I have searched for this topic and found some useful answers. However, nothing that answers my exact questions, so please bear with me.
I understand what Catholic teaching is on every sexual act being open to life and not separating the unitive and procreative functions of sex. However, what I am struggling with is why this the church’s teaching.
As we all know, to maintain a replacement level of reproduction, every woman has to give birth to 2.1 live young. Given that the planet is now dangerously overpopulated, let us assume that every woman should be aiming to give birth to at most 2 live young. I am a woman, and I understand that a woman doesn’t get pregnant every time she has sex, but let’s work on the basis that for most women, getting pregnant twice in a lifetime isn’t that difficult.
What I am therefore wondering is why every sexual act has to have the potential of bringing about new life. As long as a sperm cell can successfully make contact with an egg a few times over one’s lifetime, I don’t see why it matters what happens to your partner’s sperm cells on all the other occasions. A healthy male human produces millions of sperm cells every single day. Given that he only has to ejaculate a few hundred million of them into his wife’s vagina to get her pregnant, I don’t understand why it matters where/how the other hundreds of billions of sperm cells get ejaculated.
My second question is, why is “natural family planning” considered moral, given that it is essentially a method of contraception? I do understand that NFP does not involve using artificial means to reduce the likelihood of pregnancy, and I also understand that it is said that it is not immoral merely to abstain from sex for a few days per month.
However, this doesn’t really sound quite right to me. It sounds a clever argument to justify something that doesn’t quite make sense. Proponents of NFP are keen to argue that it is a fairly reliable method of birth control, albeit one that is moral and natural. But if a couple are making sure that they only have sex on the days of the month when they can be reasonably certain that pregnancy will not ensue, is this not basically a method of contraception? The way I see it is that the couple still has what you might call a “contraceptive attitude”. They are not really “open to life”. If they were really open to life, surely they would just be having sex all the time and not giving any consideration to the woman’s fertility at different stages of her monthly cycle. The fact that they are carefully taking her temperature and checking her cervical mucus in order to avoid her getting pregnant really makes it sound like they are trying to avoid pregnancy and are therefore not really open to life.
Please remember that I am not a Catholic, although I am actively enquiring into Catholicism, as well as other denominations of Christianity, and I simply want to understand each one as best as possible before committing myself to any kind of religious conversion.