Recently I shared this little NFP interview that Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas published. Do you know how long ago she sent me those questions? A long, long, long time ago. But it took forever for me to respond. And do you know why? Because I kept thinking "No one is gonna want to hear what I have to say about NFP because, like, look at all these kids I have. They're gonna think it doesn't work." I was embarrassed to act like I'm some kind of ambassador for natural family planning what with the fact that, I don't know, we have a family and all.
Friends of mine have said and written things like "Well, obviously I suck at NFP because I keep getting pregnant."
Articles I read say things like "But does NFP work?"
You guys, we have fallen into a hole. We've fallen into the hole of defining life the way corporations want us to define it. "Family planning" has come to mean "child prevention" and we simply accept that, "natural" has come to mean "non-chemical" and we simply accept that and I, for one, am tired. I'm tired of feeling obligated to feel embarrassed that our family contains children. I'm tired of my friends having to tell the world that they "suck" at NFP because their families contain children. I'm tired of everyone I know who knows about NFP having to constantly justify marriages resulting in children.
Stop the crazy train of poor definitions! I wanna get off!
First, let's start with the word "natural." Sure, it can mean non-chemical. But what it can, and should, also mean is "in accordance with nature." I'll explain. Water is natural. Drinking water is natural. But trying to live only on water is not in accordance with nature. If you tried, you'd quickly find yourself dead.
Water is natural but living only on water is not in accordance with nature.
As for family planning meaning child prevention in our culture, well, it's true, right? I mean, if pressed, anyone would say "no! Obviously both achieving and avoiding pregnancy!" but the reason we say and hear "does NFP work?" all the time is because people want to know if you can use it to have sex but not make babies. And I'll be totally honest here: every time I read or hear that question, I balk. I want to answer "Does it work to what?" but I know that would be snarky of me because, you know, I know what they're asking. I just don't like it.
Natural Family Planning, NFP, is the planning of your family not only without chemicals but also in accordance with nature. And it is the planning of HAVING children, not just preventing them. Because... and deep breath, quick like a band-aid, say the thing I've been leading up to this whole time.... it is not natural, in accordance with nature, for a physically and emotionally healthy married couple to not have babies.
I said it.
Now, not everything that is in accordance with nature is always Good, of course. That's why we've been given the gifts of reason and intellect. Maybe a person suffers from debilitating postpartum depression or maybe she's delivered three pre-term infants and having another baby would be physically dangerous to both mama and baby or maybe a thousand other things that I could never guess. For these situations, we can use the knowledge that NFP gives us to prevent or postpone pregnancies for the greater good. And sometimes it will be very, very hard, but God will give us the grace to get through those periods of abstinence because our reasons for avoiding are greater than the natural pull to come together and make those beautiful babies.
But if you and your husband (or wife, if there's a guy reading this [yeah right]) have not discerned that preventing pregnancy is an absolute MUST for the survival of your family and you end up making lots of babies, YOU DO NOT SUCK AT NFP. On the contrary, you rock at NFP. You are planning for your family to be as robust as God wills it to be and are living in absolute accord with nature. That is a perfectly wonderful, self-sacrificing way for your love for each other to manifest itself.
I want to encourage you. I want to lift you up. I want to say "stop apologizing for loving your spouse." Sex is great for a reason. Healthy marriages include sex for a reason. Children naturally result from fertile sex between healthy people, which is the most bestest sex a person will ever have by the way, for a reason. I don't want couples who practice NFP to have to justify the fact that children result from their happy unions. I don't want couples who use NFP to feel like they have to use it to prevent pregnancies under all circumstances just so that society doesn't "judge" them. That is not natural. Marriages resulting in babies is natural. I am so happy for you and your house full of babies! You will never have to apologize to me, swearsies.