3 Shocking Quotes From Protestant Reformers on Contraception


August 19, 2013 by mattfradd


Contraception is nothing new. Jason Evert shared with me that, “history records people using various methods of birth control four thousand years ago. Ancient people swallowed potions to cause temporary sterility; they used linens, wool, or animal skins as barrier methods; they fumigated the uterus with poison to keep it from bearing life. The Romans practiced contraception, but the early Christians stood out from the pagan culture because they refused to use it.”

As many now know, all of Christendom was unanimously against the use of contraception until the year 1930. It was during that year that the Anglican church in its seventh Lambeth conference permitted the use of birth control under limited circumstances.

Since that time the entire Protestant world has collapsed on this issue. Some even see contraception as virtuous, such as The Presbyterian Church (USA) who “full and equal access to contraceptive methods.” and have said that “contraceptive services are part of basic health care.” [1]

Many Protestants aren’t aware of how vociferously the Protestant reformers spoke out against contraception.

Here are three quotes which reference Genesis 38, which recounts the story of Onan, who “went in to his brother’s wife [and] spilled the semen on the ground” (9), a sin which God “slew” him for.

(I want to make it clear that these three quotations don’t necessarily represent the Catholic position, which I’ll post at the bottom).

Martin Luther:

“Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest or adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes into 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.” (Luther’s Works 7, 20-21)

John Wesley:

“Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse of his own body, of the wife he had married and the memory of his brother that was gone, refused to raise up seed unto the brother. Those sins that dishonour the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord – And it is to be feared, thousands, especially single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls.”

John Calvin:

“I will content myself with briefly mentioning this, as far as the sense of shame allows to discuss it. It is a horrible thing to pour out seed besides the intercourse of man and woman. Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is doubly horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born.

The wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the see of his brother out the womb, and as cruel and shamefully was thrown on the earth. Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race. When a woman in some way drives away the seed out the womb, through aids, then this is rightly seen as an unforgivable crime. Onan was guilty of a similar crime, by defiling the earth was his seed, so that Tamar would not receive a future inheritor.” (Commentary on Genesis).

The Catholic Church

Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality. (CCC 2370).

62 thoughts on “3 Shocking Quotes From Protestant Reformers on Contraception

  1. Thank you Matt for the post. Is that a picture of a “condom” of ancient times?

    You mention how birth control and birth control methods have been around for a very long time. This is very interesting to me because it goes to show how cultural and legal acceptance of contraception has accelerated its adoption and use. And this concept applies to abortion as well. Abortion before Roe v. Wade still existed and was practiced, but it wasn’t until you saw legal and thus cultural acceptance that you see an acceleration of abortions in the Western World.

    This leads me to conclude that the values of the culture make so much of the difference. Sinful and evil practices will always exist, but they are kept at bay by a virtuous society and culture. in other words, the Barbarians are kept at the gates. But as the culture as shifted to a secularism and relativism, the gates were opened, the Barbarians have pillaged, and we’re left with the remnants of a tattered, post-Christian world.

    The hope is that there *are* remnants left and we can always rebuild from there :).

    • carolyn says:

      AMEN! We can recover from this “pillage” however we as Christians of either Catholic or Protestant MUST stand up for TRUTH and be willing to tell others with our votes and our lifestyles.

  2. […] Contraception is nothing new. Jason Evert shared with me that, “history records people using various methods of birth control four thousand years ago. Ancient people swallowed potions to cause temporary sterility; they used linens, wool, or animal skins as barrier methods; they fumigated the uterus with poison to keep it …read more […]

  3. Just curious – where did Jesus ever say anything, ever about contraception?

    I’m guessing the whole contraception argument was made up by the Catholic church.

    • mattfradd says:

      Thanks for your comment. Do you think that the Catholic Church invented the moral norm, “do not beat children” also, since Jesus never mentioned that?

    • Good question. The Gospels didn’t record any instance of Jesus being against contraception. However, as Matt pointed out, He didn’t bring up the issue of “beating children” and it’s safe to say that’s a universal norm (regardless of the Church).

      Jesus, being that He was a practicing Jew, would’ve condemned contraception and its usage. Matt cited the example of Onan in Genesis.

      And also, not just the Catholic Church, but historical Protestantism condemned contraception. Again, Matt cited quotes from Protestant founders.

    • billbrandon says:

      What was made up was Resolution 15 of the 1930 Lambeth Conference: “Nevertheless in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles.” That would be the Protestants making up a rationalization for doing something that the moral understanding for millennia in the Judaeo-Christian faith said was wrong (it didn’t start with Catholics). The other thing that was made up was the further modification by other Protestants that the last sentence of the Lambeth Resolution (“The Conference records its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception control from motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.”) did not apply to them and the subsequent agreement of the Church of England that they could ignore that.

    • Proteios1 says:

      There are a lot of specifics Jesus never commented on. What you point out is the vast limitation of sola scriptura. In fact, knowing his Jewish background…and of course the Jewish beliefs specifically, one doesn’t have to blame that big ol bad Catholic Church for making it up. It was common sense at the time of Christ and the Church simply codified the norms Christ would have lived and taught by. I do recommend being weary of historical revisions. They are insidious and the secular, especially atheistic culture has impregnated our modern perspectives with them.

  4. Is Onan the only “proof-text” for this belief? Also, what is the WHOLE CONTEXT of the passage on Onan?

  5. Connie Hill says:

    Matt, you totally deflected the issue with your “response”.

    • mattfradd says:

      Connie, thanks. You’re right. In a sense I did deflect the issue, I did so because I think the commenter is basing her argument upon a false premise, namely, we must only adhere to the moral norms Christ explicitly taught. This is obviously false, and the reason I gave, I though, demonstrated that. Obviously no Christian would say, “Hey, Jesus said nothing about hitting children with bricks! Therefore, if the Church says hitting children with bricks is immoral it must have been made up by the Catholic Church. Does that make sense?
      Thanks again for your comment and I look forward to your follow up.

      • Connie Hill says:

        I totally understood what you were saying with your answer, I just thought it seemed a bit deflective and flippant. I know that you didn’t appreciate the blanket statement about Catholics, but I think a more thoughtful answer would go further.And by all means, add the analogy to it to help explain.

  6. antonia says:

    doesn’t the 10 Commandments say thou shalt not kill???? isn’t abortion murder?
    well there you go, God said no abortion… 🙂 oh, and God IS Jesus… hence Jesus said no contraception… why? because contraception prevents life, and God said from the beginning in Genesis, to go out, be fruitful and multiply on the earth, not subtract on it… we are not to interpret the Bible in a way that is convenient for us by how we feel about a particular subject just because Jesus didn’t spell it out exactly the way we want to see or hear it…God is love, and love does not destroy, it builds up ….man kills and destroys by way of satan…

  7. It’s frustrating when people use that passage in a discussion about contraception. The story of Onan has nothing to do with him spilling his seed on the ground. It is all about greed. This is one thing, in my opinion, that Catholics fail to do: research passages for context.

    In that time, when Onan’s brother Er died, it was his duty to impregnate his brother’s widow. The child who resulted would be considered Er’s child. The child would receive Er’s share of Judah’s estate (Judah was the father of Er and Onan). If Er did not have a child, the “firstborn share” of Judah’s estate defaulted to Onan.

    The firstborn son received a double portion of the father’s estate. Here is what this means:

    Judah had three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah. Er would receive a double portion (an easy way to comprehend this would be to think of him as “two” sons), which means he would receive 50% of Judah’s estate upon Judah’s death. Onan would receive 25%. Shelah would receive 25%.

    With me?

    But if Er was dead and had no heir, Onan receives a double portion. Now the percentages would break down like this: Onan (counting as “two” sons) would receive 2/3 of Judah’s estate, and Shelah would receive 1/3.

    Onan had no problem having sex with Tamar, his brother Er’s widow. He withdrew so that she would not get pregnant. Since the resulting child would be considered Er’s child and receive Er’s share, Onan’s portion would be reduced from 66% down to 25%, an enormous difference. Judah was a rich man.

    Onan was killed because of greed. This passage has not a THING to do with contraception.

    • Sarah K says:

      I was sort of thinking the same thing … that the Lord killed Onan because his actions were the result of his greed and not so much about the contraception issue itself.

      • Cl says:

        The case of Onan is diferent, however he used contraception only with a different motive of today’s users and a sin is a sin no matter what your motive is, for the end does not justify the means . . . unless you can prove any argument superior than any ordinary condition.

    • pgepps says:

      Wait, so Onan wanted to have sex, but not kids, because having kids would not be to his economic benefit, though it would benefit the mother and her child?

      [sarcasm]You’re right. This obviously has *nothing* to do with the reasons people use contraception today.[/sarcasm]

    • I agree with Donny on this one, in reading Genesis about Onan.

      9 But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir.

      Shows motive for the action of spilling the seed, which from there, can be implied from

      10 But the Lord considered it evil for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother.

      Because of Onan’s motive for spilling the seed, not the action itself.

      In context, it really doesn’t imply God was angry at Onan for withdrawal. More as Donny points out, because Onan was denying a child for reasons of greed.

      I guess you could argue that is why contraception is used by people today. To deny a child because of money concerns, personal desires.

      But when you look at the Catholic’s teaching on NFP that is no different. Your denying God a chance to conceive a child by avoiding intercourse during the fertile time.

      NFP is a conscious deliberate effort to deny a child. By making a conscious act, not to have sex during a fertile period, by measuring temperatures, counting days and all that, I don’t see how that is any different than what Onan did. If Onan knew the science of conception he might of used NFP instead, and God would still of been angry at him for denying a child.

      My 2 cents worth 🙂

      I don’t get the Catholic stance on contraception. NFP is a form of contraception, they but somehow that is ok but using a condom is not. Both are used to achieve the same goal, prevent conception.

      It’s like saying, hey look God I trust you with my fertility but only when I know my body doesn’t have an egg ready to conceive.

      Maybe I’m missing the general point but contraception, a condom, and NFP, are both attempting to achieve the same end result, ensure conception is denied. However, neither are 100% fallible. I can’t see how “God” would see one as ok but the other not. In both situations your consciously denying God the chance to create life. In some ways, more so with NFP. At least with a Condom during a fertile time, God could intervene and break it 😉

      • Hi Steve,

        I wish I had the time to address your points, but a book I recommend regarding the difference between contraception (such as birth control or devices) and NFP is addressed in Patrick Coffin’s book “Sex Au Naturel.” They are not the same and his book speaks of the differences between them. Short, sweet book.

      • If it comes back to “Love”, “Sensual Pleasure” etc, which I’ve read elsewhere, that is irrelevant to the discussion or reasoning behind why “God” would not condone the use of say a condom over NFP, expecially in context to Onan. They are both used for the same purpose, to reduce the chance of a child being conceived.

        Simple questions

        What is the objective of NFP? – reduce the chance of conception
        What is the objective of a Condom? – reduce the chance of conception

        The conscious intent of both is the same in a married environment.

      • Charbel says:

        If you read Genesis 38:9, you can read that God killed Onan for what he DID:

        “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.” Douay Rheims

        But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife he spilled the semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he slew him also. RSV

        The biblical penalty for not giving your brother’s widow children was public humiliation, not death (Deut. 25:7–10). But Onan received death as punishment for his crime. This means his crime was more than simply not fulfilling the duty of a brother-in-law. He lost his life because he violated natural law, as Jewish and Christian commentators have always understood. For this reason, certain forms of contraception have historically been known as “Onanism,” after the man who practiced it, just as homosexuality has historically been known as “Sodomy,” after the men of Sodom, who practiced that vice (cf. Gen. 19). (Catholic Answers)

        NFP is not contraception. If a couple has a JUST reason to use NFP they may, but they may never use contraception. This video explains NFP well:

      • @Charbel

        The ultimate aim of NFP remains the same as using a condom, or Onan’s method.

        To reduce the chance of conception.

        The reasoning why someone chooses to reduce the chance of conception may be no different than why they practice withdrawal, using a condom or any other method.

        I have yet to see any biblical justification that NFP would be ok, but other forms of contraception not. While there is spin created around it, it feels better, more sensual, the sperm is good for the woman and so on….These are not biblical justifications.

        Now if the Catholic church just said no to ANY sort of measures of conception then fair enough, but they don’t. They appear try to make out “God” should be in control of whether a child is conceived, but at the same time say heck, if you wanna do a bit of messing with NFP to reduce “God’s” control, then that’s ok…

        It just sounds like, from an outsiders point of view, a double standard. And I’m yet to see a sound biblical based, or logical, argument that says otherwise.

      • Charbel, you’re simply incorrect. That is NOT how Jews interpret this passage at all. He was killed because of what he did, correct. What he did was deprive his brother’s wife of an heir do to his greed, not because of spilling his seed on the ground. Consult your local Rabbi for clarification if you will. He’ll tell you the same.

      • CJ says:

        The difference between NFP and contraceptives is subtle but important. I will try to explain it, but may not do it justice.

        The premise with NFP is that you are cooperating with the way the system is designed – that is, a woman has naturally infertile periods in her life, and you are taking advantage of that. That is one aspect of it. One could argue that withdrawing would also fulfill this, but it doesn’t for reasons discussed below.

        In contrast, something like a condom (or a pill, or the IUD, or one of any other numerous methods we’ve devised) frustrates the natural system – as in, it creates a breakdown in how it’s *supposed* to work. You’re intentionally making it malfunction.

        The physical aspect aside, there are also spiritual implications. Marriage is considered a sacrament, and as such part of the sacrament is the inclusion of children should they occur. Catholic vows anyway actually state that.

        Now, there is no onus on the couple to have as many children as possible (the Church actually teaches the opposite, that they should be prudent and use judgment in the number of children they have), but there does need to have this openness to life each and every time the couple engages in the “marital embrace” (the Church’s euphanism for sex, I think it’s rather quite lovely).

        By using NFP, the couple is not standing in the way of being open to life when they copulate, and are not causing a frustration or break-down of a natural system. They are actually cooperating with it. They do not always need to choose to have sex, but when they do, they should be open to the life it *could* create, even if the likelyhood is low because of the way the natural system is designed.

        And that openness needs to be each time, every time, not just when they are desiring conceiving a child. Why? Because their vows say so. Think of it this way – there is also a vow for fidelity. Do we not have the expectation that that vow be fulfilled each and every time? So what logic would there be in applying one standard to one part of the vows, and another standard to the rest?

        There is more to it, more deeper spiritual significance tying into Creation and Salvation, but this was the 101 as best I could. There are many very good books out there on the topic that would explain it much better than I do.

        And incidently, it IS possible to use NFP like contraception. Attitude and intent count for a lot, and using NFP isn’t a safeguard from that. Sex is powerful and important, and should be approached prayerfully and with reverence.

      • Deb says:

        Anyone who says NFP is the same as contraception must have never practiced it. If you use NFP to avoid getting pregnant, it requires a grace-filled amount of self control. Contraception requires no self control.

      • wineinthewater says:


        You are missing something very important here: you may not do evil that good may come of it (Rom 3:8). The difference between NFP and artificial contraception is not the ends, but the means. So, discussion of the intent really is quite beside the point.

        The difference between NFP and artificial contraception is that NFP works with the natural cycle of human fertility. Human fertility is sometimes characterized by infertility. The couple give of themselves fully in each sexual act, embracing the cyclical nature of the couple’s fertility. In contraceptive sex, the couple withholds their fertility from each other.

        You’ve characterized not having sex as an act akin to using contraception. But it is not, it is abstaining from an act. And that is the difference. Within NFP if you cannot accept the possibility of conception, you don’t have sex. You don’t sterilize sex. You don’t trap your fertility or poison it.

        And keep in mind that Catholic teaching about NFP does address intent. Though NFP is a permissible means, it can still be tied to an immoral intent. NFP is not *always* allowed, only when it is united to just reason.

  8. Melinda Gates, Bill Gates wife, a Catholic, campaigns for the use of contraceptives in Africa. Funnily I only found out about it reading Dan Brown’s latest novel, Inferno. He mentions the stock piles of condoms in his novel and the Catholics crusade to undo the work of people like Melinda Gates in helping the woman of Africa.

    Watch her video

    She makes a compelling argument.

    Encouraging the absent of use of contraception outside of a married environment can lead to a great deal of suffering for the mothers, children who are born (who then die), or an increase in abortions.

    The practice only really works in a married environment, where it makes sense.

    Promoting no sex outside of wedlock makes sense. But if people are not going to follow that rule first, the no contraception rule makes no sense at all.

    Some “Teachings” only make sense when used in combination with each other. Applying one without the other can lead to bigger issues.

    • wineinthewater says:

      Leaving all the moral and spiritual issues aside, Melinda Gates has a lot of practical reasons for her stance, but there are also practical reasons why her stance is fundamentally flawed. Pushing contraception on women in developing nations creates an unhealthy dependency. If your economic well-being and health is based on not having children, and you achieve that through contraception, that makes your economic well-being and health dependent on access to contraception. So, you have a society whose stability is dependent on either the aid program that provides the contraception or the contraception companies themselves. The result is a society that is not truly stable, and can never be.

      Not to mention the rather disturbing foundation of the whole approach. If contraception is the answer, that means that the problem is that there are just too many of “those people.” The whole system is based on condescension and patronizing another people.

  9. Henry Ferro says:

    Christians beware of following the lead of white Europeans, who have contracepted and aborted their way into virtual extinction. Europe has had a negative birth rate for sometime, meaning that they are not procreating sufficiently to even replace themselves.

    • Connie Hill says:

      Seriously, NFP is not contraception? I don’t care how you turn and twist your explanation or thinking; the bottom line is to prevent a pregnancy. Yes, it doesn’t block sperm or kill sperm, but the intention of anyone who uses NFP is clearly to not create a pregnancy or child.

      • Sullymom says:

        That is strange, I have USED NFP to conceive my children. NFP is an understanding of a woman’s natural biology…the one created by God…and using it, prayerfully, can only bring a couple closer to one another and to Him. Why do you suppose God only allowed a woman to be fertile a mere 3-7 days a month? Because he wanted us to procreate like animals with no thought as to how we will care for them? No, I don’t think so.

  10. Cephas Martin says:

    What many of you are ignoring is that NFP is also used in conceiving children; something a condom can’t do.

    • Connie Hill says:

      That is a true, valid point, It’s just irrelevant in this particular discussion since it is used as a method to prevent pregnancy as well.

      • Jessica says:

        The Catholic Church teaches against making the sexual act a sterile one. Onan deliberately made his sexual act sterile when he spilled his semen on the ground. He didn’t sin by wasting his semen (for example, not every act of intercourse results in pregnancy, even if the woman is fertile, which would, in effect, be “wasting” semen). Onan sinned by intentionally sterilizing his seed. NFP, in contrast, does not render the sexual act sterile. There is always the possibility of of procreation. Female hormones do very funky things at times – she may think she is infertile only to find herself very fertile within hours because stress delayed fertility or her calculations were off or her body sent false infertile signals (all of which is very possible with any woman).

        Basically, NFP simply seeks to regulate pregnancy by observing abstinence during the woman’s fertile period – but, since quirks happen all the time in the human body, there’s always a chance that pregnancy may occur, anyway. A husband and wife who use NFP for unselfish reasons to regulate their pregnancy chances are still open to the possibility that it might occur; i.e. they are not sterilizing the body in any way to avoid pregnancy.

        Furthermore, even NFP can be a bad thing if used selfishly. We are supposed to have children. Denying that is going against God’s plan for us. But, in unselfish cases, such as health problems, financial concerns, etc. (things that can make it impossible to protect the children and raise them as healthy, whole individuals), utilizing NFP to regulate pregnancy is not against the teachings of the Church.

      • Steve Goodwn says:


        Well said, and explained.

        The same argument can be made about using a condom. There not 100% fool proof, they even say that on the packet. Onan, I’m presuming, used withdrawal, and we know from that method is also not 100% fool proof. To say NFP is ok because it’s not 100% fool proof doesn’t validate it from a logical perspective, or a Godly one. God could certainly cause a condom to break, or withdrawal to be miss timed, or pre ejaculation to occur. Men’s timing aren’t 100% 🙂

        I struggle to see how one is more intrinsically evil than the other in a loving, married environment.

        I.E. saying withdrawal is always evil but NFP is only when used for selfish reasons. NFP intentionally attempts to sterilize the seed by ensuring a fertile egg isn’t present.

        Statistics indicate, from a respectable source Guttmacher, Catholics don’t shy away from using contraceptives any more than anyone else more by more than 1%,


        “Women who “have ever used” contraceptives: In April 2011, the Guttmacher Institute published the results of an analysis finding that 99% of all women of reproductive age who have ever had sex—including 98% of such Catholic women—have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning.”

        “Women who are “currently using” contraceptives: The above statistics on women who have ever used contraceptives are not to be confused with data on women who are currently using contraceptives. Among women who are currently at risk of unintended pregnancy, 88% overall—and 87% of Catholics—use a method other than natural family planning. ”

        By these statistics, it’s clear this Catholic teaching is not followed in the main stream Catholic community. I would say this is a failing on the Church for not making it clear why, or backing up there reasoning with clear and concise logic, reasoning, or biblical backing.

        To make comparisons with Protestant teachings, when Catholics, in the main stream, don’t practice what is taught seems a bit tardy.

        Don’t get me wrong, I admire Catholic teachings on no sex before marriage, but even that is failing according to statistics. I also admire the concept of no contraception, while possibly not practical in today’s world I see the logic behind it.

        Back to the Guttmacher stats

        “By their early 20s, some 79% of never-married women—and 89% of never-married Catholic women—have had sex. (Presumably, all married women have done so.) In short, most American women (including Catholics) have had sex by their early 20s, and virtually all of them have used contraceptives other than natural family planning.”

        Interesting times. Very hard to take a “Stance” on something when there is no apparent backing on that stance from within the community that is “suppose” to follow it.

        It seems really damaging the Catholic Church goes and preaches to Africa, where it costs lives, and begots children to a life of suffering by saying don’t use contraceptives. When the Western world doesn’t follow the teachings in the mainstream of no sex outside of wedlock or contraceptive use. It comes across as really hypocritical, and somewhat damaging to a culture like Africa who have less resources to make a reasonable choice about their lives.

        I guess that is why I relate to Melinda Gates, a Catholic, Bill Gates wife, on the subject.

        Worth a watch.

        Appreciate eveyones input on this topic. Very informative, and very enlightening. I may not agree with all people’s opinions, or the Catholics church stance on this topic, and I’m sure not everyone agrees with mine, but it’s great to see them all. We all learn and grow by listening and talking. I’m also not saying the Catholic Church is incorrect in its position, I’m just struggling to see the logic, or biblical evidence for the stance.

      • Alex B. says:

        There is plenty of evidence and studies that indicate when couples practice NFP (together), they can effectively control conception with an almost equivalent rate to artificial methods without any side effects. The cost is hugely different, too; just a few dollars for basal thermometers compared to hundreds or even thousands for artificial methods (- ). Melinda’s $4 billion could buy nearly 300 million basal thermometers that would last those women a lifetime, whereas that same $4 billion would run out after treating just 32 million women for just one year ($125 per year per woman for Depo-Provera). That’s just 1/3 of the female population for just one year!

        So, I wondered, if Melinda is really so concerned about these women having access to birth control why does she not promote some combination of NFP and artificial methods? Why just artificial methods? Why is her foundation almost solely focused on the distribution of Depo-Provera?

        I researched why Melinda chooses not to promote NFP and instead artificial methods. While I didn’t find any direct quotes, I did find this interview; The article reveals something that I believe tells at least part of the underlying truth of it.

        In the article, Melinda states that many women in Africa she asked wanted artificial contraception in the form of Depo-Provera, which is a shot given 3-4 times annually. The reason they wanted Depo-Provera is that it is easy to hide from their husbands. The article states the women would often walk hours, and often without their husband’s knowledge, just to find a clinic that would provide it.

        In other words, NFP won’t work for them because their husbands won’t. I could not think of any good reasons why a husband would choose to put his wife and children at risk by practicing neither NFP nor allowing artificial contraception.

        I come to the conclusion that my original supposition is correct; their husbands are treating them in a consistently deplorable manner.

        How is supporting a pattern of deception going to improve that? If these husbands are already abusive (or disrespectful at best), what happens when they discover their wife’s deception?

        Would artificial birth control prevent the suffering, or death of fetus and babies? Would it prevent, in some cases, the death of the mothers?

        I found this page on the World Health Organizations website, which makes a bunch of scary proclamations but doesn’t bother to cite a reference for a single one of them. They throw out HIV/AIDS as one of the biggies, but they neglect to mention that the most popular form of birth control in the region, Depo-Provera, does not prevent HIV transmission. In fact, studies indicate that Depo-Provera actually increases the rate of HIV transmission (-

        Woah! Wait up! This is what Melinda wants to give them (and seemingly nothing else)? How is that helping North-African women?!?! How is that going to lead to an overall reduction in mortality rate? What exactly is the mortality rate to either mother or child from unintended pregnancy?

        Short answer, either not very much higher or not stated than with intended pregnancy.
        The only report I could find with citations;
        Follow the citations to:

        Ok. So, let’s go to the horses mouth and see if we can find some answer.

        Here’s the tell in a Bill & Melinda Gate’s Foundation press release;

        Take note of 3 things; first the foundation has partnered with Pfizer, second Pfizer makes Depo-Provera, and third Financial Times expects the contraceptive market to expand to $17 billion by 2015 (-

        Things that make you go, “hmm.”

      • wineinthewater says:


        Guttmacher is not a respectable source. They are the research arm of Planned Parenthood. They have a vested interest in telling a very specific story. Just look at how they slice and dice the data to make their “Catholic” point. It is 98% of Catholic women of “reproductive age,” 15-44. It excludes women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant and post partum. Then it gets even sillier. It excludes women who have not had sex in the last 3 months. And sillier still: It counts every woman who reported no method as having used contraception. And let’s not forget that it counts those women if they have ever once used contraception in their entire lives.

        Why should we be surprised at the number? Guttmacher has basically said: 98% of Catholic women who are the most likely to use contraception have used contraception at least once in their lives.

        I bet well over 98% of Catholics have told a lie at some point in their lives. I guess this means that the Catholic Church should change her teaching about lying, because by the same logic it is obvious that Catholics do not agree with the teaching. Can you see what a fundamentally flawed argument this is? The fact that we are sinners is not grounds for changing the definition of sin.

  11. Robert Graham says:

    Let’s clarify something. There are two issues at play here. (1) The end and (2) the means used to achieve that end. The Catholic Church is not saying that the end goal of regulating child birth for moral reasons (finances, responsibility to children already born, etc…) is wrong. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood.” (CCC 2368) What is saying is that the end does not justify the means, if the means is intrinsically wrong: “Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means . . . for example, direct sterilization or contraception” (CCC 2399).

    The difference is in the means. A couple using contraceptives and a couple using NFP can have the same good, moral reasons for wanting to regulate child birth, but what the Church is saying is that there is an intrinsic difference in the means. Namely, that one is using the natural, God-given cycle He created, and the other is attempting to circumvent the natural cycle God has created for something “more convenient”.

    I see that many people have already mentioned the story of Onan, and I think a good point was made that hasn’t been addressed yet. If all Onan did wrong was deny his brother’s wife children (the end or goal) and there was nothing wrong with his means of doing so, then why did God, who gave the Jews the law in Leviticus, punish Onan more strongly that His own law dictates (implying Onan offended God in more than just denying his brother’s wife children (the end or goal) which only leaves his means as either the reason for his death or the means and the ends combined as the reason for his more serious punishment)?

    One more point, the Catholic Church does not teach that NFP is the “get out of jail free card” (see the above quote from CCC 2368). A couple can be using NFP and still be committing a sin if they are “motivated by selfishness”.

  12. ray smith says:

    Many people are misunderstanding the sin of Onan. His sin, for spilling his seed was because Israel was under covenant and command to reproduce to fulfill the promise of Abraham that he would become as numerous as the stars of heaven (or sand on the seashore) to spill one’s seed is thwarting God’s designs and Israel’s destiny
    One cold see similar parallels with the sin of Eden in choosing one’s will over God’s designs. Greed is a second-hand issue, though yes an issue. This sin is about life and death not money

  13. Laura Bovee says:

    What most of you are not understanding in regards to NFP, is the purpose of the act itself. If the purpose of sex (during fertility) is to create a baby, a condom would allow you to have sex and obstruct the conception. A couple using NFP is ALWAYS open to conception but chooses to have intercourse when it is not likely they will conceive. The ACT is never compromised… Because contraception takes away the consequence of the conjugal act, many young people have sex and are ‘surprised’ when they become pregnant. To them, the purpose of the act is for pleasure, intimacy, etc. Fewer teens would have sex if they were taught this concept.

  14. Any one on here ever read JPII’s Theology of the body? If not it gives clear biblical reasons behind the contraception question. If you don’t want to read the whole document then get Theology of the Body Made Simple. This topic and others that have been discussed on pages like this sound like a broken record. Just read the Church Documents, people who spend their entire life in prayer and study have already figured out (with the Guidance of the Holy Spirit) and written down these answers in clarity. If you really want answers and proof look beyond the documents of the Bible and the Catechism , they are the frame work. John 21:24-25 “It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.”

  15. Pro NFP comments make no sense when used as an argument to defend for use in reducing the chance of conception.

    The intent is the same.


    I.E. the intent of using NFP is to reduce the chances of conception by ensuring an egg is not in a fertile state while having intercourse, therefore attempting to the ensure the act of intercourse is occurring in a sterile environment. A woman will purposely, depending on the time of the month, allow her egg to die, by abstaining from intercourse. In doing this the couple also know, when they do engage in intercourse, the sperm will mostly likely die.


    The intent of using a condom between a male and female, married couple, in a loving relationship is to reduce the chance of conception. In an attempt to ensure the act of love making is occurring in a sterile environment. A male will use a condom to purposely prevent his sperm from reaching a possible fertile egg, resulting in the death of the sperm, and inevitably denying any egg the chance of fertilisation.

    God will see the Intent of both actions. In both situations a party member, or both collude, to ensure the death of either an egg or a sperm, ensuring when they participate in sexual intercourse it occurs in a sterile environment. To me, to presume God will not see the intent seems naïve. While you can make out NFP is a more beautiful method, and indeed it is, but if the intent is the same, the intent is the same. On a more extreme example, it’s like spinning murder would be ok if you did it without a weapon. I.E. you planned for a person to be at location A at such a date when you knew something would happen which would result in the person’s death. God would still see the intent of the person’s actions.

    If you could clearly demonstrate a difference in intent between the two I would be open to change my mind on the subject.

    • Michael Loch says:

      The intent is not the issue, Steve. It is the method. I agree that the intent can be the same between NFP and contraception, but do the ends justify the means? If a man wanted to provide for his family, he could get a job or rob a bank. Are both methods acceptable because the ends (or the intents) are the same?

      • “but do the ends justify the means”

        That is Melinda’s Gates argument, linked in the video above, she makes argues it should be a woman’s choice to use modern day contraceptives.

        Does the ends of the Catholic Church saying no to Condoms in Africa, causing children to suffer and die, and or woman to die justify the means?

        On one hand if everyone stopped having “SEX” because they were told not to use condoms, you could say yes. We know that is not going to happen and doesn’t. The alternative? Melinda Gates approach.

        The debate seems mute when you look at the application of the teaching within the Catholic Church.

        “By their early 20s, some 79% of never-married women—and 89% of never-married Catholic women—have had sex. (Presumably, all married women have done so.) In short, most American women (including Catholics) have had sex by their early 20s, and virtually all of them have used contraceptives other than natural family planning.”

        If the Church’s own flock doesn’t follow the teaching, it seems evident the Church hasn’t presented strong enough arguments, with logical or biblical backing.

        When you blur the lines on a conviction by saying something like “NFP” is ok, but withdrawal, or using a condom isn’t it becomes confusing when you look at the intent of the actions. Using a thermometer to take your temperate, to know when an ovary is fertile, is using a “Man Made Device” to avoid conception. The reason to avoid may be exactly the same as why you would use a condom.

        With your steal / work analogy you’ve combined two intents into one. Stealing and working are both intents in their own right. Providing for one’s family is a secondary intent.


        “Steal from someone” to “provide for myself or my family.”


        “Work to make money” to “provide for my family.”

        With the intent of using a condom, or withdrawal, as opposed to NFP, I’m questioning the sin part. Let’s break them down. None are 100% full proof so we can’t argue God has a chance in the conception process.


        “Interrupt love making” to “ensure the act is sterile”


        “Abstain from love making at certain times” to “ensure the act is sterile”


        “Use a device” to “ensure the act is sterile”

        What is the SIN part? As far as I’m aware the SIN part is ensuring (or attempting to) make the act sterile.

        I think the world would be much better if there was no sex before marriage and we could all pump (hmm pump sounds a little crude) out large families with a zero divorce rate. “Be fruitful and multiply!” Perfect world. Contraception use is linked with a substantial increase in sex before marriage which due to the failing contraception leads to a higher abortion rate. But we live in a very broken, and an imperfect world. I don’t see the point, or humanity, in pushing beliefs like contraception is a SIN onto people causing the loss of life in countries like Africa. Using no contraception in countries like Africa causes death, suffering and a higher abortion rate. No contraception in western world while sex before marriage is occurring causes an increase in abortion rates and spread of disease. By all means we should push no sex before marriage (tough in today’s world). The secondary attack, saying contraception is a sin appears like an abhorrent way of trying to get enforce the command of no sex before marriage.

        Do the ends justify the means? …. Great question.

      • wineinthewater says:


        “Do the ends justify the means? …. Great question.”

        In a Christian context it isn’t, it’s a terribly question. Paul is absolutely clear that the ends do not justify the means (Rom 3:8).

        This is one of the great failings of contemporary morality, it is ends focused. It is so concerned with intents, that it ignores means. yet Christianity has always had a clearer view. A just act combines morality in the intent with morality in the action. The same philosophical construct that you would use to justify contraception is also being used to justify abortion and torture and war and euthanasia.

        So, you have to see a rather fundamental difference between NFP and a condom. Within NFP, the sex act is infertile because of the way God made human fertility. In contraceptive sex, the sex is infertile because it has been sterilized by a positive act of the couple. In NFP, the couple is avoiding conception by acting in cooperation with the nature of their God-made and God-given fertility. In contraception, the couple is avoiding conception by thwarting the nature of their God-made and God-given fertility.

        That their ends are the same does not matter, because Christianity has always taught that the ends don’t justify the means.

        “I would say A is the most likely. Hence my statement above “If the Church’s own flock doesn’t follow the teaching, it seems evident the Church hasn’t presented strong enough arguments, with logical or biblical backing.” ”

        There is much better D. It is a hard teaching, a teaching made harder by a culture trying to subvert it at every turn. But we must remember, when the hard teachings of Jesus cost him disciples, he did not just change the teaching. There was a time when the majority of Christians did not follow the teaching that Jesus was fully God. By your logic, Arianism was right and orthodox Trinitarianism should have been tossed. Alex may not think you are making an argument ad populum, but I do. It may not be your only argument, but it is your argument.

        As for Africa, you make the argument for avoiding suffering. But again, we come up against one of our culture’s fundamental failings: immediacy. There are fundamental problems in many parts of Africa regarding access to health care, poverty, lack of respect for women by men, etc. Contraception will not solve any of these fundamental problems, it will only mask them. By putting effort and resources into a contraceptive infrastructure, we don’t have those resources and effort available to deal with the underlying and fundamental problems. We might save some lives and alleviate some suffering in the short run, but we also perpetuate the problem, most likely leading to more death and suffering in the long run. If we focused instead on addressing the underlying disease instead of masking the symptoms, we would stand a much better chance of curing the disease. By just masking the symptoms by flooding those societies with contraception, we are just perpetuating the disease.

    • Alex B. says:

      Here you made a transitive relation between those who use contraception and those who use NFP that isn’t accurate. Certainly, no one would argue that the primary purpose of all who use a condom inside the context of marriage are doing so in order to prevent conception. In other words, they are contracepting. That same statement does not translate to those who practice NFP.

      In order to avoid conception using NFP, the couple must abstain from sex. You assert that abstinence, then, is the same thing, that the intent is the same, as having sex with contraceptives. By this logic, you are asserting that abstinence is a willful, deliberate attempt to subvert the natural (divinely-directed) process of procreation.

      The notion that abstinence prevents conception might seem right, but it is a critical logical flaw. You might have chosen not to drive a car yesterday. Can I then say that you prevented a car accident? You might have chosen not to eat pizza last night. Can I then say that you prevented a pizza? Let’s reword slightly to see the flaw more clearly; If not sex, then contraception.

      With contraception, you catch semen in little rubber bags filled with spermicide, or use pills that cause a certain amount of damage each month, month after month, to a female’s reproductive system with the design being that the damage is large enough to prevent conception. The first method does not seem to result in lasting harm to the user, but with the second method, as you might expect, repeated small doses of damage lead to increased rates of illnesses, particularly several types of cancer (-National Cancer Institute, Oral Contraceptives and Cancer Risk). Neither of these sound remotely similar to abstinence to me.

      You mention intent repeatedly. You assert that practicers of NFP have the same intent as users of contraception. Your assertion then is that those who intend not to get pregnant by not having sex have the same intent as those who avoid pregnancy by actively disposing of eggs and sperm as part of the act of having sex. With the first, the intent is to avoid a natural consequence by not doing something. For example, one might avoid jail by not robbing a bank. Conversely, the second avoids the natural consequence by perpetrating an additional action. For example, one might rob a bank and then shoot the guards to avoid capture.

      Let’s be perfectly clear, Catholic teaching does not say it is sinful to not want to conceive. We aren’t mindless rabbits. God gave us the reproductive cycle for a reason. Official church teaching does not take offense at a couple not wanting to conceive. Instead, the church takes offense to the second part of contraception; the act of killing that which God uses as the tools of creation.

      If you say that you belong to God, then all of you belongs to him. He commands that you not mutilate yourself. Your sperm and your eggs are a part of you (the couple) in a very special way. They hold the blueprint of each of you and the future plans of what you look like together. Hold them in your body if you don’t want to conceive, but don’t spill them on the ground.

      Choosing not to have children for your entire life might be another kind of sin, but it is not the same as contraception.

      Here is the official explanation of the church’s teaching on NFP.
      If you wish to attribute some assertion to the church and then refute it, consider citing the reference. Also note that Guttmacher’s study is a fallacious argument in this context; just because people who claim to be Catholic don’t practice church teaching doesn’t mean the teaching is invalid. see ‘argumentum ad populum’.

      • Hi Alex,

        Thanks for your reply.

        As I said in a previous post

        “I’m also not saying the Catholic Church is incorrect in its position, I’m just struggling to see the logic, or biblical evidence for the stance.”

        Your statement, “Also note that Guttmacher’s study is a fallacious argument in this context; just because people who claim to be Catholic don’t practice church teaching doesn’t mean the teaching is invalid. see ‘argumentum ad populum’.”

        I agree with your statement, but I never made that argument. If I did, somewhere in my ramblings, it was unintended. I did a quick scan back and can’t see where I did, but maybe I missed it. But as I’ve stated in a couple of posts above, one which I’ve cut and paste, “I’m not saying the Catholic Church is wrong.” However it is evident from the statistics

        A) Catholics choose not to follow the teaching because they don’t believe the church has presented sound logic and biblical backing for such a belief.

        B) They want to deliberately commit SIN and to “Hell” with the consequence (pardon the pun)

        C) They don’t know about it (highly unlikely)

        D) Other?

        I would say A is the most likely. Hence my statement above “If the Church’s own flock doesn’t follow the teaching, it seems evident the Church hasn’t presented strong enough arguments, with logical or biblical backing.”

        A is my position. However I’m not a Catholic. But to consider being one I have to understand and believe the foundation of their teachings. Hence why I comment in Matt’s discussions from time to time. I greatly admire and respect Catholicism. It holds some very solid foundations for a better life.

      • Alex B. says:

        Hi Steve. I re-read your posts, and I agree that you did not make an ad populum argument regarding Guttmacher’s statistics. Please excuse my error.

        I agree that many Catholics do not follow the teaching. In fact, there are many Catholics who do not follow many of the teachings. Instead, they pick and choose as though they are at a salad bar. I have heard them called ‘cafeteria Catholics’.

        I tell you that I am a football player. However, I tell you also that I do not practice Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, I argue stats with the talking heads on TV, and then cheer the game. Do you believe my statement that I am a football player?

        Pope Paul VI explains the church’s doctrine on contraception very clearly in his letter to the the church entitled ‘Humanae Vitae’ ( The letter is very concise and in plain language; you could read the entire thing in 15 to 20 minutes.

        Sections 14 through 16 explain the difference between contraception and abstinence during the fertile periods, acknowledging that in both cases the desire is to avoid conception.

        The letter has plenty of citations, though I admit that many of the citations may be objectionable for Protestants, who don’t recognize church authority (see ‘sola scriptura’).

        In section 14, we have the stated, explicit reason why we cannot accept Melinda Gates’ argument.

        “Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good, it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it”

        Section 17 describes with the word ‘can’ the possible male attitude toward women with artificial birth control; that they may tend to treat them like objects. I would substitute ‘almost certainly’ for ‘can’. The very women Melinda intends to ‘help’ are already being treated in a deplorable manner by their husbands. Adding contraceptives to the mix isn’t going to improve their condition.

      • Hi Alex,

        You said, “Adding contraceptives to the mix isn’t going to improve their condition.”

        No, but it may prevent the suffering, or death of foetus and babies. And in some cases the death of the mothers.

        I see it as a chance for the women to protect themselves, and the unborn, in countries like Africa. To me, it seems more intrinsically evil to say they should not use condoms than to recommend them. Melinda Gates believes from her first hand knowledge, promoted condom use in Africa would save lives.

        On another note, I find it difficult to accept that a married couple, engaging in love, using a method other than NFP to avoid pregnancy is performing an intrinsically evil act. I see the points argued in the documents you linked, and while the Catholic Church has a right to take that stance, to me, do not present solid biblical or logical evidence in understandable terms why it would be. Sure they talk about one is killing sperm, but one is also deliberately ensuring an egg will die. I come back to the statistics, it appears the large majority of practicing Catholics have trouble with the doctrine on this subject.

        When you get into the whole interrupting “Natural Processes” debate you get into whether or not vaccines should be acceptable. They interrupt, Godly designed, natural processes. Major ones are made from, some voluntary, aborted foetus. Catholic Church has some interesting doctrine on that topic, but for most people, I doubt they would even know.

        Are we picking and choosing based on what is workable in our environments, our cultures? While disregarding other cultures positions. NFP is feasible, a beautiful contraception method, in the western world, but to apply that in Africa would be a complicated and somewhat unrealistic proposition at the current time. As a result woman and children die.

        There is talk of Pope Francis accepting the use of condoms to prevent disease, however I’m not sure how accurate that is because I haven’t seen any direct citations. See link below by ABC.

        What are the perceived Biblical consequences for a Catholic who knows it against the Church’s teachings to use contraception? I often wonder this from both an earthly point of view and spiritual.

  16. Raymond A. Zisk says:

    As Far As NFP Or Contraception Is Concerned, Most Of Todays Bibles Quote The Fact That Fornicators Will NOT Enter The Kingdom Of Heaven! If Anyone Is A Fornicator Who Is Only In It For Sexual Pleasure And Denies God The Children He Wills For A Married ( Male And Female ) Couple Are Fornicators As Such And Is A Lustful Relationship, Only For Worldly Pleasure, Is A Serious Sin, And sinful In Nature! All Of Your Arguements Are Of The Worldly Pleasure Of Sex In This Life And No one Has Realized That Our God Told Us To Be Fruitful And Multiply ( Not Contracept Or Abort In Lustful Relationships ),And Bring Your Spouses And Children Into His Kingdom, ( Become Saint’s ), And Make This World A Civilization Of Love And Harmony. So Remember This; Our Lady Of Fatima Said: ” Many Souls Go To Hell For Pleasures Of The Flesh Than For Any Other Reason.” I Say Avoid Contraception, Abortifacients, Abortion’s, And Think About The Vocation’s God Has Planned For Your Offspring, And The Contribution Your Children Can Make To This World, By God’s Plan’s! You Might Be Aborting A Future Pope! Yours For The Greatest Divine Will Of The Father In Heaven! AMEN, AMEN! Raymond A. Z

  17. Try to find any positive mention of NFP before the 20th century by any of the Church Fathers. Truth is, NFP is Catholic Birth Control, and saying it’s not is a semantics game. Purposefully avoiding sex during fertile periods is “a means to render procreation impossible” and is, by the Church’s own understanding, intrinsically evil. Perhaps Protestants weren’t the only ones who goofed in the run-up to the sexual revolution.

  18. Eic says:

    Makes me wonder how many RC’s follow their church’s teaching on contraceptives? I suspect a lot just ignore it.

  19. BiologyBrain says:

    For what it’s worth — some have said that there’s no other option for the women in Africa besides artificial contraception. However, the fact is that the Billings method of NFP has been successfully used in many Third World countries that are just as a oppressive and disrespectful of women. In fact, the use of the Billings method has changed some of the mindsets in those countries and given women more respect and control over their lives (and fertility). So, even if you think NFP = contraception, you should acknowledge that something that can improve women’s lives and respect is better than continuing the disrespect, animal use, and deception being paid for by Melinda Gates.

  20. BiologyBrain says:

    Regardless of Catholics ignoring or willfully disobeying Church teaching, the
    Church has been clear throughout history in the topic of Contraception: it’s not allowed. Just because Guttenmacher reports absurdly high percentages of Catholic women using contraception does not mean its factual (look into the actual compilation of numbers to see the errors) nor does it mean these women don’t regret contraception use and acknowledge their weakness to sin during Confession. If polled, how many of us would admit to some aspect if stealing, lying, abuse of self or others, etc? Does that mean the Church’s teaching in these areas is lacking as well, or does it just show how fallen our nature is?

  21. BiologyBrain says:

    While NFP was not mentioned early in Church history as such, neither was artificial insemination, test tube babies, xenotransplantation, organ donation, brain “death”, embryonic stem cell “therapy”, etc. does that mean that the Church’s position on these topics is suspect or more fallible than those mentioned in the early days of the Church? No, what it means is that these issues weren’t at the forefront for the early Church. Did the Holy Spirit suddenly stop guiding the Church at some point in history before NFP became an acknowledged method of managing fertility? No, the Holy Spirit is still active in the Church Christ said would prevail. Different generations have different pastoral needs and understandings.

  22. BiologyBrain says:

    The use of NFP is akin to having a huge feast set out, but knowing you do not need the extra calories, abstaining from eating more than you need. The use of contraception is like having the feast laid out and gorging yourself only to vomit up the food later. The intent is the same — to not gain weight & avoid gluttony. However, only one method achieves both goals. As we sit here and discuss the difference between NFP and contraception, I presume we are all actually utilizing NFP by abstaining from sex. I’m sure most, if not all, of us have utilized NFP abstinence when we were ill, tired, apart from our spouse, etc. I used NFP to maintain my pregnancies that I didn’t plan, but didn’t destroy the possibility. I used NFP as a non-sexually active unmarried woman to learn about my cycles, give my NFP trained doctor an insight into my fertility and gynecological health, and establish a baseline for when I was married and sexually active. I used NFP during chemotherapy to avoid a pregnancy/miscarriage that was medically unsafe for me. When I was married and had no real reason to avoid pregnancy I still used NFP to keep track of my gynecological health. There were some cycles that through no real plan, my husband and I abstained during my fertile window. We were ambivalent about conceiving a child, so we just embraced one another when we felt like it. Throughout my entire use of NFP there were no actions that changed depending on whether or not a pregnancy was intended or not. Sometimes during the fertile window we did not embrace one another, not to avoid pregnancy but just because neither of us had the overwhelming desire to do so. Other times we embraced one another near or during a fertile window and no pregnancy resulted. At times we did purposefully avoid the embrace during fertile times, but still nothing changed with regards to my use of NFP. Whether we were ambivalent toward conception, purposefully avoiding conception, or desirous of conception, my charting and discussion of fertility with my husband remained the same. My friend who was on birth control had to consciously take her pills at the appropriate time and day, when she & her husband chose to attempt to conceive, she had to consciously stop taking her pills. After their first child was born, she again consciously began her birth control regime even though it negatively affected her ability to nurse her child. Since she alone was responsible for controlling conception, her husband had little or no say in the matter. In fact, when she discontinued her pills to conceive their first child, her husband had no say or knowledge of her action. Granted not every situation is like mine or my friend’s, but deception is an inherent part of contraception: pills/shots deceive the body into thinking it is already pregnant, barriers deceive the action behind natural intercourse, withdrawal deceives the couple into thinking there is no chance of pregnancy, etc. However, NFP simply recognizes the inherent honesty of the body and directs communication between spouses about the timing of their embrace. The death of sperm or egg is not the issue at hand, the mechanical separation (through chemicals or barrier) is the issue. There is no moral law stating that for every fertile cycle a couple must embrace to conceive a child. Abstaining calls for self discipline, self awareness, communication, and an understanding of the purpose behind the embrace. Even in ancient times, women weren’t entirely without an understanding of their body. Many could count the days and judge whether conception was likely or not. It was a part of midwifery and folk lore to know your cycles. However, the understanding wasn’t as scientific as it is today. That is why there is such controversy. Artificial means seek to destroy the natural cycle, while natural means (NFP) seek to use the cycle. There is a huge difference!

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