Did you know it’s NFP Awareness Week? I am so excited to share the news! If you don’t know what NFP is, go here. July marks 13 years since one of my babies was born, and 13 years since I have been practicing NFP. I had been leaning towards NFP even before I got married because of what one of my BYU college professors said, but it was after baby #4 born in July 2001 that my dear husband consented to trust the process of NFP. NFP has strengthened our marriage, increased our joy, saved us money, allowed us to tune into the wondrous workings of my body, and preserved my health. We’ve been blessed with 3 more children for a total of seven, and none of them have been surprises. NFP works! I love understanding the workings of my body, and I don’t have to worry about an increase in the risk of blood clots, heart attack, or a stroke, among other things. You can read more of my thoughts about NFP here or a a whole chapter in my book here.
While I am not Catholic, I appreciate the teachings of my Catholic friends about the importance of NFP. NFP is a true, just, and right principle. It does not kill life but honors it. See The Pill Kills for more on that. As it says on that web site:
The pill is packaged and sold as a panacea for the world’s problems and as a ticket to freedom for women. In reality, the birth control pill and other contraceptives are making women sick, disabling them, and even killing them.
According to this website “The dates of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week highlight the anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (July 25) which articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love and responsible parenthood.” It’s been 40 years since this announcement from the Pope came out, which occurred during the early years of the release of the Pill. Just as Catholic leaders spoke out against artificial contraception, so did leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can quotes from these LDS Church leaders in the chapter of my book here, towards the end of it.
Here is what hindsight tells us about the effects of the Pill versus the fruits of NFP. I quote from Fletcher Doyle, the author of the book shown above, Natural Family Planning Blessed Our Marriage.
I am a journalist and a convert. That sounds like an oxymoron.
Two years after joining the Catholic Church, my wife and I began practicing
Natural Family Planning (NFP). I found that the chastity required to get through the
periods of abstinence caused profound changes in me. I stopped daydreaming of
swimsuit models, wealth and fame. I became grateful for all God had given me, most of
all for my wife. My appreciation for her and all that she gives me grew, improving an
already good 20-year marriage.
I was curious to find out if other people had been so affected. This is where the
journalist and the convert converged. I interviewed NFP couples and read thousands of
words on conjugal union and the effects of contraception on the relationship between
men and women. So for five years I thought about nothing but sex, except during the
hockey playoffs. This was a challenge to chastity, but the result was a book, Natural
Family Planning Blessed Our Marriage: 19 True Stories (Servant Books).
Here is what I learned. When women took control of fertility with the pill and the
IUD in the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, men said “cool.” Men’s behavior changed, as
they no longer felt responsible for their sexual partners. (This can be seen in the
disappearance of shotgun marriages.)
There was an accompanying drop in commitment between men and women. Trust
between the sexes fell because men no longer acted in expected patterns.
When you add in the increase in women’s wages and the decrease in men’s
wages, you created couples who are neither financially nor sexually interdependent. This
is why, social scientists say, the divorce rate doubled in that time frame.2
NFP can repair the damage. Men acknowledge responsibility to their wives.
Commitment increases because the couples know when pregnancy is likely before they
make love. Their trust increases: she trusts he will fulfill his obligations when he assents
to sex; he trusts she is making accurate observations of her fertility and is keeping him
He develops a sense of awe in the way God made her, and she develops a sense of
gratitude that he is willing to sacrifice his own pleasure for her sake. And both grow in
their love and trust in God when they see the plan for sex and marriage that He built into
their bodies. I have seen and experienced how using Natural Family Planning can make a
difference in marriage. That should come as no surprise because it’s God’s way to
practice responsible parenthood – it’s His design for life and love!
I will be blogging for a little bit each day for a week or so about the wonders and importance of NFP. Let’s honor this beautiful practice that is marriage insurance, honors women bodies, protects the fountain of life, and strengthens society because it contributes to fewer divorces! Here’s the story of a cute couple who discovered NFP.