NFP

25 01 2011

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Here is a good post from a guy who I think I have had online scuffles with:

…I’m referring to is the very common run of the mill NFP promotions that see NFP as properly belonging to every marriage because the very use of NFP naturally enhances and perfects marriages, so that all marriage before the advent of NFP, and all those now who don’t use NFP are in marriages which are suffering from not using NFP…

So that what has occurred is the machine has been substituted for the natural in a kind of a machine ordered cult. An error which appeals to machine ordered societies, where solutions are seen as involving some type of gadget. Where the interior life has been given over to the sensible, where our perfection comes from without.

Which is a common enough occurrence where happiness is the next gadget purchase away.


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39 responses

16 08 2012
Nadira Hora

Your site is just what was looking for. You have no idea
how long I have been questioning the same exact thing! I am so pleased that I am no longer alone.

28 01 2011
Jacob

An evaluation of issues within Catholicism I find interesting is “http://pauca_lux_ex_oriente.blogspot.com/2009/03/sacrifice-of-cain.html.” If I understand it correctly, it’s a fairly positive evaluation of core catholic teachings but presents problems the current Catholic church as the wide-spread and serious consequences of trying to “do it your own way.” Part of the reason I decided to check out more about NFP and a more complete Catholic view of planning families, etc.

(I think the writer is Roman Catholic turned Eastern Catholic – which would make the point of view logical.)

28 01 2011
Jacob

Marcellus and Francesca, both of you are doing a great job of showing me a new perspective. Many things you said now make more sense, since I actually have experienced them, only from slightly different perspective. So, I guess I should tell some of my story so my comments have their own context.

I was also in Catholic pre-marriage classes, 4 years ago, since I married a Catholic woman in the Catholic Church (with permission from a Catholic priest; he was very kind to me, asking only for a promise not to prevent my family from being Catholic, but he harshly interrogated my wife about her motives for marrying a non-Catholic.) A passing reference was made to NFP (first reference I had heard), but with no details, and, being a partly lapsed protestant, (evangelical, specifically, not quite the same as “secular” but for the purpose of this discussion, the difference is minimal,) I had little interest in the idea. Besides that, the others in the class were all young Mexican couples who probably had no intentions of doing what they were told, asked no questions and didn’t hang out after for discussion. My wife’s Catholicism at the time was almost as lapsed as my Evangelicalism, so the topic never came up again.

My wife and I have 2 children, one was born 8 weeks ago. We also get the questions of how many we want to have, and if the kids were planned or not; while we willing answer the first one, that second question for me is like the “pill” question for you, Marcellus – “very odd.” The pill question would also be odd for me. But for me it’s very odd, because it’s definitely crossing the privacy line. Now, on the other hand, I could understand answering the “were they planned” question with closer friends, and if those closer friends are also more dedicated Catholics, who think about NFP and the like, then it makes perfect sense that it would come up in conversation with those closer friends. Not a place I’ve been, but now at least I can see the sense in it …

I also don’t think people who aren’t really close friends are being rude when asking, but I also don’t mind indicating that it’s not a topic I wish to discuss in detail; I’ll even answer, half vaguely, but enough to satisfy what they want to know on the most general level. It’s not really a question of taboo, just private. Like discussing Faith, there’s time and place. (I realize most people don’t agree with this, and in many cases I can acknowledge the value of not agreeing with my stance. It’s a personal idea, I guess.)

I think Mexico is also distinctly different from the U.S. or Canada (my home country.) While the country is mostly Catholic (85%, officially I believe,) even those same people tend to be very non-Catholic in their lifestyle choices – and I’m not just talking about NFP. I guess this is true in other countries and churches as well. But here, they try to pressure women to be operated when they give birth to prevent further pregnancy. If it’s a c-section (as the vast majority are, here) they say, “well, we can just do it at the same time – it’s easier for you.” All of this was likewise very odd, and an unnecessarily aggressive promotion for a service we didn’t want!

To conclude, I’m actually in the process of joining the Catholic Church. I heard about NFP again during my catechism classes, so I looked it up; I found this post because I happen to follow this blog anyway. Since I decided to join Catholicism, I’ve been making an effort to see what it’s all about – in English on the internet, from a variety of perspectives – the good, the bad and the ugly! None of the three are too difficult to find; and since the Catholics are usually the “big bad guys” for everyone else, it’s especially easy to find the “bad and the ugly.” I’m not shying away from the dirt – it’s better to get the whole picture now.

On the other hand, it’s good to hear some positive aspects and stories about Catholicism, get the “insider’s perspective” and hear some balanced evaluations.

28 01 2011
Francesca R

Marcellus: “I think it is assuming too much to say that a couple is using NFP because they aren’t pregnant all the time. Some people could be completely abstaining altogether for health reasons or penance.”

Yes, they could be. I have a feeling the anti-NFP crowd at my parish would consider total abstinence preferable to periodic abstinence; the latter seems like cheating to them.

28 01 2011
Francesca R

Yes, you are correct.

28 01 2011
Marcellus

Perhaps I was a bit emotional towards the ending in my last comment so I apologize if I hurt any feelings.

To address Jason’s point of people knowing who uses NFP, my personal experience is that we met other people at the parish engagement classes. The classes explicitly talked about the immoral use of contraception. In that same thought, the classes were introduced to NFP. The priest was by no means telling people that they must use a form of NFP, only that contraception was not permitted. It made sense to talk with others about it in that setting.

We also had a spiritual director who would introduce married couples of like mind together. The family planning issue comes up in discussions with those other couples with, “so how many kids are you going to have!” or, “congrats on your pregnancy!”. Maybe it is weird for some people to talk about those things, I don’t really mind. Perhaps it’s a form of cameraderie.

You would also be surprised how many times I am asked by co-workers, “so, did you guys plan this pregnancy?” I was even directly asked one time by a friend (not Catholic), “so is your wife on the pill?” I will admit that was very odd. It’s not that these people are trying to be rude, they are genuinely curious and their mentalities don’t see this subject as taboo. I just reply, “Well, I am married,” or “No, we use NFP.” Which is normally followed by “What’s that?”

I think it is assuming too much to say that a couple is using NFP because they aren’t pregnant all the time. Some people could be completely abstaining altogether for health reasons or penance.

As a last thought, I still dont see why it is wrong(if that is what is being suggested) to advertise NFP in a ‘helping perfect marriage’ way. I see what they are advertising; spousal communication and an outlook of sex as creating life, being catechetical lessons. A rational understanding of NFP and its limits, can help one realize that sex makes children. Not that charting is in an end to itself, but placing a baby stamp consistently on a calendar really puts things into perspective. Especially coming from a secular pre-conversion mindset.

If someone understands that concept without NFP then they are just one step ahead of others. Those who don’t want to use any form of birth spacing and completely understand those consequences might be heroic.

28 01 2011
sortacatholic

My faith is strongest when I consistently present myself with idols to tear apart and examine. When I meet persons or organizations on campus that are antithetical to my beliefs, I do not think “this is what I must believe”, “these people are depraved”, or play the hurdy-gurdy of encyclicals. Rather, I try to place myself within their argument and deduce their position. Then, having constructed the idol, I proceed to tear it down again. This process is never ending. I must know not only my own belief, but also the beliefs and positions of others. Only in this way can I believe more strongly.

The only way I am weaving my way out of an infatuation with Jansenism is a meditation on every last letter of the Canon. I can spend one day meditating on one word or even one letter. At each point I am confronted with one desire for predestination, and then a counter-desire for the Holy Sacrifice. When I emerge, I hope to have a better orthodox understanding of the Eucharist. Would I have that understanding if I merely repeated the Catechism to myself?

I have been under the impression that Reditus is not a confessional blog. Hopefully Arturo will clarify. If so, I will not throw clay idols here.

28 01 2011
love the girls

correction. Not first post. but prior post 21:45:53

28 01 2011
love the girls

SortaCatholic,

That is just complete crap. Truthfully, do actually believe any of your last post? or virtually any of your first post?

28 01 2011
sortacatholic

Chris, you are precisely right from one perspective in this experiment. You gave given a good definition of the emic view of contraception. “Emic”, in this sense, refers to the perspective of a person who not only confesses Catholicism but participates in “orthodox” “Catholic culture”. A Catholic must believe that all persons, because of their humanity, must not use artificial birth control.

sortacatholic: Similarly, HV is a moral and spiritual injunction binding on the conscience of those who self-identify as Catholic […] Catholics that refuse to live their faith through HV, just like nominal believers in other faiths, are not ethically deficient but morally questionable only in the eyes of the Catholic ritual boundaries and practice.

I have chosen to explore an etic view. “Etic”, in this very limited case, refers to the standpoint of those that are outside orthodox Catholic culture, practice, and ritual. Suppose (absolutely contrary to fact) that an “ideal etic observer” exists. The ideal etic observer is absolutely unbound by ritual, religious culture, and philosophy. How might an ideal etic observer evaluate certain outcomes of Catholics that use artificial birth control?

Perhaps the ideal etic observer might note that Humanae Vitae and NFP signify a Catholic socio-ritual boundary that must co-exist with other ritual, ethical, moral, and philosophical discourses present in society. The ideal etic observer does not need the “natural law”, or any philosophy, to take note of these distinctions. All “it” must note are the evident limitations that the emic Catholic perspective imposes on itself.

The ideal etic observer might also recognize that the value set called “ethics” is not continuous with the value sets of morality, ritual observance, and philosophy. Etic doctrinal and ritual boundaries represent one variable and ethical behavior another. A contracepting nominal Catholic, from the etic standpoint previously described, might well fulfill the value set many call “ethical behavior” while not fulfilling Catholic emic obligations.

27 01 2011
Chris

“Similarly, HV is a moral and spiritual injunction binding on the conscience of those who self-identify as Catholic. Many religions place dietary or practical restrictions on their followers. HV is a moral boundary that shapes group identity through sexual practice. Catholics that refuse to live their faith through HV, just like nominal believers in other faiths, are not ethically deficient but morally questionable only in the eyes of the Catholic ritual boundaries and practice.”

Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I think that’s a misunderstanding of the Catholic view on the matter. The use of artificial birth control by a non-Catholic isn’t understood as being analogous to that same non-Catholic eating meat on Good Friday. It’s moral wrongness is supposed to be discernible by the natural light of reason (hence the natural law arguments used to buttress the teaching, or in the case of JPII, the phenomenology of personhood type arguments) and is not supposed simply to be binding on those who are playing the “Catholic game.” In other words, just as abortion or adultery are wrong for Catholic and non-Catholic alike (whereas not hearing Mass on a Holy Day would only be wrong for a Catholic), the use of artificial birth control would also be (in the eyes of the Church) wrong for Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

27 01 2011
raedamovetse

::forehead smack::

“Ditto my non-observant Muslim friends”

EDIT: “Ditto my non-observant Muslim friends that eat and drink haram foods and beverages.”

One awesome thing about my family is its religious diversity and spectrum of observance within different religious traditions. Perhaps this is why I could never click with Catholic fundamentalism.

27 01 2011
raedamovetse

love the girls: More insofar as I took it to be attacking the intrinsic nature of the argument as to why NFP is in principle acceptable as opposed to Pill. […] And less insofar as my objection to NFP as “open to life” because it’s affectiveness is closer to 100% when practiced competently.

My empirical evaluation of the efficacy of NFP versus other birth control methods admits no religious doctrine nor attacks Catholic doctrine. NFP is one of the least effective birth control methods available. The attainment of a consistent 90%+ NFP efficacy rate requires quite a bit of training and dedication that perhaps only a minority of couples can achieve. A honest admission of the shortcomings of NFP is not a repudiation of Humanae Vitae. The “gravy” of Catholic popular NFP advocacy often refuses to acknowledge the “real world” efficacy of this method. Rather, the message is laced with exaggerations such as “NFP is 96% effective”, as if NFP were the functional equivalent of the Pill. That NFP statistic is true for Mr. Roboto and his wife. Not Jane and John Q. Catholic. A honest priest or catechist should not deny the reality of birth control efficacy. Rather, engaged Catholic couples and spouses must know that the method of birth regulation ordained by the movement of the Holy Spirit through apostolic teaching is the difficult and narrow path.

As for my statement that contrasts dysfunction and disorder: a non-Catholic couple that practices contraception in good conscience and with the approval of their religious organization (or none at all) is beyond HV’s obligations. Plenty of my secular Jewish friends don’t keep kosher. Ditto my non-observant Muslim friends. I don’t tell my Jewish cousin to get off the summer clambake line. Similarly, I don’t tell my Muslim cousin to keep his hand out of the beer cooler. The nominal religiosity of my cousins does not impair their ethical aptitude. Their co-religionists might interpret their lack of observance as a moral failing, but those outside their particular tradition are most often agnostic about their ritual failings.

Similarly, HV is a moral and spiritual injunction binding on the conscience of those who self-identify as Catholic. Many religions place dietary or practical restrictions on their followers. HV is a moral boundary that shapes group identity through sexual practice. Catholics that refuse to live their faith through HV, just like nominal believers in other faiths, are not ethically deficient but morally questionable only in the eyes of the Catholic ritual boundaries and practice.

27 01 2011
Jacob

In light of my original comment, no need to answer either way. I was just thinking “out loud.”

27 01 2011
Jacob

I had take some time to realize what the distinction in perspective really was; coming from a non-Catholic background (where my Catholic acquaintances are by no means dedicated to following all or even most of the Church’s teachings), NFP is a substitute to artificial birth control; so there would be no noticeable difference if a couple decided to start practicing it.

Do I understand correctly that your circles are more dedicated Catholics, who would not use artificial birth control, and thus those who don’t have babies every year or two stand out as the ones who obviously practicing NFP?

27 01 2011
Jacob

Good point. I haven’t really been on the inside of circles such as yours. Among people I know (who these days are primarily fairly non-dedicated Catholics) if you don’t have a baby every year, which is just about everyone, it could very well be that it’s NFP, artificial contraception, operation, infertility or anything else.

I guess everything becomes different when certain very obvious results (pregnancy) offer a public indication of which method you do or don’t practice.

Thank you for sharing that perspective with me, since I obviously hadn’t considered it.

27 01 2011
Jacob

Taking a step back on what I said, being honest about the purpose is at least as important as keeping it from seeing NFP as part of something more important, rather than an end in itself – perhaps the two are linked.

“Here’s a way for you to limit your family size while following the Church’s teaching on sex.” If people keep NFP this context, I don’t think it would be likely to be given the overly high central importance that seems to be problem among some circles.

27 01 2011
Francesca R

Well, in my circles, people know you are practicing NFP if you don’t have a baby every year or two.

27 01 2011
Jacob

I commented above, in response to an earlier comment from Frencesa R. But I’d like to re-voice this; I don’t think practicing NFP all the time or only some times is the question which determines moderation. As Marcellus points out in one reply above (sorry I haven’t had time to read them all) a couple could practice NFP with firm dedication while being very far from extremism and “cultishness.” This is a type of moderation.

The issue is when anyone focuses the spiritual health of their marriage around this practice, instead of the other way around – “our marriage is focused on Christ, and one part of that is to practice NFP.”

Francesca points out that many couples who use it are defensive about it. I understand that issue, since criticism of how a couple has sex is a pretty touchy issue. But here’s what I don’t get; why do others know about it? Choosing to use NFP is a private choice made to follow God’s will through the teachings of the Church. If there’s an issue with it, or someone needs info, I’m sure private counselling from an appropriate authorized person at the Church is available. Otherwise, it’s between the couple, God and, possibly, the Church authority. Why should the public be involved?

I suppose sometimes the public becomes involved when a couple decides it’s their task to convince others that this practice is essential to the other couple’s faith. From there, criticism and disagreement arise, and the issue quickly makes its way onto the central platform – a place that only belongs to God.

As I mentioned above, this happens in many Church circles, beyond Catholicism, and well outside of the realm of sexual practice.

I guess I have to admit that although I’m not in any way ashamed of my faith, I’m also not someone in any way inclined to argue about or announce publicly any aspect of my faith; if you want to talk to me about it, one on one will do just fine. (If necessity required, I would have no issue with discussing publicly, but I’ve rarely been in situations where public proclamation seemed to be the most effective way of sharing faith.)

I’m even less inclined to talk publicly about my sex life – and even one-on-one there would have to be a pretty important and exceptional reason for discussing ANY detail of my sexual practices with anyone.

The internet makes everything easier I guess – it’s much easier to announce the most private items of your life when it’s a blog instead chatting with the neighbours. My preference is to refrain even from that.

But I guess there are also a good deal of people of who don’t sympathize my views on privacy vs. publicity. I used to take a lot flack from co-believers for not wearing a bracelet, shirt or hat which proclaimed our particular brand of Christianity, or a particular aspect of or take on faith which was currently “trending.”

While I respect different preferences on this idea of privacy, there are some cases, like NFP, where I can’t for the life of me why a couple would publicly discuss their sexual practices. And, for the sake of avoiding all the issues brought up in this post and the resulting discussion, I think it would be better if they didn’t.

27 01 2011
love the girls

SortaCatholic,

I went back and reread your posts on the same subject.

And frankly, they are difficult to dissect for what the actual meaning is. Most all comments are somewhat difficult to understand because there’s such little continuity among Catholics in how they think, but yours take that difficulty to a higher level.

I think I took your : “The Catholic-y gravy ladled on top often disguises the difficulties and inherent limitations of NFP as compared to the Pill.” to be mean than what you intended it to mean.

And also to mean less than what you intended.

More insofar as I took it to be attacking the intrinsic nature of the argument as to why NFP is in principle acceptable as opposed to Pill.

And less insofar as my objection to NFP as “open to life” because it’s affectiveness is closer to 100% when practiced competently.

SortaCatholic writes : “I do not believe that all contraceptive marriages are inherently dysfunctional. They might be predicated on intrinsically disordered and sinful acts, but many couples who contracept stay together regardless of their artificial birth control use. . . ”

Where dysfunctions and disorders are blatantly destructive, their practice is uncommon because people typically don’t choose to harm themselves. The problem where destruction is not blatant and typically hidden by some gloss which gives the impression of proper order.

I no interest in Christopher West. But as for conformity. That is required of us. The knowing why is not. Virtue is by nature a willed habit, not an intellectual exercise of coming to know.

27 01 2011
Jacob

interesting – I only learned what NFP was a couple of days ago, but I didn’t know or suspect that people would actually think it could keep their marriage together. I suppose that if a couple chooses to practice as a part of their commitment to the church, it would be just that – one part of the bigger picture.

But to be honest, the idea of the “cult of NFP” as THE central point of keeping their marriage together is bazaar, to say the least. (What happened to having God at the center of a marriage? As I said, maybe NFP could be a part of that, but most certainly not the whole thing.)

I especially like your statement “the reason they don’t get divorced is because they have a strong commitment to staying married.” This is not only true of NFP, and other Catholic lay-cults, as they’re called here, but also similar – hmm what do I call them? trends? – in just about every branch of Christianity I’ve seen.

One of the most bazaar I’ve seen is “If you follow God’s will, you will be rich.” (Not just have all your needs provided for – actually rich.) Any lack, including a lower income, was seen as a result of sin, larger sins leading to larger lack. There’s a whole group of people that make this financial point the central focus of their life.

We always have to be careful that any particular aspect of Christian life doesn’t take the central focus of our faith from Christ himself. In many cases, the aspects themselves are – or can be – healthy parts of our faith (not the one I just mentioned, though), but become a distraction when they are placed at the center.

27 01 2011
Daniel A.

Just to make a quick note, my wife and I took Creighton classes before getting married (NFP classes are required by the diocese where we got married, though not by the diocese we live in). The classes were pretty much devoid of any religious content. I did not feel that it was at all cult-like, and the method itself seems rather unobtrusive to a couple’s everyday life. I don’t have much experience with the “sympto-thermal” method of NFP, but from conversation with its partisans it seems to carry with it a great deal more religious baggage/propaganda.

I write this just to support Marcellus’s observation that his experience (also with the Creighton method) was not particularly cult-like. As for the rest of it, I am not sure if I see the parameters of the debate going on here, so I will refrain from commenting on it.

26 01 2011
sortacatholic

love the girls: Where as what you should be doing is attempting to understand that which is better known by applying that which is less known. With Church teaching being the better known. And the materials used in your arguments being the less known. […] Just in reading any Church document, what we need to do is to understand why it is true. Not whether it is true.

I’m not married, nor will I ever be married. NFP has no relevance to my life since I will never reproduce. I’m a sexual dalit, so I have no innate desire for or innate conception of coitus and procreation (and thus, I must be marginalized at all costs). I approach the NFP issue from two directions:

Emprically: NFP is a form of birth control that is about 75% to 80% effective in typical use. That’s about the same as using a condom. NFP, in typical use, is not as effective as the Pill when taken regularly and on schedule (i.e. following the indicated use of placebo tablets.)

per Church practice: NFP is the only form of birth control that conforms to the encyclical Humanae Vitae for a number of exegetical, philosophical, and theological reasons reasonably outlined in many tracts, lectures, and dissertations on the subject. Requires knowledge of Thomism and microwave.

I do not see how our arguments are necessarily different. Both serve essentially the same ends. Whereas you propose that NFP is the necessary consequence of HV, I propose that NFP is often the medium by which HV is disseminated to Catholics. Nowhere did I say that HV is not binding on Catholics. Nor did I say that HV is contingent on NFP or the converse. I only note that NFP has a semiotic value of its own that is often used (and misused) to enforce the teachings of HV.

I do not believe that all contraceptive marriages are inherently dysfunctional. They might be predicated on intrinsically disordered and sinful acts, but many couples who contracept stay together regardless of their artificial birth control use. NFP within a marriage might be the only way a couple can space births and be good Catholics, but sinful people are often “good” people insofar as they are good providers, lovers, neighbors, etc. The difficulty in convincing people to use NFP from a deductive argument predicated on HV is the difficulty of converting doctrinal pronouncement into everyday practice. By promoting NFP first and explaining HV second, catechist-lecturers such as Christopher West are urging doctrinal conformity before doctrinal understanding, all the while stretching the theology a bit to oversell their points. My recognition of reasoning from specifics to generalities is not an endorsement but rather an observation of Catholic sexual catechism as practised today.

26 01 2011
love the girls

Thank you Francesca,
That was very nicely explained.

26 01 2011
Francesca R

Sorry Marcellus, I shouldn’t be dumping on all people who use NFP, since I used it for many years. If you haven’t encountered the cultish aspect, it’s probably because of the demographics of your local real world and the kind of websites you read. I know lots of people who are using it, and lots of other people who think its a sin. The people who are using it are kind of defensive about it, which leads them to exaggerate its “marriage building” properties.

The same exaggerations also come from people who are trying to sell NFP to Catholics who are likely to use contraception. It’s a path to sainthood, a triumph for women’s rights, a tool for improving communication, and a gateway to the hottest sex of your life because the abstinence is followed by a “honeymoon period”.

A more honest presentation would be, “Here’s a way for you to limit your family size while following the Church’s teaching on sex. It sucks, but it’s better than contraception.” I wonder if that would actually make much difference to how well it sells, given that the couples who choose it are usually devout people for whom following the Church’s teaching is a priority anyway.

26 01 2011
love the girls

Sorta Catholic writes : “I interpret love the girl’s statement this way. The only licit means to birth control through HV is NFP. The Catholic-y gravy ladled on top often disguises the difficulties and inherent limitations of NFP as compared to the Pill.”

Actually. The argument assumes that it’s understood that contraception cannot be used. I assume my audience are Catholics like myself, Catholics who are disposed to follow the Church and would rather be burned at the stake than use contraception.

With that given, the argument is to show that while NFP is a good, its goodness is within a certain limit. And that it is currently being promoted beyond what its good actually is. That is, its good is as natural child space. But it is being promoted beyond that good to be what it is not. And what I further do is look at why perhaps this is occurring.
__________

Further, To use the old right to life slogan. Being sorta Catholic is like being sorta pregnant.

You either are, or you are not. From reading your other comments, it appears that what you are doing is arguing ass backwards. You’re taking that which is less known and using it to disprove that which is better known. Where as what you should be doing is attempting to understand that which is better known by applying that which is less known. With Church teaching being the better known. And the materials used in your arguments being the less known.

Whether or not you can understand Church teaching no more effects the truth of that teaching than blindness in one man effects the sightedness in others who can see. Just in reading any Church document, what we need to do is to understand why it is true. Not whether it is true. The first leads to knowledge. When I let go of a rock, it falls. I don’t question the truth of its falling, that is what it does. Teaching the truth is what the Church does. And just as I explore why the rock falls, so likewise do I explore what the Church teaches.

26 01 2011
sortacatholic

love the girls, on 1/26 at 4:07 (scroll down): Natural Family Planning is by nature a method of spacing children. That is what it by nature does. The perfecting usually is in the form of some testimonial where NFP is promoted as having some other effect other than that of spacing children.

love the girls answered the question of the efficacy of “Christian branding” for you. Blogs, podcasts, heck, even Chick tracts are merely means of linguistic and semiotic communication. The “Christian” veneer creates an impression of legitimacy and orthodoxy even if neither is present in a particular blog, podcast etc.

NFP is a methodological extension of explicit and implicit theological and philosophical tenets of Humanae Vitae. I interpret love the girl’s statement this way. The only licit means to birth control through HV is NFP. The Catholic-y gravy ladled on top often disguises the difficulties and inherent limitations of NFP as compared to the Pill.

Along these lines I might also suggest that the Christopher West series of books ladle yet another helping on top of the message spread by Catholic apologetics groups such as Human Life International. The elevation of NFP to something akin to a sub-sacrament of Matrimony is not only theologically untenable. West’s risky theological extrapolations (as noted in Dawn Eden’s thesis) create unrealistically high expectations for a rather lossy method (and yet it is only a method) of birth control.

26 01 2011
love the girls

Marcellus writes : “I’m not sure if the author intended it but its effect is one more blow to an already popularly discounted extreme minority of Catholics who are least nominally following Church Teaching.”

While I very much appreciate your optimism in my ability of persuasion, I’m afraid you greatly exaggerate it. Far from striking any sort of ‘blow’, my arguments will only appeal to those who are already predisposed to them.

As to your overall all arguments which are twofold.
1) “Promote NFP otherwise catholics will contracept.”
I will address that argument specifically sometime in the future.

2) I have not sufficiently proven my premise of NFP “creating a salvific marriage”
I assume you are using slavific metaphorically, instead of my premise that NFP is promoted as perfecting marriage.
Natural Family Planning is by nature a method of spacing children. That is what it by nature does. The perfecting usually is in the form of some testimonial where NFP is promoted as having some other effect other than that of spacing children.

There is nothing new in this. Out of college I worked as a researcher for Human Life International, one of the first organizations to promote NFP, it was in the literature from the very beginning.

26 01 2011
Marcellus

I appreciate the concern about not creating another heresy, but I think this is making more to it than what is really there. I personally use NFP and I don’t see it as being part of my Catholic identity or an anti-contraceptive attitude. Our creighton instructor never made it about creating a salvific marriage which appears to be the thesis of this article. However, my local parish did say it was a way to prudently control my family size without falling into mortal sin, which I think is the real headline here.

Any tool can be used intemperately to the point of becomming an idol, but frankly, out of all the very few people I know who use NFP, this article is the first place I have witnessed this ‘cult.’ Not from my instructor, not the one other friend I know who actually uses NFP, not the one family who desperately pleaded with the engaged couples class to not use contraception…where is all the evidence you are using to base these assumptions…???

I’m not sure if the author intended it but its effect is one more blow to an already popularly discounted extreme minority of Catholics who are least nominally following Church Teaching. ‘They’re not Catholic, they’re a cult.’ Have pity.

26 01 2011
love the girls

btw, thank you for your comment, what it does prove is that my explanation leaves much to be desired in clarification.

26 01 2011
love the girls

The Singular Observer writes : “I have a problem with these “This, not That” theologies of everyday life. . . .”

A broader observation would perhaps be helpful, what is looked for is a right ordering. Now if it so happens that of the boxes to be chosen one of the boxes signifies that which is disordered, while the other box signifies that which is not, then the choice would be as simple as choosing this or that box.
__________
The singular observer writes : “You become a slave of your opposition.”

The position is no more reactionary than virtue is reactionary to vice. Vice doesn’t cause virtue to be what it is anymore than blindness causes sight to exists. Where as the opposite is true because privations are a privation of that which does properly exist.

25 01 2011
The Singular Observer

I have a problem with these “This, not That” theologies of everyday life.

Let me take a line from the article: “Which is a common enough occurrence where happiness is the next gadget purchase away. ”

Thi statement, which is a good and valid criticism in itself, once made into a theology/philosophy, could easily be restated as “Which is a common enough occurrence where happiness is the next rejection of a gadget purchase. ” Thus your thesis is permanently defined by your antithesis. You become a slave of your opposition.

A mutual (blogging) friend of ours, no doubt with some exaggeration, recently blogged about his encouragement of an attitude of permanent opposition to the bourgeosie, an expression of class warfare. Why I understood the background to his argument, my counter-argument would be – hence, you are defined by the bourgeosie, by their values.

The same here – gadgetry is still the defining thesis, but here in its absence, rahter than its presence.

Pick this box, not than one. How about getting rid of / forgetting about the bloody boxes???

25 01 2011
David

Well, despite all the hype, only 4% of Catholics actually use it for family planning, according to the USCCB. I have also seen a statistic that claims that 80% of married Catholics use some form of artificial birth control. So, as much as people like to fuss about it on Catholic blogs, it clearly is not on most Catholics radar…

25 01 2011
Jason

The attitude being critiqued here can be extended to technology in general: whether tools/technology should be seen as the cultivation of man’s glory, or dangerous (though necessary in varying degrees) remedies to his fall. I’m very uncomfortable with the embracement of the Internet by Christians. It’s driven, I think, by the same mentality as the “NFP cult.” Christians have lost the ability of real self-criticism, let alone the ability to be prophets (i.e., the ability to criticize the world with the eyes that only Christians can have). Instead of being distrustful of tools/technology, Christians just embrace it all like everyone else. The only difference is Christians do it in the name of the Gospel. Christian blog! Christian podcast! Christian schools! Christian paramilitary organization! Christian family planning! We think that because we slap the word “Christian” on something that we’ve somehow exorcised its follies. I’m not saying Christians need to be Luddites…I’m just saying I wish we’d stop doing everything in the name of the Gospel.

25 01 2011
Francesca R

Around the time I got married I was always hearing about how “Only 2% of couples using NFP get divorced” but apparently no-one knows where this statistic comes from; it appears not to be true at any rate. I personally know one NFP-using couple who divorced after a year and several others who find it makes their relationship less harmonious. NFP is not “building their marriage” or “improving their communications skills” — the reason they don’t get divorced is because they have a strong commitment to staying married, not because the magic of NFP is keeping them together.

Anyway, dropping NFP really did give me that giddy “just escaped from a cult” feeling.

25 01 2011
Dauvit Balfour

Having recently begun to dissociate myself from one of those other “lay cults” (which I now refer to as the ex-girlfriend) I found this article brilliant. I dissociated myself from the cult of NFP long before that, though. Actually, I’ve been skeptical of NFP from the first time I heard about it in highschool, and am bothered by the voraciousness with which my married friends devour the teaching. Maybe there’s a lick of intuitive good sense in me after all.

25 01 2011
love the girls

Thank you Mr. Vasquez for pointing out my post.

And I’m not quite sure I would call them scuffles, as much as my simply pointing out a disagreement. Which is what I find myself mostly doing in comments. I suppose I could just as easily find points of agreement, but what’s the fun in that.

25 01 2011
A Sinner

Well, on this I agree:

“Where to not be a member of that particular Catholic lay organization is to be less than fully Catholic. And where all Catholics before the advent of that cult, and all those now who are not a member of that cult are suffering from not being a member because only through that membership can one be fully Catholic.

And where leaving that same cult is viewed by other cult members as apostasy from the Faith where ostracism is the typical response.

Which is not to deny the good those cults serve. For instance, a fair number of Italian college kids embraced the Faith through Communion and Liberation, but those same college kids in turn invariable held that it was only through C.L. that the Faith could be fully lived. I know, I mistakenly helped found C.L. in my hometown, and spent hours fruitlessly attempting to explain to them that the Faith was not perfected in C.L.

And that experience with C.L. I discovered was common among others I have talked to who associated with the other Catholic lay cults.”

I think college kids are particularly susceptible. At my college Newman Center, there was one such group (with its accompanying Retreat initiation) and it was almost like The Party of a one-party-state. Sure, there was a theoretical difference between The Group and the Catholic Church on campus/the Newman Center…but it was clear that The Group had a monopoly on positions of leadership, on the public agenda. Other groups (including the Knights of Columbus themselves) were marginalized in favor of The Group, which spoke of themselves EXACTLY as this article describes, as if their experience was the be-all and end-all of the Faith and the best and only way to live it.

25 01 2011
Turmarion

I think the article pretty much nails it.

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