It’s not surprising that James and I are often asked the question “Isn’t withdrawal (or coitus interruptus) a form of Natural Family Planning?” The answer is no.
Even though withdrawal does not use devices or drugs, it is considered contraceptive behavior and is not only frustrating, it is immoral because it deliberately removes the procreative aspect from the marital act. Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae, states: “Every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil.”
In Genesis, Onan, knowing that he must unite with his dead brother’s wife and, knowing that the child would not be considered his, “spills his seed,” after having relations with his sister-in-law. God killed him for this.
Onan was supposed to follow the Levirate Law which stated that should a man die without leaving an heir, his brother should unite with the widow to raise up an heir for his brother. Onan knew the child would not be considered his so he followed through the motions, united with the widow, but spilled his seed. Usually, the punishment for not following the Levirate Law was for the elders to spit at the feet of the man accused. Killing a man because of this was not the usual course of events. But God did indeed slay Onan.
The “seed” of the marital act is a great gift, one which holds within it the potential for creating new life. When it is “spilled” purposefully, it is wasted and the couple become separated and cannot give themselves totally to one another. It is probably the oldest form of contraception and is likely used frequently nowadays as well. But it is most definitely not a form of NFP.
Couples with serious need to avoid pregnancy can learn and use NFP, a safe, healthy and effective method of birth regulation. For more information: www.ccli.org
Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach
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