This year, the Week for Christian Unity falls on January 18-25. As in years past, ecumenism efforts have culminated during this time, with internationally-coordinated events and even an official theme. But now, in 2018, events could align to create a new platform for Christian unity: reproductive health.
With more attention than ever on the dangers of contraception, women around the globe abandoning the pill in droves, and the upcoming celebration of Humanae Vitae‘s 50th anniversary, could the wholesome, God-ordained, momentum-gaining practice of natural family planning bring Christians together?
Although commonly associated with Catholicism due to the Church’s extensive writing on and official endorsement of NFP, the natural approach to understanding women’s’ bodies is the birthright of anyone with…well, a body.
NFP’s natural elements are attractive to many in modern society, but it’s particularly well-suited for Christians who are called to live in perpetual awe of God’s self-regulating creation that makes clockwork look like child’s play. In a special way, the Christian observer of human reproductive prowess is presented with a powerful testimony of God’s providence, human capacity to choose, and his generous invitation for humans to co-create with he who crafted entire galaxies.
A Christian observer can see in a charted cycle both the beauty of humanity and its Fall, times of fertility and times of barrenness, brilliantly worked together by the Master Improviser to give us choice, hold us responsible, and allow us the capacity of generosity.
In NFP, Christians find a new respect for the natural world, a unique form of stewardship, a God-honoring method of self-care, and a training ground for the values critical for forming a holy and upright family.
NFP can, by its very nature, teach us how to find togetherness in the face of differences, patterns in what appears to be chaos, and companionship despite our varied states of life, belief, and doctrine.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly for followers of Christ’s ancient yet ever-new example of holiness, NFP invites us to exercise our muscles of discernment. It encourages — rather, when practiced properly, demands — an inclusion of God in our most intimate relationships and decisions. It insists that we treat God as the integral part of our existence he should be: the very heartbeat of marriages, family life, vocations, and our trek to Heaven.
Natural family planning is, in a very real sense, the gospel embodied and made family, thus the common thread that runs across all Christian communities and the whole of the universal church.
— Forest Hempen
Marketing and Communications Associate