Thursday, April 25, 2013

Changing our NFP vocabulary

One of my soap box issues is the way in which we talk about Natural Family Planning. People talk about NFP's "failure rate" and they talk about having _____# of children, "all of whom were planned." It starts to sound rather like the contraceptive mentality that fuels birth control pills, implants and patches. The general idea is that I am 100% in control, that children happen on my terms and that NFP is natural birth control because it doesn't use any sort of chemical or foreign substance.

But should we talk about NFP that way? Should children be "mistakes," "accidents" and "failures" of the system? Did the parents of all of the children who were "planned" literally choose that at this particular moment pregnancy WOULD occur, and by some incredible miracle God looked at the couple and said, "Yes, ma'am, here's your third child. Coming right up!"

The truth is, "planning" is not 100% control. A couple may be aware of fertility from charting, but the couple does not tell God when to send a child. God chooses, in His great love, to co-create with the parents, and to allow them the gift of sharing in parenthood with Him. 

Dwija at House Unseen, Life Unscripted has penned a great reflection on the language we use to describe NFP. Is a couple terrible at NFP because they have multiple children?

Recently I shared this little NFP interview that Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas published. Do you know how long ago she sent me those questions? A long, long, long time ago. But it took forever for me to respond. And do you know why? Because I kept thinking "No one is gonna want to hear what I have to say about NFP because, like, look at all these kids I have. They're gonna think it doesn't work." I was embarrassed to act like I'm some kind of ambassador for natural family planning what with the fact that, I don't know, we have a family and all.

Friends of mine have said and written things like "Well, obviously I suck at NFP because I keep getting pregnant."

Articles I read say things like "But does NFP work?"

You guys, we have fallen into a hole. We've fallen into the hole of defining life the way corporations want us to define it. "Family planning" has come to mean "child prevention" and we simply accept that, "natural" has come to mean "non-chemical" and we simply accept that and I, for one, am tired. I'm tired of feeling obligated to feel embarrassed that our family contains children. I'm tired of my friends having to tell the world that they "suck" at NFP because their families contain children. I'm tired of everyone I know who knows about NFP having to constantly justify marriages resulting in children.

Stop the crazy train of poor definitions! I wanna get off!

Read the rest here.  It's an excellent read.

These are conversations that we really must be having. When a contracepting couple asks about NFP -- online, in real life, in any number of situations -- I often hear the answer, "Well, it's just as effective as the Pill. Yes, we have four children, but all of them were planned."

Is NFP really just the natural version of the Pill?  Is Natural Family Planning really about planning or is it about cultivating hearts that are ready to receive?  Is it more about control or more about allowing God to guide me in His plan?  Is it primarily about saying no or about saying yes?

There are plenty of questions we need to be asking.  Instead of borrowing the same terms of the contraceptive culture, let's start building a vocabulary that adequately describes who the human person is, who children are, and what the relationship between life and love truly is.

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