The theme of this year’s NFP week is “Pro-Woman, Pro-Man, Pro-Child, Natural Family Planning” and is intended to be a national educational campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“NFP,” as the U.S. bishops have written, is supportive of Catholic beliefs about married love because it “respects the God-given power to love a new human life into being.”
The dates of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week (July 21nd –27th, 2013) highlight the anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (July 25) which articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love and responsible parenthood. The dates also mark the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne (July 26), the parents of the Blessed Mother.
This is the perfect time to set the record straight on natural family planning and educate ourselves, our loved ones, and our community about what the Church really teaches.
“The Church’s teaching on contraception is not just a doctrine that states what not to do,” writes noted Catholic theologian Janet E. Smith, Ph.D.
Rather, it is a doctrine that prepares us all for the reality of life.
“Our culture does not really focus on helping people to realize that some day they will likely be parents and how tremendously important a task that is,” Dr. Smith writes.
“We do not often think that we should be spending much of our youth preparing for the responsibilities of being parents. Contraception enables us to think of sexual intercourse as a casual and to some extent as an insignificant act rather than an act that can change the universe – for the coming to be of a new human being truly changes the universe. Someone who did not exist before comes into existence and will remain in existence forever.”
If people were aware of the extreme significance of the sexual act, they would not be so cavalier about it as they are now.
“They would choose their spouses very very carefully – and use as a foremost criterion the suitability of that person to be a parent,” she writes. “Those who succeed in marrying someone who will be a good parent – someone who is patient, generous, responsible, kind, other directed, and reliable also are nearly guaranteed to get a terrific spouse – for who wouldn’t want a spouse with those virtues?”
Instead, our sexually out of control culture and divorce culture has led 68 percent of children born in the U.S. to being born out of wedlock or born into households that will fragment through divorce, Smith states. Even worse, one out of every four pregnancies is aborted.
Contrast this with children who are born into families where their parents are sexually self controlled. Families where a married man and woman are faithful, stable, and desirous of children are predictably much better off than those born to single parents, to the unfaithful, to those open to divorce or divorced, Smith writes.
“The Church’s teaching is also shaped by a knowledge that those who become parents generally become much better people; they need to develop quite a set of virtues in order to be good parents. Those virtues also help them be good spouses, good co-workers, good citizens.”
And those who use natural family planning to plan their family size develop the virtues needed to be good parents.
“They develop sexual self-control and patience and generosity – and they almost never divorce,” Dr. Smith writes.
She concludes: “Catholics who have not heard a defense of the Church’s teaching on contraception might be surprised how rich and full of common sense it is.”
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