Hopefully, my final post on NFP March 8, 2013Posted by tantamergo in Abortion, attachments, contraception, Dallas Diocese, Domestic Church, error, family, General Catholic, secularism.
An NFP instructor left a comment in a previous post on the popular presentations on NFP. I replied, and I think the reply is worthy of a post in its own right. I do hope to get off this subject after this post, at least for a while! I hate to beat a dead horse, but this is a subject that always attracts interest, so here goes:
I don’t want it to be thought that I totally oppose NFP. I don’t. I think it is a necessary tool for those who face unexpected difficulties. I just object to some of the popular presentations, by folks like Greg Popcak, de Sollenni, and others, who present NFP as a life-time tool to use to limit births. In doing so, I never hear them say “you need to review any decisions in this regard with your spiritual director,” or even give any caveats. I have heard Pia de Sollenni on the radio at least twice say couples can use NFP for the entirety of their married lives, which I suppose could be true in very exceptional cases, but she presents that as just a regular old option to the use of NFP. She even says couples can use NFP to have NO children, ever. And that I find problematic. These popular presentations rarely mention that the Church does grant the use of NFP, but only for serious or grave reasons. I’m glad the commenter maintains that she does make that fact clear.
For some countervaling examples (as the commter spoke of how she tries to guide folks to an understanding of NFP that is not embued with any kind of “birth control mentality), I know a handful of Catholic couples just in my own little circle who used NFP in a manner very analagous to contraception. They used it to space their desired number of births to an optimal time, and when they “had enough children,” met their quota, or whatever, they all got their husbands sterilized. That was 5 different couples I know! And they thought it was fine, no problem. It’s just what one does. So when Dr. Boyd speaks of a “birth control mentality,” I think there may be something to it.
The three main points I was trying to make were: 1) NFP is a tool only to be used in extremis, 2) the Magisterium of the Church has made pretty clear what those extreme situations are, and 3) anyone contemplating the use of NFP should really review thier decision to do so with a good spiritual adviser. As a tool, it’s morally neutral, it just depends on how it is used. That’s all.
One final point. If one wants to argue that NFP can be used as a “bridge” to ween people off contraception and into a viewpoint much more accepting of life, that argument may have some merit. It’s still problematic, morally, to teach folks to use NFP in a manner analagous to contraception, accepting all the cultural assumptions that go into that use, but it would at least get them to stop poisoning their bodies, possibly unintentionally aborting who knows how many fertilized eggs, and just really being in rebellion to the belief and practice of the Church (rebellion could/would remain, but not so severely). I have sensed at times in certain NFP advocates that they feel at least somewhat that way about the practice, that NFP should be “sold” as a way to control fecundity in order to appeal better to users of contraception and hopefully get them to a position where they can eventually accept the Church’s beliefs regarding the life issues. Such is never said openly, of course. As I said, such a view, while very well intentioned, is still morally problematic (and quite so), but it might go some way to explain the way that NFP is presented. In their zeal to get couples to stop contracepting, NFP advocates go a bit overboard and present NFP as a lifelong contraception alternative. Not in so many words, but that’s the effect. I think that zeal may be misplaced, for even though NFP has many advantages like I listed above, and more, viz a viz contraception, if there is still the mentality that one should be “in charge” of making decisions about when babies come and how many, for want of a very serious or grave reason, there is still a great disconnect from the Will of God as expressed in the Mind of the Church.
I’m late for Mass!