NFP Bible Only Explainations


#1

Hello,

I know a very strong Christan couple who after much prayer discerned that they were called to trust God with their reproductive life. This led to them conceiving soon after marriage (within 1 month). They are not in a strong financial situation and are trying to understand what would be the “biblical” thing to do. Most of us here would say NFP, as would I.

However, he wants explanations from scripture only. He actually went to a mutual friend of ours with these questions but that friend came to me since the friend is single and I am recently married. Catechism based responses would be for another time, once he learns more about the Catholic faith. My immediate goal is not to bring him into the Catholic faith but to encourage him in his Christian faith and help him through this time of discernment. So what I am looking for are specific answers to his questions from the bible.

Here is what he asked: Can you provide me with any thoughts and/or Scriptures on the following questions I’m seeking understanding and wisdom to:

1. Is it biblical to intentionally space your children?

2. If Yes to #1, what means of “birth-control” are biblical?

                          **3.  If Yes to #1, what are the biblical principles which should govern how far apart to space children, and how many to have.

**Any thoughts, suggestions, comments or prayers are greatly appreciated. This couple is an awesome witness of faith in their openness to life. This is especially true since they are protestants and have no encouragement from their peers to be open to life.

Thanks and God bless you all.


#2

This book might be of interest:

Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception (Paperback)
by Sam Torode (Author), Bethany Torode (Author),

You might also google for the Quiver Full groups, they are Protestant.


#3

The Bible And Birth Control by Charles Provan is another good resource.


#4

I second the nomination for Charles Provan’s The Bible and Birth Control, although he may lean towards the extreme providentialist side. In other words, abstinence during the fertile times is not trusting God, and therefore, NFP is just as immoral as artificial birth control. But his book is definitely worth reading for its biblical arguments against artificial birth control.

I hesitate to recommend the Torodes’ Open Embrace because I seem to recall hearing that they changed their minds on their pro-NFP, anti-artificial birth control stance in a later book. Or maybe it was that they decided mutual masturbation was morally acceptable during the fertile time? Honestly, I have not read either of the Torodes’ books personally, just reviews of them.

However, someone else started a thread about permanent birth control methods (sterilization) on behalf of a Bible-only Protestant friend and asked about Bible verses on birth control and NFP, so I gathered up many and posted them under this thread:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=193658

The list is long – several long posts’ worth – because I quoted the Scripture verse, instead of just listing the citation. I also included a few paragraphs of explanatory material, not many, though, in trying to keep it to just “what the Bible says.” Please print out my posts there for your friends.

Also, have you tried to approach them from the physical side-effects, health risks, and abortifacient aspects of hormonal birth control? Couple to Couple League has some pages online with info about hormonal methods. ccli.org/nfp/contraception/index.php

If you need anything else for your friends, I’d be happy to help.

Best wishes,
Christine


#5

Thanks for all the responses thus far. However I want to steer things back to the specific questions of my friend. He and his wife are firmly pro-life / open to life. They just need to understand how this fits with controling the spacing of children. In other words, “if we should trust God with our fertility and be open to life, then why is it okay to regulate spacing?” I can understand that confusion. If we are saying we are open to life and trust God’s will with one breath, how can we try to control the spacing?

LIke I said, he is mainly concerned with spacing of children and the biblical principles / support for this. The biblical “back up” for any response is a must!

Thanks!


#6

I’d be careful with the quiver full groups.

They basically take this one piece of scripture and run with it without using reason or Tradition. The result is not always good. AFAIK, there is no concept of spacing or making sure you are giving due to spouse, existing children, and other necessities. “Have as many as you canism” is a better term.

My parents believed in this when I was growing up(ex protestants), and it turned me off having a large family until only a couple years ago when I became a Catholic.


#7

Exactly, thats what I want to avoid. Thoughts?


#8
  1. Is it biblical to intentionally space your children?

Yes, we are supposed to be responsible parents. A fertile couple can conceive children faster than most couples are able to raise them. We’re called to love our children, which means doing what is in their best interests, i.e., wanting their good and well being. We’re called to love our spouses too. We also need to be able to work and provide a living for our kids.

Different people will have different abilities to cope (so if some reader out there has had many children in a few years, you’re special, good for you), but a fertile woman and man could really easily five kids in 5 years. (9 months, plus recovery time of 1-2 months + 9 months, repeat). I cannot imagine the kind of strain this would put on parents in their time in raising each child, in their time for one another and also the financial pressure.

  1. If Yes to #1, what means of “birth-control” are biblical?

This is where it gets tricky. There really isn’t any explicit verses on not using artifical birth control, although you could make the famous onan arguement (weak imho) when it comes to condoms.

  1. If Yes to #1, what are the biblical principles which should govern how far apart to space children, and how many to have.

That is really up to the couple, in terms of what they can handle. My wife and I are guessing 2-3 years but we have decided not to really decide in our heads before we actually have a child. We both desire to have at least 6-8 kids, but spaced out over the entire course of my wife’s fertility.

Another thing to consider is if you space them out, the older kids can help out with the younger ones. In my family (7) we were spaced out over 21 years. That means my mom only had to deal with two little ones at any given time. That made dealing with us easier. On the other hand, across the hall in our apartment building (back when our family stood at 5) her friend E. had 5 kids, but the oldest was 7 or 8. That woman was constantly tired out, breastfeeding the littlest while really struggling to keep the other little kids in line. My mom was always going over there to help her out, she just could not handle it.

So it just makes sense to me to space them out- there is no hurry, and it’s not about having as many as possible. The bottom line is, you need balance. Only the couple can decide how much space is necessary to achieve that balance. Some people on here surely will be somewhat irked at what I wrote, as they chose to have many children in a short amount of time. I say if it works for them, that’s great. However it is not general advice I would give.


#9

Because God gave us brains, not just instinct and functional bodies. We have free will and are allowed to make choices.

Some couples may space for a personal preference of a certain time frame. Some couples may space for financial reasons. Some couples may space because they just can’t handle 2 or 3 in diapers at the same time. Some may have developmental or educational reasons for spacing. (I have read that if you have 5 years between kids, each has the characteristics of a first-born. Something like that…)

As long as the intent and means used are moral, there is no sin in spacing children. Using our own intellectual faculties does not always equate to not trusting God. You know that saying, “God helps those that help themselves?” People can’t just go around doing stupid things, making irresponsible decisions, and then calling it God’s will and expecting Him to bail them out. He gave us brains and free will for a reason. We are expected to use them.


#10

**Doesn’t seem like anyone is specifically answering your question. Let me try and get it straight. Your friends are completely pro-life and open to life. They do not want to contracept but are unsure of the leaving it all in God’s hands philosophy. So enter NFP. Is God ok with it? That’s where you need the biblical back up right?

I’m sorry I can’t answer your question. But you do mention that you want to address this issue with them but not try and lead them to Catholicism… but maybe that is what you are being called to do? Since there isn’t an easy (so far) biblical reference, try explaining it in your terms (i.e Catholic).

One of the reasons I converted was because of how much sense the Catholic faith makes and how answers are always there for the finding. Maybe they need to see that too?

Malia**


#11

There are pretty much nothing in the bible.
Also, Open Embrace is a testimony against NFP…

Good luck with that.


#12

I don’t want to derail the thread but the reason why he isn’t getting direct answers is because Christianity really isn’t a “Bible only” religion.

That was pulled out of Martin Luther’s… um, “EAR”.


#13

Well, my only suggestion would be to check the catechism for any references to related topics and see if any scriptural passages are cited.
I am at work so I can’t access mine right now to be of much help…


#14

1Cor7:4-5

A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife.
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.

HTH! :slight_smile:


#15

I’m Protestant as well, so hopefully I can help some. This is how I arrived at only using NFP and what scripture I used to back it.

It is. We are expected by God to be self-controlled and make wise choices. If they are going to space them, they should be considering the motives and reasons behind that choice:
There are many scriptures passages about Children being a gift and a blessing from God.

Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

2. If Yes to #1, what means of “birth-control” are biblical?

1 Corinthians 6:19
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

We are not to harm our bodies, nor do things that can cause the death of our children(Since they are already pro-life I did not include scripture for this). This necessitates using wisdom and study in choices of BC and avoiding those that have a potential of causing abortions or causing harm to the people using the BC.

What I have found it that most forms of BC have an abortificant quality. This really narrows down the list of possible choices.

Male Contraceptives:

Male Condoms: not very reliable. And made of Latex, something many people are allergic to. Something I found out recently, A person who has a mild allregy to latex will often have the allergy become more severe the more often they come in contact with latex.

Withdrawal: Very unreliable. Then there is the whole Onan thing. Though I believe it was the issues in #1 that got Onan struk down, not the withdrawl itself. Onan did it purposely to be selfish and not do what he was supposed to do in providing an heir in that particular situation.

Female Hormonal Contraceptives:

Birth Control Pills (including the “mini-pill”), Hormonal injections, Hormone patches, rings (NuvaRing®), - has a secondary function of preventing implantation of the child (fertilized eggs) into the womb. This is an abortificant. The mini-pill reduces the chances of ovulation, but does not eliminate it, therefore there is still a risk of aborting a child.

Female Barrier Contraceptives:

Female Condoms - same with Male Condoms above.

Spermicides, Contraceptive Sponges, Diaphragms, Cervical Caps - These are not abortificant. They also ahve an extremely high failure rate at preventing pregnancy AND N-9 is known to increase risk of infections and other problems.

Other:

Surgical Procedures: Some risk involved and then you are not open to life, and useless for spacing children since reversing is problematic.

Natural Family Planning - Does no harm and works well.

There are none that I’d say “are Biblical” because it’s not really mentioned. But there are many that are Un-Biblical… because they cause harm to the adults using them and/or to any child that is concieved.

The only ones I’d say are “acceptable” would be Barrier/spermicide combinations (IF there are definately no allergies to any of it in either person and IF there is no N-9) and NFP.

SInce Barrier/spermicide methods are allergy prone and ineffective, can we really say it’s wise to use them?

NFP is all that’s really left.

**3. If Yes to #1, what are the biblical principles **which should govern how far apart to space children, and how many to have.

[/indent]

I think I answered this in #1. We are to make decesions based on what is wise for our families, and not for selfish gain. We are to also protect our chihldren and future children. We are also not to harm our bodies. if we keep these things in perspective and pray, we can decide forourselves how far apart to space children.


#16

That could work! The be “free for prayer” part could refer to the abstinence in NFP when they are prayerfully discerning if they have just reasons to continue abstaining:thumbsup:


#17

Exactly…
Actually, it’s the biblical reference used in GAUDIUM ET SPES in the section where it specifically discusses NFP… :thumbsup:


#18

Is it biblical to intentionally space children? If so, what methods are biblically acceptable?

Mt 4:5-7 – Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the the test.”

Can’t find the verse, please help, someone: There’s a parable told by Our Lord in which He says, “What man starts to build without first calculating the cost and whether or not he has the resources to start what he has finished? Lest his neighbors laugh at him and say, 'This man could not finish what he started.”

In my opinion, deliberately conceiving child after child in spite of unemployment, homelessness, seriously ill health of either parent or children, being overwhelmed psychologically by the intense neediness of several small children very close together, etc., is “putting the Lord your God to the test.” If you should accidentally conceive then it is time to trust in the Lord to provide, or if you actively work to improve your circumstances before conceiving again, that is showing Christian prudence, wisdom, and self-control:

Gal 5:22-24 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

As I wrote in another thread, forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=193658, the Lord understands that there are times and situations not ideal for bearing children. But in such a “time of distress,” the Lord did NOT say, “Go ahead and engage in contracepted sex.” Rather, the Lord said, “Do not marry,” “Act as not having a wife” (in other words, refrain from sexual relations), and “Refrain from sexual relations by mutual consent and for a time.”

Jer 16:1-2 – This message came to me from the Lord: Do not marry any woman; you shall not have sons or daughters in this place.

1 Cor 7:26, 29 – So this is what I think best because of the present distress…From now on, let those having wives act as not having them.

1 Cor 7:3-5 – The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

From a deutero-canonical book, Ecclesiasticus, which Protestants would consider apocryphal:
Eccl 3:1,5 – There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to embrace and a time to refrain [from embracing].

1 Thess 4:3-6 – This is the will of God, your holiness: that you refrain from immorality, that each of you know how to acquire a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in lustful passion as do the Gentiles who do not know God; not to take advantage of, or exploit a brother in this matter, for the Lord is an avenger in all things, as we told you before and have solemnly affirmed.


#19

You know the most hilarious thing about that Open Embrace book!? Both Sam and Bthany Torode COMPLETELY DID A 180 ON THE BOOK! They are now contracepting and are in the Greek Orthodox Church. Go to the Open Embrace website. They discuss how contraception was NOT healthy or beneficial to their marriage at all. I always get tickled when Catholics recommend this book but they don’t realize that these folks both ended up completely changing their minds and now speak out against NFP. If you’re of the NFP is the greatest thing since slice bread mentality, don’t recommend this book.


#20

I had never looked at that passage like that…huh. Interesting insight! I think that makes a lot of sense.


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