They have 6 kids – They must be “good Catholics…” (snicker) It really bugs me when people pass judgement on couples who have big families. Who says that 2 children is the perfect number? Who says one must have a boy and a girl to have the perfect family?
It is widely known that the Catholic Church teaches that any artificial means of birth control is not a good and moral choice for couples. It shuts God out of the bedroom. It says, “I trust you, God, to provide for my family, to watch over my children, with my eternal salvation…but NOT with my fertility.”
This is an excerpt from an apologetics article on http://www.catholic.com:
“Christians have always condemned contraceptive sex. Both forms mentioned in the Bible, coitus interruptus and sterilization, are condemned without exception (Gen. 38:910, Deut. 23:1). The early Fathers recognized that the purpose of sexual intercourse in natural law is procreation; contraceptive sex, which deliberately blocks that purpose, is a violation of natural law.
Every church in Christendom condemned contraception until 1930, when, at its decennial Lambeth Conference, Anglicanism gave permission for the use of contraception in a few cases.”
People often assume that some Catholic families have big families because they obey the pope and do not use birth control. I would like to suggest that couples who put Christ at the center of their marriage, trusting God in all areas of their lives (including fertility) loving give their family planning over to God. In some cases, this produces large families. In others, it does not. My husband and I have used it for the past 16 years, and have only had one (planned) pregnancy since then. We have been married for nearly 25 years and have had 3 children (and one miscarried baby).
The Catholic Church teaches that Natural family planning – reading the signs of a woman’s fertility cycle including temperature and cervical mucus – is an acceptable way to space children if there is a good, serious reason to do so. A couple’s motivation for putting off pregnancy is something to be prayed about – something between them and God. Sometimes there may be medical, mental or financial reasons to delay conception. This does not mean avoiding pregnancy to keep a certain (high or even middle class) standard of living.
Natural family planning is exactly as it sounds – natural. It works in harmony with the beautiful way that God created a woman’s body – not against it. It is just as effective as the birth control pill when used consistently and properly.
Think about this – in marriage, we give ourselves totally to our spouse. If we contracept with artificial means – like a spermicide, we kill the sperm that came from our husband. If we use a barrier method, our action says, ” I take all of you except your life-giving DNA.” If we use birth control pills, patches or injections, we alter our own hormonal balance as women. A woman gains weight because her body is tricked into thinking that it is in a constant state of pregnancy. There is a risk of developing blood clots or cancer. The worst consequence however, is that hormonal birth control acts as an abortifacient. It makes the lining of the uterus hostile to implantation of the embryo. A baby may be conceived, but unable to implant in the uterus to be nourished. The result is the death of the embryo – a tiny human being already infused with a soul at the moment of conception.
Women think that they have been made “free” – sexually liberated with the invention of birth control. Sadly, this could not be farther from the truth. With the “risk” of pregnancy greatly diminished by artificial birth control methods, it has taken away responsibility and respect. Women (and men!) are often seen simply as objects of pleasure rather than “the mother/father of my future children.”
“The consequences have been devastating in terms of skyrocketing marital infidelity and divorce. Pope Paul VI’s predictions that an increase in contraceptive use would lead to men regarding women as objects of desire and would allow governments to wield technological and economic power in population-reduction programs have been overwhelmingly fulfilled.” (onemoresoul.com)
NFP does involve the virtues of patience and temperance. Couples who wish to avoid pregnancy must abstain from intercourse for a time. It involves selflessness – putting another’s well-being before your own. Isn’t that the kind of love we want in marriage?
My husband and I began our marriage contracepting, because we (mistakenly) thought that it was the responsible thing to do. The world today scares us into believing the lies of overpopulation, and our right to luxury. I feel so good about our switch to NFP. I learned that God can be trusted with all the details of our lives – including our fertility!