Inflammatory Anti-NFP Rant

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Consider yourself warned and know that enlightening me would be a waste of time.
Chris suggested I read this piece. It's over the top like much of Crocker’s writing, but it makes some good points, so I decided to make some points of my own.

First, I have frequently heard improved communication used as a selling point for NFP. Somehow, I think there must be better ways to improve communication between husband and wife since NFP is only to be used in exceptional circumstances, not as the rule. Besides the examples I’ve heard leave me less than impressed. There is the “learn to talk about difficult subjects” example, but I firmly believe that my marriage will not suffer if mucus is never the topic of conversation. Then there is the “learning other ways to show love” example. The wife who presented our sexuality workshop when we were preparing for marriage her husband accompanied her to the fabric store together during periods of abstinence. Sweet, but we don’t have 24 hour fabric stores around here and there really isn’t any need to find another form of expression at 2 in the afternoon (usually.) Personally, I’m on board with the Holy Father’s recommendation that couples put real time and effort into perfecting the conjugal act as way to improve communication, and that seems much more natural.

Second, I have never heard any one address the woman’s libido. Basically, the only “rule” you need if you really, absolutely can’t get pregnant is “If the woman wants to, DON’T.” Numerous times, I’ve heard about how many days you will still be able to do whatever you want, but not once have I heard that those days are the days the woman doesn’t really want to do whatever. It would be refreshing to hear someone honestly say that not only will you not achieve pregnancy, but there are some other things you might not achieve too. Not once have I heard that this sacrifice is much greater for the woman, since the man is practically the same any and every day of the month. It seems to me those “green light” days would be a good time to hit Hancock’s Fabrics. Frankly, working with the woman’s cycle is a whole heck of a lot more natural when NFP isn’t involved.

Finally, I think it is a terrible betrayal of couples preparing for marriage to push NFP. Not ready for a baby, no problem here’s NFP. The fact that NFP is a great burden intended for use by the faithful only as a last resort isn’t mentioned, and the fact that some couples have deeply regretted practicing NFP from the start of their marriage is glossed over. Plus, I agree with Crocker that the best part of NFP is that it can help people get pregnant, and couple who aren’t even married yet likely don’t know if they need to try anything special.

This is not to deny the just reasons couples have for using NFP, those who have those reasons also have my deepest sympathy and prayers whether they are trying to avoid or achieve pregnancy. I just wish there was more honesty about the burden and stress NFP places on a marriage and less hype about what a wonderful method it is for avoiding babies. The fact that there are so many couples using NFP who don’t want to have babies points to some darker problems that I am not going to get into here. I’ll just end with a quote from the homily at my wedding, “When a woman stops wanting to have a baby she has lost her trust in her husband. When a man stops wanting to have a baby, he has lost his trust in God.”

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Oh silly you, sweetheart. Don't you know that we're not effectively cooperating with God's grace?

I think that there might be a distinction between being aware of fertility, and CCL's presentation of NFP, which is not necessarily the same.

I'm not trying to enlighten you, but it appears to me that CCL's approach is aimed at the Catholic who don't see anything wrong with contraceptives -- even with the pill. (And there are lots out there). I certainly think that using NFP as a contraceptive beats not allowing fertalized eggs to implant, and if that's the other option then I would support (even encourage) a couple using NFP as a contraceptive, even if there were no just reasons for it.

So, NFP is the compromise, rejected by both sides. I certainly agree with you that there are things that could be different in the marriage-prep presentation of NFP, but as I recall you and Papa-Lu only took the half-day "NFP is a usable form of contraception" seminar, and not the whole four month NFP class. I don't know if you've since seen the literature from the more detailed class, but the presentation may be different there.

I do think that NFP in some form should be taught to kids at a high school age. Kids (both boys and girls) should be aware of what's going on inside themselves, and in their classmates. The natural place for sexuality in society has been rejected (women's breasts are selling more chicken wings to men at Hooters than feeding those same men, 30-something years earlier), and I think that when puberty first starts is the proper time for women and men both to be taught how it all works. I do take issue with Crocker's sarcastic dismissal of the woman who came to realize that her fertility was a beautiful thing; if all this woman had seen growing up was scantilly-dressed women on television in order that middle-aged-men buy a particular brand of beer, how is she supposed to understand how beautifully God made women? Maybe Crocker's wife doesn't need to learn that lesson, but if you walk around any mall in America (or out to Parkland College) and watch the teenage girls there, most of them hadn't learned it.

Even your point about "if the woman wants to, DON'T" is something that many people don't realize. In _The Return to Modesty_, one of the points was that modern society is telling women that they should be like men, and from the sexual perspective that means that they should always be willing and ready for sex. So, for women who had subscribed to that mentality, just the realization that her sexual desire is something that waxes and wanes with her hormones is a step in the right direction. Because she's then a step closer to being a real woman. In an ideal world would it be necessary? No. But in an ideal world neither would infant formula.



>>>Second, I have never heard any one address the woman’s libido. Basically, the only “rule” you need if you really, absolutely can’t get pregnant is “If the woman wants to, DON’T.”

Well, more or less. Though many women experience an increase in libido just before menstruation, when they are infertile. This is due to a rise in progesterone at that time of the cycle.

In Jesu et Maria,

Your piece here is a nice commentary from a Catholic woman's perspective on much of the silliness surrounding the presentation of NFP in today's culture--with some real world knowledge of the biological realities thrown in.

Thanks for a contribution to a discussion that needs to have been had for a while.

I think there is a big difference between teaching NFP as a pregnancy prevention method (which is the more common perception and is I think fostered by CCL) and teaching fertility awareness and making choices based on what you know about your body's cycles. (more like Creighton model). I have used charts from women who were not avoiding pregnancy specifically nor especially seeking pregnancy (ie whatever happens was OK) and have been able to use them to diagnose and effectively treat problems like severe PMS and other GYN issues. I really think that all women would benefit from knowing what is happening in their bodies and when.
I also find that women who are charting and concieve can give me the most accurate information about so that I can calculate an accurate due date - this can be critical towards the end of pregnancy. Yes, I could also get that information from an early ultrasound but NFP charting is cheaper and totally risk free.


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This page contains a single entry by Mama-Lu published on March 10, 2005 12:47 PM.

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