My wife and I are both in our 50s. We entered into our marriage 25 years ago in good faith with the intent of starting a family, but ended up never having children for reasons I shall not go into at this time. My wife still has her monthly cycle which means she still ovulates which means she could still get pregnant.
There are numerous studies out there that say a first-time pregnancy at this stage of life is asking for trouble. Birth defects, danger to the child and/or mother’s well-being to name just a few. Additionally, there are practical concerns. Even if we were to have a happy, healthy child at this age, we’d be well into our 70s when the child becomes a young adult, goes to college, gets married etc. I feel it would be wrong to put a person at that age in a position to have to care for a senior citizen parent (or arrange for their funeral!)
Nevertheless, we would still like to have a healthy sex life while staying within the good graces of the Church. But as we all know, the Church has a problem with artificial birth control, and frankly, I don’t trust NFP. I know that birth control is permissible when used for treating medical conditions, but I’m not sure if it allowed for preventing a medical condition.
NFP is not what it was when you and I got married, get an education in modern methods, especially ovulation predictors geared to pre-menopausal women, for a system that has better odds than ABC, which poses too many health risks, including stroke, for our age.
Another thing to consider is that if she is pre-menopausal, she still may have a harder time conceiving than someone say at my age. Do also realize that NFP couples who have already had a number of kids can often come up with the same issue of finding themselves older and still fertile, so really you’re in no special circumstances.
NFP really is your only option, but I would seriously pray about your fears. Its important to trust God and to not let fears rule our lives. Obey God. Don’t obey fear.
Oh and when it comes to birth control, using it for health reasons falls under the principal of double effect. I’ll put this in impossible extreeme terms to be clear. Let’s pretend that the birth control pill is the only thing that can cure cancer in a dying patient. The contraceptive side effect could be justified as an unwanted side effect that is unavoidable, just as if it also caused hair loss, tooth loss or rashes, or slowly made you entirely colorblind. First off the side effect needs to be considered as something you should want to avoid, but something that isn’t always avoidable. You need to look at your other options and weigh out the side effects.
It is not morally justifiable to use the birth control pill’s contraceptive effects as the means to overcoming a problem.
Well, I think this is the root of your problem. You don’t properly understand that the Church does not “have a problem with” contraception. God’s law tells us that contraception is intrinsically evil and a sin that is mortal to our souls. It’s an objectively evil act. The Church can only teach us the truth about this aspect of God’s law and the proper use of our sexuality.
Have you and your wife learned any of the NFP methods. I don’t know why you wouldn’t “trust” NFP.
This isn’t an accurate statement. The Church teaches that we can undergo *medical treatment *even if the unintended *side effect *may be temporary or permanent sterility.
What you would be attempting to *prevent *is pregnancy. This is contraception, which is a mortal sin. So, no.
Complete or periodic abstinence. Periodic abstinence = natural family planning.
If you do not want to use NFP, not even the most conservative times for intimacy, then you can abstain completely.
You’re concern is very common among couples who have entered the latter part of the child bearing years. Medical issues, the fairness of raising a child with an older parent and especially the fear associated with NFP.
I don’t believe you are going to find an answer acceptable to you; because, you are asking from an intellectual perspective. The answers your seeking require you to answer with your heart and mind.
I’d challenge you to consider your words - ‘prevent a medical condition’. As an example, all children are perfect in God’s eyes. Is it fair to recognize that there are medical risks associated with advanced pregnancies for the mother and child. To imply that contraception might be justifiable because, a child MAY be less than perfect in your eyes is a statement rooted in personal fears. All children are a blessing from God. I’m not implying that this is your logic but, giving you an area to contemplate.
NFP is very frightening for couples. Many studies have found that NFP has higher success rates than contraception and a majority show it’s as effective as contraceptives. The following article is one of the best I’ve seen that discusses the effects of contraception on a couple, the woman’s body and psyche and the man’s perspective and even our society.
(This is long and targeted at younger couples but, most of the article will provide beneficial information)
Last comment on NFP - keep in mind that NFP is not to be compared to birth control but, does allow a couple to space children ( for you and your wife, a hope of no more!) and have marital relations in accordance with God’s design.
Now to specifically answer your question of - ‘What are the options besides abstinence’.
My personal opinion is that your BEST option is for you and your wife to both embrace your sexuality by taking it to a new level - so to speak. Pope John Paul II wrote the Theology of the Body (TOB). The TOB is an integrated vision of the human person - body, soul and spirit. You and your wife can grow closer through the understanding of the transcendental nature of your sexual union, along with the obvious physical pleasure.
It sounds pretty hokey to many people at first… so I’d expect what I said made you go… Huh? My wife and I want to have sex and not have kids! Lol
Christopher West is one of my favorite authors on this subject. He has a very good introductory book on the Theology of the Body. He has a few but, the TOB is pretty overwhelming - I’d recommend that your wife and you read this together.
I think you’ll find the answers your seeking in your post if you take a jaunt down this path… and I also think you and your wife will have fun exploring the TOB.
bollocks to the studies! God is the author and bringer of life. Do you question God? If God wants you to have a child, then you should be open to it. We have no right to attempt to supplant God’s authority in this matter. And what does it matter if you are older when the child becomes a young adult? That’s what Godparents are for! What does it matter if you have a child who has a birth defect? Is that not the will of God, who sees even those who have birth defects as beautiful?
I think you should consider, say you decide to use ABC. What happens if it fails and your wife finds herself pregnant at her age, with the risks and concerns you’ve mentioned?
What if after ABC you find baby has a defect?
ABC is not 100%, even vasectomies and tubal ligations have their failure rates, and oftentimes when they do fail cause massive problems of trust and accusations in a marriage. The only real way would be for your wife to have a complete hysterectomy, which of course, has a lot more risks then tube tying or vasectomies - but really, is this really worth your souls?
It is God’s law and Natural law that NFP is a-okay, not ABC.
You said it but I am still curious - why don’t you want children especially since both of you have none after such a long time? You know that children are gift from God, don’t you? Trust in God, trust him that he is the Lord of your marriage. Know that if you are faithful to him, he will be faithful to you. If he should gift you with a gift of life, accept it and rejoice.
With the present standard of medical care, age has become less of a factor. We have been able to live longer now. If God should give you a child at this age after a long absence, there is no reason that he will not care for you. Trust in God and trust in the Church. Do not risk going against her teaching.
From my reading I don’t think your situation meets the conditions for using NFP. I also don’t think perpetual abstinence is acceptable either. It is a condition of marriage to be open to life. To use NFP to permanently avoid pregnancy is not within the scope of acceptable reasons to use NFP.
You might want to check the statistics on how many women in their fifties get pregnant without medical help. It should take some of the fear of getting pregnant away.
I was an older woman, still ovulating, not using ABC. I do understand the fear. It is highly unlikely she would get pregnant. If she did and had a child with a birth defect, that is a child who would likely share the glories of heaven one day. Yes, it might be difficult to raise the child and pay for some of its care, but we all have hardships of some sort, every one of us. God did not create us to have the perfect life here on earth.
The Church has the responsibility of spreading the Word of God and teaching it’s members the laws that God has put in place for us. That includes teaching sexual morals, just as it includes every other aspect of God’s law.
I would like to submit a few thoughts for your consideration:
What the Church proposes is for our good not for our harm. If one humbly submits themselves to the teaching and guidance of the Church, they will find that they have never been more free, more happy or more fulfilled. Sin enslaves. Jesus through His Church and the Sacraments sets us free.
I second the recommendation of Christopher West’s material on the Theology of the Body. If it is approached with an open heart and an open mind, the marital union with your wife will reach levels you didn’t know were possible. You will not experience less love or enjoyment, both will be multiplied.
There is no institution in human history or currently that does more for world peace or feeding the hungry. Western civilization, hospitals, universities, science, the Bible and much, much more, none of it would exist without the Catholic Church. (for a 2-minute sound bite version see youtube.com/watch?v=Vs6qZd_xP1w)
The Church is nearly 2000 years old a feat that is humanly impossible. Perhaps, Jesus’s promise of the Holy Spirit to lead it into all truth is true?
Humility is a virtue and a prerequisite for authentic Christian discipleship.
Our desire should be for the Truth (i.e. Jesus), and when we find it we should rejoice even if it requires us to set aside a previously help position.
May the Joy of Jesus Christ be in you, and may your joy be complete