Another theological question about NFP?

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Re: Another theological question about NFP?

Postby missunique » Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:28 am

ButterflyWings wrote:
missunique wrote: The time of abstaining is used as a time of prayer and discernment to decide if it would be right to have another child or if a serious reason still exists.
We believe there are 2 functions of sex, uniting the couple and procreation, and these should not be interfered with. Preventing conception is an active process, you are stopping a natural function of the body or placing a barrier between you. With NFP you are cooperating with your natural fertility, not interfering with it. I know most here probably won't agree with the theology and there is no point in me trying to convince you but hopefully you can at least understand and respect our belief."


Not sure about understand (not fully),but can totally respect. I just can't agree that NPF isn't an active process of preventing conception. But at the end of the day, I don't think it's a burning issue whether someone thinks it is or isn't.

I guess I just feel sorry for women with strong sex drive who are involved with NFP as it must be torture to forego sex at your most desiring time of the month. It can't be easy doing it over and over. For the diet analogy, I would compare it to being overweight and choosing anorexia to fix it.


We can agree to disagree :lol:
With the diet analogy, I was not relating it directly to contraception vs NFP, just trying to point out that the means are also important, not just the outcome. Anyway I wouldn't compare it to anorexia, it's not complete abstinence after all. (I even know of people who say they have more sex now using NFP than when they contracepted)

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Re: Another theological question about NFP?

Postby ucornuta » Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:43 am

missunique wrote:
Here are quotes from some of the Reformers against contraception:
Martin Luther said, "[T]he exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches . . . is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime. . . . Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore, God punished him."

John Calvin said, "The voluntary spilling of semen outside of intercourse between man and woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall on the ground is doubly monstrous. For this is to extinguish the hope of the race and to kill before he is born the hoped-for offspring."

John Wesley warned, "Those sins that dishonor the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he [Onan] did displeased the Lord—and it is to be feared; thousands, especially of single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls."



The sin for which Onan died was not for withdrawing and ejaculating outside of his wife. As the former the wife of his late brother, she had the right, under Jewish law to have Onan impregnate her on behalf of his dead brother. The first male born as a product of Onan's sperm would not be Onan's legal heir, but would carry on his brother's bloodline. Any subsequent children born from Onan and his brother's widow (now his wife) would be born for Onan's line. By withdrawing before completion, he was robbing his dead brother of an heir and ensuring that his brother's bloodline would be wiped out, which was a very big deal in that culture.

Also, I have heard that before science was able to explain the mechanics of fetilization (sperm + egg = new baby), it was commonly thought that the man's ejaculate contained tiny, but fully formed embryos (just as the seeds of plants do). This is why some translations refer to sperm as the man's "seed", which is the 'planted' into the darkness of the womb ('underground'), where it would germinate and develop, just as a seed does underground. This is clearly seen in the quote from John Calvin when he says, "For this is to extinguish the hope of the race and to kill before he is born the hoped-for offspring." Although I have great respect for these reformers, on this point I do not see a need to follow their conclusions, which were based on faulty information. I suspect that if Calvin understood the how fertilization works as we do today, he would not have made such a statement.

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Re: Another theological question about NFP?

Postby The Twit » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:46 pm

The sin for which Onan died was not for withdrawing and ejaculating outside of his wife. As the former the wife of his late brother, she had the right, under Jewish law to have Onan impregnate her on behalf of his dead brother. The first male born as a product of Onan's sperm would not be Onan's legal heir, but would carry on his brother's bloodline. Any subsequent children born from Onan and his brother's widow (now his wife) would be born for Onan's line. By withdrawing before completion, he was robbing his dead brother of an heir and ensuring that his brother's bloodline would be wiped out, which was a very big deal in that culture.


Watch out here. It was not so much a Jewish law but a general law of marriage. This was a law that predates the Law given to Moses to the Hebrews. We do see this practice it in the culture at that time. Thus is it still valid today? How would it be enforced today with only children - they have no sibling to carry on the family name?

I will agree that as we have learned more about how the body works we need to reevaluate what former church leaders stated because they are heavily influenced by the knowledge at that time. But again the reformers challenged us to look at scripture for our guidance and not rely on traditions and teachings not supported by scripture. That is as far as I will go. But I will add that no matter what this is to be a time between the husband, the wife, and God.

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Re: Another theological question about NFP?

Postby missunique » Tue Jun 25, 2013 3:57 am

The Catholic view of the story of Onan is that he was punished for 'spilling his seed' so it was a condemnation of masturbation and coitus interruptus. The punishment for not providing an heir was not death, it was public humiliation.
I'm not a biblical scholar but here is an explanation of the Catholic view (key parts quoted below): http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=2940
...those who say his only offence was infringement of the levirate marriage custom need to explain why such an offence was punished by the Lord so much more drastically in the case of Onan than than it subsequently was under the Mosaic law. If anything, we would tend to expect the contrary: i.e., that after the law was formalized as part of the Deuteronomic code its violation might be chastised more severely than before, not more mildly. Indeed, while it is clear from the Genesis narrative that the practice of levirate marriage already existed in Onan's time, there is no biblical evidence that he would have been conscious of any divine precept to observe that practice. This problem seems to have been simply ignored, rather than confronted, by those exegetes who cannot or will not see in this passage any Scriptural foundation for the orthodox Judæo-Christian doctrine against masturbation and contraception.

The classical Jewish commentators -- who can scarcely be accused of ignorance regarding Hebrew language, customs, law, and biblical literary genres -- certainly saw in this passage of Scripture a condemnation of both unnatural intercourse and masturbation as such. A typical traditional Jewish commentary puts it thus: "[Onan] misused the organs God gave him for propagating the race to unnaturally satisfy his own lust, and he was therefore deserving of death."

If simple refusal to give legal offspring to his deceased brother were, according to Genesis 38, Onan's only offence, it seems extremely unlikely that the text would have spelt out the crass physical details of his contraceptive act (cf. v. 9). The delicacy and modesty of devout ancient Hebrews in referring to morally upright sexual activity helps us to see this. As is well-known, Scripture always refers to licit (married) intercourse only in an oblique way: "going in to" one's wife, (i.e., entering her tent or bedchamber, cf. vv. 8 and 9 in the Genesis text cited above, as well as Gen. 6:4; II Sam. 16:22; I Chron. 23:7) or "knowing" one's spouse (e.g., Gen. 4:17; Luke 1:34). When the language becomes somewhat more explicit -- "lying with" someone, or "uncovering [his/her] nakedness" -- the reference is without exception to sinful, shameful sexual acts. And apart from the verse we are considering, the Bible's only fully explicit mention of a genital act (the voluntary emission of seed) is in a prophetical and allegorical context wherein Israel's infidelity to Yahweh is being denounced scathingly in terms of the shameless lust of a harlot (Ez. 23:20).
From this analysis of different biblical texts referring to sexual acts, the link between choice of words and moral evaluation in the Hebraic mentality is clearly revealed: broadly speaking, the sacred writers' disapproval of different kinds of genital activity increases with the degree of explicitness with which they are described. Conversely, when sexuality is treated in its most sublime character -- i.e., marriage as a sacred mystery symbolizing God's covenantal love with His people -- the Bible's allusions to the conjugal act are predominantly indirect and allegorical. The implications of this for Genesis 38:9, wherein Onan's sexual act is described in starkly explicit terms, are clear.

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Another theological question about NFP?

Postby padsnd » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:59 am

Onan's sin really wasn't either of those. Miss unique's last post says that those who argue it was not giving an heir need to explain why it was punishable by death. While this may be true, it backs the person saying this and directing it to masturbation into a corner. They in turn need to explain how their concept fits with being punishable by death and why billions of people who have masturbated were not killed for this action.

Onan's sin was much more than just pulling out. He was responsible to provide an heir. He didn't want to do that. Yet, he chose to fake the motions of doing it. His sin is very similar to Ananias--who happened to be killed for his deceit.

Onan's biggest sin was lying and trying to cover up the sin of not giving his brother's heir. We don't know what would have happened if he had not lied and simply refused to give an heir. We do know that centuries of men have done similar physical acts as Onan and God didn't even include a comment to imply that the act in itself was wrong--even in this one case where it is mentioned.
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Re: Another theological question about NFP?

Postby ButterflyWings » Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:03 am

padsnd wrote:Onan's sin really wasn't either of those. Miss unique's last post says that those who argue it was not giving an heir need to explain why it was punishable by death. While this may be true, it backs the person saying this and directing it to masturbation into a corner. They in turn need to explain how their concept fits with being punishable by death and why billions of people who have masturbated were not killed for this action.

Onan's sin was much more than just pulling out. He was responsible to provide an heir. He didn't want to do that. Yet, he chose to fake the motions of doing it. His sin is very similar to Ananias--who happened to be killed for his deceit.

Onan's biggest sin was lying and trying to cover up the sin of not giving his brother's heir. We don't know what would have happened if he had not lied and simply refused to give an heir. We do know that centuries of men have done similar physical acts as Onan and God didn't even include a comment to imply that the act in itself was wrong--even in this one case where it is mentioned.


It's interesting that Satan is referred to as the prince of lies. The concept of it being the deceit that God struck Onan down for makes perfect sense. God forgives if we repent but if we try to be deceitful about sin, that seems to especially anger God.

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Re: Another theological question about NFP?

Postby HeatherF » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:56 am

I have had the same thought about natural versus artificial birth control. I really don't see how the Catholic church makes the distinction. I married a Catholic (I'm a Protestant), so I did a lot of research on this. We practice FAM, but not because he's Catholic! I discovered it on my own, lol. I prefer it because I'd rather there be nothing between us, and I enjoy being very certain about when I could or could not become pregnant. And I admit that I'm a chicken and don't want to bother bringing up the topic of condoms.

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.)

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! 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. In my instance we would have to abstain for 12-15 days at a time every month. One month I had an insane 54 day cycle, so we would have had to abstain for well over 30 days straight! The priest who did our pre-marriage counseling had said something like "I don't see what's so hard about abstaining for 2 days every month!" And I had to be like "Ummm... that's not quite right..." He also told us that "2 children was not enough" and that we had to "Do more than replace yourselves"... I liked the guy, and I felt like he was a wonderful Christian, but I had to take some things with a grain of salt.

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Re: Another theological question about NFP?

Postby missunique » Fri Aug 16, 2013 6:58 am

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?

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Re: Another theological question about NFP?

Postby C_Brown » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:34 pm

I don't understand it either. I had a big conversation about it with a staunch Catholic once and he using NFP had fewer kids than I did even though we did use bc to kind of space things out. How is what I did worse?
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Re: Another theological question about NFP?

Postby beautyfromashes » Fri Aug 16, 2013 6:45 pm

Something I don't understand - if sex is supposed to be both unitive and procreative, why isn't NFP sinful? I mean if OS is sinful since you can't get pregnant, why isn't it sinful to only have sex when you know you're infertile?

Not trying to pick a fight. I just don't understand the difference.

ETA: Another thought, what about couples for whom pregnancy is impossible (post-menopause, hysterectomy, etc.) ? Are they expected to be celibate, since sec could only be unitive?

Sent from my phone. Please excuse the typos.
Last edited by beautyfromashes on Fri Aug 16, 2013 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Another theological question about NFP?

Postby landschooner » Fri Aug 16, 2013 7:09 pm

There isn't a difference. The only difference is by invention not scripture.

LS

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Re: Another theological question about NFP?

Postby Kilarin » Fri Aug 16, 2013 7:47 pm

And yet, despite all of our differences, isn't amazing how much Catholics and Protestants actually AGREE on about marriage and sex?

We agree that sex should wait for marriage.
We agree that sex is a Holy union between one man and one woman.
We agree that sex is a vitally important part of marriage that should not be rejected or refused.
We agree (despite the bad influence of Augustine*), that Sex within marriage is a GOOD thing, a Holy gift from God.

I'm not trying to belittle the differences. They are important. And being VERY protestant myself, I disagree with the Catholic Church on a LOT of issues. And yet, I still find it amazing how much common ground I can find with Christian believers from other denominations, including the Catholic Church.



*I happen to be a big fan of Augustine, but lust was a besetting sin of his, and his fight with it gave him a really twisted attitude towards sex that has been a bad influence on many Christians.

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Re: Another theological question about NFP?

Postby missunique » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:28 am

C_Brown wrote:I don't understand it either. I had a big conversation about it with a staunch Catholic once and he using NFP had fewer kids than I did even though we did use bc to kind of space things out. How is what I did worse?

It's nothing to do with the number of children you have, why do people think it all of Catholic teaching boils down to having lots of children? The Church doesn't oppose regulating births when necessary, it just opposes contraception.

beautyfromashes wrote:Something I don't understand - if sex is supposed to be both unitive and procreative, why isn't NFP sinful? I mean if OS is sinful since you can't get pregnant, why isn't it sinful to only have sex when you know you're infertile?

Not trying to pick a fight. I just don't understand the difference.

ETA: Another thought, what about couples for whom pregnancy is impossible (post-menopause, hysterectomy, etc.) ? Are they expected to be celibate, since sec could only be unitive?

The difference is you are not making a fertile act sterile. It is not up to you when you are fertile or infertile, God has ordained the women are only fertile for a certain amount of time every month and you are taking advantage of that fact, you are not trying to control it yourself. Same with post-menopausal women and those who have had a medically necessary hysterectomy, it is no longer possible to procreate but that is up to God, not due to your control.
An analogy from Christopher West:
Suppose there were a religious person, a nonreligious person, and an antireligious person walking past a church. What might each do?
Let's say the religious person goes inside and prays, the nonreligious person walks by and does nothing, and the antireligious person goes inside the church and desecrates it. (I'm framing an analogy, of course, but these are reasonable behaviors to expect.) Which of these three persons did something that is always, under every circumstance, wrong? The last, of course.
Husbands and wives are called to be procreative. If they have a good reason to avoid pregnancy, they are free to be non-procreative. But it's a contradiction of the deepest essence of the sacrament of marriage to be anti-procreative.


Hope that helps in some way?

Kilarin wrote:And yet, despite all of our differences, isn't amazing how much Catholics and Protestants actually AGREE on about marriage and sex?

We agree that sex should wait for marriage.
We agree that sex is a Holy union between one man and one woman.
We agree that sex is a vitally important part of marriage that should not be rejected or refused.
We agree (despite the bad influence of Augustine*), that Sex within marriage is a GOOD thing, a Holy gift from God.

I'm not trying to belittle the differences. They are important. And being VERY protestant myself, I disagree with the Catholic Church on a LOT of issues. And yet, I still find it amazing how much common ground I can find with Christian believers from other denominations, including the Catholic Church.

*I happen to be a big fan of Augustine, but lust was a besetting sin of his, and his fight with it gave him a really twisted attitude towards sex that has been a bad influence on many Christians.

Thanks for that, good to focus on the similarities rather than the differences :D


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