Project Description

This week (July 23rd through the 29th) has been designated as “Natural Family Planning Awareness Week”, so it’s a good opportunity to spread the word about NFP, which in many ways might be considered a “hidden gem” in the teaching of the Church.

The Catholic Church’s stance against artificial contraception is well-documented.  With the controversy about mandatory insurance coverage of artificial contraceptives in recent years, most folks know that we believe there are huge moral problems with contraception.  We believe that God intended human sexuality to be a complete gift of self, and artificial contraception is specifically designed to prevent that from happening.  It basically says that God’s plan is not good enough, and so we will instead follow our own plan.  We believe that this creates a lot of dangers for individuals and for society as a whole.

However, what gets far less attention in the media is that we believe in a different way of regulating pregnancy, one that is in harmony with God’s plan and which is good for the relationships of the couples who practice it.  NFP allows couples know when they are and are not fertile, helping them make decisions about responsible parenthood, whether they are hoping to conceive or intending to avoid pregnancy.  The Church recognizes that there may be valid reasons why a couple avoids pregnancy at any particular time.  NFP is a scientifically-based, and since it works with a woman’s natural body rhythms, it allows couples to make that decision in a way that respects the way God created human beings and the gift of sexuality.  It also ensures that there are no artificial barriers preventing the total gift of self that God intended human sexuality to be.

In addition to the fact that it works – studies report it to be 99% effective – and that it avoids sin, NFP offers several other benefits to the couples who practice it.  It doesn’t involve introducing any drugs, chemicals or devices into the human body.  It encourages deep, frequent communication between the man and the woman.  It encourages the couple to nurture many different types of intimacy within their relationship.  There are many aspects of NFP which serve to strengthen a couple’s relationship.

I think there are many reason why couples might be hesitant to practice NFP.  They might wonder whether it really is effective (especially if they equate it with the “rhythm method” from several decades ago).  They might think that it’s too difficult for them to learn, since it does require instruction.  (Ironically, many of these same couples end up learning many of the principles behind NFP when they are trying to conceive a child.)  Some may think that periodic abstinence is difficult or undesirable.

I’d simply encourage these couples to get the facts.  Read about it.  (The USCCB web site has a lot of great resources.)  Talk to couples who practice NFP.  Go through the instruction (which just takes three courses) and see for yourself.  (A list of options available in this area can be found on the diocesan web site, and we’re blessed to have a certified instructor couple here at Christ the King!)  I think that the more we learn, the more we’ll discover what so many couples have already begun to realize, that God’s plan is always the most life-giving plan we could ever hope for.