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The Evil of Contraception
Priests for Life ^ | Fr. Frank Pavone

Posted on 02/09/2004 12:07:23 PM PST by Polycarp IV

The Evil of Contraception

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

Since Roe vs. Wade, there have been three versions of the "Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities" issued by the US Catholic Bishops. The latest came out in November, 2001. In this third version, for the first time, the connection between abortion and contraception is explicitly discussed.

There are many aspects to this connection. First of all, some contraceptives cause abortions, and hence are not contraceptives at all. It is critical, moreover, to understand - - as the Pope points out in "The Gospel of Life" -- that abortion and contraception are specifically different evils that differ in nature and gravity. Abortion takes a human life; contraception distorts the meaning of human sexuality. Both are always morally wrong.

Contraception, strictly considered as preventing fertilization, is one of many factors leading to an increase of abortion in our world. As the bishops write, "...[S]ome promote widespread use of contraception as a means to reduce abortions and even criticize the Church for not accepting this approach. It is noteworthy that as acceptance and use of contraception have increased in our society, so have acceptance and use of abortion. Couples who unintentionally conceive a child while using contraception are far more likely to resort to abortion than others."

As Fr. Paul Marx, OSB, and I often discussed, there is no culture or subculture in the world that has permitted contraception and then has not gone on to permit abortion.

The ultimate root of the evil of contraception is that it denies that God is God. The attitude behind it is, "I am the one who ultimately decides whether a human being will come into the world."

As a result of that attitude, one thinks he or she can then change the meaning of sexual intimacy by holding back its life-giving power. Obviously, the same activity by which people express the deepest physical intimacy also can give rise to a new life. Did you ever wonder why God put these two aspects together in the same action? Could he not have invented one action to express love and intimacy, and another, separate action to bring about new life? Is it an accident that both belong to the same act, or did God run out of ideas?

Neither, of course. God acted with a deliberate and wise plan in creating human sexuality. His plan says that when one human being gives him/herself totally to another, that total "yes" includes a "yes" to new life. The partners put themselves in a stance of readiness. "Lord of my life and my body, in giving my body to another, I give my fertility, and I accept my partner's fertility. I am ready to accept your gift. Now I leave it up to you, my Lord, as to whether you will actually give that gift at this time."

As Dr. Bernard Nathanson explains, it is not that contraception causes abortion; rather, both are caused by the perversion of autonomy -- taking freedom and using it to stop rather than to welcome life.

Comments on this column? Email us at mail@priestsforlife.org, Priests for Life, PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314; Tel: 888-PFL-3448, 718-980-4400; Fax: 718-980- 6515; web: www.priestsforlife.org


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Dear Friends,

Below, please find my column in English and Spanish. It is about contraception, a topic that I have preached forcefully on since the beginning of my priesthood. See some of my writings and listen to some of my talks on the topic at www.priestsforlife.org/articles/contraceptionmaster.htm

We have a limited supply of the audiotape "Why Contraception is Wrong" ($5) and the brochure "Abortion and Contraception: Fruits of the Same Tree" ($0.20). Contact orders@priestsforlife.org or call 888-PFL-3448, ext. 237.

May I ask you a favor? We are putting together a list of all the parish respect life coordinators in the nation. If you are one, or if you know one, would you email us at cchilds@priestsforlife.org with the coordinator's name, address, phone, fax, email, and name of parish. (Please be sure to say that this individual is a respect life coordinator!) This will help us to keep the coordinators informed of special information and projects that they should know about.

God bless you! Fr. Frank Pavone

1 posted on 02/09/2004 12:07:24 PM PST by Polycarp IV
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To: CAtholic Family Association

Why Pro-Lifers Must Oppose Contraception

--By Fr. Frank Pavone

National Director

There are two basic truths that each person has to admit in this life: 1. There is a God. 2. It isn’t me. To understand these lessons is to understand why abortion is wrong. Only God has absolute dominion over human life. "None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master" (Rom.14:7).

This is also the reason that contraception is wrong. We know that human life begins at conception. But God’s dominion over human life does not begin at conception. It begins in eternity.

"God chose us in Him before the world began" (Eph.1:4). "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you" (Jer.1:5) We exist in time because God chose us from eternity. A human decision to prevent our conception is a trespass on God’s dominion over human life.

It is not, of course, the same type of trespass as abortion (unless the so-called "contraceptive" actually is abortifacient). Abortion destroys a human life. Contraception distorts the meaning of human sexuality. Both offend God because they fail to acknowledge Him as Lord of the entire process of human reproduction and life!

It is perfectly legitimate to acknowledge that there are circumstances in which a couple should not have a child. There can be medical, social, financial, psychological, or other reasons for this. To acknowledge God’s dominion does not mean to act imprudently. Methods of natural family planning are legitimate. In planning one’s family, however, one may never destroy the meaning of sexual union on one’s own initiative. In natural family planning, using the body’s cycles of infertile days, God closes the door to life. In contraception, we close the door. We have no authority to do so.

Scripture is clear that children are a blessing. "Happy the man who has filled his quiver with these arrows!" (Psalm 127:5). Scripture is also clear that in being generous with life, we must put all our doubts and fears in God’s hands. "Do not let your hearts be troubled," Christ says. "Trust in God and trust in me" (Jn.14:1). May we trust Him as we build our families in fruitful love!


Educational Materials on Abortion

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172
Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-PFL-3448, (718) 980-4400
Fax 718-980-6515
Email mail@priestsforlife.org

Subscribe to Fr. Frank's bi-weekly prolife column (free): subscribe@priestsforlife.org 

Click Here to See What Abortion Looks Like

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2 posted on 02/09/2004 12:10:07 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: CAtholic Family Association

Abortion and Contraception: Fruits of the Same Tree

Fr. Frank Pavone

National Director, Priests for Life

Sex is an extremely powerful force, and never a neutral one. Either it serves life, or it serves death. Its fruit can be the highest joy of earth, bringing forth new life in the embrace of self-giving, or else its fruit can be violent and destructive activity, ruining and ending the lives of others or oneself.

Society is not obsessed with sex. It is afraid of it…afraid of the total reality and power of what it represents, where it comes from, and where it leads. Sex properly understood requires that we acknowledge God who made it. More than that, sex can never be separated from its purpose: to insert us into an immense, powerful movement of life and love that started when God said "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3) and culminates when the Spirit and the Bride say "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:17).

Sex is deeply symbolic. It is a language that speaks of things beyond sight and feeling. Many think of the Church's teaching about sex as "You cannot do it except in marriage and when open to life." That is true, but the fuller understanding of why this is true comes when we can see that sexual activity means so much that it is wrong to diminish its message or deny its full reality. It belongs in the context of committed love (sealed by marriage) and openness to life precisely because this is the only context great enough to hold its message and reflect the greater reality to which the gift of sexuality directs and commits us. The teaching is not just that it is wrong to have sex in certain circumstances. The teaching is that it is wrong to run away from the full reality of sex. It is wrong to think we have the kind of control that can change that reality to suit ourselves.

The most bitter fruit of this flight from the full meaning of sex is abortion. Thousands of lives a day in our nation are deliberately killed in order to control who will be born and when. They are even destroyed in the very process of being born. If we ask why abortion happens, or how we arrived at the culture of death, we would do well to consider another question: What happens when you distort the meaning of sex?

One of the many ways in which the meaning of sex is distorted is through contraception, which is an intrinsically evil act. The links between abortion and contraception are more and more widely recognized, and not only in Catholic circles.

They are linked by a common mentality, which is that I may stifle the power of sex to produce a new life. Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical The Gospel of Life, " It is frequently asserted that contraception, if made safe and available to all, is the most effective remedy against abortion. The Catholic Church is then accused of actually promoting abortion, because she obstinately continues to teach the moral unlawfulness of contraception. When looked at carefully, this objection is clearly unfounded. It may be that many people use contraception with a view to excluding the subsequent temptation of abortion. But the negative values inherent in the "contraceptive mentality"—which is very different from responsible parenthood, lived in respect for the full truth of the conjugal act—are such that they in fact strengthen this temptation when an unwanted life is conceived. Indeed, the pro- abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church's teaching on contraception is rejected" (n. 13).

They are linked sociologically. Every culture and subculture which has opened the doors to contraception has likewise experienced an increased practice of abortion. The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a research division of Planned Parenthood, indicates the following as the main reasons women offer for their abortions. Ask yourself what resemblance they bear to the reasons for birth control. " On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner" (from the website www.agi-usa.org).

They are linked in law and jurisprudence. In 1973, the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion clearly built upon the recognized privacy right behind contraception. In 1992, the Supreme Court reaffirmed Roe in its Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision, and explained that they could not remove the "right" to abortion from "people who, for two decades of economic and social developments, have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail" (505 U.S. 833, 835).

They are sometimes linked by being identical. Some "contraceptives" have a backup mechanism whereby a newly-developing life may be destroyed in its microscopic stages. These drugs and devices are abortifacients, capable of causing early and usually unknown abortions. The morally relevant point here is that "it is objectively a grave sin to dare to risk murder" (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 1974, n.12-13). If your action might kill a person, and you do it, you declare your willingness to kill a person (like shooting at what is behind the bush when you are uncertain whether it is a bear or a man).

The nature of the link between abortion and contraception needs to be accurately understood. The Pope writes, "Certainly, from the moral point of view contraception and abortion are specifically different evils: the former contradicts the full truth of the sexual act as the proper expression of conjugal love, while the latter destroys the life of a human being; the former is opposed to the virtue of chastity in marriage, the latter is opposed to the virtue of justice and directly violates the divine commandment "You shall not kill". But despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree" (n. 13).

"Fruits of the same tree." Contraception, in other words, is more like the sister to abortion rather than the parent. What gives rise to them both? The Pope continues, "Such practices are rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and they imply a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfillment" (n. 13). Dr. Bernard Nathanson, when asked whether contraception was "the beginning of the downfall of the issues of reproduction in this country," said that "contraception was not the fount…that spawned all of these other horrendous technologies...it was the perversion of autonomy…If you elevate autonomy to a deification status…then people are going to make choices which are irrational…" (Presentation to 1999 Legatus National Conference).

Yes, abortion and contraception are linked. They are linked with each other because they are linked with many other evils: the disconnection of freedom from truth, a relativistic view of morality, a positivistic view of law, a culture of hedonism, and many other problems.

What lies at the solution to these problems is to rediscover the dominion of God.

It is perfectly legitimate to acknowledge that there are circumstances in which a couple should not have a child. There can be medical, social, financial, psychological, or other reasons for this. To acknowledge God’s dominion does not mean to act imprudently. Methods of natural family planning are legitimate. (We are not referring here to outdated calendar rhythm methods, but to more advanced and fully reliable scientifically based methods like naprotechnology). In planning one’s family, however, one may never destroy the meaning of sexual union on one’s own initiative. Natural family planning respects the body's cycles, during portions of which God closes the door to life. In contraception, we close the door. We have no authority to do so.

There are two basic truths that each person has to admit in this life: 1. There is a God. 2. It isn’t me. To understand these lessons is to understand why both contraception and abortion are wrong. Only God has absolute dominion over human life. "None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live, we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die, we die as His servants. Both in life and in death, we are the Lord's" (Rom.14:7-8).

More Material on Contraception

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172
Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-PFL-3448, (718) 980-4400
Fax 718-980-6515
Email mail@priestsforlife.org

Subscribe to Fr. Frank's bi-weekly prolife column (free): subscribe@priestsforlife.org 

Click here to See What Abortion Looks Like!

Home
Search  || Crisis Pregnancy Help || About Us ll Support our Work
Latest News  || Guestbook || About Other Groups

This site is updated daily!

Online Hosting by: Catholic Online

 

3 posted on 02/09/2004 12:11:26 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: CAtholic Family Association
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN
CONTRACEPTION AND ABORTION

by Professor Janet E. Smith, PhD

Janet E. Smith is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Dallas, Texas. She has edited Why Humane Vitae Was Right: A Reader and authored Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later, and numerous articles on abortion, contraception, virtue, and Plato. This article was edited and reprinted with permission.

Many in the pro-life movement are reluctant to make a connection between contraception and abortion. They insist that these are two very different acts - that there is all the difference in the world between contraception, which prevents a life from coming to be, and abortion, which takes a life that has already begun.

With some contraceptives, there is not only a link with abortion, there is an identity. Some contraceptives are abortifacients; they work by causing early term abortions. The IUD seems to prevent a fertilized egg - a new little human being - from implanting in the uterine wall. The pill does not always stop ovulation, but sometimes prevents implantation of the growing embryo. And of course, the new RU 486 pill works altogether by aborting a new fetus, a new baby. Although some in the pro-life movement occasionally speak out against the contraceptives that are abortifacients, most generally steer clear of the issue of contraception.

Contraception creates alleged “need” for abortion

This seems to me to be a mistake. I think that we will not make good progress in creating a society where all new life can be safe, where we truly display a respect for life, where abortion is a terrible memory rather than a terrible reality, until we see that there are many significant links between contraception and abortion, and that we bravely speak this truth. We need to realize that a society in which contraceptives are widely used is going to have a very difficult time keeping free of abortions since the lifestyles and attitudes that contraception fosters, create an alleged “need” for abortion.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the US Supreme Court decision that confirmed Roe v. Wade [U.S. decision to permit abortions] stated “in some critical respects, abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception… for two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail”.

The Supreme Court decision has made completely unnecessary, any efforts to “expose” what is really behind the attachment of the modern age to abortion. As the Supreme Court candidly states, we need abortion so that we can continue our contraceptive lifestyles. It is not because contraceptives are ineffective that a million and a half women a year seek abortions as back-ups to failed contraceptives. The “intimate relationships” facilitated by contraceptives are what make abortions “necessary”. “Intimate” here is a euphemism and a misleading one at that. Here the word “intimate” means “sexual”; it does not mean “loving and close”. Abortion is most often the result of sexual relationships in which there is no room for a baby, the natural consequence of sexual intercourse.

To support the argument that more responsible use of contraceptives would reduce the number of abortions, some note that most abortions are performed for “contraceptive purposes”. That is, few abortions are had because a woman has been a victim of rape or incest or because a pregnancy would endanger her life, or because she expects to have a handicapped or deformed newborn. Rather, most abortions are had because men and women who do not want a baby are having sexual intercourse and facing pregnancies they did not plan for and do not want. Because their contraceptive failed, or because they failed to use a contraceptive, they then resort to abortion as a back up. Many believe that if we could convince men and women to use contraceptives responsibly, we would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and thus the number of abortions. Thirty years ago this position might have had some plausibility, but not now. We have lived for about thirty years with a culture permeated with contraceptive use and abortion; no longer can we think that greater access to contraception will reduce the number of abortions. Rather, wherever contraception is more readily available, the number of unwanted pregnancies and the number of abortions increase greatly.

Sexual revolution not possible without contraception

The connection between contraception and abortion is primarily this: contraception facilitates the kind of relationships and even the kind of attitudes and moral characters that are likely to lead to abortion. The contraceptive mentality treats sexual relationship as a burden. The sexual revolution has no fondness - no room for - the connection between sexual intercourse and babies. The sexual revolution simply was not possibly until fairly reliable contraceptives were available.

Far from being a check to the sexual revolution, contraception is the fuel that facilitated the beginning of the sexual revolution and enables it to continue to rage. In the past, many men and women refrained from illicit sexual unions simply because they were not prepared for the responsibilities of parenthood. But once a fairly reliable contraceptive appeared on the scene, this barrier to sex outside the confines of marriage fell. The connection between sex and love also fell quickly; ever since contraception became widely used, there has been much talk of, acceptance of, and practice of casual sex and recreational sex. The deep meaning that is inherent in sexual intercourse has been lost sight of; the willingness to engage in sexual intercourse with another is no longer a result of a deep commitment to another. It no longer bespeaks a willingness to have a child with another and to have all the consequent entanglements with another that babies bring. Contraception helps reduce one’s sexual partner to just a sexual object since it renders sexual intercourse to be without any real commitments.

“Carelessness” is international

Much of this data suggests that there is something deep in our natures that finds the severing of sexual intercourse from love and commitment and babies to be unsatisfactory. As we have seen, women are careless in their use of contraceptives for a variety of reasons, but one reason for their careless use of contraceptives is precisely their desire to engage in meaningful sexual activity rather than in meaningless sexual activity. They want their sexual acts to be more meaningful than a handshake or a meal shared. They are profoundly uncomfortable with using contraceptives for what they do to their bodies and for what they do to their relationships. Often, they desire to have a more committed relationship with the male with whom they are involved; they get pregnant to test this love and commitment. But since the relationship has not been made permanent, since no vows have been taken, they are profoundly ambivalent about any pregnancy that might occur.

Sexual Promiscuity Increases

By the late sixties and early seventies, the view of the human person as an animal, whose passions should govern, became firmly entrenched in the attitudes of those who were promoting the sexual revolution. One of the greatest agents and promoters of the sexual revolution has been Planned Parenthood. In the sixties and seventies, many of the spokesmen and women for Planned Parenthood unashamedly advocated sex outside of marriage and even promoted promiscuity. Young people were told to abandon the repressive morals of their parents and to engage in free love. They were told that active sexual lives with a number of partners would be psychologically healthy, perfectly normal, and perfectly moral. Now, largely because of the spread of AIDS and the devastation of teenage pregnancy, even Planned Parenthood puts a value on abstinence. Yet they have no confidence that young people can and will abstain from sexual intercourse, so they advocate “safe” sex, “responsible” sex, whereby they mean sexual intercourse wherein a contraceptive is used. Sex educators assume that young people will be engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage.

Young people do not need sex education of the Planned Parenthood type; they need to learn that sexual intercourse can be engaged in responsibly and safely only within marriage. Rather than filling young people’s heads with false notions about freedom, and filling their wallets with condoms, we need to help them see the true meaning of human sexuality. We need to help them learn self-control and self-mastery so that they are not enslaved to their sexual passions. They need to learn that sexual intercourse belongs within marriage, and that with the commitment to marriage comes true freedom; the freedom to give of one’s self completely to another, the freedom to meet one’s responsibilities to one’s children.
There are two cornerstones on which education for sexual responsibility should be built - cornerstones that are both corroded by contraceptive sex. One cornerstone is that sexual intercourse is meant to be the expression of a deep love for another individual, a deep love that leads one to want to give of oneself totally to another. Most individuals hope one day to be in a faithful marriage, to be in a marital relationship with someone one loves deeply and by whom one is loved deeply. One of the major components of that deep love is a promise of faithfulness, that one will give oneself sexually only to one’s spouse.

Contraception severs connection between sex and babies

The other cornerstone for a sex education program should be the refrain that ‘if you are not ready for babies, you are not ready for sexual intercourse, and you are not ready for babies until you are married’. Most people want to be good parents; they want to provide for their children and give them good upbringings. Contraception attempts to sever the connection between sexual intercourse and babies; it makes us feel responsible about our sexuality while enabling us to be irresponsible. Individuals born out of wedlock have a much harder start in life; have a much harder time gaining the discipline and strength they need to be responsible adults. Single mothers have very hard lives as they struggle to meet the needs of their children and their own emotional needs as well. Those who abort their babies are often left with devastating psychological scars. The price of out of wedlock pregnancy is high.

Indeed, even within marriage, contraception is destructive; it reduces the meaning of the sexual act; again it takes out the great commitment that is written into the sexual act, the commitment that is inherent in the openness to have children with one’s beloved.
Those who are unmarried do face a disaster, and abortion seems like a necessity since no permanent commitment has been made between the sexual partners. Those who are married have often planned a life that is not receptive to children and are tempted to abort to sustain the child-free life they have designed. I am not, of course, saying that all those who contracept are likely to abort; I am saying that many more of those who contracept do abort than those who practice natural family planning.

Contraception takes the baby-making element out of sexual intercourse. It makes pregnancy seem like an accident of sexual intercourse rather than the natural consequence that responsible individuals ought to be prepared for. Abortion, then, becomes thinkable as the solution to an unwanted pregnancy. Contraception enables those who are not prepared to care for babies to engage in sexual intercourse; when they become pregnant, they resent the unborn child for intruding itself upon their lives, and they turn to the solution of abortion. It should be no surprise that countries that are permeated by contraceptive sex, fight harder for access to abortion than they do to ensure that all babies can survive both in the womb and out. It is foolish for pro-lifers to think that they can avoid the issues of contraception and sexual irresponsibility and be successful in the fight against abortion. For, as the Supreme Court of the US has stated, abortion is “necessary” for those whose intimate relationships are based upon contraceptive sex.

References:

For verification of the claims here made about Planned Parenthood, see George Grant, Grand Illusions: the Legacy of Planned Parenthood (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth and Hyatt Publishers, Inc., 1988), and Robert Marshall and Charles Donovan, Blessed are the Barren (San Francisco, CA; Ignatius Press, 1991).

Portions of this article are printed as portions of chapters in “Abortion and Moral Character”, in Catholicism and Abortion, ed. By Stephen J. Heaney to be published by the Pope John XXIII Medical-Moral Research Centre and “Abortion and Moral Character”, in Doing and Being: Introductory Reading in Moral Philosophy, ed by Jordan Graf Haber, to be published by Macmillan.

Permission given for reprinting portions from ‘The Connection between contraception and Abortion’, by Dr. Janet E. smith, published by Homiletic & Pastoral Review, April 1993, distributed by One More Soul.

"The Connection between Contraception and Abortion" by Janet E. Smith is available from One More Soul.


4 posted on 02/09/2004 12:12:13 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: .45MAN; AAABEST; AKA Elena; al_c; american colleen; Angelus Errare; Antoninus; aposiopetic; ...
Fr. Frank Pavone's Bi-weekly Column, which I posted above, covers a subject near and dear to my heart. I added a few other articles on the subject here for reference.
5 posted on 02/09/2004 12:13:41 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: CAtholic Family Association
Great article. Fr. Pavone identifies the heart of the matter:
The ultimate root of the evil of contraception is that it denies that God is God. The attitude behind it is, "I am the one who ultimately decides whether a human being will come into the world."
It doesn't take much contemplation to realize how profoundly evil this attitude is.
6 posted on 02/09/2004 12:29:11 PM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
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To: CAtholic Family Association
Very good article. The problem with contraception reduces itself to: how much do we love God and how much do we value our own souls and the souls of others? The subject of contraception always reminds me of when Our Lady showed the children of Fatima a glimpse of hell and told them that there are more souls in hell because of sins of the flesh than because of any other reason.
7 posted on 02/09/2004 12:55:11 PM PST by Gerish (Do not be fearful. God is with you.)
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To: CAtholic Family Association
I know I'm probably setting myself up to be raked over the coals around here, but here I go.

I find Dr. Janet Smith's treatises on contraception counterproductive. I was unfamiliar with her prior to FR, but have since seen her on EWTN.

Even if she believes NFP is only for the gravest of circumstances, she seems to go way overboard on her severity of contracepting married couples, particularly those who use barrier methods only. I think the ONLY argument a person can make that NFP is better than condoms (for married couples) has to include God, if not our Catholic faith. If it doesn't, the argument is disingenuous and will ultimately fail to convince.

We've all known plenty of good, holy, married Protestants who find nothing wrong with condoms. And that is because their faith has not forbidden it.

Maybe my problem with Dr. Smith is that to me, NFP really is just Catholic birth control, but I find myself wondering what world Dr. Smith lives in.

8 posted on 02/09/2004 1:09:31 PM PST by old and tired (Go Toomey! Send Specter back to the Highlands!)
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To: old and tired
Dr. Smith's area of specialty is philosophy. So she approaches NFP and contraception from within a traditional Catholic philosophical framework.

I have seen her speak on this subject in person, and have discussed it at length with her over a dinner several years ago.

I think her perspective is refreshing and essential in our age. Please take the time to read her various books on the subject. I think you will come away much edified by the effort.

9 posted on 02/09/2004 1:14:53 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: Gerish
Our Lady showed the children of Fatima a glimpse of hell and told them that there are more souls in hell because of sins of the flesh than because of any other reason.

How many Catholics remember that contraception is a mortal sin of the flesh, one for which more Catholics are guilty than probably any other sin of the flesh in our day.

But listen for the cries of outrage if we are to suggest Catholics might go to hell for contracepting.

10 posted on 02/09/2004 1:22:40 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: CAtholic Family Association
My wife and I are well beyond child bearing years, but I promise I will give one of her books a try.

As the father of 11, I suppose it's a little ridiculous for me to be discussing the benefits of one type of family planning over another. But I do think contraception is a spiritual/religious issue, while abortion is not only a spiritual issue, it is a matter of civil and human rights.

11 posted on 02/09/2004 1:24:26 PM PST by old and tired (Go Toomey! Send Specter back to the Highlands!)
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To: CAtholic Family Association
Sigh, you know I really should know better....

As a young many with an swiftly approaching marriage, contraception issues are soon to be something I actually have to think about!

I guess as a Lutheran, I have always found the NFP approach to be a bit disingenuous. It is still a form of birth control, and judging by the fact I don't know to many 10+ families RC, some form is being used. While I know that this is not neccessarly approved, it just seems to be a bit of disbelief in the trenches.

BY the way, I am not trying to stir up to much trouble!
12 posted on 02/09/2004 2:03:25 PM PST by redgolum
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To: redgolum
As a young many with an swiftly approaching marriage, contraception issues are soon to be something I actually have to think about! I guess as a Lutheran...

...as a Lutheran ignore the Roman Catholics and listen to Martin Luther:

Historical Protestant views on this subject came from reading commentaries on Genesis 38, in which Onan, who married his deceased brother's wife to fulfill his familial obligation, withdrew from her during intercourse rather than impregnate her. God then killed Onan.

Martin Luther (1483 to 1546) - "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."

I know you're one of the good Lutherans. You'll do what's right ;-)

13 posted on 02/09/2004 2:17:53 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: old and tired
As the father of 11, I suppose...

...I suppose now I know the origin of your screen name ;-)

14 posted on 02/09/2004 2:20:29 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: CAtholic Family Association
I find the same problem with all these articles: there is no reference to any Church teaching prior to Humanae Vitae. Was the Catholic Church invented in 1968? Where is St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, great moral theologians like St. Alphons Ligouri, Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius XI, Pope Pius XII, even (shudder) Vatican II? It seems that they've all be relegated to the memory hole.

So none of the above arguments can ever be convincing because they amount to personal opinions, whether they are the opinions of Fr. Pavone, Janet Smith or even JPII. None of them carry the authoritative stamp of the Catholic Church. All are arguing from contemporary bases dating back no more than 35 years. When limited to those arbitrary boundaries, no voice is more authoritative than any other, not even the pope, as we have found out by seeing that 98% of Catholic couples use birth control.

By definition, the ordinary magisterium amounts to what has been taught always and everywhere. If the Church refuses even to publish this information about what has always been taught, then there is no authority to bind men's consciences.

15 posted on 02/09/2004 2:22:33 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: CAtholic Family Association
Dr. Smith's area of specialty is philosophy. So she approaches NFP and contraception from within a traditional Catholic philosophical framework.

Where is the "traditional Catholic philosophical framework" in the above article? Not only is there not even a passing nod to Aquinas or scholastic philosophy, her arguments are not even systematic.

16 posted on 02/09/2004 2:24:35 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: redgolum
As a young many with an swiftly approaching marriage, contraception issues are soon to be something I actually have to think about!

What could be more important to discuss ahead of time? Even protestants have traditionally believed that marriage is ordained for the procreation and education of children. So if that is the purpose of your marriage, it would seem that common prudence would tell you to be certain up front that you have some agreement about why you are getting married.

I guess as a Lutheran, I have always found the NFP approach to be a bit disingenuous. It is still a form of birth control, and judging by the fact I don't know to many 10+ families RC, some form is being used. While I know that this is not neccessarly approved, it just seems to be a bit of disbelief in the trenches.

Both of your points are valid. NPF used for birth control is a scandal. But the reality is that virtually no one is actually using it. Nearly all Catholic couples are using artificial birth control. There certainly is a major disjunction between traditional Catholic teaching (and practice) and what we see in the parishes today. Except in traditional Latin Mass parishes. There you will typically see many families of 10+ children.

17 posted on 02/09/2004 2:29:35 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: Maximilian
Not only is there not even a passing nod to Aquinas or scholastic philosophy, her arguments are not even systematic.

She was not writing for a philosophical journal.

If you ever attend one of her talks directed to physicians, as I did, you will be pleased to note her more than passing nod to Aquinas and scholastic philosophy as well as her systematic approach.

However, its a bit disengenuous to demand same from an article aimed at an entirely different audience.

18 posted on 02/09/2004 2:36:42 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: redgolum
I am not one of the best informed or most intelligent Catholics on this forum, but I am going to offer you some unsolicited advise anyway. :)

Remember that your wife is going to be your partner in life, and your partner in creating new souls. You and she have the responsibility in the formation of those souls - your collective goal is to raise children who possess the prayer lives and moral foundations to get themselves into heaven. Don't pass up the opportunity to bring into the world another soul who can bring greater glory to God.

Surely, there will be times in your married life when you will doubt yourselves capable of getting any souls to heaven. It is during these most difficult times that you must try even harder through prayer and sacrifice to let Christ take command of your home.

This next piece of advice may seem harsh but I am saying nothing to you that I haven't said to my own children. If you can't imagine taking advantage of this awesome opportunity to raise up souls who glorify God right at the beginning of your marriage, perhaps you and your fiancee should rethink your choices of life partners.

God Bless and Best Wishes!

19 posted on 02/09/2004 2:44:14 PM PST by old and tired (Go Toomey! Send Specter back to the Highlands!)
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To: CAtholic Family Association
If you ever attend one of her talks directed to physicians, as I did

I have attended one of her talks. At the time I was a big fan and ready to be impressed. But instead I was quite disappointed. Actually, it was her tape "Contraception, Why Not?" that first opened my eyes. I could see that not only were her ideas muddled, but she was not presenting an authentic alternative to contraception. Instead she was mostly shilling for NFP.

In fairness I must say that the talk I attended in person was superior to her tape. I think her ideas have progressed and improved. But they have not gotten any more systematic. I defy anyone to draw an outline of the talk she gave. It meandered and jumped back and forth. It did not demonstrate the clarity of order that should be the hallmark of a follower of the Angelic doctor.

20 posted on 02/09/2004 2:44:47 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: Maximilian
Oh well, the talk I attended was at a Catholic Medical Association conference. It was excellent. I hope she wasn't talking down to the crowd at the talk you attended, afraid to overwhelm them with philosophical jargon.
21 posted on 02/09/2004 2:47:43 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: Maximilian
Dear Maximilian,

"I find the same problem with all these articles: there is no reference to any Church teaching prior to Humanae Vitae. Was the Catholic Church invented in 1968? Where is St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, great moral theologians like St. Alphons Ligouri, Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius XI, Pope Pius XII, even (shudder) Vatican II? It seems that they've all be relegated to the memory hole."

I agree.

What ultimately persuaded me of the Church's position was not Humanae Vitae in isolation, nor even of any particular teaching. But by learning about ALL the teachings condemning artificial contraception, I eventually had to ask the question, "How can I deny that this is the constant, consistent teaching of the authoritative Magisterium of the Catholic Church, stretching all the way back nearly to the Apostles?"

Which raised another question, "How can this not be a binding teaching? How is this not virtually the model of binding teaching of the ordinary Magisterium?"


sitetest
22 posted on 02/09/2004 2:48:32 PM PST by sitetest
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To: CAtholic Family Association
However, its a bit disengenuous to demand same from an article aimed at an entirely different audience.

Who is her audience? Is it college students she is trying to prevent from committing the sin of fornication, or is it married or engaged couples? I'm having a tough time discerning just who this talk was aimed at.

23 posted on 02/09/2004 2:50:32 PM PST by old and tired (Go Toomey! Send Specter back to the Highlands!)
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To: old and tired; Maximilian
The talk I attended was for physicians. The article I posted here was published for general Joe-six-pack in the pews Catholics, who are not well grounded in the systematic philosophical terminology she used in the talk I attended.

I do not know where or when or what type of forum in which Max heard her speak, but I doubt it was one generally well enough catechised in the Faith and basic philosophical terminology to provide the type of talk Max is demanding here.

24 posted on 02/09/2004 2:55:20 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: CAtholic Family Association
I hope she wasn't talking down to the crowd at the talk you attended, afraid to overwhelm them with philosophical jargon.

We peons probably were not given the benefit of the same philosophical jargon delivered to podiatrists. Not, by the way, that jargon would make one's ideas any more systematic.

25 posted on 02/09/2004 2:56:34 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: old and tired; Maximilian
Is it college students

She is a professor of philosophy, and teaches both college and graduate level philosophy. I'm sure she tailors her talks for each audience, and thus it might be a mistake to mischaracterize her talks in general based on those only intended for laity who are simply searching for guidelines, not a philosophy course.

26 posted on 02/09/2004 2:58:27 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: Maximilian
I could see that not only were her ideas muddled, but she was not presenting an authentic alternative to contraception. Instead she was mostly shilling for NFP.

This is really my problem with the NFPer's. It all really just seems like Catholic Birth Control. I think that that mentality contributes to our overly planned, everything has to be my way culture of death that pervades our existence.

I think if everyone remembered that any sexual act, whether contracepted or not, could result in a child, there'd be a lot less promiscuity and abortions out there.

27 posted on 02/09/2004 2:59:19 PM PST by old and tired (Go Toomey! Send Specter back to the Highlands!)
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To: Maximilian
The conference I attended was for MDs. I'm fairly certain I was the only foot doc in attendance, but thanks for pointing that out.
28 posted on 02/09/2004 3:00:34 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: CAtholic Family Association
The article I posted here was published for general Joe-six-pack in the pews Catholics, who are not well grounded in the systematic philosophical terminology she used in the talk I attended.

This hypothesis seems highly unlikely. I notice that your post contains a copyright from Homiletic and Pastoral Review. If there is any audience in the US that could be considered "well grounded in the systematic philosophical terminology" it would be the readers of HPR. Much more so than doctors.

Nor does "terminology" make one's ideas systematic. Either you are able to think clearly or you are not. Adding "philosophical jargon" to a muddled talk only makes it more unintelligible.

29 posted on 02/09/2004 3:00:57 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: old and tired; Maximilian
This is really my problem with the NFPer's. It all really just seems like Catholic Birth Control.

I hate to admit it, but more and more this seems to be the case in the NFP movement.

Which is one of the reasons, among others, my wife and I decided to no longer teach NFP.

30 posted on 02/09/2004 3:02:58 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: Maximilian
The article I posted here was published for general Joe-six-pack in the pews Catholics, who are not well grounded in the systematic philosophical terminology she used in the talk I attended.

This hypothesis seems highly unlikely. I notice that your post contains a copyright from Homiletic and Pastoral Review. If there is any audience in the US that could be considered "well grounded in the systematic philosophical terminology" it would be the readers of HPR. Much more so than doctors.

Good point. I stand corrected. Thank you.

31 posted on 02/09/2004 3:05:24 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: CAtholic Family Association
I'm sure she tailors her talks for each audience, and thus it might be a mistake to mischaracterize her talks in general based on those only intended for laity who are simply searching for guidelines, not a philosophy course.

But if this were true, wouldn't it make sense to be sure that your talk for ordinary laity would more logical and orderly, not less? For a less sophisticated audience, shouldn't your presentation adhere more closely to a logical outline if you want them to grasp the concepts?

In comparison, I attended the 13-week lecture series by Dr. Tom Drolesky called "Living in the Shadow of the Cross." Every minute of those 39 hours was so logically and precisely presented that the outline just wrote itself on my paper. Formerly ambiguous concepts became clear. Seemingly unrelated concepts were now seen in relation to each other.

The biggest advantage of a logical presentation is that it is much easier to remember. In contrast, it is virtually impossible to remember a talk that meanders. If one can go over the outline of a talk in one's mind, it is easy to recall the various sub-points and details that supported each item. But if the presentation jumps back and forth and frequently changes topics, there is no mnemonic device to aid recall.

32 posted on 02/09/2004 3:09:50 PM PST by Maximilian
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Comment #33 Removed by Moderator

To: sandyeggo
Certainly. Now we must flog Dr. Smith and burn her efforts because she uses post-conciliar texts and documents. And I always liked her, too, darn it.
34 posted on 02/09/2004 3:13:56 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: sandyeggo
Whew. Good thing you got that taken care of, or I might have missed the main point of the thread. :)

Thanks for the chuckle. But I do have to wonder what the main point of the thread is. I suppose that for some people it is that "contraception is evil." But for me, it's that arguments such as the ones posted above that are not based on the ordinary magisterium which means what has been taught always and everywhere are doomed to continue the same failure that we have witnessed since 1968.

I'm very glad to see that at least sitetest and old&tired agree with me on this point since in the past I've usually had that position all to myself on these threads.

35 posted on 02/09/2004 3:19:26 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: CAtholic Family Association
Now we must flog Dr. Smith and burn her efforts because she uses post-conciliar texts and documents.

Flogging and burning might be a tad excessive. But we might ask that she do a better job representing Thomistic philosophers by:
1. Knowing and using traditional sources.
2. Thinking logically.
3. Presenting the truth of Catholic doctrine and not something designed to appeal to her audiences.
4. Offering a truly Catholic alternative to the prevailing contraceptive mentality.

Let me add in her defense that on point 4 she made a lot of progress in the talk I heard. She greatly de-emphasized NFP and strongly encouraged large families.

36 posted on 02/09/2004 3:23:39 PM PST by Maximilian
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Comment #37 Removed by Moderator

To: sandyeggo
If this thread gets even one lurker to re-think his ideas on contraception, then it will have done some good.

That is precisely the pragmatic kind of thinking that has prevailed in the Church since Humanae Vitae, and in the pro-life movement since Roe vs. Wade. How many times have you heard, "If we can save just one life..."?

But evil may never be done that good can come of it. We may never abandon our principles, not even to save a life. We can act to save one life by doing something inherently good and charitable, but never by admitting that it's okay to kill some other babies. Presenting muddled justifications for the Church's ban on contraception may not rise to the level of "evil," but like the pragmatic approaches to the pro-life movement, it represents an abandonment of principle.

The most authoritative document on marriage ever issued by the Catholic Church is the encyclical "Casti Connubii" by Pope Pius XI. He taught definitively that the reason why contraception is wrong is because it violates the primary purpose of marriage which is the procreation and education of children. Where do you see that principle enunciated in any of the several articles that were posted to start this thread? Nowhere.

So the reality is that essential Catholic principles have been abandoned. This can never lead to good, only to evil.

38 posted on 02/09/2004 3:37:12 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: CAtholic Family Association
Now we must flog Dr. Smith and burn her efforts because she uses post-conciliar texts and documents

I don't really think that's fair.

I seriously wonder if saying things like (contraceptors) resent the unborn child for intruding itself upon their lives, and they turn to the solution of abortion makes her lose all credibility.

Think about how many couples you know who were surprised by a new life. Are their children really loved less?

I know there are many who disagree, but I think if NFP is to be discussed at all, it should only be in a religious context. There is no point to giving non-religious reasons why NFP is better than condoms, because nobody can go inside a marriage and deem one couple's motivations pure and another's selfish without first defining God's wishes for the couple.

39 posted on 02/09/2004 3:41:11 PM PST by old and tired (Go Toomey! Send Specter back to the Highlands!)
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To: old and tired; CAtholic Family Association
We definatly want to have kids. Both of us love children, and do to some of the details of Luthern theology (single predestination, which is another thread), I believe children to be an awesome responsibility and gift. My wife to be (raised Catholic by the way) and I have talked about it, and she wants to wait a year or so before starting to have kids. Mostly for us to get to know each other. We look forward to the chance to raise up some little ones to love Jesus.

The question becomes on how to delay the births. As a man, birth control has not been something I have had to think about. Since I am not married, it wasn't on the radar screen. The LCMS is studying the various pills out there, and most of what I have heard is that the boys in St. Louis are trying to decide how much they should say on it. The one with an abortionfact action are verbotin, but some do (in my limited understanding) do not. We still have a ways to go before the wedding, and this will be something we discuss.

I do agree about getting married with the intent of not having children. Kind of defeats the purpose in a way, though I know many Godly Christian couples that do not have any children.

By the way CathFam, is a "Good Lutheran" like the proverbial "good German"? (Joke)
40 posted on 02/09/2004 3:43:11 PM PST by redgolum
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Comment #41 Removed by Moderator

Comment #42 Removed by Moderator

To: sandyeggo
She does not abandon principle because she is not logical enough for you, or because she does not go back to Aquinas or Pius XI.

In that case you will have no trouble answering my question from the previous post, "Where in these articles is enunciated the essential Catholic principle that contraception is wrong because it violates the primary purpose of marriage?"

I presume this thread was posted to get people to think.

When someone is speaking about a grave topic of faith and morals, I would think that their purpose is to proclaim the truth. And certainly I assume that was CFA's purpose. One could simply "get people to think" about all sorts of topics, but it wouldn't necessarily be a good thing.

43 posted on 02/09/2004 3:50:18 PM PST by Maximilian
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Comment #44 Removed by Moderator

To: sandyeggo
Just because this one speaker in this one essay doesn't go back to Aquinas does not spell doom to me.

Neither does Fr. Pavone. But somehow his letter didn't rankle me the way hers did.

Although truth be told, I'm not sure hers would have either if I hadn't seen her on EWTN saying all these beautiful things about couples using NFP and bad bad bad things about folks using artificial contraception. It just struck me as really insincere, since if a woman really took some effort to learn her cycle, with today's technology she'd probably have a higher chance of preventing pregnancy than with the Pill and condoms combined.

There are all kinds of devices now that can predict fertility with tremendous accuracy. How do they work? Beats me. But even the dumbest married person can tell you how a condom works. It defies common sense that the "natural" one is the one our Church allows, and the one any caveman could have explained is forbidden.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not defending artificial contraception. I'm just saying that I think it's a tactical error to ascribe only dreadful things to contracepting couples and all that is good and generous to NFPers. Again, I don't know that Dr. Smith makes a habit of this, I'm really going by what I've seen of her on EWTN.

45 posted on 02/09/2004 3:58:16 PM PST by old and tired (Go Toomey! Send Specter back to the Highlands!)
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To: sandyeggo
Nobody ought to be judging one couple's motivations in the first place.

You are absolutely right about this. I know my daughter has had this problem exactly. She attends a Tridentine Rite Mass. One Saturday afternoon she called my wife in tears. Apparently, the priest had recognized her in the confessional and began to lecture her about the purpose of marriage. Being her mother's daughter, she listened politely, and assured him she had no sins in that area. But it really upset her and her husband who was extremely angry.

NFP and artificial contraception is one of those topics I like to talk about (in complete anonymity on FR) because I think our Church has lost so much credibility, but I have to go now. I'll try to check this thread in the morning.

46 posted on 02/09/2004 4:49:17 PM PST by old and tired (Go Toomey! Send Specter back to the Highlands!)
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To: redgolum
Let this middle aged Lutheran woman give you some advice.

God gave man sex for two reasons: joining of husband and wife into one flesh and procreation. To abstain from sex for fear of a baby before you are ready is ignoring the first reason God gave us this gift. My husband and I find ourselves growing apart in spirit if we are not intimate more often than NFP would allow us to be.

Please have the contraception discussion well before your marriage. You must express your opinion to your future wife! Listen closely to her ideas too. This is not something to be worked out after you are married.

A comment on oral contraceptives: I have used them (long ago - before I was better educated on what they do). Insist that your finace not use these. They can cause hormonal imbalance to her that she may not see the fruits of for years in addition to the abortive effects on the children.

Best wishes on your marriage. Make as many of these decisions before you get married as you can!

47 posted on 02/09/2004 5:02:57 PM PST by freemama
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To: Maximilian
But I do have to wonder what the main point of the thread is.

On the contrary, you and I both know that the main point of the thread is crystal clear.

48 posted on 02/09/2004 5:19:15 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: freemama; redgolum
My husband and I find ourselves growing apart in spirit if we are not intimate more often than NFP would allow us to be.

Most modern Christian couples have a long engagement. If they can remain chaste prior to marriage for one, two, or three years why not for 7 days during the cycle?

My wife and I taught NFP for 11 years. "More often than NFP would allow us to be" is usually not the case. If one desires to please God and avoid mortal sin, God will provide the grace necessary to do His Will.

49 posted on 02/09/2004 5:32:29 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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To: redgolum
a "Good Lutheran" is an LCMS Lutheran, one with whom I have common ground on scripture and morality.
50 posted on 02/09/2004 5:33:30 PM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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