Natural Family Planning dilemma

Hi Folks

Please imagine the following dilemma.

Imagine you are a married devout catholic couple and are both aged 22 and already have 6 children. The natural family planning methods of billings or similar do not really work for the wife due to a genetic medical condition plus infections that can’t be cured due to intolerance for medication, all that makes diagnosing the vaginal mucus difficult and extremely unreliable and she has highly irregular periods.

You have no family to help you and on a single income barely make ends meet and hardly manage the children. The parish priest and the bishop do not care much and promise to pray for you. There is no help really. The local catholic school charges a fortune and you must send your school to a bad state school.

The couple knows that they cannot have anymore children as the family would be in grave danger and it’s not certain the mother weakened by medical issues and exhaustion and sleep deprivation would even survive.

Such a couple is left with no option except to abstain from sex completely. If they have sex they sin because they are not open to further children. If they have sex with a contraceptive they sin. If the woman’s natural family planning method worked for her they would be sinning anyway if they did have sex because they are not open to children. If they were open to having more children but only if the method of natural family planning were to fail and the woman was really confident in her family planning method but decided to space their children indefinitely until menopause they sin anyway because they know that they don’t want children and know her body so well that she won’t get pregnant. How many Catholics just use natural family planning to get to menopause and claim they were not sinning but never admitting they never intended to have further children? In this sense natural family planning is exactly equivalent to using a pill. If they caress and the man gets aroused then he must finish the sex act with ejaculation or else they are practising a form of withholding ejaculation or interrupting it, again sinning. So a 22 year old young couple need to wait until 50-60 years of age when menopause starts to enjoy sex. Good luck to that marriage. Anyone. Whoever says that people living like that in married abstinence are saints are deluded.

If they have sex and are open to children and she falls pregnant they sin again because they know that they would endanger the life of their children by being unable to manage or care for the children. A sleep deprived , exhausted mother could loose her sanity for a second and loose control of a car for instance or not react quick enough.

The catholic teachings about sex are written by naive philosopher theologians who are poets and idealists living celibate virginal lives and they have glorified sexual love to a degree that it becomes something heavenly and incompatible to real practical family life. If Jesus was around to see the burden of inflexibility priests have placed on families he would be saddened. Sexual love cannot on every occasion fulfil the ideal that theologians have demanded of it. Sex is not always at once unitive, procreative and spiritual.

The Catholic Church needs to throw some big money into researching the indicators of ovulation and come up with a method of natural contraception that works for all women. I imagine a blood prick test like diabetics use to measure progesterone and estrogen levels.

This isn’t a question, it’s an anti-Catholic rant. Although I too share great misgivings about the church’s views on birth control, calling all Catholic thinkers naive philosophers is over the top (note to op: read the unabridged works of Thomas Aquinas and ask if he was dumb; then read his bio and ask if he was naive - the answer is no on both counts).

If you think that is an anti catholic rant you are wrong. This is a call for people to discuss sexual life with their bishops and give them a family life view that a priest knows nothing about. If you think I was calling Aquinas dumb you are wrong, I have read much of what the genius has said and appreciate it to the heavens. I have read the acting person, theology of the body, love and responsibility and humane vitae and in it all I see that it is profoundly beautiful and perfect, but I also know family life. In providing strict rules and regulations that describe what sex would have been like in Eden, or should be like on earth, at the same time this sexual bureaucracy that has gone too far has also impoverished couples sexual lives greatly while admittedly in some aspects nourished it greatly.

There are several facts that don’t make sense in this scenario:

  1. 6 kids by 22? Two sets of triplets or three sets of twins?

  2. irregular but yet that many kids???

3)did they marry at 17???

First of all, get real. I have 6 children. I won’t go into the rest again, so read my history if you really want all the details.

Open to children is not the same thing as willfully desiring to have children. It simply means that you accept the consequences of whatever occurs as a result of your choices. Most couples do not embrace with the intent of having children. I didn’t intend to have 6 kids, but they arrived anyways. I accepted them, and that is what being open to life really means.

The reason your post was viewed as an anti-Catholic rant is because you are spreading heresy: the notion that every marital act must be intended for life, and that couples cannot knowingly embrace when they are not fertile. This is a false teaching and is not what the Magisterium preaches. This is your own personal view and nothing more. On top of that, it is a seriously disordered way of looking at marriage. There is no teaching anywhere that says when or how often a married couple should embrace, or even under what conditions. If anything, Saint Paul said the exact opposite:

“Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.” ~1 Corinthians 7:5~

You called Aquinas a genius, but not before calling the saints deluded. You called the clergy uncaring, ignorant, and naive, but they’re following Paul’s advice from the same chapter that I just quoted above. Nevermind the fact that they themselves are often the products of families who were faithful to the teachings that you are calling unrealistic and impractical.

You have much to learn. If you come on these boards and spread error, you will be called out on it.

Well, you’re wrong about just about all of that.

What are the months and years of these children’s births? How exactly did a 22 year old couple end up with 6 children?

All of your conclusions are wrong. Who would say that this couple wouldn’t be justified in using NFP to avoid pregnancy for a few years?

We already have such tests. You can get OPK test strips that test for LH. You can get the Clear Blue Easy fertility monitor that tests estrogen and LH. You can get the Ovacue with it’s gadgets if you like. Check cervical position. You can’t convince me that none of these methods will work for this woman to identify when she ovulated.

The Catholic teachings about sex are correct, not some oppressive rules invented by some hermit somewhere. Jesus never said that life was going to be easy in all its aspects all the time, he said to take up your cross and follow him. Sometimes that means a little abstinence here and there.

So, what’s your thought on doing a full fast for all of Lent?

If a woman’s life was actually in danger from having another pregnancy, she would be a fool to trust in the pill. Everyone knows at least one “pill baby”. The idea that the pill cannot fail ignores reality.

I know couples with 2, 3, and 4 kids, all of whom were pill babies.

Seriously. I don’t know why, but during my last pregnancy I can recall at least FIVE women telling me about how they got pregnant while they were on the pill. A couple were total strangers. :shrug:

No it’s not I who am wrong. open to life means that you accept children if they come, off course. What else would a good person do? But the procreative meaning is clear. A catholic couple sins if they decide they do not want anymore children and use the natural family planning method indefinitely to achieve that goal. A catholic couple may only embrace in the sexual act with the full intention to complete the ejaculation inside the vagina during the non-fertile period IF and only IF they decided to DELAY children to a later time but DO NOT preclude future children. If Catholics use the method to infinitely delay until the wife’s menopause then their intention is to not be put into the position of having to be open to children.

In the Jewish religion a couple goes to a rabbi and they explain to the Rabbi that they are under hardship, have lots of children are having difficulties, etc and the Rabbi then gives them permission to use a contraceptive method such as NFP or something else. Jewish people are not even allowed to use NFP without permission.

You have some misconceptions. Using NFP to avoid pregnancy for a grave reason (mother’s health and finances) is not sinful. Also, have they/you tried a Marcette monitor…supposed to be very accurate compared to older methods. NFP is open to life whether you are avoiding children or not because there is no artificial barrier. It is neutral at worst.

Was this family started at 15?

This is false. Not to mention, a couple who uses NFP for medical (or really any) reason may end up using it until menopause, simply because the situation never resolves to the degree that pregnancy would be safe. That’s not sinning, that’s enduring an enormous cross.

Not to mention, Jews do not have a uniform approach to the use of contraception. Certain sects may have beliefs and practices about it, but the practice you describe is hardly universal.

If you mean a full fast for lent from sexual relations with my spouse. Sure no problem, it’ seems we will be doing a fast for much longer then that however.

So what you are suggesting is that a 22 year old uneducated woman in a poor African country go and spend her husbands 1 months salary to buy expensive test kits that may or may not work, while trying to feed and educate her family of six soon to be 8 when her neighbours die of AIDs and she adopts their children?

Mutually agreed abstinence in marriage is never a sin. It doesn’t matter what the reason is.

Question to the OP: If she has 6 children, and is only 22, at what point in time would she have had enough continuous cycles to determine that NFP does not work for her?

:wave: HI! Pill baby here!! (Thanks mom for not aborting me despite what the doctors told you! :D)

I know I started having babies young, but seriously, 6 kids at 22 while experiencing health issues?? Did you make up this scenario?? hmm??

If a couple is having issues (health, family, etc) that causes them to delay/avoid pregnancy that doesn’t mean they do not have HOPE in the future that these difficulties may pass one day. The mom in your scenario is only 22. She has a good 20+ years to possibly conceive. There is plenty of time for a medical cure to here situation or some other way that God could bless her. The point is to put your trust in God.

As for the rest of your scenarios :rolleyes:

If a couple have to use NFP until menopause because a situation needs to resolve itself then there is no reason to ban them from using condoms with no health effects. The pill is unhealthy. Let’s not even discuss the pill.

NFP requires abstinence. Birth control does not. God forbid that we should tell married couples that they are responsible for exercising self-control. Oh, the horror! :eek:

It is possible to have 6 kids by 22, even by having to adopt kids if not by birth

It’s exactly the irregularity of ovulation that causes natural family planning methods to fail.

They could have been married at 13 in some cultures, not relevant.

Barrier methods alter the sex act. That is what makes them immoral. They turn sex into something it is not, and prevent from the couple from truly becoming one flesh.

(Hormonal methods do the same thing - except in that case they prevent the woman from being who she truly is - so they are not truly becoming one flesh.)

The “rules” are less about whether or not children result and more about what sex fundamentally is. Contraception prevents sex from being what it is.

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