Frequently Unanswered Questions About Natural Family Planning

Frequently Unanswered Questions About Natural Family Planning October 12, 2017


I’ve had various comments, here and on FaceBook, that basically involve folks asking questions or speculating about whether specific questions are going to be answered. So I figured that I would post the table of contents that I’m planning to work from. These are questions that I gathered probably between a year and six months ago and that I’ve organized thematically, to deal with the different types of situations that people face. So some of it is directed to those who are looking to practice NFP and who want practical intel on how that is likely to look, and how they can navigate some of the difficulties. Some of it is more cerebral, dealing with the intellectual and philosophical questions surrounding the Church’s teaching.


Introduction: Why do we need another book about NFP?

Part One: Advice for Newcomers

Why is NFP allowed, but not ABC?

Will NFP work for me?

Failure rates?

What if my spouse says “No”?

What are “grave reasons” for avoiding pregnancy?

How much abstinence will we need to practice?

Which method should we use?

What exactly does ‘abstinence’ entail?

What does ‘marriage-building’ mean?

Part Two: Stumbling Blocks

Why is this nothing like they said in the pamphlets?

Avoiding vs. Spacing

How do we navigate sexual frustration?

Wife is only interested during fertile days, what do we do?

We have massively differing libidos and it’s causing problems

Finding time for one another with a growing family

Finding time for existing children

Charting problems

Money problems

Where can we get support?

We keep getting pregnant, what do we do?

Part Three: Wit’s End

Hard case: severe poverty

Hard case: maternal health

Hard case: parental exhaustion

Hard case: irregular cycles

Hard case: marital breakdown

Hard case: adultery

Hard case: porn addiction

Hard case: special needs

Hard case: infertility

Hard case: marital rape

Part Four: How did we get here?

What did Augustine believe about sexuality and marriage?

How did things change with Thomas Aquinas?

What was the situation on the ground like in the past?

What are the relevant modern Vatican documents and what do they teach?

What happened with the Papal birth control commission?

Why did Paul VI condemn contraception?

John Paul II: Evangelium Vitae

John Paul II: Theology of the Body

Part Five: Causes of dissent

Do the natural law arguments make sense?

Demographic changes and overpopulation

Is a celibate priesthood qualified to teach on this?

Exclusion of women from the discourse

St. Paul and prolongued abstinence

The Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox

The scandal of Unicorn Oil

Ecclesiastic erotophobia

Lack of Scriptural support

The unitive goods of sex

Women as Catholic-making machines

Part 6: There must be some kind of way out of here

Development of Doctrine

How infallible?

Winnepeg (and other related) Statements

Oikonomia and the Eastern tradition

The law of double-effect

Improved methods

The snip-and-wash solution

Conscientious dissent

Dissenting obedience

What can the Church do to help?

Conclusion: What if the Church is wrong? What if the Church is right?

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