Recently I met a young man and we had a conversation over dinner. I guess you could call it a date. Quite appropriately he asked, “What do you do?” Oh boy, here goes, I thought to myself. I told him about CCL’s mission and that I work in communications. His response was, “So, I take it you’re Catholic?”
The young man then declared himself to be an agnostic. After making his declaration he looked very hesitant. He knew that he told me something I didn’t want to hear. In an exasperated tone he shook his head and exclaimed, “I just don’t know…and that’s as honest as I can be. I just don’t know.” From our conversation it seemed to me there really was an internal conflict going on in his head and heart.
A few days after this conversation it dawned on me that many couples might be in the same boat as this young man, only in regard to their feelings about NFP. Some might come away from the classes saying, like my date, “I just don’t know.”
But, is practicing NFP really a leap of faith?
We know through scientific studies that the Sympto-Thermal Method of NFP is 99.6 percent effective in avoiding or postponing pregnancy. We know that the method is safe, healthy and comes with no unwanted side-effects. We know from the many couples who practice it that loving one another without barriers has brought them closer than they ever thought possible. And, contrary to what any popular opinion may tout, most couples witness to the positive benefits of periodic abstinence in their relationship.
I wonder if instead of being skeptical about NFP, some couples are just unsure of their ability to practice it? Perhaps they think it sounds like a great idea but doubt their ability to abstain when it counts, or wake up and take the temperature reading at the same time every day, or talk about bodily functions. For some couples these can be serious obstacles.
I think the leap of faith isn’t so much in trusting NFP, but in trusting ourselves. In the comfort of my singlehood I can speak confidently about practicing NFP, but one day — God willing — I may have to put my money where my mouth is. Will I be so confident in myself then? In my spouse? Maybe I’ll shake my head like my date and say, “I just don’t know?”
Anytime we rely solely on our own abilities it’s scary. Fortunately, those of us pursuing Christian marriage can confidently rely on God’s grace to make up for all that we lack. The God who gave you your spouse will also give you the ability to love him or her fully. And that’s what practicing NFP is all about.
— Sarah Drew