I'm starting to believe NFP is sinful

I crossed the Tiber a few years ago and over the course of the years, have noticed that I am more traditional than the typical Catholic. It’s getting to the point where I’ve considered becoming Sedevacantist but I do not support a split in the Church.

One of the things bothering me as of late is NFP use. I think NFP to help treat medical issues in women is great and it does help. A lot of women have doctors forcing immoral treatments on them (contraceptives) and NFP is good for treatment because it helps with tracking hormones. However, I cannot in good conscience use it for birth control use because I see nothing in the Church’s history saying family planning is acceptable.

Sure, there was a pope who did say family planning was okay from time to time, but his words were fallible. He wasn’t making an infallible statement and I’ve read enough to know NFP is preventing pregnancy. Preventing pregnancy is the same thing as using the pill, or a condom. How is having couples deliberately avoiding sex during their fertile times any different from withholding your fertility all the time with condoms, the pill, shots, the patch, etc.?

Because you arn’t breaking anything in your body.

NFP: Uses the NATURAL fertile and infertile periods that GOD himself created. Still open to life, as one is still subject to the God-ordained natural functions.

Artificial Contraception: Uses UNATURAL means by actually MUTALATING and “breaking” a the aformentioned natural rhythms of a woman’s body.

The problem is not with “preventing pregnancy” when there is a good reason to do so (and it is up to each couple to discern if their situation warrants spacing or postponing pregnancy) but rather with the method used. NFP employs nothing that interferes with the marriage act, unlike the artificial methods you mention.

As Catholics, we are bound to pay heed to pronouncements made by the Pope, with the weight and authority of the Magisterium, whether he is speaking infallibly (ex cathedra) or not. (There have actually been remarkably few “ex cathedra” pronouncements; the latest, I believe, being the Assumption of Mary.)

It sounds to me as if your catechesis about the Catholic view of sexuality is incomplete. Here is a link that is a good starting point to differentiate between NFP and artificial means of birth regulation: priestsforlife.org/articles/nfpdifferences.html

Stay away from sedevacantists; trying to be “more Catholic than the Pope” doesn’t achieve anything good.

Because you have two choices to postpone pregnancy…which almost every single couple comes across at some point in their marriage…

  1. Abstain totally and completely until you are ready to have a child again (and for some couples the answer is never again)
  2. Still maintain marital relations but only abstain during one part of a women’s cycle.

I fail to see how NFP is a form of contraception. You’re just abstaining in a different way.

God made a woman fertile for only a certain time of the month. Naturally, why wouldn’t we take advantage of God’s design and continue marital relations during the time of the month when a woman can’t become pregnant. The couple is not saying “No” to God by doing this.

They are saying “No” to God by making the woman’s cycle completely inoperable or by putting up a barrier and preventing the act being completed according to God’s design.

The fact is…couples can’t always handle pregnancy after pregnancy and child after child…due to various reasons such as health risks, family crisis, financial trouble…etc. It’s up to the couple to discern when they can be ready for another child.
So a couple has a choice to abstain from all sex indefinitely or use God’s design of the woman’s body in their favor.

Historically, the Church has taught NFP to be the proper solution to be applied for “serious reasons.”
Recently, there are many Pre-Cana classes and educators that are ignoring the Church’s teaching and pretending that birth control is acceptable as the norm. Historically, the Church has seen it as possible to misuse NFP by choosing to practice it for the wrong reasons. Thus, NFP could be sinful if used frivolously by a couple who were aware of the need for serious reason and ignored the requirement. Serious reasons may differ from person to person since this relies upon the interior forum, but it is a requirement.

So you think couples are sinning by not having sex during fertile periods? Where does this mindset end? A couple is obligated to disregard the wife’s fertility and have babies at any and every possible opportunity? If you do not believe that a couple, for even serious reasons, should have any control over the spacing of pregnancies I’m not sure what to say!

The term Natural Family Planning is misleading - The Church’s teaching on contraception isn’t really based on natural/artificial. Likewise, contraception is a better term to use than artificial birth control. If it were just a matter of natural vs. artificial, coitus interruptus (withdrawl) would be okay, but it’s not.

Forcing is never good, but when used appropriately for health problems, the Pill and other forms of hormonal birth control are not immoral.
NFP doesn’t treat anything. It might help identify certain issues though.

However, I cannot in good conscience use it for birth control use because I see nothing in the Church’s history saying family planning is acceptable.

Not everything can be settled by looking at the Church’s history. The Church’s teachings on birth control are more based on natural law.

Sure, there was a pope who did say family planning was okay from time to time, but his words were fallible. He wasn’t making an infallible statement and I’ve read enough to know NFP is preventing pregnancy. Preventing pregnancy is the same thing as using the pill, or a condom. How is having couples deliberately avoiding sex during their fertile times any different from withholding your fertility all the time with condoms, the pill, shots, the patch, etc.?

It would be more accurate to say NFP avoids pregnancy rather than prevents pregnancy. There is a small distinction…think about it for a minute: avoid vs prevent.

You are looking at the mindset/intentions of the couple using NFP and the couple using contraception. In Humanae Vitae, JPII acknowledges that the intentions may be the same. The difference is in the way they are having sex. If you were a fly on the wall in the couple’s bedroom who uses condoms, you would know they were rendering that sex act infertile. Their sex would not be done the way God intended, so the Church says. If you were a fly on the wall in the couple’s bedroom who do not use contraception, you would not know if it is an infertile time or a fertile time. The sex would be done the same way - the way God intended. That’s the difference. It’s not their sex life in general or their intentions with regards to family planning that are the [main] issues. It is the way they do it that matters. It’s gotta be like nature intended. Err…I mean, God intended. According to the Church.

Have you heard any Pope who condemned family planning and periodic abstinence as a whole? If not, then any Pope who approves NFP (for serious and legitimate reasons, of course) are not making statements contradiciting tradition.

While both methods result in no pregnancy, artificial contraception differ from NFP in that it intends to suppress procreation from the generative act. Contraception prevents pregnancy to spring from the generative act. NFP avoids pregnancy by avoiding the generative act - not suppressing its procreative effect.

Couples have the right to determine when to have sex. If you have a serious reason to avoid pregnancy either at the moment or indefinitely, then you may want to refrain from sex. But you may take advantage of your infertile periods to foster your love for your spouse, since sex also has a unitive purpose. Sex during infertile periods fosters the unitive purpose without contradicting its procreative purpose since nothing is done to prevent that intercourse from producing life (it is naturally infertile).

Has anyone noticed when something controversial comes up in question form it is usually by someone with a “trial” membership??

I am starting to think people hide behind that instead of using their real id.

I recently read Life-Giving Love by Kimberly Hahn(every married couple should :)) and I have the same feelings about NFP being a form of birth control. If it is used for “Serious reasons” the couple should still seriously pray and consider that God could want to bless them in whatever experience they’re having through this child.
Children are ONLY and ALWAYS blessings never should we deny the life of a child because of selfish reasons. We deny souls the entrance to heaven that way. We can be co-creators with God to bring this soul into exisistence if God so blesses us with that child He WILL bless us and always provide for us. We just need to trust Him FULLY.

I don’t believe NFP is sinful but I do believe that if you are using it and you aren’t listening to God’s gift of a child, it is a grave sin.


With NFP and “quantity” of children— it is important to keep the following in mind:

Although motherhood is a key element of women’s identity, this does not mean that women should be considered from the sole perspective of physical procreation.** In this area, there can be serious distortions, which extol biological fecundity in purely quantitative terms and are often accompanied by dangerous disrespect for women**. The existence of the Christian vocation of virginity, radical with regard to both the Old Testament tradition and the demands made by many societies, is of the greatest importance in this regard.17 Virginity refutes any attempt to enclose women in mere biological destiny. Just as virginity receives from physical motherhood the insight that there is no Christian vocation except in the concrete gift of oneself to the other, so physical motherhood receives from virginity an insight into its fundamentally spiritual dimension: it is in not being content only to give physical life that the other truly comes into existence. This means that motherhood can find forms of full realization also where there is no physical procreation.18

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved the present Letter, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered its publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 31, 2004, the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

  • Joseph Card. Ratzinger
  • Angelo Amato, SDB
    Titular Archbishop of Sila


So are all the sisters, brothers, monks, nuns, and priests of the world “denying souls entrance to Heaven” (How can a soul never created be denied anything?) becuase they do not have any children? It seems like what you are saying is that the most important part of being a human is to procreate, which is sounding awfuly Mormon to me.

There are lots of situations in which it would be unhealthy or imprudent to have a baby. Because we have been blessed with discretion, free will and higher intelligence, and are not animals that, left unchecked, will breed indiscriminately - it seems only natural hat God wishes us to use our faculties to make wise decisions about bringing children into the world. For some families that may mean never using NFP, for many others it will be using fertility signs to try to avoid pregnancies at inopportune times.

And, you know, until you’ve been in a situation where a pregnancy would be devastating - it’s probably hard to appreciate the gift of NFP. Unfortunately, some people do need to take their health into their own hands and be proactive about the spacing of their pregnancies.

Have you read Humane Vitae? That may help you.

It’s such a relief to hear other people echo our views on this !

OP, I am a convert to Catholicism from Evangelical Protestantism.

I’m going to say something that might be hard for you to hear.

You say that you are “more traditional than the typical Catholic.”

What I see is that you are more Protestant than the typical Catholic.

You are making up your own mind about an issue instead of trusting and obeying Holy Mother Church. That’s the essence of Protestantism.

You need to submit to Holy Mother Church in this issue, and stop trying to impose your own personal beliefs on Holy Mother Church.

The Catholic Church does not teach that you MUST practice NFP and chart, abstain, space children, etc.

But the Catholic Church DOES teach that NFP is acceptable.

Telling others that NFP is “sinful” is a rebellion or “protest” against the Church–in other words, “Protestantism.”

Think about what I have said, and I hope it is helpful to you and others.


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There are a few people on this thread who would benefit from your wise words!!

:sad_yes: and they usually post on a couple of threads with the same agenda and then take off.

100% spot-on. The OP said she had cconsidered sedevacantism, so it seems like she has some serious issues accepting Church doctrine.

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