NFP: What’s your excuse?
By: Julie Cook
Julie and her husband Dave are certified NFP instructors with Couple to Couple League, and serve as NFP Coordinators for the Grand Rapids area.
When my parents visited the hospital after my 11-lb son was born, my husband and I offered to let them hold their grandson. My mother readily accepted, but my father was
hesitant. He declined, saying “He’s too big.”
Later that day, my in-laws visited, and we invited them to do the same. A similar scenario happened: my mother-in-law cradled the giant newborn without fear, but my father-
in-law deferred. His reason? “He’s too small.”
It made me chuckle. They were looking at the same baby, weren’t they? How could he be too small and too big to hold comfortably? Humorous as this was, it illustrates our human
tendency to invent excuses to avoid the unfamiliar.
And nowhere is that tendency more obvious than our response to Natural Family Planning (NFP). For most people, the mere mention of NFP causes their cheeks to turn scarlet,
their mouths to go dry, and a series of cliché excuses to follow: “If I use NFP, I’ll end up with 15 kids! That’s just irresponsible.” “If birth control and NFP are both 99% effective, what’s the difference between using one or the other?”
Cue the irony: NFP is supposedly both ineffective (guaranteeing 15 kids) and yet as effective as birth control (and therefore not morally different). Sounds a lot like saying an 11-pound baby is both too small and too big, doesn’t it? This contradictory reasoning stems from two things: 1) ignorance breeds fear and 2) we are creatures of habit. With the latter, we grow accustomed to a certain lifestyle with our spouse over the years. Our relationship expectations – formed from a young age, long before meeting our spouses – are hard to change overnight, simply because the Church declares birth control immoral. We don’t like change, and we don’t like to be told what to do. These are fundamental truths of human nature. As is fearing what we don’t know. I mean, look how we handle minor challenges, like greeting a new family at church. My own excuses echo in my head: “It doesn’t look like we have much in common,” or “They’re probably in a hurry to get home, I don’t want to keep them.” Is it any wonder why NFP, which is a trillion times more awkward to discuss, is never given half a chance?
So now that we’re aware of the basic instincts that lead to our excuses, let’s address those excuses. First, NFP is 99% effective, and bears no resemblance to the old, tired, hopelessly outdated Rhythm Method of years past. Important note: 99% effectiveness is only possible if NFP is learned through a trained instructor. This isn’t like teaching yourself how to knit socks from a YouTube video. Self-taught NFP is a disaster waiting to happen. Second, what’s the difference between NFP and birth control, anyway? If they both achieve the same thing – responsible parenthood – then aren’t they morally the same? If this were true, then the ends justify the means. So what’s to stop us from applying this line of reasoning elsewhere? Let’s say I need to remodel my kitchen (actually I do, but I digress). If the ends justify the means, then I have many options when it comes to funding my project: A) rob a bank B) steal an armored truck or C) blackmail a family member. If the only thing that matters is the end result – my kitchen looking good enough for Martha Stewart to visit – then I should be free to choose whatever method I want, without moral consequence. But that’s not actually how it works. So while birth control and NFP both achieve the same end, the means we use to achieve that end matter deeply… just as they matter in every other aspect of our lives. Of course, there is one final excuse I often hear: “I use birth control for health problems like acne or painful cramps.” Birth control doesn’t cure anything. It only covers it up, like a band-aid. Women who want to actually cure their hormonal issues should consider NaPro Technology. And did you know it’s far more effective than In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) at treating infertility? Spread the word.