Natural Family Planning and Unchaste Behavior

May 24th, 2015

Chapter 1 of our NFP manual, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach, is a New Evangelization effort.  Section 6 of that chapter is titled, “The Bible and Church teaching on contraception.”  There we present biblical teachings, a short statement on the Theology of the Body, and an even shorter statement of the covenant theology.  After quoting Humanae Vitae n. 14, we provide a list of behaviors that seek to render procreation impossible.  Included in that list are masturbation, whether mutual or solitary, and “marital sodomy, (anal sex or oral sex).”  Then we ask: “Why do we mention masturbation and marital sodomy?”  Our answer: “It’s because we listen and read.  People have told us that at one time they were practicing their own form of NFP with masturbation during the fertile time…..  We have read in the daily papers that in some parts of the United States about half of high school teenagers have experienced oral sex, that is, oral sodomy.  It take no genius to figure out that if they somehow attend an NFP course and hear abstinence during the fertile time, they may start thinking in terms of their previous behavior unless they learn that it’s immoral.  Chaste abstinence is the pregnancy-avoiding “method” of true systematic NFP.”

Unfortunately, what we teach is far more than what you will find in most of the other NFP programs.  Some say nothing about morality and religion.  It is just non-contraceptive birth control with a statement such as “avoid genital contact during the fertile time,” and that’s obviously open to a pragmatic, biology-only interpretation.  Some do not include Church teaching because they believe the method they teach stands on its own merits as a method of birth control.   In today’s culture, chaste abstinence must be taught.

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant

Natural Family Planning & Ecological Breastfeeding: The Seven Standards Do Work

May 17th, 2015

Almost all mothers can enjoy the natural spacing of their children’s births with ecological breastfeeding.    God in His wisdom gave us a way to nourish and nurture our children and to space the birth of our babies.

Mothers who remain with their babies and nurse frequently day and night by following the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding will usually have, on average, 14 to 15 months without any menstruation.

Research has shown that frequent and unrestricted nursing day and night provides natural infertility after childbirth, and that it is the short intervals between feedings that keep the reproductive system at rest.  These short intervals are common among those mothers following the Seven Standards.  The Seven Standards are simply maternal behaviors associated with an extended period of natural amenorrhea.

I have permission to quote from a breastfeeding survey which arrived recently.  The mother lives in Sweden and practiced the Seven Standards with her first baby.  Remember, I mentioned above the importance of having short intervals between feedings.  She and her husband wanted another child, so they lengthened one interval so that her fertility would return.  Here is what she said:

“Baby #1 was 18 months when my husband and I really wanted to have another baby.  I was still in breastfeeding amenorrhea.  I went to visit a friend and stayed away for 5-6 hours, knowing Baby would be emotionally well with Dad.  It was a sudden change in nursing frequency which quickly brought back my period.  I was fertile right away after that and conceived.  I deliberately “broke out of” amenorrhea so to speak.  Previous to this separation, I had never gone so many hours without nursing.  My breasts were full and Baby nursed happily on my return.  It was the sudden change that brought back my fertility.  I made sure it wasn’t gradual because we wanted to conceive.

“After this one experience, though, I continued nursing like before day and night.  After getting pregnant I kept nursing, but during the pregnancy the nursings got more and more infrequent.  Baby said it tasted funny/yucky.  It was painful and uncomfortable for me to nurse and my milk supply dropped.  The longest Baby went without nursing during the pregnancy was 5 days, the 5 days prior to delivery.

“Once in labour I nursed Baby and realized I would probably tandem nurse.  After the birth of Baby #2, Baby #1 wanted to nurse frequently again.  For the first 2 months postpartum, Baby #1 nursed up to 3-4 times a day.  At 3 months postpartum Baby #1 nursed once a day, in the mornings (first thing!).  At 7.5 months postpartum, Baby #1 would skip his daily nurse once in a while until he stopped altogether at 9.5 months postpartum.  He was 3 years, 7 months and 2 weeks old when he nursed for the last time!  He still sleeps in our room, but in his own bed.”
Mothers are encouraged to print out the breastfeeding survey, complete their experiences with ecological breastfeeding, and return to NFPI using the address on the survey.

Sheila Kippley
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor

Natural Family Planning: John’s Plea to a Priest

May 10th, 2015

Dear Father,

I called you Monday because I wanted to tell you about our Humanae Vitae apostolate.  In the face of low interest in natural family planning, a committee of American bishops in 1989 urged that every engaged couple ought to be required to attend a full course on natural family planning.  The bishops made it clear that this was not just a couple hours in a day-long pre-Cana course.  Interest seems to be even lower today, and that makes the bishops’ exhortation even more important.

I continue to work in the NFP apostolate because of what Leon Cardinal Suenens wrote in his book, Love and Control.   “The sins of omission and laziness of those who, for whatever reason, have the job of giving sex instruction will weigh heavier on the last day than the sins of the men and women who were never sufficiently instructed to meet their obligations.”

The immediate reason for my phone call was to show you a photograph that appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal weekend edition (Jan 3-4).  It showed a young boy doing a skateboard trick in a former Catholic church.  The caption reads, “The former Roman Catholic Church of St. Joseph in Arnhem, Netherlands, one of hundreds of decommissioned churches, was turned into a skate park.”

This is an all too visible result of the rejection of Humanae Vitae.  The Dutch and German bishops were perhaps the most obvious in the world in their non-acceptance of the 1968 encyclical of Bl. Pope Paul VI that reaffirmed the teaching of Casti Connubii, which in turn had reaffirmed the Tradition of some 1900 years condemning the sin of marital contraception.  In section 26, Humanae Vitae also encouraged the teaching of NFP by user couples to other couples.

I also wanted to point out a few passages in our NFP manual, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach, that can help priests and deacons evangelize their engaged couples.  I use “evangelize” here in the sense of the “new” evangelization—showing that Jesus is the ultimate Author of the truths taught by the Church including its moral teachings considered so difficult in the minds of many Catholics who certainly need this sort of instruction.

Several things distinguish our NFP program, Natural Family Planning International, from other programs.  One is our teaching of Ecological Breastfeeding.  We cannot force this on anyone, but we know how appreciated it is by many.  It not only maximizes all the dose-related benefits of breastfeeding, but it also provides an extended time of natural infertility.  On January 13, Sheila received an email from a wife and mother who was emphatic in her thanks.  She and her husband used ecological breastfeeding for spacing, and it worked wonderfully, providing two to three years between each of their six children.

Sometimes this teaching has evangelical effects as witnessed by this:

The Kippleys’ teaching about ecological breastfeeding was instrumental in my conversion, not only to the fullness of Church teaching on marriage but also to the Catholic faith itself.  I was a 30-something, “childless-by-choice”, nominal Protestant when I encountered it, and my heart was so changed that I became Catholic within a year, AND became pregnant with my first child.  My husband and I used ONLY ecological breastfeeding to space our three children going forward, and our marriage and family life have been immeasurably enriched.  [Those] who encourage this teaching are truly evangelizing in a desperately needed way in today’s world.  — Pam Pilch, Virginia

Others are helped by another unique feature of the NFP International teaching—the covenant theology we use to support the teaching of Humanae Vitae.

My wife and I found the biblically based renewal-of-your-marriage-covenant theology so luminous and compelling that it helped us to accept Catholic teaching on birth control when we were still Protestants.  —Scott Hahn, commenting on John Kippley’s book, Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality.

I want to thank you for running announcements of the NFPI courses, and I also want to encourage you to rethink the idea of requiring the NFPI course as a normal part of preparation for life-long marriage, not just the wedding.  The right kind of NFP course can help you evangelize your parish, encourage couples to think in terms of families larger than the cultural norm of one or two children, and thus save your school and eventually your parish.  (We have a priest friend in Illinois who recently closed his parish school.  He told his bishop and his parishioners that contraception and sterilization forced this closure.)

Lastly, for couples whose schedule makes course attendance very difficult, we have a Home Study Course that many couples have greatly appreciated.  For both the classroom course and the Home Study course we request a donation of only $70, about the cost of the bouquet the bride will toss at the reception.  Couples who adopt ecological breastfeeding will save $1,500 to $3,000 with each baby by not having to buy any formula, and both mother and baby will most likely experience better health.

I really don’t want to see our beautiful churches turned into recreation parks or, worse yet, mosques.  But the Church needs its couples to have at least three children to survive as a church and about five children to provide sufficient vocations and to fulfill its role in the culture.

Humanae Vitae is not just “nice” or an “ideal.”  It is absolutely necessary.  The Dutch and German churches are suffering greatly because of their non-acceptance of this teaching, and the same holds true for most of the European countries.  The Church in this country is not far behind, and it will not be saved just by Latin American immigrants, many of whom fall victim to the cultural bias towards contraception and sterilization, and many of whom are poorly catechized and fall victim to secularism or join a non-Catholic religious community.

Please rethink the idea of requiring engaged couples to attend our course.  It will be one of the greatest favors you can do for them, and many will be very grateful.  I wish that “encouragement” was sufficient.  In practice, however, when everything else is required for marriage preparation and the Humanae Vitae course is only encouraged, what comes across is that the pastor doesn’t think the latter is important, and typical couples, many already contracepting, are all too ready to agree.

Thank you for reading this.  I hope it has been less unpleasant for you to read it than for me to write it.  In many ways, I would like to quit.  But I have no reason to think that the Church has erred in its teaching about love, marriage and sexuality, and I have no reason to use either age or health as an excuse.  If you would like to discuss this further, please phone or contact me at the email address in the letterhead.

In His service,
John F. Kippley
[John received no reply of any kind.]