Controversial: Is it sinful to avoid conception?


#1

This is a complicated and very subjective question. Basically what I am asking is:

Is it sinful for a couple to avoid conception without compelling [grave] reason? What constitutes grave reason? I have seen several posts in the last few months about ‘planning’ when to have another child, how long to wait, and a variety of reasons to wait.

I am not at all condemning anyone, or presuming to know anyone’s situation. I am just asking, could it be a sin of omission to avoid conception for financial, emotional, or other reasons that are not grave? (We have all heard the cliches about not wanting to be sick in the early stages of pregnancy at certain times of year, or when we want an unnecessary new car, etc.)

I hope I have succeeded in keeping the wording in this post charitable and clear! Please do the same.


#2

Despite the very tactfully worded OP, it would seem this topic has been hashed out almost to death on these forums. The decision as to if, when, and/or how often to procreate is given over to the discretion of each married couple, with guidance provided by Church teachings. For anyone else to EVER opine on the morality of another couple’s decision to have or not to have more children leads nowhere productive and more often into the dangerous waters of speculation, gossip and uncharitable assumptions.


#3

My apologies. I was trying to be objective. My question is actually spurred by the experience of so many young and middle-aged people who are unable to find a mate, though they feel called to the married life. Is it because of the combination of abortion, contraception, and families who did not accept blessings from God (in the form of more children)?


#4

[quote=Island Oak]…For anyone else to EVER opine on the morality of another couple’s decision to have or not to have more children leads nowhere productive and more often into the dangerous waters of speculation, gossip and uncharitable assumptions.
[/quote]

Island Oak,

I don’t believe that this is what CaptCath is trying to do here. Perhaps you should pay a little more attention to the stated post:

[quote=CaptCath] I am not at all condemning anyone, or presuming to know anyone’s situation.
[/quote]

I’m pretty sure this is crystal clear and that your comment was both unmeritted as well as uncharitable. Do not forget the words of St. Paul:

1 Cor 13:
1**If I speak **in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, **I am nothing. **

Despite what you may think, this is the appropriate place to be voicing questions like CaptCath’s. Cyberspace provides a level of anonimity that promotes earnest and honest questions about subjects which would otherwise be inappropriate.

Now, I don’t claim to speak for CaptCath, but both my wife and I were a bit put off by the callous manner in which you have responded to CaptCath on this (and other) threads. Please keep the charity to a maximum.

God Bless,
RyanL


#5

The church does not require “grave” reasons, merely “just” reasons.

And, in my opinion, yes it is certainly possible to sinfully avoid conception but I think that the requirements the church places on people are significantly less than what your post is implying.


#6

[quote=captaincatholic]Is it sinful for a couple to avoid conception without compelling [grave] reason? What constitutes grave reason?
[/quote]

CaptainCatholic,

Yes, it is sinful to avoid conception without a compelling reason. Is it mortally sinful? It depends. In order to be mortally sinful, the CCC teaches that the following are required:

  1. Sufficiently grave matter
  2. Full knowledge
  3. Full consent of the will
    If the couple thinks that their reason is sufficient, it compromises the second element, and would thus not be mortally sinful.

As for what constitutes grave reason…this is a bit more complex, and varies from situation to situation. The best advice is to go to your priest / spiritual director and discuss these issues (it is really more of a pastoral issue). That said, you can gain an aweful lot of insight by reading the Holy Father:
Humanae****Vitae
and
Evangelium****vitae

God Bless,
RyanL


#7

I am in a situation like this now. After multiple losses and a tenuous pregnancy right now (10w, spotting the whole time and beside myself with worry no matter how many prayers I say) I find myself wondering if I can do this again – ever. I love children, I love being pregnant (when I can overcome the fear) and I do not want to do anything “permanent” to change my body…that said, it has really hit me hard to find myself wondering if I can go thru it again…I am not normally one to think this way-- I consider myself incredibly strong emotionally, as others have told me as well…but this seems to be an achilles heel for me of late…and to be honest, I find myself asking if this is “grave” enough to avoid pregnancy in the future…I just don’t know, but the more I pray for guidance and aid, the more I keep finding myself not wanting to go through all of this anguish again – and it saddens me. I am a mother, I love what I do, I wouldn’t do anything else if you paid me all the money in the world. I love the thought that I have children, but the thought of getting pregnant again regardless of the outcome of this current situation scares me beyond explanation, and it’s just plain freaky to me – like I said, I’ve never been prone to fear or anxiety like this, so it’s all new…and I pray and pray but keep coming back to the same feeling – “I don’t know if I can handle this again” – I feel like a horrible person, so don’t think people make these decisions lightly or because they want another car or want to enjoy afternoon soaps again… ok? Some of us are really struggling with it


#8

just playing devil’s advocate for you, but i am BF an 18 month old and my leutel phases are still so short that my body would not sustain a conception so I am avoiding to avoid an inevitable miscarriage. i’m not entirely sure that i’d even be able to get pregnant right now because of lack of mucus, but i’d rather go this route.


#9

[quote=RyanL]Island Oak,

I don’t believe that this is what CaptCath is trying to do here. Perhaps you should pay a little more attention to the stated post:

I’m pretty sure this is crystal clear and that your comment was both unmeritted as well as uncharitable. Do not forget the words of St. Paul:

Despite what you may think, this is the appropriate place to be voicing questions like CaptCath’s. Cyberspace provides a level of anonimity that promotes earnest and honest questions about subjects which would otherwise be inappropriate.

Now, I don’t claim to speak for CaptCath, but both my wife and I were a bit put off by the callous manner in which you have responded to CaptCath on this (and other) threads. Please keep the charity to a maximum.

God Bless,
RyanL
[/quote]

Before you so eagerly impugn my ability to read and digest a simple concept or my motivation in posting my caution above to the OP, take a walk through some old posts that exist on this topic. I have seen the wonderful anonymity of the internet deteriorate into accusatory, sarcastic, judgmental and uncharitable attacks fairly quickly. THAT, my friend was the reason for the caution to the OP–nothing more, nothing less.


#10

[font=Century Gothic][size=3]take a walk through some old posts that exist on this topic. I have seen the wonderful anonymity of the internet deteriorate into accusatory, sarcastic, judgmental and uncharitable attacks fairly quickly. THAT, my friend was the reason for the caution to the OP–nothing more, nothing less.

[/size][/font]

i have too and fully agree


#11
  1. Yes, it can be sinful to avoid for a reason that is not just/serious/grave.

  2. It can be a sin, but not in the same way ABC is (I know this wasn’t an issue, but just thought I would throw that in).

  3. Its up to the couple to decide if it is or not, making sure they are well informed and being very honest with themselves and in front of God. After all, they will be the ones who have to face God when they die and be accountable for their decision.

  4. There is one thing I don’t understand. I am not directing this towards anyone, since it is a common practice on here, but why do people state their reasons for avoiding children here? If we know it is something personal, that only they know they complete situation, I just find that this can be very misleading and confusing for other forum readers. I think this is probably one of the main reasons why this topic is so volatile.

  5. The Second Vatican Council has proclaimed that ‘especially worthy of mention among the married people who fulfil the mission entrusted to them by God, are those who, with prudent mutual agreement, generously accept a more numerous offspring to educate worthily’ (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 50)

Pope Paul VI, in an address on 12 February 1966, commented ‘that the recently concluded Second Vatican Council should diffuse among Christian couples a spirit of generosity in order to increase the new People of God… that they should always remember that this expansion of God’s kingdom and the possibilities of the Church’s penetration among mankind in order to bring about eternal salvation and the salvation of the world are also entrusted to their generosity’.


#12

[quote=Island Oak]Before you so eagerly impugn my ability to read and digest a simple concept or my motivation in posting my caution above to the OP, take a walk through some old posts that exist on this topic. I have seen the wonderful anonymity of the internet deteriorate into accusatory, sarcastic, judgmental and uncharitable attacks fairly quickly. THAT, my friend was the reason for the caution to the OP–nothing more, nothing less.
[/quote]

HUH?


#13

I can’t imagine having a conversation with another couple regarding their “misuse of NFP.” First off… how would I know that they are misusing it? Second, why is it any of my business? I’d like to see the person who would approach me & my husband saying, “I’ve noticed your children are all three years apart…do I detect a misuse of NFP?” :confused:

this is my fav quote from one of the MANY MANY threads onthis topic. why don’t the people who are so worried about someone’s misuse of NFP put their energy into trying to educate the MAJORITY of American Catholics that use birth control.:rolleyes:


#14

[quote=spacecadet]this is my fav quote from one of the MANY MANY threads onthis topic. why don’t the people who are so worried about someone’s misuse of NFP put their energy into trying to educate the MAJORITY of American Catholics that use birth control.:rolleyes:
[/quote]

I like that quote too.
I think you are comparing apples and apple juice. They are two different things, two different problems. Its sort of like saying we shouldn’t talk about smaller lies being bad when there is so much grave calumny and slander out there. If we want to strive to be saints little things matter too. Also, it seems like a lot of people on here know that ABC is wrong already. Anyways, I too think this topic is touchy and delicate and we shouldn’t go into anyone’s personal situation, since no one on here has (nor should have) full knowledge of any other person’s situation.


#15

[quote=lifeisbeautiful]I like that quote too.
I think you are comparing apples and apple juice. They are two different things, two different problems. Its sort of like saying we shouldn’t talk about smaller lies being bad when there is so much grave calumny and slander out there. If we want to strive to be saints little things matter too. Also, it seems like a lot of people on here know that ABC is wrong already. Anyways, I too think this topic is touchy and delicate and we shouldn’t go into anyone’s personal situation, since no one on here has (nor should have) full knowledge of any other person’s situation.
[/quote]

well i do believe what we do in small things we do in big things, example if we cheat in small ways it will come out in big ways…but i still think many people are overly self-rightous about when it is ok or not ok to use NFP. I know a faimly that used NFP and has 7 kids all spaced about 3 years apart. they’ve given so much life to the world. yet some people would condem them for using NFP to space their children. it just gets old


#16

[quote=spacecadet]well i do believe what we do in small things we do in big things, example if we cheat in small ways it will come out in big ways…but i still think many people are overly self-rightous about when it is ok or not ok to use NFP. I know a faimly that used NFP and has 7 kids all spaced about 3 years apart. they’ve given so much life to the world. yet some people would condem them for using NFP to space their children. it just gets old
[/quote]

I agree, no one has the right to judge anyone (I know a family that is very generous and never even tried to avoid children, but were only able to have 2 children, 12 years apart).

With that said, it is a truth that NFP can be misused. I think it is good to share that info with others, yet I don’t agree with judging individual situations, because even if judging in general was ok (which it is not), no one knows the full story, except for the people involved. Now, if no one knows the full situation except for those involved, then people shouldn’t be presenting their reasons to use NFP as valid ones (especially if they are reasons that would not apply to everyone) because since they can only present the partial picture, they may be misleading and confusing. The misuse of NFP is a tough, delicate, and very personal topic. I know before getting married I read and read like crazy all the Church documents and books by reputable authors I could find. The Church acknowledges it depends greatly on the discernment of the couple involved and does not spell out many rules, so it can be confusing for people. Since formation of conscience is an important part of discerning, and although these forums often just present opinions and we should not use personal opinions as a source of formation, it can affect their judgement.


#17

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