A great way to build strong marriages and families is through the practice of natural family planning, whereby couples respect God’s vision for marriage and the family and learn to live out their sexuality to reflect this vision. This is one of the most highly contested and misunderstood areas of Catholic teaching. Saying no to contraception does not mean that a (married) couple must have as many children as they possibly can. On the contrary, the Church urges couples to practice “responsible parenthood”, taking into consideration various physical, economic, psychological and social conditions and recognizes that there are sometimes serious reasons for avoid pregnancy:
If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles, immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles (Humanae Vitae, 16).
NFP is a safe, natural and above all effective way to regulate pregnancy and “plan” your family responsibly without breaking your wedding vows. This isn’t your Grandma’s NFP. The days of the “rhythm method” are long gone. Now women can keep track of their fertility – based on several biological clues – with almost pinpoint accuracy, making NFP highly effective in both achieving and postponing pregnancy. It even helps solve problems of infertility and frequent miscarriage. My friend Meredith can attest to this. She is now pregnant with twins (a boy and a girl!) thanks to NFP after years of infertility and other fertility treatments.
As if all that wasn’t good enough, NFP also strengthens the relationship between husband and wife as Greg and Jennifer Willits from the Rosary Army Catholic Podcast, share in their Natural Family Planning Podcast (a compilation of their RA pocasts in which they discuss marital chastity and Catholic NFP). Greg and Jennifer are always very entertaining and it’s sure to be worth you while! Greg says, “NFP has enhanced our marriage in so many ways.” Find out how!
It is important to remember that natural family planning is not simply Church approved birth control in the sense that it can be used like other forms of artificial contraception to refuse the gift of life. Used properly, it is a way for couples to cooperate with the body’s natural cycle of fertility for the responsible regulation of birth.
To experience the gift of married love while respecting the laws of conception is to acknowledge that one is not the master of the sources of life but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator. Just as man does not have unlimited dominion over his body in general, so also, and with more particular reason, he has no such dominion over his specifically sexual faculties, for these are concerned by their very nature with the generation of life, of which God is the source (HV, 13).