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How many children to have?

Another important aspect of our marriage preparations has been in the area of Natural Family Planning. Contrary to popular belief, the Church does encourage married couples to plan together their family size, but there is vast difference between the Church’s vision of family planning and that of the secular society. Out in the world ‘family planning’ usually means the choice of contraception that a couple will use in between having their one or two children. In the Catholic vision, however, family planning takes on a much more positive and personal understanding. At a foundational level, children are always seen as a great gift and a sign of God’s blessing. All through the Old Testament the blessings of the Lord were always seen in the children bestowed upon a couple and it is wise for us to recall that.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about one of our marriage preparation sessions on the sexual union and how it should be seen as the pre-eminent form of communication because it echoes the love of God. If this ideal is carried through then it can be seen why contraception is so harmful to marriage. Contraception says ‘I give you all of me but I withhold my fertility, I do not want our love to be fruitful’. With contraception, the language of the body becomes distorted. The Church is often criticised for prying into the bedrooms of couples but it is God himself who has made us as sexual beings and that sexuality has a very real meaning. In this fundamental teaching on contraception the Church is simply reminding couples of their dignity and the greatness to which they are called in their love. The Church could never approve contraception because contraception turns the sexual union into something other than what God planned it to be; and it is only in living out God’s designs for life and love that genuine happiness can be found. Read the rest of this entry

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