One key point we keep making on the discussions is about how and why the sex act is actually used by married couples, and in this sense, there is absolutely no difference between NFP and ABC in the acts couples make use of (assuming they're using NFP to avoid conception).
I would disagree. The is a key element in the practicing Catholic couple's use of NFP in the marital act, is their respectful understanding and acceptance of the teaching of the Catholic Church as well as their submission to that in obedience to Christ's teaching. This is something that is fundamentally missing from the marital act with artificial contraception.
And so the issue is not whether abstinence is a legitimate means of contraception while other methods are not,
Correct. I think the key issue is does the Catholic Church have the authority to declare and defend what is licit or illicit or not. That's what it has always been about - is the Catholic Church authoritative or not?
but that non-procreative sex is non-procreative sex is non-procreative sex.
That's ridiculous. The church condemns other forms of nonprocreative sex such as homosexual acts and masturbation. However it does not condemn acts between couples who are past the age of childbearing, or infertile couples because it also confirms that the act in marriage is for the good of the couple.
The Holy Father knew this, and tried to condone rhythm anyway, because it makes use of a natural method and places no obstacle to fertility.
Uh.. he DID condone periodic abstinence anyway. So did Paul VI, and John Paul II.
But one could easily counter that making use of the act only during the infertile time of the month is placing a kind of obstacle to fertility--namely, the absence of an ovum!!!
An absurd argument since there is nothing the couple did or didn't do to erase the ovum. It is simply part of the natural course of the fertility cycle.
"Nature" does this, I know, and that is a difference,
Well thanks for the concession and it is a HUGE difference.
only the plain fact is that NFP couples learn about the monthly cycle and make use of what nature provides to insure that their sex acts will be infertile. So the act is used precisely *because* it is infertile, and this further blurs the line between NFP and ABC,
If it were so blurry I suspect more cafeteria Catholics wouldn't have such a problem with NFP. I believe the self-mastery, self-denial, cooperation, and obedience aspects of NFP make it distinct.
leaving only the objective structure of the act per se as the telling factor. All in all, that seems a pretty trivial criterion to use for evaluating the morality of a sex act, the bottom line being whether a penis is ejaculating semen into a vagina with no barrier or hormonal obstructions to conception.
It is only trivial if one looks at it with a contraceptive mindset that is blinded to the awesome power of procreation that a Catholic Couple has in truly imaging the Trinity in the marital act. What a shame that it has been reduced to merely animalistic copulation.
That's pretty much it, I'm afraid. If you do this, the act is not intrinsically evil; if you don't, it is. Heaven and hell hang in the balance. Makes no sense to me!
Perhaps a refresher on Matthew 7 will help.
19 "(16) Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 "So then, you will know them (17) by their fruits.
21 "(18) Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
22 "(19) Many will say to Me on (20) that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'
23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; (21) DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'
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