Recently I’ve been reflecting on the merits of NFP and reasons why one should use it or even why I use it. Because it’s something that I’ve found to be so transformative, amazing, and truth-filled, I want to be able to show everyone how it can be beneficial for their lives as well. It’s common, of course, to want something that has brought you happiness to also bring happiness to others.
As with many aspects of faith, though, I’ve come to realize that NFP is not something that can be marketed like a pair of shoes or the latest and greatest computer. (Although people have tried and are trying) NFP is ultimately not a commodity that can be bought, used, and then upgraded. This is because at its core, NFP is a part of a larger system of faith and virtue.
But, starting at the most basic levels, there are many, many benefits and reasons why someone could, ought to, or does practice NFP. Here’s what I always want to tell people:
- It's green
- It’s natural
- It’s effective
- It’s cheap
- It works with any woman’s cycle at any age
- It’s easy to learn
- There are no poor medical side effects
- Any decisions made are immediately reversible
- The divorce rate of couples who use NFP is extremely low (something less than 5%)
- It keeps you in touch with your body and allows you to learn about your health and wellness
- It allows you to see your own body and your spouse’s as gifts
- It can predict any possible fertility problems you might have
- It will strengthen your marriage and make your spouse happier
- It will make you happier
- It opens up communication between spouses
- It develops mutual decision making between a couple
- It increases your appreciation and understanding of intimacy
- It will give you an inner sense of peace
- It strengthens your faith
- It makes your relationship and you feel more free; especially free of anxiety
- It puts you in the mindset of gratitude for life and everything it contains
- It keeps your priorities in order
- It’s what the Catholic Church teaches is correct and virtuous
That sounds like a very marketable list to me. Who wouldn’t want that? I want to shout it from my facebook wall! Well, here’s the thing, everyone does want it, I believe, but everyone needs to accept this understanding as a gift.
Because of our culture’s perversion of sex, it seems oddly taboo to talk about the beauty of sex with others in a serious way even though it’s in front of our face in many other ways, especially in the media. I’ve noticed that other NFP couples are much more open to talking about sex in a non scandalous way. Those who contracept seem to view sex to be more of a private topic of conversation if that or they talk about it very scandalously.
So back to trying to market NFP… If we can’t talk to our friends about it because it’s too private a topic or too encroaching on their beliefs and comfort levels, then why shouldn’t we (as a collective NFP culture) try mass-marketing it? Ad campaigns, billboards, TV slots, publications… And once again, this doesn’t sound bad, and many are trying this, I’m sure.
But, something in that idea is askew too. And after reflecting on it, I think it’s because even though we can practice NFP for any of the above reasons, ultimately the reason a person will see the true beauty of NFP is because it’s a gift from God, and the only true reason to practice NFP is because we love God.
That might sound a little dramatic. The ONLY TRUE reason to practice NFP is because we love God? Really?
Yes. Because the only reason we should do anything in our lives or endure anything is because we love God. That is what we were created for. That is what we long for. For that infinite love of God. And NFP allows us to glimpse this infinite aspect of God’s love through the physical, spiritual, and emotional love between spouses in the form of sex while contraception shuts that relationship with God down.
That is why we can’t market NFP like another commodity. We can evangelize and tout its benefits, because there is a never-ending list of great things about NFP. And we could even put on a mass-marketing campaign. But ultimately getting people motivated to love God and act because of that love is a gift from God too. We have to pray for the grace to be good examples in our own marriages and pray for the gift of NFP and openness to life and love for the world.
We have to work on ourselves to root out our prideful reasons for doing NFP. Even the benefits (which are still benefits) can be selfish if that is our main goal or focus. For example, practicing NFP because it is effective cannot be the end goal. Love of God is. Practicing NFP because it builds a stronger marriage cannot not be the end goal. Love of God is. Even practicing NFP and wanting others to do so because it’s the “right” thing to do that will get you “heaven points” for your deathbed is not the end goal. It’s not about you, it’s about loving God. All these benefits are steps on the way to God sharing his infinite love and our feeble attempt to love Him back.