Monday, April 27, 2015

The NFP Nightmare



I've recently had a glimpse into the NFP (Natural Family Planning) culture and the young "devout Catholics" who buy into it.  It is sick.

NFP is not contraception, but it is effectively used as such, for entirely selfish reasons by some young Catholics who think it's virtuous to use a neutral tool in a bad way.  The Church teaches (infallibly) that a married couple may avoid conception only by means of periodic continence (i.e., occasionally not having sex) and only for serious reasons, such as the health of the mother or not having enough money to feed another baby - not because a baby may mess up your perfectly arranged doilies or because you want to spend a few years married without kids so that you can get to know your husband better or have nicer material things that raising a family right away wouldn't allow you to have.  But young "devout Catholics" tend to be as narcissistic and self-centered as the rest of the world.  The only problem is, they are convinced of their sanctity and they get defensive if you point out to them that what they're doing is contrary to the infallible teaching of the Church they claim to love.

Some young "devout Catholics" are even willing to abstain from sex on their wedding nights and honeymoons if the charting, thermometer and analysis of vaginal secretions and cervical dilations (which are the tools of NFP) indicate that the wedding night and honeymoon coincide with the woman's fertile period that month.  This is not only insane, it's sacrilegious, for the very sacrament of Matrimony is only completed by means of the consummation of the nuptials.  No matter how fancy the wedding or how big the reception, a couple is not fully married until the act of consummation - until they make love as man and wife - a thing the NFP crowd won't do for as much as a week every month, in order to keep sex separate from babies (which is what the rest of the world is busy doing, but only doing more honestly by using rubbers and diaphragms and pills, so as not to be inconvenienced for seven or so days per month).

And not only is NFP becoming a way of life and a culture for these young "devout Catholics" (some of whom plan on using it throughout their entire marriage), but these young folk are separating sex from babies and congratulating themselves that they're good Catholics in the process!

They glory in their shame (Phil. 3:19).  They refuse to inconvenience themselves by bringing new life into the world (at least for long periods of time when new life would be irritating to them), and they congratulate themselves for doing so.  Why?  Because NFP, that's why.



46 comments:

Kevin O'Brien said...

So far "no comments" here and dozens over on Facebook. Many over there are accusing me of knocking NFP and swearing and cursing at me while doing so.

Just in case the post itself does not make this clear, here's my clarification that I posted at Facebook ...

***

Well, good morning, friends.

NFP is not contraception. It has, however, been used as a substitute for it, and is fueling a contraceptive mentality. The young "devout Catholics" that I am complaining of are planning to separate sex from babies for entirely selfish and trivial reasons, and they are doing so with NFP rather than with pills or devices. Their means are licit, but their intentions are not.

The problem is not so much that NFP is good and condoms are evil. The problem is that as sinners we want to separate sex from babies - which the Church tells us is only moral under very strict and serious conditions, a caveat that is being glibly ignored by many young "devout Catholics".

Kevin O'Brien said...

Facebook update: now I'm being told I'm a Pharisee. Soon I'll be told I need to go to confession. Here's my latest response ...

***

Here's the deal, I'm deleting any comments following this one, unless they address the only real issue here: is it morally licit to separate sex from babies for selfish or trivial reasons? Don't dodge this by saying that such reasons are entirely subjective and that no one may assess the validity of intent by any objective standard, or that to evaluate intent is to be a "Pharisee". Just answer the question: is it morally licit to separate sex from babies for selfish or trivial reasons?

Chris said...

Your piece is very welcome. There has been an increasing tendency to promote NFP as the default setting for married couples, forgetting that it is really not to use any form of birth control, and if there are serious/grave reasons, then the use of NFP can be justified. Furthermore, almost any apologetic piece for NFP usually has as the first or primary point that it is just as or more effective as contraception. So, it is being sold largely as an effective method of birth control, albeit natural. This approach has been abetted by some "big names" amongst "conservative" Catholics, who have so watered down what qualifies as the serious reasons needed for using it, that they have become almost meaningless. Such an approach also seems to dismiss God's grace, thinking that we couldn't possible convince people to go from contraception to using no form of birth control, so we have to attract them by offering the highly effective "natural" alternative in the form of NFP. And just to be clear, I am not advocating that people have all the children they can, which is usually one of the accusations that follows after pointing out the foregoing.

jvc said...

A thousand times, yes.

In one of his brighter days, Father Angelo Geiger perfectly referred to this mess as a "fertility cult."

There are several variations of this cult, some of which involve NFP, others which may involve NFP.

There is the phenomena of couples from obscure Catholic colleges who marry at the insisted upon age of 21 or thereabouts, are flat out broke with tens of thousands in debt thanks to their useless degrees, and use NFP to hold off having babies for several years. To paraphrase one comment on the subject I've appreciated, they want an endorsement of their sexual experimentation, without the consequences of their actions.

Of course, there is the other phenomena, less related, where couples seem to believe in some kind of maximum fertility program, where, similar to the previous example, couples must get marred at 20-21 and the woman must always be pregnant. These are the numerous Mommy blogs which brag about having "6 kids under 8" and the like. The Supersized Catholic families, as I've seen it described somewhere.

I don't have many answers, but it just seems that no common sense is ever applied in these areas, and that Unreality, as Kevin aptly describes the situation, is at least as bad if not worse within Catholicism, today.

jvc said...

Kevin, I haven't checked Facebook, but the reason you are probably being attacked is because as you pointed out in a post 1-2 years ago, *this* is what is real to these people. This is their precious.

Kevin O'Brien said...

But what is "this", JVC?

Michele Resuta said...

You're spot on Kevin! Great piece!

Kevin O'Brien said...

By the way, to get an idea of how crazy this NFP thing is and the sales push of the industry behind it, read my latest post ... http://thwordinc.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-birth-control-pill-vs-magic-pill.html

jvc said...

*This* is their own conception (no pun intended) of sexual pleasure devoid of consequences.

Anonymous said...

"Just answer the question: is it morally licit to separate sex from babies for selfish or trivial reasons?"

No. Though not an unnatural act as is contraceptiion, NFP used in this manner seems like lust.


I think your objection to the 'contraceptive spirit' raises another question;

Is it okay for a couple to abstain from sex (even though both desire it) because you don't want kids?

Anonymous said...

"Just answer the question: is it morally licit to separate sex from babies for selfish or trivial reasons?"

No. Though not an unnatural act as is contraceptiion, NFP used in this manner seems like lust.


I think your objection to the 'contraceptive spirit' raises another question;

Is it okay for a couple to abstain from sex (even though both desire it) because you don't want kids?


------------Sorry forgot to leave a name...

- Michael

Erica said...

How do you know what anyone's reasons for postponing pregnancy are?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I can offer some perspective from the point of view of Diocesan administrator who oversees a marriage preparation program:

We prepared approximately 400 couples for marriage in 2014.

2 people out the 800 people married, were under 21.

There is a presentation on openness to life in session 4 and an introduction to NFP in session 5.

Between 1 and 2 percent of couples signed up for full NFP classes.

Most comments from couples that resisted the message of NFP were vicious and proudly supported their use of artificial contraceptives.

Some comments from couples that did indicate that they were interested in learning more were thankful to find out that there is a "natural" way to avoid pregnancy, albeit the reasons are never revealed.

Although there is an illicit use of NFP as contraception, I would be happy if at least some of the 98 to 99 percent of Catholic couples stopped using artificial contraceptives and tried NFP.

Think about this: even if a couple uses NFP, in some instances to avoid pregnancy, they are at least remaining open to the possibility of life and a fertilized egg will not be spontaneously aborted. With the use of the pill, a human embryo (little baby) could be spontaneously aborted - and intentionally due to the pill.

NFP and it's many reasons for implementation may be up for debate, but it still more pro-life in it's application and I doubt these young "devout Catholic" couples "separate sex from babies for selfish or trivial reasons". Most of the devout young couples I know, including myself, remain in intense prayer with God as we discern NFP in our marriage.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Erica, you ask, "How do you know what anyone's reasons for postponing pregnancy are?" - they tell me. I've talked about this with a number of young Catholics.

Anonymous above, here's what it comes down to. NFP is a great improvement on contraception, however, a selfish couple using NFP rather than contraception is not a victory for Our Lord and Our Lady. "I' don't use contraception but I'm still selfish!" is hardly something to brag about.

Kevin O'Brien said...

... that is, if they're using it for selfish or trivial reasons to separate sex from babies. If they're not, God bless them.

Federoff11 said...

Kevin, I am no "young Catholic" (I'm 46) but in our 24 years of happily married Catholic life, my husband and I have used NFP to space our children, all 11 of them. Many Catholic couples I know use NFP to INCREASE their chances of having another baby. Your blanket statements about selfishness don't jive with the large, Catholic, NFP-using homeschool families I am surrounded by.

My 11 kids… my friends' children… they are the future of the Church.

I am very insulted that you find me and my ilk not Catholic enough for you. Frankly, you have no place in anyone's marriage bed but your own.

aquinasadmirer said...

The part of this discussion that I find elusive is: "What constitutes a serious reason to postpone?" Is there some kind of analog to the examination of conscience for discerning what satisfies the condition of serious? Evaluating the criteria is like nailing gelatin to a wall.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Of course, Federoff11, I am not criticizing all Catholics who use NFP, only those who use it for selfish or trivial reasons.

And Aquinas Admirer, of course there are objective criteria for evaluating the seriousness of one's reasons for not making babies. Keeping up with the Joneses is not an objectively valid reason.

jvc said...

A bunch of straw men from the last anonymous.

NFP should be the exception, not the rule. Instead, it's preached as, and used as, a full on alternative to ABC. That's the problem. Not whether or not you're having a kid every 10 months.

Anonymous said...

Could the more defensive NFP-users commenting here learn to read?

"...for selfish or trivial reasons..."

"...for selfish or trivial reasons..."

"...FOR SELFISH OR TRIVIAL REASONS..."

I.e. Kevin wasn't targetting the non-trivial/selfish reasons.


- Michael

aquinasadmirer said...

Kevin,

You say there are objective criteria for delaying another pregnancy. Is there a definitive list someplace? When I look for a listing, I find stuff that reads like guidance from Jiminy Cricket.

Anonymous said...

"If there are serious reasons to space out births, reasons which derive
from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from
external conditions, the Church teaches that it is morally permissible...." (Humanae Vitae)

That rules out 10 years "spaces" based on selfishnes, ANONYMOUS.

As much as you'd like to shut down conversation and debate on the ethics of applying NFP, there still ought to be a conversation.


- Michael

Anonymous said...

Interesting, my previous post with rather pointed questions re Mr. O'Brien's views vs. Church teaching was removed. So much for veritas.

Spade said...

Hey, look, it's exactly the kind of argument that turns on the fence folks away from NFP to the Pill.

Maybe in a future post you can rant about women who use veils at Mass while daring to wear pants.

Anonymous said...

Spade:
LOL.

Anonymous said...

Spade, this is an open discussion on ethics of applying NFP i.e. a discussion the INTENTION behind the MEANS.

Now, the vicious and defensive reactions in the comment section just goes to show one thing people are afraid to admit; Kevin has hit the nail on the head...

the heated, emotional and defensive reactions to Kevin's mere opening of this dialogue lends credence to his view that; some NFP users may believe that they have INFALLIBLITY on what constitutes good intention behind using NFP.

You're not outraged he's questioned NFP (because he hasn't), you're outraged he's questioned your supposed 'infallibility' on it's use.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

And SPADE, it doesn't say much about your concern for truth that you're willing to throw a hissy fit and try and scare us from conversation by saying "booo, people will be scared into contraception".

Your little threat echoes back to the whole LYING FOR ABORTION THING Kevin was concerned about...

just as people justified LYING (venial sin) as they preferred it to ABORTION (mortal sin)...

so YOU would prefer have people use NFP with bad intent (venial sin, caused by killing off the discussion) as opposed to using contraception (Mortal sin).

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Is bad intent + NFP as bad as contraception? Probably not.

Should we kill dialogue and live w/ a lukewarm indifference to truth? No


- Michael

Kevin O'Brien said...

"Anonymous said...
Interesting, my previous post with rather pointed questions re Mr. O'Brien's views vs. Church teaching was removed. So much for veritas." Anonymous, repost it and give us your name or your pseudonym. See the rules. Post again as mere "anonymous" and you will be deleted.

Spade said...

That's a lot of words for my little post. Reads like I'm not the one throwing the fit.

Spade said...

I can just see some of the posters here sitting at Mass. Looking at the young couple with one kid volunteering to train people on NFP. Thinking, "How dare they? They don't have 7 kids! I bet they're gonna waste the money the saved on a kitchen or a trip, those selfish jerks. Why aren't they breeding like rabbits?" I assume a good harumph will be had.

This is some seriously judgy inside baseball navel gazing here. Hey, NFPers, you thought you were being holy and such but you're just not holy enough.

Anonymous said...

I gave an extensive breakdown of my view of the situation in the comments, the reaction to you was a device to allow for that.

You gave this;

"Please stop talking or they're gonna contracept guys!"

Sorry, it's just my opinion that's a bit of a hissy-fit move.

-----------------------------------

Anyways reading your last comment, it's a lot of emotive-based rhetoric... from what I read of it.

Here's my summation of it;

KEVIN: Misuse of NFP for bad reasons is wrong, we should explore how the contraceptive mentality of the culture has influenced how even the most devout Catholics may be using NFP.

YOU: Hey, that's a little judgey, I mean NFP'ers are holier than most, isn't it wrong to question their motives seeing as they're holy(er than people who use contraception)?

Not to mention judgey.

-----------------

My unternet snarkiness in the role-play ASIDE, I think that's what it boils down to.


- Michael

Anonymous said...

With 95% of young Catholic couples using contraception, you should be applauding any couple that may use NFP. Do you believe that one could actually commit mortal sin using NFP? You do say that it could be "sacrilegious" and that "devout Catholics tend to be narcissistic." I noticed in your article you did not quote St. John Paul II or the Catechism or Pope Francis. All of these references promote "responsible" parenthood. Paul VI does give some examples in Humane Vitae of reasons to use NFP, but by no means is it exhaustive. NFP is similar to contraception as eating meat is similar to animal cruelty. Is it possible to give to charity for selfish reasons, I suppose so, but why focus on it? Is that the most important problem the Church and society is facing today? Far from it. Christ says we should remove the log from our own eye first before removing the speck from our brothers. Instead of focusing on "devout Catholic's" subjective motives, you should focus on the objective evil of contraception.

Anonymous said...

Wish this blog had disqus to sign in as. Anyways I'm one of these so called young "devout" Catholics and I would say that perhaps your original post was too reactionary. You say we instead of saying "some". Try saying "some" next time and perhaps it can have a better effect instead of this blanket repulsion that you seem to have. You can speak from a point of "concern" without sounding so yucked out.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with your view. Comparing NFP Catholics to contracepting Catholics is like saying that Catholics who fast on Wednesdays and Fridays are selfish because they only fast to lose weight and get thin.

The Holy Family had one child. God willed that Sarah and Abraham experience infertility for many years. Christ communicates to each of us in an individual and unique way. It is not unreasonable to assume that Catholic families are all called to have a different number of children. So using NFP to achieve what you feel God calls you to is a good. It takes tremendous self knowledge, self mastery and good communication to use NFP effectively to avoid a pregnancy. Abstaining during fertile times sucks and calling couples who do this "bad Catholics" is an injustice.

Additionally your comments allude to "the bigger the family the more holy the family." This fallacy drives many Catholic couples to not even discern if they should have another child (all in the name of being more holy). Is this a good? Perhaps you should examine Catholic families who just keep having children and calling themselves more holy. I have heard "Oh they are a good Catholic family, they have 8 kids" quite frequently. A great number of children does not equal more holiness.
EllieC

Anonymous said...

You have said very clearly that NFP users can use NFP for selfish reasons. Isn't the opposite also true? Can't people that have a bunch of kids without any form of moral birth spacing do that for selfish reasons too? Maybe the man wants another tax deduction, or to receive more money from the government. Maybe the woman wants an excuse to not exercise and eat whatever she wants. Maybe the woman wants an excuse to have a messy house and be off the hook for getting things done. Maybe the couple wants to appear as being holy to their peers and simply want to fulfill expectations placed on them by their family. Maybe the man simply wants to be able to have sex without restraint. Maybe it's an excuse to not be responsible. Like any good thing in life it can be done for the wrong reasons. The Supreme Court heard arguments for gay marriage today. Is NFP (which in endorsed by the Church) the big societal problem you make it to be? I think not.
EZE

Anonymous said...

EllieC,

you CAN compare SOME (note "some") NFP users to contracepting Catholics IN their intent/mentality. e.g. IF both their intent is to never have children (even though there's no good reason not to) while still getting sexual gratification.

No-one's arguing the MEANS are unnatural.

Your fasting example is a good one, but in Kevin's case he HAS met people who "fast to lose weight" i.e. NFP users doing it for trivial/bad reasons. So it is a problem worth discussion.

Our Lady was a consecrated Virgin, Sarah was infertile, family size is expected to be different in accordance with God's will, not the will of people who MISUSE (and I stress MISUSE) NFP.



"Additionally your comments allude to "the bigger the family the more holy the family." "

I don't think it's fruitful to read into a discussion what was never said.


"This fallacy drives many Catholic couples to not even discern if they should have another child"

The way you think a couple should discern is backwards, the natural mentality should be constant OPENESS throughout the marriage whenever they have sex. The 'discernment process' should come in when there naturally occurs to them some reason NOT to have a child.

You seem to be putting words into Kevin's mouth to add strength to your position. But anyway, while a large Catholic family may not technically be holier than couples WHO ARE MISUSING NFP (they may for instance, commit more sin than an NFP MISUSING couple), in terms of God's plan for human sexuality, they are certainly more OPEN to God's will.

- Michael

Robert Jackson said...

NFP is fine. You can't control people who correctly and refreshingly disagree with you. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

Hi there!

Kevin, you make some excellent points. As a young married mom of four who has used NFP, I definitely agree that there are some ways to use it selfishly. I am not above constantly discerning if I can graciously accept more children into my family.

The problem lies in the fact that there's no concrete Church guidance on what motives are licit and what are not. And I think the Church does this quite wisely, for what may be selfish for one family may be entirely licit for another taking each family's circumstance into account. The Church avoids a lot of guilt and finger-pointing on the part of the faithful by not establishing rigid criteria.

I think this is recognized in the article as well, because the article itself makes no attempt to create a schematic either.

That said, I think the right way to approach the remaining issue of those who have allowed the "contraceptive" mentality to pervade their use of NPF is a dialogue about the sanctifying grace that God supplies in response to an act of self-sacrificing love and child-like trust. Being a polemicist gets people's attention, but tends to put people on the defensive, which isn't ideal for converting hearts and minds. As you can see from the comments here, you tend to get a lot of "surely, not I?"s and few substantive answers to your challenging article.

We can also emphasize that the practice of NPF by its nature requires a constant conversation with God and one's spouse. The fact that it is natural allows one to be immediately receptive to the call of God in one's life, as opposed to artificial birth control; however this necessarily requires that one communicate with God on at least a monthly basis regarding what He's calling you to in your marriage. Fostering and encouraging a better prayer life will lead to better and more sacrificial discernment, and I think that's also a valuable way to engage the situation.

-Actually Actuary

Anonymous said...

My issue with the article is a bucketing as black and white of either "selfish and trivial" or "very strict and serious". Until you have walked in a person's shoes, I would suggest that you not judge them. What is strict enough for you?
Only if it threatens the woman's life?
What if it will cause her to be handicapped after delivery?
What if it is because she is fertile yet unable to carry to term, suffering from regular miscarriages which are devastating both physically and emotionally?
What if the parents cannot afford another child?
Where is the line? So many children that you will never afford a home for them?
So many you must rely on foodstamps?
What about stopping when you physically cannot handle them?
Is it better to stop at single digits of children and be good parents or have double digits and be overwhelmed such that the children are not properly raised?
Where is your line? What is trivial and what is strict? Who are people to play judge as black and white on something that is gray?

Ryan D Fontenot

Anonymous said...

"Who are people to play judge as black and white on something that is gray?"

Ryan D Fontenot; the mere fact that EVERY ONE (or MOST) of the examples you gave were obviously good reasons for NFP-use shows that, even though there is definately some grey area in the middle, it doesn't mean we can't say what is undoubtedly black or white when it's plain obvious.


For instance; do you think it's okay to use NFP for the duration of a marriage because you just don't want kids but you like sex?

Please Ryan, I dare you, honestly tell me that consitutes a "grey-area".

If you can't, then perhaps, we should continue to have an open discussion how a 'contraceptive mentality' can actually allow Catholics to abuse NFP.

-------------

Michael

Anonymous said...

I think part if the difficulty is the perhaps unintended tone of the post. It comes off as anti-NFP. Yes it does zero in on those who use such for "trivial reasons" - I understand yes that is a problem (and yes one can note that those who do so - may learn from their use of NFP what they will not learn from contraception (NFP is never contraception) - via the means used - and discover the right way and reasons and reasons to not use NFP as time goes on- I am not advocating this of course but simply noting this).

But the tone of the post is problematic.

For example phrases such as:

"I've recently had a glimpse into the NFP (Natural Family Planning) culture and the young "devout Catholics" who buy into it. It is sick."

"Why? Because NFP, that's why."

"it's sacrilegious" (those who wait to consummate the wedding).

"the NFP crowd"

(a rather pejorative phrase)

One is to use the "right means" even in arguing for the right use of NFP.

As St. Thomas would note one wants to use the right means to the right end.

-------------------------------

Now what does the Church Teach?

Pope Benedict's Compendium summarized it very nicely.

497. When is it moral to regulate births?

2368-2369
2399

The regulation of births, which is an aspect of responsible fatherhood and motherhood, is objectively morally acceptable when it is pursued by the spouses without external pressure; when it is practiced not out of selfishness but for serious reasons; and with methods that conform to the objective criteria of morality, that is, periodic continence and use of the infertile periods.

498. What are immoral means of birth control?

2370-2372

Every action - for example, direct sterilization or contraception - is intrinsically immoral which (either in anticipation of the conjugal act, in its accomplishment or in the development of its natural consequences) proposes, as an end or as a means, to hinder procreation.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html

k.



Anonymous said...

Michael,

Sex must be linked with being "open" to life in order to be properly moral in church teaching. By practicing NFP, one is always "open" to life but is consciously either pursuing or avoiding children. By being open to the consequences of failing in either your pursuit or your avoidance, you are remaining open to God's plan. NFP is not contraception which either provides a barrier to conception or auto abortion of the fetus. What NFP does is provide a structure to determine the probability of egg and sperm meeting one another if sex occurs on a given day. The couple is still playing the odds and the result is still in God's hands. This is the inherent difference between NFP and contraception. The couple either lowers or raises their probability of conception on an informed basis, not put up barriers to life (condoms) or flat reject life (pill).

As for your example, does the couple believe that they are capable of being good parents? Would they accept a child conceived on a "dry" day, which does happen despite being unlikely? If they are avoiding parenthood because of being aware of their own shortcomings but would still welcome a child if God blessed them in spite of NFP, I would consider them still being open to life. Do you disagree?

If you do disagree, how many children must they have? Is one enough? Is it a function of income? Even if you disagree with me on the childless couple open to life but avoiding conception, does it not immediately go grey with the first child?

Additionally, we have not properly touched on the fact that NFP is also a means of achieving pregnancy. Rather than IVF, NFP can be used to achieve pregnancy in couples who previously failed to on their own as well as diagnose medical conditions which could be hindering conception. Just as NFP was accused of being sinful when used in place of contraception, would you accuse NFP of being sinful when used in place of IVF?

Ryan D Fontenot

Charlotte said...

I don't think the outrage was as much about the fact that you said NFP can be used selfishly as it was the tone you used. It came off as highly judgemental and condescending. Most NFP users I know have had very bad experiences with men with large families judging them for spacing their children in a way they think is wrong. The Church gives us reasons that count as serious enough to postpone pregnancy, but what counts as a dire financial situation for one person may appear doable to another. For instance, some may look at my husband's salary and assume we could easily afford another baby but in reality we are paying thousands of dollars in medical bills. I am currently pregnant with my 4th child, but the trade off is that we have to leave my husband's suspected Crohn's disease undiagnosed and untreated against his doctor's wishes so that I can afford to receive prenatal care. I would not judge another family for thinking that situation would be serious enough to postpone a pregnancy, but many will. It is those people that cause so much anger among NFP users. The who will listen to a person's reasons and judge most of them to be selfish and narcistic when you likely don't know all the details and don't care to realize that just because you don't think a situation is serious doesn't mean it doesn't feel that way for the people actually living through it.

Anonymous said...

Ryan D. Fontenot,

I'll give more extensive information on the couple in my example, so that you can answer the question I posed. (And I numbered sections for ease of reference)

(1)
"As for your example, does the couple believe that they are capable of being good parents?" Yes, they believe they're capable, but they just don't want children.


"Would they accept a child conceived on a "dry" day...?"

They'd have no choice, if they were devout enough to use NFP over contraception, naturally, scrupulosity would rule out committing mortal sin via murdering any child conceived.


"If they are avoiding parenthood because of being aware of their own shortcomings but would still welcome a child if God blessed them in spite of NFP, I would consider them still being open to life. Do you disagree? " I do not disagree, but this is irrelevant because what you describe does not apply to MY EXAMPLE.
-------------------
(2)
Here's an explanation of the intent of 'my couple'.

Let's say the 'failure rate' on condoms is 1%, and NFP is 1%.

This couple are essentially using NFP for the EXACT same reasons a pro-life couple may use contraception... because they would find child-bearing an intimidating, unattractive trial, and yet, they both enjoy having sex and would not murder a child if they conceived (given the 'failure rates').

(By the way, this intent is what I mean by 'contraceptive mentality')
------------------
(3)
Now can you answer the question?

"...do you think it's okay to use NFP for the duration of a marriage because you just don't want kids but you like sex?"

-----------------
(4)
"The couple is still playing the odds..."

That means NFP users are 'rolling the dice' as it were in all your examples where pregnancy may cause death, psychological disturbance, sever handicap from pregnancy...

(This is a SIDE-POINT not relevant to discussion)

Do you believe NFP may give a sense false sense of security against pregnancy for people facing the above possibilities?
-----------------
(5)
"Additionally, we have not properly touched on the fact that NFP is also a means of achieving pregnancy..."

The issue at hand concerning this discussion has been, and has ALWAYS BEEN, ABUSE of the LICIT MEANS of NFP i.e. the contraceptive mentality that seeks to maximise sex while minimising pregnancy for selfish reasons, even if achieved by the abuse of LICIT MEANS.

So really, there's no need to touch on this, you'd be preaching to the choir. This just shows that you haven't been following the nuances of the conversation, but that's an easy mistake to make, seems everyone commenting is doing so out of a place that believes Kevin is bashing the means NFP (which is essentially selective-practice of abstinence).


- Michael

the other michael said...

My wife and are are 29, married 6 years, and are expecting our fourth child (the first two are twins). We have used (or tried) NFP to delay, and then invite, conception for all of them.

I agree with you that couples delaying childbirth can deceive themselves into thinking everything is fine, since they're using an "approved method." However, I disagree that their use of NFP is contraceptive. There's got to be another term for "we won't have sex because we don't want a baby messing up our life."

NFP is not a "magic pill." Abstaining is difficult, certainly more difficult than any chemical or physical contraceptives. Abstaining is, I think, more difficult for young men than than it is for women, but it is still a sacrifice and exercise in self-control. It was very hard for me, especially during some rocky times in our marriage, to not insist on pushing the limits or "taking chances" when my wife didn't want to. Embracing periodic abstinence, rather than merely tolerating it, has helped me be a better listener, more forgiving, more patient, and more gentle.

Contraceptive sex is always objectifying. By deliberately blocking the primary end of sex, it reduces the act to mere pleasure, and therefore treats the other as a means to that pleasure. People should never be used as means. For NFP couples, non-fertile period sex may not be always open to children, but at least they're not deliberately blocking such effects. An act of intercourse cannot be sinful for the mere reason that nature has made it at that time infertile.

As the diocesan educator mentioned above, I think it would be a huge win if more couples moved to NFP from artificial means. Even if it's only one week per month that a couple has frank discussions about timing and limits, that's still more time than contraception couples might spend. And with that periodic self-denial and sacrifice, they may sooner come to see and welcome the life-giving and fulfilling sacrifice of parenthood.

Anonymous said...

Michael, this is for you. I'm repeating myself but here it is:

You have said very clearly that NFP users can use NFP for selfish reasons. Isn't the opposite also true? Can't people that have a bunch of kids without any form of moral birth spacing do that for selfish reasons too? Maybe the man wants another tax deduction, or to receive more money from the government. Maybe the woman wants an excuse to not exercise and eat whatever she wants. Maybe the woman wants an excuse to have a messy house and be off the hook for getting things done. Maybe the couple wants to appear as being holy to their peers and simply want to fulfill expectations placed on them by their family. Maybe the man simply wants to be able to have sex without restraint. Maybe it's an excuse to not be responsible. Like any good thing in life it can be done for the wrong reasons. The Supreme Court heard arguments for gay marriage today. Is NFP (which in endorsed by the Church) the big societal problem you make it to be? I think not.
EZE

Anonymous said...

Hi EZE, I wasn't aware you were directing it me (or perhaps the other Michael) the first time you wrote it.

In any case, assuming I’m the person you’re referring to, here’s my response (numbered for ease of reference). I would be very interested in reading yours as I did try to give this some thought.
__________________

(1)
I'd be inclined to answer "yes" to most of your questions. But before we carry on I believe I should establish that your rhetorical objections are of a different GENUS to mine;

I LISTED; bad reasons to AVOID pregnancy. (A)

YOU LISTED; bad reasons to ACHIEVE pregnant. (B)

Although in (B), a child is born for primarily bad reasons, there is still a child born w/ the fullness of God-given dignity, whereas in (A) there is no fruit whatsoever.

In either case, there is malintent, but at least (B) bears some fruit by the grace of God, in this sense there is technically MORE openness to God’s will in this scenario.

As such I think the problems arising from scenario (A) are much more insidious to the culture, and counter to God’s will.
____________

(2)
Eze, Gay marriage is a symptom of society's divorce of sex from it’s natural procreative purpose, it’s an aberration begotten by a contraceptive mentality.

So perhaps, just maybe, it MIGHT be a good idea to iron out the nuances of the gold standard to which people should aim for, if not to better combat the contraceptive mentality which has caused the decadence you see in the Supreme Court and in the nation.

Because of how intimately connected a contraceptive mentality is to gay marriage, discussing ill-intent in NFP-use (for minimising pregnancy) is much more relevant than discussing bad reasons for child-bearing.

_____________
(3)
Were Kevin to suspect large Catholic families of having children for the reasons you listed, and had this played on his mind throughout the day; he'd probably be writing a blog post about it. However, he didn't, and though it hit nerve, he did in fact perceive; Catholic couples misusing NFP with a contraceptive mentality, maximising sex while minimising pregnancy for NO good reason.

So to a large extent your points/objections may be considered irrelevant, he's entitled to his musings regardless of current affairs.
______________

(4)
"The Supreme Court heard arguments for gay marriage today."

In what world is this argument for halting all ethic's debates not concerning ‘gay marriage’? Also, this discussion is actually more applicable to Catholics in countries worldwide as opposed to just American Catholics. So it’s worth talking about.

“Is NFP (which in endorsed by the Church) the big societal problem you make it to be? I think not.”

Essentially, the problem discussed has been contraceptive mentality surrounding NFP-use, never NFP itself.
_____________

I eagerly await your response.

- Michael