Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Birth Control = No Birth + No Control

My wife and I have practice NFP (Natural Family Planning) our entire fourteen year marriage. We have three children and used NFP to help achieve our first pregnancy; our son was born about eighteen months after the wedding. Not long after, we used NFP again to achieve our second pregnancy. Our first daughter was born twenty five months after our son. Around this time a co-worker said something to me (in jest).

Co-worker:  Nicely done; you have your boy & your girl. You’re getting “fixed” now, right?
Me: I’m not broken.

Co-worker: Sounds like something is working a little too well.
Me: I’ll see a doctor about a medical procedure when something is wrong with me, not when things are working well.

We both laughed, but it brings up the point that we treat fertility much like a disease; we get prescriptions, have surgery and buy “gadgets”.  If fertility is a gift designed by God, it would not be reasonable to treat it this way. Going beyond unreasonable, we have actually reached the point where not using artificial contraception is viewed as ignorant and irresponsible. My wife and I take the precise opposite view. Many are ignorant about natural law and irresponsible about sex, so what is the result? No birth & no control. Seems the houses where we live are getting bigger and bigger while the families inside getting smaller and smaller.
Look ma, no kids!!
My wife and I now give talks on sex & intimacy to engaged couples at our parish as part of their pre-Cana. We cover some theology of the body, and once couples hear the logic, they may think it’s a nice theory that belongs in the heavens somewhere, but it’s not practical for real people on earth. We then get into the practical benefits of NFP which have benefitted us, but many have never heard before:

More knowledge fosters better family planning: It’s not only for avoiding pregnancy and spacing children, but also achieving pregnancy. When a couple has trouble conceiving, one of the first things a doctor may do is have them try some aspects of NFP.

You’ll know if you’re pregnant before a doctor can know. Many women miscarry without even knowing they were pregnant.  We knew we were pregnant with our 3rd child not long after conception and noticed some unusual signs, so my wife consulted with a doctor. A prescription to boost a hormone may have prevented the miscarriage of our youngest daughter.

It’s “Green”: It’s free & natural. In fact, there are those who use NFP simply because they prefer to do things naturally instead of artificially (no theological reason). It’s really just common sense. Ironically, as we become more health conscious, we’ll avoid natural things like fat, salt, sugar and pay extra for organic foods, but at the same time, gladly encourage women to pump themselves with artificial hormones via pills and patches.

Communication: It fosters better communication between couples. NFP couples have very low divorce rates. Think about it; whether avoiding or achieving pregnancy, if you’re going to be intimate with each other, you’ll need to stay in “intimate” communication on a fairly regular basis.

It only gets better: We experienced how a women’s cycle can become more regular after having children, which makes NFP easier to do. As you start having children, spacing them out can become more and more important, so the woman’s cycle becomes easier to read. God knows what he’s doing when he designs something. Also, if avoiding pregnancy, the cycles of abstaining and being together mirror a natural dating-honeymoon cycle that continually breathes new life into a marriage.

From here we get into the two purposes of sex that should not be separated (babies & bonding). We use an analogy with food. Food has two purposes; nutrition and social bonding. Suppose you go to a party for pleasure and eat all the food you want, but you don’t want all those calories, so you head over to the restroom afterwards and make yourself throw-up. That’s NOT the purpose of food! Now consider the other extreme, suppose a new one-a-day pill was invented which provides all the nutrition you would ever need and you decided never to eat again. No restaurants, no party food, no dining with family & friends, nothing at holidays, no food ever. This would disorder your social life.

We also explain how NFP is not like artificial contraception when avoiding pregnancy because you are using the gift of fertility the way God designed it. It’s the difference between intentionally blocking something vs. just not participating in something.

When we look throughout salvation history we see a reoccurring theme that is really a reoccurring question. It started with Adam & Eve and continued with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, his son Joseph, Moses, all the Israelites, the kings of Israel, Mary & Joseph in the New Testament, all the way up to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The question was and still is: Will you trust God?

My wife and I were also in a “trusting” situation when we started NFP.  All we had was a Church teaching and a class we took; no one we knew was using it back then. No family; no friends. It was hard at times, so we had to face the question head on; will you trust God? We did and we are forever grateful.




  1. When I was hospitalized during the last few months of my pregnancy, I had an OB who was nonplussed when I turned down his offer to tie my tubes after my son was deliever via C-section. After all, he "would already be in there". The post-partum packet of information I got in recovery was about 3/4th ads pushing long-term contraceptive methods (IUD, implants)or sterilization. My husband said it was like everyone was saying, "Congratulations on your new baby! Now don't do it again!"

    1. Thanks Shawna,
      That post-partum packet you mention sounds horrible.

  2. As A Christian I believe that all life is precious and starts at conception. Taking that in mind, birth control is not conception control. It is mostly just that, birth control. The actual function of the birth control pill is to stop births. It is done 3 ways. 1) hormonally mimicking a pregnancy so ovulation does not happen.2) create a more difficult passage for sperm to enter the uterus with extra thick mucus and a hostile hormonal environment for sperm to decrease the amount that enters the uterus and the fallopian tubes were conception happens.
    3) create a hostile environment in the uterus so a fertilized egg will not be able to attach and continue its growth. What!!! Most people of faith do not know this and would be horrified if they understood that is how the birth control pill works. May God forgive us for being blind and not researching the things that we put on ourselves when we use "birth control" not conception control.

    1. Hi Joanna,
      Seems you are ok with artificial contraception as long as there is no harm or potential harm to a fertilized egg. Is my understanding correct?

      "Few realize that up until 1930, all Protestant denominations agreed with the Catholic Church’s teaching condemning contraception as sinful. At its 1930 Lambeth Conference, the Anglican church, swayed by growing social pressure, announced that contraception would be allowed in some circumstances. Soon the Anglican church completely caved in, allowing contraception across the board. Since then, all other Protestant denominations have followed suit. Today, the Catholic Church alone proclaims the historic Christian position on contraception. "
      - from Catholic Answers.
      You can read the rest HERE

  3. "No restaurants, no party food, no dining with family & friends, nothing at holidays, no food ever. This would disorder your social life."

    Along with being virginal and chaste, don't other singles do like I do and just eat alone at home (or in the office break room) alone for every meal? Or just fast for days at a time out of boredom over having no interest in the act of eating? I've learned well before my thirties that being single in the Church is about family and friends abandoning you and the parish just using you occasionally for a workhorse.

    In terms of people suggesting birth control, sterilization, or such in marriage, just do what my parents did: stop having sex or talking to each other (except for screaming arguments!) when you've had enough children (but "stay together for the kids," because we need those healthy marital role models!) and sleep in different rooms -- it's God's will, as I was taught growing up, because we men are naturally evil and should never be allowed to touch a woman's body! ;)

    1. I think many could relate including myself. I was single and living alone, far from any family & friends for years, and growing up my parents didn't exactly "get along" either. It's a heavy cross. Once I found the Lord in my mid-twenties, I took life one day at a time as a single man and kept my eyes Him. Prayers...

  4. "you have your boy & your girl."

    ...I have to ask, in all honesty: what's that supposed to mean?!

    Given that children are a gift from God, period, making some sort of an ideal of having "one of each" admittedly weirds me out.