Artificial contraception works for usBirth Control in the Catholic Church

October 31, 2002, 08:03 PM

Artificial contraception works for us
I see most of the threads on this forum are heavy intellectual discussions, so if this one isn't appropriate, let me know.

My husband and I used NFP for a little over 5 years and had 2 unplanned pregnancies during that time. We did the method as instructed and even sought help from NFP instructors, but my period was irregular and it wasn't always easy to tell when the fertile time of the month came around. Also, my doctor told me that during some of my longer cycles, it was possible that I could have had more than one ovulation.

After the birth of our second child, we had become wary of having sex and distrustful of the method. We decided to start reading up on this issue, and we discussed things with other couples and our priest. We also prayed a great deal about this and decided to begin using barrier methods for birth control. It wasn't long before we found we were more relaxed in our sexual relationship and enjoying this part of our marriage the way I think it was meant to be.

Two years later, we decided we were ready for another child and we just stopped using contraceptives. Within two months, we conceived, then after our son was born, we began using barrier contraceptives again. That was three years ago, and we're thinking now that we might be ready for another child.

In our experience, contraceptives haven't discouraged us from having children. They've only helped us better plan the time when we were ready to to so. They've also helped to improve our sexual relationship, and I haven't noticed any loss of spirituality. Maybe in the eyes of the Church we're doing something wrong, but I don't see what harm it's actually done to us.

There are still times when I feel conflicted about this. No priest we talked to ever came right out and said it was OK to use contraceptives, but they did say we should follow our conscience on this matter. That's what we're doing. Only the hard-line stance taken by the Church leaders leaves me feeling like we're very much on our own here. That seems to be one of the hard parts about all this for married couples.


October 31, 2002, 09:20 PM
Your reply is not only acceptable, but truly touches on the real point here. The actual concrete experiences of the vast majority of successful marriages where ABC is used is firm evidence that this teaching needs further consideration, and development. Thank you for sharing your testimonial with us. wink
November 01, 2002, 09:20 AM
James said it very well, Sarah. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

I very much relate, only my spouse and I struggled with NFP for 15 years, during which time we had 3 unplanned pregnancies. After the birth of our 3rd child, we had become so preoccupied and anxious about sex that to continue using NFP would have ruined that part of our relationship. Our process of conscience formation was much like your own, with priests basically telling us that if we used ABC we were "on our own" and had better make sure we were absolutely clear about this before God. Since such certainty is hard to come by, and because the prospect of committing a mortal sin and bringing eternal damnation to our souls (as one priest told us would happen) was not something we took lightly, we decided to try using ABC for two months, then evaluate. We also confessed our sin of using ABC every week until our priest told us to stop confessing if we didn't really plan to change the practice.

As you described, we became more relaxed in our sexual relationship and eventually decided we wanted another child, which God has blessed us with. In our experience, I'd have to say that the fruits of using ABC far outweiged the fruits of NFP. I'm convinced that if we had persisted with NFP, it would have ruined our sexual relationship--maybe even our marriage. Maybe it works for other couples, but it didn't work for us. And it's not like we didn't try!
November 01, 2002, 02:36 PM
Dear Editor,

It seems you've attracted quite an intelligent and civil group here. Although my focus is on the wider issues of dialogue, interreligiously and interculturally, and especially the interaction between science and religion, I appreciate good dialogue wherever it is found.

Also, I like the way you encourage people to exchange some of their personal stories in addition to their ideas. Still, should I ever decide to join in, I don't think I'd be quite as generous or courageous with my own personal sharing on a topic such as this! Kudos to those of you who are both generous and courageous!

I wanted to mention to your correspondents that, if they click on the Gateway to Dialogue link, above, there are other forums that may be of interest, too.


Catholic Portal
November 01, 2002, 06:50 PM
Thanks for the kind words, johnboy, and for extending the invitation to host a forum for us. We were literally getting buried in popup windows on the old forum, with our threads falling off the chart after just a few days. The one I had arranged before the last one was just as bad.

I have tried many times through the years to find a site like this one to host our forum, but once the potential host saw what we were about, they considered the topic too controversial and risky. Even Catholic sites advertising to host other sites on Catholic topics turned me down. Kinda says something about the state of affairs we're in, I think.

I've enjoyed purusing some of your resource threads and encourage the visitors to this forum to do the same. There are some great links there. smile
November 01, 2002, 08:01 PM
why you are welcome
- post moved to a new thread on dissent in the Catholic Church -

[This message was edited by Admin on November 01, 2002 at 08:05 PM.]
November 01, 2002, 09:39 PM
Johnboy, I affirm your questions, and suggest we continue this exchange about principles for respectful dialogue in Catholicism on another thread if that's OK. This one started off as a sharing about experiences and I'd like it to try to keep that focus. So what I'll do is copy your post above to another thread and reply in more depth on that one.
November 02, 2002, 12:33 PM
Thanks James and Editor for your welcome. I wish there had been a resource like this to help us dialogue with other Catholics about this issue.

I'm reading through the exchanges about NFP and artificial contraception and finding some of the insights we had confirmed.

I remember one day while checking for cervical mucous and then vaginal temperature and feeling like I was treating my fertility like it was dirty or something. NFP taught that the practice was supposed to produce the opposite effect, but it didn't in me. My husband and I also had discussions on how sex during the infertile time didn't seem to be all that different from sex using artificial contraception. One of the priests we talked with about this shared the language of love teaching with us, but it didn't fit for us. We never felt like we were holding back in our gift of self to each other because we used a diaphragm or condom.

I've tried sharing some of this on a few discussion forums and emails lists, but it never seemed to go very far. The NFP people were harsh in their criticism and I think other married couples are afraid to share their experiences, especially when their email address would show up on an email discussion list.
November 05, 2002, 10:59 AM
Sarah, please do feel free to continue sharing your experiences. You'll note the number of views for this thread, which tells me that people are reading it, even if they don't post experiences themselves.

Once again, I relate to what you've shared. My spouse and I had much more preoccupation about sex during the years we used NFP, and much more a sense that fertility was a force we were in resistance against. This was contrary to the attitudes we were "supposed" to experience with NFP. I don't doubt that others have different experiences from ours, but do wish NFP and Church leaders would note that NFP is not the panacea for intimacy, harmony, respect for fertility, etc. that it's promoted to be. It's just the opposite, for many couples, not to mention being a rather ineffective method of birth control--at least in our case.

Just a reminder that registration for the forum won't make your email address or other personal information public unless you choose to activate that option. Click on my name on the left, for example, or James' or momz's and you'll see that you can leave most of that empty if that's your preference. You don't even have to use your real name.