Can a couple who don't want to have children get married under the grace of God?


#1

My questions regard marriage, marital acts, contraception/sterilization and Natural Family Planning: I want to get married, but I don't want children. I want to know y'all's opinion on these topics. I will tell you specifically what I don't understand and like to get your input.

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifies that all sex acts must be both unitive and procreative."
"Because of this secondary purpose, married couples have a right to engage in intercourse even when pregnancy is not a possible result."
(These statements were not sequential so pretend it says procreative and unitive. In other words unitive is the secondary purpose.)

First of all, I feel like this second statement contradicts the first. I don't understand why, if the procreative purpose of intercourse can be set aside during times when pregnancy is not possible (post-menopause, naturally occuring infertility), why not all the time? Why does God give us the ability to think independently and rationally to decide for ourselves if we want children (as opposed to animals, who have a pure driven instinct to procreate) but if you choose to not want them, it is wrong? Why would God be so kind as to bring a special person into our lives, but forbid us from expressing our love in the physical way our bodies desire? He also gave us the desire to want to please each other. But He didn't give us the desire to have children! Why does He want to deny us from unifying our love because we don't want children? How could He possibly think a sexless, [and bound to be] frustrated marriage is better than a happy, contraceptive-using, childless-by-choice couple? Are people who don't want children not allowed to marry?

"The language of the body that is meant to express self-gift becomes mixed with another message, a contrary message—namely, the refusal to give oneself entirely."
I don't see how denying my partner the gift of my body because it is a fertile time of my cycle is preferable to using contraception. Isn't better to give MOST of myself than NONE of myself? It seems to me that NFP is in fact SUGGESTING that you refuse to give oneself - partially or entirely! What do you think?

"Each marital act signifies, embodies, and renews the original and enduring marital covenant between husband and wife."
How does completely abstaining from not only intercourse, but all sexually pleasing acts, embodies the marital covenant, but giving one's body for the unitive act alone does not at least contribute to (even if it isn't the embodiment of) the love that God gave us for each other?
Why did He say chastity/abstinence is a virtue but then also say be fruitful and multiply? People who are abstinent are choosing not to receive His gift, and that is not a sin, in fact it is a virtue, so why is choosing not to receive his gift, but not be abstinent a sin?

One last question. It's completely hypothetical. Are there any circumstances where contraception (not NFP, I mean the Pill or condoms or whatever) or sterilization would be approved? Say a couple is in love. wants to unify their love. wants to get married. but want to use contraception or sterilization. (For example, if one of them has a genetic illness that would definitely be passed on to their children.) Would a priest be willing to marry a couple in this situation - Do you think God would make an exception? ("Any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature.) If not, ("Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children") how about this: Would He/a priest approve of the use of contraception or sterilization (for a reason such as above) IF the couple agreed to adopt or foster a child? Would that be accepting God's gift of children, thus allowing a couple to unify their love? And if not that....what if a dating or engaged couple, struggling with what to do about not wanting children but wanting to get married, came to a priest, asking for his blessing on their marriage even though they would use contraception, with a proposal, not just to adopt, but to prevent an abortion by adopting a child? Like say a family member or friend was like I'm getting an abortion, I don't want my kid being raised by strangers and the couple was like well we'll adopt it and she said okay but ONLY if YOU are the ones adopting it. They would literally be saving a life, and really only wanted to not have children not bc they didn't want to bring a child into the world, just bc they thought it was cruel to purposely create a life knowing it was going to die in the womb/as an infant/live a life suffering from some horrible disease. If you were this couple's priest, what would you counsel them to do? Would you tell them that they cannot get married in the grace of God if they don't agree to accept a child if the woman gets pregnant bc that's the rule? Or would you consider the wellbeing of everyone involved (including their unborn i.e. potential "children") and decide that although it's not perfect, God understands that the couple only want to prevent suffering by using contraception or sterilization and therefore their reason for using it is not contrary to His design for their family?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these topics and I'd like to hear how you deal when your desires conflict with your beliefs.


#2

[quote="samiam1611, post:1, topic:232170"]
I want to get married, but I don't want children.

[/quote]

A person who is not open to children cannot validly marry.


#3

[quote="SonCatcher, post:2, topic:232170"]
A person who is not open to children cannot validly marry.

[/quote]

Yep.

[quote="samiam1611, post:1, topic:232170"]
...I want to get married, but I don't want children. I want to know y'all's opinion on these topics. ...

[/quote]

In the long run, our opinions don't matter. The teaching of the Church is that to be validly married, one must be open to having children.


#4

[quote="samiam1611, post:1, topic:232170"]
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifies that all sex acts must be both unitive and procreative."
"Because of this secondary purpose, married couples have a right to engage in intercourse even when pregnancy is not a possible result."
(These statements were not sequential so pretend it says procreative and unitive. In other words unitive is the secondary purpose.)

First of all, I feel like this second statement contradicts the first. I don't understand why, if the procreative purpose of intercourse can be set aside during times when pregnancy is not possible (post-menopause, naturally occuring infertility), why not all the time?

[/quote]

There is no contradiction. "Unitive and procreative" basically means "not contraceptive." The second statement means that couples need not abstain during the luteal phase, pregnancy, etc. Indeed, in times past, medical knowledge did not include such information. The procreative purpose is not set aside for God. Just look at Sarah and Elizabeth (two Biblical post-menopausal women who conceived children).


#5

In my opinion, there is no excuse for using contraception. The reason for the whole debate is to create an authentic love that does not get watered down to pure lust with some gucky feelings on the side. Sex in marriage is sacred and it can't be turned into a mutual stress relief exercise between two people

Adopting a child is very honorable, especially one that's being considered for abortion, but that does not help strengthen the lust vs. love issue between two people.

In terms of knowing that the child will have a deadly disease; it obviously gets more complicated- but if it is to be brought into this world, it is not your right to stop it. I don't see that big of a problem if you get married to someone and both decide to become chaste like Mary and Joseph. The point is you can't go into a marriage saying "I do not want a child" that goes against allowing God into your life. Reducing the times you have sex and avoiding the peak of your fertile cycle does not interfere with Gods plan because you can get pregnant having sex once, or over a span of even two years like some couples. We all have crosses to bear. A child that is born ill and dies shortly after is a terrible pain and lose, but if you truly believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church you know the child will be in heaven close to God where we all belong.

Bottom line, I'd say get married and adopt. Don't use contraception, but you might be morally obliged to use NFP and chastity.

Just my opinion though, I hope someone has a better answer


#6

I have a hard time with the concept that one who says: I love you, I want to be with you, I want to make your best days better and your worse days go away. I want to grow old with you, take care of you, etc. being seen as unworthy somehow of God’s grace, love, understanding, blessing, whatever. I can’t picture anyway in which that makes sense.


#7

[quote="samiam1611, post:1, topic:232170"]
M
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifies that all sex acts must be both unitive and procreative."
"Because of this secondary purpose, married couples have a right to engage in intercourse even when pregnancy is not a possible result."
(These statements were not sequential so pretend it says procreative and unitive. In other words unitive is the secondary purpose.)

First of all, I feel like this second statement contradicts the first. I don't understand why, if the procreative purpose of intercourse can be set aside during times when pregnancy is not possible (post-menopause, naturally occuring infertility), why not all the time? .

[/quote]

I struggle too with the Church's position but in a different way and it's two opposite sides of the same moral coin. Two known infertile people marrying is not a problem but I don't understand why the Church allows a person who is assumed to be fertile to marry a person who is known to be infertile. The fertile person is allowed to choose that they will have 100% unitive love and eliminate the procreative aspect. Some may even do so intentionally as a means to marry but not have children they don't want.

To make it even more plain assume that this is not a post-menopausal age couple. Why isn't it considered a sinful witholding of a person's fertility? It's not like the infertile person they fell in love with is the only person on earth. If the person they loved refused to have children or refused to allow the kids to be raised Catholic the marriage would not be allowed despite being in love. Why the exception for infertility that is known prior to the marriage?

Please don't say because it's not someone's choice they are infertile. We don't allow that reasoning for homosexuals to marry. And please don't say because God can perform miracles because it's not acceptable to presume in advance on the Lord's intervention.


#8

[quote="erodelphian, post:6, topic:232170"]
I have a hard time with the concept that one who says: I love you, I want to be with you, I want to make your best days better and your worse days go away. I want to grow old with you, take care of you, etc. being seen as unworthy somehow of God's grace, love, understanding, blessing, whatever. I can't picture anyway in which that makes sense.

[/quote]

I love you, I want to be with you, I want to make your best days better and your worse days go away. I want to grow old with you, take care of you....I want to give you my whole life....all but the part that joins with God to bring a new soul into the world...all but the part that brings us together in creating a person that is part of you and part of me....sorry that part I can't do with you...nope don't love you that much...can't give you my whole self.
They are saying no to God's grace. They are not giving themselves 100% to their spouse. They are putting limits on their love for one another.


#9

[quote="erodelphian, post:6, topic:232170"]
I have a hard time with the concept that one who says: I love you, I want to be with you, I want to make your best days better and your worse days go away. I want to grow old with you, take care of you, etc. being seen as unworthy somehow of God's grace, love, understanding, blessing, whatever. I can't picture anyway in which that makes sense.

[/quote]

The problem of the OP's statement is that that one is saying "I love you, I want to be with you, I want to make your best days better and your worse days go away. I want to grow old with you, take care of you, **but I DON'T want to have kids with you."

That person is withholding something of himself and his love. Marriage requires a total giving of self with no reservation.


#10

The desire to have children has nothing to do with being open to having children. At various times in our lives we desire/don't desire a great many things that are good, but that doesn't mean we have a right to them or that we will get them or that we shouldn't have them. Our feelings are a very poor way to decide matters of faith and morals because they are unreliable. Your lack of desire is probably actually based in some fear or personal distaste, but getting married is an act of the will, not of our feelings alone. As you say, we are rational beings. Therefore, if you are going to enter into a state in life in which you are going to be joined in the marital act and are able to have children, not wanting them will make little difference to your having them.

You can certainly abstain from sex to avoid having children for grave reasons, such as ill health or poverty, but to make up your mind before you've even entered into the married state is to negate one of the fundamental reasons marriage exists and has always existed. Exceptions are just that, they aren't the rule. You know you fall under the rule, so why not trust that God will help you with your feelings as you experience married life? Being married changes your whole outlook on life. Besides, we are always to be open to whatever God may want of us. That's what being a follower of Christ means. We cannot pick and choose which parts of God's will we will abide by and which we won't. With obedience comes the way to do what God wants of us--this comes through prayer and trusting that God knows best for each of us.


#11

I personally know a woman who was told by her doctor she would never have a child. She now has two. When God is there, it is always possible for the act to be procreative so long as we follow His plan.


#12

I also have a question…if the elderly are allowed to have sex but the female can’t achieve climax through intercourse, isn’t that a selfish act by the male?


#13

[quote="Lost_and_Found, post:12, topic:232170"]
I also have a question...if the elderly are allowed to have sex but the female can't achieve climax through intercourse, isn't that a selfish act by the male?

[/quote]

NO.


#14

[quote="SonCatcher, post:11, topic:232170"]
I personally know a woman who was told by her doctor she would never have a child. She now has two. When God is there, it is always possible for the act to be procreative so long as we follow His plan.

[/quote]

I am talking known to be infertile - such as organs physically missing. Please don't distract from the point I'm making.


#15

[quote="Lost_and_Found, post:12, topic:232170"]
I also have a question...if the elderly are allowed to have sex but the female can't achieve climax through intercourse, isn't that a selfish act by the male?

[/quote]

that's a question i've wondered about too. keep in mind it's not just elderly women who can't climax! One could argue, "well I still try every time to make her climax so it's not selfish" but what about if it's physically impossible for her to? (like a victim of genital mutilation). that's sort of a different topic although I don't mind discussing it here too, it all kind of is related in my mind - my natural, albeit flawed, inclination to separate the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage.

A lot of you have said things along the lines of God will change your mind if He wants you to have kids or God will do what's best for you, (like if you aren't meant to have kids you won't) [sorry for oversimplifying your responses, just don't feel like copying and pasting every applicable one, you get what I'm saying though?]
But for the sake of argument (discussion) let's say I don't want kids SO BADLY that I don't want to bank on Him not getting my pregnant- that's why I don't want even a miracle to be an option, and that it is just unfathomable to me that I will change my mind (that He will change my mind). (I literally have zero desire for children, I never have. Lots of reasons but I suppose they're irrelevent to this discussion.)
So I, or someone like me, what are they to do? One choice is being a nun. no thanks. stay single - no thanks, i'm in love, even if it wasn't for this guy, I desire a fulfilling relationship with a man. Someone suggested abstaining from sex, even in the marriage. Which also includes non-intercourse sexual acts of course. How is that a unitive marriage, a marriage made under God's grace? If we both don't want children, how can you say we would not be giving 100% of ourselves to each other? Again I ask myself (and you :) ) why would God make me not want children, make this other person not want children, and then bring us both together? I really don't get it. I feel like maybe these "rules" were made when the mortality rate was higher than the birth rate, so to continue the human race, and for the good of everyone, procreation was necessary. But now, advances in health care and social services make it possible for adults to grow old without their adult childrens' help. And with overpopulation and stuff...how come the rules haven't changed with the times? Please don't be offended if any of that seemed offensive, I swear I'm not trying to be difficult, I want to understand - understanding why things are the way they are is not coming to me naturally.


#16

I have no idea why you don't want children, but I suggest you deal with that issue or those issues immediately via therapy. Most people who say they don't want children have come from abusive childhoods themselves and can't imagine how they can ever be good parents if they themselves had such horrible parents.

Your hypothetical situation where you are chosen to adopt a baby that would otherwise be aborted? You're twisting yourself into knots. Why would you not want to have your own children, or at least be open to having God's children, and yet be open to adopting a relative's baby?:confused:

Being open to life is a wonderful thing. It truly is unitive, and contraception is divisive. There is just no way around it. If God had wanted us to use contraceptives, they'd have been built in. They weren't, so..."Go forth and multiply."


#17

[quote="samiam1611, post:15, topic:232170"]
that's a question i've wondered about too. keep in mind it's not just elderly women who can't climax! One could argue, "well I still try every time to make her climax so it's not selfish" but what about if it's physically impossible for her to? (like a victim of genital mutilation). that's sort of a different topic although I don't mind discussing it here too, it all kind of is related in my mind - my natural, albeit flawed, inclination to separate the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage.

A lot of you have said things along the lines of God will change your mind if He wants you to have kids or God will do what's best for you, (like if you aren't meant to have kids you won't) [sorry for oversimplifying your responses, just don't feel like copying and pasting every applicable one, you get what I'm saying though?]
But for the sake of argument (discussion) let's say I don't want kids SO BADLY that I don't want to bank on Him not getting my pregnant- that's why I don't want even a miracle to be an option, and that it is just unfathomable to me that I will change my mind (that He will change my mind). (I literally have zero desire for children, I never have. Lots of reasons but I suppose they're irrelevent to this discussion.)
So I, or someone like me, what are they to do? One choice is being a nun. no thanks. stay single - no thanks, i'm in love, even if it wasn't for this guy, I desire a fulfilling relationship with a man. Someone suggested abstaining from sex, even in the marriage. Which also includes non-intercourse sexual acts of course. How is that a unitive marriage, a marriage made under God's grace? If we both don't want children, how can you say we would not be giving 100% of ourselves to each other? Again I ask myself (and you :) ) why would God make me not want children, make this other person not want children, and then bring us both together?

I can't imagine that "God made" either of you that way - not wanting children. You list a number of reasons for NOT wanting children so I have to guess that you made you that way. I really don't get it. I feel like maybe these "rules" were made when the mortality rate was higher than the birth rate, so to continue the human race, and for the good of everyone, procreation was necessary. But now, advances in health care and social services make it possible for adults to grow old without their adult childrens' help. And with overpopulation and stuff...how come the rules haven't changed with the times? Please don't be offended if any of that seemed offensive, I swear I'm not trying to be difficult, I want to understand - understanding why things are the way they are is not coming to me naturally.

[/quote]

Many religious groups do "change the rules with the times."
The Catholic Church does not do that. It sees the law of God as eternal.


#18

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:16, topic:232170"]
I have no idea why you don't want children, but I suggest you deal with that issue or those issues immediately via therapy. Most people who say they don't want children have come from abusive childhoods themselves and can't imagine how they can ever be good parents if they themselves had such horrible parents.

Your hypothetical situation where you are chosen to adopt a baby that would otherwise be aborted? You're twisting yourself into knots. Why would you not want to have your own children, or at least be open to having God's children, and yet be open to adopting a relative's baby?:confused:

Being open to life is a wonderful thing. It truly is unitive, and contraception is divisive. There is just no way around it. If God had wanted us to use contraceptives, they'd have been built in. They weren't, so..."Go forth and multiply."

[/quote]

I think people can legitimately not want children without the implication they need counseling to know their own mind. The Church just expects them not to marry.

God did build in contraceptives, it's called the menstrual cycle. Even the early Jews knew that a woman was infertile during her menses and therefore had strict prohibitions against sexual relations during that time because the man's seed would be wasted. It presented a physiological barrier to conception.


#19

[quote="momor, post:18, topic:232170"]
I think people can legitimately not want children without the implication they need counseling to know their own mind. The Church just expects them not to marry.

God did build in contraceptives, it's called the menstrual cycle. Even the early Jews knew that a woman was infertile during her menses and therefore had strict prohibitions against sexual relations during that time because the man's seed would be wasted. It presented a physiological barrier to conception.

[/quote]

That is not why Jewish law prohibited relations during that time. The reason for the Jewish prohibition was ritual impurity due to the blood. (admittedly, it is interesting that by the time ritual impurity finishes, the woman is entering her fertile time)


#20

[quote="momor, post:14, topic:232170"]
I am talking known to be infertile - such as organs physically missing. Please don't distract from the point I'm making.

[/quote]

Fine. Another woman I personally know conceived after having procured a tubal ligation.


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