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The foundational principles of NFP—chastity, communication, dignity of the human person, and much more!—are foundational principles of every aspect of our faith. They are what we are called to evangelize. Yesterday’s post is my bit of evangelization, and I need you help to not be preaching to the choir so much.
You will be called upon to be an apologist for the faith, no matter your state of life. Men and women, single or not, need to know a little about NFP and why Catholics have it, because you just KNOW someone who has not been privileged with good catechesis will hear something stupid on the news and demand, accusingly, of you, an explanation or justification (or sometimes even an apology!), as if you were recently appointed a Cardinal’s spokesperson, and that these sex issues are somehow entirely why you are Catholic. We really need to do a better job connecting the Eucharist, Trinity, and Church better to individual human dignity, and how NFP is an expression of that. Too often, secular people just only want to see the trees, not the forest, and preferably in 140 characters or less.
Levels of Catholic belief and practice between boyfriend and girlfriend are increasingly more and more likely to be different, especially the more likely one is to be virtually anywhere that is not Ave Maria, FL or Franciscan at Steubenville, and want to be married. If you are a woman, you may have to explain NFP to a future fiancée, or failing that bit of good advance notice, actual fiancée when he gets alarmed during the Pre-Cana presentation. If you are a man, you will be less surprised and maybe more on board come your beloved’s “Honey, by the way, there will be no artificial birth control in a marriage to me.” Men will also get to know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. So if they’re 26 and horrified, they’ll know if they need to take time to pray about it and make some choices based on what they truly believe. To a lesser extent, the latter also applies to the more liberal women who find themselves with a die-hard Catholic boy.
The principles of NFP communicate (if done well by the mouthpiece) how the Church is not actually horrible and desirous of women to be barefoot and pregnant or dead from having too many babies or completely barren because IVF isn’t okay. It is a loving option for couples who both want to achieve or postpone pregnancy.
The science of NFP communicates how the Church fosters the growth of intelligence, discovery, and medicine. I once heard on a podcast about birth control “You can get pregnant at any point in your cycle” full-stop, terrorizing women into believing ovulation either happens willy-nilly month-to-month, or every.single.day. like we’re a guy or something… What the Church knows from actual doctors with MDs is that what that really means is it is possible to ovulate once at any point in your cycle…so why not get informed about yourself? Can you imagine what women’s reproductive health care could be like if doctors didn’t resort to the Pill because it was “easier” and more importantly, cheaper? Though Ireland had outlawed abortions, that country has the best maternity care around precisely because they knew that if they couldn’t kill the child, they had to solve the actual problem related or not to the pregnancy. I worry about what their recent vote means for women who want to have their children, but doctors will begin to push for an abortion as a solution because it’s “easier” or cheaper.
NFP is a message of hope to give to the world. It can give hope to your own family by promoting virtue in your husband and yourself. It can give hope to your children, who one day may choose this practice over a worse option for their own families. It gives a message of hope to friends who confide in you their troubles in this area and need a better solution than what they’re working with now. And yes, it gives a message to hope to the world, because if everyone came to see what NFP teaches couples—that we are human beings with souls worth protecting, that there is a respect for sex and its procreative potential, that we should be sacrificial for the good of another, and not selfish—then I think we’d be a lot happier world that treats each other with dignity.
And simply, because Jesus calls us to be witnesses, even if people hate us because of it. We want to make Jesus and God happy, right?
NFP isn’t popular. It’s not pretty (mucus!). It’s certainly not easy. But it is an aspect of our faith that has flowed from teachings that came from Our Father and His Son, and we owe it to ourselves, our families and friends, and even the world to not just know it, but eventually own it.