NFP and 1 Corinthians 7:5

“Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer (some say fasting and prayer is the correct translation), but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.”

I have heard this as an argument against the use of NFP because some feel “it violates the Biblical command to only abstain from sex for the purpose of fasting and prayer.”

I am inclined to say that this abstinence is a form of fasting… however, please discuss.

Yes. The periods of abstinence that NFP requires are a form of fasting. When NFP is practiced correctly, however, they should also be a time of prayer–that is, a time for discerning the family’s needs and abilities, and how this fits in with God’s will.

Any other interpretation leads to absurd results. Obviously, we can’t be having intercourse all of the time. :shrug:

I’ve only (personally) heard that quote as something *PROMOTING *NFP… exactly for the reasons you’ve stated.

Also, NFP requires prayers… otherwise, if we had nothing to pray about (ie, those grave/just reasons) then what is the purpose of using NFP?

See, upon first glance I saw it as supporting NFP as well. That being said, upon first glance I see almost all things in the Bible supporting Catholic teaching. Others see it in the exact opposite way. Just seems like a mess sometimes. Thank God for this website otherwise I don’t think Catholics would have a place to rest their heads among the millions of different interpretations of the Bible that find their way to the internet.

I also don’t think anyone who freely uses NFP for religious reasons would suggest that prayers are not required, thanks for thought.

I’ve actually heard protestants argue that Natural Family Planning is the only immoral way to regulate births because it involves periodic abstinence not related to prayer, and is therefore a violation of this Biblical command.

How crazy!:eek:

This passage of the Bible has always been in the back of my mind when thinking about NFP. Paul says that it’s better to be a virgin for life. If you can’t do that, get married, because it’s better to be married than to burn with passion (sorry I forget the verse. That’s a paraphrase.) Also, he says the aforementioned, in regards to abstaining. Other than that…well that’s about it, right? Doesn’t feel complete!

Anyway, here’s my question: Does NFP force women to have sex when they don’t want to? If a married couple agrees that for grave reasons they must wait to have a child and they practice NFP, the woman only can have sex during her infertile times, or the times when she really isn’t up for it. I know lots of women who are either “on” or “off” during the month. They either really want to be with their husbands (when they’re fertile,) or they really don’t because it’s their infertile time. Since Paul says “don’t abstain for too long,” it is her marital responsibility to be with her husband in her “off” time. If you practice NFP your whole marriage (save when you’re trying to conceive) doesn’t that leave a woman feeling bitter?

Just curious. I have yet to practice NFP so I have a lot of questions:)
Any thoughts?

I have heard this absurd line of reasoning as well.

As for the actual quote, it is a good reminder for all NFP-using couples as to the appropriate way of going about discerning God’s will for their families. Of course NFP is in line with this Scripture–the spouses are only abstaining “by mutual consent,” “for a time,” and for “fasting and prayer” for the good of their family.

NFP is downright biblical!!

Of course not! Sex is a complete gift of self between husband and wife; both should “agree” to sex out of love for the other and neither should be forced.

Yes, there are hormone differences in women that make them more desiring of sex at certain times in their cycle than others. But we are by no means determined by these hormone levels–remember, the body’s most active sex organ is the brain. You sound like you are not married yet and probably aren’t experienced in this area (I don’t mean to sound condescending, just honest!), but really, it’s far from impossible to “get in the mood” during the infertile time, and it’s the rare woman for whom loving intimacy ends up leaving her “bitter” simply because of the time of the month! Someone is not doing something right if the woman is feeling “bitter” because she doesn’t want to have sex and her husband forces her. That is NOT part of God’s plan for marriage!

Different married couples find different ways of navigating their sex life to make intimacy in both the fertile and infertile periods (whichever, as the case may be) to be enjoyable for both spouses. If abstaining during the fertile period becomes extremely difficult for the couple, it can be taken as a sign to renewed discernment of the couple’s situation regarding their openness to pregnancy. NFP can be challenging at times, but it shouldn’t lead to pain and bitterness. If it does, some part of the ‘system’ is breaking down–discernment, spousal communication, true intimacy…

Women are actually much better off using NFP compared with hormonal contraception, because hormonal contraception greatly depresses the libido throughout the cycle. An NFP-using woman doesn’t have to worry about that.

I’ve heard that too. Recently, on the Boundless website and blog ( a website of Focus on the Family on which I very occasionally lurk, posted a story about the 50th anniversary of the Pill, and one of the posters said that NFP was sinful because of 1 Corinthians 7:5.

:confused::confused::confused: How someone could even draw that conclusion is baffling. This is one of the many reasons why I get on my knees and thank God that I am Catholic. We are so blessed to bed led by a church that honors truth, faith and reason.

As if it’s better to take a pill with artificial hormones that could possibly abort a baby. Just another way some Protestants try to discredit Catholicism.

Some posters did indeed make that argument, or deny that the Pill had the abillity to abort a child.

What I found very interesting in their responses were four things.

1 They criticized NFP for being cruel to women, because the women had to abstain during the fertile part of their cycle, when their sexual desire was highest. I thought, “Then how much crueler it must be for them to ask sixteen to eighteen year old men to abstain from sex for another 10 to 12 years simply because they aren’t married!”

2 Most of the posters argued that sex was about expressing love, and procreation was almost accidental. I thought, “If sex is simply about expressing love between two people, then what on earth could be wrong with gay men expressing their love through sex?”

3 They denied that the Pill had any role in the sexual revolution. How anyone could deny that is simply beyond me. Even my Protestant mother who loves contraception admits that the '60’s would have been VERY different without the Pill.

4 Their criticisms of the Catholic Church’s teachings on contraception were indistinguishable (for the most part) from anti-Catholic atheists. This, to me, was the most interesting aspect of their posts.

Here’s how Geoffrey Botkin, who was of college age when the Pill, sexual revolution, and abortion swept through the nation, remembers those times:


Now, sex and recreation were co-joined with the concept of permanent adolescence. An entire generation was listening to Mick Jagger croon, “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” and Jim Morrison scream, “Light My Fire!” That year Hugh Hefner’s theology was a big part of this new culture. It circulated wildly in the locker room, teaching my peers the joys of predatory, zero-consequence freedom. The pill, after all, had rescued the fortunes of Playboy magazine, which in turn created a bigger market for the pill, along with massive magazine revenues Hefner spent on court cases making birth control legal in all 50 states. Federal bureaucrats were doing their part in the revolution, not just giving pills to poor minorities (per Lyndon Johnson), but to school girls (per Margaret Sanger). Margaret Sanger died that year, 1966, in the knowledge that 12 million women were ingesting and making the most of her “magic pill.” Her eulogizers remembered these famous phrases:

[Our objective is] unlimited sexual gratification without the burden of unwanted children.
[Women must have the right] to live … to love … to be lazy … to be an unmarried mother … to create … to destroy.

The marriage bed is the most degenerative influence in the social order.

The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.

“The Woman Rebel,” Volume I, Number 1. Reprinted in Woman and the New Race. New York: Brentanos Publishers, 1922]

The next year, pill revenue exploded to $150 million. Hollywood’s “Prudence and the Pill” made artificial birth control a point of comedy, a cool icon of pop culture. No one was ashamed of Margaret Sanger any more. And no one saw what was coming.

My headstrong peers graduated to yet greater social freedoms, with fewer and fewer responsibilities. The first year of dorm life in college was an opportunity for unlimited indulgence and uninhibited childishness. When the pill didn’t work, my peers threw tantrums to demand a backup, another “fix” for the wages of indulgence. It came that year, right on time, with Roe v. Wade. I remember campus discussions about legalized abortion.

“It’s murder, isn’t it?”

“Of course it’s murder. Everybody knows it’s murder. But it’s legal. And it’s just a baby. The Supreme Court said it’s totally OK to abort. So it’s totally OK.”

Each and every single one of these statements was 100% NOT my wife’s experience with NFP. She couldn’t stand it. And my wife’s peak desire was precisely at the point when we could NOT be together. It was torture. I disagree with your assessment here and I’ve spoken with many couples who have had the same lousy experiences. And the depressed libido was NOT at all even remotely how my wife was when she was on the pill. Trust me, NOTHING was depressed in her libido from the pill.

It’s really an apples and oranges argument to compare the need for men who are unmarried to abstain and women who are MARRIED to abstain, basically behaving like married teenagers. Your wife is sitting right next to you at night, wanting sex, you want sex as the male, both are in love, both feel the timing is right and are attracted to each other but you must abstain and sit there during the woman’s most fertile and libido-filled time. I happen to agree that that is unnatural and unfair to women. Men are always rearing to go. Women aren’t. Not all women are the same of course but many women express this feeling that I’ve spoken with. It was true in our marriage. It was torture and just unnatural as the birth control pill is unnatural.

The pill does have the ability to abort a child; you’re correct that it can be abortifacient.

I don’t talk to many people who are serious Christian believers who feel that sex is only about love and feeling good and babies are incidental afterthoughts. Most of the people I work with are Protestants and these women are getting pregnant every year it seems! I know a lot of non-Catholic non-NFP-users who have plenty of kids and are open to the idea despite using contraception for the most part. The idea that a contracepting couple is so hostile and anti-baby is just not necessarily the case. It’s a sweeping characterization.

You’re right about the Pill and the sexual revolution 100%.

the fact that an atheist and non-Catholic might share an opinion on an issue isn’t really telling at all. I am an environmentalist-minded person and a vegetarian. I know a lot of Hindus and atheists who are as well. Doesn’t mean anything? St. Thomas Aquinas used the thinking of Aristotle to formulate theology. Does that mean he’s in the company of homosexual Greek philosophers? Nope.

Women have “off” times?! :confused:
No one told God when he made me! I’m raring to go all the time, so when I get married, NFP is going to be harder for me than for my husband. :stuck_out_tongue: So even though I can’t cook, but I will still be a very good wife. :smiley:

That’s not accurate. If you feel that it is this difficult to avoid, then maybe The Holy Spirit is speaking to you that perhaps you should not be avoiding at this time. Most people on here that discuss the use of NFP and have serious reason to avoid will not disagree that it’s difficult, but all will agree that if the reason is serious enough it takes some of that difficulty away.

I’m not sure I concur.

Personally DH and I are no way being trivial in our NFP choices. We still miss each other a great deal and it is hard. :frowning:

It’s a sacrifice. But sacrifice is good.

I’m not sure I concur.

Personally DH and I are no way being trivial in our NFP choices. We still miss each other a great deal and it is hard. :frowning:

It’s a sacrifice. But sacrifice is a good thing.

Oh yeah, I’m not saying that it’s not a sacrifice. But, if you avoiding is so difficult that you are switching to ABC or it is straining your marriage, perhaps you should pray more. I think most couples that use NFP are using it prayerfully and therefore while it’s hard…it does not make you decide to sin. Does that make sense? I don’t think I’m articulating well.

Oh I understand your point. Even though it’s hard, ABC is no way an option for DH and me. ( I missed reading one of the posts in order…so my reply didn’t take into account what you were replying to.:o)

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