Let’s talk about sex. Wow, I actually wrote that! I can’t believe you’re still reading this! Buckle your seatbelts, this is going to be a long one. I want to write about something today that has been on my mind for quite some time, and I just want to share. How do you feel about natural family planning (NFP)? I am shocked with the vastness in differences of opinion within the protestant community about this. Most Christian couples I know have no idea what it is, and they really don’t want to know, because they already have an idea about what it is. It’s complicated. It doesn’t work. It’s for people who want large families. Maybe even it’s irresponsible.
First, let me tell you what it is and what it isn’t. (At least in my mind!) It isn’t the rhythm method. It isn’t where you count a certain number of days and not have sex for 2 days, and then continue on. That’s just stupid. MOST women have irregular cycles, and cycles can be effected by things like diet, exercise, stress, and even by being around a different crowd of women. (Did you know that odd fact that when women live together, like in a college dormitory, their cycles soon become in sync with each other?)
NFP comes in 2 basic forms or the combination of the 2. First, by detecting ovulation by taking your temp every morning. Your temperature will spike when you’re ovulating. Second, by keeping tabs on cervical mucus. (I just lost all guys reading this. Wimps.) It changes when you’re ovulating. To be most effective, you keep tabs on both.
Now when someone first described NFP to me, I was envisioning charts and graphs and a lot of work. I knew it would be something I would screw up, miss a beat, or something like that. I was also opposed the idea of restricting sex with married people. Isn’t time of ovulation when the wife wants to have sex, and that’s when you can’t? How unfair. Well, it would be way too much information to share any more on that, but let me just tell you, God changed my mind drastically about those two specific preconceptions. Why do I always forget that when we walk in God’s path, he always blesses us? Why do we always jump to conclusions that God is holding back happiness from us? That we have a right to something and if we follow God’s way, we might miss out. O yes, that lie is given to us in several different forms.
Which brings me to my next point: the philosophy behind NFP. Many people say families who use NFP are HUGE! Therefore it must not work. Well, let’s just say that the frame of mind of people who use NFP is so different, because we live in a culture where we must control everything. You decide how many children you want to have, how far apart you want them to be. You make a plan and stick to it. NFP isn’t the lack of making a plan, it’s surrendering your plan to God. In a class I once took on this, the instructors encouraged each couple to seek out the Lord each month, as to whether He would desire them to try to conceive a child that month. It’s seeking the Lord out on a consistent basis as to what he would like you as a family to be, instead of saying “I want my family to be like this, and since God wants what I want, that’s what we’ll do.” Sometimes we as human are so dumb.
I haven’t counted before, but I should sometime, how many times God tells us in his word that children are a blessing. But, that’s not what our culture says. I had a friend who was approached when she was about 6 months pregnant by 2 women at a mall, who told her she was responsible for overpopulating the earth. There were children who needed homes and she was selfish enough to have more than her share of children. Imagine the carbon footprint her family had. What a menace to society. Needless to say, this friend of mine was very upset.
Society tells us that we should have children when we want them, and only if we can provide everything they could ever desire. If it’s not the right time in your life, or not your plan, just have an abortion. (I once had one of my providers suggest I have an abortion because the pregnancy was unplanned. It was when I was pregnant with Silje.) “Take control of your life” is the American theme, but it’s not the Christian life theme. “Give up your life to God” should be our chant.
I’m not saying we should be stupid. No where in the Bible have I found the command to be stupid. There, I believe, are valid reasons to prevent pregnancy. I’m not the judge of good reasons. I think that something that is between a man, his wife and God. Things that come to mind are there’s a special needs child in a family that needs a lot of care, and lots of children would hinder that care. Another one might be that the health of the mother might be at risk in having more children. (Since my Grandma Whalon died because she had too many children, and refused to prevent any pregnancy in spite of several warnings from doctors, I know this one well. She should not have had more than 2 children, but she died when she was pregnant with her 9th or something like that. Still, I can’t completely condemn her decision. My dad was #4.)
There are probably reasons less dramatic than that, though. Maybe as parents, you’re just flat out tired, or even both man and wife are completely at peace with the decision not to have any more children. I’m not the judge as to what makes a good reason to prevent a pregnancy, but I know there are reasons.
OK, this next part is where I’m going to have to edit a bunch, but it’s so important that I have to go with it a little bit. I’m so passionate about it, that I hope I don’t go too much on and on and on. If God wants us to have children, but we know we shouldn’t be stupid and use what technology we have, why NFP and not something else like the pill? My basic answer is because I believe that the Bible teaches that life begins at conception. If you take the pill, you pretty much have to acknowledge that life begins at implantation in order for it to be OK (like most of the medical community). It’s not that hard of a stretch. Embryos don’t implant quite often. That’s why when you have IVF or something they usually implant a few embryos because some of them won’t “take.” There’s no way to know how many “viable” embryos do not take because of the pill apart from the embryos that would naturally not implant. But we do know some things.
From my research, the pill basically has a plan A, plan B and plan C to keep you from getting pregnant. Plan A and B I honestly have no scruples with. I hate taking hormones, but I know that everyone is not me. Basically, plan A is to stop the woman from releasing an egg. Pretty simple. If there are no eggs, there can’t be any embryos. Plan B is to increase the “mucus” inside a woman that would normally lead the sperm (ok boys, stop laughing) to the egg so much so that it “misleads” the sperm so it looses its way to the egg. If both those avenues fail, and the egg is released and the sperm finds its way, plan C comes into effect. The uterine wall is changed to prevent the implantation of an embryo.
So the next question might be, how often does that happen? I would normally say “Shame on you” for thinking it’s okay to risk a chemical abortion as long as it’s not that often, but honestly, that was my first thought too. Well let me refer you to someone who has done much more research than myself, pastor Randy Alcorn. Here’s a link to a condensed version of his book on this topic http://www.epm.org/artman2/publish/prolife_birth_control_pill/A_Short_Condensation_of_Does_The_Birth_Control_Pill_Cause_Abortions.shtml
And for those who have lots of questions, here’s a page with a ton of solid Christian and medical information, including his book in parts:
Some non-Christian doctors believe that plan C comes into effect maybe as high as 10% of the time, but that’s just a guess. That’s 1 in ten months…a little over once a year. But if it only happened once in a marriage…would that make it OK?
The Catholic church has taken a firm stance on this, but after the 60s, the protestant church finds it OK. Part of it was we didn’t know that much about it, but I honestly wonder if we were just trying to “get with the times.” At any rate I think this is something the church needs to open its eyes to.
I don’t mean to condemn anyone who takes the pill…merely expose you to the evidence. I myself took the pill for years. Most of my friends and family take the pill. I had two lovely, beautiful children while religiously taking the pill. Apparently, plan A-C fails quite often with me. It was only after we accepted NFP in our marriage, at our doctor’s recommendation, that we were able to postpone pregnancy for a few years until we were ready for our newest little blessing.
I’m trying to play with some ideas as to how to let other Christian couples know about NFP because it is just so cool. I know of several couples in my circle who use this. If you have any ideas of how we can spread the word (because SO MANY Christian couples do not even consider this), or if you have more questions, let me know and I’ll try to find you the answers.
OK, deep breath, I’m now going to press the “post” button.