Differences between NFP International and CCL International
Inquirers have asked us to state the substantive differences between what is taught by Natural Family Planning International and what is currently taught by the Couple to Couple League International. The differences are clear.
Background. We founded both organizations—CCL in 1971 and NFPI in 2004. We brought to the League in 1971 three charisms or perspectives. This became known as the Triple Strand approach to teaching NFP.
1. We taught ecological breastfeeding as a form of NFP.
2. We taught the biblically based covenant theology of sexuality as a way to support Humanae Vitae and to explain the meaning of the marriage act. This concept can be stated in 17 words. “Sexual intercourse is intended by God to be at least implicitly a renewal of the marriage covenant.” This concept easily lends itself to consideration of what is involved when man and wife enter into that covenant.
3. We were open to all the signs of fertility and developed different rules for different situations.
We directed and guided the League for 32 years. In late 2003 a separation occurred. In 2004 the new CCLI management decided to terminate its international activities in languages other than English and Spanish. Later in 2004 we formed NFP International to support what we had previously started in other European languages and to keep our traditional Triple Strand program alive and well via the internet. In 2005 we opened the NFPI Website, www.NFPandmore.org, and published our online manual titled Natural Family Planning.
Changes. In December, 2007 CCL announced significant changes to the traditional program. CCL titled its announcement an EXTREME MAKEOVER, and the title reflected the changes it made.
1. CCL dropped the teaching of ecological breastfeeding as a form of natural family planning.
On the contrary, we continue to believe that that eco-breastfeeding definitely IS a form of natural family planning. We believe that it is God’s own plan for spacing babies and therefore the world’s oldest form of NFP. We further believe that couples deserve to learn about breastfeeding not only as part of God’s plan for healthy babies and mothers but also as part of his plan for baby care and natural baby spacing.
We know from scientific studies that eco-breastfeeding DOES space babies IF mothers follow the natural mothering pattern first described in Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing: The Ecology of Natural Mothering. We also know that there are misunderstandings about breastfeeding’s influence on baby spacing. Therefore we are doing what we can to provide the proper information and practical help.
a. The preceding book (classic 1974 Harper & Row edition) has been republished (Lulu, 2008, quality paperback).
b. To help mothers better understand more clearly the baby-care behaviors usually necessary to experience breastfeeding’s natural infertility, Sheila has also written The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor (Lulu, 2008).
c. In our NFP manual, Natural Family Planning, a chapter is devoted to ecological breastfeeding, and we teach this material in the NFPI three-meeting course.
2. In its “extreme makeover,” CCL dropped the covenant theology of sexuality stated above. CCL has replaced this with an interpretation of the “Theology of the Body” (TOB) developed by Pope John Paul II between 1979 and 1984.
The papal TOB is widely praised and rightly so, but experts recognize that it is huge and difficult to understand. Our experience is that because the TOB covers so much, it needs careful definition. Further, unless you are reading the entire Theology of the Body and/or are taking a good course on it, what you hear or learn is someone’s interpretation, not the TOB itself.
We are pleased to note that when the Pope in 1994 was addressing the laity about the meaning of the marriage act, he incorporated the idea that it ought to be a renewal of the marriage covenant. “In the conjugal act, husband and wife are called to confirm in a responsible way the mutual gift of self which they have made to each other in the marriage covenant” (Letter to Families, n.12).
Our experience is that couples can grasp and understand this basic concept almost intuitively once they hear it. Therefore, we continue to believe that covenant theology of sexuality provides a succinct and very workable way to support and explain the teaching of Humanae Vitae.
3. In its “extreme makeover,” CCL dropped the concept of having different rules for different situations. It has replaced this with what they call a single rule, but its modifications for different situations effectively make it into three rules.
We continue to think it is useful to have different rules for different situations.
4. Also included in its “extreme makeover” is a different perspective about how to convey the teaching of the Church regarding the proper use of natural family planning. Humanae Vitae uses “serious reasons” in section 10 and “just causes” in section 16 to describe the qualifying reasons for the morally good use of NFP.
The CCL Student Guide mentions only “just reasons.”
In NFPI we use the phrase “sufficiently serious reasons,” as we have done for many years, to convey the meaning of both of these sections of Humanae Vitae.
Cost: The CCL 3-meeting course costs $135.00. The NFPI 3-meeting course suggested donation is anywhere from $45 to $85–depending on what the teaching couple decides to offer by way of books in addition to the Natural Family Planning manual used at the NFPI classes. Our pastor wanted us to charge at least $100 or $125 for the classes because that was the cost for other marriage preparation programs in our area. Sheila didn’t feel right about that amount. The pastor, Sheila and I settled on $70.00. At our classes, Sheila and I give each attending couple the NFPI manual, and the BD digital thermometer.
For further details, see our postings in various categories of blogs (upper right corner of website).
John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality