Archive for the ‘Morality’ Category

Natural Family Planning: Morality and the Right to Know

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

I think we do a disservice to anyone interested in NFP if we avoid Catholic teaching on this issue.  You do not have to present a “theology of the body.”  It may be helpful to remember that when the Pope wrote his Letter to Families in 1994, ten years after he completed his TOB lectures, he did NOT suggest to his intended audience of ordinary laity that they study his 129 lectures.  Instead he urged them to remember that the marriage act out to be a renewal of their marriage covenant (section 12).  He also reminded them that marriage is for family.

Basic Catholic teaching is simple and makes good sense.  Every human person, not just Catholics, has a God-given right to hear it.  The right kind of NFP course provides an excellent way to share this part of the truth.

Further, couples have a God-given right to know all the common symptoms of fertility.  They should not have to take another course– at more time and more expense– to find out about the value of the temperature or the mucus or the cervix.

John F. Kippley
NFP International
Right to know series ongoing currently at

Sex and the Marriage Covenant

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Sex and the Marriage Covenant by Dr. Pravin Thevathasan of the UK

The thesis of this wonderful book is that God intends the sexual act to be an implicit renewal of the marriage covenant.  Marriage takes place when a couple enter God’s covenant of marriage.  And so, the marriage covenant will always determine the morality of every sexual act.

Why is this book so important?  Because even orthodox Catholics are uncertain why the Church teaches what She does with regard to human sexuality in general and contraception in particular. As with John Paul II, Kippley gives us biblical and personalist reasons why the Church teaches what She does.

Kippley shows us that the teaching of “Humanae Vitae” is both biblical and personalist and he demonstrates that, with “Humanae Vitae“, there is something deeper going on than dissent from Church teaching: the truth and meaning of human sexuality is itself now questioned.

Kippley proposes a coherent argument in favour of a covenant theology of marriage and human sexuality. For the act of sexual intercourse to be good, the man and woman must enter the marriage covenant together, their sexual act ought to express the covenant and there must be an implicit renewal of the covenant by means of the marriage act.  This is different from saying that the couple must intend procreation every time.  Rather, both the unitive and procreative goods of the marriage act ought always to be respected.

As with John Paul II, Kippley argues that any form of sexual exploitation in marriage is always wrong. Fornication and adultery are to be condemned because there is no valid marriage covenant to renew. Contraception means sex with reservation and it therefore contradicts the covenant to love without reservation.

The chapter on conscience, a much misunderstood concept, is invaluable as is the superb chapter on hard cases.

In many ways, this work complements the teaching of John Paul.  It is an excellent resource on marriage and human sexuality and it is entirely loyal to the teaching of the Church.
Sex and the Marriage Covenant reviewed by Dr. Pravin Thevathasan, Catholic Medical Quarterly, UK.

The Marriage Act and Aging Spouses

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Q. When an aging married couple have difficulty engaging in the marriage act, can they resort to mutual masturbation or marital sodomy?

A. No.  Regardless of our ages,  the pleasures of the marriage act are reserved exclusively to the marriage act.

Sometimes there are some things that can be used to help the aging couple engage in the marriage act.  If the wife is suffering from vaginal dryness,a lubricant can be used.  It is for similar situations that a drug such as Viagra can be used.  I hate the Cialis ads so much that I don’t like to mention these things.  You certainly don’t see old duffers in their ads.

Q. If a married couple cannot engage in the marriage act, does that drain the marriage act of its unitive dimension?

No, the absence of the marriage act does not drain a marriage of its unitive dimension.  The marriage act is a unique expression of marital love and affection, but it is by no means the sole expression.  In fact, with a 50% divorce rate among contracepting married couples, it is clear that immediate and frequent access to the marriage bed is utterly no guarantee of a happy marriage.  If one or both spouses feel sorry for themselves, then the absence of the marriage act can be a real drag.  But if they accept it as part of growing old and focus more on showing affection in other ways, they may be happier than ever.  They can still give each other a big hug and a kiss in the kitchen.  The can still snuggle in bed, and one or the other or both may still experience sexual arousal in such circumstances. And if this is so, they are obliged not to let themselves be carried away to experience non-coital orgasm.

Marital chastity without the marriage act is not the celibacy of a married person with respect to someone not his or her spouse.  The signs of affection in the above paragraph are certainly forbidden with the next-door neighbor.  The non-marriage-act tokens of affection and caring love are important as signs of marriage.

Because of the nature of sexual pleasure, we married men sometimes have to ask ourselves if we are engaging in the act as an act of caring, marital love or whether it’s too much or too often primarily for our own satisfaction.  I’m not saying it is wrong to have pleasure on one’s mind. But we do need to keep in mind that the marriage act needs to be far from the sole expression of caring love for one’s spouse.  Lastly, it may sometimes be helpful for us who are entering the age of attending funerals and wondering who’s next that one of these days or years we won’t have each other.  And I suspect that when one becomes a widow or widower, she or he will be reflecting on their bedroom affection much less, if at all, than on whatever he or she did to make the spouse feel loved and cared for outside the bedroom.  (The morning I wrote this I attended the funeral of a man 12 years younger than myself.  And he was a widower of some years.)

I hope someone finds some of this helpful.

John F. Kippley
Battle-Scarred:  Justice Can Be Elusive
Sex and the Marriage Covenant:  A Basis for Morality
The Seven Day Bible Rosary: Different Mysteries for each day of the week