Sunday, April 29, 2007

NFP and "Da Rules"

A visitor asked the question below and what follows is my response. Chime in if you have anything to add.

I've always been confused about NFP in the sense that - well, those who are not catholic point out that it doesn't really work. And I always thought, well, therein lies the morality! You remain *open* to children, but you avoid conception as best you can through an ineffectual method. So I thought that it was interesting when a commenter said that NFP was only permissible under extraordinary circumstances, and that *short* of extraordinary circumstances, one should not resort to NFP but should abstain entirely. And this is sort of baffling, no? Given that Catholics are, as a rule, required to be open to children, it seems strange (to me) that the hierarchy would be:
1. you have no problems? then ordinary marital relations, children as they come...
2. minor problems? NO marital relations, NO children.
3. grave problems? (i.e. life of mother) - then, NFP - *possibly* no children, quite possibly yes.

Is this accurate?
thanks so much,

a thorn in the pew's response:
NFP, as we have used it for 11 years is highly effective. One big difference between NFP and illicit forms of birth control is we used it quite often to achieve pregnancy. You cannot do that with condoms, pill, others. The other difference is that NFP is not an abortifacient(the pill will allow egg to be fertilized and "abort" that newly conceived baby by not allowing it to implant). I have not met a couple who claim that NFP does not work. Using NFP prohibits the use of abortifacients and barrier methods and encourages the education of a woman's cycle and natural fertility signs. If we are avoiding pregnancy(notice I say we, not I) we simply choose not to use fertile days. In a marriage, there are valid reasons to abstain and the church recognizes this. We have been, throughout our marriage not just open to children, but also have a strong desire to add more children when most of the world has told us "you have two special needs kids, why could you possibly want any more?" So to say that because there is a problem, a couple wouldn't want more is untrue. The complexity lies when you have marginal Catholics using NFP other than the way it was intended. That was the question raised in the post I had on NFP. NFP is not birth control. It is a communication tool that can be used throughout a marriage and helps a couple focus on where they would like the family to grow. Woman who don't use NFP bear the burden of when it doesn't work, it is all their fault. As far as a couple who has grave reasons never to have children? I can't imagine a reason so grave that would keep them from ever conceiving a child. The only point I see that is totally true would be #1, no problems, NFP used to have children every month.(There is the subject of breastfeeding to space children naturally that comes into play under these circumstances as well.) I hope this helps, I will publish this as a post if there are other NFP couples that would like to add to this.


Alexander said...

Perhaps you should explain the "grave reasons" for using NFP in more detail.

I have known a few couples that have used it and had it fail them. One couple had it fail 3 times in a row (yes, they were doing it right).

I would probably recommend abstinence over NFP (and of course trusting in God over both) because of the overall confusion and abuse of NFP that is going around and aside from the fact that although its successes rate is extremely high, sometimes and for some couples it is not so high.

a thorn in the pew said...

The grave reasons would be something like the recovery of a mother from surgery(including childbirth/section), depending on the situation, loss of income could be considered grave(or healthcare if it would bankrupt the family), a child in the family that needs constant medical attention. These would all be serious or grave. As for couples that it does not work for, I personally haven't experienced knowing any that it did not work for. It may depend on the method they use and if the person had proper training who taught them. The method I used, NapProTechnology had very well trained, often times medical professionals, teaching the method. I do not believe abstinence should ever be recommended for a married couple(except for medical reasons). It is harmful to a marriage to abstain for long periods of time. I believe it would cause undue stress on a marriage. That is just my opinion, however.

Ma Beck said...

I found NFP to be relatively easy to learn (I also found it fascinating, so I was an eager student) but I do think it would be easy to become confused if a couple doesn't keep up, every day, with monitoring ALL the signs of fertility, and then some.
I probably went overboard - I even had one of those fertility microscopes to look at my saliva ferning pattern - and I bought a babycomp (, and ovulation detection sticks, etc.
I guarantee you, I knew EXACTLY when I was ovulating.
I know some couples struggle with it, but the more you use it, the easier (and more effective!) it is.
We were using it to GET pregnant, but ovulation is ovulation.

a thorn in the pew said...

I can tell you the difference between sympto-thermal and the Creighton model that I used is like night and day. I much prefer the method of CM check because there is more consistency and the benefit of preparing for ovulation. I have found the BBT chart to be quite maddening and inconsistant. The CM has less room for error. My BBT are all over the place as I do not have a good sleep schedule nor do I wake at the same time consistantly.

Coffee Wife said...

Saliva fern? CM check? BBT?? Oh wow...I never knew it would be so confusing! I've been trying to get pregnant for months but to no avail - and the doctor even explained to me how to track my ovulation cycle. I always thought if you looked at a guy sideways you'd get preggers - never realized it could be so tough!!

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

NFP is being abused and I think everyone knows it.

In our case we have no choice but to abstain totally. We don't want anymore children right now, there is no way we fall anywhere *near* the grave exceptions rule...alas.

No choice.

I think if any Catholic couple does wonder, then see a priest and ask whether he thinks they "qualify" for using NFP.

Anyone haave any comments please?

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

I was serious. I mean, we cannot use NFP licitly, right? Can someone back me up or correct me please?

a thorn in the pew said...

Here is the way I look at it. It is no different what you are doing now than if you were doing it using NFP. You are avoiding pregnancy for non-grave/serious reason. It is the same because of the "avoiding pregnancy" matter in this issue. If you do not have a serious reason for not wanting children, as Catholics we are required to be open to God's grace and gift of children. The method is not so much the issue(unless it is a barrier/spermicidal or abortifacient). It does take much more trust that God will provide but it is my belief that blessings will flow when we are open to the gifts that God wants to bestow on us. Just my 2 cents.