Kat drew my attention to this recent article from the New York Times. As a young Protestant married couple, Sam Torode and Bethany Patchin embraced NFP, welcomed four children in six years, and authored the book, “Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception”. In 2006, they recanted their praise of NFP. In 2009, they divorced. Both now attend liberal Protestant churches.
In 2002, in their book, they wrote:
Procreation is “the umbrella under which the other aspects of marriage are nurtured,” they wrote. Sex is “a joyous song of praise to the Creator,” and “having children (or adopting them) brings husbands and wives closer together and expands the community of love.”
They concluded succinctly: “When we should be saying ‘I do,’ contraception says, ‘I do not.’ ”
By 2006, they wrote in an open letter:
“Wanting to make love to your spouse often is a good thing, but NFP often lays an unfair burden of guilt on men for feeling this.”… And it is “a theological attack on women to always require that abstinence during the time of the wife’s peak sexual desire (ovulation) for the entire duration of her fertile life, except for the handful of times when she conceives.”
The Torodes were right that marital desires are good. But it does not follow that these desires must always be satisfied. Periodic abstinence is not supposed to be easy. The practice of NFP is not a good in and of itself, it is a privation. We are depriving ourselves of something good (marital desire and union, and possible conception) for something temporarily even more important (such as mom’s healing or caring for the other children). And all within the context of charity and chastity.
Their language suggests that they tasted the truth, but the reality of openness to life with periodic abstinence was just too difficult for them to practice.