Couples ‘go natural’ with NFP
By Nissa LaPoint
Photo by Nissa LaPoint/DCR
Kristen Hamill says some may think she’s crazy and old-fashioned for using natural family planning. She says it puts a spark in her love life.
“It’s like dating again,” 31-year-old Hamill said.
Couples using birth control never need to deny themselves the marital embrace, she said. Natural family planning—the Church’s approved method for avoiding or achieving pregnancy—may require times of abstinence that “makes those times when you’re together more intimate,” Hamill said.
Hamill and her husband, John, of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Broomfield, tossed out the birth control pill and chose the natural method of birth regulation before they married in the Church more than seven years ago.
The resulting benefits to their marriage—quality communication and complete self-giving—made them strong proponents of natural family planning.
This week, Catholics across the country are recognizing Natural Family Planning Awareness Week from July 22-July 28. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is promoting the theme “faithfully yours” with supporting resources to educate the public about the Church’s teachings. July 25 also marks the anniversary of the papal encyclical on human sexuality called “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”).
The awareness campaign comes at a critical time since birth control came to the forefront of public debate after the federal Health and Human Services Department mandate was applied to nonprofit organizations. Catholics and people of all faiths cried out against the mandate that would require many religious organizations to provide employee health coverage for morally-objectionable abortifacients and contraception.
Revolts against artificial contraception came in many forms, and young engaged and married couples began to take notice.
“There is just a huge movement of young people who are starting to realize that contraception is a crock and it’s not all it’s cracked-up to be,” Hamill said.
One edgy website with retro-style graphics and catchy slogans called 1Flesh.org spread quickly across Facebook and the Web with much fanfare. The site, launched by “Bad Catholic” blogger Marc Barnes in response to the HHS mandate, was founded as a grassroots movement in revolt of artificial contraception and in support of “natural” sex.
It’s received support from local Catholic couples, like Laura Cramer, who married Kenn Cramer of St. Raphael Counseling this year.
Natural Family Planning Awareness Week
July 22-July 28
Resources for learning about NFP and Church teaching
Books and encyclicals:
“It’s a well-presented website,” she said. “It’s a good place to start a conversation.”
The site posts graphics with words like “100 percent organic” and “it’s better naked” referring to a total union and uninterrupted gift of love between spouses
“We want women and men to be respected and loved for who they are, to the very depths of their being. We want sex free from fear, love free from use, and a world of people who love and respect their own bodies,” according to the site.
The Church teaches that natural family planning, an umbrella term for methods used to achieve, or avoid, pregnancies, reflects the dignity of the human person and promotes openness to life.
“By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, (natural family planning) can enrich the bond between husband and wife,” according to the USCCB.
Cramer believes natural family planning “affirms the promise we give in marriage to give ourselves fully and completely to each other.”
Modern movements like 1Flesh.org are just the first step in effectively and professionally raising awareness and educating about natural family planning, she said.
According to Phil Webb, director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Denver Archdiocese, there are many resources with detailed information about Church teaching and the “how to” of NFP.
Natural family planning, which includes the sympto-thermal method and Creighton Model for determining a woman’s fertility, was unknown to Hamill before she began marriage preparation classes.
She was unaware of the harmful effects of the birth control pill she once used—rated by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen harmful to humans, on par with smokeless tobacco products and asbestos.
“No one told me how the pill worked,” she said, referring to how it can act as an abortifacient and has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. “It’s painful to think if an (abortion) could have occurred.”
She and her husband are enthusiastic about the drug-free and organic way of monitoring her fertility.
“Some people think we’re crazy Catholics,” she said. “But (NFP) is totally life changing. It really does make your marriage stronger.”
Learn about the personal journeys of couples who use NFP. Courtesy USCCB.