Science catches up with the Pope

Even the Wall Street Journal is writing about Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. NFP is gaining traction as 50 years of cultural carnage wrought by the sexual revolution has become increasingly manifest.

“Fertility awareness method”

Writing in the WSJ today, Ashley McGuire expressed the relevance of the topic well: 

Ashley McGuire

Ashley McGuire

“The teachings on contraception found in “Humanae Vitae” are often described as arcane and anti-science. To the contrary, the science on female fertility is slowly catching up with the document. As Paul VI argues, there are natural ways to preserve a woman’s fertility while still respecting her and her family’s needs in limiting and spacing births. The church calls it “natural family planning,” though thanks to its increasing popularity with the organics crowd, “fertility awareness method” has become more widely used.”

Ms. McGuire is a senior fellow at the Catholic Association. She authored “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female” (Regnery, 2017).

Another leading contemporary voice on NFP is Dr. Janet E. Smith, who spoke in Iowa just last week on the eve of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. Iowans for LIFE director, Maggie DeWitte attended and had this to say about Dr. Smith:

Dr. Janet Smith

Maggie DeWitte, Dr. Janet Smith & Renée McGuire

“Dr. Janet Smith gave a powerful talk on the anniversary of Humanae Vitae in Cedar Rapids, last week sponsored by the Archdiocese of Dubuque Marriage and Family Life.  She gave a thorough history of what was happening in the church and culture that led to the prophetic encyclical written by Pope Paul VI.  She noted that all Christian churches were opposed to contraception prior to 1930, including John Wesley, Martin Luther, and Ghandi. 

Dr. Smith weaved in the prophetic teaching of St. John Paul II as well and in particular his teaching on Theology of the Body and Love & Responsibility in 1958 and 1960.”  Her talk fit right in with Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. 

Writing in the June issue of the Columbia magazine, Dr. Smith contrasted the moral differences between artificial birth control and Natural Family Planning:

What is wrong with contraception?

SMITH:  Those who use contraception treat fertility as a defect. They act to prevent a potential life-giving act from being life-giving. Moreover, contraception greatly reduces the meaning of the marital act, which by its very nature is meant to express complete self-giving and commitment. What expresses this better than saying, “I am willing to be a parent with you?”

Why is Natural Family Planning better?

SMITH:  The nature of married love calls couples to give themselves wholly to one another in an intimate language that says, “I make a complete gift of myself to you. I want only what is good for you.  I am willing to be a parent with you.” Couples using NFP acknowledge the gift of fertility and do not contradict the intimate language of the body, thereby respecting God’s plan for sexuality.

She contrasted the effect each have on relationships:

What are the harmful effects of contraception?

SMITH:  The availability of contraception encourages promiscuity.  It leads many men and women to engage in sexual relationships with persons they may not know well and have no intention of marrying, and sometimes with persons they don’t even like.  Even when they have contraceptive sex with those whom they believe they love, the use of contraception can seem to make unnecessary such conversations as:  “What happens if our contraception fails?”  That question alone can put a relationship in danger!  Contraception also facilitates cohabitation, which generally is bad preparation for marriage.

What are the beneficial effects of NFP?

SMITH:  NFP fosters chastity and requires commitment.  Those who have practiced abstinence before marriage find NFP easier than those who have been sexually active.  They know abstinence can be an expression of love rather than a deprivation, and they generally have a larger “tool kit” for showing love and affection — e.g., going for walks, dancing, cooking together and cuddling.  NFP also facilitates strong communication skills, which is one of the important glues for a relationship.

Take-away point from Natural Family Planning Awareness Week 

Let us leave you with a final thought during Natural Family Planning Awareness Week: In last week’s talk here in Iowa, Maggie DeWitte was struck by the way Dr. Smith described the procreative nature of married life:

”You are participating with God to create a new immortal soul; how can you say no to that?”  She stated that when looking for a future spouse you should ask yourself, “Would we be good parents together?”  She called this conscience parenthood: we are aware that God has given us a gift of becoming a parent and in doing so you are helping God populate heaven.”

[This is Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. Be sure to read our Women’s Reproductive Health Resource Book for more detailed info on the subject.]