I chose the article (found here) on Natural Family Planning (NFP) as a starting point rather than an ending point. It would be easy to start with the ‘wrongs’ of artificial birth control (ABC), but I’d rather start with what I believe is the ‘right’ way to regulate the birth of children. And, yes, I believe that there are times when it is justly done. Now on to the article.
The real decision, therefore, that couples with the gravest of reasons to avoid pregnancy need to come to is whether they actually require absolute certainty that they will not conceive – in which case total abstinence is the only true option – or whether the small degree of uncertainty that will remain, no matter what they do, if they continue to be sexually active is something that they can entrust to God.
This is the conclusion of the author’s first point. It’s a good beginning for my purposes. The Catholic Church doesn’t teach that NFP should be practiced lightly. It should be done with the right intentions and hopefully with spiritual direction. The last sentence of this paragraph is the essence of the debate for me. Can I trust God? As I’ve pointed out in the thread on contraception in the Eccesiology sub-forum, my wife and I recently stopped using artificial birth control. She’s not Catholic, and it’s not a topic I’ve brought up in almost three years. She approached me, and I gladly (and thankfully) agreed to her request. I can already see a drastic change in how we relate to each other, especially when it comes to intimacy. The creative potential of the act is embraced (for those who would dispute that NFP negates this as well, I’ll deal with this objection later). The unitive aspect of the act is embraced. There are no barriers other than our God-given choice to abstain or partake. To give or to withhold. And there are times to withhold. And there are times to give. And in all of this, there is a beautiful trusting in the providence of God.