Wednesday, May 29, 2013

NFP: "Trojan Horse," or Saving Grace? Part 3

Laying to rest the anti-NFP+RP ideologies.
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This is part 3 in a series. Turns out I had more to say than one post would naturally allow. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

We're nearly done showing how both Scripture and Tradition do not support this. Now, we'll put the final nails in the coffin of Ms. Boyd's non-Catholic theology, and lay it rest.


Here we go....

Ms. Boyd continues:
'Certainly, today, the Church is failing badly in this area. Part of the reason for that stems from the 1960’s Church taking seriously the warnings from secular “experts” that the world was becoming overpopulated. Birth control was cautiously embraced because Church leaders didn’t recognize the errors in the overpopulation argument.'
Ms. Boyd clearly doesn't know her history. Birth control was never embraced. Post-Vatican II, there was a hesitant anticipation in the face of misinterpretations and specious surmising based off the media's portrayal of Vatican II that artificial birth control might squeak by as acceptable. But the Pope Paul VI, through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit written in Humane Vitae, crushed that:
"Others ask on the same point whether it is not reasonable in so many cases to use artificial birth control if by so doing the harmony and peace of a family are better served and more suitable conditions are provided for the education of children already born. To this question We must give a clear reply. The Church is the first to praise and commend the application of human intelligence to an activity in which a rational creature such as man is so closely associated with his Creator. But she affirms that this must be done within the limits of the order of reality established by God....Neither the Church nor her doctrine is inconsistent when she considers it lawful for married people to take advantage of the infertile period but condemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly prevent conception, even when the reasons given for the later practice may appear to be upright and serious. In reality, these two cases are completely different. In the former the married couple rightly use a faculty provided them by nature. In the later they obstruct the natural development of the generative process."
"Y'all shoulda listened to your papa!"
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Here is a very clear delineation of the Church NOT accepting birth control, but affirming acts that correspond with nature. No small wonder that NFP+RP, which has always fit the Pauline expression of abstinence, fits in perfectly with the Pope's explanation of working within the ("very good") "order of reality established by God."
This, Ms. Boyd, is not birth control.
This is absolutely NOT a "cautiously embraced" view of "control" over nature.
Paul VI's words are a smack-down on the heads of those who would interrupt the course of nature, followed by a clear picture of how Genesis and 1 Corinthians fit together.
Remember, as Catholics, we are universal - we look at thew whole picture in its entirety. Just as God is outside of time in looking at the universe and the entirety of creation as a whole, we too are called to be like God - looking at the entire deposit of faith, at once.
But what about the overpopulation argument? Certainly, the Church has been influenced by the modernist heresy, right?
Tradition has always professed that God, Lord of Creation, would provide for His creatures.
From Scripture, specifically Matthew 6:26:
"Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they?"
From St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church
"Only a person of very small faith could believe that so great a God doesn't have the power to give food to those who serve Him."
From His Holiness Pope Pius XII, in 1958:
"So overpopulation is not a valid reason for spreading illicit birth control practices. It is simply a pretext used by those who would justify avarice and selfishness - by those nations, for instance, who fear that the expansion of others will pose a danger to their own political position and cause a lowering of the general standard of living, or by individuals, especially those who are better off, who prefer the greatest possible enjoyment of earthly goods to the praise and merit of bringing new lives into existence. The final result is that they break the fixed and certain laws of the Creator under the pretext of correcting supposed errors on the part of His Providence." 
And more recently, in ETHICAL AND PASTORAL DIMENSIONS OF POPULATION TRENDS, by the Pontifical Council for the Family:
"They say that there is a "world consensus" about the urgency of the situation. However, the slogans spread about these matters cannot stand up to analysis because the history of human development shows that it is simplistic to affirm that controlling population growth is necessary to achieve or maintain a certain level of prosperity....In discovering the family as the "sanctuary of life" and the "heart of the culture of life," men and women can be freed from the "culture of death." This latter culture begins with the "anti-baby mentality" so widely developed in the ideology of coercive population control. In each child, couples and society must recognize a gift coming to them from the Creator, a precious gift which must be loved and welcomed with joy....In the final analysis, God created man only to make him a partner in his plan of life and love."
"Church leaders didn’t recognize the errors in the overpopulation argument?" Frankly, that doesn't hold up against what Church leaders actually, ya know, said and wrote.
"Didn't you just read what I wrote?"

But that's OK - Ms. Boyd's theology doesn't seem to be overly concerned with actual Church teaching anyway
"The apparent needs of the temporal world loomed larger than the spiritual needs of parents that are met through generous parenthood providentially orchestrated by God. It seems as though, for a brief moment, Church leaders wondered if God maybe needed a little help in controlling population: hence, the concept of “responsible” parenthood, and the subtle movement from condoning periodic abstinence in certain serious situations to the idea that couples should rely on their own consciences to determine when to conceive a child."
This is not what responsible parenthood means, and is not what is evident in any Church writings. There was the whole Commission for the Study of Problems of Population, Family and Birth in 1965. But far from it declaring what Ms. Boyd seems to think it says, the Commission reaffirmed that overpopulation is a man-made, modern heresy:
"The increase of inhabitants cannot in any way be said to be something evil or calamitous for the human race. As children are "the most excellent gift of matrimony" (Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, II, c.1, par.50) and the object of the loving care of the parents, which demands from them many sacrifices, so the great number of men pertaining to a certain nation and constituting the whole human race spread over the globe is the foundation of all social sharing and cultural progress."
Maybe Ms. Boyd just stopped reading before getting this far? Who knows. Seems pretty clear that even in 1965, the Church was not wondering about controlling population. It was wondering how to apply soacial justice principles to make sure the population got the resources it needed. This was never an overpopulation issue - it was an issue about caring for the poor.
A family with 10 children, all priests or sisters, meeting
Pope John XXIII. The pinnacle of large family blessings!

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Furthermore, the "subtle movement" is not something that's actually happened. The Church in no way has ever required NFP be practiced. In fact, for those blessed enough to not have serious reasons, the Church encourages large families. From Pope Pius XII:
"Far from being a "social malady," large families are a guarantee of the moral and physical health of a people. Virtues flourish spontaneously in homes where a baby's cries always echo from the crib, and vice is put to flight, as if it has been chased away by the childhood that is renewed there like the fresh and invigorating breath of spring."
Responsible parenthood is the exception. IF a just reason exists to delay another child, THEN this is the method through which a couple does it. Couples do not rely on their consciences. They rely on the reasons outlined by Pope Pius XII and the Catechism.
From the Catechism:
"2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality."
And from our dear departed papa:
“Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called ‘indications,’ may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life."
The Church is very, very clear on this. Ms. Boyd seems to simply disagree with the Church's teachings. But wait! She's not done!
"I predict that, in the future, the Church will clarify what it teaches today, dramatically redefine the “serious reasons” necessary for use of NFP, and encourage it as a “remedy for concupiscence” rather than a positive, virtuous practice. My prediction stems in part from my belief that what is being taught today, and the verbiage being used to teach it, is, for the most part, wrong – at least on the very liberal end of the NFP spectrum."
Ah ha!
She wants a list.
Wait...we already have a list.
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Ms. Boyd wants the Church to define "serious" or "just" reasons. Maybe what is being applied today isn't serious enough. Maybe the outward signs of justice do not agree with Ms. Boyd countenance. Who knows.
The point here is that the Church has been emphatic in its definition of what constitutes serious cause:

  • medical
  • eugenic
  • economic
  • social

There, Ms. Boyd, is your list of definitions, given to us by the Church.
But it's her belief (guided by her theology - not the Church's) that the NFP+RP taught today is "for the most part, wrong." Ms. Boyd's belief.
Almost done:
"There’s another, more pragmatic reason for my prediction: far from becoming overpopulated, the world is now beginning to suffer from the effects of decades of population control. We need more babies. People are now coming to an understanding of some principles of the economics of population growth which were previously unknown, unexplored, or ignored. I’m not an expert in this area, but even in the secular media we are beginning to see a growing awareness and concern about the need for more young people. And so if the Church wants to continue to meet the needs of the “modern world”, She will have to acknowledge that birth control should never be touted as a Catholic principle, and that now more than ever Catholic couples should be open to life, open to “generous parenthood” that puts the procreative end of marriage in its rightful place of primacy.
In the end, I think that might be called “virtuous parenthood”."
I think it's been demonstrated already that the Church does not, has not, and will not ever "acknowledge that birth control ... be touted as a Catholic principle."
I think it's also been demonstrated that periodic abstinence is a method to virtue, as outlined by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians.
It's also been shown that procreation has never been removed from its place of primacy, so therefore there's simply no need to put it back.
And it's been shown that the spacing of pregnancies is only called for in those times when just reasons are prayerfully discerned. Otherwise, couples are called to accept children as they come.
These facts have never been disputed in any of the NFP+RP literature. It was when Ms. Boyd twisted the Church's theology to suit her own conclusions did questions and confrontation arise.
Checkmate, Ms. Boyd. Try again next time.
The bottom line is that NFP+RP has been taught from the beginning, and until the most recent decades, has not needed much more clarification. Under the attacks of modern contraceptive practices, the Church sought to elucidate her continuous, unbroken teachings, first through Pope Pius XI and Pius XII, then through Humane Vitae, and finally through Pope John Paul II and the second edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These teachings built upon 1 Corinthians chapter 7, Genesis 1, and the Gospel of Matthew.
Saying NFP (with or without RP) is a "Trojan horse" shows, at best, a lack of understanding of Church Tradition, and at worst, a heretical individual theology that provides a clear break with Scripture and Tradition.


  1. Hi! I'm Ann; I don't know how else to post but 'anonymous' choice; just a typo above in your very thoughtful series here: Ms.B. does not know "here" history {her} + just a side note, do you know ccl history? John & Sheila Kippley started ccl but they are no longer associated with ccl because of the changes made there. you may want to consider a peek at their new NFP book + its theology + the more complete coverage of ecological breastfeeding in "NFP:The Complete Approach" book online. John has written against this author as well & you can look at their ccl archive blogs if you wish; seems you may be a good match to work with their NFPInternational at ... but only you know that for yourself; best wishes with the chickens

  2. Thank you, Ann. I fixed that typo. ::embarrassed:: Thanks too for the info and the referral - I will definitely check that material out. I've looked at before - great stuff there as well. God bless!

    1. Ann again; I always like to focus on when the couple comes together maritally, that nothing is used; having past BC-use, THAT is so very special to me in Church teaching. Plus, I can see in part of Ms.B's argument that NFP may be improperly "used". Sadly, the reason for this is that very few NFP groups teach proper theology with the NFP. Thus, it may be used selfishly or other ways "wrongly", even doing contracepting behaviors like withdrawal, barrier use, or other. BlessedJPII said that NFP must be taught in a moral context. {ccl removed a lot of theology to me}. She needs to read chapter one of the book, "Natural Family Planning:The Complete Approach" which includes Bible, Catechism, H.V. and others not here in your post. Maybe the good Lord can help us get the word out and it can counter-balance Ms.B's work

  3. Thanks Ann. Have you tried selecting the Name/URL option for commenting?
    Anyway, yes, this is an issue. I am in CCL teaching couple training right now, and there IS a stress on the moral aspects of NFP. There are several courses just on theology. A lot of it is the mechanics and interpretation, because it is an art. But I can agree - sometimes the mechanics do overshadow the theology, and yes, it can be used incorrectly and for selfish motives. But so can a lot of other things, too. One can fast, for example, to become thinner (instead of become more detached from worldliness), which is a selfish motive. Fasting is a good, but in that scenario is being used incorrectly.
    I sense another post brewing..... :)