NFP for humans
Let’s face it: Natural family planning is typically thought of as a Catholic thing.
And so, when I married my wife, a non-Catholic Christian, I was a bit worried that she would not be on board with it. I guess I assumed that nobody except another Catholic who has a good understanding of the Church’s teachings on this stuff – Humanae Vitae, Theology of the Body, etc. – would agree to not use artificial contraception.
But it turns out that one does not need to be a rah-rah Catholic, or even to fully accept the Church’s teachings about why using artificial contraception is wrong, to be interested in NFP, and to ultimately decide that it’s the right choice for their marriage.
There are a number of reasons why non-Catholics may be attracted to NFP outside of the Church’s moral teachings, such as the fact that it’s effective (when practiced correctly), can be low-cost, doesn’t require taking any pills, doesn’t have any medical side-effects (as hormonal contraceptives may), and doesn’t require any sort of barrier during sexual intimacy (as condoms and dams do).
And even if a non-Catholic doesn’t fully understand or fully agree with the Church’s moral theology, there may nevertheless be moral or spiritual reasons why they might gravitate toward NFP.
My wife and I have used natural family planning both to maximize our chances of conception when we were trying to conceive and to reduce our chances of conception when we were trying to avoid pregnancy.
And let me tell you: It can be really hard work.
Simcha Fisher’s book “The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning” isn’t really a guide for sinners, per se. It’s a guide for humans (all of whom sin and otherwise fall short occasionally).
Fisher’s approach to NFP resonates with my own lived experiences. I’ve heard people trumpet claims that marriages in which NFP is used are far less likely to end in divorce than average, or that NFP produces a “honeymoon effect,” with absence making the heart grow fonder.
But you know what? Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes using NFP is a drag – particularly when you need to be very conservative in your calculations. And Simcha Fisher seems to get that. Her “Sinner’s Guide” is a book not for saints nor for sinners, but for humans.