August 19, 2013 (Defend Life) - I am an instructor of NFP—Natural Family Planning—but I’d really like to call it “MFP,” Moral Family Planning.
Moral Family Planning is the use of one of the fertility awareness methods (I teach the Ovulation Method); “periodic continence;” to achieve pregnancy; or for a serious reason, to postpone pregnancy. It is also living your married life open to the children God may send; all of these are “moral” family planning.
I think MFP makes proper priorities clear—not that the No. 1 element of family planning should be “natural” so much as it should be “moral.”
It also highlights that if there is a “moral family planning,” there is also an “immoral family planning,” and it prompts the question, “What might that be?”
The sharing of information with couples about this topic by pastors is an absolute moral and practical imperative these days because, as Fr. Daniel McCaffrey of NFP OutReach says, “The battle is nuclear.”
At every turn couples are bombarded, pressured, harassed, terrified, and guilted to contracept. If NFP/MFP instruction is not a priority for pastors, couples are pretty much sitting ducks—practically helpless against the pressure. With basic knowledge about fertility and his support they can stand against it.
Because of this nuclear battle, I’m constantly calling and visiting area priests to introduce myself and offer classes, and asking whether they require a course for engaged couples.
If not, I encourage them to do so, because the use of NFP or MFP truly defends life, promotes life and brings life to marriages, the Church, and society.
It defends life, because it is not at all contraceptive. Most contraceptives—the pill, patch, shot, IUD and ring—act as abortifacients. There are about 10 times more chemical abortions every year than there are surgical abortions. Wherever the contraceptive rate is highest, the surgical abortion rate is the highest.
Combine the surgical and chemical abortion rates, and we have a staggering loss of life.
The contraceptive methods that are not chemical abortifacients—condoms, withdrawal, sterilization, etc.—feed the abortion mills. When a couple sterilizes the ultimate act of love they can share, their fertililty is cut off, and the idea and natural end/purpose of the marital act, the potential child, is cut off.
As a result, life, fertility, conception, pregnancy, babies, children are seen as unwanted: diseases, parasites, too much work, burdens, unwelcome guests in a couple’s “pleasure act.”
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So, life and children are devalued and dehumanized and become a kind of commodity to be disposed of at will.
MFP promotes life. When couples use moral family planning, the potential child and motherhood/fatherhood are always connected to the ultimate act of love they share—the physical renewal of their wedding vows—a source of actual grace for the couple when the vows are renewed honestly: either because they are willing to parent the child should they conceive during the fertile time (about 100 hours) or if they have serious reasons to postpone pregnancy, they are willing to abstain from the marital embrace (sexual intercourse).
The couple who use MFP recognize and respect the unitive/procreative nature of sexuality, and so in a very short time this constant connection changes the way the couple sees children.
Fears are diminished and they begin to see them through the lens of the ultimate act of love they share and as the fruit of their love.
Finally, the use of MFP brings life. Couples who use moral family planning tend to have larger families, not because MFP isn’t effective to postpone pregnancy (it’s 98-99 percent effective), but because they begin to see children as a blessing, and so become open to new life.
Through their practice of self-denial and self-control and willingness to sacrifice out of love for each other and our Lord, they lose their fears of responsibility and even of suffering.
I recently spoke with a priest who told me that because the parish has a school, he doesn’t have time to promote moral family planning. I suggested that if it was not promoted, in ten years he would not have a school.
I could name many parents I have taught whose children attend that parish school. These couples came to me with two, three or four children and were “done,” but wanted to postpone or even avoid pregnancy morally.
Through the use of MFP and how it changes the way couples see children, they now have six or seven, five of whom attend that school.
MFP, as Blessed John Paul II said, facilitates a conversion, and their faith becomes a priority; so much so that they are willing to make the financial sacrifice to send their children to Catholic school.
I am a big fan of MFP! It changed my marriage. After being married 22 years, my husband says his favorite time of day is coming home and kissing me (that’s pretty romantic after 22 years!)
It’s not because I am particularly fabulous; it’s because moral family planning boots lust right out the door, reorients the way the couple see each other, and purifies their intentions, especially sexually.
This is so important, especially for women, who after a while, when lust is the dominant factor in the marital embrace, as happens with the use of contraception, well, we get—headaches, because “Real Women Don’t Like Lust.”
This is part one of a series on the topic. Check back soon for part two, "Real Women Don't Like Lust."
This article originally appeared in the publication Defend Life and is reprinted with permission.