Church law vs reality


Hi there, i’m dave’s wife and i hope you don’t mind if i start a thread of my own.

Having only been a part of the catholic faith a few months, it has become increasingly confusing that the church isn’t overflowing with kids, when the law is crystal clear on the prohibition of using contraception of any kind.

is it a case of it being the law that has become obsolete and outdated?:shrug: a law that alot of good catholics follow but a number of catholics see the need to have smaller families thus ‘ignoring’ that particular law.

i liken it to the fact that technically it is illegal to tape television programmes due to copyright legislation, but most people who wouldn’t want to miss that episode of ‘australian idol’ for instance, knowingly break the law anyway.

it’ll be great to hear your thoughts. thanks.:wink:


I don’t think it’s a case of a law becoming obsolete and outdated; rather, I think it’s that many Catholics simply don’t understand the “why” behind Church teaching. I think many were not properly catechized, and at least in the US (I can’t speak of any other place, since I’m not too familiar with other places :wink: ), we have a horrible vein of selfishness and materialism that is encouraged in our society.

I truly believe that if people really understood why the Church teaches what she does about contraception, and truly believed that it was indeed mortal sin without exception, Catholics everywhere would abandon contraception completely.

But that’s just my opinion. :smiley:


In our particular case, we are not materialistic, just emotionally incapable of coping with a large family due to social isolation and lack of support. I suffer from depression very badly, leaving my wife to do basically all of the chores (I barely cope with work, and think about suicide daily). So we are barely coping as is. As we look around church, it should be full of kids, but it’s not.

So it seems there’s what the church teaches and what people actually do. We’d ask that people “keep it real” in this thread.

I honestly wish the Church would grant us a special dispensation to use non-abortive contraception due to our circumstances. But it’s a “one size fits all policy”, even of you don’t have the support of grandparents and friends, suffer depression, struggle just to get by in life.

I think (I am replying to my wife’s post here) what my wife meant when she said “outdated” is that in former times people lived close to their parents and could call for help, while we had to move to the city for work. If we both get sick, there is *no-one *to help.


Is the fact that people don’t follow church teachings the fault of the teaching or the fault of the people?

If the teachings of the Church are true (which most people here believe) then they have to be followed. I think that many people in the pews beside us (or registered and not coming every Sunday) don’t want to follow the teachings and do what they want.

Yes, it is hard, and we all have our crosses to bear. But we are not relativistic - we believe the teachings are always true for all people, no matter what their situation.


The Church lacks the authority to edit God’s moral law to accomodate social trends.


i always try to give people the benefit of the doubt…

perhaps other people have serious reasons (just as it seems you do) to use NFP to postpone having children. This is totally legit in the eyes of the Church. We must always have good means to a good end.

The Church does not require that we have as many children as physically possible, but that we are open to God’s will for our family size. Discerning a need to postpone through abstenince is something that each couple does through much prayer and possibly with the help of a good spiritual director.

Also, don’t forget that many people suffer from infertility…making blanket statements about how many children a family “should” have could be hurtful to a couple that maybe only has 2 living children but has suffered many miscarriages.


I often struggle with thoughts like these. I am blessed to be in a parish that is FULL of kids - Mass is rarely a quiet place to be! :smiley: But I sometimes look at other Catholic families (at our parish and others) and see their children and make assumptions. But I’m constantly forcing myself to remember - I have NO idea what’s going on in their lives. Maybe they have 2 children because their last 4 pregnancies have ended in miscarriage. Maybe they are childless because of cancer or another disease damaged her fertility. Perhaps there are serious financial, physical, or personal problems that make it completely unreasonable for them to have another child now. I try to be charitable.

But I know from studies that many Catholics do not follow the Church’s teachings regarding contraception (of course, many Catholics do not follow many of the Church’s teachings). Some of them were never taught properly. Some of them have been told by priests and lay advisors within the Church that contraception is not morally wrong. (In an RCIA class I attended - not mine, but a year later - the leader said that not using contraception would “get you into trouble”.) Others have likely decided that the rules don’t apply to them.

The Church’s teachings on sexuality and fertilty are very difficult, especially in today’s society. The world around us believes that our fertilty is ours to control - and we have the medical means to do it quite easily. But the Church’s teaching is based in the fact that God controls our fertility - and it is not our place to step in and take control from Him.

I am sorry to hear of your difficult situation. Depression is an awful disease - it wrecks havoc in the mind without any outward symptoms for the world to see. I pray for your healing and for the continued strength of your marriage.



Change jobs

If you, or your wife, had some illness that required assistance some where other than where you are (geographically), you’d move for that, right?

So, why not change the job? is that job really that irreplaceable? Life is short. Eternity is, well, eternal!


A non-abortive contraception is no guarantee of anything -all methods can fail and then what? You do not have to have a large family the church allows for NFP. I have used NFP for 10 years without pregnancy. Another pregnancy would be fatal for me, my heart could not sustain it. Our marriage, our lives have been blessed tremendously since we placed our trust in God and embraced the churches teaching against contraception ten years ago.

And Dave please tell me you are getting treated for your depression. My husband used to have chronic depression, there is help. God bless you both, you will be in my prayers.


The church is not against using natural methods to avoid conception for serious reasons. Depression is a debilitating disease (I’ve suffered from anxiety/depression on an off throughout my life) and can be a very serious reason to use natural family planning to avoid conception.

Please look into this option! This is in the catechism and is in complete communion with the teachings of the church!

MANY MANY people here on CAF use NFP and can help you out to find all the info you could ever want!

I will keep you in my prayers!


Contraception is against the divine moral law-- it is always wrong. Limiting family size is NOT inherently disordered or against the divine moral law. Therefore it is not always wrong.

The Church teaches that we have the privilege of co-creating with God and that we should discern this carefully throughout our marriage.

Some people have small families because of infertility problems, some because of serious medial reasons, some because of serious other reasons, and some because of selfish sinful reasons. Only the last one of this list violates God’s law-- selfishness.

God’s law is eternal. God’s law never changes, never becomes obsolete, never becomes outdated.

There are probably many Catholics who violate God’s law in this area, just as Catholics sin in many other ways. The Church is full of sinful people, and God is always waiting to receive them back through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

However, keep in mind that not every couple who has a small family uses contraception. In fact many do not. So, never presume anything or make judgments about another person’s actions or motives.


Let’s see, the Church teaches that people–even baptised Catholics with all seven Sacraments–have a tendency to sin. As we look around at ourselves and our fellow Catholics we discover that people do have a tendency to sin, just as the Church says.

The Church doesn’t solve the problem of sin by declaring sins not to be sins.

Let’s think about those “former times”. Women commonly died in child birth. Without vaccinations, many children died from common childhood illnesses. Many grown ups died from common ailments such as the flu before anti-biotics. Most people worked hard in fields or at other back-breaking jobs just to put food on the table in their little huts. With the almost constant threat of starvation and disease, it’s a wonder our ancestors had any children at all.

If difficulties in life justify the use of contraception, our ancestors certainly had justification. But most didn’t use contraception–because it was a sin then–and contraception still is a sin now.


It could also be that not everyone is married to a Catholic, and the other partner participates in artificial birth control? I don’t often see FULL families at mass. I might see the mom and her kids… Or if I do see a full family, one spouse isn’t always Catholic as is my case.

But honestly, I do think a lot of Catholic don’t follow the ban on birth control but they still are believers and love mass, love Jesus and the church.

I have a lot of Christian and Catholic friends who were living in sin, but still attending church.

I used to get angry at the Easter and Christmas only mass attenders and wonder why they were overcrowding the church ONLY on those days. Now I am just so happy they are coming back and pray that they join us every sunday.


Is this backed up in the Bible? Should we keep Kosher? Can someone explain what Gods Natural Law actually is?


It’s not ecclesastical law, but part of the eternal moral law of God.

People do not have faith. They do not trust that what God decrees is for our greatest good. Even if we don’t understand or it seems hard or outdated, we place our faith in Him.

We should all echo Mary’s words when she was confronted with something she didn’t understand, that would appear to cause her great suffering–becoming an unmarried pregnant teenager in a society that stoned fornicators. She said: “Be it done unto me according to Your word.”

As St. Anthony of the Desert prophecied in the early days of the Church:

“Men will surrender to the spirit of the age. They will say that if they had lived in our day, Faith would be simple and easy. But in their day, they will say, things are complex; the Church must be brought up to date and made meaningful to the day’s problems. When the Church and the World are one, then those days are at hand. Because our Divine Master placed a barrier between His things and the things of the world.”

As Our Lord asked, when He returns, will He find faith on Earth?


The Church does not have a one-size fits all policy on family planning. It allows for Natural Family Planning, a scientific method that is co-operative with the natural law (God’s law) that when may be used for just or serious reasons after prayerful discernment. You are already have something at your disposal to use if necessary, no need to have a dispensation for something that is contra-ceptive & violates the Church law (which is God’s law, this is the natural law). This means no need for anything that works (contra) directly against the co-sharing (ceptive) nature of the sexual union, this includes any activity or object that seeks to separate out the unitive & procreative aspects of sex. NFP is totally acceptable & is information about a woman’s fertility that allows for a couple to discern each month through prayer & communication whether they are going to abstain during a possibly fertile time or not. NFP is highly effective (more than 99%) when a couple uses it consistently & correctly should a couple need to avoid a pregnancy for a just reason. NFP is as or more effective as any other method out there, why use an immoral method when there is a moral method available?

I would suggest that if you are feeling that there is a reason to avoid a pregnancy learning NFP as a couple and continue to pray for guidance (your marriage is you, your wife & God). There are a variety of methods out there and you can decide which is best for your marriage.

Most Catholics know little about why the Church teaches what it does, what NFP is or the like. If they did perhaps more would embrace it here in the States…I know that I when I wasn’t following this teaching I simply had no idea why it was taught or what NFP was. Once I learned it changed my pov on it & Dh’s (I use the MarquetteModel & it’s been great for us). With knowledge of the faith comes the ability to live the faith, but that means we as the “faithful” actually have to take the time to learn it, kwim?

Also, there are lots of reasons some people may not have large families that have nothing to do with contra-ceptive means. Reasons like: what age they married, infertility, health problems, and other reasons that aren’t our business. Don’t assume that just because a family is 1-2 kids that they aren’t being open to life in how they are approaching their marriage. There may be other reasons for their smaller family size, just like you cannot assume that just because a family is larger that they aren’t using contra-ceptive means. I have known may larger families (5+) who used barriers, hormones & sterlization–some even bragged that no one would guess not even their Priest because they had a “large” family & that they where meeting their quota. They didn’t get it’s not the # of kids you have that truly makes you a Catholic, it’s how you live your life & what’s in your heart.

If you are looking for NFP methods this site offers a variety of options and other information on why NFP:

***On the natural law, old law (old testament), new law (Law of the Gospel)–


I also support using NFP as many here have voiced. Using NFP correctly is VERY effective and since you have a serious medical condition, then using NFP is alright to use to avoid contraception. Granted, it’s not 100% effective, but neither is birth control. My cousin just recently gave birth to her third child that she conceived while taking the pill. She had been taking the pill daily religiously for YEARS but still conceived. Her doctor told her the pill is only 99% effective itself and she was that 1%…in other words, you cannot totally escape the Will of God.

Also, your depression sounds very serious…are you seeing a doctor about this? And if so, maybe you need to get a second opinion on how to get yourself treated b/c you sound like you are suffering from a terrible mental condition. My prayers are with you! :gopray:


I noticed that you wrote you are suffering from a severe depression & I missed that when I first posted. I wanted to encourage you to please learn NFP together it can be used if you need to avoid (I know couples that had a serious mental or physical health reason to avoid & used NFP effectively to do so) & if you are not already seeking medical help for your depression please do! Seek a second opinion if your condition is not getting any better. Depression can be a terrible cross but you do not have to carry it alone.

Saying prayers for you! :gopray2:


Here is what the Catholic Church says “The spouses have the inalienable right to found a family and to decide on the spacing of births and the number of children to be born, taking into full consideration their duties towards themselves, their children already born, the family and society, in a just hierarchy of values…”

As a parent, I have an obligation to be able to provide for the child we have now and the ones we may have in the future. BTW when I say provide I mean shelter, food and clothing.

Yes you should be open to life, but nowhere does the Church say you must have 5 children either.


Humanae vitae, the document that affirmed the age-old teaching of the Church (all Christianity BTW) that contraception is an intrinsic evil, also noted that there are very good reasons for limiting family size in some cases, including financial and emotional exigencies.

Sounds like you qualify. That doesn’t make contraception OK. It means scrupulous use of NFP or complete abstinence. But the Church does not say you MUST have a large family – only that you must not limit the number of children through sinful means.

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