Understandably, one topic that certainly stirs up the natives is birth control. Few subjects are as personal or integrated into one’s married life as birth regulation. I see NFP as one of the many options out there for non-Catholic married couples. (I will talk about Catholics last.) Choice and knowledge are supposedly great things, so I believe that people need to be informed, discuss the facts, including benefits, and drawbacks.
How does NFP work? It is a scientifically studied program that follows a woman’s menstrual cycle through tracking mucus, temperature, and cervical signs, even if she is not regular, on medication, or ill. Our bodies are very sensitive, and some of the things (other medication, for instance) which render the birth control pill ineffective can be detected with NFP. NFP targets ovulation, so a woman could know when she is ovulating in her cycle, and either choose to conceive or not. According to the Couple to Couple League, natural family planning has a method effectiveness of 99% http://www.ccli.org/nfp/basics/effectiveness-p02.php Similarly, the birth control pill rated at a 99.6% effectiveness- http://ccli.org/nfp/contraception/pill.php
I have read posts of people saying that NFP is not effective. Well, sure people have problems with using it at times. But let’s be honest.... how many women have been on the birth control pill or other contraception and gotten pregnant?
Forgetting to take the pill or taking other medicine which counters the pill’s effects can cause it to fail. And condoms break and slip..... No method of birth control is fail-safe.
Birth control fails... that’s why some of us are alive today!
Also, for those people who are increasingly “going green” NFP would seem to be a viable option over other methods that pump chemicals into the woman’s body. The pill is contains steroids, and I can see how we should be concerned with pumping steroids into our bodies. The constant presence of steroids in the body is not healthy and has side effects. http://www.all.org/article.php?id=10126
Also, I think there is a danger of getting into the contraceptive mentality. One of the obvious consequences of having sex is the conception of a child. People who use birth control obviously don’t want children at that time. But, I think there is much to be said for not relying on abortion for back-up birth control. If the birth control fails, why should the kid have to pay for it with his life? The contraceptive mentality includes thinking it’s okay to abort the “unwanted consequences” of sex when the birth control fails to control.
According to Human Life International, 58% of women who went in for abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics reported using contraception. To me, this is a disturbing fact with many implications.
I would think that much responsibility comes with married couples having sex, and if a child is conceived while a woman is using birth control then the child should be welcomed and loved as the fruit of their loving union. Sex has consequences. Too many people want to enjoy the pleasure but not the biological effects.
The following is a chart of advantage and disadvantages of using NFP which I found at a
· Increased self-awareness and knowledge of their fertility
· Increased reliance on their own resources rather than a family planning program or other sources of contraception
· Increased independence from costly or distant medical services
· Freedom from artificial substances and the side effects or potential medical risks of other methods
· Reduced re-supply costs associated with commodity-based methods
· Enhanced communication and intimacy with partner
· Encourages male involvement in family planning
· For some, the ability to adhere to religious and cultural norms
· The commitment, motivation and cooperation of both partners is necessary
· For women using symptom-based methods, keeping daily records of fertility signs and symptoms
· When used for pregnancy prevention, a couple may experience stress as a result of not being able to have unprotected intercourse for several days in a row during the fertile days
Finally, one doesn’t have to be Catholic or even spiritual to use NFP, as it is based upon the natural law which takes into account nature and the purpose of our bodily actions and functions.
NFP is certainly an option for people and I think that we should welcome facts to make decisions in our lives. A wealth of information on NFP can be found at www.ccli.org and http://www.irh.org/nfp.htm....
The rest of this blog will be directed toward Catholics.
As a Catholic who has used NFP during my marriage, I can say it has worked incredibly well for me to space births and to plan pregnancies. We have a few children, spaced 22- 26 months apart. We’d welcome another child as well.
This is a difficult topic, and because of that few priests or lay people in the Church today tackle it head on. Having said that, I’m not here to tick people off.
I do not speak for the Catholic Church or all Catholics in general, but I do convey Catholic teaching and consider myself a practicing Catholic. I realize that not every Catholic follows Catholic teaching, and that many people struggle.
NFP is the only church approved method of spacing births recognized by the Church. Using artificial contraception is considered gravely sinful for Catholics. “Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criterion of morality. 157 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, ‘every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible’ is intrinsically evil.”158 Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2370
Christianity has always recognized artificial contraception as against God’s plan. Martin Luther and John Calvin had a way with words when it came to expressing themselves against birth control! Their words will curl your toes!
Until 1930, all Christian faiths held it as sinful, but at the Lambeth Conference in
To me, human nature did not change, and nor did the teaching of Christianity, but the culture did, and some churches caved into the culture and continue to do so. Some claim that the Church’s practice is medieval. Not so. Natural Family Planning as we know and use it is a scientifically-backed method that IS of this time and age. In fact, it’s modern technology that has allowed for the study of the data on men and women’s bodies which make it so accurate. Check out www.ccli.org to read some of the studies which support NFP.
NFP is not fertility at all costs. It doesn’t mean having baby after baby until you are so old you can’t have anymore, yet this is the perception that many Catholics and other people have. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in the conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood.” #2368
John Paul II describes this as an “ethics of marriage in which the decision whether or not to have a child is ‘not motivated by selfishness or carelessness, but by a prudent, conscious generosity that weighs the possibilities and circumstances, and especially gives priority to the welfare of the unborn child.’” Witness to Hope, The Biography of John Paul II, by George Weigel, p. 724
I realize that for the last 40 years, the leaders of the Church in
Judging from reaction of people, I can see why some priests don’t bring it up. Yet we can’t hold people accountable for what they don’t know!
I believe that this is why we meet with so much hostility from people within the Church about NFP. Even the Catholics don’t know about it. We who use it have to do a better job of witnessing, explaining and teaching to our family, friends, and fellow Catholics. Finding out what the Church teaches from t.v. pundits, newspapers, and other often misinformed groups leads to people making up their minds to follow the culture because they haven’t been told of the how, the why, the physical and other benefits of NFP.
I learned about NFP from our Marriage Encounter class, from relatives, and from EWTN. But that was the tip of the iceberg. I had to inform myself. The more I learned about it, the more it made sense that if God is the God of your life, he has made a wonderful, natural cycle that can be observed to plan births.
I learned from Protestant friends that God is the God of their life in their finances, in their choice of spouse, in their choice of jobs. I can say that God is also the God of my fertility. He is involved. That’s why he’s revealed to us a method to plan births which, when used effectively, is 99.4% effective.
I realize that this type of talk doesn’t always appeal to even those who are Catholics.
I understand the hesitancy and anxiety about giving up the condoms, the pills and trusting in your body and God. But, I have trusted the Church’s teachings wholeheartedly on such things as which twenty-seven books belong in the New Testament, the nature and divinity of Christ as was debated by the Early Church, and that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus. As a matter of faith and morals, I believe that the Church has this one right as well, and I have seen lives lived for the better because of it.
I ask you to pray and read about natural family planning and the positive effects behind it. I believe there is a lot of miscommunication and misconception about what NFP really is and how it works. I have found that it is part of a lifestyle, which is connected to breastfeeding.
We are called to be in this world, but not OF the world. To me, a Catholic using artificial birth control is being OF the world, and not following God’s plan for us.
I welcome questions and civil discussion.
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