A man wrote asking several questions about NFP. Here are John’s response to those questions or concerns.
Thanks for writing. I will try to help.
1. Couple with a serious reason to avoid pregnancy. You have described a very difficult situation, and I can empathize with your priest. However, he erred in saying that the couple in that situation can use contraception. He should read my book, Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality. In a chapter on the formation of conscience, I quote Pope John Paul II over and over again to show that the teaching reaffirmed by Casti Connubii and Humanae Vitae is binding and cannot be changed. It is not a matter of situation ethics. In the situation you describe, I would recommend that the couple abstain from relations from the beginning of menstruation until a combination of signs indicate that she is in postovulation infertility. A woman who is ovulating will have a temperature shift after ovulation as well as having her mucus dry up. The couple might want to wait for what we call a Rule C interpretation or add one day to the other rules.
I highly recommend that you get a copy of our current manual, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach at www.nfpandmore.org. You can download it, but I recommend getting the paper copy with the spiral binding.
2. Comparative research has shown that the cross-checking sympto-thermal method is more effective than mucus by itself. I don’t know what you mean by a normal sleep pattern. We have seen “ideal” charts from a nurse who worked constantly changing shifts. We address these issues in our manual. Few mothers of young children have no interruptions of sleep for weeks on end, and that is usually not a problem. The important thing is to follow the temperature-taking guidelines in our manual.
3. The question about menopause is too vague for an answer. Menopause can be a difficult time because ovulation becomes less frequent. If a woman is well experienced in both the mucus and cervix signs, she can identify the fertile and infertile times very well and can engage in the marriage act with a relative lack of abstinence. However, if they are very fearful of pregnancy, then the best thing to do, barring gaining confidence in her observations, is to abstain until her signs say she is in post-ovulation infertility.
The Gospel for this past Sunday dealt with the teaching of Jesus about the need to accept and carry our cross daily. There is no doubt that the practice of marital chastity provides a cross, sometimes light and sometimes heavy. It is also true that the cross is the price of discipleship.
If you have more questions after you have studied our current manual, feel free to write or call.
In His service,
John F. Kippley
PS: The man’s Response to John: “Your response gets to the heart of the matter and helps much. Thank you. (and thanks for the prompt reply).”