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Living the Truth in our Bodies

The Moral Difference

Some people ask, “If natural fertility methods are so effective, what is the moral difference between them and contraception? After all, the result might be the same – pregnancy is avoided.”
As in any moral decision, couples need to consider not just the ‘end’, but also the ‘means’ by which that end is achieved. For some methods of contraception including some forms of the ‘pill’ and IUDs, the end can often directly involve the destruction of a human life through the disruption of implantation. With respect to some other forms of contraception (e.g. condoms), although the intended outcome of avoiding pregnancy (the end) might be the same as for natural fertility methods, there is an important difference in the means.

Couples who use a natural fertility method do not in any way alter their fertility, but accept it in its natural rhythms. These couples do not make a conscious choice against their fertility when they choose to use the naturally infertile phases for intercourse, because these acts of love are infertile by God’s design. The sacred meaning of sexual intercourse as a total gift of self is preserved; they can freely and wholeheartedly enter into sexual intercourse at these infertile times knowing that they hold nothing back from each other and accept each other fully.

On the other hand, when a couple chooses contraception to avoid a pregnancy, their potential as a couple to fully express their total self-giving is impeded. By intentionally excluding their fertility from their lovemaking, even by mutual agreement and for seemingly good reasons, they withhold a vital part of themselves and thus undermine the sacred meaning of their specific exchange.

The Church is not indifferent to the difficulties many couples face in attempting to live out this vision. It draws close to couples in difficulty, and calls them to find a solution to their challenges through a full respect for the truth of their love.3

The Language of Love

Natural fertility methods promote an attitude of shared responsibility for your fertility management and family planning decisions. The process of learning about your fertility and how to apply your knowledge will provide an opportunity for you as a couple to grow in your mutual appreciation of each other and your sexuality.

Sexual intercourse is not just a celebration of the intimacy and love between a husband and wife; it is also a means to create it. The sacred language of sexual intercourse, allows you, as husband and wife, to use your entire body to say: “I share myself with you totally, and I accept you unconditionally in all your masculine/feminine uniqueness”. By using a natural method, you can confidently plan your family without compromising the sacred meaning of sexual intercourse – you can avoid any notion of rejection and make each and every act of love one of total self-giving and unconditional acceptance.

Reflect: Fertility Values

Which of these are your top THREE fertility values?

  • Health, minimum side effects
  • Reliable in avoiding pregnancy
  • No harm to future fertility
  • Natural, environmentally sensitive
  • Inexpensive
  • Shared responsibility, promotes unity
  • Does not interrupt love-making
  • Easy to use, convenient
  • Moral (within Church teaching)
  • Reversible, quickly and easily
  • Does not inhibit sexual desire
  • Preserves meaning of sex as a sacred body language

Stories of the Heart

“Sexual intercourse is the ultimate expression of love between us as husband and wife. When words are inadequate, sex allows us to express the depth of our feeling for each other and to reconfirm our commitment to love ‘all the days of our life’. In entering into sex, we hold nothing back – each act of love is a gesture and a celebration of a total gift of ourselves to each other.”


“After ten years on the pill it was starting to have a bad effect our marriage. I felt irritable and generally unsexy most of the time. Sex became infrequent and when we did make love, it was a shallow experience for us both. I resented being on the pill and I blamed my husband and thought he was selfish.

Then one day Greg confessed to almost having an affair. Thank God he didn’t but it gave us a wake up call. We heard about natural fertility methods at a couple’s workshop and decided to give it a go, though at the time, we still didn’t want any more children. When I stopped the pill and we began relying on a natural fertility method the first shock was how sexy and passionate towards Greg I started to feel. We had slipped into using sex for personal recreation.

When we started tracking my fertility and reading about the theology behind the method we experienced an amazing rejuvenation in our marriage. I felt healthier and more confident as a woman. We were more together as a couple, making the decisions about our family planning jointly, instead of me carrying the burden alone. And there was a freedom in our lovemaking –it took on new depth and is now a deeply spiritual thing for us; not just a physical act but an emotional connection as well. The irony is, we have less abstinence using natural fertility methods than we did when I was on the pill”


3. Pope John Paul II, Letter to the Centre for Natural Fertility Regulation, 1998.

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