Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
Prev/Next Posts
Sunday, July 19th, 2009 at 4:34 am

A DIVINE DESIGN

Our U. S. bishops have proclaimed July 19-26 as Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.  They publish  a poster and make available educational  materials that the various parishes can use but promoting Natural Family Planning is left up to each diocese.  The week is meant to highlight the anniversary of the publication of Humanae Vitae and the feast days of Saints Anne and Joachim. Happily it also coincides with the publication of Benedict XVI’s new encyclical, the very beautiful  Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth).

09_poster_5002

NFP — A DIVINE DESIGN

The varieties of contraceptive medications are multiplying so quickly that it is hard to keep track of them – pills (choose monthly periods or every-four-months), patches, implants, inserts et al.   All  of them come with warnings about side-effects, both in the package inserts and the TV commercials. In the face of all this hype, I feel that Natural Family Planning (NFP) needs an advocate. The old “rhythm” method, which was used primarily by Catholics, was sometimes referred to as Vatican Roulette because it often resulted in pregnancy due to the variations in cycles among women.

Many people are unaware that “rhythm” has now been replaced by Natural Family Planning which has an effectiveness of over 95%, equaling that of “the pill” and without the expense or the side-effects. NFP, which involves cooperation between man and wife, awareness of the cyclical changes in the woman’s body, and a measure of self-control, has been steadily gaining in popularity among various groups.

The first of these groups might be referred to as the “ecological” group. These folks want to preserve the integrity of their bodies, and would not want to pollute the human body any more than they would pollute the environment. They delight in a fully functional body and do not choose to interfere with normal function. They think it inconsistent to say “Avoid drugs” on the one hand, and on the other hand to say “Take this drug so you won’t get pregnant.” They do not think it is true that self-control is possible in the areas of drugs, food, and alcohol, but impossible in the realm of sex.

A second group, not entirely distinct, consists of those who are aware of the effect of oral contraceptives (OCs) on a woman’s body. They have either experienced the unpleasant side-effects of “the pill” themselves or know someone who has. Or they may have read the warnings in the Physician’s Desk Reference or in the package inserts. They wonder why the responsibility and physical consequences of birth control should be borne by the woman alone. The woman who takes OCs daily bathes every cell in her body with powerful hormones which may lead to problems in multiple areas. It has certainly been a boon to the manufacturers (700 billion dollars a year) to have millions of women taking their pills daily but it is hardly a boon to womankind.  After years of abusing her body by medicating it when there was nothing wrong with it, can a woman really expect that body to immediately snap back and produce a baby on demand?   Some are lucky; many are not.   Some doctors are talking about a current ‘epidemic’ of infertility.


A third group consists of those who for religious reasons consider artificial birth control wrong because it interferes with the design of God. Contraceptive pills and appliances are seen as means of trying to outsmart God by sabotaging his handiwork. The Catholic Church has emphatically spoken out against artificial birth control. However, with growing awareness that the new OCs do not prevent ovulation as effectively as the previous, stronger, more hazardous pills, but rather render the uterine lining inhospitable so that the developing embryo dies, many non-Catholics are looking for an alternative to the “pill.” In essence, the “pill” can cause a very early abortion.

Looking into Protestant history it is found that John Calvin, John Wesley, and Martin Luther all spoke out against birth control. In his book, The Bible and Birth Control, Charles Provan, a Protestant, states “there is no doubt about it; the contraception laws of the 19th century were passed by Protestants for a largely Protestant America…no Christian church ever accepted contraception as morally permissible before 1930.”

How, then, does Natural Family Planning work? It is possible by observing the changes in a woman’s body, in her cervical mucus, and in her body temperature to accurately determine the one day in her cycle that she ovulates. By avoiding sexual intimacy for several days surrounding ovulation a couple can also avoid the hazards, the expense, and in many cases the guilt of artificial contraception. Couples report that they have better communication and that the brief period of abstinence is the best aphrodisiac! In No-Pill No-Risk Birth Control by Nona Aguilar a husband reports: “I wasn’t enthusiastic when we changed to NFP, but we saw no other way. We went to class very, very reluctantly. Almost right away it started happening again: that incredible yearning I used to feel for my wife returned–and not just once in a while. It was there every month. Every cycle gradually turned into courtship and honeymoon all over again.” A wife says, “Our last baby was conceived out of love, with full knowledge that we would conceive. From that moment on we could picture the hours and days of growth. But before NFP I feared going to bed, as I didn’t know my fertility cycle and worried that I might become pregnant. Now I know my fertility signs and feel 100 percent confident in those signs and no longer fear. It is a great relief and a burden off my shoulders. I want more children — but when I am ready and capable.”

Natural Family Planning is not something that is taught in any depth in medical schools but there is a Natural Family Planning Medical Consultant Program offered for physicians at the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction, in Omaha NE. Information on NFP is available there. You can teach yourself much about the practice of NFP by using the online manual, Natural Family Planning: The Question-Answer Book by John and Sheila Kippley. This online manual is short, easy-to-read, and free.

Man is the only animal that mates year-round. Other animals mate by instinct and only for a season. We have the option of using our reason and our will to choose our season, to achieve pregnancy or no pregnancy, which is the only true reproductive freedom. And we can have this without polluting our bodies, without exchanging normal bodily function for years of abnormal function!

~~~


There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die…a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. — Ecclesiastes 3:l,5.

Intelligence and love are not in separate compartments: love is rich in intelligence and intelligence is full of love. — Benedict XVI, Love in Truth.




2 Responses to “A DIVINE DESIGN”
1
Sheila Kippley says:
July 19th, 2009 at 9:25 am

The free NFP online manual is now called Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and is available at http://www.NFPandmore.org along with free charts. Sheila

Reply

2
Sdanektir says:
August 6th, 2009 at 10:28 am

Great post! Just wanted to let you know you have a new subscriber- me!

Reply

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>