The author of this piece (arguing against universal NFP training in marriage prep) is responding to a piece I wrote last year for NFP Awareness Week. And, although I know he is completely well-meaning, he completely missed the point.
To say that couples should NOT be required to learn NFP–as the author of this article does– is, in my mind, the equivalent of saying, “As Catholics, we think it is good and noble for people to be completely ignorant of how the female body actually works unless there is some kind of crisis and then we should learn about it really fast.” This strikes me as incredibly stupid–however well-intentioned it might be. Since when is basic ignorance virtuous or commendable?
Likewise, I’m genuinely mystified that many people really don’t seem to understand what “doing NFP” means. After all this time, why is it that people automatically think that “Requiring couples to learn NFP” automatically means, “couples should be taught from day one that they shouldn’t be having babies.”
What complete and utter rubbish! “Doing NFP” does not mean that AT ALL.
What I try to point out in this article is that NFP is NOT a thing and it certainly isn’t a thing that is intended to be used with one specific purpose in mind. Whether or not many couples use NFP in a single-minded way (i.e. to avoid pregnancy) isn’t relevant at all. NFP, qua NFP, doesn’t presume an intention to prevent or avoid pregnancy. It isn’t a tool, like a hammer, that is really only good for one job. Instead of being some “thing” that should be used in one, proper way, NFP is just information that can be used however you prayerfully choose to use it.
So yes, I do believe that couples should be required to learn NFP inasmuch as I believe that couples should required to learn how the woman’s body works as part of marriage prep so that they can take that information and do with it whatever they discern God wills. I do not believe that there is any virtue in ignorance and unless I am misreading the catechism or scripture, I can’t see a single place where Catholics think ignorance is a good thing. I certainly don’t believe there is any virtue in remaining willfully ignorant until there is some kind of crisis and then suddenly running around like a chicken with your head cut-off trying to learn everything overnight and then getting frustrated because “it didn’t work.” If the former is stupid, then the latter is just stupid times 10. The Catholicism I believe in doesn’t promote stupidity and ignorance.
In sum, my position is that NFP should be taught to every couple NOT so that every couple can avoid having kids. THAT IS NOT WHAT NFP IS REALLY ABOUT BECAUSE NFP, per se, IS NOT “ABOUT” ANYTHING. It is just information that couples have a right to have and, in fact, need, in order to be able to properly discern God’s will.
The article builds on this theme. I hope it helps clarify what I think versus the calumnies that people regularly spread about me.
To learn more about the TRUTH of the Catholic vision of love and sex, check out Holy Sex! The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving.
UPDATE: Check out Simcha Fisher’s excellent reflection on how to honestly approach the struggles inherent in NFP.