Monday, July 16, 2012

NFP and Contraceptive Mentality

As I am sure the majority of my readers that follow Cathofeminism on Facebook know, July 22-28 is Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. In case folks were unaware, I am completely, 100% against birth control. There! I said it! It feels good to see it in print. My reasons for this are as vast as the number of methods of birth control that are on the market. (You can find the gist of these reasons in this post.) This of course means that I will for sure be participating in spreading NFP Awareness. The Facebook page will have many really great links to the wonderful happenings in the Prolife/NFP world, and there will be a few blog entries as well. I will be personally attending some NFP presentations, so I urge you to check your local community and see if you can find any presentations happening in your area as well. Here is a solid comparison of the different methods of NFP so you know what I am talking about- click here for awesome.

Now, onto the next phrase in the title: Contraceptive Mentality. What does it mean? How is it applicable to NFP? DarwinCatholic (in a four part series on the subject) describes “contraceptive mentality” as

The idea that having sex and reproducing are two activities with no necessary connection, that having sex in no way suggests a desire or willingness to have children with the person you are having sex with.”

These two words have spun my NFP world in circles the past year. I had never heard the phrase until I joined an NFP community online. As NFP has always been recommended to me by priests and I never considered that some would think it was not licit. Boy howdy, was I wrong. There are blogs upon articles upon blogs out there written by individuals calling NFP birth control and thus immoral. If you don’t mind, I won’t be providing links to those pages. Many reek of scrupulosity. NFP in short is the antithesis of a contraceptive mentality. NFP encourages ongoing, open communication between husband and wife about their family as well as any future members of said family. It is about understanding a woman’s fertility. It is always open to life. This is not to say that we do not at times become too comfortable with the status quo. This is not to say that NFP eliminates all struggles a couple may have with marriage, love and family. We all have struggles.

There is a lot of talk around what qualifies as “grave” reason to avoid pregnancy. I will again refer you to a post that is much more eloquent and thorough than I think I can be at this time. Simcha Fisher’s post “WhyDoesn’t the Church Just Make a List?” The purpose of this post is not to delve into these issues ad nauseum, it is meant to introduce these issues right off the bat: more along the lines of a disclaimer or a forward. They are certainly interesting topics to discuss though.

There is my version of a crash course on Natural Family Planning, complete with some Catholic issues to think about and discuss amongst yourselves.
Comments? Criticisms? Critiques?


  1. Well, simply semantics, but I would say as Catholics we are against contraception not birth control, because NFP does attempt (while still being open to life of course) to control when births happen. That is not a bad thing. Contraception is. Again, semantics, but while I don't think "contraceptive mentality" is the right phrase, I definitely think it is possible to be selfish in reasons to avoid. That being said, it is not my place to make any moral judgment on someone's reasons to avoid. It is between the couple and possibly a spiritual director to prayerfully discern. I promise to give every NFP using couple the benefit of assuming nothing whatsoever about their reasons.

  2. I used the term "birth control" instead of contraception becaust NFP is not counter to life. It may have rules to avoid conception, but the very nature of NFP is indeed open to life and allows a full giving of self, where as "birth control" has the implication that openness does not exist. I do appreciate the distinction though.
    I am using the term "contraceptive mentality" because that is a term frequently used and debated when speaking of NFP. I do not feel it applies other than in the sense that there are some folks that use it to judge, but as you said, I do not find it to be my business what reason someone else has for postponing or not. As stated in my post, we sometimes do stick with the comfortable status quo, meaning sometimes our reason to avoid has becomeone of convenience instead of need. I agree sometimes reasons can be selfish. This is one reason I am thankful for the openness and communication NFP allows: it is realy easy to flip the switch from TTA to TTC! Thanks for the input!

    1. Sorry, I know why used the phrase "contraceptive mentality", everyone in the blogosphere uses it. I just don't think it's a good term. :)


Comments are always welcome! Come join me on:
Twitter: @jessfayette