Thursday, March 29, 2012

Natural Family Planning: What it Is...

Natural Family Planning (NFP) is an important aspect of our livesand something both Jeremy and I wholeheartedly believe in, so I've decided to write a series on it.  I will touch on what it is, what the Church teaches, statistics and research, and why we practice it.

So for the first installment...What Natural Family Planning is (and what it is not):
(most of this information can be found in Father Frank Pavone's Brochure - Birth Control and NFP - What is the Difference?)

NFP is a natural way to recognize when ovulation occurs, based on direct observations of various signs that occur in a woman's cycle.  The observations take a matter of seconds to make and work for even irregular cycles.  NFP is not only basically cost-free, it is practical and extremely effective for both preventing and achieving pregnancy.

According to Standards for Diocesan Natural Family Planning, "NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of a child.  By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife."

Because it does nothing to work against conception, NFP is not a contraceptive.

A few other things about NFP:

1.  NFP does not separate the love-giving and life-giving aspects of God's design for marriage.  While not every marital act must/will result in a child, it must nevertheless be open to the possibility of life.  An act remains open to life as long as the couple does nothing to close that openness.  Therein lies the difference between contraception and NFP: with contraception, one does something (takes a pill, uses a condom, etc) to deliberately close the live-giving power of the marital act.  In NFP, no such step is taken.

2.  Using NFP requires abstinence during a woman's natural cycle of fertility if a pregnancy is to be avoided.  When spouses know that they can abstain for good reasons (just like one would abstain if the other was sick, travelling, fatigued, etc), they also come to avoid the risk of treating each other primarily as objects of pleasure rather than persons. 

3.  NFP puts the responsibility for family planning squarely on the shoulders of both husband and wife, requiring cooperation and communication. 

Is it the rhythm method?  No.  Is it the Catholic form of birth control?  No.  NFP is a natural practice acknowledging God's place in love and marriage, resting upon self-control, inner freedom, respect, trust and unconditional love...all the while encouraging openness to life.

For great talks and materials, visit One More Soul.
And for an incredible article, check out: Janet Smith

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