4. Theological Reflections on Natural Family Planning
To begin this essay I will first explain what Natural Family Planning is and I will then turn to take a look at the essay written by Joseph W. Koterski entitled Theological Reflections on Natural Family Planning. Natural Family Planning 'is the general title for the scientific, natural and moral methods of family planning that can help married couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies.'1 Methods of Natural Family Planning depend on the observation paid to the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle. The main idea behind Natural Family Planning is that no methods of artificial contraception are used. Such methods of artificial contraception include drugs, devices or surgical procedures which are used to avoid pregnancy.2
The first question Koterski asks is 'Can the use of Natural Family Planning to avoid pregnancy be morally justiﬁed?'3 He then goes on to state that many discussions come to the conclusion that Natural Family Planning is acceptable providing one does not have a 'contraceptive mentality.'4 The writer agrees with this statement, however one finds themselves asking does the whole idea of Natural Family Planning not have a somewhat contraceptive mentality to it also? The article then puts across the idea that procreation is good within marriage however if a couple do have a contraceptive mentality it should be for a moral reason such as 'spacing births a bit for the good of the mother's health, or caring better for the sake of one's existing children, or for the good of the marriage in a time of great pressures of some sort'5 If these scenarios do come into a couples lives who use Natural Family Planning they are still remaining open to having children at these times however they are just hoping they will not until these scenarios have sorted themselves out.
It appears that throughout the article the writer continually relates back to the subject about having a contraceptive mentality. He says on a frequent basis that if the reason for a couple having a contraceptive mentality is morally for the right reasons then it is okay while still using Natural Family Planning. Compared to using contraception where the act itself is morally objectionable whether the intentions are good or bad, there does not seem to be anything intrinsically objectionable to a couple deciding whether or not to have intercourse at a particular time during the womans menstrual cycle. If the couple have a good knowledge of Natural family Planning and are trying to avoid having more children then nothing should change about their actions during sexual relations apart from the time at which they have them and knowing when not to have intercourse. The author seems to be saying there is nothing wrong with this approach, however many a person would say this is having a contraceptive mentality.
The writer then poses two questions aimed especially at those religious people who do not believe in intercourse unless between a couple for procreative reasons:
1. Are we morally required to have all the children possible for us, given
our current understanding of the natural rhythms of fertility?
2. Are we morally required to refrain from intercourse when we know
as a couple that we are infertile?6
These questions open up quite a strong argument for those sceptical about the idea that intercourse should only be for procreative purposes. These would possibly argue that sexual intercourse is also for unifying purposes between a couple and therefore this would prevent a couple from growing closer. John Murray also states that it is not the woman's fault that she is naturally infertile therefore why should she have to abstain from intercourse:
If you were naturally blind, you could not do anything further to make yourself blind. So: when a woman is
naturally infertile [and knows it] she cannot do anything to...
Bibliography: Dominian, Jack, 'Masterbation and Premarital Sexual Intercourse ' , God Sex and Love (London: SCM Press, 1989),
Koterski, Joseph W. Theological Reflections on Natural Family Planning, http://www.nvjournal.net/images/stories/SampleArticles/6.4.pdf
Murray, John, Lecture notes.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document