NFP—Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be

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Natural Family Planning.  It’s a sensitive topic.  In a world where sex is conversed about as casually as the weather, it seems funny that any attempt to give it the dignity and respect that it deserves often elicits embarrassment, avoidance, and defensiveness.  It’s as if the devil has succeeded in his crafty conspiracy to make the good appear bad and the bad appear good.

NFP not all its cracked up to be

I heard Christopher West say once, “That which is most profaned is that which is most sacred.”  It doesn’t take long in our media immersed culture to see what is most profaned.  Sex sells, but a lot of souls are being sold with it.

So how do we reclaim the dignity of our bodies, the purity of our united bodies and souls, and the sacredness of the marital act?

We make a return to chastity.

Chastity—now there’s a concept that’s almost as popular as Natural Family Planning.  But what if I told you that chastity isn’t prudish, but passionate?  What if I told you that NFP allows your marriage to become analogous to the Blessed Trinity?  What if I told you that living a chaste life can give you a sense of joy and peace here on earth that will only be surpassed when it carries you to heaven?

There are many benefits to NFP that I can tell you about:

  • Supports reproductive health
  • Has no harmful side effects
  • Is environmentally friendly
  • Is inexpensive
  • Cooperates with a couple’s combined fertility
  • Is useful to either achieve or avoid pregnancy
  • Can be used throughout the reproductive life cycle
  • Requires shared responsibility and cooperation by husband and wife
  • Fosters mutual communication between husband and wife
  • Encourages respect for and acceptance of the total person
  • Promotes marital chastity
  • Values the child
  • Honors God’s design for married love!

(list from www.usccb.org)

These are all wonderful effects I can use words to describe but even the above list doesn’t suffice to capture the essence of NFP.  Perhaps my title should be NFP–Not JUST All It’s Cracked Up To Be because it is so much more than words can say.

Natural Family Planning allows spouses to live God’s plan for marriage with true intimacy, responsibility, and love.  NFP promotes health of body and soul.  It elevates a marriage to heavenly heights and provides a glimpse of what God longs to give us.  NFP allows us to turn on a dime and give God a resounding yes when He calls us to co-create a new human being.  NFP preserves a woman’s body in health and safety, maintaining a ready home for the life God designed it to bear.

NFP can raise us to the heights of joy in our marriage, but I’m not trying to gloss over the challenges that can accompany that journey.  There are times that are difficult.  There are times that are very difficult.  But these times carry their own kind of beauty, like a diamond in the rough, waiting to be polished in order to shine forth in glorious splendor.

Like anything in this fallen world of ours, NFP provides us with opportunities to share in Christ’s cross—to have the honor of being a Simon of Cyrene.  The sacredness of Holy Marriage makes these moments even more precious, as Jesus asks us, “Will you give up something very good to choose what is even better?”  Are you willing to sacrifice some physical intimacy with your spouse so God can focus your vision on the true prize—the true goal of holiness?

Times of abstinence can be times of great spiritual growth.  They remind us that the things of this world, even our spouses and marriages, are passing.  They remind us that the union with our spouses is to be cherished and enjoyed, but that the union we truly long for exists only in heaven, and we are called to allow God to help us get there.

A chaste marriage prepares us for our heavenly home.  Marriage is a sacrament, a vocation, and the marital act is supremely sacred.  It is an act that is directly connected to the creative hand of God, and He expects us to treat it with reverence and respect.

A chaste marriage teaches us to give ourselves in total self-donation to our spouse just as Jesus did for us on the cross.  It doesn’t say, “I give all of myself to you except my gift  of fertility.”  A chaste marriage provides us with opportunities for passionate love and practice in self control–two things that our world desperately needs.  A chaste marriage allows children to proceed from the love of husband and wife, just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Embrace the full meaning of your marriage, and embrace your gift of fertility.  Love passionately, obtain the freedom of self-mastery, and place every aspect of your life in God’s hands.  He is our Creator, our Father, and our Lover in the purest sense of the word.  He knows what is best for us, and designed our bodies to lead us to holiness in union with our souls.

Natural Family Planning—not just all it’s cracked up to be by the standards of this world, but so much more.  It’s the surrendering of your marriage into the hands of God so He can carry you and your spouse to the ultimate wedding feast in heaven by the way of sacrifice and love.

What has been holding you and your spouse back from fully embracing the NFP lifestyle? Prayerfully consider learning more at:

Copyright 2013 Charisse Tierney

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About Author

Charisse Tierney lives in Newton, Kansas, with her husband Rob and five children. Charisse and Rob, are experienced Natural Family Planning and Theology of the Body for Teens teachers. Charisse holds bachelor and master degrees in music performance and is the Assistant Editor at Catholic Attachment Parenting Corner. She also blogs at Paving the Path to Purity. Find her on Facebook.

7 Comments

  1. The word ‘chastity’ can be misconstrued to mean ‘abstinence’. Is there a way the proper definition of chastity can be mentioned?

    Lovely article, btw. Thank you so much.

    • Brian K. Kravec on

      Hi Anna – I hope you welcome my input regarding the use of the word ‘chastity.’ Charisse uses the word in it’s proper context in this piece as it pertains to living a holy life, purely and according to God’s divine plan according to one’s state in life, whether that be single or married, consecrated or professed in holy orders (a nun or priest or brother).

      Blessings,

      Brian K. Kravec

  2. Brian K. Kravec on

    Charisse – This is the best article written on the subject of NFP that I have ever read…literally! Christopher West was a guest speaker in our parish years ago…priceless! NFP helped us achieve what my wife and I still consider our miracle pregnancy MANY years ago! What a blessing! Thank you for “re-wrapping” this precious gift so beautifully!

  3. Charisse Tierney on

    Thank you for your input on the definition of chastity, Brian! I think it is a bit confusing to many to think of being chaste even within the context of marriage. Your clarification was very helpful! I think of Joseph, Mary’s “most chaste spouse” who, as you said, lived “according to God’s divine plan” for their holy family, their state in life. While their married love was so purely manifested in lifelong virginity with a complete surrendering to God, the rest of us are admittedly a bit different. However, as married couples, we can still love purely by respecting our spouse the way God made him or her, surrender our relationship to God fully by constantly listening to Him for guidance with planning our family, and uphold the dignity of the human person, heart, mind, body, and soul, by never succumbing to the temptation to turn our spouse into an object of pleasure. Mutual self-gift, loving each other as Jesus loved us on the Cross (freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully), and respecting the natural rhythms and functions of our bodies as gifts from God to love freely and build virtue are all elements of chaste living. Maybe I should write another essay (or two or three:) on chastity!

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