NFP: An alternative to contraception? 

     Pic courtesy pixabay.com

NFP stands for Natural Family Planning. This method, of naturally postponing or achieving a pregnancy, was the topic of a recent 3-4 minute talk my wife and I gave at our local parish. Some people find the Catholic Church’s insistence on this form of postponing pregnancy, as opposed to artificial contraception, to be old fashioned, out of touch, patriarchal, and even down right ridiculous. Reflecting on this for our parish has prompted me to share my personal take with you in hopes that you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the Catholic Church’s teaching. 

The various methods of NFP, which there are a few of (symptothermal, Marquette, Billings, etc.), respect the physiology of the female body in order to postpone or achieve a pregnancy. My own conversion to this method came via my conversion to the Catholic faith. As a young Protestant, I do not recall ever hearing about NFP as a legitimate option for responsible family planning. I was under the assumption that EVERYONE used artificial contraceptives. I especially would never have questioned the morality of using such things (for more on that click here). Indeed, the assumption seemed to be that NOT using some form of contraception was irresponsible. I maintained this understanding for the first few years of my marriage as my wife and I finished our undergraduate degrees. I was fully planning to postpone having children, through the use of artificial contraceptives, until I was “ready” or “able” to have children. Looking back at it, I see now how this mentality stripped marital intimacy of its ultimate meaning and made commodities out of potential children. 

That all changed as I began to embrace the Catholic Church’s view on marital intimacy and family planning. Children went from commodities to be bought at my convenience to gifts to be received and welcomed on God’s time table. My old self would have laughed out loud if you told him that he would be the father of two children, under two years of age, at only 25. But, as I said before, my heart was changed by truth. 

To debunk a few misconceptions, the Church is not suggesting every couple have as many children as physically possible. Those with serious reasons to avoid pregnancy can do so, NATURALLY, through NFP. I emphasize the word naturally for a very particular reason. After mass on the day we talked about NFP, a gentleman approached my wife and I to share something that I had reflected upon before. There are those who insist that we live and eat “naturally” but who fight the Church tooth and nail on the issue of Natural Family Planning. Bracketing the spiritual implications for a moment, why would you want to pump your body full of chemicals which have been shown to do harm? NFP is the better way. 

There is much more that could be said about NFP and its positive effects, but I’ll save them for a later time. A great place to start learning more is by going to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops website. Whether you’re Catholic or not, I challenge you to check out NFP and what the Catholic Church teaches. You’ll be glad you did. 

Peace be with you! 

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