In all the recent furor over NFP and the wonderful campaigns to make it accessible and relevant to a new generation of women, I have found myself wondering: is NFP, in and of itself, a Good?
Some Catholics have been saying we should try to market NFP to non-Catholics, saying that even getting them off the Pill is a start! Others resist this and say we need to promote NFP for what it is: Catholic teaching on sex, marriage, and the meaning of being male/female. I really didn't chose a camp, until I was pushed.
The more I kept thinking about promoting NFP to non-Catholics, trying to make it less radical, the more it seemed repugnant to me. If we promote NFP minus Catholic teaching then what we're promoting is FAM (Fertility Awareness Method), which is basically NFP + condoms + contraceptive worldview. What I think this is missing is that no one is writing essays about how FAM helped their marriage, elevated their dignity and helped them understand their purpose and the meaning of sacrifice in marriage. No one writes that about FAM because that's not its purpose; that's the purpose of NFP. So if we begin to market for FAM, are we really selling a false bill of goods, hoping that eventually the people will tire of yet another false idol and come asking for the real thing?
NFP shouldn't just teach you how to avoid pregnancies. NFP should teach you how to discern a pregnancy, how to communicate with your husband, to respect your marital bond and bed as holy, and how to welcome life because God is the ultimate author of it.
I don't think NFP is Good unless we teach it as NFP. Teaching FAM does not liberate anyone because we are not preaching Truth; Truth is what sets people free. Not information, not knowledge - Truth! It is great for women to be able to chart for general health reasons - it enables them to have greater knowledge about their bodies, helps detect possible problems earlier, and allows women to make educated decisions about their healthcare. But what it doesn't do is liberate them to realize who they are as eternal creatures created by a God that loves them so much He died for them. And that is what makes NFP Good.
I get what a lot of people say about "meeting people where they are." But I was a contracepting, pre-marital sex having, non-Catholic and I benefited not from people saying, use natural BC!, but from people saying - there's a better way of love and life. I realized believing it all would take risk and would mean a change in my whole life, but I also realized that it was worth it. Why aren't we giving people the chance to realize that it's not just their method of birth control we want to change, but their whole lives?