Monday, July 16, 2012

Melinda Gates,, and NFP is a new website that seems to be all the rage amongst some NFP promoters. It has a lot of good information about the massive problems with artificial contraception. The problem I have with it is that the focus seems to be on sex as an end in itself. This organization bills itself as “A grassroots movement in opposition to the use of artificial contraception, dedicated to bringing great sex to the entire universe”. That makes me wince.

I realize the targeted audience is really young people, and I am not one of those. But what is the site teaching? Sure, I want young people to know the dangers of artificial contraception – both physical and moral. But I don’t want them to be encouraged any more than they already are to focus on sex per se. I also want them to know something about marriage – like its primary purpose, for instance.

Recently, has released a video “letter” to Melinda Gates. The message seems to be, “Yes, we really need to help women in third world countries control births. But let’s not give them contraception; let’s teach them NFP instead!”

Now, try telling me that that’s not using NFP with a contraceptive mindset. Can you really do that and keep a straight face?

Consider the following conversation, reported by the author of an article at C-FAM, which took place at the Summit on Family Planning in London earlier this month (my emphasis):

“What are women’s attitudes toward children,” I asked a representative from a Sierra Leone family planning organization.

“Before the war, they were negative. Now they are positive.”

“Do they want children?” I clarified.

“Yes, they want children. They need to learn their rights. When they learn their rights, they won’t want children.

The battle to introduce widespread contraception and abortion in countries that don’t want it has become vicious. Countries like the Philippines have resisted; African nations have resisted; but the pressure from Planned Parenthood and other groups is intense. The goal is, ostensibly, to lower maternal and infant mortality rates, and increase the standard of living, I guess. But the effects of birth control are starting to be felt quite keenly in nations where the fertility rate has dropped non-replacement levels – like Japan, for example. There aren’t enough babies…not enough people. So…we want to foist the problem onto other nations, too?!

In an article by Carey J. Winters, I found this thought:

Satan is well aware that the easiest way to rid the world of Catholicism is to rid it of Catholics. [Solange] Hertz maintains that

…the abomination of desolation is contraception … particularly as practiced by His own people in the guise of so-called "natural family planning" … Standing poised in the holy place to destroy souls and bodies at the very source of life in the Christian family, contraception is proving to be the apex and consummation of that old Master heresy from which all Christian heresies have derived. By its means Lucifer hopes to terminate the Church as we know her. (Beyond Politics, p 200)

Both contraception and NFP can be used for evil purposes, and Satan chortles when people say that NFP is “approved” by the Church.

When suggests that we teach women NFP instead of giving them artificial contraception, it is supporting the same agenda as contraception: limiting the number of children conceived and born. What if the people want to have large families? Why can’t we aim at increasing maternal and infant health and raising the standard of living in countries through other means than limiting births?’s video also says that there’s no “moral objection” to NFP. Wrong. Despite what the USCCB website section on NFP might lead one to believe, 19 centuries of Catholic Church teaching have said, time and time again, first, that birth control is wrong; and second, more recently, that NFP should only be used for “serious reasons”. NFP is not meant to be “Catholic contraception”. Unfortunately, however, that seems to be what it is becoming.

Yes, I know all the reasons given for why NFP is technically not the same as artificial contraception.  I know NFP is licit. But I agree with Dr. Anthony Caruso, a former IVF doctor who, having realized the harm that was being done by that practice, is now working to establish a center for reproductive health that follows “the model set forth by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church". He says (my emphasis):

It is not that NFP is not licit. Nor that it is not a great means of becoming aware of the female cycle. However, all too often, in the quest for spacing, we forget that it is important to cooperate with God. Too much reliance on NFP is no different than any other contraceptive device. Just think about it.

Let’s go back to “serious reasons” for NFP – that oft-neglected qualifier that many want to leave to the discernment of the couple, because “their reasons may be serious to them” – which, I’m sorry, just sounds like moral relativism to me.

Anyway, the reason for the reluctance to give some guidelines for "serious reasons" for using NFP is that many bishops and priests don't have the courage to say "No" to anything...except the EF Mass, perhaps.

They are so worried about hurting anyone's feelings, that they don't want to even suggest that "I don't want to be pregnant for my sister's wedding" is not a good reason to avoid pregnancy. They hem and haw and say, “Well, just follow your conscience.” They don't want to set limits. And there are probably too many priests (still) who won't condemn contraception, for the same reasons.

Let’s face it; we just don’t hear much about sin in general these days. At least, I don’t.

Neither do I hear much talk about marital chastity, except from those who seem to believe that "marital chastity means that you are faithful to your spouse". That is not what it means! That would be fidelity, would it not?!? Chastity means that and a lot more…which I will address at some other time.

It seems to me that few want to talk about what marital chastity really means. There seems to be an underlying philosophy for many married Catholics that, as long as you're married, "anything goes" as far as sex is concerned, and it's all good. If it feels good, do it! Since God made it feel good, He must want us to do it…a lot! Like, whenever we want, and without fear of getting pregnant. (It is possible to consider oneself open to life, to have several children, and to still have this philosophy. We are not always completely aware of the forces that have shaped our actions.)

And for heaven's sake, priests and bishops, don't talk about having a large family! That’s so old-fashioned, and not reflective of responsible parenthood. And anyway, don’t Humanae Vitae and Gaudium et Spes say that couples themselves should determine how many children they want to have? Never mind the qualifiers; the liberal forces got their way with that loose language. And look where it's gotten us!

The Church has always taught that the primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children; and that the unitive end is both subordinate to and inseparable from the procreative end.  As Carey Winters notes:

The relationship between this understanding of the primary end of marriage and the prohibition of contraception is intrinsic. That they could be licitly divorced – and an intentionally sterile marriage act facilitated solely for the pleasure of the spouses – was unthinkable.

But that “divorce”, and the “intentionally sterile marriage act” that results is exactly what Melinda Gates hopes to achieve by making contraception widely available.

And that same “divorce” appears to be what is advocating in the way it promotes NFP.

Click on the NFP tab at the top of the page for a list of other NFP posts on this blog.


  1. Dr Boyd:

    Thank you. The fact that the NFP admirers find this website wonderful tells us all we need to know about the utter tragedy that NFP is.

    If I have one minor cavil it is that you are far, far too nice to the concept of NFP. It is the true "third rail" in Catholicism and I am absolutely convinced that its approval by Rome and its wide acceptance among Catholics was a disaster of the first magnitude. It will be a hundred years or more before the Church regains Her balance on this and condemns the method entirely.

    Which, I have no doubt whatever, it will do.

    But don't let me depress you. Keep up the fine work.

  2. By the way, by the term "this website" I was not referring to yours; I was referring to "1flesh". My phrasing was awkward.

  3. Aged Parent - thanks. I agree, it's going to take some time to undo the damage. And the sad thing is, I really don't think Rome "approved" NFP; it's more like it is to be tolerated. But many have assumed it is "approved" and even "encouraged".

    1. Dr. Boyd, with all due respect, "Rome" spoke in a way that far more than just tolerated the practice, praised it! But it was in a document that you disregard, Familiaris Consortio. You must admit that this papal pronouncement undermines your position quite a bit.

      Oh, also, Humanae Vitae uses "serious reasons" only in connection with the decision to limit one's family to one or two. For the purposes of spacing, which is what we are mainly concerned about, what is needed is a "well-grounded" reason.

      That is the term used on the Vatican website, so let's be clear about that, otherwise the teaching gets distorted.

      Since you couldn't possibly know what is in one's heart, or one's spouse's heart unless they've told you, it's kind of difficult to make a judgment as to that. That is up to the priest in the confessional to determine, and the moral theologians who figure out these matters.

  4. The problem boils down to the fact that people confuse "Serious Reasons" with the fact that having children is difficult. Just because it is hard to have a bunch of small children and a cholicky baby for example, is not a serious reason - its what you sighed up for when you got married. Serious reasons are extraordinary things that happen from time to time. At that point the Church really does leave the amount of abstinence up to an individual couple.

  5. The USCCB is wimpy on NFP because the use of contraception is so widespread among Catholics they don't dare go all the way back to the 60's and say that people should accept as many children as God sends them. Things are so far gone. I also think that a lot of them may not exactly believe in contraception but they've bought the Planned Parenthood line and they don't really believe in big families either.

  6. They hem and haw and say, “Well, just follow your conscience.”

    Oh my goodness. That was my experience. I was imperfectly catechised before I entered the Church, and during my lessons with Father Tom I asked him outright what the Church's position was on contraception. Considering that in the time I was most definitely in a state of mortal sin, it was a relevant question.

    He pretty much said that it was up to my conscience. Sin wasn't really discussed, and it's taken me years - as in over 20 - to understand the concept and the enormity of that state.

    The paths I've followed even after becoming Catholic have been spiritually bereft, but at least I knew that God the Father was watching over me. There's no way otherwise that I'd be here now, and as relatively unscathed as I am.

    I heard more talk of sin in protestant gatherings than in Catholic ones for a long time, and that is a terrible shame. God willing it changes.

  7. What does the following passage mean to you?

    "Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom."

    Catechism of the Catholic Church § 2370.

    If NFP is such a tragedy, why the glowing description of it in the Catechism?

  8. 1Flesh is a secular website, not a Catholic one.


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