Natural Family Planning and the Marriage Covenant

The Covenant Meaning of the Marriage Act. Is there a meaning to human sexual behavior?  We offer a positive faith-based answer.  Sexual intercourse is intended by God to be, at least implicitly, a renewal of the marriage covenant.  This means that human sexual acts outside of marriage are contrary to God’s plan for love and life.  Within marriage, the marriage act ought to be a true marriage act, one that reflects the covenant that husband and wife made when they married.  The marriage act ought to express the self-giving love and for-better-and-for-worse commitment they pledged to each other including the sometimes imagined worse of possible pregnancy.  This helps to explain the traditional biblically-based Christian rejection of marital contraception. (Protestant-majority state legislatures passed the anti-contraception laws of the 1870s.)

No one can force somebody else to accept that meaning of the human sexual act.  Our experience, however, in teaching engaged and married couples, including many who were using barrier or chemical birth control at the time, is that the most frequent reaction is this: “Why haven’t we heard this before?  It makes sense.”

One of the great social problems of our day is the large percentage of babies conceived out of wedlock and born into a single-parent family.  There are conflicting explanations for this, but there seems to be universal agreement at least on this: “If we have learned any policy lesson well over the past 25 years, it is that for children living in single-parent homes, the odds of living in poverty are great. The policy implications of the increase in out-of-wedlock births are staggering” (Brookings website).

But what if?  What if it becomes part of American culture that there is a built-in meaning to sex?  What if adolescents as well as adults learned that it is dishonest to have sex outside of marriage?  What if a girl being propositioned could say, “I believe that’s dishonest.  You’re asking me to engage in the marriage act.  Now, if you are asking me to marry you, let’s talk about how you are going to support our family…”

And what if our boys were also being educated on the dishonesty of having sex outside of marriage?  Our opinion: very few people like to think of themselves as dishonest.

After learning about the marriage covenant, an engaged couple taking the Home Study Course summarized it in their own words:   “A covenant is intended by God to be a lifelong fruitful relationship between a man and a woman. Marriage is a vow to God, to each other, our families and our community to remain steadfast in unconditional love, reconciliation and sexual purity, while purposefully growing in our covenant marriage relationship.”

John and Sheila Kippley

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