Sunday, August 11, 2013

Family Planning or Family Privation?

This is part II of my post "Diabolical Family Planning, Part I".

The Disney film I posted the other day aptly illustrates the naked facts about “family planning”.  Here it is again, for your viewing "pleasure" (ahem):

Were people perhaps a little more na├»ve in 1968 than they are today? Some of the statements or depictions seem baldly racist and patently false; today, we use more nuanced verbiage to avoid the truth! The film paints a one-sided (and erroneous) picture of the “consequences” of having “too many” children. I suspect that most people – even those who are pro-abortion and pro-contraception – would be a little embarrassed by this film today. The style of “persuasion” is so dated…

But, still, aren’t the notions outlined in the film exactly what people really think…even today? Doesn’t everyone believe that when there are too many children, there’s not enough food, no modern conveniences, the family ox dies, everyone’s health suffers, the children are “sickly and unhappy, with no future.” The narrator warns us that this will be the fate of many families “if the number of children born is left to chance. But fortunately, this need not happen any more.”

People today may not articulate it quite that way, but when it comes down to it, the reasons given in the film for limiting children are the ones you still hear from people today – when they actually give reasons. It seems to me that most people don’t even feel a need to justify limiting family size – it just makes sense! Look at the economy! A family can’t make it on one income! Look at the cost of health care!

We add in a few extra reasons: We want to send our kids to a good private school, and we can’t do that if we have “too many”. We want to provide a “good environment” for our kids to grow up in, and we can’t afford educational trips and vacations if we have “too many”. And so on...if we have "too many". Don’t tell me people don’t think this way!

Where does NFP fit into all this? Well, one reader pointed out to me (via email) that:
In the Disney video’s explanation about how family planning works, the video used the same wording and rhetoric that is used to promote NFP. NFP can be used to determine the size of a couple's family. It can be used to allow better spacing; it can be used to have no more, or later on have another, etc. It is safe and 100% natural, the wife will be happier and healthier along with the children... it's responsible... it’s not about the number of children, but how you can take care of the current ones.

In most of the NFP rhetoric, the video could be aptly applied, especially when used to promote family planning in third world countries. You almost get the sense that NFP promoters see families in the same light as the video depicted: the more children you have the sorrier the family looks.

Yes indeed. The narrator of the film also tells us that “family planning means that, without affecting normal relations as man and wife, you can decide in advance the number of children you will have, and when you will have them.” He just forgot to add that part about “serious reasons” and “prayerful discernment”.  
But the bottom line is this: “family planning” equals birth control. There are many forms of birth control, of course, as the video points out.  “You can use a pill”, we are told, but allusions are made to other methods, and the fact that “there’s an acceptable way for everyone.” One of those “acceptable ways” is NFP. Now, I’m not saying that NFP is the “same as” artificial contraception. But I am saying that it’s birth control, and until Vatican II, the Church has never supported or condoned birth control.    

Here’s an excerpt from a comment left on my previous post, in which the commenter describes her experience with NFP (my emphases):

If only we had seen the decision to avoid as the object of discernment, instead of the decision to conceive! I've read all the arguments as to how NFP can be used selfishly, but not contraceptively, and I remain unconvinced.

Our motivation in using NFP was never selfishness; in fact, I believed for many years, that I was selfish in wanting and having more children. But our entire view of NFP was that it must be used to avoid the "mistake" of conceiving another child. Thanks be to God for the "accidents" which resulted from our lack of skills and dedication in this area!

I don't need to mention how many well-meaning priests advised us to cool it over the years. The contraceptive mentality is much bigger than the simple issue of artificial birth control. This culture views children as disruptive and almost impossibly difficult to put up with as a lifelong proposition, and NFP-practicing Catholics often share that basic view in many ways.

This is not a judgment on anyone - not myself, my husband, or anyone else. If anything, I feel so blinded and duped by a hierarchy that has it only half right. The Church teaches that children are our life and our joy. To avoid conception is always a serious privation, and should be understood as such, even if it can sometimes be a sacrificial good. The heavy emphasis on not making overly scrupulous people feel bad may be costing many, many others the chance to live a life free of unnecessary restrictions on their marriage and family size.

Her idea that avoiding conception is a “serious privation” reflects the reasoning of Fr. Cormac Burke who has written (my emphases):

What is perhaps most significant here is not the number of Catholics who, in violation of the Church's clear teaching, make use of contraceptives, but the quasi-exaltation of family planning by natural means as if this represented some sort of ideal for Catholic married life, and not, as in fact it is, a recourse that the Church allows, because Nature itself allows it, when a couple have serious reasons for depriving themselves - and their present children - of the gift from God of a further child.

Let those words sink in: “depriving themselves” of the gift from God of another child.

It’s pretty easy, I think, to see how the overgeneralizations in the Disney film were bought – hook, line, and sinker – by American society at large. The advent of artificial contraception made possible the separation of the sex act from its procreative end. A “unitive” purpose was imparted to the sex act itself. That ideology led further into separating out the procreative end of marriage, and minimizing it. Nowadays, in general, the idea seems to be that we are “entitled” to the pleasure of the sex act without having to be responsible for any offspring that might result from the act that has their conception as its primary (and only) purpose! Heck, many people seem to believe that we are entitled to the pleasure of the sex act without the benefit (and responsibility) of marriage.

So, in essence, the idea that we should be able to have our sexual pleasure and avoid the natural outcome of the sexual act is the primary idea behind “family planning” – and that includes natural family planning. Fr. Cormac Burke notes:

…[W]e seem to have forgotten that the essential reason why Natural Family Planning is termed "natural" is to mark the borderline that distinguishes it from "unnatural" and immoral family planning through the use of contraceptives. In that sense, NFP marks a "moral minimum", a way of avoiding children without sin - when there are serious reasons to do so. Certainly these grave reasons can exist; but the clear teaching of the magisterium is that NFP is natural only when such reasons exist. Without those serious reasons Natural Family Planning would be "unnatural" and morally wrong

Sadly, NFP is often just rationalization fueled by lust. Once the mind grabs on to a reason to indulge our passions, it sounds like all the "family planning" propaganda. As Christopher Gawley pointed out in his article on “Heroic Parenthood”,

… because NFP advocates treat NFP as a good without qualification, couples are encouraged to view using NFP as a positive part of their conjugal lives. But Catholic couples ought to feel a sorrow by having the necessity to resort to NFP. By analogy, NFP is a type of bankruptcy in a technical sense.

Yes, we are bankrupting the world by limiting births; a number of nations are beginning to experience this now (just search the LifeSiteNews website for “underpopulation” for a number of articles on this).

Disney and Donald Duck notwithstanding, “family planning” is not family friendly. 


  1. One poster wrote: "Thanks be to God for the "accidents" which resulted from our lack of skills and dedication in this area!"

    Oh, how true this is! That's why my favorite article about NFP is the one written by Harry Crocker where he said, "The only good thing about NFP is the fact that it doesn't work."

    We were convinced to go along with NFP for many years, but Deo Gratias it never worked for us, and we ended up with a large family anyway -- which probably made it easier to accept the true teaching on generosity and fruitfulness when I finally discovered it.

    You said: "Her idea that avoiding conception is a “serious privation” reflects the reasoning of Fr. Cormac Burke ... "

    You have highlighted several excellent points that Msgr. Cormac Burke made in this article. However, the article is fundamentally flawed because it begins by inverting the natural order of the purposes of marriage. This is a grave evil that cannot be compensated for simply by saying some good things about NFP later on. You should be aware, moreover, that Msgr. Burke is NOT on our side as a general rule. As judge of the Roman Rota, he presided over the vast multiplication of annulments, and he wrote that he saw no problem with this, and in fact he thought that even more marriages should be annulled than the 50,000 per year he was processing.

    Pope Pius XII said in his "Allocution to Midwives":
    "Now, the truth is that matrimony, as an institution of nature, in virtue of the Creator's will, has not as a primary and intimate end the personal perfection of the married couple but the procreation and upbringing of a new life. The other ends, inasmuch as they are intended by nature, are not equally primary, much less superior to the primary end, but are essentially subordinated to it. This is true of every marriage, even if no offspring result, just as of every eye it can be said that it is destined and formed to see, even if, in abnormal cases arising from special internal or external conditions, it will never be possible to achieve visual perception."

    "It was precisely to end the uncertainties and deviations which threatened to diffuse errors regarding the scale of values of the purposes of matrimony and of their reciprocal relations, that a few years ago (March 10, 1944), We Ourselves drew up a declaration on the order of those ends, pointing out what the very internal structure of the natural disposition reveals. We showed what has been handed down by Christian tradition, what the Supreme Pontiffs have repeatedly taught, and what was then in due measure promulgated by the Code of Canon Law. Not long afterwards, to correct opposing opinions, the Holy See, by a public decree, proclaimed that it could not admit the opinion of some recent authors who denied that the primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of the offspring, or teach that the secondary ends are not essentially subordinated to the primary end, but are on an equal footing and independent of it."

    -John G.

  2. Dear Dr. Jay,
    Related to the Disney clip, I think that the political and institutional foundations of Obamist ideology are written black on white on the National Security Study Memorandum (NSM 200) aka. Kissinger Report, 1974.
    In case u dont know it, its worth to look here, with links to the originals:


    That document came after the Bucharest World Population (which is very interesting to study too) conference in that same year of 1974 and it was recently disclosed. That explains much of the propaganda and funds to bribe our corrupted governments in order to passs that laws.

    yours in Christ,
    Juan (Argentina)

    PS Thanks for the Vortex scripts, again.

    1. PS sorry, the link is not working. But you can google it.

  3. Thanks, Juan; I'll check it out.

    I put a translate button on the blog, and it will translate the whole thing into Spanish. Does that help at all? I have no idea whether they do a decent translation or not! Let me know!

  4. Dr Jay, the translation button gives a quite decent result, at least in Spanish. (maybe you can use it to translate my posts here into "real English"!)

    I did not want to mention before, but the truth is when i saw the Disney clip, i felt myself insulted. Like being slapped. I did not mention it because i think that the third world person moaning about the yankee racism is part of the leftist stereotype about us and about your american people too. But....hey...that video is REAL racism.

  5. I'm glad the translation is good!

    I'm sorry for the racism. I thought it was racist, too. Thank you for acknowledging that it is insulting! That whole movement of limiting population and eugenics is racist at its core.


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