Archive for July, 2020

2. Natural Family Planning and Sex and the Marriage Covenant

Sunday, July 19th, 2020

The core statement
The core statement of the covenant theology of sexuality is simplicity itself:  “Sexual intercourse is intended by God to be at least implicitly a renewal of the marriage covenant.”

It can be embellished slightly by rephrasing the last part of the statement:  “Sexual intercourse is intended by God to be at least implicitly a renewal of the faith and love and unreserved gift of self pledged by the couple when they entered the covenant of marriage.”

It can be rephrased further in secular terms: “Sexual intercourse is meant to be a renewal of the couple’s own marriage covenant, a symbol of their commitment of marital love.”

Or, in its most secular form: “Sexual intercourse is meant to symbolize the self-giving commitment of marriage.”

Secular phrasing is helpful for conveying the idea to students in schools where religion is not taught and/or where it cannot be taught that sexual intercourse is truly a marriage act and is honest and finds its meaning only within marriage. As an aside, I want to respond to the easily imagined challenge that this concept could not be taught in an American public school because it might be seen as reflecting a religious belief. The response is threefold.  1) Most just laws reflect the natural moral law that has been codified in the Ten Commandments, so there is no difference in teaching that man is not meant to steal from others and teaching that man is not meant to have sex outside of marriage.  2) The ordinary language of cultures all over the world—both in time and in place—supports the notion that sexual intercourse is meant to be a marital act. Any culture that has a taboo on adultery or that sees pre-marital sex by engaged couples as less good than marital sex supports the notion that sex is meant to symbolize the commitment of marriage.  3) Such basic non-sectarian norms of human behavior simply must be taught at every level and place of education, or alleged education is simply not human education, and that, of course, is the problem with much education today.

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant


1. Natural Family Planning and Sex and the Marriage Covenant

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

This is the first of a series of blogs for NFP Awareness Week, July 19-25.  The contents of the blogs are short sections from Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality (SMC).  The book started with a 1967 article I wrote supporting the Received Teaching in Casti Connubii (Dec. 31, 1930), an article which forms Chapter 1 of SMC.  That article, Holy Communion: Eucharistic and Marital is also at the website.

In writing SMC, I reflected on the two realities that (1) marriage is the result of unreserved giving—for better and for worse—and (2) contraceptive intercourse is sex with very serious reservation—for better but positively excluding the imagined worse of possible pregnancy.  Marriage comes into being by a couple unreservedly entering God’s covenant of marriage; contraceptive intercourse contradicts the very essence of the marriage covenant.  From these considerations I developed the covenant theology of sexuality described in this book.

I was also appalled by the “arguments” people were using to “justify” using unnatural methods of birth control.  Otherwise sane people were saying things such as, “It must be okay to use the Pill because God gave us the brains to make it.”  Christians who, if asked, would remember the words of Christ about the necessity of carrying the cross daily were arguing that because periodic abstinence was a daily cross for some, it therefore couldn’t be the will of Christ! Such nonsense and other more serious questions called for a response, and Part IV of the present book deals with such issues.

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant

Breastfeeding is a Powerful Medicine

Sunday, July 12th, 2020

John and I have sometimes been accused of promoting breastfeeding only for spacing babies.  Not so.  Those persons have not read our material.  Last week we mentioned a mother who breastfed primarily to avoid ovarian cancer. There are multiple good reasons to breastfeed and especially to do Ecological Breastfeeding because the benefits are frequently dose-related.

Mother and baby are one during pregnancy and remain one after birth because of the breastfeeding.  God has provided many benefits for both mother and baby,   and often these benefits last after the breastfeeding has ceased.  We published last week that the benefit of reducing ovarian cancer with a certain duration of breastfeeding lasted 30 years after the breastfeeding ceased!  Wow!

Another study published in Pediatrics this year, (AAP News, April), involved 217,112 children under the age of two years in 35 low and middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.   Principal finding: A longer duration of breastfeeding significantly reduced the mortality rates.  The researchers stated that “682 children’s lives could have been saved if each mother had breastfed her baby for 6 months.” 

They also calculated what their study would mean for a developed country like the United States: exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months followed by continued breastfeeding “for at least 12 months of age with the addition of solids could save 721 infant lives annually.”  Interestingly, 492 of those lives lost were calculated to be due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Once again, research-based evidence demonstrates the power of breastfeeding in saving lives. 

Sheila Kippley
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding