Natural Family Planning and the Marriage Act

August 30th, 2015

The contraceptive culture refuses to acknowledge that in God’s plan, sexual union is intended to be exclusively a marriage act, and that within marriage it ought to be a renewal of the marriage covenant.  That is, it ought to be a recommitment of the love, fidelity and permanence pledged “for better and for worse,” in which it is recognized that “for better and for worse” includes the openness to the imagined “worse” of possible pregnancy.  St. John Paul II had this to say in his 1994 Letter to Families:  “In the conjugal act, husband and wife are called to confirm in a responsible way the mutual gift of self which they have made to each other in the marriage covenant.  The logic of the total gift of self to the other involves a potential openness to procreation: in this way the marriage is called to even greater fulfillment as a family.” (n 12.12)  (emphasis in original)

John F. Kippley

The First Three Years

August 23rd, 2015

This blog contains quotes from Sister Maria Corazon Cruz Gonzales’ Master thesis on “Caring for and educating a child from conception to three years old” (Rome 1994). We met this Filipino nun at a family congress in Rome in 1994 and she sent us her work on conception through the first three years of life.

“Researchers observe that breastfeeding provides enhanced protection against many infectious diseases.  It is also this essence of mothering which is the most important means of immunizing the baby against the greatest of emotional hazards….anxiety.”

“Each newborn infant carries within himself life’s greatest promise: a new hope for the world.  For each tiny baby has the potential to love and be loved, to value himself yet care for others, to develop his unique abilities and talents and one day become a human being who can help change the world—-for the better!”

“Love prevails as the vehicle in the development of the child’s sense of trust in others and in himself, an essential in the growth process to produce emotionally stable individuals.”

“The power of love is so strong in the early years of a child’s life that it can make sick babies well, as its absence can make well babies sick.”

Good early Mothering makes a man or woman capable of deep and enduring relationship.  Our enjoyment in caressing and being caressed, in holding and being held, in the sensuous delights of our own and each other’s bodies, all have their roots in these earliest love experiences.” (her emphasis)

“Raising children can be considered a genuine apostolate.”

“The Pope considers the family as the ‘first seminary where the faith is nourished and priestly religious and missionary vocations have their origin.’ ”

“It is common knowledge that it is difficult for a young child to grow up physically healthy and emotionally stable when his parents are too preoccupied to parent.  Today’s buzz word in mental health is ‘bonding.’  No less than the Holy Father, doctors and psychologists have unequivocally said that it is extremely necessary for parents to bond with their children from the moment of conception.  But the truth is: that a child cannot bond with a moving target.  He can’t become attached to someone who is not there, or is only occasionally there.  Parents who are preoccupied with their jobs, themselves, or their problems are not available to their children.”

“There is nothing on this earth that can match the excitement and joy of creating and nurturing a child from the moment he is conceived to his journey into adulthood.  There are moments when parents see their child’s first smile, or first step, or hear him utter his first word, and a lump sticks in their throat, and their hearts expand until they are ready to explode.  They do not give Nobel prizes for Parenting, but if it is done right, they should!”

Sheila Kippley
The Crucial First Three Years

Natural Family Planning or Sodomy

August 16th, 2015

As the world knows, Obergefell vs Hodges, the recent case that was used by the U.S. Supreme Court to forbid states to ban same-sex “marriage,” originated here in Cincinnati. Mr. Obergefell wanted to be listed as the surviving spouse on the death certificate of his partner in “marriage.” When that was originally denied, he took it to the courts, and the rest is history.

You have probably seen various analyses of this decision; some of the best are the dissenting opinions of the dissenting Justices. Chief Justice Roberts emphatically pointed out that the decision was not rooted in the Constitution but simply in the personal preferences of the Majority. That is, this is another sad case of Court-imposed legislation.

The Majority decision listed the Griswold v Connecticut (1965) and Eisenstadt v Baird (1972) as precedents. Those decisions forbade States from banning the sale and distribution of contraceptives to, respectively, married and then unmarried persons. To understand the impact of these decisions and their relationship to Obergefell, it is helpful to remember that in his commentary on the Sin of Onan in Genesis 38, Martin Luther called Onan’s form of contraception—withdrawal—a form of sodomy. That applies to any and all forms of contraceptive behaviors. It obviously includes those married couples who engage in the same sort of anatomical sexual acts as homosexuals; it also includes those who use the Pill etc.   Thus Griswold told the American people that it is so acceptable for married couples to engage in sodomy as contraception that States could no longer have any laws against this behavior.

According to the current NIH “Family Growth” statistics, about one-tenth of one percent of couples, married or not, are using natural methods of conception regulation. Let’s say that these figures don’t fairly represent married Christians. After all, do YOU know anyone who has ever been surveyed? And if asked, would you tell the details of your personal life to some survey-taker? So let’s say that the survey results were off by a factor of ten, yielding a rate of one percent of all those surveyed. Let’s imagine that churchgoing-Catholics were not well represented, so let’s double that figure. That would estimate that two percent of Catholic churchgoing parishioners were not using unnatural methods of birth control.

Conversely, that means that among fertile-age people, 98 percent of Catholics and 99% of the rest of the heterosexual population are engaging in various forms of sodomy as their way of preventing pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are no data from the natural family planning community to help us think that more than two percent of Catholic married couples are using only natural forms of conception regulation.

It is quite imaginable that homosexuals in our culture might have been thinking, “Since those doing heterosexual sodomy are calling it marriage, why shouldn’t we?” From that perspective, it appears that Obergefell is both a logical and sociological consequence of Griswold. In other words, from heterosexual sodomy as marriage we now have homosexual sodomy as marriage.

Shortly before the day of the decision, I was receiving emails calling for prayer and predicting that the acceptance of sodomy as marriage would spell the end of our culture. I don’t disagree, but I think that we all need to realize that “marriage” was redefined by Griswold in 1965 and that Obergefell has simply made clear what contraceptive marriage is all about.

The question of the day is this: What will the leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States of America do about this? What will they do to educate church-going Catholics about the beauty and truth of Catholic teaching on love, marriage and sexuality? As Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York has admitted, most bishops treated Humanae Vitae as a “hot potato,” i.e., something not to be handled. The result is in the statistics a few paragraphs above. The merciful Lord has given them another chance to get it right.

Also, this is certainly an opportunity for Protestants to realize that Luther was right about contraceptive behaviors as a form of sodomy and to return to the unity of teaching on this issue that prevailed until the Anglican revolution of 1930. After all, essentially Protestant state legislatures enacted the anti-contraception laws of the 1870s. Perhaps some or many will realize that the Catholic Church is the Guardian and authoritative teacher of the truth despite the failings of the majority of its Western laity and the laxity or timidity of too many of its clergy.

John F. Kippley