The church's stance on NFP and contraception; inconsistent?

My position on NFP and use of sex strictly for procreation even within marriage, is that I am not sure what the correct stance is on these issues.

I don’t believe in sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, or use of hormonal birth control or sterilization.

However, I am not sure that the policy that a married couple can only engage in sexual activity if they are trying to achieve a pregnancy is biblical, or consistent with the enforcement of other policies on using senses for pleasure, such as the sense of taste.

I understand that the purpose of marriage is procreation, and that married couples must reproduce, but I don’t understand what difference it makes whether a couple has sex 5 times throughout their marriage, or 500, if the end result is still 5 children.

In the past, popes have condemned as gluttons anyone who eats for any reason other than nourishment. This sounds equivalent to the prohibition of sexual activities within marriage for any purpose other than procreation. However, we never hear about using food strictly for nourishment. It sounds like cherry picking to choose to enforce and follow the rules for sex, yet ignore the equally strict rules for eating.

There are more examples that I can post, but one reason I am not sure strictly using sex for procreation is biblical, is a quote from St. Paul (I’ll look up the verse number later) He says that married couples can choose to abstain from sex during a period of prayer, but they should not abstain too long, so they don’t risk temptation. He doesn’t say they should have sex to produce children, but to keep their own sexual temptations in check, which could arise from a long period of abstinence. It sounds as if it is licit, in the view of St. Paul, to use sex within marriage for the purpose of releasing sexual tension and desire, not solely to procreate.

My question is: Is the enforcement of the Church’s rules on sex within marriage consistent with their enforcement of other equivalent rules regulating satisfaction of sensory desires? Is it biblical?

It does not sound to me like you fully understand the Catholic teaching on marital sex. The purpose of marriage is not procreation. The purpose of marriage to help our spouse get to Heaven. The purpose of each marital act is to be enhance both our unity as a couple and to be open to life. From the catechism (bold is mine). Take a read and see if you still think the same way please.

2360 Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.

2361 "Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death."143

2362 "The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude."145 Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:

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.

The church has made it clear that a married couple is forbidden from engaging in sexual activity unless they are trying to achieve pregnancy. If they sometimes engage in sexual activity the does not end with possibility of pregnancy, such as ending outside the woman’s body, they have sinned.

The church doesn’t teach that just a couple’s marriage as a union should be procreative (They fulfill their duty to procreate), but that procreation must be sought in each individual sex act.

NFP is information used to tell whether the woman is fertile or not. A couple using NFP can use it to avoid pregnancy or they can use it to achieve pregnancy with a high degree of accuracy either way.

The marital embrace must be both procreative and unitive. Procreation is not its only end, it is also designed to bring a couple together in love. Therefore the Church permits married couples to have intercourse when one or both is infertile, as long as it is still a procreative and unitive act. The act itself can be procreative even while the couple is infertile, do you see?

It is quite obvious from this post that you have absolutely no idea what the Church teaches on the subject. It’s true that if the man ejaculates outside of the woman on purpose that is a grave matter, but ensuring that the man ends the act properly is very different from having to enter into each act with the explicit desire to create a life.

What the Doctor said is correct, and the quotes from the Catechism are, literally, the Church’s teaching expressed in the most succinct and direct manner. Each sexual act has to be open to the creation of life, but the creation of life does not have to be the explicit end desired. Sex also has a quality by which the married couple it brought closer to one another.

What are your sources for these statements? :confused:

Here is a source on gluttony, but I can probably find a better place than Wikipedia from which to get this information.

Pope Gregory I, a doctor of the Church, described the following ways by which one can commit sin of gluttony, and corresponding biblical examples for each of them:[2]

  1. Eating before the time of meals in order to satisfy the palate.

    Biblical example: Jonathan eating a little honey, when his father Saul commanded no food to be taken before the evening.[1Sa 14:29] (Note that this text is only approximately illustrative, as in this account, Jonathan did not know he was eating too early.)

  2. Seeking delicacies and better quality of food to gratify the “vile sense of taste.”

    Biblical example: When Israelites escaping from Egypt complained, “Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers and the melons, and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,” God rained fowls for them to eat but punished them 500 years later.[Num 11:4]

  3. Seeking to stimulate the palate with sauces and seasonings.

    Biblical example: Two sons of Eli the high priest made the sacrificial meat to be cooked in one manner rather than another. They were met with death.[1Sa 4:11]

  4. Exceeding the necessary quantity of food.

    Biblical example: One of the sins of Sodom was “fullness of bread.”[Eze 16:49]

  5. Taking food with too much eagerness, even when eating the proper amount, and even if the food is not luxurious.

    Biblical example: Esau selling his birthright for ordinary food of bread and pottage of lentils. His punishment was that the “profane person . . . who, for a morsel of meat sold his birthright,” we learn that “he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully, with tears.” [Gen 25:30]

    The fifth way is worse than all others, said St. Gregory, because it shows attachment to pleasure most clearly. To recapitulate, St Gregory the Great said that one may succumb to the sin of gluttony by: 1. Time (when); 2. Quality; 3. Stimulants; 4. Quantity; 5. Eagerness

In his Summa Theologica (Part 2-2, Question 148, Article 4), St. Thomas Aquinas reiterated the list of five ways to commit gluttony:

Laute - eating food that is too luxurious, exotic, or costly
Nimis - eating food that is excessive in quantity
Studiose - eating food that is too daintily or elaborately prepared
Praepropere - eating too soon, or at an inappropriate time
Ardenter - eating too eagerly.

Aquinas notes that the first three ways are related to the nature of the food itself, while the last two have to do with the time or manner in which it is consumed.

St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote the following when explaining gluttony:

"Pope Innocent XI has condemned the proposition which asserts that it is not a sin to eat or to drink from the sole motive of satisfying the palate. However, it is not a fault to feel pleasure in eating: for it is, generally speaking, impossible to eat without experiencing the delight which food naturally produces. But it is a defect to eat, like beasts, through the sole motive of sensual gratification, and without any reasonable object. Hence, the most delicious meats may be eaten without sin, if the motive be good and worthy of a rational creature; and, in taking the coarsest food through attachment to pleasure, there may be a fault."[3]

Honestly Thinking10? It’s boosting numbers in the pews every Sunday when it comes down to it that’s all.

Catholicism isn’t the most approachable faith in the world, and numbers are falling in the western world. The numbers of people leaving the church is greater than those entering, so this is the best way to boost numbers.

Consider it, to be able to marry in the Catholic church the couple must swear to be “open to life”. They don’t promise to help one another get into heaven, although that is expected. To be married they must also be capable of the sexual act and be willing to do it without contraception. Indeed, unlike a civil marriage they are obliged to do it, and have an obligation to service their partners “upon reasonable request”.

NFP has never made much sense to me with the contraception ban but there is one point that gives it merit in Catholic eyes. Despite what Pre-Cana instructors claim any scientist can tell you it has a considerable failure rate. Even women who have the most regular clockwork cycles can make an error or achieve an undesired pregnancy. But of course, this too is forbidden for use in the long term, only for one or two months at a time in the most trying circumstances.

The Church has recognized faith is dwindling, so it has to bulk it’s ranks somehow. Families of 5-12 kids is a pretty good way to make sure they get at least one for the seminary and donations in the future.

(I am in no way attempting to be offensive, this is just the latest academic secular opinion on the matter).

You simply are wrong about what the church teaches on marriage and procreation. It absolutely does NOT say that every act of intimacy must be undertaken with the intent of creating a pregnancy. It is completely licit to use NFP to determine when a woman is NOT fertile so as to be able to engage in the marital act without creating a pregnancy, if there are sufficient reasons to avoid pregnancy.

The entire premise of your idea, and therefore this thread, is flawed.

To be frank, I wouldn’t entirely trust Wikipedia to give an accurate account of Catholic doctrine. I’ve seen misrepresentations of Catholic doctrine before, such as an argument that Catholic Social Teaching justified fascism. Nonsense at best, lies at worst.

That just isn’t the case! The Church recognizes TWO specific goals of marital sex-unitive AND procreative. They recognize that the sharing of love is important within the marriage.

CCC 2360 Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes** a sign and pledge of spiritual communion**. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.

CCC 2362 "The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts** fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude**."145 Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:

CCC 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

The Church says that each act must be OPEN to procreation, NOT that they must be trying to procreate! Birth regulation is permitted. NFP is ACCEPTED by the Church because it does not make procreation impossible.

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

Still no source for this one though. Because it doesn’t exist. It is wrong.

This is precisely not the reasoning of the Church at all. The Church takes her reasoning from Divine Law, which starts with “Be Fruitful and Multiply.” The Church has always had the same stance against artificial contraception, even in the Apostolic Age when Christians were being persecuted and killed in the thousands, even in the Middle Ages when everyone was Catholic without question and the Church had no “numbers problem”, and continuing on into the modern age - it’s important to note that the Church has no “numbers problem” today either; the number of baptized faithful is holding steady or growing, thanks in large part to mission territories such as Africa which are making up for the great apostasies in places like Europe.

You are also wrong about the effectiveness of NFP. This is a highly effective family of methods - there is not one single method but a group of them that have different features and procedures. One critical feature of NFP is that it can be used to achieve pregnancy, while artificial contraception cannot. NFP’s effectiveness is equivalent to or higher than all forms of artificial contraception when used correctly. That’s the real science and not just a “claim”.

Humanae Vitae

“Could it not be admitted, in other words, that procreative finality applies to the totality of married life rather than to each single act?”

The question is above, quoted from Humanae Vitae, the rest of the explanation is in there as well.

To be clear, I am not entirely sure of my position on this matter. I think that we are either too lax in adhering to regulations of other sensory desires like eating, or our current stance on sex is too strict compared to our position on other sensory pleasures. To only follow the strict rules given by popes on some, but not other sensory desires seems inconsistent.

Not according to the world health organization :confused:

According to their report (which I don’t have to hand, I took this from one of my class powerpoints) it’s only barely more effective than spermicide, and that’s really not saying much.

I am sure I have read differently on CAF, as well as one of my colleges at work was disciplined by her spiritual pastor for using it for around six-eight months while she was saving up to buy something (a house I think, I forget).

I know you’re not trying to be offensive, and I hope you won’t take offense to this post, but your understand is… let’s call is deficient…

#1: the numbers are not falling as steeply as your post seems to suggest, but that’s not really for this topic.

#2: We do promise to help one another get to heaven. During Pre-cana classes, it’s made explicitly clear that that’s the main point of marriage. (In case you don’t know, pre-cana classes are required classes for every couple getting married int eh church. They’re basically marriage prep.)

#3: It is true that in order to be married in the Church, the couple must promise to be open to life. This is due to the fact that we recognize and support the fundamental purpose of sexuality, namely, to procreate. Sadly, many couples do not meet this requirement…

#4: Your understanding of the success rate of NFP is highly flawed:

From This Site: (Pulled from this study):

Trussell has a helpful chart (page 398 of this PDF) showing the unplanned pregnancy rate per year of a wide variety of family-planning methods, including all sorts of contraception and NFP.

From this chart, we see that sympto-thermal NFP, when used perfectly, was about as effective as the the Pill (0.4% and 0.3% unplanned pregnancy rate, respectively), and far more effective than either male (2%) or female (5%) condoms.

The only shortcoming to Trussell’s work is that it only lists the “perfect-use” percentages for each specific form of NFP. So while he tells us that typical use for the Pill involves 9% of women getting pregnant within a year, along with 18-21% of women relying on condoms, we don’t have a way to directly compare that with typical use symptothermal.

Fortunately, he cites to a large-scale study examining the topic. This study found that symptothermal NFP, when used perfectly, resulted in an annual 0.4% pregnancy rate. Overall, the typical-use rate was 1.8%. Even for women who had “unprotected” sex during their fertile period, the pregnancy rate was only 7.8% (since these couples tended to avoid the earliest, and most fertile, part of the woman’s fertile period).

Even the freaking HHS, not a friend to Catholicism, admits that it’s equally as effective:

#5: There are no time limits attached to the use of NFP. It should only be used when a couple has grave reason for preventing pregnancy. Grave reason has some level of personal interpretation, however, the implication is that a couple should not use NFP to prevent pregnancy for no reason other than not wanting kids.

#6 As for your implication that the Church is using NFP as some underhanded method to “bolster ranks” as you put it, is completely and wholly unfounded, and, simply put, incredibly insulting. It shows that you have a horrifically lacking understanding of the Church’s teaching and goal…

I am sure I have read differently on CAF, as well as one of my colleges at work was disciplined by her spiritual pastor for using it for around six-eight months while she was saving up to buy something (a house I think, I forget).

Saving to buy a house is not a sufficiently grave reason.

That “question” doesn’t support your claim, nor does the explanation provided in Humanae Vitae.

So it is permissible to have sex that ends without possibility for procreation sometimes, as in outside the womans body?

“without the possibility” does not mean the same as “must have the intention of.” Onanism is condemned as contraceptive. Engaging in coitus during an infertile time is not.

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