Bringing you the "Good News" of Jesus Christ and His Church While PROMOTING CATHOLIC Apologetic Support groups loyal to the Holy Father and Church's magisterium
Home About
What's New? Resources The Church Family Life Mass and
Ask A Catholic
Knowledge base
AskACatholic Disclaimer
Search the
AskACatholic Database
Donate and
Support our work
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
New Questions
Cool Catholic Videos
About Saints
Disciplines and Practices for distinct Church seasons
Purgatory and Indulgences
About the Holy Mass
About Mary
Searching and Confused
Contemplating becoming a Catholic or Coming home
Homosexual and Gender Issues
Life, Dating, and Family
No Salvation Outside the Church
Sacred Scripture
non-Catholic Cults
Justification and Salvation
The Pope and Papacy
The Sacraments
Relationships and Marriage situations
Specific people, organizations and events
Doctrine and Teachings
Specific Practices
Church Internals
Church History

Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

I understand that sexual intercourse within marriage should only be done to introduce new life into the world.

  • Does that mean if a couple only wants two (2) children, they can only engage in it twice,
    or however many times it takes to bring forth two (children|new lives)?
  • When else are they allowed to engage in the act?
  • If you're going to bring up the topic of a woman's cycle as natural birth control, isn't that contraceptive as well?

Thanks in advance.


  { Is the number of times spouses wish to copulate limited to the number of children they want? }

Paul replied:

Dear Anonymous,

Your premise is not entirely true. It's not that sexual love can be expressed only when a child is in mind, but rather, the potentiality of a child should not be intentionally blocked. Love and life is the natural double meaning of sexual intercourse, but both don't always have to be the motive.

As long as there is no intent to contracept then intercourse between spouses is morally legitimate.

Yes, Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a moral option when it comes to spacing children for
non-selfish reasons; and, no, it is not contraceptive. It is cooperating with the design and purpose for which God created us rather than contradicting it. In other words, NFP or periodic abstinence does not violate natural law.

Take two people who want to maintain their weight for a beauty contest they're in next week.
One diets by skipping a meal, now and then, while the other enjoys heavy calorie-laden meals
but vomits afterwards. They both achieve the same goal: neither gained a pound.

  • Which of the two did it morally?

Same principle applies to NFP. Contraception is akin to sexual bulimia.



Eric replied:

Hi, Anonymous —

You have an incorrect understanding of the Catholic view.

The Catholic view is that every act of intercourse must be open to life, that is to say, must not involve any deliberate elements that throw up barriers to new life. It doesn't mean that each act has to produce a child; no one has control over that but God. Thus it is legitimate for a couple to have conjugal relations when the woman is not fertile, because you are working within the natural, God-ordained purpose and use of marriage, not attempting to thwart them.

In general, couples should be generous and open to life. The attitude of:

"I want exactly 2.1 children."

should be foreign to a Christian's mind as that's not what God calls us to. We must not be conformed to this world but to the kingdom of God. If there are grave reasons, couples can use techniques such as Natural Family Planning (not to be confused with the much less effective rhythm method) to space their children appropriately.

NFP takes advantage of periods you know the woman is not fertile (from physical signs). Those using NFP are still open to life and still leaving things in God's hands, as opposed to forcing the body into an unnatural state in an attempt to totally exclude, as much as possible, conception.

Put another way, NFP reduces the chances for conception but is not intended to go against (contra) it, in the sense of thwarting the natural and healthy workings of the body.

It's like, if you are parents and you want to have a private discussion with your spouse. You might go into the bedroom and shut the door so the kids will stay out. Now you can lock the door, preventing them from coming in and excluding them entirely, or you can merely shut it, sending the signal that they should avoid coming in, but not preventing them from doing so in an emergency.


Mike replied:

Hi, Anonymous —

Just to add to what Paul and Eric have said, within the marital covenant, sexual intercourse is always greatly encouraged for two reasons:

  • babies, and
  • the bonding of spouses

As both my colleagues pointed out, there should never be an obstacle to new life at any time.
Despite what our modern culture says, God didn't put any limits on family size, but said,

Go forth and multiply. (Genesis 1:26-31)

Through a shared prayer life and spousal conversation, the Lord will tell any couple how big your family should be, despite what our culture tells you. I know of one family with 10 children and another family with 14!

I would recommend a very good article by world-renowned teacher Janet E. Smith called:

Contraception: Why Not? (Audio)

We get a lot of questions that deal with an array of sexual issues. All men and women deal with the after effects of original sin. This is called concupiscence.

Although, due to this fallen nature, our minds and bodies may be drawn to see the Church's view on sexual issues as:

the Church of No.

when we step back and learn about our nature and our passions through what the Catechism teaches, we will begin to see the Church's view on these issues as:

the Church of Divine Logic and True Love (for our well being).


Similar issues . . .

[Related posting]|[Related posting]|[Related posting]|[Related posting]|[Related posting]
[Related posting]|[Related posting]|[Related posting]|[Related posting]|[Related posting]
[Related posting]|[Related posting]

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
© 2012 Panoramic Sites
The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.