The Catholic Church is now alone in its complete rejection of artificial contraceptives. Up until about 1931 all Christian denominations rejected artificial contraceptives. The Anglican Church started the change in that trend. Now the Catholic Church stands alone.
Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (the encyclical that forbade the use of artificial contraceptives) is considered one of the most controversial encyclicals ever. It is disliked even by many Catholics. In fact, there is probably no Teaching of the Church more frequently disregarded by Catholics than the Teaching against artificial contraceptives.
I have heard many arguments made in favor of artificial contraceptives. Probably the most common, however, is that it is just responsible. No one should have more children than they can support. Besides, the world is becoming overpopulated. So why shouldn’t artificial contraceptives be used? Does the Catholic Church have a better suggestion?
Yes, as a matter of fact, the Catholic Church does have a much better suggestion. It is called Natural Family Planning (NFP). Artificial contraceptives use man-made means to prevent conception. NFP, however, uses a woman’s natural infertile periods to prevent conception. What’s the difference? In the former method a couple refuses to trust God. The couple tells God when they will have a child. In the latter method the couple trusts God. They have a grave reason to avoid conception, but they understand God is the creator and sustainer of life. The couple trusts that God is wiser than they, and He knows what He’s doing. Those using NFP for grave reasons are open to life. Those using artificial contraceptives are not.
In addition, many contraceptives are not as effective as NFP. Condoms have several steps to follow in order to “perform” at their optimum level. Even then they’re only about 97% effective. When done properly, NFP is 99% effective.
Many people believe NFP is the dreaded Rhythm Method. The Rhythm Method does not work for women who experience irregular periods. Fortunately, however, NFP is much more effective than the Rhythm Method. It uses the extremely effective Sympto-Thermal Method. In this method a woman checks her temperature every morning, and then checks her cervical mucus. These both will vary for each woman, but once a pattern is established, a woman will know with a very high degree of certainty when she is fertile, and when she is infertile.
NFP also gives women information they might otherwise not know. For instance, most women don’t know about ecological breast feeding. This is a type of breast feeding that can extend a woman’s period of infertility after childbirth.
Most artificial contraceptives have adverse side effects. The advantage of using NFP is that it is 100% natural. You aren’t putting any foreign materials inside your body. No herbs, synthetic medicines, or any other material is ingested, injected, or inserted inside the body. This means that NFP is 100% free of ill side effects! In addition, if a couple decides they want to conceive, the method is immediately reversible.
NFP also increases the happiness in a marriage. Couples who use NFP refrain from sex during a woman’s fertile period. Thus, the couple must find other ways to express their love for one another. Less time is spent in the marriage in gratifying the physical desires, and more time can be spent in true intimacy. Couples who use NFP report more time being spent in conversation, and in spending real quality time together.
The bottom line is that NFP is the most natural, safe, rewarding, and moral way to practice family planning. Using artificial contraceptives is lazy, immoral, and unsafe. It dehumanizes your spouse. He/she goes from being one of the most important people in your life, to being a mere source of physical gratification. Furthermore, sex is taken out of its proper context. It is primarily meant for procreation. Artificial contraceptives place pleasure above procreation in sex, and that is just wrong. Scripture is clear that procreation is the primary purpose for sex.
If you would like more info on NFP at, or call 513-471-2000. You can send a letter to The Couple to Couple League P.O. Box 111184 Cincinnati, OH 45211-1184. You can also send an email to
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity