NFP culture within the Church

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Lance_O

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The thread ‘Whys and Wherefores of Contraceptives/NFP’ was begun on May 29 by Tim Hayes. My husband and I (this is Lance’s wife) enjoyed reading through discussions like that since I am a FertilityCare Practitioner and we’re obviously very much crazy about NFP and how great it is for people’s marriages, health, faith, etc.

I bring this up because in that original thread complaints were brought up about changes in the cycle that would render days ‘fertile’ and therefore unavailable if the intention is to avoid pregnancy.

Being a practitioner in the Creighton Model I’ve been trained in an allied health program through the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, NE. (www.popepaulvi.com and www.fertilitycare.org for info) I chose to become trained in and teach this method for several reasons; I feel very strongly that it has many advantages. One of them being that you have a clear sign on a daily basis of your fertility. AND if you encounter changes in your cycle that would make it seem as if you’re fertile for 60% of it (continuous mucus) your practitioner in the Creighton Method can help you identify a sameness pattern which will then identify your days of true fertility.

However, I have noticed, especially since becoming a Practitioner, that there seems to be some animosity between different natural methods within the Church. It seems so silly to me. Each method has it’s advantages and I think that people should be willing to acknowledge that and look at each method with an open mind.

Are there any comments/discussion on this? I’ve just been thinking a lot about it lately (since that first discussion)…
 
Lance O:
there seems to be some animosity between different natural methods within the Church. It seems so silly to me. Each method has it’s advantages and I think that people should be willing to acknowledge that and look at each method with an open mind.

Are there any comments/discussion on this? I’ve just been thinking a lot about it lately (since that first discussion)…
My wife and I taught the SymptoThermal Method of NFP as a teaching couple for a small NFP apostolate in PA, that was none-the-less fully accredited by the Pro-life office of the USCCB.

We taught for 11 years and recently resigned from teaching.

My alarm has been over the growing perspective within the NFP “industry” that NFP is a way of life for Catholic couples that is sold as wonderful, fulfilling, refreshing, marital supporting, etc etc etc.

NFP is ONLY to be used for grave reasons. Recourse to NFP is to be a rare event, not a lifestyle.

Promotion of NFP as an “alternative” to contraception is deceptive if taught without this emphasis that it is only a bridge to Providentialism, i.e., Abandonment to Divine Providence.

Arriving at and living wholly within the embrace of the NFP lifestyle is not arriving any "Catholic destination.

It is living on a shaky lifeline of a bridge, a lifeline out of the culture of death (PRAISE GOD) but not INTo an NFP lifestyle.

Once we reject that culture of death, using that lifeline offered in the form of NFP, we’re called to complete that journey fully into the culture of life, with only temporary and hopefully rare stopovers wherein we have recourse to NFP for grave and serious reasons.

Our youngest is now almost 8. We cannot understand this temporary infertility. We thought we would have 3 more children by now.

It became too hard for us to teach couples how to NOT have babies when we want so much to have more.

And this “NFP is great, every Catholic couple MUST embrace it” approach is simply wrong, and we’ve decided to distance ourselves from it until the NFP movement has matured and come to its senses on an appropriate way to pull people out of the culture of death without leaving them within the NFP cult using NFP as “Catholic contraception.”

(*These are my personal opinions, and I do not claim they are the magisterial teaching of the Church. However, I believe what I have said above to be far closer to the magisterial teaching of the Church than continual promotion of NFP outside the prerequisite duty to inform Catholics that NFP use itself can also be seriously sinful unless grave reason exists for its use.)
 
Currently I use a fertility monitor called the ova cue. We still pray and discern during my fertile times so it doesn’t become just a way of life trying to prevent children. I have irregular cylces and always have heavy discharge, and we haven’t been able to get to a nfp class yet to learn about the other methods. I think everyone situation is different for postponing a pregnancy, what is serious enough for one couple is not serious for another. We have 4 children 5 1/2 and under and we have only been married 7 yrs. Right now we feel this is all we can handle and all we can afford. I don’t think anyone has the right to say to someone that thier reason for postponing is not grave enough, that is between them and God( a good confessor helps.) When we feel we a ready for another baby along with prayer and discernment we will use nfp to help us get pregnant. And with nfp the couple isn’t saying no to God they are just ask not right now, but they are still open to life. Nothing artificial has been put between them and God. Just my thoughts.
 
WOW, Proud2bRC, I had just about decided to QUIT clicking on
the NFP topics because I feel EXACTLY as you have expressed in your above post, and it is frustrating to see the “industry” line at every turn.

I was involved to a large degree, having started a “support group” for
women who are living the NFP “lifestyle”. I was involved to a small degree on the diocesan level and that “peek into the industry” is what cemented my growing discomfort.

This :
Promotion of NFP as an “alternative” to contraception is deceptive if taught without this emphasis that it is only a bridge to Providentialism, i.e., Abandonment to Divine Providence.

Arriving at and living wholly within the embrace of the NFP lifestyle is not arriving any "Catholic destination.

says it all! Thanks for taking the time to put forth your views (and mine!)
Nancy
 
Lance O:
The thread ‘Whys and Wherefores of Contraceptives/NFP’ was begun on May 29 by Tim Hayes. My husband and I (this is Lance’s wife) enjoyed reading through discussions like that since I am a FertilityCare Practitioner and we’re obviously very much crazy about NFP and how great it is for people’s marriages, health, faith, etc.

Are there any comments/discussion on this? I’ve just been thinking a lot about it lately (since that first discussion)…
Its possible that some posters may be confused by my first post on this thread above. Therefore, I’ll post a comment from the ‘Whys and Wherefores of Contraceptives/NFP’ thread, a comment that went completely unchallenged on that thread. This is a very troubling sign for me regarding this Forum and how personal opinions may not reflect Catholic teachings, and may go uncorrected, thus confusing Catholics here.
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Catholic2003:
Humanae Vitae says:

If a couple has the physical, economic, and psychological resources to provide for 4 children, which they already have, will God supernaturally intervene to prevent sperm and egg from uniting should the couple selfishly decide to continue engaging in marital relations despite their inability to be responsible parents for 5 children at that time? I don’t believe so, as God doesn’t supernaturally intervene to prevent pregnancies in cases of fornication and adultery.

Instead, according to Humanae Vitae, the couple is called to use their reason and will to exert control overy their innate drives and emotions. Should they fail to do so, they sin, and it is quite possible that another pregnancy and child will result from that sin, just as it can in the cases of fornication and adultery.
This post is reprehensible. This is pure heresy, Humanae Vitae says no such thing! There is no positive duty, on pain of sin, for couples to use NFP! This is a complete twisting of Humanae Vitae, diametrically opposite the true meaning of it!

There has NEVER been ANY Church document demanding Catholics use NFP. On the contrary, NFP is always taught to be licit ONLY when there is a grave reason for recourse to it.

And to compare a pregnancy that results from a married Catholic couple being open to life and obedient to Church Law and Natural Law, to a pregnancy in the case of fornication or adultery, is obscene.

We have so imbibed the culture of death contraceptive mentality that we even attempt to interpret Humanae Vitae in terms of that deadly philosophy.

Thus promoting and/or teaching NFP without also EVERY TIME mentioning that there must be grave reason for its use sets up a poorly catechized Catholic culture to embrace NFP with a contraceptive mentality.
 
This is all good stuff. :yup:

Proud2bRC and NancyA, I completely understand where you are coming from. You are right, and there is no voice crying out that NFP is only to be used for grave reasons. I understand your point.

In my own experience, however, I haven’t seen that. I wish I had, almost! In my own experience, so few Catholics even consider NFP as even a viable alternative to ABC, that it’s almost moot (in my little part of the world!) to argue not to rely too heavily on NFP.

I use sympto-thermal method. Between the symtoms, much like Billings, and the temps, I have a very good idea of when I’m fertile or not. This month, for instance, (sorry if this is too much information!!) dh is more than a little concerned that I might be pregnant again. (Cf the thread on how far is too far!) However, even given our activities this month during a fertile phase, my temps are actually DOWN. I feel sure that I am not pregnant, or my temps would be UP.

Our diocese seems really hung up on Billings, and I don’t know why. I do see antagonism when I say that I don’t use Billings!
 
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kristalyn:
This is all good stuff. :yup:

Proud2bRC and NancyA, I completely understand where you are coming from. You are right, and there is no voice crying out that NFP is only to be used for grave reasons. I understand your point.

In my own experience, however, I haven’t seen that. I wish I had, almost! In my own experience, so few Catholics even consider NFP as even a viable alternative to ABC, that it’s almost moot (in my little part of the world!) to argue not to rely too heavily on NFP.
Oh, I agree with this completely, kristalyn. I have spent several years on a conservative news forum doing pro-life Catholic apologetics, and most Catholics “out there” don’t even consider NFP. My personal observations and research indicates that 85% of Catholic couples of child bearing age either contracept or are sterilized.

Of the remaining 15%, its hard to establish how many use NFP, how many use nothing, and how many are infertile.

So using NFP as a hand-up or liferope out of the culture of death contraceptive mentality is an awesome and wholesome thing.

Since all hormonal contraceptives act at least sometimes as an abortifacient, a couple who stops using the pill and embraces NFP moves from committing the mortal sins of murder and contraception to the morally neutral practice of NFP. A couple using barrier methods is only committing the mortal sin of contraception.

NFP is only sinful if no grave reason for recourse to NFP exists. Even then, there is debate whether a contraceptive use of NFP is still mortal sin. Regardless, it is not as grave a sin as using an abortifacient or contraceptive device.

So it is a good thing to “convert” the contracepting couple to an “NFP” couple.

But the job is not done at that point. NFP is still just a bridge, a shaky one at that, to being a fully culture of life Catholic couple.

Now on a Forum such as this, where committed Catholics post and learn from each other, I am surprised that the moral theology of NFP use is not mentioned once on an entire “NFP thread.”

Or, as in the case I excerpted above, the moral theology of NFP use is completely twisted until it is unrecognizable.

NFP promoters shgould be “cream of the crop,” orthodox Catholics. As such, they should never promote NFP as an end, as a “Catholic” identity or lifestyle.

They should present NFP as an option in grave circumstances, that one may, unfortunately, be forced to endure, but only until they are in a situation once again to be fully culture of life Catholic couples.
 
We use the “God will provide” method! 😃

As of July, we will have 5 kids 8 years and under!
 
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kristalyn:
This is all good stuff. :yup:

Proud2bRC and NancyA, I completely understand where you are coming from. You are right, and there is no voice crying out that NFP is only to be used for grave reasons. I understand your point.
I understand what you are both saying and I think it should be taught and instilled in each class that prayer has to go along with nfp whether your trying to conceive or not conceive other wise it is pretty much just as bad as ABC. But we must remember not to judge people on what is a grave reason. What is a serious reason for my husband and I to postpone may not be for you. But everyone needs to listen to the cues from the Holy Spirit for when it is time to try again. But I do understand your points. Thank you that there are people like you out there that can teach nfp to people, so at least they start getting awayfrom abc. Its a step in the right direction, and sometimes you can only do a little at a time. It took my husband and I a long time to concede to using nfp instead of abc. And at first we did look at it as just natural birthcontrol, and we were still being open to life by not putting artificial things between us and God. We forgot the prayer part, but know we’ve got it. Took a little while and some small steps, but we are getting there, thanks to people like you guys willing to help people like us. :gopray:
 
While I agree with the current discussion emphasizing that it is wrong to use NFP with a contraceptive mentality, I think some clarification needs to be made over what circumstances justify its use. Below is a post that I made previously on this topic.
Dr Paul:
You are correct in pointing out the dangers of a contraceptive mentality, even when using the practice of NFP. As clearly stated in the catechism

"For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness, but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. (CCC #2368)

However, a just reason is not limited to grave physical and/or financial reasons. Some (but not necessrily all) parents are poorly able to cope with the stresses and demands that a new child brings. Responsible parenthood requires that the father and mother are able to meet the physical, emotional and financial needs of the entire family. Being overwhelmed by the birth of new child, experiencing postpartem depression, being physically exhausted from lack of sleep, and many other reasons may be just reasons. The key is that the parents are sincerely acting out of love and not selfishness. The beauty of NFP is that even when parents come to a decision to try to space out the birth of another child, God can veto the decision. One good test of whether parents have fallen into a contraceptive mentality is to consider how they would respond if they did became pregnant while using NFP. One should remain open to the idea of having children, even if they are attempting to avoid conception. Using a chemical means to alter one’s fertility is really difficult to reconcile with this mentality.
The Church does NOT teach that we are ALL called to adopt the “abandonement to divine providence” mentality (I don’t think that the prior posters really meant this). Using NFP is not restricted to a tiny fraction of couples with dire physical or financial circumstances. However, it is probably true that very few couples could justify using NFP throughout their entire marriage, unless the couple is using NFP to alternately avoid and achieve pregnancy. A clarification also needs to be made about the “grave reason only” assertion. While it DOES teach that we should not attempt to take God out of the equation, the key is selfless love and constant reassessment of the reasons being used to avoid pregnancy.
 
👍
Thank You 🙂 all of you for your thoughts on this issue.
I started using NFP before becoming Catholic or understanding the blessings of being open to life. I was on “the bridge” while going through RCIA. My husband and I conceived in January, once I decided that I that I did not have to be Catholic before having a Child. (I was worried that God would not want me to have children yet… since I was not fully incorporated into the Church. (So much for me knowing the mind of God, and what a grave reason might be, I have a long way to go.)) My doubts crumbed as I found we were blessed with a Child, after we had compramissed abstaning at the beginning of my fertile time.

In my own mind, especially after reading Kimberly Hahn’s book Life Giving Love, I am understanding more and more how the unitive and the procrative are tied. More pointedly how delicate the line is between healthly unity and selfishness. NFP has been a great way for me to learn to trust my husband and has helped us solidify how much God wants to bless our sexuallity and our ability to co-create with Him, in creating new life and magifying the holy bond we have with our spouse.

All these things together has helped me to grow in my understanding of the Eucharists and God’s desire to be united with us even more than we want to be united with our spouse.
I am finding that He has provided many bridges to help us climb out of our fallen state to Him, may of them we may be unaware of or how they help us. I am looking forward to taking many more in my walk as a Catholic.1
:dancing:
 
Extended breastfeeding has spaced our children just right.

Sometimes (like when I write Letters to the Editor) I say we use NFP although it is only by nursing my baby, which I would do anyway 🙂

I did take a CCL course so I could know just what it was that I so often recommended to people 👍 The couple who taught us constantly reminded us that it is to be used on a month to month basis after much prayer and communication with your spouse. They said it can “be too easy to use” so you have to always make sure you are staying in touch with God to try determine if this is His will for you. They taught us “so well” I’ve never even taken one temp!

In response to a couple of other comments on this topic. I think the reason you hear so many of us say, “NFP NFP NFP” is in hope we can reach those poor contracepting couples, many of who are just clueless on the issue. After you have their attention, then there is time to thoroughly cover when or when not it is licit to use.

Thanks,
Stephanie
 
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Proud2bRC:
Thus promoting and/or teaching NFP without also EVERY TIME mentioning that there must be grave reason for its use sets up a poorly catechized Catholic culture to embrace NFP with a contraceptive mentality.
I believe a clarification needs to be made here. You would be correct in saying that there must be a grave reason for using NFP to postpone/avoid pregnancy, but that is not the same thing as needing a grave reason to use NFP. NFP has many more uses than just helping a couple to avoid pregnancy.

I can see how you feel that some couples misuse NFP in selfishness and use it to avoid pregnancy when there are not grave reasons. You are correct. That is a misuse of NFP. However, that, in no way, means that we as Catholics should be against the use of NFP. That’s rediculous. That’s like saying that since some people sin or are tempted to sin when they dance then everybody in the world should stop dancing. Additionally, I’m sure that you have read all of the positive testimonies that have been written about all of the good that NFP has done for them, their spouses, and their marriages, and that you are able to recognize that then, NFP is a wonderful good.

Furthermore, I would like to expand on my comment that NFP is used for more than just avoiding pregnancies. In the Creighton Model (I’m sure this is true with other methods as well), we teach couples that this is a method of true family planning. This is true because the method is to be used to both help the couples postpone/space pregnancies and to achieve pregnancies.

I was truly very sad and disappointed when I read that you (Proud2BRC) and your wife had quit with NFP and then were disappointed that you had not had more children. Charting your cycles – actively using NFP – HELPS you to become pregnant because you know exactly when the fertile days are to use in order to achieve a pregnancy. Not only that, but then when you do select days of fertility you are fully aware of the co-creative potential that you have to be working with God in creating new life–being mindful of that is indescribable.

Furthermore, unique to the Creighton Model, there is NaProTechnology. (PLEASE, please look at the info and research here. www.popepaulvi.com & www.fertilitycare.org) NaProTechnology is a new reproductive science that has come out of the Creighton Model Research. This is a medical science that works with the NAtrual PROcreative system to help couples p(name removed by moderator)oint and treat any gynecologic health issues and/or infertility problems that they might be experiencing. Countless couples have been helped to achieve pregnancy when they had otherwise been told that they were infertile. Charting the cycle along with NaPro treatment identifies the cause of the infertility and then treats it, allowing the couples to achieve their much-desired pregnancy in a morally acceptable, licit manner (another good!). Not to mention the couples that have been able to achieve pregnancy simply by charting and identifying the days of fertility (fertility-focused intercourse) when they were otherwise unable to get pregnant using random acts of intercourse.

One further point that I’d like to make. As a practitioner I have many couples who come to learn the method who are not Catholic. I’m sure that you would recognize the fact that this is also a very very positive thing since they would otherwise be using artificial contraceptives–most of them are just looking for a healthy alternative to being on the pill (or they’re unsatisfied with their current method of birth control) and/or they’re looking for assistance in achieving a pregnancy. And even though I don’t give them lectures on the Catholic theology for sex and using NFP, they’re learning all of the goods that NFP teaches couples about mutual respect, exercising self-control, having a shared responsibility and decision-making in planning their family, learning to respect the creative and procreative ability that that have been given and the children that result from it… (the list goes on…)
 
Lance O:
I was truly very sad and disappointed when I read that you (Proud2BRC) and your wife had quit with NFP and then were disappointed that you had not had more children. Charting your cycles – actively using NFP – HELPS you to become pregnant because you know exactly when the fertile days are to use in order to achieve a pregnancy. Not only that, but then when you do select days of fertility you are fully aware of the co-creative potential that you have to be working with God in creating new life–being mindful of that is indescribable.
For clarification…we just recently resigned from teaching, within the last 6 months. And since we taught NFP (and I’m a physician) obviously we were/are fully aware of my wife’s fertility and the use of that knowledge in trying to conceive.

It just got to be too much of a cross to bear when we so desperately desire more children, while many of the couples we taught, who were fertile, were using NFP in an obviously sinful manner, despite my lengthy in depth class on morally licit use of NFP.

What kind of sealed the deal was when another NFP teaching couple told us they used NFP to plan the month of birth, i.e., they “didn’t want a December baby.” And even the EWTN Ask The Experts forum NFP expert priest has claimed that the Church has changed its teaching and no longer requires grave reasons for recourse to NFP, contradicting the clear teachings of Pius XII and Paul VI!

When even the instructors are having recourse to NFP for such mundane, non-grave reasons, and the NFP “expert” clergy are claiming outright that grave reasons are not needed for recourse to NFP, there is a real grave crisis in the NFP industry, in my opinion.
 
Proud2bRC,

Perhaps I am not correctly understanding what you mean by “grave reasons” but it seems to me that your understanding of the church’s teaching on when it is permissible to use NFP is not entirely correct. Examining closely what Paul VI said in Humane Vitae, yes, there must be a serious reason to avoid pregnancy. But it does not say that this should necessarily be a very rare occurence. Perhaps my confusion or concern over your interpretation of the church’s teaching comes over a distinction in the terms “serious” and “grave”.
With regard to the biological processes, responsible parenthood means an awareness of, and respect for, their proper functions. In the procreative faculty the human mind discerns biological laws that apply to the human person.
With regard to man’s innate drives and emotions, responsible parenthood means that man’s reason and will must exert control over them.
With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, **for serious reasons **and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.
Don’t get me wrong. I completely agree with you that NFP is often used wrongly with a contraceptive mentality. I also agree that many frivolous and selfish reasons are sometimes used. But my understanding of Church teaching in this matter is that NFP is part of responsible parenthood. It does not have to be reserved for rare and extreme circumstances. It must however remain open to children and be motivated out of selfless love and not selfish interests.
 
I began practicing NFP just last month. I was one of those Catholics who thought that I was not sinning using contraceptives. About 6 months ago, I began practicing my faith like a Catholic should. I started following all the teachings of the Catholic Church including the one on contraception. My husband (45 years old) and I (37 years old) are both in our second marriages. Our children (23, 18, & 13) are from our first marriages with little or no moral and zero financial support from our ex-spouses and are all still very dependent on us. We lived in mobile home for the first 2 years of our marriage, then built a house 2 years ago for obvious reasons. My husband’s pay was cut back recently and we are going through some tough financial times. We have agreed not to have any more children because of our ages and finances. Of course, if it would happen, we would love this child. My question is, "Am I sinning by using NFP to prevent pregnancy?
 
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Proud2bRC:
And even the EWTN Ask The Experts forum NFP expert priest has claimed that the Church has changed its teaching and no longer requires grave reasons for recourse to NFP, contradicting the clear teachings of Pius XII and Paul VI!
I have frequented the EWTN boards for quite a few years & I find this hard to believe. Can you show us some proof of this claim, please? :confused:
 
We use no method of natural fertility control. We are working on number 2 and want all the children we can have. We want to be baby makers :dancing: for as long as God naturally permits.

Pray for us that the Lord will provide in abundance.

God Bless
 
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Proud2bRC:
And even the EWTN Ask The Experts forum NFP expert priest has claimed that the Church has changed its teaching and no longer requires grave reasons for recourse to NFP, contradicting the clear teachings of Pius XII and Paul VI!
I’ve spent the last hour or so doing some research on the EWTN site, and was a little surprised at Fr. Hogan’s closing statement to a question concerning “serious reasons.” “The Church HAS “quietly dropped” the serious reason language as a prerequisite for the use of NFP.” --Fr. Richard Hogan, 7/30/03

After composing several posts, I think the best thing is to just post these links so everyone can read the post in question, his second post about the same topic, and a third post about NFP. I’ve also posted the link to the FAQ (you need to select NFP to read the statement).

I have relied on EWTN’s site and Q&A section, so really wanted to check it out. I think I have a better understanding of what he’s saying, but still have a bit of trouble with how it was worded. Any comments after reading the links?

AMDG

Debbie

ORIGINAL QUESTION: Serious Reasons

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: Serious reasons “quietly dropped”

ANOTHER QUESTION: NFP and serious reasons

EWTN FAQ: NFP - Serious Motives (click on Natural Family Planning)
 
Thanks Debbie for giving the links to the discussion of this topic on the EWTN website. I found the discussion reassuring in that it was in agreement with what I have understood from reading the pope’s theology of the body, though I certainly see how the way in which the responses were worded lead to some confusion. It does not seem that the thinking of the church has really changed, but the relationship between cause and effect has been better clarified.

Another lesson in being able to see the forest through the trees…
 
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