But first, let's look at what the great moralist St. Francis de Sales has to say and then we will delve also into what the Church has held, as contained in Scripture and in the writings of the Early Church Fathers:
St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Sanctity of the Marriage Bed: "In truth, nuptial commerce, which is so holy, just and commendable in itself and most profitable to the commonwealth, is yet in certain cases dangerous to those that exercise it. Sometimes it causes their souls to be seriously ill with venial sin, as in cases of simple excess. Sometimes it kills it effectually by mortal sin, as when the order appointed for the procreation of children is violated and perverted. In this latter case according as one departs more or less from this order, the sins are more or less abominable, but they are always mortal. The procreation of children is the first and principal end of marriage. Hence no one may ever lawfully depart from the due order that that end requires. This holds even at times when conception cannot take place because of some condition or circumstance as happens when sterility or pregnancy prevents it."
It is not sinful to use the marital act during periods of infertility accidentally, but it IS sinful and mortally so, to deliberately SEEK TO AVOID fertile periods, while specifically indulging in only infertile periods, thus perverting the order of procreation for which the act was created, willfully departing from it altogether every time the act is performed with such a disposition.
Many people invoke "grave" or "serious" motives, merely repeating the words of the heretical antipope Pius XII. Oh yeah? Grave like what? Is the wife going to DIE if she conceives? If this is the type of "serious motive" you put forth, then you have to admit that the husband who would demand the debt nonetheless is playing Russian roulette with her life and is a callous and evil person who cares more about gratifying his passion than he does about the life of his wife.
Tobias 6:16-17: "Then the angel Raphael said to him: Hear me, and I will shew thee who they are, over whom the devil can prevail. For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power."
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. The horse and mule, when they mate do not produce offspring, because mules are sterile. So the analogy being made here is that those who "give themselves" to lust in such a way as to avoid conception are under the sway of the devil.
Tobias 6:22: "...thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for lust, that in the seed of Abraham thou mayst obtain a blessing in children."
A couple does not engage in the marital act for the love of children when they perform it deliberately seeking to avoid conception.
Genesis 38:6-10: "And Juda took a wife for Her his firstborn, whose name was Thamar. And Her, the firstborn of Juda, was wicked in the sight of the Lord: and was slain by him. Juda, therefore said to Onan his son: Go in to thy brother's wife and marry her, that thou mayst raise seed to thy brother. He knowing that the children should not be his, when he went in to his brother's wife, spilled his seed upon the ground, lest children should be born in his brother's name. And therefore the Lord slew him, because he did a detestable thing."
Onan's deed was evil, as Scripture says, not merely because of the action he took, but why he took it. His action was evil because he did it "lest children should be born".
One of the most common, albeit pathetic arguments made in defense of NFP is that it is 'natural'. Exactly how one can say it is natural and that this somehow exonerates the sinful will against having children is beyond me. Was Onan's deed 'natural'? After all, he didn't use any foreign devices. Is that what we mean by natural? No. He did not perform the act according to its intrinsic nature, which is to deposit seed for the procreation of children.
All will agree that for this purpose condoms are unnatural. They are the sin of "Onanism".
What of NFP? Is it truly natural? On the surface, it appears that the intrinsic nature of the act is intact. This begs the question: Does God care only about the physical mechanics of the marital act or does He also concern Himself with the DESIRE, WILL and INTENTION of those performing the act? We will let St. Thomas Aquinas answer:
Summa, I of II, Question 75. Article 1: "But sin is something done; sin is a "word, deed, or desire contrary to the law of God...
...the will lacking the direction of the rule of reason and of the Divine law, and intent on some mutable good, causes the act of sin directly, and the inordinateness of the act, indirectly, and beside the intention: for the lack of order in the act results from the lack of direction in the will."
This teaching is explicit in the works of St. Augustine, who specifically described and condemned the practice of NFP many centuries before it ever came to be known by this name:
St. Augustine, On the Morals of the Manichæans, chapter 18: "Is it not you who used to counsel us to observe as much as possible the time when a woman, after her purification, is most likely to conceive, and to abstain from cohabitation at that time, lest the soul should be entangled in flesh? This proves that you approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion.
In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage, and makes the woman not a wife, but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her is joined to the man to gratify his passion.
Where there is a wife there must be marriage. But there is no marriage where motherhood is not in view; therefore neither is there a wife. In this way you forbid marriage. Nor can you defend yourselves successfully from this charge, long ago brought against you prophetically by the Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 4:1-3).
St. Augustine, Against Faustus, 22:30: “For as the eternal law— that is, the will of God the Creator of all— for the preservation of the natural order, permits the indulgence of the bodily appetite under the guidance of reason in sexual intercourse, not for the gratification of passion, but for the continuance of the race through the procreation of children;"
St. Augustine, Marriage and Concupiscence, 1:15:17: "I am supposing, then, although you are not lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility [oral contraceptives] . . . Assuredly if both husband and wife are like this, they are not married, and if they were like this from the beginning they come together not joined in matrimony but in seduction. If both are not like this, I dare to say that either the wife is in a fashion the harlot of her husband or he is an adulterer with his own wife"
By an evil prayer, that is an evil wish, desire, or intention.
St. Jerome, Against Jovinian, 1:19, A.D. 393: “But I wonder why he [the heretic Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother’s seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?”
St. Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children, 2:10:91:2: "Because of its Divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted"
According to St. Clement of Alexandria, when the seed is ejaculated during intercourse which deliberately seeks to avoid propagation, it is done so in vain.
Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children, 2:10:95:3: "To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature."
It has been taught since at least St. Augustine's time that the practice, now commonly called 'NFP', or 'Natural Family Planning', is mortal sin by it's inordinately contraceptive intention to avoid procreation in the marital act. In this way NFP is indeed unnatural in its purpose; it is contraception. The Church Fathers are unanimous in teaching that contraception is mortally sinful; it is heresy to believe that one may ever engage in any form of contraception.
Many people professing to be Catholic, however, had come to believe otherwise during the 'reign' of Antipope Pius XII, when he taught (or rather only suggested) that the observance of natural sterile periods, the 'rhythm method' or NFP is or may be lawful in his Allocution to Italian Midwives, which was added to the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, and therefore proposed to be an official and authentic teaching on morals, promulgated by the Holy See.
From the section called "Birth Control", here are quoted the first and last paragraphs, to show how Antipope Pius XII goes from Catholic (in his words at least) to rationalist, how he contorts logic.
"Today, besides, another grave problem has arisen, namely, if and how far the obligation of being ready for the service of maternity is reconcilable with the ever more general recourse to the periods of natural sterility the so-called "agenesic" periods in woman, which seems a clear expression of a will contrary to that precept."
"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."
Somehow within eight paragraphs he made a segue from describing NFP was a "will contrary to the precept" of maternity to saying that it can be used for serious motives that "not rarely arise."
Now we have NFP heretics saying things like "NFP is non-procreative but not anti-procreative." Those who follow a double-minded leader cannot help becoming double-minded themselves.
Let's just take the very last sentence of the above quote:
|"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."|
This is classic Orwellian double speak; 2+2=5. IS IT lawful or is it only MAYBE lawful? Remember we are not talking about when the couple should happen to come together during of the natural sterile periods, but about the observance of those periods. Specifically and deliberately coming together exclusively in those periods, either for a time, or even for the whole course of the couples' married lives together.
He leaves the question completely open as to whether deliberate and exclusive observance of the sterile periods is even lawful in itself, no doubt so that many people can conclude (and have concluded), that it is lawful in itself.
Also very interesting is the first sentence:
"Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called "indications'"
Completely vague 'motives' are described, or rather enumerated here, and then he quickly moves on to other topics. Quite simply he is setting no rules, offering no guidance and basically putting the ball in the court of his subjects and saying "Okay, so if you think you have a serious motive, as long as it fits into one of these four BROAD CATEGORIES, then go for it!" What he is teaching -- if you can even call it teaching -- is not what the Catholic Church has always taught.
For example, let's talk about eugenics, also known as "the self direction of human evolution". Has the Church ever taught that we are permitted to weed out the poor, weak or sickly members of the faithful in order to produce a stronger human race, or at the very least to prevent such people from marrying or procreating? Has the Church ever taught eugenics?
Again, let's see what St. Thomas Aquinas has to say:
Summa, Suppl. Question 64, Art. 1, Reply to objection 4: "Leprosy voids a betrothal but not a marriage. Wherefore a wife is bound to pay the debt even to a leprous husband. But she is not bound to cohabit with him, because she is not so liable to infection from marital intercourse as from continual cohabitation. And though the child begotten of them be diseased, it is better to be thus than not at all."
NFP, according to the intention with which it is performed, is birth control, plain and simple, and is heresy against the Natural Law and the Divine command to "be fruitful and multiply". It comes down lack of faith and trust in Divine Providence, for God certainly can provide for all the needs of any children who are born of a pious union between husband and wife. Simply take a look at the Irish Catholics during the time of the potato famine. How many of those families of 5, 10 and 15 children were practicing NFP? The difference between them and our generation? They had FAITH IN GOD'S PROVIDENCE.
From The Catholic Church on Marital Intercourse by Robert Obach:
"In their 1913 pastoral letter the German bishops declared: 'It is serious sin to will to prevent the increase of the number of children, so that marriage is abused for pleasure alone and its principle purpose knowingly and willingly frustrated.'"
This declaration has nothing to do with "preserving the intrinsic nature of the act" but condemns the SERIOUS SIN which takes place IN THE WILL.
By now, it should be obvious that Antipope Pius XII taught that one may commit the sin of Onanism for what he termed "serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called "indications"."
No surprise, then, that growing up his family frequently spent time in the town near Rome called ONANO! Seriously people, when God gives you a clue, you better take heed.
Finally, if none of this has convinced you that it is time to throw out the sinful mucus charts and practice the marital act only as God intended "moved rather for love of children than for lust", then consider these words of Christ Jesus, and how they apply to birth control and NFP:
"Either make the tree good and its fruit good: or make the tree evil, and its fruit evil. For by the fruit the tree is known."
Has NFP produced good fruit or evil fruit? Let's see, those professing to be Catholic are now amongst the LOWEST in the world for birth rate, and that the Muslim population for the first time in history has surpassed the population of self-proclaimed Catholics. Good or evil fruit? Notwithstanding the fact that most people who claim to be Catholic are not anyway. The answer should be obvious to you, unless you believe that "Muslims together with us adore the one merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."
In any case, if you practice any form of contraception, including NFP, you need to abjure your heresy and convert back to the Catholic Faith, outside of which there is no salvation.
What Must You Do To Get to Heaven?