Go visit the Darwins for an excellent discussion of what is, and is not, the role of NFP in marital chastity. A few excerpts, beginning with a recap of what NFP is:
By now the term “NFP” is almost too fraught, carrying connotations of some big oppressive system. Say it with me, though: all it is is 1) observing the signs of female fertility — a morally neutral act — and 2) using those observations as part of a prudential judgment about whether to have sex based on the possibility of pregnancy as a result. That’s a bit long to type out, so at least in this series of posts, all “NFP” refers to is this basic idea of observation and decision-making process, not the guidelines and rules of any particular system — Marquette, Creighton, CCL, whatever. And these rules are not moral imperatives. The Ten Commandments are moral imperatives. The injunction against contraception is a moral imperative backed by the authority of the Catholic church, all dissent to the contrary. Not having sex on day seven when mucus is present is not a moral imperative, and pregnancy is not a punishment for breaking that rule.
On the fear that someone, somewhere, is abstaining too much (which I wrote about here):
NFP to avoid pregnancy is nothing more or less than targeted abstinence, allowing the couple to avoid pregnancy by giving up sex some of the time rather than all of the time. This is why claims that NFP itself is “contraceptive” in its mentality so clearly fall flat. Avoiding sex is always a moral means of avoiding pregnancy, and NFP is nothing more than avoiding sex.
On the reputed virtue-building benefits of periodic abstinence:
But practicing NFP will only help in this development of virtue if one actually practices it in a virtuous way. If the desire to avoid pregnancy means that a couple utilizes self mastery and communication and consideration for each other, then they will strengthen these virtues in themselves and experience the benefits of these virtues in other areas of their lives. But we’re fallen human creatures with fallen human desires. When we’re faced with doing something hard, we often lash out at others to express our frustration. This isn’t something unique to sex.
Posts of mine on related topics that may be of interest:
- Pro-Life, Married, and Contracepting: Is There a Problem?
- 50 Shades of Arousal Disorders: BDSM and the Moral Life
- Adultery is Not the Only Option: Five Things You Can Do to Keep Your Vows Intact
- What Do Priests Know About Marriage?
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Artwork: Francesco Hayez, The Kiss, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons