I am a potential convert married to a semi-lapsed Catholic. We are in a blended family (his first marriage and my second) and we both have children (his from previous relationship, mine from previous marriage) and 1 child together. We have used contraception throughout this marriage (first me ABC, then after our baby condoms). I have been reading through the teachings of the church and NFP books and although kind of understand the teachings my husband insists that condoms are ok because we aren’t killing anyone and we already have children.
So I need some help understanding.
I’m not sure what exactly to do. I am 40 and he is 42, so more children is kind of risky.
2377 Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. the act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children."167 "Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses’ union … Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person."168
You are not “killing anyone”, but you are “killing” the possibility of life through procreation.
I attended a Theology of the Body seminar and the example used was this:
If you went to shake someone’s hand and put a plastic glove on your hand first, what message is that sending to the other person? Are you really giving your whole self to the other person?
A condom places a barrier between husband and wife, and treats fertility like something to be avoided instead of embraced. When a husband and wife come together, they’re saying with their bodies that they are giving all of themselves completely to the other person. This includes a woman’s fertility.
I’m familiar with the Creighton Model system for NFP, and it’s equal to or more effective than condoms (source: the Creighton model manual).
Hope this helps! After you’re in line with the Church’s teachings, than having more kids is a prudential judgment. My advice: as someone who’s been unable to conceive, be open to God’s will!
And, keep in mind, NFP is Natural Family Planning, not Natural Family Prevention…so if you are embracing NFP as a means to obey the Church, yet exclusively prevent pregnancy, you are violating Church teaching as much as if you had a tubal, vasectomy, or IUDs, or oral contraceptives.
No, the sin would not be the same. It is possible to be selfish in one’s use of NFP, but to intend to use it to prevent pregnancy, even until menopause, is not a sin at all if one has a just/serious reason.
God disagrees and says it’s wrong. Your husband does not appear to be taking God very seriously.
Not as risky as Abraham and Sarah. I think he was 100 and she was 90. But they counted it as a blessing, not a risk. In fact, nowhere in the Bible are children ever considered anything but a blessing. They’re always a blessing, no matter what situation you’re in, no matter how old or young, how poor or rich.
EDIT: removed as much snark as I can bring myself to remove.
The Church permits Natural Family Planning (actually a variety of methods of gathering information to determine where you are in your monthly fertility cycle, where you could abstain during your fertile time to avoid pregnancy) if a couple has just/serious reasons. The Church does not have a list of what reasons are sufficiently serious, but they offer general guidelines that for financial, physical/mental health (of parents and children), and other similar reasons, a couple may use NFP, if they choose to. They do not have to seek permission from the priest to do so. The Church says the ability to prayerfully discern rightfully belongs to the couple, although they may seek wise counsel if they so choose.
However, if you decide to seek another pregnancy, and choose to set aside your concerns, that is okay, too. The Church calls us to responsible parenthood, but also encourages generosity in childbearing, too.
Explore the methods of NFP: sympto-thermal (promoted by the Couple-to-Couple League, or CCL), Creighton, Billings, Marquette, et al. See which method appeals to you and if any teachers are in your parish or community. It is also possible to learn it through online resources.
If you are going to begin RCIA this fall, ask your priest if the parish has any NFP teachers or experienced NFP couples who could help you find the information you need. I took an NFP choose during RCIA. It was very interesting and helpful.
Thank you for all of your responses. From what I read there seems to be a lot to learn about NFP. What are the various methods that were mentioned? (marquette and the rest?). I have looked into books that speak of NFP as a method that charts mucus, temperature etc. but I have not heard of these others.
As far as my age being a risk factor. I had my last baby at 35 and this was considered “RISKY” by my doctors. I am aware that in Biblical times children in old age were considered a blessing. I am just concerned because of the risks for both mother and child in the older age group but I have seen many over 40 ladies deliver perfectly healthy babies.
My husband does not want any more children but I would be open to more. What happens when one partner wants to use contraception and the other does not? Are there cases where this happens?
Take Charge of Your Fertility is a well-respected secular book. Being a secular book, they offer the option of condoms during fertile times, but that’s easy to ignore. Frankly, once one has substantial experience with NFP, the very idea of using condoms during the fertile time sounds foolish. Either you want a baby, in which case why bother, or you don’t want a baby, in which case, why risk it? But all in all, TCOYF is a classic and very helpful.
I am starting to feel this way. I am realizing that I am not my own but belong to God and that this is an area of my life that needs surrender.
At the same time I think about being a good steward and about the other children I already have and what adding another would do to the totality of our family. We are a blended family and have a different dynamic than a traditional family. There are days that my husband spends with his other child away from myself and my/our child(ren) so this creates for an “unusual” family dynamic. It is divided to say the least. If I was in a traditional marriage then it would be more of a “no brainer” to say “YES” to more children.
Each of the methods I mentioned are named after the university (or the doctor) responsible for developing the method. Some signs that are used are cervical mucus, cervical position, basal body temperature, hormones in the urine, etc. Depending on the method, you will take note of different signs. For example, some methods use only mucus, while others use mucus and temperature. Some methods use a fertility monitor with the test strips you dip into urine in the mornings, just like a pregnancy test works. There is also a monitor that tracks and charts for you, called the LadyComp. There are so many ways of monitoring your fertility! So I would suggest starting with a Google search, and read about them to find out more. Here is a link to start with: a Google search for “natural family planning”. Also, Google “Creighton” and “Marquette” and “Billings” and “Lady Comp”.
If you want to start with something with more of a secular spin, research Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). The Church’s teachings conflict with a couple of aspects of the method, but it is a good introduction to how to become aware of your fertility so that you are able to avoid or achieve pregnancy.
Finally, yes it sometimes unfortunately happens that couples do not agree for a time on family planning approaches, especially during times of crisis or conversion. There is good pastoral literature on how to navigate such a situation, once you have become more informed on what the Church teaches regarding marriage and married sexuality. I found a lot of resources right here at CAF, because a lot of people here provided links. So I am certain that you will be able to find what you need when you are ready to broach the topic with your husband. But one point that I did want to mention, that might help to set your mind at ease right away. If you come to accept the teachings of the Church and you make the choice to become Catholic, yet your husband is not ready or is resistant, and he insists upon using condoms, you are not required to refuse to engage in sexual relations.
If you inform him of the Church’s teaching, and that you object to the use of a condom, but he insists, you may acquiesce in the matter without sin. Many spouses are concerned about that, and do not want to have to reject physical intimacy with their spouse. (However, you are not obligated to continue to engage in contracepted relations, either. A request for contracepted relations is sometimes seen as unreasonable by some spouses, and that is okay, too.)
I’ve read the secular book and used the fertility test strips and monitor.
Now that I’m using the Creighton model, I can see there was absolutely no reason to spend so much money each month for the test strips. In addition, it was a pain to get up every morning and use them. The test strips and temperature taking I did for so long only let you know if you’ve already ovulated. Whereas now with Creighton, and I’m sure others are similar, I know when my body is preparing to be fertile. I just don’t see how anyone gets pregnant using Creighton. Now the temperature taking would let you know the exact day you ovulate I suppose, but unless you’re trying to figure that out specifically (like we were bc we’ve been unable to conceive) then I don’t know why you’d put in that extra effort.