries?

Since God is the source of everything and He arranges our lives and allows whatever we go through, then maybe we shouldn't take medical treatment for anything since that would be interfering with what God is doing. Some groups feel like they should trust the Lord and through prayer they believe their bodies will heal. I guess if they don't heal then they believe that it is God's will.

Sorry if it's a dumb question. I don't have much knowledge of the original documents and intentions of the Churches stand on procreation.
I've been reading this thread and wondering about Shami's question, too.

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Originally Posted by cagnew View Post
Shami: Not a dumb question at all! I think you have a valid point. However, not all medical procedures are considered moral and acceptable. Abortion has evolved over time, but it's still not okay. The so-called "death with dignity" movement has found "humane" ways of killing yourself if you want to end your life, but that's not okay. Catholics do not believe in vitro or any other artificial reproductive technology is acceptable, even though the end is something that seems good. Science has given us a way to practically choose the sex and looks of our children, but that's not okay either. So, we (catholics... not sure if you are Catholic... sorry to keep saying we) have to use the light of tradition to determine if a new medical procedure is acceptable for a christian to use.
I understand that a Catholic would of course find abortion immoral and fertility treatments, as well, in many cases. Setting those aside though, I still don't really get how using NFP is different from using any other medical knowledge gained by humanity.

I mean, leukemia used to kill children routinely. Now many cases of childhood leukemia are curable. But I can't imagine a Catholic would say that leukemia treatment clearly goes against the will of God, who must have ordained that child to die, the way all those kids did in the past. I'm not trying to debate anything; this isn't a topic I know much about. I just don't understand how using new medical knowledge in one instance is ok, but a woman using medical knowledge of her cycle to determine whether/when we have kids is not, especially since it doesn't involve invasive or artificial reproductive technology, or any technology, really, other than the knowledge people have gained about human reproduction.
cappuccinosmom's Avatar cappuccinosmom 08:01 PM 09-23-2010
zinemama, I have similar questions. As it is often used and promoted, I really don't see any moral difference between NFP and medical/technological birth control (at least the types that are non-abortifacient)

However, the Catholic explanation consists of two aspects: 1. NFP works with God's natural design for the body. 2. NFP does not place a physical barrier to the possibility of conception, and when used to avoid conception is a matter of sacrifice rather than getting the benefits while trying to avoid conception.
Shami's Avatar Shami 12:27 AM 09-24-2010
I hope I don't get too long winded
Gen. says be fruitful and multiply, but it doesn't say how or it doesn't give a method. It doesn't give a number. How fruitful is fruitful? Is one child fruitful enough or is the magic number 6? The Lord tells us many things in the Bible, but the 'how to' is left out! Why??!!
I've been mulling over this thread all day and just finally something occurred to me. Jesus was quite unorthodox, and so was John the Baptist. John was supposedly from a long line of priests, but ended up wearing unclean clothes and eating unclean things out in the woods, rather than in the Temple. He was encouraging everyone to follow the Lord Jesus and be baptized. John in His unorthodox way, paved the way for Jesus to begin His ministry on earth.

Jesus Himself broke the Sabbath to feed His disciples. He healed a man on the Sabbath, too. Jesus called the Pharisees, a brood of vipers. He also made a whip out of some reed and overturned the money changers tables. Then He proceeded to drive everyone out of the Temple, including the animals.

Wait a minute...I thought Jesus was all about peace and love. Okay, I think I made my point.

One more background point before I really get to 'the point' is that in Gen. Adam and Eve became one flesh. Eve was out of Adam, just as the church came out of Christ at resurrection. Adam and Eve are a type of Christ and the Church. Christ is the Head of the body, just as our husband is our head.

The spiritual principle here is to follow the Head and be one with the Head. If a woman is married, then her need is to be completely one with her husband, who is one with the Lord and following the Lord. Yes, I know, it's impossible to be one with our husbands. However, if you have the Spirit living in your human spirit by which you can stay in constant communion with the Lord, then it's a piece of cake! LOL

So, all of the questions that Cagnew asked earlier about when it is appropriate or moral to use nfp all depends on if you are following the Lord your Head and/or your husband.

I am not talking about something so obvious as killing the unborn, but I mean all the gray areas that have been brought up in this thread.

For all of the gray areas, I pray to follow the Lord's leading. If I pray about something and I feel uneasy, anxious, or just 'off' in some way then I DO NOT do it. OTOH, if I pray about something and I feel perfect peace from the Lord and my husband and I are one then we do it. It's all about following the Lord because just following doctrines is not the same as following the Lord. I mean there are doctrines upon doctrines which can make your head spin.

And on the topic of what is right and wrong, this too has to be Spirit led. There isn't one right answer. Example: Say a friend comes and asks to borrow money to pay the rent because they will be evicted soon. The charitable person may think that they must do the charitable thing and give them money.

The Spirit led person may pray and feel that the Lord is giving them an uneasy feeling about giving their friend money. Without knowing why, the Spirit led person says no, I cannot give you money at this time.

Later, it turns out that this 'friend' wasn't being honest and wanted money to do something illegal. So, the if the charitable person had given their friend money, they would have been contributing to an illegal act.

Right and wrong issues are not always what they seem.
Got to go for now.
Trigger's Avatar Trigger 03:20 PM 09-24-2010
Since this thread still resides in the Spirituality forum, and thus is technically non-debatable, I suppose I'll bow out so I don't get in trouble.
cagnew's Avatar cagnew 11:25 PM 09-24-2010
I'm sorry I haven't been able to get back until just now, and I don't have time to reply in detail.

If this thread is inappropriate because of its location, is there a way I can move it? If not, I will go ahead and close it down since it is not my intention to cause trouble.

Again, thanks for the replies. Lots to think about as I work on my research and writing! I'm digging into the Summa Theologica to learn more about prudence and human reason. I'm sure that will lead to something else....

God bless!
springmama's Avatar springmama 05:00 AM 09-26-2010
Very interesting thread, especially for a convert. My annoying laptop deleted the post I had typed up and I am too tired to do it again.
saimeiyu's Avatar saimeiyu 07:23 AM 09-26-2010
I honestly doubt it will get deleted, since the purpose of the thread is quite clear in the OP. At best, it may be moved.

I'm Byzantine Catholic, and as an eastern rite Catholic, we're often far more traditional than your average Latin rite Catholic. Just so you know where I'm coming from.

I'm going to have to agree with the PP that mentioned the requirement to act in concert with the Spirit and do everything in a spirit of prayer. Without that very vital component, every move you make could potentially be leading you into mortal sin.

Now, as for NFP:

NFP is not "birth control." To call NFP "birth control" is where the problem begins. Its purpose, clearly defined in Catholic doctrine, is not "avoidance" of pregnancy, but rather "postponement" of pregnancy.
Birth control is merely to "prevent" or "avoid" pregnancy. Its purpose is inherently immoral according to the Catholic teaching of marriage, sex, and procreation.

Now, according to the Catholic tradition, there are actually three purposes to marriage and sex-- There's an interesting discussion from a non-Catholic perspective which I thought was quite elegant here at mere orthodoxy, http://mereorthodoxy.com/?p=3127
However, it is not Catholic in origin and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Here's another perspective, rooted more firmly in Catholic doctrine: http://ratzingerfanclub.com/blosser_...nd_family.html
I'm not particularly fond of the way it's discussed, but right now I'm finding it difficult to find a more eloquent discussion. (My books are hidden behind a wall of other things at the moment.)

In the interests of brevity, the threefold purpose of marriage and sex is thus:
1) procreation, 2)unity or bonding, and 3) sacramental or spiritual in nature.
All three are necessary for obvious reasons.
The reason that NFP does not violate this three-fold purpose is that by its very nature, when properly practiced, NFP requires more unity of purpose, more spiritual discussion, and more attention to the duties of procreation than just having sex whenever you feel like it 'cause you're married and God will decide when you have kids.
Therefore, even when using NFP to postpone pregnancy, a couple is inherently building up their unity with each other and with Christ.

Naturally, if a couple is intent on not having children because of frivolous or materialistic reasons, this purpose is thwarted, but not because NFP itself is flawed as a tool, but because of the selfish intent of the couple.

Now-- does the existence itself of NFP lead to temptation? Yes. But so does the existence of sex itself. So the existence of temptation in relation to something does not in and of itself mean that the thing is inherently evil or wrong.

Does that make sense?
I'd really like to return to this when I find a more eloquent way of making my point, but I hope the bones of it is apparent here.
ktgrok's Avatar ktgrok 08:48 AM 09-26-2010
I think that women have always known their cycles to some extent, espcecially when there was less artificial light and cycles were more regular and based on the moon. I think that women have always had the ability to regulate/space children based on those observations. I think saying a woman shouldn't practice NFP makes no sense, once I know my body cycles I can't pretend I don't notice them. If I know I'm ovulating soon, and I know I don't want a baby right then, it only makes sense that I wouldn't feel interested in sex. that's not birth control like taking the pill. Its just common sense and going with my feelings. I hope that makes sense.
ktgrok's Avatar ktgrok 08:58 AM 09-26-2010
I WISH breastfeeding worked like that for me. In fact, the only reason I'm using NFP is because I don't want a pregnancy to damage my milk supply. My cycle returned at 6 months, despite nursing several times an hour most of the time. It turns out she doesn't nap but is a heavy sleeper at night, so she goes too long at night and I got my fertility back. If I got pregnant now she'd lose that milk that she NEEDS. so although I'm not charting I'm aware of my cycle and we abstain when we need too. If there wasn't NFP my husband would probably choose to abstain for the next several months at least, which would not be good for us.

Katie

Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ View Post
I'd be interested in learning more about what you find out. I'm still forming my conscience on when NFP to postpone is warranted or not. My immediate thought on reading your posts is that throughout history, ecological breastfeeding gave proper spacing to babies. Some people will argue that ecological breastfeeding is the original NFP. In our time and culture, ecological breastfeeding is not as common, really not supported at all, and with our Western diet, it is not as effective in spacing babies properly as it is other places.

I personally don't anticipate needing anything other than ecological breastfeeding to space my babies in the forseeable future, but I'm ecoBFing my 18 month old with no cycles in sight and following a traditional foods diet.

Other people I know, for whatever reason, have had cycles come back at 3 months. There are many Catholic families who have a child every year, and I don't think that was God's design either. I do feel more comfortable with living and mothering naturally and experiencing the natural child spacing that goes along with it, but I don't think it's a sin not to, and using NFP to give prudent spacing to your children seems at least as good as total abstinence.

ktgrok's Avatar ktgrok 09:13 AM 09-26-2010
Why do you feel complete abstinence is ok to avoid children, but not periodic abstinance? Both have the purpose of avoiding children, so why would one be holy and one not? And if we are not to use our fertility signs, why did God make them so clear to us?
moonshoes's Avatar moonshoes 09:30 AM 09-26-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by saimeiyu View Post
I honestly doubt it will get deleted, since the purpose of the thread is quite clear in the OP. At best, it may be moved.

I'm Byzantine Catholic, and as an eastern rite Catholic, we're often far more traditional than your average Latin rite Catholic. Just so you know where I'm coming from.

I'm going to have to agree with the PP that mentioned the requirement to act in concert with the Spirit and do everything in a spirit of prayer. Without that very vital component, every move you make could potentially be leading you into mortal sin.

Now, as for NFP:

NFP is not "birth control." To call NFP "birth control" is where the problem begins. Its purpose, clearly defined in Catholic doctrine, is not "avoidance" of pregnancy, but rather "postponement" of pregnancy.
Birth control is merely to "prevent" or "avoid" pregnancy. Its purpose is inherently immoral according to the Catholic teaching of marriage, sex, and procreation.

Now, according to the Catholic tradition, there are actually three purposes to marriage and sex-- There's an interesting discussion from a non-Catholic perspective which I thought was quite elegant here at mere orthodoxy, http://mereorthodoxy.com/?p=3127
However, it is not Catholic in origin and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Here's another perspective, rooted more firmly in Catholic doctrine: http://ratzingerfanclub.com/blosser_...nd_family.html
I'm not particularly fond of the way it's discussed, but right now I'm finding it difficult to find a more eloquent discussion. (My books are hidden behind a wall of other things at the moment.)

In the interests of brevity, the threefold purpose of marriage and sex is thus:
1) procreation, 2)unity or bonding, and 3) sacramental or spiritual in nature.
All three are necessary for obvious reasons.
The reason that NFP does not violate this three-fold purpose is that by its very nature, when properly practiced, NFP requires more unity of purpose, more spiritual discussion, and more attention to the duties of procreation than just having sex whenever you feel like it 'cause you're married and God will decide when you have kids.
Therefore, even when using NFP to postpone pregnancy, a couple is inherently building up their unity with each other and with Christ.

Naturally, if a couple is intent on not having children because of frivolous or materialistic reasons, this purpose is thwarted, but not because NFP itself is flawed as a tool, but because of the selfish intent of the couple.

Now-- does the existence itself of NFP lead to temptation? Yes. But so does the existence of sex itself. So the existence of temptation in relation to something does not in and of itself mean that the thing is inherently evil or wrong.

Does that make sense?
I'd really like to return to this when I find a more eloquent way of making my point, but I hope the bones of it is apparent here.
This is a lovely post. Thank you.
Smokering's Avatar Smokering 08:53 PM 09-26-2010
Quote:
NFP is not "birth control." To call NFP "birth control" is where the problem begins. Its purpose, clearly defined in Catholic doctrine, is not "avoidance" of pregnancy, but rather "postponement" of pregnancy.
Birth control is merely to "prevent" or "avoid" pregnancy. Its purpose is inherently immoral according to the Catholic teaching of marriage, sex, and procreation.
OK, I've been following this thread with interest but not participating, because I'm not Catholic (and have debated the contention that NFP isn't birth control in an RS thread fairly recently)... but I have to object to this. I have used birth control (condoms)... and it was to postpone pregnancy. I really don't see how you can say BC users are trying to prevent pregnancy permanently, as many (most?) people on conventional BC go on to have children. And if they're only trying to avoid pregnancy for a time, how is that not... postponing pregnancy?

Further, there are couples who use NFP to prevent pregnancy permanently (for Church-sanctioned reasons, such as cases in which a pregnancy would kill the mother). How is that not "avoidance"? (I don't really see why the term "avoidance" should apply only to permanent avoiding anyway - you can avoid things on a temporary basis.)

I'll have more to say if this thread ever migrates to RS, but please don't tell non-Catholic birth control users that they're doing something they're not (or not doing something they are, for that matter). The MDC fertility boards are chock-full of women using birth control, natural and artificial, Catholic or otherwise, in order to postpone pregnancy, but not forever.

ETA: Huh. This is in RS. Okay then.
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