Archive for the ‘Marriage Covenant’ Category

Natural Family Planning: “Sex and the Marriage Covenant”

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

I wish I could say I enjoyed reading John Kippley’s book, Sex and the Marriage Covenant, the first time I read it.  Instead, I found it painful to read, because I became aware that I had not been following the teaching of the Church for at least ten years of my own marital life.  While we rejected artificial contraception after the second year of our marriage, I was not aware, or maybe I was culpably ignorant, that “withdrawal” was also considered an immoral practice.  This was a humbling, indeed humiliating discovery and it marked a turning point in my marriage.

It is depressing to report how the priest responded when I confessed these past sins.  He said: “So you want to take the high road?”

The discovery of the fullness of the Catholic teaching on sexual matters, I can honestly say, has increased the pleasure of marriage (which in our case has produced six children).  It has deepened the love between me and my wife.  Self restraint increased the pleasure of the marital act and it deepens love.  Kippley’s book can be summarized in a single word: rationality.

I have referred to Sex and the Marriage Covenant in my teaching and writing.  The author is learned, and his discussions of birth control in the New and Old Testaments are extremely valuable.  Moreover, the anecdotes he offers from his engagement with modern Catholic exegetes, who are not too supportive of the Church’s teaching, offer to me final proof that exegesis without presuppositions is an impossibility.  Modern exegetes simply ignore or misinterpret the Scriptural evidence for the immorality of contraception.

I strongly endorse this book and thank God for it. (Anonymous)

Natural Family Planning and Humanae Vitae

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016
John’s response to a petition in support of Humanae Vitae:
John F. Kippley
Natural Family Planning International, Inc.
MA Theology, MAT Applied theology, MA Industrial Relations
Honorary Dr. of Ethics from Franciscan University of Steubenville, 2008
Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality (Ignatius, 2005)
I also want to register my disappointment that the practical support to live the teachings of Humanae Vitae referenced only the fertility awareness based methods (FABM) and made no mention of Ecological Breastfeeding.  It was the abandonment of breastfeeding in general and especially of the frequent suckling pattern of the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding that led to the phenomenon of having two babies in 12 calendar months.  That in turn led to a sort of panic and resort to unnatural forms of birth control.  Every year new benefits of breastfeeding are published, but the Catholic Church is doing almost nothing to make ordinary Catholics, even those attending FABM classes, aware of these benefits.   That simply must change.
I also think that more attention should be paid the concept of the marriage act as a renewal of the marriage covenant.  It is my understanding that I am the first to introduce this concept in writing among Catholic writers (1967), and that gives it absolutely no theological legs, so to speak.  However, in his 1994 Letter to Families, St. John Paul II used this phrase, and that makes a difference.  It is terminology that he did not use in his magisterial Theology of the Body.
John F. Kippley

3. Natural Family Planning: Preparation for Marriage and What Couples Have a Right to Know

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

2.  A theology of the marriage act that supports Humanae Vitae In today’s context, it is obvious that couples need to hear that Christian marriage is permanent.  That means that they need to see marriage as part of the Divine Covenant, not just a contract that can be broken by mutual consent.  They should also realize that every one of their marriage acts ought to be a reminder of their marriage covenant.

Here I propose that it would be helpful for couples to learn and internalize a simple theological statement about the marriage act:  “Sexual intercourse is intended by God to be, at least implicitly, a renewal of the marriage covenant.”  St. Pope John Paul II used this covenant-renewal concept in his 1994 Letter to Families.  This covenant understanding gives positive meaning to Catholic biblical teaching about the marriage act.   It states first of all what sexual intercourse ought to be—exclusively a marriage act and then, within marriage, a renewal of their marriage covenant.  It also explains why the same anatomical act that is the serious matter of mortal sin outside of marriage can be a serious good within marriage.  Outside of marriage, there is no covenant commitment, and thus sexual union is essentially dishonest.  Within marriage, the marriage act can be and ought to be a true renewal of the faith, love and commitment of their wedding day promises even though some marriage acts are something less than that.

The covenant statement also invites an explanation of the Christian biblical covenant of marriage.  A covenant of God’s making.  A covenant that the Lord Jesus makes clear is binding until death.  A covenant of self-giving love.  All of this is important for engaged couples to understand.

The natural family planning course can affirm the unconditional character of the marriage covenant by pointing out that contraception contradicts instead of affirming the marriage covenant.  The marriage act ought to say, “I take you once again for better and for worse until death do us part.”  The body language of the contraceptive marriage act says instead, “I take you for better but definitely NOT for the imagined worse of possible pregnancy.”  It is essentially dishonest and thus immoral.  Couples have a need and a right to know these things.

John F. Kippley
To be continued next week —