Results. This sort of NFP course and appropriate reinforcement from the pastor and the rest of the marriage preparation program can have significant results. Specifically, I estimate that at least 25% of couples who receive this sort of preparation for marriage will start their marriages with marital chastity—either ready for children on their honeymoon or practicing chaste abstinence if they have a sufficiently serious reason to postpone pregnancy. Further, the seeds that have been planted will continue to grow, and many of the contraceptors will experience for themselves the wasteland of secular sexuality, so I expect a gradual increase in the numbers of couples who repent and accept full Catholic teaching on love, marriage and sexuality. With help from the pulpit and an overall parish environment that promotes authentic Catholic spirituality and sexuality, I think that by their tenth anniversaries at least two-thirds of couples who experienced the right kind of marriage preparation and NFP course will be fully practicing Catholics. After all, about five years before Humanae Vitae in an environment in which we had neither the technical nor theological support available today, about two-thirds of Catholics accepted Catholic teaching, so it is not unreasonable to look for that level of acceptance once again.
What is difficult for me to comprehend is that in 2012 only six dioceses [in the United States] are making any kind of NFP course a required part of preparation for marriage. Why does any priest or any bishop NOT want Catholic engaged and married couples to know everything I have described as the content of the right kind of NFP course? The physiology is basic and easy to understand, and it can be taught modestly, even in mixed classes. The discipleship aspects are crucial for the New Evangelization. I would like to think that even those who think of themselves as “liberal” or “pro-choice” on birth control would want their people to know all of the above.
After all, how can people make an informed choice without this information? To paraphrase Romans 10, how can people act rightly unless they believe? And how can they believe unless they are taught? And how can they believe and act rightly unless they have the right kind of instruction? And in today’s context, how will they experience such instruction without being required to do so?
(John F. Kippley is the president of NFP International, the co-author of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach, and the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books, articles and brochures. He has long been involved in the ministries of NFP and evangelization.)
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John F. Kippley
Battle-Scarred: Justice Can Be Elusive