Natural Family Planning: Nature's Way - God's Way

12. Is NFP a Threat to Kindergartens?

A priest who operates two kindergartens near Tokyo told me recently: "When you teach NFP, please stay far away from here. I want many children for my kindergartens."

The priest's fears are without foundation, I believe. Quite to the contrary, a switch from condoms to NFP would more than likely increase the kindergarten crop.

Admittedly, the condom is not always effective in preventing conception. (As Dr. Wanda Poltawska quipped during a seminar in Tokyo, "The condom is most effective when the woman is unable to conceive.") NFP can easily be more effective than the condom in avoiding conception. Condom-users in Japan, however, almost routinely abort unplanned babies; they will never enter the kindergarten. NFP-users are totally disinclined to abort unplanned offspring. To do so would be contrary to the gentle, considerate, loving philosophy of NFP. Hence, with NFP, a tiny increase in kindergarten enrolment is possible.

More important, familiarity with the fertile and infertile times of the cycle enables some sub-fertile couples finally to have the joy of bearing children. This fact is becoming well known. More kindergarten children can be foreseen.

Moreover, NFP couples become great lovers, pleased with the family, pleased with the partner, enjoying the neighborhood, happy to be alive, thankful to God. You can see from some testimonies in this book that NFP-users are quite inclined to have a child or two more than they had earlier planned, just because they love has expanded, and because they have serene confidence that they are in control of the birth-control situation. A small increase of kindergarten children is therefore a reasonable expectation.

The Japan situation during the past 32 years illustrates what can happen when governments and mass media over-advertise birth control, especially when the intention is anti-population or deceleration of demographic growth. Statisticians tell us that a billion condoms are manufactured annually in Japan; about two-thirds of these condoms, more than 600,000,000, are used in Japan itself. Yet there are about 2,000,000 abortions annually in Japan.

It is only too easy for governments to ride roughshod over feelings of parents, to turn their hearts against children, to introduce destructive and immoral practices into the family circle.

If governments constantly urge couples not to have children, many people become confused. One Catholic mother in Japan asked me, in tears, whether it was a sin to have given birth to four children.

It is high time to restore dignity to family planning in Japan. By teaching NFP, we strengthen the role of the parents as the unchallenged master and mistress in their own home. No government agent ranks above them there. We make them free again. We help them plan their families in accordance with their own felt needs. Families should always remain the meeting place of church and society; they should be oases of peace and plentiful happiness in a world which is too often barren, too often disturbed.

As Sirach wrote two thousand years ago:

With three things I am delighted, for they are pleasing to the Lord and to man. Harmony among brethren, friendship among neighbors, and the mutual love of husband and wife (2 5, 1-2).

Again and again in this book you find that couples who had earlier practiced contraception now feel their love had been dwarfed and mutilated; whereas after learning NFP their love became stronger and more considerate, more attentive, more fulfilling.

We hear that natural family planners are not likely to get abortions or divorces. Is this not a sign that love prevails in their lives? We also know that contraception, where widely practiced, spawns abortion epidemics; and there is a notorious rate of divorce in many contraceptive societies. Is it not a sign that where contraception prevails, love fails?

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that continence is good for man in his present state, although it would not have been praiseworthy before the fall:

Beasts are without reason. In this way man becomes, as it were, like them in coition, because he cannot moderate concupiscence. In the state of innocence nothing of this kind would have happened that was not regulated by reason, not because delight of the sense was less, as some say (rather indeed would sensible delight have been the greater in proportion to the greater purity of nature and the greater sensibility of the body); but because the force of concupiscence would not have so inordinately thrown itself into such pleasure, being curbed by reason, whose place it is not to lessen sensual pleasure, but to prevent the force of concupiscence from cleaving to it immoderately. Therefore continence would not have been praiseworthy in the state of innocence, whereas it is praiseworthy in our present state, not because it removes fecundity, but because it excludes inordinate desire (S.T. 1, 98, 2 ad 3).

NFP should merit the description of "praiseworthy" from Thomas insofar as it is a system of governing desires according to reason. The governance of instincts for the achievement of reasonable ends is a distinctly human triumph, which is not in the slightest manner accessible to our fellow animals. A woman who sees in her husband the exercise of willpower over powerful instincts grows in admiration and love for him. A man who sees the woman as one who loves his human traits more than sexual blandishments, esteems her beyond measure, and tries to live up to her high expectations. He becomes more and more master in his own house, and she becomes mistress in her own self. Freed from compulsion, each enjoys a life of serene dignity, experiencing in created life something of that freedom which God enjoys in His uncreated trinitarian life.

Testimonies also tell us that children coming from families where parents follow the natural way, without contraception, radiate happiness and good neighborliness. The Tokyo priest is well advised, therefore, to encourage NFP near his kindergartens, for more than one reason. In the long run he may have more children for his kindergartens, and parents and children will both enjoy life more.

by Fr. Anthony Zimmerman

Next Page: 13. Priest Don't Know NFP
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