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.
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