Hello all, I have been looking in to Catholicism for the last couple of years. My husband and I have 2 children and do not want to have any more. I have been hearing a lot about natural family planning lately and I am wondering if this could be something that would prevent me from joining the church on the future?
Prevent, how so?
Not just avoid using contraception that are man made. Also if you have a child by accident be sure to raise it with the same loving care you would the others.
My best friend and her husband use NFP and have not had any unplanned pregnancies. Have you heard of Jennifer Fulwiler? She is a Catholic convert who uses NFP (with great success) even though another pregnancy could literally kill her due to a clotting disorder. She wrote a great blog about it here: jenniferfulwiler.com/2013/05/never-say-never-and-other-thoughts-on-having-more-kids/
Part of NFP is a recognition that children are the natural result of sexual union. While one is not required to have children, any permanent intention against children is supposed to be done prayerfully and without selfish intent. (Note: don’t ask what constitutes selfish intent as it becomes a hotly debated topic really quickly). The only reason I mention it is that we are not supposed to just say I don’t like kids so I refuse to have more. We have be open to the possibility that God might have other plans for us.
There is a wide spectrum of options on NFP but I think it is fair to say that you do need to have a serious reason to avoid pregnancy - not just a vague preference. It has to be something your husband is equally happy to do - he must be happy to abstain because he shares that reason. And finally if you do fall pregnant then you should gratefully accept God’s gift.
Thank you all for your answers. They have been very helpful.
Just as an aside, if one of you joins the Catholic Church and the other does not, there are special circumstances surrounding the use of artificial birth control, nfp, etc… So, if you were to join, and he isn’t Catholic, and he insists on using a condom himself (for example), then that isn’t on you as long as you lovingly make your position (and the Church’s position) clear and urge him to participate in nfp instead. At least, that’s how I as a Protestant understand their position.
That’s not entirely correct.
If a woman’s life/health is in danger, she is not required by the Catholic Church to continue risking pregnancy and, by extension, her life, even if her husband is willing to play Russian roulette.*
Nor does one have to be “happy” about abstaining. I can assure you that while using NFP to avoid was the correct medical decision for us for some time (C-section recovery plus severe PPD recovery), we weren’t “happy” about not being able to have sex for a couple of weeks each month; we simply accepted that that was the responsible thing to do at the time, and did so accordingly. Feelings don’t enter into most theological decisions: you don’t have to be “happy,” for example, to not follow your same-sex attraction; you don’t, if your role is as a provider for your family, need to be “happy” to work long, hard hours in order to provide, you just need to do it; you don’t need to be “happy” about, well, following your vocation or even basic theological precepts, you just–like Nike suggests–need to *do *it.
Mind you, it’s great when you can find joy in doing what God wants of you, but no one will all day, every day. Look at the great saints who’ve suffered those long, dark nights of the soul: Mother Teresa wasn’t a lesser saint for being deeply sad and lonely while saving the lives of starving kids in India…if anything, I’d argue she was an even greater saint for persevering when things were hard for her!
Lastly, the Latin word used in *Humanae Vitae *which qualifies what sort of reasons are required for the use of NFP is iustus, which translates to “just,” not “serious.”
*ETA for clarity: this still doesn’t excuse the use of artificial birth control, but a woman is not required to have sex with her husband if he’s expecting her to risk her life to do so.
Great big DITTO here.