Natural family planning a blessing for couples

A newly married couple hold rosaries in their hands as they leave Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in this Feb. 24, 2016, file photo. In his prayer intention for the month of June, the pope prayed for young couples who answer the vocational call to marriage, which is “a challenging journey, at times difficult, sometimes even confrontational, but it is worth the risk.” (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Catholic Church is losing a battle against the wanton sexual behavior initiated by the pill in the 1960s.

In a July 8 article David Ayers, Ph.D., writes about the alarming fertility decline among American Catholic women.

“…Given Catholic teaching on artificial birth control, the purposes of matrimony, and the sanctity of life, we would expect that Catholics would at least be doing better at withstanding this movement toward steeply declining births,” Ayers writes. “Sadly, this does not appear to be the case.”

It is not the case, according to Becky Knapp, because natural family planning takes commitment, communication, and periodic abstinence.

NFP requires sacrifice

“It does require sacrifice. We should remember that Christ died on a cross. Why? Because he loves us. Because he wanted to conquer death,” she said.

Although challenging at times, natural family planning has benefits: a much lower divorce rate, greater intimacy between partners, and it’s chemical-free.

Perhaps the greatest challenge, though, is periodic abstinence, she said.

Knapp, the diocesan coordinator for Natural Family Planning, said, “Couples practicing natural means of fertility recognition are dying to self – whether they’re trying to achieve or avoid pregnancy.”

Couples trying to avoid pregnancy must at times abstain when using natural means. “That’s not what they want to do. That’s normal but it doesn’t make it any easier,” she said. “It makes it very challenging for the couple – especially when the world, their physician, their family, and their friends are telling them they’re crazy.

On the other hand, Knapp said, couples attempting to achieve a pregnancy sometimes become desperate when NFP doesn’t seem to be working. “It’s tempting to go on the path of thinking, ‘I have to have a child no matter what. And so they then have recourse to artificial means…things that separate that life-giving aspect of the marital act.’”

NFP couple see each other as gifts

Couples who use natural means – whether to achieve or avoid a pregnancy, she said, benefit from recognizing one another as a gift to the other.

Knapp said the church’s beliefs regarding the sanctity of life were impugned even before Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae in 1968. Many were resistant to Pope Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical Casi Connubii, she said, which was a response to action taken at the Anglican Lambeth Conference.

Casti Connubii stresses the sanctity of marriage, forbids artificial contraception, reaffirms the prohibition of abortion, and explains the authority of church doctrine regarding moral matters.

Knapp said even in the darkest times there is always a light that shines forth proclaiming the truth. That light-bearer is the church, she added, whose voice is overwhelmed by the confusing din of sexual promiscuity the culture broadcasts almost continuously.

Our goal: heaven

“We rely on parents to educate their children…to present the truth that sex is for marriage,” she said. “We are all fallen human beings and there are many things we look back on that we would probably change, but we must always strive to get to heaven.”

Knapp said she believes the church must continue to try to get the message out about the beauty and the truth that surrounds human sexuality.

Modern medicine is influenced by the culture of death, she added. “It does so in many facets, from contraception to abortion, to euthanasia – all of these under the guise of mercy.”

Knapp said marriage is strengthened through the use of natural family planning.

“But we have to recognize that couples have to put forth the effort to communicate when they are looking at the chart every day and talking about their combined fertility,” she said. “I tell couples that charting together puts a little fertilizer on their relationship because you can’t avoid the fruit of having that communication together.”

Want to strengthen your marriage?

Natural family planning techniques not only allow couples to monitor their fertility, it strengthens marriages because of the increased need for communication. To learn more visit