Natural Family Planning
#1
I'm having trouble understanding the Church's acceptance of NFP as a licit means of conception control.  If, for sex to be morally acceptable, it must be open to life, how is it okay for a husband and wife to come together sexually when they know that it is impossible, or at least unlikely, for the woman to become pregnant?  What is the traditional justification for this?  Similarly, how can the sexual relations of a couple be licit after the woman has passed menopause and it is medically impossible for her to conceive?  I don't understand how this kind of relationship can be regarded as "open to life."  I understand that the unitive aspect is still present, but I've always thought that both "qualifications" had to be met.  The only way that the Church's traditional teaching on this matter (as I understand it--I could be confused) can be practiced today, in light of what we know about conception and the human body, is for couples to come together only when there is a possibility of the woman becoming pregnant, thus making sex immoral the great majority of the time.  Thanks for your help in guiding me to a solid understanding of this subject!  :)
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#2
(06-27-2015, 03:37 AM)2HeartsServant Wrote: I'm having trouble understanding the Church's acceptance of NFP as a licit means of conception control.  If, for sex to be morally acceptable, it must be open to life, how is it okay for a husband and wife to come together sexually when they know that it is impossible, or at least unlikely, for the woman to become pregnant?  What is the traditional justification for this?


If they only engage in the conjugal act during times that the women is infertile, that would be objectively sinful.  However, it doesn't follow that marital intimacy during the wife's infertile period is immoral.  What has traditionally taught is that contraception, artificial or not, is sinful.  Pope Pius XI stated the true Catholic teaching in his landmark encyclical Casti connubii:

St Pius XI - Casti connubi Wrote:Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.

St Pius XI - Casti connubi Wrote:Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes, "Intercourse even with one's legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it.

Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.

Also, consider what Pope Pius XII said in his Address to Italian Midwives:

Pope Pius XII - Address to Italian Midwives Wrote:If the application of that theory implies that husband and wife may use their matrimonial right even during the days of natural sterility no objection can be made. In this case they do not hinder or jeopardize in any way the consummation of the natural act and its ulterior natural consequences. It is exactly in this that the application of the theory, of which We are speaking, differs essentially from the abuse already mentioned, which consists in the perversion of the act itself. If, instead, husband and wife go further, that is, limiting the conjugal act exclusively to those periods, then their conduct must be examined more closely.

On married couples, who make use of the specific act of their state, nature and the Creator impose the function of providing for the preservation of mankind. This is the characteristic service which gives rise to the peculiar value of their state, the bonum prolis. The individual and society, the people and the State, the Church itself, depend for their existence, in the order established by God, on fruitful marriages. Therefore, to embrace the matrimonial state, to use continually the faculty proper to such a state and lawful only therein, and, at the same time, to avoid its primary duty without a grave reason, would be a sin against the very nature of married life.

Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called 'indications,' may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life. From this it follows that the observance of the natural sterile periods may be lawful, from the moral viewpoint: and it is lawful in the conditions mentioned. If, however, according to a reasonable and equitable judgment, there are no such grave reasons either personal or deriving from exterior circumstances, the will to avoid the fecundity of their union, while continuing to satisfy to the full their sensuality, can only be the result of a false appreciation of life and of motives foreign to sound ethical principles.



(06-27-2015, 03:37 AM)2HeartsServant Wrote: Similarly, how can the sexual relations of a couple be licit after the woman has passed menopause and it is medically impossible for her to conceive?  I don't understand how this kind of relationship can be regarded as "open to life."  I understand that the unitive aspect is still present, but I've always thought that both "qualifications" had to be met.  The only way that the Church's traditional teaching on this matter (as I understand it--I could be confused) can be practiced today, in light of what we know about conception and the human body, is for couples to come together only when there is a possibility of the woman becoming pregnant, thus making sex immoral the great majority of the time.  Thanks for your help in guiding me to a solid understanding of this subject!  :)

Remember, God is the Author of Life.  No one, not even our brightest scientists, can create life.  Fertility or infertility is completely dependent on His will.  Our job is simply not to frustrate His will.  If God wills an elderly woman to conceive, she will a la Sarah.  If He doesn't, no amount of charts, thermometers, or fertility drugs will help.
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#3
Thanks, that was helpful! Especially the quote from Pope Pius XII:"In this case they do not hinder or jeopardize in any way the consummation of the natural act and its ulterior natural consequences."  That really seems to make sense.
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