Some time ago, I was participating in a Facebook conversation about natural family planning when one of the respondents objected that the topic wasn’t appropriate for a forum as public as Facebook. Others, she claimed, might be grossed out by the discussion should not be exposed to it. We NFP-supporters are familiar with such reasoning after decades of silence from the pulpit on one of the most pressing topics of our modern era. The discrepancy between the overwhelming need of Catholics to learn about NFP and the underwhelming response from priests and parish staffs around the country is striking. When so many willfully ignore the topic, it falls to us who are willing to speak out.
Here are 10 things you can do to help spread the word about natural family planning:
- Be positive. Is there anything less attractive than an evangelist who begins with all the things wrong with everyone else’s beliefs? Most folks out there focus first on the negatives regarding contraception – and there are plenty – but starting a conversation that way is rarely the most helpful approach. Need some positive points to address: NFP allows women to practice total self-control instead of just reproductive control, NFP gives women and their husbands a better understanding of their bodies, NFP is free and effective, NFP is morally sound, NFP is natural, NFP is empowers women by preventing them from becoming sexual objects. Got more? Put them in the comments.
- Assume the best. While its true there is never a justification for resorting to contraception, you probably don’t know the reason another couple is using contraception. For all you know, they have a just cause to avoid children, but never realized or were taught the truth about human sexuality and contraception.
- Use social media. The original impetus for this article was an objection over a Facebook conversation on NFP. I’ll come right out and say the opposite of that concern: mention NFP frequently on your wall. I’m not suggesting you write something like, “YAY! Peak + 4 today!” I’m just suggesting you repost articles on NFP or contraception, write about how the practice has helped your relationship, or share any number of statuses on the topic from our affiliate, Stand with the US Bishops Against the HHS, and then explain the Church’s teachings to any friends who post objections.
- Use your friendships. I know women talk about their relationships when they get together for Ladies’ Night Out. The contraceptive commercials on the television lead us men to believe that birth control is a common topic at such gatherings as well. If you have secular friends who bring up those topics, have the courage to mention natural family planning.
- Teach your kids about it. Kids these days, huh? They hear about sex at such at early age, and with the selfish impulses engrained on them daily in our culture, you can be sure they’re going to wonder why they should want kids in the first place. Don’t delay a talk on NFP. Discuss it in some basic way as soon as they begin sex ed. Sure, they’ll assume it’s being brought up because mom and dad use it, but modern kids would assume you use contraceptives anyway, so you might as well give them a moral example instead of leaving them wandering in the dark.
- Volunteer with your parish pre-Cana program. With so many church-going Catholics practicing nearly identical rates of contraception and divorce as the secular population, it’s important in parishes for faithful Catholics to step up to help prepare the engaged for the realities of marriage. My wife and I have been called upon several times to discuss NFP in front of crowds. It’s really not as terrifying as it sounds. If you can really own your use of NFP, then you can wear it comfortably on your sleeve and discuss it in any setting.
- Emphasize the organic nature of NFP. These are some interesting times we’re living in. Folks will pay substantially more for organic goods, but they’ll still pump their bodies full of artificial hormones, even with death as a known side effect. When my wife and I have discussed NFP at Pre-Cana retreats, this approach has always garnered at least a few interested responses.
- Reach doctors and medical students with the facts. The pro-life movement has many physicians and other medical professionals on its sideany doctors and medical students, even OBGYNs, have been educated in environments hostile to the pro-life movement and the Church’s views on sexuality. They’ve been sheltered from the facts about contraceptives and human sexuality. Natural family planning has been ridiculed as backward, medieval quackery. Occasionally, you’ll meet such a person who will try to use their authority in general or reproductive medicine to stop your arguments. Simply present them with the facts from respected medical establishments. (Example: The World Health Organization classifies the Pill as a Group 1 Carcinogen.)
- Talk about both sides of NFP. Natural family planning can be used for just causes to avoid conception, but it can also be used to help couples conceive, especially through NaPro. I’d like to see the Pill do that. One of its more attractive features is that it is in line with human nature. If it can help a person get pregnant without chemicals and surgeries, that’s a huge testimony in NFP’s favor.
- Teach NFP. If we’re going to do a good job bringing NFP into popularity, we need more people to teach it. A lot more. We need instructors who are certified to teach the method and are familiar enough with the moral doctrine of the Church to help their students learn to discern just causes. We also need instructors to help people use NFP to get pregnant.