Natural Family Planning
By Sean Martin
Isn’t NFP just “Catholic birth control?”
When a couple uses contraception, they are choosing to be selfish by holding their fertility back from the other spouse, rather than acting selflessly by giving all of themselves to their spouse, including their fertility. One cannot give a gift, he chooses to hold on to, rather he holds the gift for himself, just as a couple using contraception, is unable to make a total self-gift to their spouse because he/she is holding on to his/her fertility. A couple using NFP, who elects to postpone pregnancy by only engaging in the marital act during infertile periods, is not being selfish, because they are making a total self-gift, giving all of themselves including their fertility to their spouse and are keeping the reflection of God’s total self-gift of love at the center of their sexual lives.
If Natural Family Planning is practiced within the context of God’s design for marital love, i.e. within a marriage between a man and a woman for the purposes of a loving union and openness to life, then it respects the dignity and worth of the human persons involved namely the spouses and the potential child. Also, in this situation NFP would increase the marital covenantal union between the husband and wife because of what it respects and defends.
Contraception works against life. It is not open to life at all! It does not respect the dignity of the human persons involved. Rather, it degrades the human person and destroys life and the marital union. “’By using contraception’, married couples ’may think that they are avoiding problems or easing tensions, that they are exerting control over their lives.’ At the same time, they may think that they are doing nothing harmful to their marriages. In reality, the deliberate separation of the procreative and unitive meanings of marriage has the potential to damage or destroy the marriage. Also, it results in many other negative consequences, both personal and social” (Marriage, Love & Life in the Divine Plan, USCCB 18).
Natural Family Planning calls for mutual responsible parenthood between the husband and wife. It entails a commitment on the part of the married couple to communicate to each other. NFP calls for a mutual understanding between spouses. It respects the total person, not just parts or aspects of the person. It cultivates an appreciation for the dignity and worth of children. Children are a gift from God, not something to be “protected” against, avoided and/or destroyed!
What are some other benefits to NFP?
Natural Family Planning is effective for those wanting to avoid or achieve pregnancy. When married couples have learned the particular methods and are motivated to practice them, NFP is up to 99 percent successful. The effectiveness and successfulness of NFP is contingent upon the married couple practicing the rules of the method according to their family planning intentions.
For further information on NFP classes or if you are interested in becoming a NFP instructor, contact the Office of Family Life 712-233-7530 or email@example.com.
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