Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why NFP classes Should Be Required

I think I'm in the minority on this one (and that's okay). Here goes anyways:

I believe that all couples entering marriage in the Catholic Church should be required to complete NFP training.

You still there? No one fainted? Well if you're offended by that I should tell you to just 'X' out of this tab right now because it's only going to get worse. ;-) So why would I make a blanket mandate for all Catholics? For two reasons:

1) We may not get another chance.
2) They could need it someday.


I'm gong to elaborate on the first today. Our culture doesn't embrace NFP. Instead we embrace contraception as the norm, as a basic right. The general population doesn't have a freaking clue what modern methods of NFP are. The myth that NFP is the rhythm method is prevalent today and if we don't take the time to educate women that it's not, we're doing them a disservice.

Silence isn't an appropriate response to this.

We're competing with Planned Parenthood who spends millions of dollars every year pushing contraceptives on women from the time they turn 10. Meanwhile, no one is saying a word about any type of fertility awareness and women are left thinking they need this pill, device, or shot to live a fulfilling life. And here we are, with this wonderful opportunity to at least make them aware that there is a better way and we refuse to do it.

This does not mean that all couples have to use NFP. Some will choose to continue contracepting, some see no reason to postpone a pregnancy so they just have it from the get go. Some may have their mind opened to NFP, maybe they aren't ready to kick the pill and start charting but the seed has been planted.

Our bodies are wonderfully made and deserve to be treated that way. Contraception says that our bodies are broken and in need of fixing. Women deserve better than contraception and we have an obligation to show them their true beauty. We may not get every couple to understand the Church's teaching and we won't convince every woman to toss her pack of pills but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Every woman needs to know how perfectly she was made, even if she doesn't want to hear it.

28 comments:

  1. I absolutely agree with you and I wish it were required! We just had a 45 minute session at our retreat where a couple talked about how great it was for their marriage, but I didn't really get what it was.

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  2. I definitely agree with you! And it is the norm here where I live for those in marriage prep- there is a mandatory "brief" teaching and talk on it and then they can go and seek full free classes. It is wonderful!!

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  3. I'll go a bit further and say that Every Man deserves to see his wife as wonderfully and beautifully made even if he doesn't want to hear it. Usually, it's easier to get the women on board...but because men balk at it, women balk at it (because women want to please their man)

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  4. I totally agree!!!! We're in the process of being a Sympto-Thermal teaching couple, and we were told it would probably be really hard to find couples to teach because the only diocese where the classes are large are in the diocese that require NFP for marriage prep.

    I also think it needs to be presented well, we worked at an Engaged Encounter retreat last winter just helping with set up and take down, and we also sorted the survey's from the end of the day, and about the (30 minute...) NFP talk all anyone had to say was "It was so judgemental" "Don't tell me what to do with my body" etc. and I think it was because the people listening to the talk probably had no idea what it was going into it, and thought it was some radical crazy thing people with 50 kids used, you know?

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    1. Also, sorry that last "paragraph" is all just one huge run-on sentence... haha :)

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  5. I have to say I disagree. Not that I am against NFP, or think that couples shouldn't ever learn it. But I am against forcing a couple to learn something that is not a requirement of marriage to receive a Sacrament. I think that what should be required is a more thorough, personal pre cana experience.

    We do not contracept or use NFP. I know that we are in the minority, but, in reality we shouldn't be. No I'm not judging anyone's reasons to avoid. I am saying that we are not meant to be so burdened by other aspects of life (finances, not having support, etc) that we can not always welcome new lives. The norm is to always be open, as a loving Mother, Holy Mother Church has given us the gift of NFP. We should not be saying "NFP is as good as contraceptives, better even!" but embracing that which separates us from the mainstream.

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    1. No, life shouldn't be so burdensome by things that it becomes harder to include more children, but it does sometimes. I don't know you; maybe you've been lucky not to have a lot of hardships. Some people have had lots of hardships--job loss, illness, other serious things going on that cause them grave reason to postpone. And don't forget, the blog we are commenting on right now is someone who is postponing a family because she is in medical school. (BTW, this is @JentoInfinity)

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    2. I don't know anyone who hasn't had hardships. I don't generally like discussing that we don't use NFP besides the problems I had w/ my 2nd son that included a 3 week hospital stay 3 hours from home, because somehow people feel judged. Just because we aren't feeling called to use NFP now doesn't mean a) we won't ever or b) we think our holiness is related at all I am not saying that using NFP is wrong or bad. I definitely think the info should be readily available for those who have reasons to avoid. I just don't think it should be a REQUIREMENT to receive a Sacrament.

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  6. You are right on, Katie. This is so much more than a technique; this is a way that helps husbands and wives look at each other in a true way, as bodily persons, with attention to the awesome dignity of their spousal love.

    We have always preferred terms like "fertility awareness," because that is what this is actually all about. This awareness allows couples to participate more fully in the mystery of the conception of their own children.

    It's understandable, in the midst of the struggle against contraception, to say things like "We *use* NFP" as opposed to "*using* the pill". I wonder if that way of speaking might confuse some people. NFP, or rather, "fertility awareness" is something totally different, because its about spouses understanding their full dignity as bodily persons. It also leads them to a deeper awareness of the presence of God in their marriage.

    Within this awareness, spouses--in cooperation with God--make decisions about how to express their love in a way that affirms the way they have been created and the covenant to which they have been called.

    I think we need to promote a *culture* of fertility awareness, and it is encouraging to see that younger people are building and doing so much good here. Thank you for all you do, and God bless you!

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  7. I agree wholeheartedly. The other day I found the "workbook" my husband and I used at our day-long precana session. It had a page that mentioned NFP... I can't even remember what it said. But it was one question, one mention of NFP. And seeing how the whole "day" was 5 hours long... my guess is NFP was mentioned for 15 minutes?

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    1. LOL I should find my workbook...I bet mine was similar. We also had one couple who spoke about it but they were very vague about what exactly it was. That's not good advertising, IMO.

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  8. It was required in my Archdiocese and I thought that was great! Although some people say it shouldn't be required because Catholics shouldn't feel like they have to use NFP, I think that there are way more Catholics getting married in the Church that are planning to contracept than there are faithful Catholics who will don't want/need to use NFP and therefore are forced to take an unnecessary class.

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    1. There are probably way more Catholics who've never heard of NFP *UNTIL* that class! Who knows who might be swayed at the class?

      My very first time hearing about it was in college (a Catholic one) from a young male professor. My 20 year old ears were horrified by hearing him discuss his wife's cervical mucus. (He made it sound like HE checked it, lol.) He also shared some crazy weird letters that he sent to the Shippleys (and their responses).

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  9. This does not mean that all couples have to use NFP. Some will choose to continue contracepting, some see no reason to postpone a pregnancy so they just have it from the get go. Some may have their mind opened to NFP, maybe they aren't ready to kick the pill and start charting but the seed has been planted.

    This.

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  10. I completely agree with you. I wish it was required of us then it probably wouldn't have been so hard to find a class or a teacher. We ended up simply learning from a book.

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  11. :) Agreed!

    I know of a parish in my diocese that requires couples to go to the 'intro' class, which is one of 3 classes. If the couple continues to go to the rest that is up to them, but they aren't required to do anything more than the first. I thought that was a good way to get t in their mind without pushing them into something that they may never need.

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  12. Yes! Great post!

    Our Diocese highly recommends it, but it is optional. I do wish it was required. They do require a course called "God's Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage" though, which is actually theological, based on Theology of the Body, and NFP was mentioned in it. I think more Dioceses should require "God's Plan..." too.

    The only downside to requiring the course, is that it will typically cost money. We did not take a course for this reason, because we were trying to save wherever we could. But we did learn on our own with a book, though, which cost much less than the course. We used Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Weschler. We would have taken a class if we still didn't understand after reading the book, but this book teaches sympto-thermal very well.

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    1. We had to take other classes that cost money. The were ridiculous: basically the whole thing was designed for people who had horrible relationships. Since many diocese are already requiring classes that cost, they might as well require NFP.

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  14. NFP training, yes, NFP CLASSES, no.

    Our classes did far more harm than good.

    Creighton was the wrong method for us. The instructor thought there was something wrong with HER instead of directing us to a different method. Because Creighton provides no material, we had no way of figuring this out.

    CCL (Kippley era) taught incorrect doctrine. They were "more Catholic than the Pope", pushing openness to life beyond what is required by the Church and ignoring the obligation to responsible parenthood. They promote very unhealthy and irresponsible behavior, just as long as new life is created. This really soured us to NFP and the Catholic Church and caused us to give up and use contraception.

    When we "tried again", she read TCOYF and loved it, then supplemented with the Billings material we found online.

    I think a far better idea than requiring classes is to give a copy of TCOYF to every couple preparing for marriage. Far easier and far cheaper too.

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  15. I agree!! Why if the Catholic Church sees NFP as the only option for family planningis do we make NFP classes optional for Pre-Cana? For those who don't understand the Church's teaching the optional class at most parishes makes it seem like NFP is just an option along side the artificial contraceptions. We must encourage and pray that our pastors have the courage to make a strong stand for Truth.

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  16. I don't think that classes should be required. I believe people can opt out if they don't think it will apply to them - such as my family member who had childhood cancer and can't bear children anyway. That also goes for couples who already know they are infertile. In addition there are couples who don't care to use NFP and know they will accept children as they enter their lives (but I think it is nice to know how a woman's body works and why it does what it does).

    What I DO wish is that all couples be given the ability to attend classes for free. You should not have to pay for this type of essential knowledge. This is also something that can save lives (through avoidance of abortion-inducing contraception). Shouldn't that be free?

    If this were an OPT-out class I think you would get more couples than if you just left it to couples to search for their own classes.

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  17. Another reason they should be required is because it shows the institutional church and its leaders are serious about this no birth control stuff. As long as the NFP/birth control part of pre-cana is nothing more than a short "we have to talk about this" section in a long day/weekend/series of classes, there will be couples who come to the same conclusion I did--that yes, the rule is on the books, but neither father nor anyone else (including God) really expects me to obey it. I mean if you were serious about a teaching that is as unpopular and countercultural as the Church's sexuality teachings, wouldn't you try hard to teach people about it?

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    1. I agree. I think the strongest premise in favor of requiring NFP training is that it makes the point that it is something IMPORTANT. The theological/moral aspects of marriage and sex are more important to "drive home" than the practical "make sure you talk about finances, family, holidays, etc" in pre-cana.

      I think every couple can be helped in some way by understanding the use of NFP. Even if they won't need it for whatever reason, they can at least talk about it and explain the basics to others. This can be evangelistic, in a sense.

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  18. I could not agree more! Our diocese required NFP classes before marriage, and I don't know what we would have done if it weren't required. We probably would not have been motivated to spend more time, more money, and more effort to find and take a class ourselves, and I honestly don't know what we would have done instead.
    As a woman, I learned so much about MY OWN BODY during the NFP classes! Not just about when I'm fertile/infertile, but about being able to tell if my body is functioning in a normal, healthy way. I'm greatly distressed that most women don't ever get this sort of education about what is going on their own bodies!

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  19. I think all couples planning to marry in the Church should be given an overview of the different NFP methods and then they should be required to pick one to learn about more in-depth. My husband and I have to really go out of our way to try to find an NFP class and we felt like our diocese did very little to promote NFP. It was frustrating. I think required NFP classes would be good for couples.

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