If we look at the four components of God’s love for us (free, total, faithful, fruitful) and compare God’s love to marital love, we can discover how to live the Sacrament of marriage as the ultimate expression of spousal love.
Free: We need to be able love our spouse freely. If we ask for conditions, that’s not love. If we force our spouse to do something, that’s not love. If we cannot control our passions, if we cannot say no to our sexual urges, then we are not free. If we can’t say no, our yes means nothing.
Total: The love for our spouse must be total. We can’t say, “Well, I’ll give you everything, honey, except for my arm.” Total means total. (Re: CCC 1643).
Faithful: Obviously, faithfulness means we must only have intercourse with our spouse and no other. If we want to be truly faithful to our spouse, we must be faithful in word, action and thought.
Fruitful: We must allow relations with our spouse to be fruitful, to be open to children, each and every time we have sex. That doesn’t mean we will conceive (or want to conceive) a child with every marital embrace. It just means we need to be open.
Birth control, in fact, destroys all four of the essential components of marital love (free, total, faithful, fruitful). Birth control violates not only God’s plan in fruitfulness, but it also encourages an “I can’t say no” mentality to sex. When a behavior, device, medication or operation is used to remove fertility, a couple cannot give themselves totally, no matter how much they love each other. Contraception says, “I give all of myself to my spouse – except my fertility.”
Natural Family Planning allows a couple to love each other as God loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully. Couples using NFP chart the wife’s cycle and if avoiding pregnancy, they abstain in the fertile time. If they are planning a pregnancy, they engage in relations during the fertile time. They are not using devices; they are fully giving of themselves and they are open to children with each and every act of marital relations.
NFP allows us to love our spouse as God loves us: freely, with no reservation, faithfully and open to children. Marriage can be a holy vocation when a couple loves as God loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.
Want to live the highest expression of your marital love? Use NFP and be open to life.
For more information on the Theology of the Body:
For more information on NFP, check out the following websites:
Text copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach
About the Author
Ellen and her husband, James, have been certified NFP teachers for the Couple to Couple League since 1984 and teach Theology of the Body to teens. She’s also an award-winning, bestselling author of ten books, an editor, a publisher and a self-publishing book coach. Her newest novel is Ella's Promise. The mother of five adult sons and grandmother of one precious grandson, Ellen lives in Pakenham, Ontario with her husband. Contact her at Full Quiver Publishing.