Cameroon is statutorily a secular state and by that token, does not line up behind any doctrinal edict from whatsoever religious denomination. However, given that the Catholic Church plays a primordial role in the nurturing of children in particular and youths in general, its current fixation on the use of contraceptives runs counter to Government predilection, and raises the spectre of perpetual conflict within its followership.
The Catholic Church and the state of Cameroon differ sharply on the use of artificial birth control methods also known as contraception. While contraception is permissible by health precepts in Cameroon, the Church is opposed to it. The Coordinator couple of the Family Life Office of the Archdiocese of Bamenda Nerius and Marcelline Ngangfor, reaffirmed the Church’s position on the use of contraception to The Rambler.
Partakers of sexual intercourse derive both pleasure and procreation from the act. Most often than not, the intension to obtain pleasure supersedes the intension to make children even though many find it hard to satisfy the zest for sex and simultaneously put aside the tendency to make babies.
Varied artificial birth control methods including the use of condoms, contraceptive pills, birth control sponge, diaphragm, vasectomy, sterilization, withdrawal and vaginal ring have become the option for many who wish to avoid pregnancy. The Catholic Church on its part uses the symptom thermal technique, backed by the fact that it is a natural way of family planning. This technique uses a thermometer to observe the mucus of a woman, records the signs on a chart and then interprets the reading according to the fertile and none fertile days, thus allowing couples to act accordingly.
Nerius and Marcelline, teach natural family planning and live by this example. They declared that “the symptom thermal method which involves a thermometer observes the signs and symptoms of an individual woman without generalizing. It has an upper hand over contraception which is likely to cause obesity and sterility. Most couples say that natural family planning prescribed by the Church does not work but that is a lie. It works. Natural family planning has its rules which people fail when they don’t follow. It is not that natural family planning has failed but that people have failed natural family planning.”
Queried on the difficulty to suppress sexual desire, the coordinator couple of FLO said “To be an ideal man, you have to be self-disciplined. You must not act like an animal who responds to stimuli. Animals just act based on their instincts but human beings have reason. Human beings are supposed to act not based on emotions but on reason. The difference between humans and animals is that human beings have reason. The good news about the woman’s fertility cycle is that a woman’s fertility cycle is only about 25percent fertile while the rest 75percent is none fertile. It means you have more time to enjoy yourself if you think sex is enjoyable. Mind you, The church does not state that conjugal love is only good for procreation. No!The Church does not say people should continually give birth to children but that people should take into account their own welfare as well as those of their children but in all there should be no object to obstruct sexual intercourse. God said a man and a woman would become one flesh and so nothing should get into the way. If you say you cannot make the decision to control sex or postpone sex, and then it is the same thing with other aspects like withholding yourself from excess alcohol consumption and stealing.” They furthered that natural family planning retains dignity to married people, brings trust, mutual respect and better couple relation but contraception turns the woman into a sex object.
In her emphatic NO to contraception, the Church holds that natural family planning is divine. Theologians have cited a passage in the Book of Genesis chapter 38 where Onan spilled his semen on the ground to avoid impregnating his brother’s widow. This act displeased the Lord and the Lord smitten Onan. According to the social teachings of the Church, unnatural methods of family planning are a breeding ground for sexual promiscuity, abortion, adultery and fornication thus illicit. Nerius and Marcelline scoffed that “Producers of the condom contraceptive claim they have produced sophisticated condoms to prevent STIs including those that cannot break and female condoms but the production of condoms have simultaneously witnessed an exponential increase in STIs.”
There are over 20 teachers of natural family planning in the Archdiocese of Bamenda with over 300 couples already responding positively to it. The Church keeps entertaining hope for progress when non-contraception would have suppressed sexual immorality.
By Mildred Ndum Wung Kum