The Pill vs. NFP

The Pill vs. Natural Family Planning—What is the Difference?

The pill and natural family planning (NFP) had me stumped for a while.

Aren’t they both pretty much the same thing, different ways to accomplish the goal—to avoid pregnancy?

Here’s my situation, I was on the pill from 19 to 45 years old, but I have been “clean” for two years.

One might assume that I had sex before marriage, and you would be correct.

I never had children. I chose to stay on the pill because I was more interested in my career, how much money I made, my possessions and was selfish with my time. (Thankfully, I have been blessed with two step-children who enriched my life when they were 5 and 8 and are now loving young men of 21 and 24 years old.)

Before we get into things, let’s lay down a foundation first.

Men and women are designed to have intercourse to share and express their love for one another, to share in the pleasure together and for the creation of life in marriage—til death do they part. One of the primary purposes of marriage is for men and women to leave their parents to become one, in the flesh, be fruitful and multiply.

When couples decide to avoid pregnancy, there must be a moral reason to do so.

The reasons I was on the pill were not moral reasons!

An acceptable reason would be because you have financial issues or the lack of means to care for another child at this time due to illness but one day you do want to have kids responsibly and are not shutting it down completely.

Now let’s talk about the pill and NFP.

The pill chemically changes the reproductive process of a woman’s body—it sterilizes it—stops it. The chemical is also a harmful carcinogen known to cause cancer and is solely the woman’s responsibility.

NFP is a way to assess a woman’s natural body changes to determine if she is fertile. Nothing alters the woman’s ability to reproduce, and nothing must be ingested that will harm the woman.

When she is ovulating the man and woman need to decide together to refrain from having sex if they do not want to have a child. A bonus of paying such close attention to her body, she will be able to identify changes and detect potential health issues and fertility issues that might be masked by the pill.

Now let’s talk about the morality aspect of choosing not to have a child at this time in your life.

First, it’s all about the “why.”

Your reasons must be just.

You can have a contraceptive and an immoral mindset when using NFP too. It can easily be thought of and abused in that way!

Second, it is about the dignity of the person.

A person should never be used as a means to an end like using someone for sexual pleasure only. This is why pornography and sex before marriage is sinful behavior.

With NFP, the couple will need to decide, together, to abstain and both have full responsibility. Sex is about love, pleasure and being open to God’s natural order and the gift of life. None of those legs of the stool should be removed.

Third, it is about the “how.”

Let’s compare it to two people who want to lose weight. One person works out, adjusts their diet and loses weight. The other person decides to become bulimic and binges/purges and loses weight.

One person chooses to exercise his/her virtues such as temperance and exhibits healthy behavior that benefits the body. The other person falls into sinful actions such as gluttony and causes physical harm to his/her body.

How about two people who want to be millionaires. One person works hard to pay for their education, hustles for a job works his/her way up the ladder and becomes a millionaire. The other person cheats and steals, conducts illegal business dealings or perhaps sells drugs and becomes a millionaire.

One person chooses to exercise his/her virtues such as fortitude, prudence, and justice and is considered a good example to society. The other person falls into deadly sins such as greed and perhaps pride and envy.

So, to sum it up:

  • You must have just reasons to avoid pregnancy
  • The pill (and all contraception) deliberately works against conception, sterilizes and is harmful to the body
  • NFP doesn’t sterilize the act of intercourse by stopping the way God ordained conception to occur—you are not working against how God designed you—on the contrary—you are working with it
  • It is God alone who has the power to create a human being through this intimate marital act. To contracept (this includes all forms, not just the pill—condoms, the morning after pill, IUD’s and, yes, a vasectomy) is to pretty much say, “God, you’re not desired here, go away.”

I hope this was helpful in describing the differences between the pill/contraception and NFP. I would appreciate any feedback, comments, questions you may have about this. All uncompassionate commentary will be removed.

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Kendra Von Esh

Kendra Von Esh is a Speaker, Faith Coach, and Author who has a passion to help others to deepen their relationship with God and the Catholic Faith.