Sunday, May 29, 2005

What I've Learned About NFP & Quiverfull

I recieved this comment from Claire on my Quiverfull post:

I find this idea of quiverfulls thinking that to use contraception (even natural ones) is undermining the will of God and removing his power to choose your fertility/child bearing interesting. I would be interested to hear from those that think you should not choose even to use natural contraception but you should allow God to choose, as to whether you use antibiotics or if your child needed surgery would you do that? Isn't that removing God's will and power in their lives? Surely if God expects us to use technology to aid our health, antibiotics, operations etc. then he would also want us to use our knowledge to seek his will as to the size of our family and then proceed to use precautions if necessary?

This was a legitimate comment, and I think it deserves an answer. Since the Quiverfull post is so old, however, I thought I'd devote a new post to it.

I've spent a lot of time looking into the church's teachings about Natural Family Planning and the Quiverfull view. And I think I finally have an understanding of why the Catholic Church teaches NFP, why it's acceptable to use it, and why birth control is not in the same category as surgery and medical treatment.

First of all you have to understand the church's teachings on sex. Sex has two functions: For the pleasure and emotional benifit of a lawfully wedded couple, and to create children. We've seen in our culture a number of problems when we've separated the two. Now people have sex just for pleasure, and it's like a sailor who doesn't respect the ocean. His boat will sink. And those who are having sex for pleasure outside of marriage are frequently lost in the turbulent ocean of emotions, STD's and unplanned pregnancy. Sex was created to have a dual purpose.

That said, not every marital act must lead to the creation of a child. Sex has the function in a marriage of making two people one. It shows husbands that they are cared for and loved, and make wives feel safe and content. Sex is known to release a number of wonderful hormones that make one feel good. And multiple studies have shown that the most sexually satisfied are the happily married.

Still, contraception of a fertile act of intercourse, and thus interfering with the procreative side of sex is a different thing than avoiding an act of fertile intercourse. And the church believes that the later is acceptable if you are physically, emotionally, or financially not yet ready to be parents or to add to your family. If none of those things are factors, then the church teaches that you shouldn't be practicing NFP and should be ready to accept new life.

This is not the same as being Quiverfull which teaches that even NFP takes control from God. I respect those who choose the Quiverfull path, but my study of the proof texts used to prove their case, I have found to be lacking. Therefore we are not Quiverfull. I think the Quiverfull people would say that they use this for their reproductive life and not other areas because of the scriptures involved. But since, like I mentioned before, I don't find those scriptures persuasive, I don't follow that line of reasoning.

Our family will take antibiotics and other medications. We will accept surgery or necessary medical interventions to maintain our health. We believe that using NFP is a natural, safe, and acceptable way to help us avoid pregnancy if we believe we are not prepared for another baby. However, if God over-rides us, we will accept His will. Because of the dual nature of marital intercourse it can not be compared with other medical procedures. And to use other forms of birth control which artificially contracept fertile marital acts is against our beliefs. We believe that birth control allows an unnatural separation between the two functions of sex, which were never meant to be separated.

This is my understanding of church teaching, and in no way authoritative. I hope this answers your question!

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