NFP?


#1

Someone please explain tom me how NFP used as a contraceptive is not a sin? I have not found any church father that says sex without the sole purpose to have children is not a sin. How can the church say it is consistant with her teachings?

(Please do not use personal testimonies I can get the same testimonies from someone using ABC.)


#2

Polaris,

Morality is determined by the act, the intent, and the circumstances.

The act is what we ‘do’.

The intent is what we are hoping to accomplish with the act.

The circumstances are the who, what, when around the act.

Some acts are inherently immoral. (Murder, lying, artificial contraception)

Some acts are amoral (neither moral or immoral), but the intent behind the act will determine morality. It is not inherently immoral to tell the truth, but if we tell the truth to someone with the intent to unneccesarily hurt them (“I won the prize for best looking and you did not”), then we are being immoral.

Some acts and intents are moral, but the circumstances in which they are performed are not. It is OK for a husband and wife to have sexual relations, but not on corner of First and Main at 8:00 am Wednesday morning.

NFP CAN be moral (not that it always is). How do we know if it is moral?

What is the act of NFP? There are two acts, actually. Learning, and ‘abstaining’. The act of learning is not inherently immoral. Abstaining is actually not an act, but a failure to act. It is also not inherently immoral. Couples abstain for a multitude of reasons (feeding the baby, to sleep, to eat, to go to work, etc.) So, the ‘act’ of NFP is not inherently immoral.

What about intent? The Church states that NFP can be used to space children, for the benefit of children already born. Other intents (e.g. to use NFP in an attempt to never have children) is not allowed, and turns NFP into something immoral. Marriage was ordained by God for procreation, to intend our whole marriage to deny God’s purpose is wrong.

What about circumstances? Well, since the acts of NFP are learning and abstaining, there are few, if any circumstances that would turn these acts into immoral ones.

Another way to come about this. God requires that each specific act of marital relations be full, (nothing is done to that specific relation that will attempt to render it sterile) NFP allows us to obey God in this regard. God also requires that we accept children as a purpose of marriage. As long as we do not use NFP to deny God’s imperitive for marriage, we can use NFP licitly. There are a few other intents that could make NFP immoral, for example one spouse using it as a reason to withhold themselves from the other. In marriage, we give ourselves fully. Withholding ourselves is attempting to break the covenant we made, and is immoral.

Hope this helps.

Dan


#3

Using NFB with a contraceptive mentality is indeed a sin.

However a bit of abstinence isn’t sinful.


#4

The conjugal act in the context of marriage is not in itself sinful. It is the motives that is sinful. By natural means, that God has set up, the woman has a fertile time as well as an infertile. Therefore we can conclude that the conjugal act is meant to be at both times in a womans cycle. Now, use of NFP is OK if it is not for selfish reasons. A couple can decide not to have children during a certain point in time for health (physical and psychological), financial, emotional, etc. reasons. It starts to become sinful when you want your third car, or some other “me” reason.

I suggest that you look at the CCC for the official Church teaching o this. CCC 2366 to 2372 is a good, and it continues on from there.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#2366


#5

But is there not an act to see if you are fertile and then you choose to reject intercourse at that time based on that fact?

Humanae vitae did say the ends and means must also be considered. Well the ends are a chosen sterility. I cant see how the rectify this by in the same reading saying well the means are natural so it ok.

Are you also not rejecting the womans fertility and embracing only her sterility? Would not true abstince be waiting five years to have sex? That takes real self control. Not two weeks. Also what is the purpose of this embrace it is not to have children. The early church disagreed on the magnitude from mortal to veinal but they all considered sex without the desire to have children a sin. How does the church now say this is not a sin?


#6

Another a thought from HV:

God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws.

Well they are already natural spaced :confused: Know we are saying, well they are not spaced enough. Well why does God give us too many children?


#7

Yes, and yes. Firstly, the act of observation is surely an act. It is an act of learning something that is reality. God has never ordained the act of learning to be a sin. However, what we do with that learning can be.

Next, we move onto the ‘rejection’ of intercourse. This is not inherently immoral. If it was, the Gospels would not suggest it for couples, but they do suggest periodic abstinence.

So, the act of NFP cannot be inherently immoral, if it was, then learning and/or abstinence would be inherently immoral, but we know they are not.

What can then be immoral? The INTENTION for which NFP is used may be immoral. But not all intentions with respect to NFP are immoral. The catechism teaches us that.

Humanae vitae did say the ends and means must also be considered. Well the ends are a chosen sterility.

You are using ‘sterility’ in a fashion that the dictionary and the catechism does not. Here is the definition: Incapable of producing offspring. There is no act of NFP that produces sterility. The couple is still capable of producing offspring, therefore they are not sterile. By the way, most Artificial Birth Control DOES have the effect of making a couple sterile.

I cant see how the rectify this by in the same reading saying well the means are natural so it ok.

You are very perceptive about the means and the ends. So many don’t get this. But in this case, since the acts (means) of NFP are not inherently immoral, they do not need to be justified. That is what is meant by “the ends cannot justify the means”. The means must be considered unjust, to have to be justified. These means (acts) are not unjustified.

Howver, all intents must be justified. If you turn your search upon the intents, this subject will become more clear.

Are you also not rejecting the womans fertility and embracing only her sterility?

Again, the couple is NOT sterile, to purposely make either of them so would be a sin. Perhaps you mean that a couple practicing NFP is embracing her natural infertile time?

Would not true abstince be waiting five years to have sex? That takes real self control. Not two weeks.

I am not sure of your point. Abstinence, for proper reasons, and with full consent of both spouses, can be a good thing. However, it is not required.

Also what is the purpose of this embrace it is not to have children. The early church disagreed on the magnitude from mortal to veinal but they all considered sex without the desire to have children a sin. How does the church now say this is not a sin?

The Church says the intent to marry and the intent to never have children is hypocrytical, and is sin. The Church has never said that each individual sexual act must be done with the intent to create a child.

Dan


#8

You make the assumption that the natural spacing is best. Sometimes that is true, sometimes it is not.

Do we, in other areas, accept nature without question? It is natural that we want to eat. Sometimes we want to eat a lot. Do we say, “God ordained that when we need to eat, we will be hungry, therefore whenever I am hungry, I must eat.” What happens to such a man? He very likely gets fat, satisfying his natural God-given hunger.

What is right? Select good intentions, and use licit means to follow them. If you want to stay in shape (not fat) then deny your natural hunger occasionally. If your current children may go hungry, or get kicked out of their home if you have another child, then abstain from sexual relations when you wish, to prevent this from happening.

Dan

You’ve got good questions, by the way. I think you are well on the way to finding truth.


#9

Have you considered the situation in which some couples are infertile? Would it be immoral for them to embrace? Of course not.

From the catechism…

2363
The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.

The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.

2366
Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is "on the side of life,"151 teaches that "it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life."152 "This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act."153

2367
Called to give life, spouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God.154 "Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children; they should realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love of God the Creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian responsibility."155

**2368
A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:

    When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts, criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart.156

2369
"By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man’s exalted vocation to parenthood."157**

2370
Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.158 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:159

    Thus the innate LANGUAGE that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory LANGUAGE, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.160

#10

contra, to counter.

my wife and I did NFP for a few years after we got married… then one day, my wife said “lets take a chance” and my daughter was born 9 months later.

thats the difference between NFP and the pill. with the pill, my daughter wouldn’t have happened for sure, with NFP, she was a possibility.

we didn’t ‘counter’ God’s will, we acted in unison with him.

we love NFP and the closeness it brings. and the possibilities.


#11

No, but that is not the same. The are not using any knowledge to become infertile and are not rejecting fertility. However If for any reason they got married for the purpose of not having children, then yes it would be immoral.


#12

#13

I also heard similar stories regarding broken condoms, that it was Gods will. I find it highly suspect, and in the back of my mind I wonder how many more blessed children you were suppose to have. Why do you consider you will greater than that of the will of God? Also you were just married yet you did not try to start having children from the begging…what was the point of you marriage if it was not children from the beginning. Also these are just thought in no way do I blame you for listening to the church and think you are well with in your bounds. Im just trying to understand NFP with the purpose of infertility given Tradition.


#14

Couples who use NFP are not infertile, nor are they rejecting their fertility.
They are using their fertility in a moral manner…

The reason for the use of NFP is private between the husband, wife, and God… and cannot be judged without full knowledge of their particular situation.

Accept with love that God has given NFP as a blessing for those who need it. The Church has clearly stated that NFP is within morality… are you questioning the Church’s reasoning? :confused:


#15

I hope that a priest is also part of this equation. Anything that is private is also fair game to discuss with a priest. Trying to find proper morality without asking for help is a road littered with potholes.

Dan


#16

Here’s something that will bake your noodle. It is perfectly valid for a couple not to have sex on any given day because they just don’t feel like it. There is nothing wrong with not having sex as there is no moral obligation for a couple to have sex at some regular interval. The couple is free to decide that they have other things to do, they aren’t the mood, or a million other minor rationalizations when they just don’t want to have sex.

However, it is not okay for a couple to state “We don’t want children now” (Note that I’m not saying “We have reasons that would make it best to avoid children”). Most couples could rationalize it somehow, saying that finances aren’t right or this or that. However, at the root of it, the couple just doesn’t want children like they don’t wish to go skydiving, and that is not a valid reason to use NFP. You cannot use the same “We just don’t want to” excuse to avoid children as you can to avoid having sex.

Since it would take a visit from the Archangel Gabriel to have a child without having sex first, I think you can see where I’m going with this. You can morally choose not to have sex for mundane, trivial reasons, but you cannot morally choose not to have children for the same reasons.

The Church today does not state that sex is not just for procreation only, but that it just must be open to procreation. If you knew that procreation was impossible (short of an angelic visit), like during the infertile peroids of a woman’s cycle for example, how would it be moral to have sex then if it was for procreation only? The Church states that sex is both unitive and procreative, and there is a function of sex beyond having children.

I believe the error in that line of thought is at the end: “Well why does God give us too many children?”. God makes us fertile, but He does not make us pregnant. God gave us a gift, but that does not mean we have to use it all the time. He gave us food to eat, but we should not become gluttons and eat nonstop. He gave us freedom, but that does not mean we should be free to act only in our self interest. He gave us fertility, but that does not mean we need to have child after child just because we can. We cannot focus on one gift without neglecting others, but that balance is something we all stuggle with throughout our lives.


#17

So what is your definition of “contraceptive”?


#18

Yes I question the church teachings. It is not a sin to question and the church should be able to defend her reasoning. I am not for ABC either hormonal or barrier. Im just trying to understand how the church can accept NFP. If I just accepted anything without questioning, my faith would be a lie for reason would be seperated from it.


#19

NFP is to be used as opposed to having to abstain completely when the couple has serious/just/grave reasons to not have children. The Church knows there may be moments in which a couple may discern through prayer that there is a serious/just/grave reason to not have children at the moment. If the couple was not aware of the female’s cycle they would have to abstain completely in order to not become pregnant. While there are situations in which a couple may be faced with having to abstain completely (eg due to an accident, illness, etc), it is not the ideal situation for a married couple, since the marital embrace is a very important part of a marriage, and we could delve further into this topic if you wish.

In other words, I guess one could say NFP isn’t to avoid children at a whim, it is to be able to participate in the marital embrace when there are reasons (non-selfish) not to have children at the moment. In other words, it is so couples do not have to abstain completely while the reason for avoiding children is present.


#20

Very true!

But my intention was to note that we should not judge one another on why someone would choose to use NFP.

That decision is truly formed between the husband and wife (God being the natural 3rd person of that marriage), of course with proper guidance and spiritual direction from your priest… but the priest doesn’t make that decision for them.


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