Dear Fr. Matthew
I am writing all the way from Sri Lanka. My daughter who studies in New Zealand is with us on holiday. She is doing a degree in Law and Computer Science. She will be 21 and has a very intelligent mind. She does not believe in abortion but was debating with me that natural family planning is another form of contraception.
I am afraid that I just could not convince her that it was not. She seems to have the opinion that natural family planning is only good in so far as it helps couples who are trying to have children understand the best time for pregnancy. But if it was to avoid pregnancy, it was another form of contraception. So why can’t other contraceptive aids, e.g., condoms, be used? Could you help me enlighten her please?
Love and prayers, Marianne
Greetings! NFP is not "Catholic" contraception. The Church endorses NFP (as seen in Humanae Vitae), and condemns contraception as harmful. Why? Because NFP, when used correctly and for good motives, is a morally good expression of responsible parenthood. NFP is one of God's gifts to us in these times to help us space our children. Everyone knows that there are times when couples must space, or delay, a new pregnancy.
NFP is always open to the gift of life. Contraception turns against our fertility and tries to sterilize it. NFP recognizes God as the Author and Sovereign of all life, and during the woman's fertile period allows Him to decide if a new person shall be conceived. Contraception pushes God out of the picture, and attempts to take complete control over the possible procreation of a new person who will live forever. NFP takes advantage of the natural rhythms of fertility and infertility. Contraception suppresses and manipulates fertility, and refuses to practice periodic abstinence.
NFP couples must practice self-mastery and self-possession for the sake of the other. They understand that real love is always self-sacrificial. They learn to express their love with a full repertoire of acts of tenderness, verbal expression and demonstrate an appreciation for the presence of the other. Contraception ignores most of these, and concentrates upon the genital dimension of spousal love.