Intent when using NFP


#1

just having random thoughts and thought I would start a discussion.

When using NFP to plan your family, isn't the intent to avoid having an unexpected pregnancy?


#2

If used properly in accordance to the churches teachings, NFP is used to “space” or “avoid” pregnancies for a valid reason such as health concerns.

This is a hot topic here, so be prepared…


#3

Agree it is a hot topic..even 43 years after Humanae Vitae clearly laid out the parameters.
You can use NFP to postpone pregnancy through a valid reason (any of the 4 enumerated by Pope Paul VI):

**With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, **decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.* *


#4

[quote="Superstar905, post:1, topic:230358"]
just having random thoughts and thought I would start a discussion.

When using NFP to plan your family, isn't the intent to avoid having an unexpected pregnancy?

[/quote]

Yes, if a couple is using NFP to avoid (some use it to conceive), a couple is trying to avoid having a baby at the moment because, if they are following the Church's teachings, they have prayerfully discerned they have serious/just/grave reasons to not get pregnant at the moment and have discerned to avoid for that time. When they do participate in the marital act during infertile periods they participate fully, with procreative and unitive aspects intact, and they would welcome a blessing if God decides to send them one regardless of their efforts to avoid, but yes their intention is to avoid and the Church does say it is licit for couples to do so if they have the right reasons to do so.


#5

Having an intent not to have a child at a given time is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be prudent.

The point is that contraception turns your will into an unbudging, disobedient act that separates the unitive and procreative aspects of the marital act.

With NFP, a couple may desire not to get pregnant, but they are remaining open to God's will.

From my personal understanding, this analogy may work:

Imagine you are driving a car. There is a fork in the road approaching. You greatly desire to turn left, but want to make sure that it is God's will, and not just your own. NFP is like having Him sit in the passenger's seat, and allowing him to grab the wheel if His will is different from yours. Contraception is like leaving Him outside of the car.

Does that make sense?


#6

[quote="VeroNihilVerius, post:5, topic:230358"]
Imagine you are driving a car. There is a fork in the road approaching. You greatly desire to turn left, but want to make sure that it is God's will, and not just your own. NFP is like having Him sit in the passenger's seat, and allowing him to grab the wheel if His will is different from yours. Contraception is like leaving Him outside of the car.

[/quote]

I like this analogy. :thumbsup:


#7

[quote="Maureen1125, post:2, topic:230358"]
If used properly in accordance to the churches teachings, NFP is used to "space" or "avoid" pregnancies for a valid reason such as health concerns.

This is a hot topic here, so be prepared.....................

[/quote]

With all due respect, how is this any different from a couple using a condom because they want to avoid getting pregnant for a valid reason such as a health concern?


#8

[quote="freethinker83, post:7, topic:230358"]
With all due respect, how is this any different from a couple using a condom because they want to avoid getting pregnant for a valid reason such as a health concern?

[/quote]

In short, the intent of using a condom is to actively render the sexual act sterile. When you imply plan according to when you are fertile as a couple, you are not rendering the act sterile. Having sex when you know you are infertile is not the same as actively making a given act sterile.

There is far more to it to understand though. It's not just about "what birth control" you're allowed to use. It's about the theology of the sacrament of marriage itself, and that must be understood, first and foremost. If you're not familiar with it, you should look up the actual teachings.

The root of the issue is not "NFP vs ABC." The root of the issue is fully understanding the Catholic Sacrament of Marriage. After that, reasons to use NFP if necessary to space pregnancy become pretty self-evident.


#9

[quote="freethinker83, post:7, topic:230358"]
With all due respect, how is this any different from a couple using a condom because they want to avoid getting pregnant for a valid reason such as a health concern?

[/quote]

The difference is the fact that seeking to avoid a pregnancy is an end, while contraception or NFP are two possible means to that end. The fact that the end of seeking to avoid a pregnancy can be morally acceptable, depending on a couple's particular situation, does not suddenly make all means which may be employed to achieve that end also acceptable. The means must each be examined on the basis of their own merits, the way in which they go about achieving the desired end.

It's simply not correct to say that anything which shares a moral end must also itself be moral. That's equivalent to saying that the ends justify the means, a claim which I highly doubt you wish to make.


#10

[quote="Alindawyl, post:9, topic:230358"]
The difference is the fact that seeking to avoid a pregnancy is an end, while contraception or NFP are two possible means to that end. The fact that the end of seeking to avoid a pregnancy can be morally acceptable, depending on a couple's particular situation, does not suddenly make all means which may be employed to achieve that end also acceptable. The means must each be examined on the basis of their own merits, the way in which they go about achieving the desired end.

It's simply not correct to say that anything which shares a moral end must also itself be moral. That's equivalent to saying that the ends justify the means, a claim which I highly doubt you wish to make.

[/quote]

I guess "the means" is where I get a bit confused. Although I don't personally agree with it, I can understand the Catholic argument against oral contraceptive. I understand that it could theoretically be abortive.

I don't, however, understand when it is applied to simply adding a barrier that prevents sperm and egg from being joined. I'm not trying to stir things up, I just don't see how this as a "mean" is that much different from NFP.


#11

[quote="freethinker83, post:10, topic:230358"]
I guess "the means" is where I get a bit confused. Although I don't personally agree with it, I can understand the Catholic argument against oral contraceptive. I understand that it could theoretically be abortive.

I don't, however, understand when it is applied to simply adding a barrier that prevents sperm and egg from being joined. I'm not trying to stir things up, I just don't see how this as a "mean" is that much different from NFP.

[/quote]

It is Catholic doctrine that the marital act is ordered towards spousal unity and procreation. That is natural law. When the unitive and procreative aspect is artificially separated and purposely thwarted (via barrier methods like condoms) it ceases to be a marital act and undermines the very idea of marriage, openness to life, and subordination to the will of God.


#12

[quote="Willy_Jose, post:11, topic:230358"]
It is Catholic doctrine that the marital act is ordered towards spousal unity and procreation. That is natural law. When the unitive and procreative aspect is artificially separated and purposely thwarted (via barrier methods like condoms) it ceases to be a marital act and undermines the very idea of marriage, openness to life, and subordination to the will of God.

[/quote]

Yes, but if one is using NFP they are trying to avoid conception while remaining open to the possibility of life; what if that same couple used a condom fully understanding its failure rate, and were also open to the possibility of life. I don't see the difference. Again, I understand when it is applied to "the pill."


#13

[quote="freethinker83, post:12, topic:230358"]
Yes, but if one is using NFP they are trying to avoid conception while remaining open to the possibility of life; what if that same couple used a condom fully understanding its failure rate, and were also open to the possibility of life. I don't see the difference. Again, I understand when it is applied to "the pill."

[/quote]

Catholic morality is grounded in natural law. The use of barrier methods in the sexual act is against natural law. In the case of the use of condoms in the sexual act, the object of the act is condomized intercourse. No matter how you investigate intents and circumstances, condomized intercourse is against natural law. It fails the threefold test of Catholic morality: object, intent, and circumstance. If it fails in any one of these, it fails the morality test. Using condoms also removes the procreative aspect of marital intercourse. You might say a person using NFP does likewise, but this is a common error. The marital act must always be ordered towards the procreative and unitive, regardless of the comparisons of the intentions on avoiding pregnancy. Condomized intercourse is NOT ordered towards procreation, regardless of fertility issues. There is an analogy that the act is objectified, similar to masturbation.

Admittedly, this doctrine is very difficult to explain but I hope my puny efforts helps in some way for you to at least understand (even if you might not agree).


#14

[quote="Willy_Jose, post:13, topic:230358"]
Catholic morality is grounded in natural law. The use of barrier methods in the sexual act is against natural law. In the case of the use of condoms in the sexual act, the object of the act is condomized intercourse. No matter how you investigate intents and circumstances, condomized intercourse is against natural law. It fails the threefold test of Catholic morality: object, intent, and circumstance. If it fails in any one of these, it fails the morality test. Using condoms also removes the procreative aspect of marital intercourse. You might say a person using NFP does likewise, but this is a common error. The marital act must always be ordered towards the procreative and unitive, regardless of the comparisons of the intentions on avoiding pregnancy. Condomized intercourse is NOT ordered towards procreation, regardless of fertility issues. There is an analogy that the act is objectified, similar to masturbation.

Admittedly, this doctrine is very difficult to explain but I hope my puny efforts helps in some way for you to at least understand (even if you might not agree).

[/quote]

Actually, I think this is a good explanation, although I do struggle with the Catholic position on this. In the threefold test, the "intent" can potentially fail in NFP as well however as someone else outlined above, there are circumstances where the intent to NOT have children is ok. For me, its economic, hence my struggle. What about an IUD? I know that alters the path of the sperm and egg thus I suppose form some type of barrier which would make it like using a condom..........anyways, my wife and I have 2 kids and with the second tried NFP but God blessed us with our second! I guess where I struggle is that natural law keeps getting referenced as the basis for the teaching, but I'm still unsure (or maybe unwilling) of why a married couple like us cannot engage in intercourse with using some type of abc.......I don't agree with the argument that "we are not fully giving ourselves to eachother" because our feelings are strong and rooted in our faith, and this doesn't change.

I realize this is a hot topic, but I figure my intent is to talk about my struggle and not be confrontational.


#15

[quote="Superstar905, post:14, topic:230358"]
Actually, I think this is a good explanation, although I do struggle with the Catholic position on this. In the threefold test, the "intent" can potentially fail in NFP as well however as someone else outlined above, there are circumstances where the intent to NOT have children is ok. I'm not sure what you are trying to point out... Yes there are times when it is permissible to avoid conceiving, and NFP is the permitted alternative to abstinence. For me, its economic, hence my struggle. What about an IUD? I know that alters the path of the sperm and egg thus I suppose form some type of barrier which would make it like using a condom An IUD causes abortions. It literally knocks down a fertilized egg (fertilization=conception) so that it can't implant in the uterus...........anyways, my wife and I have 2 kids and with the second tried NFP but God blessed us with our second! I guess where I struggle is that natural law keeps getting referenced as the basis for the teaching, but I'm still unsure (or maybe unwilling) of why a married couple like us cannot engage in intercourse with using some type of abc.......I don't agree with the argument that "we are not fully giving ourselves to eachother" because our feelings are strong and rooted in our faith, and this doesn't change. That same excuse is also used by people to justify fornication-- "we love each other so much, why do we need to be married?" Only this variation is, "We love each other and we're married, why do we need to respect the sacrament we entered?"

I realize this is a hot topic, but I figure my intent is to talk about my struggle and not be confrontational.

[/quote]

What Church (or other) documents have you read so far to learn about the teachings? The Catechism? An encyclical? Theology of the Body or something based on it?


#16

[quote="Fidelia, post:15, topic:230358"]
What Church (or other) documents have you read so far to learn about the teachings? The Catechism? An encyclical? Theology of the Body or something based on it?

[/quote]

I've read the Catechism (and some parts of the recent compendium), Christopher Wests recordings on JPII Theology of the body (although that was admittedly painful and boring), and of course what I've been able to read on the Internet, pray about it, etc.


#17

[quote="Superstar905, post:1, topic:230358"]
just having random thoughts and thought I would start a discussion.

When using NFP to plan your family, isn't the intent to avoid having an unexpected pregnancy?

[/quote]

No. NFP can be used for avoiding or trying to conceive.

Yes one needs a serious reason (does not need to be life or death of course) to avoid ...but such can come up at any point...so one can begin to chart etc so one knows where one is ..and can make use of that knowledge if need be.


#18

Compendium of the Catechism issued by Pope Benedict XVI

  1. What is the meaning of the conjugal act?

2362-2367

The conjugal act has a twofold meaning: unitive (the mutual self-giving of the spouses) and procreative (an openness to the transmission of life). No one may break the inseparable connection which God has established between these two meanings of the conjugal act by excluding one or the other of them.

  1. When is it moral to regulate births?

2368-2369
2399

The regulation of births, which is an aspect of responsible fatherhood and motherhood, is objectively morally acceptable when it is pursued by the spouses without external pressure; when it is practiced not out of selfishness but for serious reasons; and with methods that conform to the objective criteria of morality, that is, periodic continence and use of the infertile periods.

  1. What are immoral means of birth control?

2370-2372

Every action - for example, direct sterilization or contraception - is intrinsically immoral which (either in anticipation of the conjugal act, in its accomplishment or in the development of its natural consequences) proposes, as an end or as a means, to hinder procreation.

vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html


#19

[quote="Superstar905, post:14, topic:230358"]
Actually, I think this is a good explanation, although I do struggle with the Catholic position on this. In the threefold test, the "intent" can potentially fail in NFP as well however as someone else outlined above, there are circumstances where the intent to NOT have children is ok. For me, its economic, hence my struggle. What about an IUD? I know that alters the path of the sperm and egg thus I suppose form some type of barrier which would make it like using a condom..........anyways, my wife and I have 2 kids and with the second tried NFP but God blessed us with our second! I guess where I struggle is that natural law keeps getting referenced as the basis for the teaching, but I'm still unsure (or maybe unwilling) of why a married couple like us cannot engage in intercourse with using some type of abc.......I don't agree with the argument that "we are not fully giving ourselves to eachother" because our feelings are strong and rooted in our faith, and this doesn't change.

I realize this is a hot topic, but I figure my intent is to talk about my struggle and not be confrontational.

[/quote]

As someone noted, IUDs typically are abortifacients which has the added effect of thinning the uterine lining to the effect that implantation is impaired - the ferltized egg cannot implant causing its death. NO chemical contraceptives have 100% effectiveness, and when breakthrough ovulation happens, then the abortifacient situation presents itself. Also, study the potential permanent damage IUDs are capable of causing to the uterus, as well as the side-effects.

NFP on the other hand, has absolutely no side effect. No one has ever died from abstinence. The Billings Method has a reported effectivity of 98%, while the sympto-thermal is even higher at 99%. Contraceptives are typically 97% downwards. Check out this scientific evaluation made in China (of all places) which confirms that Billings is more effective.

When a woman ovulates, the egg is only available for fertilization for 12 to 24 hours. NFP works around the fertility window. When we think of a typical 28-30 day menstrual cycle, the abstinence part in reality is very manageable among understanding spouses.

Back to the morality issue. Yes NFP can also be used immorally when the reasons for postponing are not valid. The reasons are best left to the generous decision of the couple.


#20

This makes me confused:

mostholyfamilymonastery.com/Natural_Family_Planning.html


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.