Why the conversations explaining why NFP is moral don't work


I still think a huge problem with the Catholic debate over when “NFP can be used” is largely based on calling it NFP. By calling it Family Planning, we are semantically connecting what would more accurately be called menstrual cycle charting (Please see the wikipedia article on what the menstrual cycle is) with periodic abstinence. This view of combining the two makes it a birth control method, making it semantically difficult for us to distinguish it from contraceptives.

The fact that we delay education in this sort of menstrual charting till a couple is engaged or already married further illustrates how we view the charting and abstinence so unified that we view charting as a birth control method — even when we insist it’s not. And this further leads to constant debates over the morality of it’s use. The ultra conservatives will continue to point to the fact that we’re playing a semantics game and thus argue “Look. It’s birth control. Therefore it’s wrong!” This leaves the rest of us to basically argue, “But it can’t be immoral because the Church approves it. Therefore it must not be birth control.”

If we are willing to recognize that the Rhythm Method was not defined by it’s simplistic chart until we started insisting we needed to distance ourself from it’s reputation by calling the symptom based methods by another name (NFP), then it becomes clearer what the Church teaches.

It doesn’t matter how we’re trying to figure out when we’re fertile. We could be determining our fertility by the most inaccurate tea leaf reading method possible. But the reality is, whether successful or not, Catholic birth control is and always has been abstinence.

When the Anglican Lambeth Council of 1930 “ok’ed” contraceptives under specific circumstances, the view was always one of contraceptives or abstinence. The Church did not talk about the Rhythm method because the Rhythm method, oddly enough, was only developed that year and wasn’t very well known.

The Church didn’t officially approved Rhythm in the 50’s, though priests and theologians did often advise laity that it fit with Catholic moral teaching before that period.

Regardless, the point to gain from this is that the Church has continually gone in the direction of both affirming that abstinence is the only legitimate form of birth control, all while promoting a growth in understanding of our reproductive systems so that we can more effectively use abstinence in a manner that puts the least strain on our marriages.

That pretty much summarizes my thoughts, but there’s a bit more of my thoughts here embersofincense.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/avoiding-pregnancy/

But I think what was posted here still allows room for discussion by itself. So thoughts? Should we stop calling it NFP? Should we teach fertility charting to young people?


But NFP is a method of birth control.

I have no idea what you are asking or suggesting. Could you clarify your position, put as succinctly as possible?


There are two different actions known as “birth control”: 1. engaging in the marital act whilst deliberately frustrating the act’s end; and 2. *not *engaging in the marital act.

The first is a sin, the second is not.

And women should definitely keep records, not as detailed obviously, for medical reasons.


Those are threads ciminf from CAF in order to try to give you information about the debated issues of The N.F.P. Good reading!!!

Awesome article about how it’s impossible to abuse NFP

Catholic mum answers, “isn’t NFP just Catholic birth control?”

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

do catholics have to have kids?

Advice Please - Wife Going Overboard

NFP and marriage

Those who disagree with NFP

An un-exaustive list of questions and of issues.

The ends of the marriage? The articulation of the ends of marriage? The question of the subjective intentions for getting wedding?

The rules, the obligations and the duties of wife: the condition of the female married? The views on the female nature??

The ends of marital act? The articulation of the ends of marital act? The question of the subjective intentions for using the marital act? Why the marital act? What for the marital act? When? How? What? Who? How often? Which quality? What quantity? How fast? The manner? The modus operandi of the marital act?

The good acception of the definition of each sin: material elements and materials elements. For instance: the true definition of the direct and voluntary contraception? The true definition of the indirect and involuntary contraception?

What type of natural offense: always wrong by nature and per se, or only in function of circumstances, an offense to the conjugal chastity, an offense to the conjugal love, an offense to the life…?? The degree and the level of sins? The hierarchy of sins???

The rights, the obligations, the duties, the roles, the functions, the debts, the privileges, the liberties, the responsabilities of each member of couple?

The question of the heresies and the ideologies in link with the marriage, with the marital act, with the woman and with the man: encratism, manicheism, catharism, quietism, fideism, jansenism, puritanism, victorianism, theoretical providentialism, quiferfullism, angelism, primary anti-personalism, primary anti-phenomenologism, primary anti-conjugal erotism,** the moralism against the conjugal joys of the marital act during the infertile times of wife**…etc???

The fact of thinking the conjugal sexuality is not easy.


Within the Roman Catholic church, some catholics have some moral problematics concerning the good acception of the articulations of the ends of the marriage and of the marital act They are unable of understanding, in the details with all the subtleties, this Magisterium. The fact of thinking the dual humanity, the marriage and the marital act is very hard.

The Catholic Canonical Law, the Roman Catholic Catechism, the list of heresies, the list of ideologies, the Papal letters, the Papal Documents,
Vatican I, documents from Pie XI and from Pie XII, Vatican II, Humane Vitae of Paul VI, The Theology of the Body of Saint John-Paul II give us good elements.

The first catholic paradigm of morality is the fact of seeking pleasure in the respect of the natural moral order of the creation. The fact of being a seeker of pleasures in the respect of the natural moral order of the creation is the start for the reasoning. If some “catholics” are not okay with that, that is the first issue!!!**


The better description for following the Church’s teaching is Natural Birth Regulation (NBR) by abstinence within marriage, for those who have a grave need. There is the availability of Natural Birth Regulation which uses the fact that women were designed so that almost 2/3rds of the time sex is inherently infertile. This fact shows that the unitive function of sex is just as important as the procreative aspect. At one time it was thought infertility was always an “abnormal” state. Now we find that infertility has been designed as a “normal” state a majority of the time in women.

God is not, unlike some, against the pleasure of sex which He provided precisely to encourage procreation with infertile periods to enable wise regulation for serious, just and grave reasons.


The debates between the views before Vatican II and after Vatican II are very destructive between the so-called traditional world and the post-council world: the unity of doctrine is difficult to do, in reason of those steril discussions. The terms of debate are badly established.

An illustration on Humanae vitae, too much natural and too much philosophical for the traditional persons, they regret the theological arguments, for them the unity and the fecundity on the same plan is not very traditional and the wrong articulation of the ends of the marriage coming from the Vatican II. The so-called traditionalists are too much Augustinian and Thomist about the topic of marriage and Co. They are not in favor of personalism within the marriage, they are not in favor of the phenomenology of the marital act, they have moral problems concerning the conjugal erotism of the marital act (the modus operandi of the conjugal sexuality). For them, the large family is a moral obligation and is a end of marriage. The Holiness of the couple would be function of the number of children in the family, in reality they are frightened, they need to be reassured by the number. For them the couple has to participate to the race to the large family. They are under the influence of the traditional community.



This is the wrong argument because birth control is not immoral nor does the Church teach it is. Contraception is immoral.

I would stop here until the other party understood this important point. Defining our terms is important.


Many people and places already do


I definitely think that NFP should be taught prior to Pre-Cana.

I went to an all girls Catholic high school. As seniors (basically 18 yrs old) the marriage and family class was taught by a priest and NFP was never mentioned.

If it’s an important part of faith, teaching, love and marriage it should definitely be taught to people who are entering the marital age, not a mere month before marriage.

I married when I was 19 and a number of classmates were married by the age of 21.

I understand why many people, both Catholic and non, feel it’s more semantics than moral teaching. Especially when people brag how it’s more effective than other forms of birth control, yet claim how it shows one is open to life.

I don’t believe that claims as to it’s amazing effectiveness at avoiding pregnancy are part of doctrine, but that fact/claim (I don’t know the stats) is VERY often heard…and people think…well, if it’s more effective than condoms…doesn’t that mean the use of condoms is more open to life?

Unless one is steeped in Catholic doctrine and Catholic thinking and methodology, the issues that separate moral from immoral often appear to be an invisible line or a way of fudging the books.

Even many Catholics think that claiming to be open to life when one is going to great lengths to avoid pregnancy is a bit ingenuous. But in the end, we do not know what is going on in the heart or mind of any married couple as they engage in the marital act.


Yes, this is a problem that comes up quite a bit, not only in this discussion but in the abortion issue as well.

Finding out what precisely is the problem and why it’s a problem has to be the bedrock of the discussion. The discussion has to start at the beginning and work its way forward, rather than starting in the middle.

So I think in talking with people like this, we have to talk about what Christ taught. Some of what He taught was through St Paul, who said that it is better to marry than to burn, right? So the marital act cannot be solely for procreation, which fits in with what God tells us through the natural order of being different from animals in the respect that we can engage in the marital act at any time and not just during the fertile period.

And this is further backed up by the fact that the Church has never forbidden marriage between people who are too old to have children, nor has the marital act been forbidden to those who are unable to have children for whatever reason. It is in no way a sin for them to engage in marital relations.

Now, don’t get me wrong–I am not one if those people who says each couple must discern each month and be very sure that they are fully capable of handling all aspects of parenthood before having children. Among other things, we cannot know what the future will bring.

A huge amount of the problem in our society is the structure which places so much pressure on the parents. It is incredibly rigid, which is ironic, considering that society is supposed to be so much about freedom and lack of rigidity. It looks like the same pattern the devil uses for us: things look great beforehand and terrible afterwards. And this rigidity makes it more difficult to welcome lots of children.


Respectfully, I think you’ve not yet identified the faulty terminology, definitions and moral theology. “Birth control” is not immoral. “Contraception” is immoral. The desire to avoid pregnancy this month is NOT necessarily immoral. What is always immoral is resorting to actions that fundamentally sterilize the sexual intimacy of a couple in order to avoid pregnancy this month.

NFP doesn’t do that. It respects the normal, healthy and ordinary function of the woman’s cycle and arranges the couple’s intentions around that instead of forcibly altering what the sexual encounter IS in order to both have the sexual contact they desire and NOT have the baby they don’t desire. The reason NFP is different is that sexual contact is more than skin deep. It’s a true intimacy that engages the fullness of the human persons (body and soul). The fact that it holds the potential to make a baby is NOT an accidental coincidence. It points to a deeper connection that occurs between spouses. Contraception is a wordless way of saying that there is no such deeper meaning and an assertion that forcibly cutting off that fertility has no effect on all the good things about sexual intimacy. That’s an amazingly arrogant and reckless wordless assertion! As if we’ve even begun to understand the power built into the sexual aspect of our humanity so as to fundamentally change it and assume nothing else is lost without meaning to.


This is precisely correct.

Arguments that there is functionally no difference between NFP and contraception rest on faulty understandings of the Church’s teachings.

NFP, like having sexual relations after middle age, does not result in pregnancy because of natural functions which are completely natural to a human being.

Taking advantage of them, for good and moral reasons, is therefore not contraception.



And the most amusing proof of this is that if there REALLY were no difference between NFP and contraception, nobody would feel a pressing need to rationalize one. The fact that so many so desperately argue that there is no difference itself almost proves that there is one. :wink:


As human being, the practice of the marital act has to be done, in the human manner with the sexual cooperation, in the materiality and the immateriality. That implies, the responsible procreation, the conscientization of the marital act, in the manner of realizing it, and in the differents effects that follow it. The marital act has to stay a true human act in link with the body, the soul and the heart: a sexed and sexual donation and a sexed and sexual reception of these three elements.

The heresies and ideologies ---- **the encratism, the manicheism, the catharism, the quietism, the fideism, the jansenism, the puritanism, the victorianism, the theoretical providentialism, the quiferfullism, the angelism, the primary anti-personalism, the primary the anti-phenomenologism, the primary anti-conjugal erotism, the moralism against the conjugal joys of the marital act during the infertile times of wife, in link with the marriage, with the marital act and with the procreation **----, *have to be denounced, have to be refuted, have to be critized and have to be put into the trash. *

The first catholic paradigm of morality is the fact of seeking pleasure in the respect of the natural moral order of the creation. The fact of being a seeker of pleasures in the respect of the natural moral order of the creation is the start for the reasoning. If some “catholics” are not okay with that, that is the first issue!!! They need to be educated in the catholic morality. Often some catholics are misinformed, are touched by heresies or ideologies, want t**o be more catholic than the Pope or do not understand the true Magisterium.

The pleasure in the order is the first rule. Faith and Reason and Reason and Faith are so important. The catholic rationality of the marital act, the rules of catholic reason in the use of the marital act, the catholic rationalization of the procreation and the catholic reasonability of the procreation are useful and fair. The race to the large family, the uterus of mother viewed like, only, a machine for babies, the refusal of the responsible procreation and the refusal of the 3 ends of marriage are crazy and not very just and charitable.


A correction

This situation inside the catholicism is sad, pity, silly, crazy and stupid. The lack of unity between catholics about these fundamental topics of the human nature is dangerous.


God gave us hearing for survival and communication. Listening to dangers around us and listening to what other people say. These are primary attributes of hearing.
Listening to Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, … music is listening for pleasure.

You do not have any argument there, unless you would be advocating a double standard.


The first paradigm of morality is submission to the will of God, knowing that if we love Him we will keep His commandments.



#1: I thought that if we are Catholic, we are Catholic. Trying to elevate ones holiness by describing themselves as Latin Right Catholics, Extraordinary Form Catholics or Traditional Form Catholics is nothing but a subtle manner in which to divide all members of the Church. We received the same sacraments.

#2. I have never seen birth control mentioned in the Ten Commandments.

Semantics aside, NFP is contraception, no mistaking it for something else.


That’s nice.

What set you off?

#2. I have never seen birth control mentioned in the Ten Commandments.

Or fornication either.

Semantics aside, NFP is contraception, no mistaking it for something else.

Semantics aside, saying a dog’s tail is a leg doesn’t mean a dog has five legs.

If you believe NFP is contraception, you don’t understand the Church’s teaching on contraception.



Interesting topic , esp. considering the upcoming Synod that is said to focus on family issues .

Happened to read an article not long ago, on the rather high incidence of divorce even among couples that practice NFP ; that was a surprise !

Thus, seemingly there is more that couples need , to live blessed lives for the good of the coming generations as well .

The freedom to be able to experience Godly love , even in the midst of trials - ours being the Incarnational , Eucharistic faith , wherein, we are called to take in deeply the experience of that love and mercy , even when out of ordinary means of having same through human channels - seems many would need help to recognise and deal with what might be blocking same , leading to anger and divides in interpersonal realms .

Thankfully, there is more such help , through books ( Freedom through Deliverance ) and ministry , such as of Rev.Fr. Carl Schmidt , that encourages persons , to take authority over powers and forces that might keep one from living in the potential we are called to, through baptism .

The book also mentions areas of ancestral curses /bondages , resulting from sinful choices including blasphemy , sacrilegious acts and such on the part of ancestors, which can manifest as varied personality traits , such as anger , envy , greed , vengeance , control and contempt of women, maniplulative ways and so on ;

good thing is , recognising such issues in families , as part of need for deliverance at deeper levels , which , inturn can bless coming generations ( as well as possibly the ancestors , through prayers for mercy ) and help persons to live more in the joy of God’s love even here - such a theme could go along with the NFP course . to help prevent marriage problems as well as issues in raising of children .

Thus, may be NFP can be seen instead as
’ ( ? Superrnatuarl ) Family Power plan ’ , a term the couples can use in private , thus being more prepared to live in the expectant faith of Holy Spirit power that comes from relationship with the Family of The Trinity .

May the Bl.Mother help our hearts , to be all that we are meant to be , in The Father’s love and blessings !

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