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What we’ve learned: it’s about more than the kids

Family enjoying day at lake

Humanae Vitae Giving Day

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by Tommy Tighe

My wife and I have been on a crazy journey.

From thinking the Church should stay out of our bedroom, to reading and embracing Humanae Vitae, to teaching engaged couples all about NFP in the comfort of our living room; it’s a story I barely believe even though I’ve lived it.

I remember one time we were talking about our journey during a marriage preparation group, hoping to show the young couples the life changing impact of embracing the Church’s teaching on married love, when a woman in the group offered a comment, “Well, it’s easy for you to ditch the contraception! You’re married, have a good job and a home, and it’s okay if NFP doesn’t work and you get pregnant on accident.”

She was right.

When we were a younger couple, we resorted to using contraception as a means of gaining control. As we grew in our marriage and in our understanding of the why behind the Church’s teaching on contraception, we came to accept, value, and desire the unconditional love that can only come when couples stop placing that barrier between each other.

Now that we were married and had a comfortable life, we weren’t so worried if NFP didn’t “work” for us.

But her question points to a serious misapplication of Humanae Vitae in the world of Natural Family Planning blogs, materials, and social media posts.

Sure, the need to practice responsible parenthood, when understood correctly, is a teaching of the Church. However, it seems to be a misstep when we make this our main focus when sharing about NFP or the impact Humanae Vitae has had on our lives.

Rather, our main focus should be love.

For all the ways that NFP can make a difference in people’s lives (avoiding pregnancy, achieving pregnancy, monitoring one’s own reproductive health), the most important way NFP makes a difference in people’s lives is the impact it has on love. Free, total, faithful, and unconditional love is what we were made for, and embracing the Church’s teaching helps free us up to be open to that destiny. True, powerful, unconditional love is what Humanae Vitae is all about, and if we lead with that truth, we’ll find a lot more people showing interest in this otherwise ignored Catholic teaching.

— Tommy Tighe is a popular Catholic personality and the founder of  Catholic Hipster.

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