Thanks for the clarification. Sounds like NFP is not an option for most childless couples.

Quite the opposite. NFP also helps when couples are looking to become pregnant and helps those having trouble conceiving.

I meant if childless couples used NFP as a birth control method of course. That is probably not OK.

It is fine if they have a good reason at the time to avoid pregnancy.

For NFP to be used licitly, it must have a serious reason that must be regularly considered and prayed about to see if it still applies. Serious reasons could include health issues, money issues (real money issues though, not worries that you won’t be able to afford a second vacation), issues dealing with spacing children, etc.

If an otherwise normal, healthy, financially stable couple is using NFP to prevent pregnancy for no serious reason, then that is not OK.

The number of potential factors and combinations that can add up to a “serious reason” is so hopelessly complex that nobody attempts to make checklists. Discernment is more art than logic.

But with NFP, the couple keeps intact the natural connections God built into humanity between spousal passion and desire and the procreation of children. This body-soul connection innately helps to self-correct against reasons to avoid pregnancy that really aren’t all that serious. ABC, on the other hand, severs that body-soul link and makes the decision about whether to avoid pregnancy much easier to rationalize.

In short, God did a better job designing us than most of us give Him credit for.

The undeniable explosion of the human population in the last 100 years is indicative, at least to me, that something is out of balance and must be corrected. Since I was born the US population has more than doubled and I, quite honestly, feel crowded whenever I visit the Eastern mega-city along the east coast (Boston to Richmond).
The Catholic Church has lost this fight because the facts run against it in my view. Many stand with me in saying that there are just too many people. Had it not been for wars and pandemics, we would really be in a fix.

Oldcelt, Your logic is reasonable, but not fully informed. Here’s some reading on the topic (and not hardly from any catholic agenda driven source!).

Explosive population growth of the last few centuries has to do with societies in transition from pre-industrial rural societies to mature industrialized societies. Even without modern contraception in the mix (i.e. data from before the pill or latex) show that mature industrialized urban populations do NOT have high population growth rates. Only those societies in transition do.

The solution to explosive population growth is NOT to throw condoms and pills at poor people, it is to assist them in achieving stable industrialized economies.

Ironically, the contraception solution will ultimately cost humanity dearly. Not only is it not necessary in mature urban industrial societies, it devolves them to the point of BELOW replacement fertility (not to mention the dehumanizing effects of separating the body-soul link of human sexuality). Look up the CIA world factbook online for “Total Fertility Rates.” A value of 2.1 is break-even long term population. Not ONE mature industrialized nation on earth in which contraception is widely available and socially respectable has a TFR above replacement rate. They average about 1.7, which is about a 200 year population half life (and a brutal economic climate along the way).

It turns out that God was pretty smart after all. Human sexuality is designed for stable populations within stable cultures. It’s only when cultural upheavals come along or artificial modifications to human nature become the norm that populations get out of balance.

Actually, I’m quite well informed (admittedly now outside Christian dogma) and know that a population decrease is a strong likelihood, in developed nations. We actually need none-replacement levels worldwide in my opinion…and sooner rather than later.
Many look longingly at the good old days. Well, there were a lot fewer of us then, and I don’t believe that that fact is a coincidence.

Reasonable people can disagree on whether we “ought” to experience a population decline.

But your original post suggested that catholic moral teaching results in indefinite explosive population growth. That simply is not consistent with the facts of history as observed by professional demographers. Thus my question on whether you were aware of those facts, because (unlike your assertion) those facts do NOT run contrary to catholic teaching. They are quite consistent with it. The Catholic Church works exceedingly hard at helping developing nations in the areas of education, health, sanitation and civic morality. Precisely the things needed to move out of the explosive growth phase 2 and into the stable population phase of the demographic transition. Quite unlike secular policies that focus on handing out contraceptives.

The Church may do that, but their final goal is, as with all organizations, to gain members or adherents…In my view. The statistics in the link you offered are fascinating and I thank you for posting them. To me, they show a few things:

Population remained relatively stable until the arrival of modern medicine. Once Church teachings combined with a dramatically lowered mortality rate, the race was on. The size of families reached almost unbelievable levels (19 single births in one area family). What happened…two world wars and almost constant conflict in between.

I would make this point. If the population never explodes, there is no need for phase two. Let’s face it, many of the areas being evangelized now simply lack the resources of the US and Europe. They may never reach stability.

Has it been determined how reduced pregnancy rates were achieved in industrialised / industrialising societies? In current times, no doubt it is through adoption of ABC. But in the past, was it NFP / more abstinence or a preference for acts such as ‘withdrawal’ or similar non-procreative variants?

And in the rapidly developing African countries- if ABC were not to be available - how would you anticipate the birth rate would trend, and by what change (if any) in sexual ‘practice’ (from the previous high birth rate practices)?

Oldcelt, Hopefully I’m reading you wrong there and you aren’t suggesting that third world nations should NOT be given assistance with education, sanitation and medical practices so that their population growth rates are lessened… I also hope you aren’t asserting that such cultures simply aren’t able to reach stable, industrialized societies.


Causes and methods are less easy to track than actual fertility rates that far back, but it appears to go something like this: Urban industrial populations economically punish people who seek to support themselves via manual labor or low skill work and economically reward those who develop valuable and specialized skills. Those skills require far longer of a young adult training and education period to achieve, during which the student has very little income and is unable to support a family. Thus, such societies tend to have MUCH later ages at marriage than rural populations where marriage and babies tend to proceed not long after puberty! So that’s the first major distinction that marriages tended to come later (as much as a decade later is not uncommon).

Second, women seeking to become pregnant after 30 for the first time have a far higher rate of fertility problems than women seeking to become pregnant for the first time in their early 20’s. I’m not sure of the biological reasons for it, but a woman seeking to have her second (or more) child at age 36 seems to have much better odds than women trying for their first that late.

Third, again, urban economics make children a much tougher financial problem than rural economics do. On a strictly financial basis, an 11 year old boy is already a productive asset on a farm able to pull his own weight. In an urban family that kid is going to impose another 11 years of financial drain on the family (college or apprenticeship) before he’s an economic producer in his own right. Thus, urban families often are motivated to have fewer kids than rural families.

In eras past, (before latex and pills) urban families still had options for avoiding pregnancy. In the pre-pharmaceutical (and other chemicals) era, women’s fertility cycles had far fewer disruptions and it was rather less than rocket science to figure out when she was fertile. Even the rhythm method would have been much more effective back then than today. Primitive contraception (i.e. Onanism) was also probably widely practiced (sin is hardly a modern invention).

These things all combined probably explain the very low native population growth rates in Phase 3 populations even before the advent of latex and pills for ABC.

That all sounds reasonable, as does a view that non-procreative sex, eg. Onanism, played a significant part in delivering reduced fertility rates.

On a population level, I’d say that’s a fair assessment. I’d caution against asserting that they cannot be achieved without it though. Note the difference? For sure, it requires more discipline and self-control to achieve without it. But the fact that STD rates back then (the age BEFORE modern antibiotics) were much lower than they are today suggests that these virtues played a larger role in avoiding pregnancies than mere Onanism did.

STDs are linked to non-monogamous sexual relations. Lack of STDs can be explained by a greater prevalence of monogamous relations. Monogamous Onanism would contribute substantially to reduced fertility and be consistent with STD rates, so your last conclusion does not necessarily follow.


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