Responsible Parenthood in a Birth Control Culture, Part Two

As I explained in part one, when the sacrament of holy matrimony is consummated, the husband and wife need to be open to the possibility of having a child.  I also mentioned that because we live in a culture that is so birth control oriented, even some couples using Natural Family Planning use it with a contraceptive mentality, for inappropriate reasons. Now I want to discuss those reasons.

Remember that one of the three purposes of marriage is the procreation of children.  To use Natural Family Planning for a definite or indefinite period of time because a woman does not think that she “is ready” to have a child may indicate that the couple should have put off their marriage.  Perhaps further preparation and formation were necessary. 

At the same time it is important to keep in mind that finishing college or the acquisition of another degree are not to be considered serious and legitimate reasons to use Natural Family Planning.  If a young married couple wish to continue their studies, this is perfectly legitimate, however, college and further education are not motives for using Natural Family Planning.  If a degree is important to the young married couple, it may be advisable to finish college and then get married, or the couple may continue their educational interests while at the same time being open to the transmission of life within their intimate life as a married couple. 

Let us remember that the three ends of marriage are equal and that they form one single entity.  Marriage is not a “license to have sex.”  The marital act must always be open to the transmission of life.

When Natural Family Planning is used for selfish motives, although the method is different from artificial birth control, it is being used as a form of contraception rather than a moral or ethical means to regulate births.

Furthermore, convenience, such as economic status or career opportunities are not to be considered as serious and legitimate reasons to use Natural Family Planning.

bridegroom.jpgMarried couples who choose to live in a larger home and decide to stop having children in order to pay the higher mortgage payment must understand that economic status does not constitute a reason to stop having children.  Wives, who do not need to work in order to pay the household bills but who simply desire to work, must understand that a career is not a reason to stop having children.  Economics, such as the loss of a job or a time of economic turmoil in a country may determine the use of Natural Family Planning.  However, Americans, who usually live very comfortable and even affluent lives, must not use economic status or career opportunities as the criteria for determining the size of their families.

I understand that everything that I have said is very controversial and is totally opposite to the mentality of the majority of Catholics in this country, perhaps even among the small percentage of Catholics who do not use artificial birth control. 

What is love?  Christian love calls us to be unconditionally generous with the God of unconditional love.  Christian love calls married spouses to love each other with an unconditional love.  Christian love calls each mother and father to love their children with unconditional love.  True Christian love is what makes a marriage a good marriage, a happy marriage, and marriage filled with joy. 

Married couples that are imbued with Christian love would never consider using artificial birth control or Natural Family Planning for selfish reasons. 

Furthermore, husband and wife cooperate and participate in the on-going miracle of God’s creation.  The fundamental task of marriage and family life is to be at the service of life.  Responsible parenthood is lived out within the structures which God has established in human nature.  God’s design is that the nature of sexual intercourse is both life-giving (pro-creative) and love-giving (unitive).  Married couples are called, through holy matrimony, to cooperate with God the Creator in the continuation of the human race.  Every husband and every wife must be in tune with God and what He wants.  Too many Americans make all of their decisions, especially the size of their families, based on selfish motives.  Christian marriage, by the very nature of Christianity and the very nature of the sacrament of marriage, calls a married man and a married woman to seek God’s holy will in their lives. 

Thus, when married couples prudently discern the number of children for their family, most importantly, they must be in tune with what God wants for them: what God is asking of them.  Every child is a gift from God.  Some married couples are called to have a large family.  Some married couples are called to have a smaller family.  Some married couples cannot have children and within that great suffering, they find another calling subordinate to their vocations to marriage. 

In order to be in tune with God and His holy will, a married man and a married woman must have a profound, intimate, and personal relationship with God.  This relationship is fostered and deepened through a daily and well disciplined life of prayer.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is the perfect model of a creature’s relationship with God the creator.  She listened attentively to what God was asking her through the angel Gabriel.  At first she was afraid, but then she trusted.  Trust is essential.  Trust God.  When we do not trust God, we take our focus off of Him and we turn inwards and our egos take over.

Back in 1968 Pope Paul VI warned the world what would happen if artificial birth control were to be made available:

“Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings — and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation — need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection” (Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 17).

Paul VI was correct.  Was he not a prophet of his times?   

Please keep in mind that many birth control pills act at least some of the time as abortifacients.  This means that an abortion actually takes place.  It is also true that birth control pills are causing cancer in women at an alarming rate.

The bottom line problem with many contracepting couples is that they do not want to have more kids.  What is wrong with having the children that God has intended you to have?  Why do we keep trying to control everything?  We should attune ourselves to what God wants for us.  Yes, there is such a thing as responsible parenthood, but great importance must be placed on openness to children, generosity, and God’s plan over our lives.

As a parish priest I have encouraged my families to be open to life.  I have found that my openness to life is one of the most beautiful aspects of my life as a Catholic priest.  Every time a young couple tells me, usually with a twinkle in the eye, that they are having a baby, I embrace them, congratulate them, and thank them for their love for life.  When I baptize their new born baby, it is as if my spiritual paternity is being mystically consummated in the magical moment when that little baby becomes a child of God through the waters of baptism.

When we begin to understand the mystery of the sacrament of marriage and how it is a reflection of the marriage of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5: 21-33), we can then begin to understand why contraception is intrinsically evil.

Not every conjugal act produces a pregnancy, but because of the very nature of holy matrimony and the intimate life of married couples, every conjugal act must be open to the transmission of life.

Aside from the common forms of contraception that are used by married couples, another form of contraception that is more in use than I had ever imagined is sterilization.  Catholic women are having tubal ligations and Catholic men are having vasectomies at an alarming rate.

Many Catholic men seemingly are falling into a trap by thinking that a vasectomy is a quick fix solution without serious consequences. 

However, here is a list of the possible serious consequences of a vasectomy: life-long autoimmune problems, chronic testicular pain, decreased testicular function, chronic testicular inflammation, prostate cancer, testicular shrinkage, lung cancer, testicular cancer, erectile dysfunction and impotence, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gangrene of the scrotum, loss of libido, personality disturbances, adrenal gland dysfunction, hypoglycemia, narcolepsy, lymph node enlargement, and liver dysfunction.

As you can see, when humans fool around with nature, the consequences are disastrous.

Once again, I understand that everything that I have just said is very controversial.  I understand that the majority of Catholics in America completely reject the Catholic Church’s teaching on procreation.  However, please be open.  Read Humanae Vitae.  Read Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  Read, study, pray, and embrace the truth about marriage, sexuality and family life.  Remember what our Lord Jesus said in the Gospel: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8: 32).

By

Fr. James Farfaglia is the pastor of St. Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX. His Sunday homilies and blog can be found at http://www.fjicthus.com. You can contact Father James at fjficthus@gmail.com.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Grace Harman

    This is only “controversial” in light of the “dissent” (heresy) following Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical, that was a re-affirmation of traditional Church teachings.
    Truth is always True, as God and His laws never change. The current pervasive contraceptive mentality is a POISON to society spread by satan, as the “pill’s” hormones -that pollute our water – are a poison to the environment.

  • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar Ilarsadin

    I’ve seen The Pill described as chemical warfare against women. It seems an apt characterization.

  • Claire

    What if finishing college is the only way the couple can afford to raise a baby? Doesn’t that qualify as a serious economic reason to postpone conception?

  • DonHudzinski

    The Mass – The Wedding Feast of the Lamb of God
    by Donald F Hudzinski

    The Annunciation

    Luke Chapter 1
    26 priest your church
    In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
    27
    to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.
    28
    And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
    29 And also with you
    But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
    30
    Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
    31 Incarnation/Eucharist
    Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.
    32
    He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
    33
    and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
    34 We It is only bread and wine
    But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
    35 priesthood
    And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
    36 Eucharist
    And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
    37
    for nothing will be impossible for God.”
    38 We sing Amen Amen Amen
    Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

    The Incarnation/Eucharist

    Where do the two become one flesh, only at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb of God, were all marriages are consummated in the Incarnation of the Son of God, that which we call the Eucharist.

    Marriage by its very nature is incarnate. This is its definition defined by God with the birth of His Son. The first Adam’s marriage was incarnate until it fell and he and his wife left the garden. Marriage is a one flesh union, but who became your flesh, the answer is the Incarnation/Eucharist.

    A man does not become the flesh of a woman nor does a woman become the flesh of a man, so if marriage is a one flesh union, this can only be achieved through Christ, through the Incarnation.

    Have you not herd men say, “I did not what to did like my dad, but I am just like him” or a woman say, “I did not want to be like my mother, but I am just like her”. How come we are not saying, “I did not what to be like Christ, but I am just like Him”? Could be that our marriages are not Incarnate, but how can this be. Maybe it is because “I love you” is pagan and comes from romance novels.

    What should we say, when our children ask, “Do you love mommy’? What about saying, “Mommy loves Christ and I love Christ and we all love Christ”. The first commandment say, “We love the Lord Our God with all our minds, all our heart and all our strength and the second is like it, we love our neighbor as ourself” This is not a counter diction because of the Incarnation. We love each other because of our love of Christ, not in spite of that love.

    The Incarnation is the marriage of man and God, this is true marriage, and sets the standard for all marriages, as does the marriage of Saint Joseph and Mary, the first incarnate marriage since the marriage of Adam and Eve. This is why we must see Saint Joseph and Mary as the the new Adam and Eve, because all our marriage need to be Incarnate.

    All of our marriages need to be Incarnate, and this is accomplished by God through the Eucharist which is the Incarnation of our marriages.

    As I thought about the Covenant, the Eucharist, the Incarnation and my wedding day, these vows came to mind.

    The man says to his wife, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, for it shall bear my children”.

    Then the wife says to her husband, “Blessed are you among men and blessed be the seed which bring forth the fruit of my womb, my children”.

    Then on the day of the priest ordination he says, “Blessed is this patten and this cup, for they shall bring forth the Body and Blood of our Lord and make us a new creation in Christ”.

    Then when the priest elevates his gifts above the alter, so does the husband and wife, thus becoming one family in Christ. In this way the love of Christ is born, and the Church comes alive with the Spirit. The covenant of marriage is the very heart of the Church, because by it, all life is elevated to the heights of heaven. It is this that gives man and woman the dignity they deserve, and our Church the resource it needs to survive the culture of death.

    This is what love does, it elevates the other, in service and thanksgiving, thus the Eucharist becomes in truth, a thanks offering.

    To bless something is to set that something apart from all other of its kind, for a specific purpose, and to guard it. This setting apart creates human dignity. It makes us what we are to be, holy, for to be holy is to be elevated by another, especially Christ. This is to participate in Christ ministry, of the Eucharist, it elevates all who participate into heaven. How is this done, by making a gift of yourself.

    Do you not see how the story of Adam and Eve repeats itself in the nativity story? Eve brings Adam fruit and he eats of it and we have a guard, who fell with his wife, and death entered. Mary brings Saint Joseph the fruit of her womb and he guards it and we live again. The Arc of the Covenant goes beyond the womb of Mary unto the marriage of the Holy Family, a true picture of marriage as it should be Incarnate.

    The archetype of Adam is the priesthood and of Eve the laity. Our priesthood should look to Saint Joseph as their guide because he shows them how to guard the Real Presence, our Incarnation and his bride, the laity.

    The creed – Our vows

    Now we divorce the the Evil One and pronounce our wedding vows to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as we recite the Creed. Now we are forever married and one flesh in Christ and all are marriages have been consummated.

  • goral

    Good thing God doesn’t need us well educated to continue life. None of us are educated enough to make life as economically feasable as we would like to.
    I write as a man, a woman does need the assurance that this “interruption” will not sink her economically.
    Mary took a donkey ride to Egypt while pregnant, she knows something about economic hardships. God has special graces just for mothers in every economic situation.

  • momof11

    Claire,
    Father addressed that specifically in his article. It would be a reason to postpone marriage until after college, not to go into marriage planning to not have children until after graduation.

    Millions if not billions of people manage to raise children without a college degree to elevate their income level….My DH has just an Associates degree. He earned that along about the time our 4th child was born. Was it easy for him to work full time and be a full time student? No! Is it possible? Yes! Do we live in the lap of luxury? No! But our children are fed and clothed, have a roof over their head and are receiving appropriate education.

    Goral…correction,
    Mary fled to Egypt after Jesus’ birth and the visit of the Magi. She did travel to Bethlehem for the census while pregnant though….

  • gk

    I do not think anyone can say what is a serious reason across all people. HV did not list any specific reasons.

    I agree with Father and the article in that a “selfish reason” is not a serious reason. I do not agree that going to college is a selfish reason. I suppose you could say it would be selfish if one already had a means of earning enough income to support the needs of children. Say for example if a married person wanted to change their work from being a Doctor to being a Lawyer because they suddenly developed a desire to practice law eventhough they have enough salary to support a family … I’d say that is selfish and non-serious. But, someone who has two kids and wants to go to school so they can go from two waitress jobs and two janitor jobs to one Engineering job and one waitress job … I’d say that is not selfish and it is beneficial to their children and any future children they might have.

  • Nicoleagain

    I call upon the editors of this site to do a follow up piece to this that clearly explains what the Church actually teaches in this regard. This article and the comments below are not totally in line with Church teaching. It IS acceptable to use NFP for serious reasons and that is between the couple and God. Also, I don’t think there is an iron clad Church teaching that states a newlywed couple must not use NFP to avoid a pregnancy. It is grossly unfair and does a disservice to the faithful to present these opinions as fact.

  • rakeys

    I agree, A couple is compelled to follow God’s plan and design in their married life BUT we must look at God’s design. A man is always fertile. A woman ovulates once a month, and is fertile only one week out of the month. If god intended us to get pregnant every time we had sexual relations, the woman would be fertile every day. Three weeks out of the month a woman cannot get pregnant. That is God’s design.
    Fr Farfaglia mentions Mary’s openness to bearing Jesus. Why do we teach that Mary, our role model, did not have sex with her husband Joseph? Should Mary have waited to marry Joseph until they were ready to have their own children? Mary had no intentions of getting pregnant and having more children. Is that sinful?
    My wife and I have used NFP for all of our married life. WE have 10 children. We origionally wanted a dozen. We used NFP to get pregnant as well as to space our children. When we wanted to get pregnant we got pegnant the first month. We could eaily have had 20 children every 18 months apart or less. My wife nursed our children for 9 months. Was it sinful for us to have sex when she was nursing, since she was not ovulating and could not get pregnant. That is not God’s
    plan.
    God’s plan is for us to love our wives totally and unselfishly, and to use the great gift of our sexuality to bind us together, which is why He enabled us to have sex 3 weeks out out of the month without getting pregnant. Abstainig from sex for one week out of the month is a great way for us to show our love for each other in ways other than sex. If gives us a great appreciation of our sexuality and its role in marriage.
    If you want to pick on somebody, look at the 96% of couples who are having sex while using a contraceptive. Having sex during the infertile periods is NOT contraceptive, since we are doing nothing to stop conception when we have sex. We freely chose to abstain,and offer our sacrifice up to God, just as Mary and Joseph did.

  • deedles212

    I think Fr. James’ desire to share with us the idea of using NFP prayerfully and unselfishly is well taken and even necessary. But I also believe that when he starts setting specific criteria and situations as to when the use of NFP is selfish or unselfish for married couples, he is going beyond what the Church teaches about the legitimate and moral use of NFP. Each couple must constantly discern through prayer and communication what God wants for their marriage in terms of the number of children, the quality of their relationship, their responsibilily to children already born, their economic situation/job duties, responsibility to Church and community/extended family, and so on. Of course, always keeping in mind the priority of God, spouse, children, etc. in that order. I believe it is not anyone else’s place to make specific judgements concerning the “selfish or unselfish” use of NFP other than the couple themselves in relationship w/God and each other. The only other legitimate contributor might be a good priest, who is their confessor or spiritual director, when they feel the need for more guidance from the Holy Spirit.

  • LLM

    I agree with Nicoleagain, rakeys, and deedles212 in the posts above me. I think this article is somewhat of a misrepresentation of the Church’s teaching on NFP. Some of that stems from its lack of nuance. For example, the author mentions that a woman not thinking that she is “ready” to have children is a selfish reason for using NFP, whether for an definite or indefinite amount of time. If the woman says she is not “ready” because she is not “ready” to give up her carefree lifestyle of partying all the time and thinks a child would be annoying, I would agree that this would be a selfish and wrong reason for using NFP to avoid pregnancy.

    However, because the example given was very vague, we don’t know the circumstances of the woman. What if she has some health problems that she needs to address so that she could adequately care for a child? Prudence may dictate in that case that she postpone pregnancy for a time for the good of her future child. What if she recently went through a tramatic event and is psychologically unstable and needs a couple of months to get her feet back on the ground? Etc. Etc. Etc. There are lots of reasons that could fall under that category of “not ready”, and they are not necessarily reasons that would also compel the couple to put off their marriage; furthermore, many such reasons could occur after the couple is already married. So the author’s statement that the couple should wait to get married until they are “ready” to have children does not really address these issues.

    It has been my understanding, based on various Catholic sources including the NFP class that I took, that the decision to use NFP to postpone/avoid pregnancy is a decision that must be made between the couple and God, with all due discernment and prayer, of course. And, as deedles212 said above, a good priest could help the couple in this discernment process. But we have to remember that marriage is a unique sacrament in that it is not conferred by a priest on the couple; rather, the couple confer it on each other. A priest can help a man and woman in discerning if God is calling them to marriage, and he can help them discern whether God is calling them to postpone a child at the present time, but ultimately the couple themselves are responsible before God for the choices they make- which is why prayer and openness to God’s will is key.

  • LLM

    nosalvationoutsidecatholicchurch, your statements are coming across as rather angry and inflammatory. I actually did read your long post and wrote a long reply of my own (which took a good 45 minutes, too!), but I didn’t post it because it was so long and I didn’t want to take up the whole message board. I am not sure where you have been told that NFP is sinful birth control. The Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church does not teach this. Maybe if you could tone back the emphatic nature of your statements, we could have a fruitful discussion about this, and you could tell us a little about the background of your opinion about NFP?

  • ekbell

    I wish to point out one problem with the advice to wait to marry while in school (instead of marrying and using NFP to avoid children).

    A long engagement particularly when surrounded by an unchaste culture is very difficult. I admit that one of the reasons I married during university was for the reason given in 1 Corinthians 7:9. It seemed to be prudent to marry rather then wait given the temptation.

    We did have our first child after I finished but before my husband did.

  • Stirling

    Father, I admire your desire to state your understanding of the truth. I wish more clergy were unfraid to actually teach what the Church teaches. That said, I agree with many here that this particular article crosses a line. Ultimately we must all discern how God is acting in our lives, and what is being asked of us. Will we start denying Communion to couples with too few children unless they present “just cause” for using NFP? Will there be Tribunals next?

    “In essential things, unity. In doubtful things, *liberty*. In all things, charity.”

    ps: nosalvationoustidecatholicchurch, respectfully, we can’t discuss NFP with you and debate your rejection of Vatican II at the same time

  • Claire

    Goral, it’s good to see you posting. It seems like it’s been a while. True, not everyone needs a degree to earn a living wage. But some people do. There are no absolutes, which is why the Church allows people to prayerfully use their conscience when discerning when use of NFP is feasible to postpone a pregnancy. God knows the hearts of the couple and whether their reasoning is legitimate or not.

    Mom of 11: I disagree with Father that those who can’t afford children without a degree should postpone marriage till after they get the degree. He is not speaking with the authority of the Church when he says that; he’s voicing his own opinion. I find his statement to be contradictory to his later statement that loss of a job is a morally acceptable reason to use NFP to postpone a pregnancy. How is the loss of a job different than a college student who has been unable to find a job without his degree? He and the man who lost his job can both get a job, the question is can they get a job that pays enough to support another mouth to feed. In some cases they can, in others they can’t. If they’re postponing till they can afford a large house and fancy vacations, then there’s a problem. If they’re postponing because they can’t afford health insurance or other essentials, that’s a different story. Keep in mind that this is coming from someone who never had any reason to use NFP other than to get pregnant, and that only worked twice in 4 years (and neither pregnancy was successful). So I’m not trying to justify this for myself. I just disagree with some of his absolutes.

  • aurit

    I am a teacher of the FertilityCare System (Creighton model) and believe that there are other benefits of charting a woman’s cycle besides avoiding/achieving a pregnancy. There are many aspects of the woman’s gyn. health that can be tracked and treated. I teach in Omaha and have the priviledge of working directly with Dr. Hilgers patients. Most of them are dealing with infertility, but others are dealing with PMS, painful bleeding, cysts, etc.

    I also believe that it would be beneficial for couples to learn a system of NFP before they are married in the case that they may need to practice it if a serious reason to avoid came up in the future. These methods take months to really learn and would be difficult to become confident in during a stessful time. I am NOT saying that every couple should be charting from before their wedding day until after menopause. However, I feel that NFP really can be a bridge for those who have been stained by this contraceptive culture, not a destination but a bridge.

  • davbehav

    This is the first time that I have read the comments and probably the last.
    I would like to keep my faith simple like a child. That is what Christ prefers.
    If we can’t trust the Magisterium of the Catholic church all is lost.

  • staceyjohnson

    Claire,
    there’s obviously a difference between a man who is already married and was once able to support his family but is now having difficulties and someone who is not married yet and cannot support a family. The man who was already married cannot become “unmarried,” cannot rid himself of his obligations, and must make some difficult choices about how he is to proceed, but a man who is unmarried has no such obligations, so if he cannot financially support a family, what is he doing going down that road? In fact, I would go so far as to say that a man or woman who is not ready–financially, emotionally, etc–to be married, has no business even dating.

    As to NFP, sometimes people forget that it is very much like aspirin. Aspirin is wonderful if you have a headache, and is a legitmate way to deal with aches and pains when we have them. But nobody considers aspirin to be a way of life, or takes it regularly for no good reason. The Church allows NFP for serious reasons, but it’s not meant to be the norm. Sometimes, NFP becomes a way of trying to maintain control when we should be letting God be in control. “Have a baby” is the default setting, if you will. If there is a serious reason that we believe, after much prayer, that perhaps we should wait, that should, as another poster said, be a cause for sorrow.

    The primary end (that is, purpose) of marriage is the procreation and education of children. This is what differentiates marriage from any other relationship. Sometimes I think we lose sight of that.

  • Claire

    Stacey, as Ekbell pointed out, it is very hard for the unmarried to remain chaste in the culture we live in. A college student who is reasonably certain that he will be able to support a family within a couple of years when he gets his degree is not immoral for getting married and using NFP for a couple of years to postpone a pregnancy. And there is also nothing wrong with NFP being a way of life. It is certainly that way for people like me who are infertile and using NFP to try to achieve a pregnancy. The Church allows NFP for serious reasons, and does not dictate what those serious reasons are. It is left to the prayerful discernment of the couple. Only God can judge whether their reasons are serious or not. If the Magesterium came up with specific guidelines about what constitues a serious reason, then Catholics would be obligated to abide by that. But until then, who are we to judge (within reason; of course there are some reasons that are clearly frivolous, such as avoiding a pregnancy so you can afford a 3,000 square foot house and an annual vacation). Couples who use NFP temporarily remain open to life, and God remains in control.

  • LLM

    I think it’s also important to remember the wonderful benefits of NFP.

    During the time that a couple is postponing pregnancy for serious reasons, they are able to grow closer and holier in their love through self-sacrifice and self-denial — my spouse and I even offer up those times of abstinence as a prayer for our future children and for people we know who really need prayers, and so the abstinence becomes a prayerful path to holiness.

    In my own experience in my marriage, this time of postponing pregnancy is also a time that naturally leads us to become even more excited about having a child, and asking ourselves if our reasons really are serious enough to wait right now. The whole abstinence part of NFP is a natural, built-in incentive to continually rethink your reasons for waiting, and discern during each particular time of fertility if God is still calling you to wait another month or not. That’s what I think is so amazing about NFP- the fact that it can lead us closer to God in discerning His will and closer to each other in holiness, too. Plus the times of abstinence help us continue developing a deeper friendship, which creates a strong marriage.

    In conclusion, I certainly believe that it’s possible for people to use NFP wrongly, but I think the very nature of NFP (abstinence, monthly fertility, etc) is meant to really push us in the direction of virtue (self-sacrifice, deepening love and friendship between spouses, discerning God’s will, etc.). I have found my own experience of NFP to be truly beautiful and life-giving for my marriage. I think God is absolutely amazing for creating our bodies in such a way that NFP can help us grow closer to Him, and I am SO THANKFUL to the Catholic Church for speaking His Truth in the midst of a contraceptive world.

  • gk

    Good discussion everyone. I am impressed to everyone’s openness.

    My wife and I are teaching the second of three class tonight. The two couples we are teaching are wonderful young couples who love the church and love Humanae Vitae. They are open to life. They are good practicing Catholics.

    NFP is wonderful and leads couples out of the Contraceptive Culture. NFP builds marriage and communication. NFP is blessed by the Church through Humanae Vitae. Go NFP! Go!

  • mkochan

    i have deleted some of the comments as not in keeping with our editorial policy.

  • Pingback: lupus

  • Pingback: Dealing With Prostate Cancer. | 7Wins.eu

  • Pingback: narcolepsy

MENU