The Licit Form of Sexual Intercourse [legalistic and explicit]

Right at the top, I want to specify that I am not married, and I am a virgin. This is a question I raise because I am trying to figure out some related points in natural law philosophy, which I am often called upon to defend. This question will help clarify those points and strengthen my apologetics. I am not trying to justify immoral behaviour on my part or anybody else’s.

The Church, as I understand it, teaches that married sexual intercourse is a licit good insofar as it is open to both unitive love and procreation. In other words, in a licit sex act, a husband must emit (or attempt to emit) semen, and deposit (or attempt to deposit) at least some of that semen within his wife’s vagina. As Aquinas put it in the Summa Contra Gentiles (3.2.122):

Hence, we must look for a solution in our earlier considerations. We have said that God exercises care over every person on the basis of what is good for him. Now, it is good for each person to attain his end, whereas it is bad for him to swerve away from his proper end. Now, this should be considered applicable to the parts, just as it is to the whole being; for instance, each and every part of man, and every one of his acts, should attain the proper end. Now, though the male semen is superfluous in regard to the preservation of the individual, it is nevertheless necessary in regard to the propagation of the species. Other superfluous things, such as excrement, urine, sweat, and such things, are not at all necessary; hence, their emission contributes to man’s good. Now, this is not what is sought in the case of semen, but, rather, to emit it for the purpose of generation, to which purpose the sexual act is directed. But man’s generative process would be frustrated unless it were followed by proper nutrition, because the offspring would not survive if proper nutrition were withheld. Therefore, the emission of semen ought to be so ordered that it will result in both the production of the proper offspring and in the upbringing of this offspring.

It is evident from this that every emission of semen, in such a way that generation cannot follow, is contrary to the good for man. And if this be done deliberately, it must be a sin. Now, I am speaking of a way from which, in itself, generation could not result: such would be any emission of semen apart from the natural union of male and female. For which reason, sins of this type are called contrary to nature. But, if by accident generation cannot result from the emission of semen, then this is not a reason for it being against nature, or a sin; as for instance, if the woman happens to be sterile.

It must be noted that the semen must be deposited in such a way as to be compatible with generating life. The generation of life need not be directly intended, nor does the possibility of generating new life need to be maximized. As we all know, it is morally licit to have sex with your spouse even when not trying to have a child (as long as a child is accepted if created), and it is morally licit to deliberately have sex with your spouse during her infertile period in order to minimize the possibility of procreation.

We see also the curious case of the man attempting to determine whether he is infertile: the Church teaches that such a man may not masturbate in order to obtain semen for medical analysis, because masturbation is inherently evil. However, he may use a specially designed perforated condom and have sex with his wife. The condom will permit some of his ejaculation to enter the vagina, but most of it will be retained within the condom and can be used for medical analysis. According to the most orthodox Catholic teachers of our day, this constitutes a licit sex act.

We also see directly in Aquinas that it is no sin if a man should accidentally fail to deposit his semen in his wife’s vagina; for example, if, during foreplay (which is an acceptable and often necessary component of intercourse), he loses control of himself before initiating penetration.

All of what I have just stated I take as uncontroversial, generally accepted Church teaching. Now to my question.

Suppose a husband and wife are experiencing the fleshly union. They do not intend pregnancy, and it is not a fertile period for the wife. Nevertheless, as faithful Christians, they intend to be open to the possibility of pregnancy. The wife stimulates her husband’s member through tender kisses and caresses. This continues for a while. Both are enjoying it (the husband is stimulating his wife’s pudendum at the same time). Both recognize that the husband is approaching the point of emission. Rather than stopping and moving to penetrative intercourse, they deliberately continue all the way until semen is emitted. It is deposited not in the proper place, but some in the air and and some on the surfaces of both their bodies. However, the husband’s member retains semen ([removed[/COLOR]], and there is still some “in the tube”, as it were), which is normal male sexual function. The husband now finally inserts his member fully into his wife’s vagina, depositing the retained semen there, even though his ejaculation has ended. It is not a lot of semen, , but it is more than would have been deposited had he been using one of those perforated condoms – which, the Church teaches, do not render a sex act illicit, as long as some semen is deposited in the vagina.

According to the Catholic Church, did the couple in this scenario perform a licit sex act? If not, why not? If they have sinned, how severe is the sin? If the act is licit, would the exact same act be licit if performed during the wife’s fertile period (knowing full well that the reduced volume of semen deposited vastly reduces the probability of pregnancy)? In other words, if it is minimally open to the possibility of new life, is fellatio moral?

I know I’m framing the whole question like a lawyer, not like a good personalist philosopher in love with the Lord, but it’s much shorter and more precise to speak this way. I’m not trying to be a Pharisee – but subtle questions of natural law like this do have important philosophical and practical consequences, and this one has been puzzling me for weeks. I go back and forth on it, and am hoping you guys can help me out.

You bring up some good questions? As a celebate Catholic male, although one who wants to find a faithful Catholic wife someday, I have always wondered the church’s stance as it pertains to the ingesting of semen via fallacio. I see the church would have no problem with the wife fellating the husband to the point of full erection at which point then intercourse could begin. Glad you brought this up. Peace.

Fascinating (really!). :popcorn: But I remain perplexed that people believe an omnipotent God is concerned with such fine detail of people’s physical intimacy. I hope one of the following posters will be able to explain this for me, at the same time as the OP’s issues are resolved.

Beats me too, my friend. The lengths that some people go to, to devise acceptable forms of “natural family planning” - all in the most “legalistically TMI” fashion - continue to surprise me, but that’s probably because I’m just a celibate male. I’m sure this is the first time I’ve heard “pudendum” outside my anatomy classes, which were about 15 years ago. :smiley:

To the OP: I have a feeling that such an act would not be considered acceptable, but I don’t know enough of the, er, intimate details of conjugal ethics that would substantiate this view.

But I think that the issue would be with the mutual masturbation / oral sex that you describe. It could be considered as going against natural (genital) intercourse, and perhaps against natural law itself; plus, tradition associates oral sex with the perversions of Sodom and Gomorrah (some old textbooks describe oral sex as “the sin of Gomorrah”, from what I remember). Even liberal proponents of the Theology of the Body, such as Christopher West, draw the line at unconsummated oral intercourse if I recall correctly. The condom-with-a-hole is used permitted only during treatment for infertility, which is an exceptional circumstance. :wink:

Glad you find the question interesting!

God designed us to love perfectly and to be loved perfectly. Unfortunately, we are no longer born into that perfect state. During our time in this world, we must shape ourselves into beings who are capable of becoming what we were always supposed to be – lovers and the loved. Love is not a merely psychological phenomenon, either; it is a spiritual act which implicates both body and soul. The sexual act – to which you refer by the drab term “physical intimacy” – can be either a tremendous act of love, if performed in a loving fashion, or, very easily, it can be transformed into a tremendous act of love’s opposite – indifference, or selfish use – if performed in another fashion. When Catholics speak of what is morally “licit” or “illicit,” we are not imagining a God sitting up in Heaven with the equivalent of the Federal Register, poring through a set of his own regulations like an OSHA inspector. We are asking ourselves what acts promote our capacity for love and to be loved, and what acts degrade that same capacity.

And a person is not a soul operating a body like a robot, nor a soul infused into the body like an organ transplant, but a hylomorphic substance of body-and-soul, difficult to distinguish and not naturally separable. For this reason, when considering morality, we examine not just the mental intention expressed by the subject of an action in his or her consciousness (as most moderns seem to), but the actual intention expressed by the subject through his or her physical actions. As Pope John Paul II put it, we must attend to “the language of the body.” In sexuality, this means self-gift in the body, not just in the mind.

That’s an explanation, not an argument, but I hope it begins to answer your question.

Thanks for your comments Wowbagger. I guess my point is not that there is nothing of value in Catholic teaching on sex; I think there is. But it seems to me to be based on unnecessarily binary choices, well illustrated by the comment I have highlighted above. Sex, to me, is a pretty ordinary thing, very common among all sexually-reproducing animals, and while humans can use it to strengthen (or weaken) relationships, it can also be used for plain old fun and enjoyment. The ‘every act’ part of Catholic teaching seems to me also to undermine the understanding of sex as a multi-event thing in a relationship. In other areas we seek to improve our relationships bit by bit and over time. In the area of sex the Church has a damned if you do and not-damned if you don’t approach in relation to each and every time sex happens. The frequent comments we get on CAF from people reporting that priests have told married Catholics to not worry about contraception, or non-vaginal sex from time t time suggests to me that my view has some adherents even within the clergy.

I’m not sure one can say that the Church adopts a different approach to sex as it does to other human acts. Just as sodomy (understood as any deliberately perverse satisfaction of the sexual appetite – including contraception) can occur in every act of sexual intercourse, gluttony (any deliberately perverse satisfaction of the nutritive appetite – including, say, vomiting up your meal so you can eat more) can occur at any meal. Like sodomy, gluttony is a grave sin, even if you only do it once. So is hitting your wife, which can happen any time you get angry with her, but is a very great evil, even if you only do it once.

Of course, the Church will agree with you that sodomy or gluttony or wife-beating (or any sin) will change your relationships for the worse if repeated over a long period of time. That’s probably where the most damage gets done, in the end – from vicious habits, rather than single acts. It will also agree somebody having sex (or eating) does not need to have the mental intention of anything other than fun and pleasure; thus, sex during infertile times is permitted, as are not-very-healthy candy bars. But it also thinks that doing anything that is deliberately and manifestly harmful to yourself or another (or both) is a serious evil the moment it is commissioned. In this sense, every act matters.

You probably agree with this principle, but do not see sodomy as an act of manifest harm to either participant, and do not remotely accept my analogy to wife-beating. That, I suspect, is the real point of departure here; not the idea that every act is an opportunity for spiritual growth or spiritual shrinkage.

They do! That is why I am so hesitant about this argument.

The condom-with-a-hole is used permitted only during treatment for infertility, which is an exceptional circumstance.

It seems you are arguing that the perforated condom is used under the aegis of double effect; the evil effect of minimizing the probability of pregnancy is justified because (1) the reduction of fertility is not the object of the act, and (2) the reduction of fertility is not the intention of the act. However, I don’t think that analysis applies in either case. Firstly, in both cases, the reduction of fertility is not the intention (if it is, they would become far more morally questionable). Secondly, the direct object of the acts (whether non-vaginal sex followed by depositing sperm or use of the perforated condom) is to reduce fertility, so both acts would fail double effect analysis. Third, reducing the probability of pregnancy is not an inherently evil consequence, so double effect analysis does not apply in the first place. Otherwise, all NFP methods would be inherently evil. If used selfishly, NFP can be made evil, and so could this method of sexual intercourse, but they are not inherently evil, so the strict scrutiny of double effect analysis does not apply. Right?

It could be considered as going against natural (genital) intercourse, and perhaps against natural law itself; plus, tradition associates oral sex with the perversions of Sodom and Gomorrah (some old textbooks describe oral sex as “the sin of Gomorrah”, from what I remember).

This is sort of the heart of my whole question: if non-genital intercourse culminates in the deposition of sperm in the vagina, is it unnatural? Is it sodomy? Is it the sin of Gomorrah? Or is it just sexual intercourse where the male orgasm happens during foreplay instead of during penetration?

If you are asking if the husband masturbates to orgasm and deliberately does not climax inside his wife then that is a sin of grave matter. Climax must take place inside his wife.
You can’t get round that by saying after masturbation there is still some semen on/in the penis so its okay to enter his wife afterwards and that makes it okay.
Sounds like someone trying to justify sinning.

I think what the OP is describing is mutual masturbation or oral sex, but your answer is correct in principle, at least from the way I understand it.

Conjugal relations have both a unitive and a procreative dimension. While the method the OP describes is still “open to procreation” in the loosest possible sense, the probabilities of conception are lowered by the act itself. Moreover, I’m not sure how “unitive” an act of ejaculation over your spouse’s body really is - besides the obvious “squick” factor, it sounds more like something from a porn movie than a truly loving and unitive act. :confused:

OP, you are overthinking it. The natural law doesn’t read like a set of stereo instructions. It obliges you to have sex in a manner consistent with the procreative end. Intentionally inducing orgasm outside of that proper context is a sin regardless of how much or how little seed is wasted in the process. It’s not about proportions and volumes; this isn’t geometry. It’s about using your faculties for the end for which God designed them. Unless people suddenly started getting pregnant through their belly buttons, no, the act you described obviously isn’t copacetic with the Church’s teachings.

What in the world does God’s omnipotence have anything to do with this?

God created us, and created us in a particular way. Clearly, then, our own flourishing depends on our hewing to His plan of creation for us. That plan of creation includes a reproductive system that is ordered to (surprise!) reproduction.

I understand you’re ideologically motivated to reduce the whole of natural law to a set of stereo instructions and our well-meaning OP has blindly assisted you in this endeavor. But it’s not hard to grasp. There’s exactly one rule when it comes to sexual morality and it’s clear the situation described in the OP’s post to unnecessary detail runs afoul of it.

Our motivations are sometimes unclear to us, so you may be right. However, I think my motivation is to understand. I read a lot of books and once had my IQ tested and it came out OK, but yes, I do find natural law ‘hard to grasp’, and unscientific in its approach to observable phenomena. To take an example: you say “That plan of creation includes a reproductive system that is ordered to (surprise!) reproduction”. I could equally say “That plan of creation includes a reproductive system that is ordered to (surprise!) pleasure. Reproduction sometimes results”. When you introduce non-natural concepts such as ‘ordered to’, you allow people to design their own laws according to preference. This, it seems to me, given my difficulty in understanding it, to be the underlying flaw in ‘natural law’. It is not about nature, and it describes moral choices, not laws.

Why?

You can’t get round that by saying after masturbation there is still some semen on/in the penis so its okay to enter his wife afterwards and that makes it okay.

Why not? Properly speaking, it wouldn’t be “masturbation”, because the deposition of semen would render the act one of “normal conjugal relations” (to borrow the language of Persona Humana).

Sounds like someone trying to justify sinning.

I’m just gonna refer you right back to the first paragraph of my post. For any other careless readers: I am not married; I am a virgin; this question is merely academic; and it is posed for a particular purpose: to help draw out and clarify some of the really rather subtle distinctions that separate NFP-compliant sex from artificially contraceptive sex. This is done not so I can attack the Church’s teaching, but so that I might better defend it with greater understanding.

[quote=sw85]OP, you are overthinking it. The natural law doesn’t read like a set of stereo instructions
[/quote]

I like where you’re going with this, but I don’t agree. We can (and should) write evangelically about the natural law to the world, which means writing like Chris West or Bl. JPII or Alice von Hildebrand – wrapping the natural law up in bold, flowering language and a beautiful and complete human anthropology. In our own lives, too, we must always remember to act first in love, and, when we attain perfect love, perfect obedience to the natural law will follow… well, naturally. So… I do get where you’re coming from.

But, in the end, the natural law is a set of laws, and, even when they spring from love (as they all should!), laws are, by definition, boring, strict, and, in the final analysis, unambiguous. Indeed, in a real sense, the natural law is a set of stereo instructions – except, instead of helping us to nurture and protect our stereo, the natural law helps us to nurture and protect our own happiness. (And if sex, with all those weird angles and bizarre physical alignments, isn’t geometry, I’m not sure what is! To this virgin, missionary-style intercourse sounds even more confusing than non-Euclidean space! :slight_smile: ) I wouldn’t write like this to any group who needs to have their hearts opened to the Church’s teachings… but I’m in the Moral Theology forum on CAF. I assume we’re all open to the Church’s teachings, but if we’re not here to think very, very hard about very fine distinctions in clear principles of moral doctrine, what are we here for?

But it’s not hard to grasp. There’s exactly one rule when it comes to sexual morality…

Indeed! The single rule that applies to sexual activity, at least as understood by Aquinas, is straightforward: “…the emission of semen ought to be so ordered that it might result in both the production of the proper offspring and in the upbringing of this offspring.” For a wife to manually or orally stimulate her husband to orgasm, then by some means to deposit some or all of the products of the orgasm in the proper place, thereby bringing the single sex act to completion, would seem to fulfill this stricture. By the same token, nothing inherent in this act seems to oppose what Bl. John Paul II called “the law of the gift.” The self-gift, in this scenario, is complete and mutual. Or am I wrong?

I think what the OP is describing is mutual masturbation or oral sex…

I intended for my scenario to describe generic foreplay-style activities – manual and oral stimulation. Unfortunately, I used one too many oral references and it ended up just being a confusing mess that seemed to be about manual stimulation that suddenly and dramatically switches to oral stimulation.

Oral and manual stimulation are, of course, perfectly acceptable under Church teaching when they are clearly performed as foreplay. And, of course, they are perfectly evil under Church teaching when they are clearly performed as complete (physically non-unitive, non-procreative) sex acts in themselves – that is when they become, respectively, oral sex and masturbation, which are grave sins. My question regards a middle ground, where the non-vaginal stimulation clearly goes beyond foreplay, but, equally clearly, does not constitute the complete sex act. So I’m not certain that “mutual masturbation” and “oral sex” are the appropriate words here.

[quote=RPRPsych] I’m not sure how “unitive” an act of ejaculation over your spouse’s body really is - besides the obvious “squick” factor, it sounds more like something from a porn movie than a truly loving and unitive act.
[/quote]

I agree with you that there’s a substantial possibility for “squick” here, should a couple proceed from a disposition other than love. But suppose, for the sake of discussion, that the spouses here are not trying to reenact pornography (as so many young couples are trying to do today, at great cost to themselves and their spouses), but they are simply enjoying their foreplay a very great deal, each are loving the intimacy and pleasure they are sharing with the other. They don’t desire to stop, change positions, apply lubricant (which is necessary for some women), and finally resume for a few seconds until the husband climaxes in the proper place, just so they can tick a checkbox saying that – although the best part of the sex act was the foreplay – the actual climax came in the vagina. They would do that if they believed the natural law demanded it, because they know that obeying the natural law is always ordered to their happiness… but their inclination would be against it.

While the method the OP describes is still “open to procreation” in the loosest possible sense, the probabilities of conception are lowered by the act itself.

This is true, and is actually the heart of my reason for bringing the whole matter up. Is it the moral duty of the spouses to maximize the probability of conception? Is it morally wrong for them to lower the probability of conception, even if that is not the intention of their act, and the anti-conception effect is entirely secondary?

And, if it is morally wrong to reduce the probability of conception, even as a secondary effect, then how could NFP be moral?


The consensus so far on this thread appears to hold that it is not merely necessary that semen be deposited in the vagina; it must actually be emitted there (in other words, the husband’s actual orgasm must take place inside his wife). I’m open to that holding, but I don’t know where it comes from. Is there any theology or philosophy backing it up, or is it just the faithful Catholic’s natural appreciation for the profound spiritual beauty of vaginal intercourse talking? To Aquinas, and to all Church teachers I’m familiar with, the defining characteristic of a licit sex act is not the climax of male pleasure, but the disposition of the semen that accompanies it.

Is a couple who have sex with the wife on the Pill open to life? There’s always the chance of a breakthrough ovulation. Consensus is that they are not.

Intent is a key consideration. If the intent is to reduce the chance of pregnancy, and they act in a way to reduce the chance of pregancy, they sin…even if a chance of pregancy remains. People who have sex that is ordered to procreation don’t toy with techniques to minimise the risk of pregnancy while retaining some chance of it.

Accidents can happen in foreplay, and there is no sin in such. But deliberate attempts to minimise pregnancy…or pretent that something happens as an accident…are not licit.

Quote:
This is true, and is actually the heart of my reason for bringing the whole matter up. Is it the moral duty of the spouses to maximize the probability of conception? Is it morally wrong for them to lower the probability of conception, even if that is not the intention of their act, and the anti-conception effect is entirely secondary?

END QUOTE

Honestly, I dont know why I am wading in to this entirely bizarre thread.

Firstly, on the difference between the situation described and NFP - in NFP, the couple do not reduce the fertility of the act by something they do during intercourse. There is no obligation to maximize chances of conception, just not to actively impede it by our actions. In NFP, the couple takes advantage of naturally occurring periods of infertility.

More importantly, I just find the whole tone of this thread ignorant, in spite of the many learned quotes from Aquinas, von Hildebrand, et al. As a married man, I just have to ask ehy any married couple would do as you say? Sex is good, and it follows some natural rules if it is done in faith and out of love by two sexually healthy and well adjusted spouses. Neither the act you suggest, nor the kind of hair-splitting analysis you seek are appropriate to that.

Seriously, I do not know why an unmarried person needs to know this answer. Of course, many celibate priests have studied similar things, but usually in order to prepare couples to celebrate the sacrament, or to aid penitents in confession. As a single man, you have neither of these needs. If you intend a priestly vocation, you will learn these things in seminary. If you hope to be married some day, I would say focus on learning to be romantic, self-giving and modestly confident in thethe presence of good Catholic women. You want to follow the Church’s teaching, and that is commendable, but the Theology of the Body does not consist in these kind of abstract, hair-splitting questions, but rather in imaging the gift of love between Christ and His Church. On your wedding night you will discover that the body has its own wisdom in working that out.

Natural Law. That is what makes that single act unitive and procreative.

It wouldn’t be “masturbation” in the most literal sense, but if the manual or oral stimulations were done with the intent of having the climax outside of the vagina they would constitute “non normal conjugal relations”

Did you read what you quoted? “Emission” is exactly what is stands for, the climax of the man. If the climax is not achieved in the union of the genitalia it is not “unitive and procreative”

The real issue is if the manual and/or oral stimulation were done to achieve climax outside of the vagina. If the man has a premature ejaculation then they are not at fault, but their mentality towards the whole act is part of what matters.

Actually you just cited it from Aquinas, although I have heard anecdotal evidence from someone in the higher rankings of the Church that “they can do it from a chandelier for all I care, just as long as the man finishes inside the woman.”
I take it that he was talking about the climax.

That is not entirely true. NFP are “techniques” that “minimize” the chances of pregnancy.

I think most of the people are ignoring the important unitive power that sex has for the couple. It is most beffitingly that it is while the couple is connected through the most intimate parts of their body that the man gives the testimony of his love towards his wife, and not while she is doing something for him…
For Jesus so loved the Church that He gave His Life for us in the only way that could have expunged Sin away.

God Bless,
D

I am annoyed by the posters who devote a sentence to answering the question, a paragraph to their feelings about the answer, and two paragraphs to questioning my motives.

I guess I don’t spend much time outside of the Moral Theology forum, which is where this thread was original posted. I don’t know why it was moved to Family Life – with which the question has little or nothing to do, as a practical matter – but I do apologize to Family Life regulars. You typically give practical advice to people dealing with real-world issues, not the angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin hairsplitting I’m asking for. This thread is wholly inappropriate to the forum to which it has been assigned, so I’m going to let it die after this.

Did you read what you quoted? “Emission” is exactly what is stands for, the climax of the man. If the climax is not achieved in the union of the genitalia it is not “unitive and procreative”.

Yes, I did read it. Did you read the surrounding section of the SGC, quoted in OP? It does not seem to support your very narrow construction of the word “emission”… unless you are willing to say that a feeding tube is not naturally ordered to nutrition, because the food consumed is not ingested through the mouth. Still, it is a good thought – the best answer I’ve received in this thread – and I will take it with me for further consideration in private.

That is not entirely true. NFP are “techniques” that “minimize” the chances of pregnancy.
[/quote]

Ding ding ding! Underacloud sees one horn of the dilemma, and D sees the other. The philosophical firewall we have established between NFP and artificial contraception is much more narrow than we tend to admit. Anyone who wants to defend NFP against the charge of being “just Catholic birth control” has to identify and clarify the gray area between them. This thread was an attempt – a failed one – to draw that gray area out and find some clear and well-rooted distinctions between NFP and contraception. My thought process was sparked by my attempt to defend NFP on reddit, and my realization that there were some objections I could not answer. That contraception turns gift into object makes intuitive sense to me, but, if you can’t articulate your reasons for your intuitions in the form of a syllogism, they are worthless in winning converts of a certain mindset. That is why I’m here, DL82: if I can’t rely on my gut feelings, I certainly can’t rely on yours.

Anyway, thanks to all who contributed. Sorry to disrupt the peace of Family Life – it was never intended for you.

We’re only humans…
:slight_smile:

A couple of things flare up…
1st - The feeding tube is never considered naturally ordered on anything since it is a human contraption, not a Natural part of the human being.
2nd - Most feeding tubes I know have to be attached to the mouth, which is partially ordered for the purposes of nutrition (and breathing… and talking…etc…), but even if they were attached to the stomach, through a hole for example, they would not be invalidating the purpose of the mouth, they would simply be a temporary replacement for the mouth in cases where the patient cannot use it. (I use the term temporary loosely)
3rd - Most of what Aquinas is talking about emitting makes sense in the context we are talking about. Something that was contained in one’s body and that is “projected” in a conscious or unconscious way outside of it. If semen emission for Aquinas would not be the climax, why wouldn’t he use another word? (“deposit” perhaps?)

Don’t forget that the Church is also against Fertilization in Vitro. Even if the man and the woman do practice sex, the fertilization in vitro goes against the whole purpose of the natural sexual act. I mention In Vitro fertilization because it is the other side of the coin you are showing. If the “deposit” of the embryo does not come from a natural sexual act it goes against the same Natural law. This is not the same as Fertility treatments.

I wouldn’t say it is narrow. I would say it is clear. The Church clearly explains that we cannot use NFP with a contraceptive mentality. It is not a contraception method… It is a natural way (meaning that we didn’t create the female cycle) to space births when there is just cause for not engaging in “unitive and procreative” acts, which is basically why marriage exists.

God bless,
D

P.S.: Just saw the link you gave. You are quite good in your arguments by the way.
Most of the arguments that the Church holds though are related to how it perceives sex. Sex is not just something “people do”. It is a special thing that is to be protected through the sacrament of marriage. It must be hard for atheists to understand that because they cannot see “worth” in anything but feelings. Feelings are a very indulging part of our brain making the decisions for us… That is why we believe that Moral Values are not based on what feels good or feels nice. That would be Hedonism.

Not at all. NFP is cooperating with nature and does nothing to change the nature of the marital embrace.

Other techniques are deliberate attempts to prevent the natural outcomes of sex.

Humanae Vitae is quite clear on this distinction and I suggest it as good reading:

vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html

Here is where it discussed the differences between natural infertile times and contraception:

Neither the Church nor her doctrine is inconsistent when she considers it lawful for married people to take advantage of the infertile period but condemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly prevent conception, even when the reasons given for the later practice may appear to be upright and serious. In reality, these two cases are completely different. In the former the married couple rightly use a faculty provided them by nature. In the later they obstruct the natural development of the generative process. It cannot be denied that in each case the married couple, for acceptable reasons, are both perfectly clear in their intention to avoid children and wish to make sure that none will result. But it is equally true that it is exclusively in the former case that husband and wife are ready to abstain from intercourse during the fertile period as often as for reasonable motives the birth of another child is not desirable. And when the infertile period recurs, they use their married intimacy to express their mutual love and safeguard their fidelity toward one another. In doing this they certainly give proof of a true and authentic love.

I was not equating NFP with contraception. I was referring to the use of the word “techniques”.
Even the Vatican uses a similar word “faculty”. It is not a sin to use “techniques” such as the NFP, that is what I meant. I think I clearly distinguish both in my post. I apologize if I was not clear enough.
God bless,
D

I guess we each mean something different when we say “technique”. Anyway, I don’t think we actually disagree other than that?

HV describes illicit acts as such: “Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.”

In this sense, NFP is not an action taken, but a cooperation with nature and a decision as to *when *to have sex, not how to have sex. A technique if you like, yes, but in a different sense to what I meant.

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