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\”What If I\’m Wrong About NFP?\”

August 15, AD2013 78 Comments

\"Jay

“What if I’m wrong about NFP?”

No matter where you stand on the use of NFP and the need for “serious reasons”, you can ask yourself this question. I’m including myself.

I have written a number of posts about NFP (go here to see the list, with links) from the perspective that spacing births is licit for “serious reasons”, per documents like Humanae Vitae and Pope Pius XII’s Allocution to Midwives. I’ve attempted to examine the general principles that are required to guide our actions in the use of the marital embrace. I’ve pointed out that there can certainly be sin involved. In fact, because of our fallen human nature, there will almost certainly be sin involved! If we want to lead holy Christian lives, we need to accept that fact, and be willing to truly examine our consciences when it comes to making a decision of our own will to avoid pregnancy.

Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of discussion of “serious reasons” out there. Instead, I am told by commenters to “leave it up to the couple and their spiritual director” and that “the Church has intentionally left it vague” and that I’m a “nitpicking, nattering nabob” who should mind my own business. It makes me wonder: if everyone is in agreement that serious reasons are required for using NFP to “postpone” pregnancy, why is there such defensiveness about articulating some general guidelines about those reasons?

A few people have accused me of “going beyond” what the Church teaches, and creating a “moral issue” where none exists. But I fail to see where I have “gone beyond” what the Church teaches. I’m saying, as the Church says, that there must be “serious reasons” to intentionally avoid procreation. I’m saying, as the Church says, that the sexual act is particularly vulnerable to misuse and sin because of the immense pleasure involved. And I’m saying, as the Church says, that our consciences must be properly formed so that we can correctly discern whether or not we actually have serious reasons to avoid procreation.

This is probably the most concise statement I can make regarding what I see as the problem with NFP as it is currently promoted. NFP promoters most often have responded to my posts with statements about their own circumstances, and how, for them, NFP was justified. That’s great, but I’m not writing about personal experiences per se. I’m certainly not writing in order to point a finger and ask people to justify their use of NFP; and I probably would refrain from issuing any kind of “verdict” about a particular couple’s choice – unless the justification was something along the lines of “I’m going to be in a friend’s wedding six months from now, and I can’t be showing a baby bump at that time.”

So…

What if I’m wrong? What if I’m being too scrupulous about it? What if couples really should have free rein in discerning that their causes are just when they opt to avoid pregnancy through the use of periodic continence?

If I’m wrong, then anyone who has listened to me and taken a more “providential” approach to marriage and God’s will for children within their marriage will probably have more children than they would have if they made free use of NFP.

If I’m wrong, then more souls will have been brought into the world than would have otherwise. I would argue that that means a greater cooperation with God’s will, because He is the ultimate author of life, and none of those souls conceived in the marital embrace can possibly be considered a “mistake” or a “punishment”.

If I’m wrong, then some couples will make sacrifices for their children that they weren’t really “planning” on making. My views may cause some of those who listen to suffer more than they would have if they’d used NFP. But how can this possibly be to their eternal detriment? Surely if couples are demonstrating a “generous” attitude toward parenthood, their suffering will only increase their holiness in this life, shorten any time they might spend in purgatory, and thus pave their way to Heaven and eternity in the presence of God.

In short, if I’m wrong…people who practice what I (and the Church) preach will progress along the path to holiness.

Now it’s your turn, if you are a promoter of NFP who has found my views objectionable. What if you’re wrong? What if we shouldn’t be promoting NFP as God’s gift to couples who want to “postpone” pregnancy? What if NFP really does require more objective “serious reasons” than you are willing to agree to?

If you’re wrong, then couples who intentionally use NFP to avoid pregnancy will probably have fewer children than they would have otherwise.

If you’re wrong, fewer souls will have been brought into the world than would have otherwise. I think that shows a lack of cooperation with God’s will, because He expressly told us to “be fruitful and multiply”, and He did not add, “if you can fit it into your own plans”.

If you’re wrong, then couples may practice “responsible” parenthood while forgetting to be “generous”. They may have fewer medical problems and fewer bills, and overall less suffering and sacrifice, but does that increase their holiness in this life? Does it lead them forward along the path to holiness? Or does it, on some level, encourage a bit of selfishness, all the while justifying it as “discernment”?

The bottom line is this: if I’m wrong, I am sorry for leading anyone astray. But I’ll bet that, in the end, there won’t be too many couples who will say, “Darn you! If I hadn’t listened to you, three of my children wouldn’t have been born, and life would have been so much better.”

I just can’t see that happening.

And if you’re wrong? Then at least some of those couples who were using NFP for not-so-serious reasons might find out when they face the Creator that they weren’t doing His will, but their own. And they will understand what they passed up in so doing. Imagine the pain of knowing the souls you could have conceived if you’d cooperated with God’s will and timing.

I think Fr. Gardner is right: NFP may be licit, but it is not usually virtuous. “Generous” parenthood, on the other hand, is more likely to be virtuous, and is sometimes heroic.

All in all, I’d rather be one of those doing their suffering in this world, rather than in purgatory.

Filed in: Family, Marriage

About the Author:

Jay Boyd was received into the Catholic Church in 2002, contrary to all expectations of her cradle-Catholic husband, Jerry. Since her conversion, Jay has focused on understanding and proclaiming the true teaching of the Magisterium, especially as regards life issues and the liturgy. Several of her articles on these topics have been published in Homiletic and Pastoral Review. Jay earned a doctorate in Developmental Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1989, and taught a few years at the college level, but her life’s work has involved pouring her time and energy, heart and soul, into the rearing of two children who have grown up to be a couple of the most wonderful people you’d ever want to meet. She admits, however, that this has much more to do with God’s grace than her own abilities as a mother. Jay lives in northeastern Oregon and blogs at Philothea on Phire. She has recently published a book, "Natural Family Planning: Trojan Horse in the Catholic Bedroom?" which is available on Amazon.com.

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  • Anon

    The use of NFP can be heroic as well, under certain circumstances. Those circumstances do exist, and can only be determined by a couple calling on the graces of their sacrament, and most certainly not in a public forum. Holy cow. Unsubscribe.

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  • anon also

    Talk about projecting your own regrets about having a smaller family onto the masses. We younger women don’t need a post-menopausal woman placing a guilt trip on us for not wanting to be pregnant every year.

    • Nathan DeParis

      I would not go so far as saying she is projecting regrets on the masses anon. I think she is trying to posit the tough wrestling that we do that after reading the papal encyclicals, and other guidelines, that our serious reasons are not Mother Church’s serious reasons.

      In my own life I would like to think that our savior and Lord Jesus Christ would want me to have kids, and be able for them to be successful and spread the gospel like a sacred epidemic, have them go to Catholic school then maybe on to great colleges like wentworth, Boston College, MIT, or Northeastern, be pillars in there community and at work and work to bring the truths of the Catholic faith to the lamestream media so we can once again imitate the greatest generation. In order to to this he would keep the number low enough where the bills will be paid without stress, and there is plenty of food on thiere plates.

      I wish I could say that this country loves children. I don’t think it really does. We love things, things of this world. There isn’t a lot of incentives in being able to have a 4 kid family and not be financially strapped. I wish this would change and I should pray that it would.

      But it probably won’t in the near future, and you and I both know this. But let me ask not just you bu the author of this post, or rather purpose something.
      What if I -living in a rather irreligious place, Massachusetts- Got married, and used NFP. A few years later I have a steady job, able to have a home, and could provide for a child, so I do. Now my agnostic friends who may be spiteful towards the faith see my joy as well as the successful and get it in thiere heads that maybe they were really wrong about NFP and begin to see the error of there ways. They rethink the contraceptive mentality, and decide bringing a few bundles of joy into the world isn’t such a bad thing after all. that’s three souls God would want to bolt down to earth. Now what about the same time a brother Knight in my council who known me for a while knows I followed all the teachings of holy Mother Church. Got married, waited until marriage to have sex, didn’t use contraceptives, am pro-life against homosexual marriage, and so on. Now he’s not on the fence about it but knowing if they do it right can in fact not end up with ten kids by close of business tomorrow, actually try, now this guy always wanted two boys and a girl theirs another three. I helped bring six kids into the world, plus I am not done having more of my own I am just spacing the time. was my lack of scrupulousness for serious reasons detrimental. I never said hey God I don’t want any. I said God if you really think me and my wife should and I just don’t see the signs well just beam em on down.

      There will be major discernment but i would not be doing myself or my future wife a duty, as well as honor my parents with a child that have no room or a stable to bring one up in nor the solemn foundation of food with which to nourish and help grow. St. Joesph had food to feed Jesus with, and I’m going to have food too. now if God has other plans than I won’t say no, but as the state stands I will do what I have to so that if God gives me the time, a new soul will have a great chance for success in this world.

    • guest

      anon also, well said.

    • Patsy Koenig

      Well said!

  • bill bannon

    Oddly three main Fathers were against contraception and against large families at the same time as being Jewish and Old Testament rather than NT. Figure that if you can…( give up?…they thought Christ would return not imminently soon but soon…Augustine, Jerome, and Chrysostom). Augustine sees big families as Old Testament and Jewish in “The Good of Marriage” section 17: ” For there is not now necessity of begetting children, as there was then…section 19 ” For in these (married contemporaries of Augustine) the very desire of sons is carnal, but in those ( OT Patriarchs) it was spiritual, in that it was suited to the sacrament of that time.” Jerome placed “be fruitful and multiply” as strictly under the curse of the Jewish law because he was arguing against Jovinianus who valued marriage above virginity so Jerome went to the other extreme.
    Here’s Jerome sarcastically saying your children may not fill heaven but some could end up…you know where…from “Against Jovinianus” sect.23: ” And much fruit truly did Samuel reap from his children! He himself pleased God, but begot such children as displeased the Lord.” The 18th chapter of Ezekiel is some support of Jerome’s sarcasm when it notes that the ” The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.”
    That does mean that a good parent does not inexorably produce beings for heaven. So producing beings for heaven is not a absolute solid standard. Oddly more traditionalist Catholics often point to the older belief of saints like Aquinas that few make it to heaven. But wouldn’t that belief joined to Ezekiel argue for small families?
    I saw an awful account of 130 rapes within the Bolivian Amish community by Amish who have large religious families:

    http://www.vice.com/read/the-ghost-rapes-of-bolivia-000300-v20n8?Contentpage=-1

    Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict each had two siblings only…and they turned out all right unlike the above Amish who probably came from huge families. Point being? It’s complex and private
    and should not be simple simoned by anyone.

    • Patsy Koenig

      Well said.

  • http://commonsensecatholicism.blogspot.com/ Kevin Tierney

    Dr. Boyd,
    If you had been as careful in all your works as you were in the first part, you probably would not have had many critics.
    The problem is…. you didn’t. You said people who practiced NFP were little different than those who used contraception. When you said to me ” “The issue isn’t that people abuse NFP. The issue is that NFP is birth control, and birth control has never been a Catholic value. Still isn’t.” That doesn’t allow any “serious reasons.”
    As for the second half, its actually why people got angry at your last work, the Pseudo-Jansenism aside. ;) You basically said if you practice NFP, you reject God’s providence, they don’t believe in sacrificing for their childrens sake, etc. When you make such sweeping judgements without any facts (and such statements are always ignorant of said facts, otherwise they wouldn’t be so broad!) you are going to get people a little angry. That’s where you went a bit beyond what the Church was teaching.
    Since my position is what the Church has explicitly sanctioned, and nowhere have I told anyone to use or doesn’t use NFP (but instead to get educated, talk with your priest, your spouse and a doctor), what people do with their choices is ultimately on their own conscience, not mine.

  • Jason

    Good, and fair, article overall. Unfortunately, I honestly believe it does come down to the fact that serious reasons must be discerned by each couple, hopefully in consulation and guidance with their Pastor or another priest they trust. What may not seem serious to one person looking from the outside in, may be extemely serious to someone else who is in the middle of it.

    Here is another perspective from a priest that I found interesting. http://sanctatrinitasunusdeus.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-chaplains-corner-nfp-awareness-week.html

    • Pseudonymous

      Excellent article you linked from that priest. I like the part where he says:
      If we can convert every married couple from the use of contraception to the use of NFP, we will have won a decisive victory for the spiritual and emotional health of souls and society.

      Even if NFP can be used for questionable or bad reasons, it is a step toward proper use. You have to start from somewhere. And the couple themselves need to know what they can provide – spiritually and materially – to their children.

  • Mary Ann

    It seems that you are trying to establish some type of consensus or criteria by which a couple would be “allowed” to practice NFP; a kind of universal flow-chart which would clearly address and evaluate every possible scenario involved. Life is just not that simple or orderly. The decision to have a child is a very complex and personal one, with many factors to consider – economic, psychological, social, physical and spiritual. What constitutes a serious reason to delay childbirth for one couple, may be inconsequential for another. We are all different, and we all have our own perception of reality, that is why the Church respectfully leaves the decision up to each individual couple.

    Marriage is a blessing from God, as are children. The love we share with our spouse is meant to be a glimpse of the infinite love God has for us, and, if our love is genuine, we have the ability to mirror that love back to God in the expression of children. In this way, marriage is a balance between respecting the love between two spouses, while also acknowledging the invitation to bring new life into the world. Both aspects are equally important. Just as God does not force his love on us, we cannot force couples into unlimited fertility. The invitation to love (and procreate) should always be thoughtfully and freely chosen.

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      Well said.

  • Fr. Alex Navarro

    Bravo, Dr. Boyd!

    It’s amazing how the same people that love the Traditional Latin Mass and traditional Catholic teaching about EVERYTHING, are also the ones that COMPLETELY agree with you. Once, I preached to a Traditional Latin Mass community about the dangers of NFP, using the same arguments you use, but only to realize that the sermon was probably unnecessary because everybody already knew all about such dangers and the problematic character of NFP; their sensus Catholicus had made it very clear for them that NFP, when used to avoid pregnancies is, almost every single time, a modern way of trying to play tricks on God. Humble people have no problems acknowledging this (even Novus Ordo people who are extremely humble have arrived at the conclusion that NFP is problematic… God blesses humility and reveals the Truth to the humble… He gives them a true sensus Catholicus). The new generations of post-conciliar ‘Catholics,’ whose sensus Catholicus has been corrupted and protestantized, are completely unable to realize what the problems with NFP are.

    Bravo, Dr. Boyd!

    • bill bannon

      Fr. Alex Navarro,
      What is your advice to young poor very sexual couples ( I Cor.7:2)? Imagine a couple with uncovered by insurance severe autism therapy bills for one child…a couple who will owe loans until they die. Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit through Paul in First Corinthians 7 tells the more sexual of them to marry rather than commit fornication and it further tells them to not separate over long sexually lest Satan enter their situation:

      ” but because of cases of immorality every man should have his own wife, and every woman her own husband.” I Cor.7:2
      ” Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.” I Cor. 7:5

      How do you prevent their lives from being economic chaos if they obey you plus they obey God in I Cor.7:5 simultaneously? You will observe that God is forbidding them long abstinence as in the Josephite marriage which is only permitted to Catholics described in I Cor. 27-28…those who do not need marriage to avoid lust. Non NFP Providentialism’s spirit has arguably produced homeless street children in Catholic Brazil, Mexico, Phillipines, East Timore, Uruguay, Paraguay etc. But return to our sample cole. How do they obey you and God in I Cor.7:5 simultaneously without NFP?

    • bill bannon

      correction at end: sample couple not “sample cole”.

    • http://commonsensecatholicism.blogspot.com/ Kevin Tierney

      Funny, I’ve been a traditionalist for now almost 12 years, and I learned about the licitness of NFP from traditional moral theologians and traditional priests.
      But as always, that stuff is ignored by those with an agenda, even if they be priests.

    • Fr. W. M. Gardner

      Hello Kevin,
      As a self-described traditionalist, would you also consider yourself to be a champion and defender of the goodness of large families? (I think we know Bill Bannon’s answer to this question. Perhaps he likes them; he just wishes there were fewer of them.)

    • Patsy Koenig

      Fr. Gardner, I am a Traditionalist and a champion of large families. I love them! They are not, however, required. Most wives must work outside the home to help pay the rent and utilities. That is a serious and grave reason to post-pone a birth. I grieve that that is the case; but it is now reality. Critisizing NFP is like Jansenism – wanting to be stricter than is required.

    • Patsy Koenig

      Fr. Alex, I am totally Traditional and love the Latin Mass; and I am appalled and disgusted at Boyd’s twisted logic and veiled criticisms. NFP is NOT birth control; it is feritlity management – in accordance with authentic Church teaching. As a pastor, you have the responsiblity to teach your congregation the proper use of NFP. She is not teaching anything. She is using “questions” as veiled insults and criticisms. To equate NFP with artificial contraception, becaseu they both limit family size – is the same as equating a rich doctor to a rich thief because the end it the same: they are both rich. How they got there is the difference. Just as it matters greatly HOW a couple limits their family size. And, yes, it is licit to limit your family size. The issue is HOW that is done. Most families – now – need two incomes to pay the rent and utilities. NFP is not nearly as problematic as you are imagining. Today’s economics and demographics neccessitate the just use of NFP far more than you realize. The problem is not NFP; the problem is the distorted economic and legal systems which cause “serious reasons” in many ways.

  • Anonymous

    The decision whether or not to use NFP to postpone pregnancy needs to remain with the couple and their well formed consciences. I’ll never see large families for large family’s sake as a good thing. Are their blessings that come with being from a big family? Absolutely! Are their deprivations? Yes! Not just physical deprivations, which can be a blessing in the long run, but emotional ones as well.
    Growing up with a lot of siblings is a well documented risk factor in sexual abuse. I’m not saying all kids from large families are sexually abused – my seven siblings and I suffered no sexual abuse. However, I know too many adults from large families who were sexually abused by a sibling for the risk factor not to have some merit. And I mention the fairly widespread sexual abuse I’ve seen as symptomatic of the parental emotional and time deprivation that kids from large families often suffer.
    I should say upfront that we have six children and so am not opposed to the idea of large families. We also have an excellent income and completely pay our own way without government assistance but it would be extremely difficult for most people with as many children. The economy is not great right now and daycare’s expensive. Many people cannot have more than 2 or 3 kids without going on government assistance for insurance or food. Obviously it’s not wrong to seek taxpayer assistance if you can’t feed or insure your family, but to purposefully plan a child once you’re receiving taxpayer assistance is wrong.
    It’s very much in vogue among Catholic providentialists to pooh pooh the importance of having adequate time to nurture each child, but I think that’s a mistake. Some kids need more attention to grow up well than others. Two of my children have all kinds of special needs that are not apparent upon simply meeting them. We’re fortunate that we can afford assistance so I do not have to do it all myself. Nobody outside the husband and wife is qualified to say how stressed the family and the parents themselves are in dealing with the children they already have.
    Finally, some people are better cut out to be small family parents and be fruitfully involved in their kids’ communities. Let’s face it – it’s the moms and dads from small families who are out their coaching little league and running the Scout pack. One of my kids was recently involved with a CYO theatre production headed up by the deacon’s wife. They have 3 kids. I have no idea if they planned to stop at three or if it was God’s idea. However, I could not be more grateful for her involvement as I watched my child blossom under her direction.
    All this said, there is a contraceptive mentality that we all need to avoid. It’s the circumstances that are inconvenient, never the child. But only the husband and wife can determine whether circumstances are inconvenient – the same set of circumstances might be devastating to one couple and taken in stride by another.

    • Tomas

      Excellent point! My wife and I have an autistic son and a learning disabled daughter. They are both blessings but there 20+ hours of speech therapy, occupational therapy, and ABA therapy a week are not.

      It has put an incredible strain on our marriage. Our marriage counselor urged us to separate so the kids wouldn’t be exposed to our toxic relationship (we ended up separating from her.) my wife is in individual therapy and I’m on antidepressant

      *Fortunately* we don’t have to worry about contraception or NFP because we haven’t been intimate in well over a year. The thought of doing anything but watching a show or reading together is too much.

      My last point is that some people with large families are too quick to judge those of us with smaller families, chalking it up to selfishness; when its the exact opposite. We are so unselfishwe want our kids to get every single treAtment and therapy they need and have a stable loving marriage to grow up in.

      People with smaller families might ask if those with larger are attending to their kids’ developmental needs? Is one of your kids still not speaking at 3? Still can’t walk at 16 months? Still can’t speak intelligibly at 4? Are you dismissing real problems with “oh little Joey will talk when he feels like it.” “Oh Susie loves to sit in the corner and rock back forth for hours. That’s just her.”

      Oh and dr Boyd doing God’s will isn’t just making as many new souls as possible. It’s about making as as can be lovingly and honorably cared for. Life isn’t just a soul farm.

    • bill bannon

      Tomas,
      Praying for strangers is a big part of my life. You and your wife are permanently on my list.

    • Tomas

      Thank you, Ben! We appreciate it!

    • jen

      In your shoes with the autistic son. I can resonate or identify with everything you’ve said because it’s also my life.

    • Addie

      Not just a soul farm is right. We have received government assistance. We are in danger of not affording our rental. I have two autistic sons and two daughters (one neuro typical and one infant).

      If I can’t provide for my kids without government assistance should I still have many more kids? Or should I rely on the government to facilitate a larger family? For as long as I have babies I can’t work. But I also can’t spend time with my sons driving them to special appointments. I am at a loss of what to do. I would move to a cheaper place but services won’t be as good for my kids and I can’t take my mother with cancer and sister with ASD with me.

  • KarenJo12

    “My views may cause some of those who listen to suffer more than they would have if they’d used NFP.” So you think making people miserable is a good thing? If a couple has a choice between something that makes them less wretched and something that makes them more wretched, pick the second one? No wonder ex-Catholic is such a large group.

    • Jordan

      The whole “People will be happier in the end anyway if they listened to my reasoning and had a few more children, even if it turns out the reasoning was wrong and they were basically tricked into it” line of thinking sounds like a theologically sugarcoated way of saying the ends justify the means, which is always and unequivocally wrong, no matter the subject.

  • Jay Boyd

    Bill, regarding your example of a couple in dire straits…I don’t think Fr. Navarro is discounting the use of NFP for truly serious reasons. Besides, if your sample couple truly faces extraordinary circumstances and absolutely cannot “afford” to have another child, then complete abstinence is the only 100% sure way to avoid pregnancy. It’s an option that our sex-oriented culture doesn’t like to think about.

    Also, you said that “Non NFP Providentialism’s spirit has arguably produced homeless street children”; well, it is just as “arguable” that it was not “providentialism’s spirit” that produced those children. I’m sure you can think of some other reasons homeless children exist! Check some comments on my recent blog posts at Philothea on Phire to see examples of “providentialist” families whose large numbers of children all managed to be well-fed and cared for, receive college educations, get good jobs when they grew up, etc. It’s not providentialism that causes homeless children; it is, ultimately, sin in the world that leads to that sad situation.

    • bill bannon

      Dr. Jay Boyd,
      You’ll notice that Protestant countries do not produce street children even prior to Lambeth in 1930 nor do the Amish nor do the Hutterites produce street children. But the latter two have real economic community which is rare. Protestants dominated in cold regions where you conquered nature or died and they associated predestination with success in the Calvin derived cases.
      Your blog commenters live often in cultures made prosperous by the protestant ethic of entrepeneurship. Over centuries that ethic produced so much wealth that it redounded to security for all large families whereby in effect small families like yours help large families tax wise in the US. The large Catholic family in the US has tax advantages and social security if the breadwinner dies and leaves a young widow with 7 children. If he doesn’t die early, his 8 dependents reduce his taxable income by $35,000+ in 2012 e.g. Popes unlike you have to consider the world’s poor who do not have the safety nets of Europe/ Canada/ and the US.
      Catholic countries on the “Catholic continent” where most Catholics are…descended from the two Inquisition countries ( Spain and Portugal) do produce street children partly because Spain and Portugal exploited them ( removing all the silver of Pitosi Peru e.g. over a hundred year period) and thus set an example of selfishness combined with strict orthodoxy from the clerics who accompanied the rapacious conquistadors. If you want to read the Pope who set that continent up for centuries of economic chaos, here he is…Pope Nicholas V giving Portugal
      the right to enslave and take indigenous wealth in “Romanus Pontifex” mid 4th large paragraph:
      ” — We [therefore] weighing all and singular the premises with due meditation, and noting that since we had formerly by other letters of ours granted among other things free and ample faculty to the aforesaid King Alfonso — to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit — ”
      ……………………………….
      The modern Popes unlike you are “stuck” with not just affluent commenters who can afford internet access and 6 children. They are stuck with the real world which is largely non affluent as Latin America and Africa are with their structures of rich/ poor divide descended from largely four Popes at the end of the 15th century. I my view you must contradict God in I Cor.7:2-5 in non affluent cultures by recommending long abstinence to poor very sexual people whom God told to not abstain too long in their specific case. Your base of supporters can afford internet and kids…while Popes who after Vatican II you disagree with…must take responsibility for the underdeveloped world plus the hard cases in the developed world like my couple who already owe forever within the US.
      By the way, your core belief that pre Vatican II sexual commentary was consistent and healthy is not true. The early saints over and over copied the Stoic tenet of Musonius Rufus and Seneca etc. that sex was only virtuous when procreation was willed…Lactantius, Jerome who referred to Seneca as “our Seneca” and Clement of Alexandria espouse stoicism really with its lack of mention of love as involved in sex and with it’s sex only for procreation period position. Augustine departs from them a little ( Aquinas will parrot him exactly) in that Augustine saw paying the debt as no sin but asking for the debt as venial sin when procreation not willed. Augustine and Jerome were ex fornicators and that can be relevant to their vulnerability as to ingesting the unhealthy from the Stoics.

    • Patsy Koenig

      Jay Boyd thinks she is the first female pope: pontificating on who really has truely serious and grave reasons.

  • Shawna Mathieu

    So, she’s setting herself up with a Pascal’s Wager. “Well, if you don’t listen to me, and it turns out I’m right, you’ll have really made a mistake that could have been avoided if you’d listened to me. If you listen to me, and it turns out I’m right, you’ll have grown in holiness. But if I’m WRONG and you listen to me…well, you’ll still grow in holiness, and you can’t argue with that!”
    Well, that ties things up nice and neat. No harm done, so why not listen to her? Even if she’s wrong, she’s right!

    • Jordan

      Yeah, hey, there’s plenty of wrong applications of the ends justify the means, but tricking people into having more children than they’re responsibly prepared for is a good application of it because *I* have a GOOD reason.

  • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com/ JoAnna Wahlund

    From Fr. Brian Harrison’s article “Is NFP a Heresy?”:

    …we must now go on to point out
    the serious error of those Catholic “traditionalists” who go much
    further than simply to rebuke an unduly lax, permissive and
    one-sided pastoral approach to NFP, and who claim that the practice
    is, in principle, immoral, and that it also stands
    condemned by the previous ordinary (or even extraordinary)
    magisterium of the Church. Never has the use of quotation marks
    around the word “traditionalist” been more apt than in this case,
    because, as we shall see, there was never at any stage a Catholic
    “tradition” – not even a lower-level,
    ‘non-infallible’ tradition – against the use of
    periodic continence. Practically as soon as the first rudimentary
    methods of estimating the infertile period arose, with the advance
    of medical science in the mid-19th century, the See of
    Peter immediately and explicitly gave its blessing to this
    practice!

    and

    The first time Rome spoke on the matter was as
    long ago as 1853, when the Sacred Penitentiary answered a
    dubium (a formal request for an official clarification)
    submitted by the Bishop of Amiens, France. He asked, “Should those
    spouses be reprehended who make use of marriage only on those days
    when (in the opinion of some doctors) conception is impossible?”
    The Vatican reply was, “After mature examination, we have decided
    that such spouses should not be disturbed [or disquieted], provided
    they do nothing that impedes generation”6 By the expression “impedes
    generation”, it is obvious the Vatican meant the use of
    onanism7
    (or coitus interruptus, now popularly called
    ‘withdrawal’), condoms, etc. For otherwise the reply
    would be self-contradictory and make no sense.

    Note that the first time Rome spoke on periodic continence, they made zero reference to needing any reason at all.

    • bill bannon

      Jo Anna,
      Let me add a bit and agree with you ( except you’ll see Augustine take a poke at the infertile times and he has always been read by the very strict end of the Church). Shawn McEllhinney years ago asked me to research this area and I ended up doing the equivalent of a Masters thesis on it. Your last sentence is a new astute observation to me. Here goes.
      The use of the infertile days was first explicitly given the go ahead by the Vatican in 1853 when the Bishop of Amiens asked the Vatican if his parishioners could use the newly scientifically explained infertile times if they had legitimate reasons.
      The Vatican replied: ” those about whom you ask are not to be disturbed provided they do nothing by which conception is prevented” ( “Decisions of the Holy Office”, ed. Hartmann Batzill, 2nd ed. ( Rome,1944) p.130). It was not broadcasted widely in 1853 as one could do today via media which explains the next combative period.
      In 1873, a theologian at Louvain with knowledge of biology, Auguste Lecomte published with Bishop approval an affirmation also of using the infertile times as he explained the new science on the matter ( Felix Pouchet in 1845 had explained the natural rythmns ( von Baer explained the human ovum in 1827)). Lecomte was attacked however by an anonymous priest in a Madrid newspaper in 1874 which attacker was obviously unaware of the 21 year earlier Vatican affirmation to the Bishop of Amiens. More attacks came and Lecomte withdrew his book from circulation per his superiors while then asking the Vatican again in regard to the infertile times…who answered in 1880 that ” Spouses using the aforesaid way of marriage are not to be disturbed” and it went on to affirm it as a way of weaning Catholics away from coitus interruptus.
      The attacks continued for decades from with Catholicism because the issue was primarily not a papal one previously excepting Sixtus V… but it was that of the Fathers and Aquinas and theologians who I would argue were not great as to seeing sex as positive outside procreation. They did not speak of the affirming and love that takes place during sex and saw it rather as concupiscence with the benefit of childbirth. The Vatican in 1853 and in 1880 were allowing what the traditionalist attackers saw as contrary to Augustine who in a letter to a Manichaen leader seems to have forbade the natural rythmns which Augustine had used as a Manichaen:
      ” Is it not you who used to counsel us to observe as much as possible the time when a woman, after her purification, is most likely to conceive, and to abstain from cohabitation at that time, lest the soul should be entangled in flesh? This proves that you approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children.” Morals of the Manichaeans 18:65.
      In short the Vatican and the Popes from 1853 onward had to battle traditionalists who were very Patristic in one way. But the Fathers unlike present traditionalists also objected that large families were not necessary because of I Cor.7:29 ” This therefore I say, brethren: The time is short. It remaineth, that they also who have wives be as if they had none..” Douay Rheims. See my post on several Fathers seeing large families as Jewish not Christian or read Augustine “The Good of Marriage” and Jerome “Against Jovinianus”…and “Against Helvidius” sect.22.

    • Patsy Koenig

      I wish Fr. Brian Harrison or a Bishop would tell her to shut up! She is dissenting from defined Catholic teaching.

  • james

    The problem with most conservative orthodox persons who became catholic somewhere along the way is that they gravitate towards the ultra extreme.
    Even with a Ph.d, these letter-of-the-law, far from mainstream parishoners
    fall into the trap of perfection. As the lyrics to “All stars” goes ; “..’ their brains
    get smart but their heads get dumb.”

  • Leila Miller

    As a mother of eight children and a staunch defender of the Church’s moral law, this kind of discussion is so wearisome to me. I wrote about it a while back, and I have no problem posting the link on every post like this:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-nfp-plea-stop-giving-warnings-and.html

    I also had the privilege of reading a preview copy of Simcha Fisher’s upcoming book, The Sinners Guide To NFP, and I cannot wait until it’s available to recommend to everyone. She (a mother of nine young children) speaks to all these issues so eloquently, with a heart for real people in real situations.

    One last thought: I have heard that the word used in Humanae Vitae is “just”, as in having a “just cause” (for postponing pregnancy through the sacrifice of abstention). Am I wrong there? Let’s say the word is “serious”, though — everyone can understand that a serious reason for one couple is not a serious reason for another. No one (and I do mean no one) can judge the inside of another couple’s marriage or life. So why is this discussion even happening? Jay, I know you mean well, but this is non-productive.

    How about we rejoice when people reject contraception, and stop judging other couples who use moral means to space their children?

    • bill bannon

      Leila,
      The Vatican website translates the original Latin ( seriis causis) into “serious reasons”. Sect.10 4th par.
      ” With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.”

    • Leila Miller

      Thanks, Bill!

    • Leila Miller

      “Just cause” and some other terms are also in there:

      http://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/nfp-the-myth-of-the-“contraceptive-mentality”

    • bill bannon

      Leila,
      Thanks….I see them in sect.16 now. In Latin they are: iustae causae/ iustas rationes / probabiles rationes….just causes, just reasons, probable reasons though the Vatican site gives: acceptable for probabiles….acceptable reasons.

    • Patsy Koenig

      Bravo! Well said. I think Boyd should be silenced by her bishop

  • Grover

    Heresy much?

  • Kate

    Parents owe a greater responsibility to the children already entrusted in their care, and if another pregnancy/baby would be detrimental to that, then they must be responsible with their gift of sexuality and fertility. Not all married couples are called to the life of compete
    providentialism in regards to fertility. Allowing one pregnancy after
    anther as a woman’s physical and mental health are at stake is not
    virtuous.

    NFP is a series of licit acts…while chastity is a virtue in and of itself, we are most certainly called to practice marital chastity all our lives. Abstinence often does bring couples closer to God and to each other. There are not souls floating out there waiting to be conceived, that is heresy.

    As Catholics within the vocation of marriage we are called to be generous, responsible, but generous. NFP promoters should include both aspects of this. However, no one out there can tell a couple their ‘reason’ isn’t good enough.

    This article is not Catholic teaching.

  • Kate

    In addition to my first comment, on a more personal note….

    I know many families that use NFP from time to time to space pregnancy. Not all women have a long delayed period of infertility after childbirth even if they breastfeed full time, me included.

    What I have seen over and over again is that NFP is self correcting. It, hypothetically, could be used selfishly- but not for long. NFP is a self-sacrificial means of loving your spouse. Chastity demands respect and discipline. If the couples reasons for avoiding pregnancy are serious enough to withstand the pull to come together- then it is probably a pretty good reason to avoid. But if the natural urge to unite is stronger than the reason to avoid, then they will eventually bend the rules and allow more opportunities for God to create life. It is not either/or….it is a process that ebbs and flows throughout the years of a marriage. It is relearning to love every month.

    NFP is nothing like birth control. There is an entire mindset- an attitude- when a couple using a self-sacrificial system to avoid. It shows a greater love, unlike contraceptives that use the spouse as nothing more than pleasure.

    NFP couples need all the support they can get. Living out this vocation is already hard enough. Articles like this make couples feel inadequate, as though following the Church teaching still isn’t good enough.

    • James

      Excellent point about child spacing.

      In primitive societies, women often get 2+ years of infertility between children from breastfeeding, which spaced them about 3 years apart. The one couple I know who married young and “never needed NFP” got over 2 years of infertility from breastfeeding. By the time fertility returned, they were ready for another baby. Not ever couple is so fortunate.

      Do the math: If a woman had her first baby at 16 (common age of marriage in primitive cultures) and was fertile until 40, even if spaced 3 years apart, this would give her nine children. That’s a lot of children. Women are simply not designed to have a baby every other year. (I also think much of the drop in family size in modern culture is due to delayed marriage, not necessarily contraception in marriage.)

      If fertility came back early, in many cultures, the couple would
      abstain until after the child’s second birthday. Fortunately, modern science gives couples some relief from this by recognizing times of infertility. The Church teaches, if complete abstinence is licit, then periodic abstinence is also licit.

      Due to reasons of genetics, nutrition, and culture, many women in
      modern society don’t get that much time between children, even by following Sheila Kippley’s book on the subject. Most couples will need NFP at some point in the marriage to protect women’s health AND THAT OF THEIR FUTURE CHILDREN. The woman’s body needs time to recover to be able to bring another pregnancy to term. Most doctors recommend AT LEAST 18 months between pregnancies, which means slightly over 2 years between children. Many women who have closely spaced pregnancies have their children “spaced” by miscarriages, which is a miserable experience for any couple who has gone through it.

      Abstaining is hard and abstaining for health reasons is especially hard because neither of you really wants to. It is a sacrifice and it is virtuous.

  • Eileen

    It’s not a win/win. You’re discounting the possibility that souls can go to hell. Stressed out and stretched thin parents are in the best position to know if they can likely get another soul to heaven. I would argue that the couple who practices NFP is actually trusting God more than the couple who practices complete abstinence.

  • Phil Dzialo

    Let’s be logical and serious and avoid silly advice from celibates who are men. Two young loving parents have a severely disabled child who requires 24/7 care as the result of a genetically inherited trait. They have a second child a year later with the same genetic issue requiring 24/7 care. Happens more frequently than you would suspect.
    NFP is about 80% successful. Would they be foolish enough to risk a third child with say a Fragile X syndrome using NFP? I think not. I do not think a loving and merciful god would want them to do this. According to the thesis of this ridiculous post, they should either use NFP and risk it or abstain for the loving, intimate, stress relieving sex for the next 50 years. I would not think a god would want these two saints to be celibate,,,he is not that cruel.
    While Humanae Vitae and Casti Connubbi have some good pints, they fail in the area of contraception. They are after all encyclicals not ex cathedra pronouncements. So yes, you are wrong and given the research that between 1.4 and 4% of Catholics subscribe to NFP, I would suppose they would also agree that the RCC is wrong on this very trivial issue.

    • Jeff_McLeod

      Phil, maybe I am more liberal than you are. I probably am.

      I see it differently. I think that kids with developmental disabilities, including severe disabilities, are a blatant call to our society to care for the most dependent among us.

      How many of us, when we become aware of someone in our neighborhood who has a child with developmental or intellectual disabilities, how many of us step up and offer our support in every possible way?

      People pitch in when they are aware there is a need.

      One could actually argue that your point of view encourages this closed in mindset in which these lovely children with developmental and intellectual disabilities are viewed as the parent’s problem (or as our President likes to say, their “punishment”). I don’t think you really see it this way. You seem like too decent of a fellow.

      True Christians don’t see it that way.

    • Phil Dzialo

      Jeff,,,,,I may agree with most of what you say except that you could possibly be more liberal than I. My son, who is 27, was underwater for 25 min at a summer camp over 15 years ago and is non-verbal, non-mobile and non-eveything. My wife and I have taken care of him at home for the past 15 years…24/7. My wife’s huge Catholic family and my small Catholic family have ran away as far as they could…they epitomize indifference. Wouldn’t have any more kids as it would kill me, literally. Adam would die quickly in a nursing home. The government with all its social supports saved our lives. No human being sees a disabled child as a punishment, but you have limited capacity for care. Contraception allows the martial bond, in this case to be maintained with love warmth and sex…so you can continue care for the disabled. God would not expect abstinence as we live the worthy life.

    • bill bannon

      Phil,
      Just the stage four bed sores allowed in many nursing homes can kill.
      I hope you one day find an order of nuns who would thru medicaid funding,
      give him your level of care after you pass on.

    • Phil Dzialo

      Thanks for the thought, Bill. Unfortunately we, as a Western European-North American society fail miserably in the care of the disabled and the elderly….it’s a sad legacy among us human primates!

    • bill bannon

      Phil,
      At life’s end my mom was briefly in a hospital then in a physically beautiful nursing home and after only three weeks, we discovered in a third hospital as they turned her that the first two never checked her anal area where a horrific bedsore allowed one to see inches into her body. Ergo look for nuns who tend the elderly and their bed sore record will be accessible and they may well take your son when you age. Medicaid pays for 60% of their residents on average now.

    • Patsy Koenig

      Jeff, it is not society; but the parents who care for children. Their reason is just as licit as any other serious reason.

  • James

    While Dr. Boyd makes some good points, especially about how NFP is often promoted, she makes the perfect the enemy of the good. (As Kevin Tierney has pointed out, she has moderated her tone considerably since she first started posting about this, and I give her credit for this.)

    The world as a whole hates the concept of NFP. Recently a secular NFP advocate wrote a book questioning whether it is a good idea for women to be on hormone replacement (birth control) when they aren’t sick. She was clear that she had no problem with condoms and was not religious.

    The reaction from the secular community has been largely negative. “How DARE she question women’s rights to alter their body chemistry! She’s harming women by scaremongering over side effects! Not THAT many women die!”

    The secular world view contraception as virtuous and as necessary to liberate women from their own biology. The Catholic idea that women and couples should learn about and respect biology is already very radical and countercultural, even though it is common sense, when you stop and think about it.

    Telling couples who have already made that leap of faith to learn the method and start charting that they might be sinning may backfire. (Moral rigor often does.) The couple may just figure that if they are sinning anyway, contraception is far more convenient.

    The Church is well aware that most Catholic couples do not follow the Church’s teaching on marital sexuality. This is a delicate issue and the Church is far more sensitive to couples struggles in this area than most people realize.

    Instead of questioning the motives of couples who are trying to follow the Church, how about trying to reach out to the large majority of Catholic couples who are using contraception or considering sterilization? How about showing the world that a better way is possible?

  • St_Donatus

    Of course there are legitimate reasons to space children, health reasons, financial reasons, spiritual reason, etc. There are also reasons to not drive on the wrong side of the road. The reasons need to be drastic, very important, of very serious nature. But we are so soft today (me included), that we will use any reason (excuse) to make life easier for ourselves. We fool ourselves. We use these same reasons to miss Mass, or being a strong and dedicated Christian. If we read the Bible, we see that if being a Christian does not bring us pain, we are doing something wrong. Of course, the pain we receive from being true Christians is far surpassed by the blessings we receive. No pain, no gain would be a good saying.

    In order for ones conscience to work well in determining how to use NFP, couples must have their consciences in the right place, in alignment with Gods will. This is why the Church in the past, made rules that seemed cumbersome and difficult. Look at how the Church allowed us to exchange the rules on meatless Fridays with some other form of fasting. Most of us just stopped abstaining from meat and never made the exchange. What happened to our conscience there? Our consciences are not well developed today and definitely not trustworthy. Look how many, in good conscience, now live in sin, agree with same sex marriage, believe in contraception, etc. Just because someones conscience says it is okay, doesn’t make it so.

    We, as a society, have totally turned away from God’s view of life as a miracle and a blessing. We, including myself, are a selfish lot that does everything we can to avoid taking on Gods view of life. God created us to create life like him. Our bodies are designed for it, yet we do everything in our power to stop it.

    Yes, there were Catholic saints who felt that having children was not the highest goal for a Catholic, and it isn’t. The consecrated life is the highest goal, not contraception.

    The problem is that we, as selfish beings, will establish any reason to be comfortable. I want to send my child to college, private school, live in a nice big house etc. It is all about physical success and comfort, not spiritual goals, being close to God. I know several couples with large families. They are all happy and poor. The children are happy and poor. But they are rich in their closeness to God. They have to rely on God, and he takes care of them.

    I also know several couples who used contraceptives to keep their families small with one or two children, most divorced at least once. They have fine homes. Their children are selfish and generally not well adjusted to the real world. Most of their grown children no longer attend church and are divorced or living in sin.

    I just look at the small simple houses and great beautiful churches in the small towns of the mid west and compare it to the large beautiful houses and ugly brick box churches of today. I see how we have completely turned away from God. Most of us can’t even give him an hour of our time on Sunday. In fact, to live as a true Catholic, we should be giving ourselves a few hours of our time, the rest should go to God.

    Personally, I am trying to move toward what I should be doing, but I am as much of a product of this selfish comfortable world as we all are. I have a long way to go myself.

    I pray that we all pray to God to give us the strength and Grace to put him in first place in our lives once again.

    • bill bannon

      Donatus,
      You’re creating a fictional paradigm in that you see reality too numerically. Large families = virtue. Small families = selfish. You have two small families on this thread who have disabled children which preclude having more. Christ said ” Do not judge by appearances but give just judgement.” Mel Gibson had many children then left his wife for a young woman and had another child. Then broke up with her too.
      Joseph and Mary did not adopt beyond their one child, Christ. We know this because Christ entrusted Mary to John and John to Mary as mother and son which would have been unnecessary if Christ had adopted siblings who would take care of Mary in her old age. Why didn’t Mary and Joseph adopt. Were they selfish? Or maybe Joseph was losing carpentry jobs to younger men who were more aggressive networkers than he was…ergo he could not afford to adopt. Did Joseph have too little faith to adopt? Or did he have prudence. Somalia women with large families watched their children starve to death last year….between 50,000 to 200,000 died as they treked to nearby countries. Would faith have changed that? Governmental safety nets help faith here in North America but are not too good outside the rich countries so prudence is more needed there when numbering hildren.
      Osama Bin Laden had 4 step siblings and turned out awful….Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict did not come from large families…each had two siblings. They turned out fine. Maybe their moms were told by doctors they should not go through childbirth again due to heart or other problems. John Paul did lose his mom early and his siblings and then his father during college. He had no one left by the time he was 22.

    • St_Donatus

      Sorry if I did not make it clear. For one thing, I wasn’t saying that big families make for better families, but at the very least, they are just as good. Secondly, we don’t know that Joseph and Mary didn’t adopt, we just know that Mary was a virgin. In fact this very well may explain Jesus ‘brothers’ mentioned in the Bible. Thirdly, evil effects large families and small. In fact, the very reason many in poor countries have large families is the fact that it increases the possibility of the families survival. Usually the older siblings can help with the younger siblings in the case of a parent dying or becoming injured. The somewhat rare times of famine will effect large and small families equally bad. Fourthly, I came from a large family and my sister was severely retarded and disabled. She brought very little hardship to our family as the older siblings could help care for her.

      But as it turned out, my mother died when the sixth baby was just about a year old. Since she had nine brothers and sisters, we were farmed out to various relatives until my father could make arrangements to work in town (he traveled in his work with the government). If it hadn’t been for my mothers sibling, we would have gone into some form of foster care. Not a good choice. Given that, all of us turned out to be quite successful, physically, monetarily, mentally, and spiritually.

      Yes, the examples mentioned in the comments would be good reasons to use NFP. As I said, the reason would need to be serious and not just a question of our selfish motives.

    • bill bannon

      Donatus,
      Read section 16 of Jerome’s ” Against Helvidius”. He notes that “brothers” or brethern is used in scripture 4 different ways and he proceeds to prove with many examples that Christ had no siblings and earlier he gives the reason I gave: It would have been inappropriate to consign Mary to John were their adopted brethern to take care of her.

    • Patsy Koenig

      Your false paradigm is your imaging that many couples do not really have serious resons for utiling NFP.

  • Seriously?

    Have you forgotten about hell?
    Producing lots of children does not equal producing more souls for heaven. You just might be producing more souls for hell.
    At any moment, any one of us could produce a complete sociopath. I’ve seen it happen to the best of Catholic families.
    There really are some people for whom it would be better had they never been born, and even Christ himself seems to acknowledge it.

  • BrianKillian

    “…and then a Traditionalist saw the Samaritan laying in the road, and he crossed to the other side, for he saw that the Samaritan was suffering much, and therefore well on the way to holiness.”

  • Cj

    Not wanting to get in the way of God’s will, shouldn’t someone tell me too when and how often I should have sex? I only have 3 children. Perhaps God intended I have more. Maybe I am not having sex enough for God’s will.

  • Patsy Koenig

    You are not questioning any one couple’s serious reason, per se. You are questioning whether NFP is widely misused by many Catholic couples. Then, where are your statistics that NFP is widely misused? You have none. Second, demographic statistics would easily indicate that NFP is NOT widely misused. That statistic is the wide-spread and authentic need for two incomes to pay the rent and utilities; along with many other statistics that would indicate serious need, such as industries laying off workers – a widepead phenomena. There is far more evidence that serious reasons are wide-spread; than your false assertion that NFP is widely misused. Your “questioning” is veiled criticism. There is no need for discussion “out there” about what constitues “serious reasons.” You have the gall to question (a.k.a. insult) the motives of those who disgree with you! If your questioning (a.k.a. criticism) of NFP (proper) usage, leads one single couple to contracept instead – then you worse than foolish; you are then grieviosly sinful. That is why there is so much objection to your lame logic and your veiled criticisms. It is clear you do not care about logic, theology or salvation; you just want attention and money.

  • Leila Miller
  • Leila Miller

    One more thing to consider as I see a bunch of great articles (even from traditionalists) popping up on the internet:

    You know what I see when I run into non-traditionalist, “JP2-ish” Catholics who actually use NFP, or who even teach NFP for the local diocese? I generally see huge families. I can think of several off the top of my head who have 9, 8, 6-child families, all of whom fervently believe in the usefulness of NFP.

    As a mother of eight who knows plenty of NFP-using couples with big broods, I concur! The fruit of NFP seems to be open hearts and many children!

    Read the whole thing, here:

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/the-curious-controversy-over-natural-family-planning#comment-1026709189

    • James1225

      I would like to know exactly what is wrong with a couple deciding to just have a small family and using contraception to achieve that goal. That’s what my wile and I did and we have been happily married for 37 years and have two happy and healthy sons who we were able to successfully raise and educate and who are out living on their own.

    • Leila Miller

      James, for an act to be moral, both the means and the ends must be moral, and Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that it is immoral to use artificial contraception. God created sex/marriage to be both unitive and procreative. We are not to separate those aspects, but to leave the nature of the act intact, or else sacrifice the act. Here are a couple of articles I wrote that might help:

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/03/important-follow-up-to-natural-family.html

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/12/sterilization-is-it-getting-fixed-or.html

    • James1225

      Well. What’s done is done. It was I who wanted kids and my wife took time off from her career to have two boys who we raised, educated and sent off into the world. She went back to work and we’ve been happily married for almost 40 years. I don’t see any moral issues worth discussing.

    • Leila Miller

      I am sure you have many reasons to be proud of your family. I will not dispute that. But what’s done is not “done” unless serious sins are properly confessed, or until death takes us. These are moral issues “worth discussing” because the Church deems them so and always has. And the Church was founded by Christ to teach in His name until the end of time.

      Many blessings!

    • James1225

      Your suggesting that I must confess to a priest that my wife was on the pill. No thanks. We’re good.

  • Imitation Augustine

    Though I don’t agree with all of the logic which seems to necessitate child birth toward the end of this article, there are valid points to be made from Dr. Boyd’s article that people are overlooking. First, John Paul II in ‘Love and Responsibility’ states that NFP can be used with a contraceptive mentality and even be gulp sinful. According to the late Holy Father, it is possible to abuse NFP. You all can read his book if you don’t believe me. He reiterated the same teaching in his ‘Theology of the Body’.

    The 3 predominant reasons I’ve read for using NFP are: dire poverty, medical and health conditions, and for spiritual growth as St. Paul states to separate for a time in prayer. But St. Paul is talking in context about complete abstinence for prayer.

    But the idea that NFP can’t ever be abused is directly refuted by John Paul II which seems to be a little known fact. So, yes, it is possible to abuse this teaching. There are vain reasons which can be sinful. For example, If a healthy couple who is middle class and no pressing burden has 2 kids and a dog decides they don’t want to have children because they won’t be able to go on as many vacations, I would call that a sinful reason. Or oh, I don’t want to raise a big family because it is a lot of work. That seems shallow. I understand that some parents are at there wits end…autistic child, serious medical bills, etc. (These are serious reasons). But there are a lot of other people who don’t have these types of reasons and are just a bunch of lazy Catholics.

  • reb

    How is use of NFP not virtuous, if it requires the couple to practice temperance and not engage in the marital embrace? It most certainly is a sacrifice, for future children, and for each other, in the case of a recently postpartum mother…

  • reb
  • Jackie

    I have meditated on the scripture that says “Before you were in the womb I knew you.” I have come to the conclusion that we should have very serious reasons if we choose to use NFP to avoid a pregnancy of a person that may have been planned to come in to the world by God.

  • Shawn McElhinney

    This article is a bunch of overly scrupulous claptrap. The Church teaches that NFP is permissible for “just reasons” (iustae causae) and there are plenty of them. The couple should discern this amongst themselves and possibly with a spiritual director, not listen to the prattlings of overly rigorous quasi-Jansenist scolds who seek to tie heavier burdens on them than the Church herself does.