NFP/ABC While being "open to the possibility of life"


#1

I was wondering something and was curious how some of you might respond to this thought.

My fiancee and I have sex and use a form of artificial birth control. We have had discussions about it, and while we do not what a child yet, we are open to the possibility of life. This means that if our birth control methods were to fail we would embrace the child we create together. We are financially and emotionally ready for a child but we would prefer to wait a bit longer.

When a couple uses NFP, it is okay in the eyes of the church. I have read many members on this board state that if NFP is used properly, it is just as effective as various forms of ABC.

**In the church’s eyes what is the difference between a couple using NFP and ABC when both couples are open to the possibility of life as my partner and myself are? Theoretically the method we use has the same effectiveness as NFP. **

I apologize if members of this board are growing tired of me; I am genuinely curious about your beliefs! :slight_smile:


#2

NFP =/= Birth control, unless you try to make it into that.

Birth control is unacceptable, unless for strictly therapeutic reasons. When NFP is used for contraceptive purposes it is also wrong. What do you mean when you say “we are open to the possibility of life”? It’s unclear if you even want a child. It sounds to me like you’re just trying to avoid a child, but if the conception of a child DOES manage to happen then you will deal with that child, which is not being open to life mind you.

Please read these articles:

catholicity.com/commentary/wicker/05785.html

associatedcontent.com/article/2147555/natural_family_planning_is_it_catholic_pg2.html?cat=25

catholicnewsagency.com/resource.php?n=1171

catholic-pages.com/morality/contraception.asp

PS: Please note, birth control actually separates the two persons in coitus and effectively creates a barrier between them that hinders love and makes the marital act an act of lust and carnal pleasure. NFP does not create this barrier, it simply uses the woman’s fertile cycle to greatly increase/decrease the risk of bearing a child. NFP does not purposely create a barrier between the two people, nor does it separate them. ABC is like using a condom, NFP is like throwing a dart at a dartboard with a bulls-eye that can be either incredibly large or incredibly small depending on how many points you want to get.


#3

Just to clarify, we want children in the future, just not quite yet. I mean being open to the possibility of life in the sense that at the moment it would be a “happy accident.”


#4

Although many people do couch discussions of this nature in terms of “effectiveness” and/or “open to the possibility of life”, that is not the basis on which the Church teaches contraception is immoral.

First, NFP is *periodic *abstinence. It is an alternative to *complete *abstinence, not to contraception. Contraception is intrinsically evil. Abstaining does not violate the moral law. A couple is not required to have sexual relations with any specific frequency.

But, whenever they do engage in the marital embrace they must do so in a properly ordered way. God ordered sexual relations to procreation and unity of the spouses. These two intrinsic elements of the marital embrace cannot be separated. When a couple egages in an action that attempts to sterilize the sex act, they create a disordered act (i.e. grave matter against the sixth commandment).

So, the couple can decide whether or not to engage in the marital embrace, but whenever they do they cannot **alter **it. Contraception, sterilization, masterbatory acts, and homosexual acts are all disordered for the same reason. They attempt to separate the unitive and procreative aspects of the act.

NFP is simply observation of natural signs of fertility. The couple can choose to engage in sex or not. They take no action to alter the act. They act is naturally infertile due to the rhythm of the cycle, or in the case of someone who is post menopausal or pregnant it is the same. The sex act is still ordered *objectively *to untiy and procreation even if it is *subjectively *infertile at that time.


#5

Your instincts are correct in that they do have similarities – in the immediate effect, which is that no child is conceived after sex. The Church is certainly fine with couples delaying (for whatever amount of time) having children for deliberate and deliberated reasons. Humanae Vitae spells out that couples should indeed consider all aspects in considering when and how many, while also asking them to be generous when possible.

But everything else is different, as the previous reply spelled out. The act itself has changed because the use of contraception makes the act, the form of the act, blunted. For a couple using NFP, the marital act is still a total giving. The attitude is also different, because the NFP couple work within the parameters of how God designed the sexual act. The couple who use artificial birth control are taking it upon themselves to thwart that design with some device/substance. This attitude will also be consistent with attitudes that devalue human life in the womb, because the couple using artificial birth control have already made up their minds about not having a child, hence the decision to contracept. This conflict between the desire to have sex and the rejection of pregnancy from that act gives rise – for many – to take extra steps if pregnancy results from the act anyway.

The previous reply gave a number of links to read. Please do so with an open mind and prayer, and I think it will be clearer. There’s also a good book on this, Sex au Naturel, by Patrick Coffin.


#6

Thank for your thoughtful answer. Can you point me to the bible passage that states that sex cannot be altered, or is this a teaching of the Church not found in the bible? I don’t ask this to antagonize you, I am truly curious.

Also, as far as sterilization goes, are there exceptions for medical reasons?

One more question slightly off topic; I know the Church is against IVF, but what about artificial insemination where fetuses aren’t created in a lab?

I appreciate your answers!


#7

[quote="Daegus, post:2, topic:228015"]
Birth control is unacceptable, unless for strictly therapeutic reasons.

[/quote]

I think we need to be very precise in our terminology when discussing the Church's teaching on this subject.

Birth control is the spacing, planning, avoidance (temporary or permanent) of a child. Birth control is not immoral and the Church does not teach that it is. The Church has never taught that a woman must continue to have children when she is unable to do so.

Contraception and abstinence are methods of birth control. One is intrinsically evil, one is not.

Lastly, when a woman or man has a medical condition or disease that requires treatment they may receive that treatment even if the secondary, unintended effect is temporary or permanent sterility. For example, hysterectomy for a damaged uterus, treatment for testicular cancer, radiation for leukemia, hormones, etc. This is not birth control.

[quote="Daegus, post:2, topic:228015"]
When NFP is used for contraceptive purposes it is also wrong.

[/quote]

I would say this is not accurate. NFP cannot ever be contraceptive, by its very nature it is not. Now, what could be sinful is a person's **reasons **for avoiding prengnacy-- but not NFP itself. NFP is information. Whether a couple engages in intercourse or not is always their decision-- from being tired; being apart due to travel, military, etc; or desire to space children. Again, they might have a selfish motive that is contrary to justice but refraining from sexual relations on a fertile day or engaging in sexual relations on an infertile day can never in and of itself be a sinful act.


#8

A couple using NFP has essentially made up their minds in the same way, they just use a different way of accomplishing it, that is essentially my question.

As you suggested I will take a look at some of the other poster’s links.


#9

All of the above, is a mindset. I use NFP right now but I can tell you for a fact that when I used abc, love between my dh and I wasn’t hindered and it didn’t reduce our relations to carnal pleasure and lust. There was no barrier then that is any different from NFP. Its just timing and that is all. Any baby conceived with whatever method would be very loved. People on this website say these same things over and over like a script. Do you really think it’s always true? So far with NFP I feel a bit enslaved if anything, although it’s also been somewhat interesting. I was open to life before so of course that is no different now.

Of course, OP, I am not Roman Catholic. But you aren’t likely to have many people on here that are agree with you.


#10

It’s both. The Church is not sola scriptura. The Church bases its teachings on Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and what can be reasoned from natural law. And, of course, the Church synthesizes the biblical teachings into a consistent whole, it is not based on one line or the other in the bible but the consistent teachings on life, children, and moral behavior.

The bible passages that are relevant include those in the OT regarding Onan. Onan by Levitical law was required to give his deceased brother a son through his widow. He did not want to do so, therefore he had relations with the woman but withdrew and spilled his seed on the ground (one of the methods available in those days… :tsktsk:). Oh, and God struck Onan dead for doing so.

In the NT, Paul indicates it is gravely sinful to seek pharmakeia (Greek word for potions to prevent pregnancy or cause abortions). He also of course lists unnatural sex acts (homosexuality). There is a book (by a Protestant minister) that covers this topic in detail. It is called The Bible And Birth Control by Charles Provan. The body of Church writing on contraception, back to the Didache, is consistent in that it is a sin against God’s moral law. The Church has also continuously taught that it is virtuous to abstain when children need to be spaced, or when a woman cannot become pregnant again due to difficult birth or other illness.

If a medical treatment renders a person sterile, the sterility is an unintended consequence. If you mean can a person be sterlized for contraceptive purposes, no.

No, these all violate the sixth commandment also. You can see the Church’s document Donum Vitate for a full treatment of the topic.

IVF, AI, etc, are all violations for similar reasons as contraception. The sex act, to be properly ordered, must be a completed act of vaginal intercourse. IVF and AI separate the unitive and procreative elements and attempt to replace the sex act. The Church considers moral those treatments that assist the natural act, not replace it. So, removing a blockage in the fallopian tube, for example, would be moral.


#11

Thank you 1KE. I truly appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. :thumbsup:


#12

Biblical reference is from Onan in the OT whom God destroyed for using withdrawal as birth control. Up until 1930, all Christian denominations condemned all forms of ABC.
It is a questions of means. The intent in NFP and ABC is the same: to delay children, but the means are different. The situation is analogous to a man who wants more money. That is his intent. He can accomplish that by the means
a) working
or b) robbing a bank.
One means is wrong, the other not.


#13

This is a basic concept in moral theology, the distinction between means and ends.

Contraception is an immoral means to the morally neutral end of spacing births while NFP is a moral means.

By way of analogy, having a garage sale and robbing a bank are both means of obtaining money. One is moral, the other is not.


#14

Ah, very good. I am not saying I agree in regards to birth control, but this analogy makes sense.


#15

We had similar analogies at the same time.......how weird was that?


#16

I have no issues with ABC that prevents Sperm and Egg meeting. However, I’m Lutheran MS not Catholic. I figure if God could a virgin pregnant ABC or NFP is probably not going to stop him either.

That being said my husband is Catholic and we use NFP. It works well as long as you follow the rules. I think the NFP is way healthier than the Pill or any chemical method, and easier than worrying about barrier methods, so for us it works well. It also comes in handy when you decide you are ready to have kids as you know exactly which days to target.

It also encourages a stronger emotional and spiritual bond in a marriage because it removes the focus from sexual pleasure to actually finding pleasure in the entire person of your spouse, not just their body. I think it has made my husband and I’s bound stronger, because we know we love each other more than just on a physical level.


#17

[quote="freethinker83, post:1, topic:228015"]
When a couple uses NFP, it is okay in the eyes of the church. I have read many members on this board state that if NFP is used properly, it is just as effective as various forms of ABC.

*In the church's eyes what is the difference between a couple using NFP and ABC when both couples are open to the possibility of life as my partner and myself are? Theoretically the method we use has the same effectiveness as NFP. *

[/quote]

My understanding is that with ABC you're either altering your body chemistry or putting up a boundary to phisically stop to the possibility of a child (of course, unless the chemicals or boundary are faulty). With NFP you're not altering your body or blocking anything, you're using the system that naturally occurs to have sex when you're least likely to be fertile.

With ABC you use manmade interference, with NFP your'e using what God already had in place for you.


#18

Here’s how I see it. Contraceptives are a method of avoiding taking up your cross. They involve no personal sacrifice and no acts of self denial. As such, they never challenge you to weigh out your motivations to prevent a child, nor do they help you to see how intimately connected our fertilities are to our sexualities.

NFP does not work because you’re having sex on your non-fertile days. Its not as if the less sex I have on my non-fertile days, the greater chance I have of getting pregnant. NFP works strictly through abstainence.


#19

ABC exists fundamentally to rend sterile the maritial act (something it does not do perfectly). NFP on the other hand is merely making use of the infertile period which God him self gives us, for the very purpose of regulating births.

So you see, there is what on the surface appears to be a subtle, but none the less is a very important distinction. ABC is about sterility, NFP is about using natural methods to prefer not having a Child. With NFP we acknowlege that the process can fail, new life can develop and we are fully open to this.

Now I said initially, that the difference appears subtle, but in reality it’s not. In truth, ABC is really about facilitating the so called sexual revolution… Or from another (more truthful point of view), facilitating a culture of sexual instant gratification, with perhaps no (or very low) moral standard. You see the results every day. Masturbation is “healthy and natural”, have as many partners as you want, have multiple partners at the same time if you want. Have multiple partners at the same time of both genders if you want. The list goes on and on.

That is what ABC is really for, ABC is there to provide a security blanket for these kinds of devient sexual appitites, something which NFP could never do. NFP functions well in a monogomous, marital context only.

At least that’s my POV.


#20

[quote="Gingersnaps4, post:9, topic:228015"]
All of the above, is a mindset. I use NFP right now but I can tell you for a fact that when I used abc, love between my dh and I wasn't hindered and it didn't reduce our relations to carnal pleasure and lust. There was no barrier then that is any different from NFP. Its just timing and that is all. Any baby conceived with whatever method would be very loved. People on this website say these same things over and over like a script. Do you really think it's always true? So far with NFP I feel a bit enslaved if anything, although it's also been somewhat interesting. I was open to life before so of course that is no different now.

Of course, OP, I am not Roman Catholic. But you aren't likely to have many people on here that are agree with you.

[/quote]

Gingersnap, and here's where the issue is. You're stating "with NFP I feel a bit enslaved if anything." There is the sacrifice. My sister and her husband when they got married were planning on waiting a couple of years before conceiving a child, so they were using NFP very strictly. Now months later, they've changed their mind. My sister specifically said that she felt like her fertility was being rejected. She didn't completely feel embraced by her husband and she didn't feel like she was completely embracing him because the fear of pregnancy was holding them back. So they talked it over and decided to use their fertile time.

I've talked to other women like that as well. If you don't have a good reason to limit children or prevent children, you realize "Wow,we're denying each other sexual expression so that we can live the lifestyle we want. Is an exotic vacation worth giving up sex with my spouse and expressing my love to him that way? Is cable TV worth it?" In effect it also gears you toward learning to live a life of simplicity, a true poverty of spirit. It doesn't call us to be poor and to rely on financial assistance from the state. But it does call us to not put objects ahead of our love of persons.

I mean, I think of it this way. Say I want to go on a tropical vacation with my husband - like a delayed or second honeymoon. Well I want to save money on plane tickets so I want to buy my tickets early. If I automatically think that the default is that we're going to prevent conception, then suddenly I'm thinking things like "Ok how can I predict months ahead of time that not only will I not be on my period, but that I also won't be in my fertile period?" Suddenly I'm running the risk that my prediction will be wrong (as its likely to be) and my husband and I may not be able to be intimate on this most intimate type of vacation. Or I could say "You know, if I can afford this luxery in life to go on this tropical vacation, what valid reason do I possibly have to prevent a child at this time?" Now maybe it means going on a cheaper exotic vacation. Maybe it means that my husband and I find a more local romantic get-away rather than flying to the tropics.

I'm definitely generalizing as there can be more needs to space children than financially, but the point is that you need good reason to space children and contraceptives will never help you discern whether or not you have good reasons. Our culture lives on the question of "Am I ready to be a parent?" while the Church tells us to ask ourselves "Do we have a serious enough reason to prevent a child?"


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