Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hardcore NFP view "seems like a real contradiction"

Rod Dreher writes on his Crunchy Con blog about the cult-like attitude toward NFP he and his wife encountered on a support mailing list:

Any idea that NFP is anything other than the perfect, most easily implemented way of life seemed forbidden in that online circle. It was as if you couldn't admit to having problems with it, even within the context of fidelity to NFP. For an online support group, that was discouraging....

But we really did encounter a kind of political correctness within observant Catholic circles (that is, among people who were committed to NFP) about this stuff.

A comment posted by a mother of three, "Quinault," is interesting:

My husband and I have been married almost 12 years now. We used hormonal birth control for about 9 months, up until I had horrible reactions to it (i.e I gained a ton of weight and became a basketcase).

After some trial and error with non-hormonal methods we tried NFP. It worked quite well for us. That said, it doesn't work for everyone. There are exceptions to the rules of EBF/NFP. Women can ovulate multiple times in a cycle! And you can have "fertile" signs for nearly your entire cycle. Which if you are trying to avoid conception can mean no sex for years. Many hardcore EBF/NFP people that are Catholic will say that you have to either use NFP or live a sexless marriage. That isn't a good option on any level. Sex is supposed to be "unitive and open to life" they will say. And they are quick to say that a marriage isn't valid unless consumated. It seems like a real contradiction to me.

I like the Orthodox view that there is no difference between barrier methods and NFP. One prevents the sperm from getting to the egg, one prevents the egg from getting to the sperm.

But I have seen marriages absolutely destroyed or men addicted to porn because of these hardcore NFP ideals.

The contradiction she points out is similar to the dilemma I've written about here.

Here's another interesting couple of comments, from Kirk:

Therefore, among non-abortifacient methods, contraception is contraception, whether NFP or otherwise. That is to say, the attitude of the heart of a married couple is the same whether they are using NFP, the rhythym method or a barrier method. Each are an attempt by the couple to control their reproductive capacities, and each may miss blessings that would otherwise be bestowed upon them by God's Will....

Would we consider Onan a righteous man if he had engaged in NFP rather than withdrawal?


Pete said...

I have no idea why NFP would be seen as more "open" to life then the barrier method. In both cases you are trying to prevent pregnancy. In both cases there is a chance for pregnancy, as if giving God "the option" is really what matters. (I'm sure, as God, He doesn't need you to allow Him a little wiggle room to do what He wants). I perused a quiverfull forum for a bit, and occasionally the topic of NFP came up; and while I could tell there had been some uneasiness about it in the past, so as to make the topic a bit taboo, the hardcore quiverfull members occasionally mentioned it was just as wrong as any other method.

I think I have a good theory for why quiverfull people can be so judgmental, and so quick to assign the label "selfish" to those who choose otherwise. Its because they are jealous. Don't get me wrong, they don't want to have less children, I believe them that their many children bring them a great deal of joy. But there are pro and cons to everything in life. Having many children brings a lot of joy, but at the expense of other pleasures in this life. So when they see others who can take more advantage of them, such as more money, more opportunity to pay for higher education, ease of vacations, nights out, etc; they envy those people those freedoms. The fact they would prefer to have many children instead of these luxaries does not change the fact that they notice them as luxarious, and therefor they wish no one had them. Ultimatly, it is kind of ironic, if you feel having so many children is clearly the more joyful experience, why label the other side "selfish". They are not being "selfish", they are missing out!

I was married at 21. I had my first child at 23, then 25, and then a vasectomy at 26. I have never regretted it. My wife and I are 31, enjoy our two daughters immensely, stay in the gym and in shape, and enjoy consistent frequent passionate barrier-free sex. I wouldn't change anything about my life.

Pete said...

Whoooops, I thought this entry was June 4, 2009. I thought you just woke up this blog one day and on the very day I arrive. Looks like I am a whole year late. You probably don't check this blog anymore, but if you do I wish you well and hope you sex life and marriage approved over the last year.

Anonymous said...

hi, i found your blog through an archive of a feminist blog. i don't know if you check it anymore, but as i never see this mentioned in the us-american contraception debate, i'd like to point out to you that there are contraception techniques that do not, in my eyes, violate the evangelical view of "lawful" sex.

the female cycle works the following way: it starts with the first day of the period. during every cycle the ovaries send out one cell (sometimes more) to the uterus, where it can encounter a sperm cell to conceive a baby. usually, this happens after 14 (12-18) days after the cycle starts. this cell remains alive for 1-3 days. after it dies, all the remaining days until the period the woman is in fact infertile, so it is absolutely safe to sleep together in that time. because every woman is different, the ovulation process can differ by a few days.

temperature measurement (every morning before getting up) makes it possible to track the cycle process, because shortly before ovulation, the temperature rises a little bit. also, during ovulation, the vaginal secretion is thicker and stickier to allow the sperm cell better access to the uterus. all of these indications can be very secure signs about the risk of pregnancy, if observed regularly. this way, you can sleep together whenever it seems safe, and you do not need to employ any other way of conception which might seem sinful in your eyes. best ask a pharmacist about the details which would take too much space to write in here. all the best from switzerland. e