Author Topic: St. Augustine condemns NFP.  (Read 1173 times)

Offline Geremia

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St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« on: April 03, 2021, 04:40:00 PM »
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Is it not you [Manichaeans] who used to urge us to observe, to the extent that it was possible, the time when a woman after her menstruation is likely to conceive, and to abstain from intercourse at that time for fear that a soul might become entangled in flesh?
—St. Augustine (388AD), De moribus Ecclesiae catholicae et de moribus Manichaeorum II, 18

Offline Jayne

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2021, 05:13:10 PM »
St. Augustine was (quite rightly) condemning Manichaeism in this passage.  Here is the context:

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For though you [Manichaes] do not forbid sexual intercourse, you, as the apostle long ago said, forbid marriage in the proper sense, although this is the only good excuse for such intercourse. No doubt you will exclaim against this, and will make it a reproach against us that you highly esteem and approve perfect chastity, but do not forbid marriage, because your followers — that is, those in the second grade among you — are allowed to have wives. After you have said this with great noise and heat, I will quietly ask, Is it not you who hold that begetting children, by which souls are confined in flesh, is a greater sin than cohabitation? Is it not you who used to counsel us to observe as much as possible the time when a woman, after her purification, is most likely to conceive, and to abstain from cohabitation at that time, lest the soul should be entangled in flesh? This proves that you approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage, and makes the woman not a wife, but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her is joined to the man to gratify his passion. Where there is a wife there must be marriage. But there is no marriage where motherhood is not in view; therefore neither is there a wife. In this way you forbid marriage. Nor can you defend yourselves successfully from this charge, long ago brought against you prophetically by the Holy Spirit.

Practicing NFP because one accepts the tenets of a heresy is obviously wrong.  St. Augustine is also making the point that marriage with no intention to have children is not true marriage.   I question whether we should read into this passage a blanket condemnation of NFP.

edit:  I couldn't get the link in the OP to work but found the passage at https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1402.htm
« Last Edit: April 03, 2021, 05:22:51 PM by Jayne »
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Offline Maximilian

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2021, 06:46:07 PM »
St. Augustine was (quite rightly) condemning Manichaeism in this passage.  Here is the context:

Quote
For though you [Manichaes] do not forbid sexual intercourse, you, as the apostle long ago said, forbid marriage in the proper sense, although this is the only good excuse for such intercourse. No doubt you will exclaim against this, and will make it a reproach against us that you highly esteem and approve perfect chastity, but do not forbid marriage, because your followers — that is, those in the second grade among you — are allowed to have wives. After you have said this with great noise and heat, I will quietly ask, Is it not you who hold that begetting children, by which souls are confined in flesh, is a greater sin than cohabitation? Is it not you who used to counsel us to observe as much as possible the time when a woman, after her purification, is most likely to conceive, and to abstain from cohabitation at that time, lest the soul should be entangled in flesh? This proves that you approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage, and makes the woman not a wife, but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her is joined to the man to gratify his passion. Where there is a wife there must be marriage. But there is no marriage where motherhood is not in view; therefore neither is there a wife. In this way you forbid marriage. Nor can you defend yourselves successfully from this charge, long ago brought against you prophetically by the Holy Spirit.

Practicing NFP because one accepts the tenets of a heresy is obviously wrong.  St. Augustine is also making the point that marriage with no intention to have children is not true marriage.   I question whether we should read into this passage a blanket condemnation of NFP.

edit:  I couldn't get the link in the OP to work but found the passage at https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1402.htm

Thank you for providing the fuller context and the link.

When you consider the full context, I believe it supports Geremia's point even more.

Today's practitioners of NFP are not literally Manicheans as were the people in the time of St. Augustine. But the passage makes it clear that they share common views.
 
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Offline MaximGun

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2021, 02:22:52 AM »
What's wrong with gratifying passion in the right context?

I gratify passions every day when I wake up and make a tasty breakfast or put on comfortable clothes or wash in warm water.  Hobbiests buy expensive materials for quilt making and model building gratifying their creative passions.

I don't believe NFP is used by anyone thinking, "I want to have as much sex as possible with as few children as possible" .  They have pills and prophalatics for that.

NFP is rather used by people who have the stresses and strains of married life, 3 children under 5 and want to have sex a couple of times per month without becoming pregnant.  The motive is practical, not lust.

I am not convinced that people lust after their wife or husband after a few years have passed.  That is why so many married people cheat with others.  If your spouse of many years was someone you lusted over why would they bother?

Lust is not the motive.  Time and resource management is.   People think, rightly or wrongly, I only have so much money and energy and physical strength.  I want to regulate the output of children so I don't end up like the old woman who lived in a shoe.

I don't ever recall a Geremia character offering financial assistance to a large family.  Or baby sitting for free so Dad could earn some extra cash.  People are wiling to proffer advice and sermons and tell married couples they are lustful degenerates but are they quck to repair their 12 year old minivan used to shuttle 7 children to mass?  I've never seen a bunch of singletons like Geremia give up their booze, pipe tobacco, holiday and pool their funds to buy a new transmission.  Have you?

Beware those who offer moral guidance but no help.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2021, 02:35:00 AM by MaximGun »
 
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Offline Daniel

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2021, 07:22:40 AM »
I'm with Jayne. We probably shouldn't be reading things into that passage which aren't actually there.


NFP is rather used by people who have the stresses and strains of married life, 3 children under 5 and want to have sex a couple of times per month without becoming pregnant.  The motive is practical, not lust.

I am not convinced that people lust after their wife or husband after a few years have passed.  That is why so many married people cheat with others.  If your spouse of many years was someone you lusted over why would they bother?

Lust is not the motive.  Time and resource management is.   People think, rightly or wrongly, I only have so much money and energy and physical strength.  I want to regulate the output of children so I don't end up like the old woman who lived in a shoe.

Granting that, what it shows (in my opinion) is a lack of trust in God. That, and it shows that one's set of values is disordered (valuing a comfortable life with few children over a more difficult life with many children). It's a failure to see children as the blessing they are.

I don't ever recall a Geremia character offering financial assistance to a large family.  Or baby sitting for free so Dad could earn some extra cash.  People are wiling to proffer advice and sermons and tell married couples they are lustful degenerates but are they quck to repair their 12 year old minivan used to shuttle 7 children to mass?  I've never seen a bunch of singletons like Geremia give up their booze, pipe tobacco, holiday and pool their funds to buy a new transmission.  Have you?

Beware those who offer moral guidance but no help.

Why the attack on Geremia? And who says that Geremia and others like him are unwilling to help? Unable, maybe, but why assume that we're all wastefully throwing away money on an excess of unneeded luxuries? If us "singletons" were rich then maybe you'd have a point, but most of us aren't in the position to be giving financial help to married persons even if we wanted to.
 
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Offline Jayne

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2021, 08:52:02 AM »
If St. Augustine had lived in a time with Church teaching on NFP, he presumable would have accepted it.  This is what we should do, rather than seeking guidance by inferring St. Augustine's views from a passage about something else. 

Here is a nice overview of Church teaching, from a traditional perspective: https://cmri.org/articles-on-the-traditional-catholic-faith/on-the-question-of-natural-family-planning/
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Offline Michael Wilson

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2021, 12:33:35 PM »
Never mind, Jane's posted link covers it.
"The World Must Conform to Our Lord and not He to it." Rev. Dennis Fahey CSSP

"My brothers, all of you, if you are condemned to see the triumph of evil, never applaud it. Never say to evil: you are good; to decadence: you are progess; to death: you are life. Sanctify yourselves in the times wherein God has placed you; bewail the evils and the disorders which God tolerates; oppose them with the energy of your works and your efforts, your life uncontaminated by error, free from being led astray, in such a way that having lived here below, united with the Spirit of the Lord, you will be admitted to be made but one with Him forever and ever: But he who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit." Cardinal Pie of Potiers
 
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Offline Philip G.

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2021, 06:18:01 PM »
How are couples who practice NFP any different from priests who simulate the holy sacrifice?  Just as NFP use has increased among catholics, co-consecrator  novus ordo masses have increased.
For the stone shall cry out of the wall; and the timber that is between the joints of the building, shall answer.  Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and prepareth a city by iniquity. - Habacuc 2,11-12
 

Offline Michael Wilson

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2021, 09:45:19 PM »
How are couples who practice NFP any different from priests who simulate the holy sacrifice?  Just as NFP use has increased among catholics, co-consecrator  novus ordo masses have increased.
How are they the same?
"The World Must Conform to Our Lord and not He to it." Rev. Dennis Fahey CSSP

"My brothers, all of you, if you are condemned to see the triumph of evil, never applaud it. Never say to evil: you are good; to decadence: you are progess; to death: you are life. Sanctify yourselves in the times wherein God has placed you; bewail the evils and the disorders which God tolerates; oppose them with the energy of your works and your efforts, your life uncontaminated by error, free from being led astray, in such a way that having lived here below, united with the Spirit of the Lord, you will be admitted to be made but one with Him forever and ever: But he who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit." Cardinal Pie of Potiers
 

Offline MaximGun

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2021, 10:55:46 PM »

Quote
Why the attack on Geremia?


Because he only ever posts this type of sourface crap.  He does it here and on Cathinfo simultaneously and then never engages in the debate. This is a forum for discussion not a billboard for his hit-and-run propaganda.
 

Offline Philip G.

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2021, 12:12:42 AM »
How are couples who practice NFP any different from priests who simulate the holy sacrifice?  Just as NFP use has increased among catholics, co-consecrator  novus ordo masses have increased.
How are they the same?
Do you know the S word?
For the stone shall cry out of the wall; and the timber that is between the joints of the building, shall answer.  Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and prepareth a city by iniquity. - Habacuc 2,11-12
 

Offline Jayne

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2021, 06:53:09 AM »

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Why the attack on Geremia?


Because he only ever posts this type of sourface crap.  He does it here and on Cathinfo simultaneously and then never engages in the debate. This is a forum for discussion not a billboard for his hit-and-run propaganda.

Geremia provides interesting source material and consistently refrains from personal attacks.  I find these admirable qualities.
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Offline Geremia

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2021, 04:23:16 PM »
What's wrong with gratifying passion in the right context?
I gratify passions every day when I wake up and make a tasty breakfast or put on comfortable clothes or wash in warm water.
Coitus is not a basic individual* human's need like eating and sleeping. You're comparing apples to oranges.
(*certainly it is for the propagation of the species, though)

Marrieds can engage in coitus in as a means of allaying concupiscence ("remedy for concupiscence" is a secondary end of matrimony; cf. Super Sent. lib. 4 d. 26 q. 2 a. 3 ad 4); but, with the help of grace (Wis. 8:21 "I knew that I could not otherwise be continent, except God gave it"), one can be completely and perpetually continent.

Offline Jayne

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Re: St. Augustine condemns NFP.
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2021, 08:14:18 AM »
What's wrong with gratifying passion in the right context?
I gratify passions every day when I wake up and make a tasty breakfast or put on comfortable clothes or wash in warm water.
Coitus is not a basic individual* human's need like eating and sleeping. You're comparing apples to oranges.
(*certainly it is for the propagation of the species, though)

Marrieds can engage in coitus in as a means of allaying concupiscence ("remedy for concupiscence" is a secondary end of matrimony; cf. Super Sent. lib. 4 d. 26 q. 2 a. 3 ad 4); but, with the help of grace (Wis. 8:21 "I knew that I could not otherwise be continent, except God gave it"), one can be completely and perpetually continent.

Here is Geremia "engaging in debate", contrary to MaximGun's accusation.  MG has been online since this was posted but has not replied to it.
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