The Romance of NFP Part 2: Why the Contraceptive and Birth Control Mentality is Fundamentally Unromantic
By Melayna Alicea
In a world that emphasizes lust as love and defines freedom as the ability to do whatever you want, where does Natural Family Planning (NFP) fit in? Here’s the thing, it doesn’t. As Catholic Christians, we are called to be countercultural, to be the lights in the darkness of our culture of death. NFP is one way we are those countercultural lights.
(I want to elaborate on the effectiveness of NFP and the dangers of contraceptives; however, that is not the purpose of this article, but look out for an article on this topic soon.)
There are five main points I want to address on why the contraceptive, and birth control mentality is inherently unromantic: the lack of shared fertility, the lack of SPICE, the lack of understanding and respect for the woman's body, the way it injures the woman’s body, and finally, the way it affects attraction.
I would like to start by addressing the lack of shared fertility. In my last article, I pointed out that the shared fertility aspect of NFP has proven to help couples grow in their relationship together. When you view your fertility as a beautiful, shared gift, you can better appreciate the oneness that you are called to in marriage.
When fertility is separated into a his and her thing, the unity and oneness of marriage is divided as well. This can easily be seen in the statistics on divorce rates after the pill was introduced to society and when Protestants accepted contraceptives. Before 1930, all Christians agreed that contraceptives were wrong. Through the 20th century and especially during the 1960s, more and more Christians began utilizing contraceptives. At the same time, the divorce rate doubled.
Just a coincidence? Absolutely not. Removing the vital unification and procreation aspect of marriage does not come without consequences. When using contraceptive methods, we are saying that our bodies were created wrong, and we need to control them. NFP sees the natural nature of our bodies as beautiful and wise. Using NFP says that our bodies are incredible, let’s work with them to plan and discern what’s best for our family.
The use of contraceptives allows us to take the sexual act for granted. It leads to lust within marriage and the use of the other person. We do not recognize our shared fertility. We are not giving of ourselves fully, rather we are saying, “I give myself to you, just not my fertility.”
This ultimately leads to an abuse of the sexual act as can be seen in our “friends with benefits” and “hookup” culture. Sex is no longer just an expression of love. It can be an expression of love with our bodies but not in our hearts.
When sex can be abused in these ways, relationships often forget about the many other ways to demonstrate love, SPICE (spiritual, physical, intellectual, creative, and emotional) intimacies.
The family is the first school of love. If these other intimacies were not emphasized in your parent’s relationships, why would you prioritize them in your romantic relationships?
Because we live in a culture of “free sex,” many well-meaning couples preparing for marriage genuinely think that they have to engage in sexual intercourse before marriage to know if they are “meant for each other.” These other SPICE intimacies are never firmly established as necessary during the courting phase and, thus, often don’t come into marriages.
When sex becomes a free-for-all right with no “consequences” in marriage, people often feel unloved, communication dies, and the sanctity of the physical union of man and woman is diminished.
The lack of shared fertility and SPICE has the ultimate consequence of a lack of understanding of the woman’s body. You don’t have to be a biologist to know how a woman’s body works. You just have to be taught one of the many different ways to understand the female fertility system.
I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty romantic when my husband can look at our chart and be prepared for my hormonal highs and lows. It’s pretty romantic when we can see how our fertility works together and even know the exact date of conception for our children. It’s pretty romantic knowing that we are working as a team with God to discern what is right for our family. Conversely, It’s not very romantic to only understand how to block our fertility and not even know the consequences of that action.
This leads me to my next point. Contraceptive and sterilization techniques are extremely harmful to the body. Our fertility, whether male or female, is a healthy, normal function. When we attempt to control it, not only are we saying “I don’t give myself fully to you,” or “I want you just not all of you.” We are saying “I am wrong. How I was designed is wrong,” or “You and your design is wrong.”
Birth Control and IUDs are known to be harmful carcinogens and abortifacients. They are some of the primary causes of conditions like PCOS and Endometriosis and are known to affect fertility negatively down the road. Just to name a few side effects. They also hide the signs and symptoms of fatal diseases and cancers that can be easily detected in their early stages by using NFP methods.
These contraceptives aren’t just harmful to those who use them. The chemicals are introduced to our water systems, and they cannot be completely removed even when the water is filtered and treated. This means that women, men, and even animals who are not using contraceptives are experiencing many of these dangerous effects.
When we put these harmful chemicals in our bodies, we are saying it is better to harm ourselves and others than to give ourselves fully to our spouse.
Another effect that these chemicals have on us is that they affect our attractions. A recent study has shown that the chemical residue in bodies of water has caused permanent damage to the natural reproductive function of fish. If this is happening to fish, imagine what it is doing to our bodies and neurological functioning.
A woman’s deepest desire is to be considered beautiful and worth pursuing, whether she recognizes this or not. A really neat part of how God designed our fertility is that ovulation makes a woman even more desirable. Many women who struggle with infertility can determine ovulation based on when their husbands are most attracted to them. Women are designed to be more beautiful to their spouses during ovulation. How incredible is that?
When a woman is on birth control or has an IUD, she is not ovulating. (In fact, her “period” isn’t even a period! But that’s a discussion for another day). If women aren’t ovulating, they are less attractive to the masculine psyche.
Men in our society are now trained to want women on contraceptives, but that has less to do with attraction and more to do with lust and a desire for personal pleasure. This ultimately leads to the objectification of women. (If you want a good read on how the third wave of feminism, which promotes the use of contraceptives, free sex, and abortion, has resulted in further objectification of women check out The Anti-Mary Exposed by Carrie Gress).
The attraction of women to men is not the only way attraction is affected. It can also work in the opposite direction. Many women claim to no longer be attracted to their significant other once they go off of their contraception of choice. (The book Awake not Woke by Noelle Mering goes into this in more detail).
Ultimately, the use of contraceptives causes, tho many times unintentional by the user, objectification, injured bodies, and, again often unintentional, a mindset that does not support the pro-life movement.
NFP isn’t all about avoiding or achieving a pregnancy, but it does change our view on what avoiding pregnancy means. We can see our bodies and the way they work with our spouse as a beautiful, unique design. We can work with our bodies, the way they were designed, knowing that children are the natural result of sex. When an unplanned pregnancy occurs, we are not tempted to say “how did this happen?” or “what am I going to do about this?” We can see how God was able to work through our call to be constantly open to life, not putting a barrier, controlling Him and our bodies.
The use of any contraceptive and sterilization technique ultimately leads to a more pro-choice mindset because we have disconnected sex from its procreative and fully unitive side. Women still get pregnant on the pill or with IUDs, in fact, it happens approximately 25% of the time, but these contraceptives are designed to cause spontaneous abortions. This is a hard reality that is often not explained to women, but women deserve to know what is happening to their bodies. When a pregnancy does survive, this quickly leads to feelings of shame for not “being responsible enough.”
There is a negative cycle that disrupts relationships in shattering ways related to contraceptives. Our society's promotion of them is not for the well-being of its citizens. There is an ulterior motive, and it does not consider the effects it has on real love and romance.
As Catholic Christians, it is our job to bring awareness to this negative cycle. We are called to speak the truth in love, and this particular truth promotes a culture of life, health, and love. NFP is beautiful and romantic, and it is time for the stigma and misunderstanding associated with it to come to an end.