Link – NFP v. Contraceptive Mentality

Nice post here on the question of NFP & the dreaded Contraceptive Mentality.  Written all grown-uppy.  (Which is good.)  Don’t read the comments.  No really.  You have other things to do today.  Better ways to fill your brain.  But the post itself is spot-on handy.  H/T to the

8 thoughts on “Link – NFP v. Contraceptive Mentality

  1. Wow, I found that article to be fabulously unpersuasive. Couples practicing NFP in order not to conceive are…actively trying to have sex without conceiving. That’s the same goal that people who use condoms or pills or poisons have. Splitting hairs over a fastidiously limited definition of “contraception” won’t change the commonality of desired result or worldview.

    NFP is simply a method the church approves of, which can be used to seek conception or dodge conception. Even though the method itself is not immoral it can be (and is) used to immoral ends.

    1. I didn’t find it so much sought to persuade as just to state the facts. My reading of it was that he was making a single point: quit applying the notion of “contraceptive” to NFP.

      –> A bit like if people kept saying that (honest) work for pay was done with a “robbery mentality”. The fact that both theft and paid work have the same end (financial gain) does not make the one like the other. You might be working your job for selfish reasons. You might be spending too much time at work, and thus missing out on the other elements of your calling. But that doesn’t mean you are working with a criminal mentality.

  2. No, but if what you’re gonna do with the money is wrong, then it’s not enough to focus on whether it was earned honestly or not.

    If you don’t want another child for the wrong reasons, using NFP instead of a condom doesn’t lessen that sin; and in fact it can provide cover for committing that sin.

    Anyway I posted over at the other blog.

    1. I agree with you. Dead horse beat below, for the benefit of on-lookers. (If you see an error in my thinking, beat back.)


      I think the point I & and Fr. Erlenbush are trying to make is a very small one: NFP is never contraception. And that therefore the point you are making, which is important, is a different kind of sin.

      –> This is a bit like my first confession, which though late in life relatively speaking, was still fairly young. I confessed to “adultery”, and the priest did a double-take. A few quick questions and he quickly clarified for me that no, I was guilty of no such thing. I’d been confused by the various ready-made examinations of conscience, in which a wide number of sins, (some of them entirely venial), are listed under the heading for “Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery”.

      Using NFP for the wrong reasons is a sin of it’s own. It deserves to be dealt with as its own sin. And certainly we are prone to that sin because we live an culture that is steeped in contraceptive thinking. But it still isn’t contraception.

      I think this is an important point, because it is already very difficult to make the switch from contraception or sterilization to using NFP. When we use terms loosely, it can be discouraging to couples who are struggling with NFP, and at the same time perhaps scrupling over their use of it. When we make out a sin to be greater than it is, it a) causes people to fear sin where there is none, and b) can tempt someone into committing a greater sin, since apparently the two are just as bad, so why not commit the more comfortable one?

      For those reasons, I think it is important to be precise. And that is the reason I posted the link.

  3. Jennifer, thanks so much for linking that post regarding NFP and contraceptive mentality and thanks also for your clarifications. I agree that NFP is never contraception. Christian, I can appreciate all that you are saying (and read some of your comments on the other post). And I hope to be able to comment more fully when I return home from Mass later today. IMHO, however, my husband and I have used (and have taught) NFP for nearly 30 years and I would give up my life rather than contracept. We have used NFP many times over the past 30 years to avoid pregnancy because of health issues. We did not make the decision to avoid pregnancy lightly and in fact, chose to use only NFP when the doctors were pressuring us to be sterilized. Anyway…thanks again, Jennifer, for posting the link. I talk a bit about my own journey in this post: God bless you both…

    1. Thank you for sharing that link!

      If I were going to speak of NFP used with a “contraceptive mentality” (which I am not, since I’ve just argued with Christian, there’s no backing up now), your experience of being pressured not to seek pregnancy would be one of my examples.

      –> I do find in ordinary life that even among non-contracepting catholics, there is condemnation to be had for parents who show heroic generosity towards new life.

      Topic for a post for another day.

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