Monday, July 22, 2013

A Recent NFP Conversation

Perfect timing! Katie says she is sure we were planning our NFP posts for this week, but I was not, because I was oblivious.  However, there is a post about that very topic (sort of, in a round about way) I've been wanting to write, so I thought I would get on it. But head over there for the actual planned posts people had!

A couple of weeks ago, I was out hiking with a friend of mine.  We completely agree on the fact that we love mountains, and we can endlessly exclaim over flowers together, but there is no secret that we disagree on other issues.  It came up that she feels that if two men or two women should want to "get married" in a Catholic Church, they should be allowed to, and not be "discriminated against".  Whereas, while I don't want to discriminate against anyone, I also believe that marriage is not something that we can define as whatever we want it to be.  Therefore, it is not a matter of whether I think it should be allowed, but a matter of whether I think it is possible.  Hence the quotation marks.  It's not that I am trying to be disrespectful, but rather that I think that "gay marriage" is not something that is possible.

Which, of course, made absolutely no sense to her whatsoever.  Why would it?  In our current culture and belief about sex, we have made it about whatever two individuals want to do.  "Open marriage", polygamy, cohabitation, whatever.  The whole, if it works for you, go for it.  Because sex is divorced from procreation, what difference does any of it make.

I told her that for me, it all comes back to contraception.  If contraception is perfectly fine, then gay marriage is not only possible but should be welcomed with open arms.  If, on the other hand, sex is about both procreation AND unity, then "gay marriage" is not possible, no matter how much we may wish it to be otherwise.

"But what if there's a family that shouldn't have children at a certain point in their lives? If they are responsible and use contraception, are they going against what the Catholic Church is teaching?"

Yes, yes they are.  But there's this thing, and it's called NFP, and you chart your cycle so you know when you should avoid having sex.  I could see the "rhythm method" wheels turning, and immediately thanked God that I chart as a single person (that and so that I can maybe figure out the weirdness that is my cycle right now... but that's a WHOLE different post).  So I told her that I chart and why, and I could tell her with confidence that I was not fertile that day because I was still pre-ovulation.  I know she wasn't quite sure what to think of that, but being able to specifically tell her where I was in my cycle showed her that I knew what I was talking about on a whole different level other than based on when my last period was.

I'm sure you can figure out the next question (because it's where everyone goes right after either "contraception is the only option" and/or "that's not effective" where "that" is NFP, but they mean the rhythm method).

"But how is NFP any different than contraception then, if you are still using it to avoid having a baby?"

Argh!  It seems so completely different to me that I have a very difficult time answering this question.  I don't know where to start, because it seems so obvious, how do I even answer?  And yet it must not be obvious, because a lot of people have this question.

I honestly don't remember how I answered.  But what I wish I could say is, if it's exactly the same, and NFP has positive health benefits, and hormonal birth control can be detrimental to health, then why isn't everyone aware of and using NFP?  Oh, that's right.  Because it's NOT the same.  Because with one, you have sex whenever (and if you're not married, with whomever) you feel like it.  With the other, you have to avoid sex, at least at certain times.  Yes, that's the negative side of it, but I don't know how else to explain it to people.

Anyway, I wish there was some awesome way to finish up this post.  On the one hand, I think she still finds me a little nuts.  On the other hand, she was willing to listen to me, and she could see how my belief has been beneficial to me on several levels, so it wasn't a total waste of a conversation.  And thank you to all of the married couples who have been willing to share your stories!  One thing that I tried to explain in the difference is as much as I could about some of what you have shared about the difference in your marriage between when you used contraception vs. when you didn't.  I tried to make sure that I didn't paint too rosy a picture, because I like being honest, but the honest truth is that there is something greater in all of this than just using contraception and calling it a day.

A photo from said hike, so yeah.  We were discussing NFP with these kinds of surroundings.


  1. Sometimes I want to tell people about how NFP means you USE YOUR MIND! I mean, think about it...popping a pill and "calling it a day" as you say, is's makes fertility and sex seem mundane. With NFP, the couple knows the probabilities of conception and discerns (i.e., THINKS!!) and prays and encompasses something more than just their animalistic desires when deciding to have sex.

    But I like what you say here, too. NFP and Contraception ARE different and I like the way you put it. :)

  2. What a glorious location to have that talk! NFP reminds us how we are co-creators with God and your surroundings couldn't better speak of God's creation. I admire your candor with your friend. Many people would plain just avoid that conversation.

  3. Those conversations are tough and you always seem to come out wishing you said something better; ultimately you stood up for what you believe and the wonders of God's creation amidst God's creation ~ that has to count as a good day.
    Well done!

  4. I am so proud of you for being willing to even touch the topic! Go you! Abstinence is never contraceptive. We are not always fertile, whether one wants to acknowledge that as God's design or nature's it means that not every act of intercourse will lead to a new life being created. But in each act, we are open to Both the life giving potential of the act as well as its bonding aspect. Too often contracepted act are open to neither (block the baby, and make it all about the fun - goodness gracious! Don't let this act bond me to this other person via a child or any sort of emotional attachment). How sad is that?

  5. It's awesome that you were even able to discuss this, even if you maybe feel like you didn't get the point across or didn't say what you wish you had said (I always think of the best responses after the fact). So many people are afraid even to broach the subject, so no one even hears about these things anymore. You never know what seeds might be planted, or when, so great job not sidestepping the issue! :)

  6. When I was on the radio, I answered those differences. On the SECOND hour at the 46:16, it is mostly me. I go on for four minutes about communication and the shared burdened/obligation that comes with NFP.

  7. There was a time (when I got married) when I used birth control, and there was a time when I used NFP (although I really didn't chart or take my temp...I just 'knew' where I was in my cycle by the other signs, and had the benefit of being very regular). My gyno (who was not Catholic) seemed to think it was very useful information, and practically congratulated me on being so aware of my body.
    Keep talking; you never know what will happen! :)

  8. You never know what good stuff will come up on a hike! It's a hard sell in such an opposite world, and I think the ideas take some time for people to digest, *if* they are going to digest them. But the seed is planted. I had a friend who I mentioned NFP to YEARS ago contact me after 4 years saying "I didn't really understand what you were talking about then, but guess what, I'm using NFP now!" So good job and keep trucking!

  9. It's so great that you could have this conversation. I think if more people knew about it at all (even just FAM instead of hormonal BC), more people would do it. Thanks for spreading the word!

  10. Wow - I'm so impressed! I think you explained it very well, and even if she doesn't agree, hopefully she'll start to actually think about it. Sometimes we're just supposed to plant the seed. God will work on her heart. :)

    Have a wonderful weekend! :)