This is in response to the recent blog post from Lisa about Natural Family Planning.
Lisa was right when she listed Natural Family Planning (NFP) as a viable, Church-approved route to reduce the chances of a pregnancy, but she didn't give the whole picture. This is sady a topic that many Catholics of good faith do not understand correctly.
There are certain serious conditions that can make NFP lawful under Church law:
1. Medical- serious real and objective dangers to the physical or mental health of one or both partners.
2. Eugenic- real possibility of serious and incurable hereditary defects in the child. This can last for the duration of the marriage, or just for a period of time (like when the mother is taking perscription drugs that might cause birth defects)
3. Social- covering socal disturbances like famine, war, unjust laws limiting the number of children a family can have, etc.
4. Economic- In the case of TRUE SERIOUS financial hardship for supporting another child. This is perhaps the most common reason cited for NFP-practicing couples. But this reason requires brutal honesty before God. "The reason must be serious. Trifles are not enough. That the birth of other children might mean buying a less expensive car or sending the children to a less fashionable school would not justify the decision to have no more, for that would be making the ornaments of life more valuable than life itself. And not only could no Christian see things so, but only the devitalized could. Indeed, for one who has grasped what a human being is- made in God's image, immortal, redeemed by Christ- only the most serious reason would be strong enough to support such a decision." -Frank Sheehy
There are two purposes of marriage:
1. Allowing for the procreation and education of children.
2. The mutual comfort and support of the spouses and allowing a lawful outlet of concupisence (carnal desires) in the marital act between spouses.
#1 is the primary purpose, #2 is the secondary.
Natural Family Planning, if practiced simply because another child would be inconvenient, is essentially flipping the two purposes of marriage, making #2 the primary and #1 the secondary- the same spirit of those who practice artificial contraception. Regardless of whether the spouses are "open to life" despite their precautionary timing of the marital act, if Natural Family Planning is habitually practiced to take precautions against the likelihood of pregnancy, simply for its own sake, IT IS A MORTAL SIN. Please be aware of that.
Please don't think me a moral busybody. I've just recently learned about all the strings attached to NFP and want to clear the air. NFP is not instrinsically evil like artificial birth control. But it can be abused.
NFP can result in the loss of souls, and not just to Hell. Think of all the souls that could have been created if their parents were more generous in allowing God to bless them with as many children as He desires.
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