I’ll try to explain but keep in mind there is only so much that can be said in a post and I’m not an apologist or theologian. If you are really interested in learning more from those who can explain it better I can recommend books such as ‘The Good News about Sex and Marriage’ and ‘Holy Sex’ or the encyclical Humanae Vitae
There is a discussion on another forum I’m on, and it was pointed out that there is a very different attitude to family planning between Catholics and non-Catholics- whereas generally the non-Catholic needs a reason TO have a child, we need a reason NOT to have one. In other words, birth control is the norm for most people (it’s expected that you will be on birth control from the start of marriage), but Catholics are called to be open to children when possible but avoid pregnancy when we have a good or serious reason. These reasons will obviously vary from couple to couple (could be emotional, physical, financial ect.) and it is up to them to discern. This doesn't mean they have to have as many children as possible and there is no ‘quota’ of children you have to have (your priest was wrong to say 2 is not enough, it is between the couple and God).
HeatherF wrote:I have had the same thought about natural versus artificial birth control. I really don't see how the Catholic church makes the distinction.
It really comes down to the means of achieving something is as important as what is achieved. You cannot do evil so that good may come of it (Romans 3:8). Catholics believe that sex has 2 functions, it is both unitive and procreative, and it is wrong to try and separate them. Using contraception is actively interfering with your natural fertility to remove the procreative aspect from sex. NFP is using knowledge of your body’s natural functions in order to try and achieve or avoid pregnancy.
HeatherF wrote: I'm probably going to offend people here... But the Catholic church expects you to be completely abstinent during the fertile period if you are choosing not to have a child that month. (Also you are supposed to pray and decide every month whether or not you are supposed to get pregnant...) I only found this out after I got married, and I hope my husband either doesn't care about this, or never finds out. Evidently the Catholic church considers any sexual behavior that does not ultimately end with the husband ejaculating into the wife to be a sin. Personally I think this is ridiculous, and my husband and I have lots of fun during my fertile period, just no PIV. (So no denying each other sex either, which the author of this topic doesn't agree with.)
‘Fooling around’ is fine during abstinence but no mutual masturbation, OS to completion ect. (although MS and OS are fine as part of foreplay when you are having sex). It comes under removing the procreative aspect from sex. I don’t think it is denying each other sex when you have both agreed to abstain.
Yes, discernment is important but if you have a long standing reason not to have another pregnancy that has not changed you don’t have to rehash the whole thing out every month.
HeatherF wrote:My theory (and where I will offend people) is that the Catholic church is only grudgingly allowing people this "natural" form of birth control and that they'd like to make it as hard as possible for husbands and wives to comply with the rules. Maybe then eventually a mistake is made and now there are more little Catholics running around!
I disagree with your theory, the Church sees NFP is a morally neutral in of itself, it is basically just knowledge of your body.
From Humanae Vitae
The Church is the first to praise and commend the application of human intelligence to an activity in which a rational creature such as man is so closely associated with his Creator. But she affirms that this must be done within the limits of the order of reality established by God.
If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained.
Neither the Church nor her doctrine is inconsistent when she considers it lawful for married people to take advantage of the infertile period but condemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly prevent conception, even when the reasons given for the later practice may appear to be upright and serious. In reality, these two cases are completely different. In the former the married couple rightly use a faculty provided them by nature. In the later they obstruct the natural development of the generative process.
HeatherF wrote:So anyway, yell at me if you like, but I'm a little resentful that the Catholic church thinks it can dictate exactly what my husband and I get up to inside our bedroom.
Why be resentful about a teaching of a church that you are not a member of, that you don't believe in and don't follow anyway?