Question re NFP


#1

I have heard the guests on “Catholic Answers Live” suggest to callers inquiring about contraception that NFP is a great alternative to parents that have 2 or 3 children, don’t want to have another soon, and want to delay the next pregnancy. However, doesn’t the Church teach that NFP is only to be used when pregnancy NEEDS to be avoided for a serious reason? This was mentioned on the radio show once that I remember and the example the guest gave as valid justification for using NFP was the case in which the wife had a serious heart condition, which a pregancy would aggrevate.

If NFP is only to be resorted to when there are “serious” reasons for delaying (or avoiding) another pregnancy, isn’t it incorrect to offer it as an alternative to parents that are just tired and stretched thin by their first two or three children?

Thanks,

Dan


#2

Because the intention of the married couple using NFP is subjective, there is no iron-clad list that says x is a serious reason or y is not a serious reason. I would need to hear the context of the program to tell if the guy was steering someone wrong.

Scott


#3

Let me first say WELCOME BACK ! Everyone.


#4

Hi Dan

Check out catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0311fea3.asp by Christopher West. He says "It’s certainly true that, like all good things, NFP can be abused. Selfishness, as the enemy of love, is also the enemy of responsible parenthood. It’s clear from the Church’s teaching that frivolous reasons for avoiding children will not do. But neither are spouses required to have a “life and death” situation before they make use of NFP."
and
"In determining family size, Vatican II teaches that parents must “thoughtfully take into account both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born and those that the future may bring. . . . [They must] reckon with both the material and spiritual conditions of the times as well as of their state in life”


#5

One of the biggest mistakes people make about NFP is that it is a contraceptive technique. The other is to treat having children as a problem to be solved versus a gift from God. That’s a hard message in America and likely Europe where most Catholics are practicing some form of artificial contraception. It’s easy to make the leap that NFP is simply a natural form of contraception, but that is not the case.

I encourage folks who wanting more information on NFP to check out the good materials they have at onemoresoul.com
I really have enjoyed the CDs by Janet E Smith. It’s a real eye opener.


#6

What I have heard is that you can start practicing NFP and that the grace will be given to you to make the right decisions in regard to using it to avoid pregnancy. Being tired and stretched thin can be a serious reason to avoid pregnancy. And NFP doesn’t just have to be used for avoiding pregnancy. It can be used to achieve pregnancy and it can be used to just know more about a woman’s health (at least Creighton model can, not sure about others, but I would guess so?). So NFP is something that all Catholics can use ALL the time, and then the couple can decide if they are using the method to avoid or achieve pregnancy on a month to month basis. (or day to day whatever)


#7

Why do you believe the example you gave is not a just reason?

A just reason conforms to objective moral criteria and is not rooted in selfishness. The reason given, if discerned with prayer by the couple, is a just reason. Certainly being tired and stretched thin can be a just reason to postpone another pregnancy.

There is no “list” of just reasons. Couples are to prayerfully discern this together.


#8

I totally agree…
If “tired and stretched thin” is an excuse for selfishness, then that’s a different question… but this is really for the individual couple to determine…
“Tired and stretched thin” may be considered “grave or serious” to others…

We cannot judge others’ circumstances… we can only view our own.


#9

Amen to that! :thumbsup:


#10

I have a female friend that is begrudgingly “trying” NFP, her husband wants her to and is not sure if she will continue with it or not. She will use it for contraception initially… but hopefully her mind changes.

Anyways though, I would think being selfish or not welcoming of children is better than using artificial contraception


#11

I think it is reasonable to assume that most couples are introduced to NFP as a contraceptive method. Using it for that purpose, the Church teaches that a serious reason must be the predicate for avoiding a pregnancy. All this talk about the couple “discerning” whether their particular justification is serious or not seems somewhat flimsy. Does anyone agree with me on this? Surely couples will “discern” that there is sufficient justification for using NFP because they feel they can’t “afford” another child (i.e. can’t keep up the lifestyle their accustomed to and have another child). However, most of these couples, if they were to become pregnant, would adjust and accomodate the new addition to the family. How frequently is it the case that the perception that you can’t handle another child right now is actually the case? In other words, if you had another child, the family woud be so negatively affected as to support the conclusion that the pregnancy would have been better off avoided. (Yeah, that sounds frightening I know.) Don’t you think that the vast majority of the time, the couple just wants a break and would be able to hande another child if they had to and God wanted them to?

Thanks for all your answers. This is all very helpful to me.

Dan


#12

NFP is not contraceptive.

Book recommendation: The Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West.


#13

I agree with Ann…but perhaps Dan needs to know the definition.

Contraceptive means you would do something to stop a baby from being born - during/after the marital act. That is why NFP is not “contraceptive”. If the marital act takes place - nothing in NFP would stop the baby from being born - were it destined to do so.

The Birth Control Pill, IUD, Plan B, etc. all are “contraceptive” in that they try their hardest to snuff out the little life - even if only 5 to 7 days old!!!

God Bless!


#14

Forgive my pointedness, but “contraceptive” and “abortive” are not the same thing. Condoms are contraceptive, but not abortive. If the condom breaks and conception occurs, the shards of latex are not going to make their way into the uterus and “snuff out the little life”. Semantics, perhaps, but important ones.

NFP can be used to prevent pregnancy when needed. By definition, this is also contraceptive. The couple takes positive steps to engage in a sexual act with the intent of avoiding pregnancy. Like the broken condom, if pregnancy occurs anyway, NFP won’t affect it at that point and therefore it is not abortive.


#15

:clapping: Amen!! And yes Sympto-Thermal Method can also be used to help with health issues. Low basal body temps are a sign of low thyroid overall.

Your points here are very good and deserve thoughtful consideration. You address the important point that charting is just information. Breast-feeding and being post-partum infertile are some aspects of NFP. Natural Family Planning is charting information and using that information in accordance with God’s will for your life. :thumbsup:

To those who may be struggling with contraception or NFP. Yes, NFP can be abused, but contraception and abortion are intrisically “abusive.” Nothing good comes from contraception. That is why the Church calls it intrinsically evil.

We do not have to be constantly in the marital act. My husband is currently sleeping and here I am typing away. I might be fertile right now. That does not mean I have to make use of the marital act. If we make use of the marital act during infertility, I have done nothing to prevent a life. All we have done is to ask God to be in charge of our fertility, our children, and our marital acts. He will bring us together when he wants us to be together. We are having children on His terms. Charting just gives us a glimpse of His plan for us.


#16

Thank you for our post LittleDeb, but I don’t understand your explanation that charting gives you a glimpse of God’s plan, but you are open to having all the children that God wants you to have. One of the reasons, if not the main reason, one charts is to determine periods of fertility. To the extent you decide to not engage in the marital act when you are fertile but would engage in the act but for the fact that you’re fertile, I think an argument can be made that you’re curcumventing God’s plan. What is your take on this argument? Some would say that one of the reasons you are “getting a glimpse of God’s plan” is precisely to circumvent God’s plan. Surely, there are times when you are fertile and inclined to engage in the marital act. To the extent you avoid the marital act at those times to avoid becoming pregnant, isn’t that circumventing God’s plan?

In other words, if a couple decides NOT to engage in the marital act because they know the wife is fertile (and but for this fertility, they would engage in the marital act), how is this now circumventing God’s plan? Do any Catholics argue that NFP is per se wrong and that you ought to engage in the marital act without regard to fertility, etc. in order to by truly open to children. Wouldn’t that be more in line with the philosophy of being “open” to all the children with which God cares to bless you?

Thanks again,

Dan


#17

I do not believe this is a “reasonable” assumption at all.

Contraception is never acceptable and the church does not teach that it is. Avoiding pregnancy is not the same thing as contraception. And, yes, the Church teaches that there may be reasons when avoiding pregnancy is determined to be needed. The church has always allowed for continence in this case, sometimes permanently.

Why have you placed discerning in quotes?

Why would a couple’s discerning whether or not God is calling them to have another child be any different than a man discerning whether he is called to be a priest? Or discerning whether or not to take a particular job? Move across the country? Start a pro-life ministry?

The discernment process has a legitimate place in our practice of the faith.

No. Are you married?

I find this denigration of discernment insulting to faithful Catholic couples who prayerfully decide that it is best to postpone a pregnancy for a time for a just reason.


#18

I am sorry if you find anything i’ve said insulting. Of course, I have not intended to insult anyone and if I have, I apologize. However, I feel there is a strong likelihood that there are couples out there, thinking that they are following Catholic teaching on NFP, and discerning that they are not called to have another child, but the real reason is that they are satisfied with their lifestyle and don’t want to have the added expense (in terms of time and money) of another child. Clearly, many couples COULD handle another child but choose not to have any more children, for the time being or at all and use NFP to achieve this goal. It seems to be, that these couples are sinning. This position would be supported by those that would give as an example for justification for resorting to NFP the heart condition that would be aggrevated by a pregnancy. THAT’S serious. The fact that you feel stretched thin may seem serious to you at the time, but is it REALLY serious enough to justify consciously striving to avoid pregnancy?

Bottom line, don’t you think it’s possible (if not probable) that many of the couples using NFP are using it without sufficient justification?

Dan


#19

I think it is reasonable to assume that most couples are introduced to NFP as a contraceptive method.

First, lets acknowledge that NFP is not contraceptive. I can’t imagine that those who teach NFP would ever introduce it that way either.

Using it for that purpose, the Church teaches that a serious reason must be the predicate for avoiding a pregnancy.

As Scott Waddell said well

Because the intention of the married couple using NFP is subjective, there is no iron-clad list that says x is a serious reason or y is not a serious reason. …

All this talk about the couple “discerning” whether their particular justification is serious or not seems somewhat flimsy. Does anyone agree with me on this?

I think it may seem “flimsy” because there isn’t any concrete rules. “have xx (number) of children” for example. Allowing couples to discern this means they could possibly discern wrongly, like they are trying to fool God and would be able to convince Him of their Serious Reasons, even if it’s just selfishness.

But if a couple prayerfully discerns that postponing pregnancy is God’s will for them, no one is in the position to know better than they are. Even the couples who postpones for selfish reasons knows what God’s will is even if they won’t acknowledge that.

A couple who uses NFP to postpone pregnancy may simply being doing (or not doing) what you or I wouldn’t (or would) do or think is right in the same situation. Thank God that the Church in her wisdom, allows couples to figure this out for themselves. I think it is dangerous to make judgements about people prayerfully using NFP, or about couples who have fewer children than we think they should have. We never know the whole story. And it’s quite likely that we would be the ones who are wrong in “knowing” how many children God wants a couple to have. I persoally am relieved that I don’t have to discern this for other couples.

Yes, it may seem flimsy because it’s out of our (yours and mine) control and we unlikely to know about the thought and prayer a couple devotes to their decisions.

Surely couples will “discern” that there is sufficient justification for using NFP because they feel they can’t “afford” another child (i.e. can’t keep up the lifestyle their accustomed to and have another child). However, most of these couples, if they were to become pregnant, would adjust and accomodate the new addition to the family. How frequently is it the case that the perception that you can’t handle another child right now is actually the case? In other words, if you had another child, the family woud be so negatively affected as to support the conclusion that the pregnancy would have been better off avoided. (Yeah, that sounds frightening I know.) Don’t you think that the vast majority of the time, the couple just wants a break and would be able to hande another child if they had to and God wanted them to?

If the couple already has children I don’t understand how there would be a “break”. Anyway, sure, it is possible they family would be just fine with an addition. But let’s consider situations where it would be they wouldn’t be. When it comes right down to it we, on the outside, just don’t know and are in a worse position to judge.


#20

I’m not LittleDeb, but allow me to answer generally.

NFP is very effective in avioding pregnacy, but it’s also effective in acheiving pregnacy. If a couple engages in the marital act when, due to NFP, there is a very good chance of getting pregnant. Most couples are not called to get have a child each time they are fertile again. There is no teaching in the church that couples are to have relations whenever they are fertile. So I don’t see that this is circumventing God’s plan. And, no, I don’t think you can make that arguement with LittleDeb. If that is not judgemental, it’s awfully close.

What is your take on this argument? Some would say that one of the reasons you are “getting a glimpse of God’s plan” is precisely to circumvent God’s plan. Surely, there are times when you are fertile and inclined to engage in the marital act. To the extent you avoid the marital act at those times to avoid becoming pregnant, isn’t that circumventing God’s plan?

You have no way of knowing that. Simple as that. If you are not the spiritual director for this couple you don’t have any business doing this either. (Becuase your use of the pronoun “you” is making this very personal.)

In other words, if a couple decides NOT to engage in the marital act because they know the wife is fertile (and but for this fertility, they would engage in the marital act), how is this now circumventing God’s plan? Do any Catholics argue that NFP is per se wrong and that you ought to engage in the marital act without regard to fertility, etc. in order to by truly open to children.

Yes, I think you would be happy to know there are Catholics who think this way. But they are wrong. And in my opinion scary.

Wouldn’t that be more in line with the philosophy of being “open” to all the children with which God cares to bless you?

The church teaches responcibility as far are having children is concerned. It does not teach have as many children as you are physically able.


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