Every child is unplanned — even in natural family planning. Why must this be? Because every person, every child, is fully known only by God in his plan. Only the Creator knows completely who and what this new image of God is. To know someone perfectly as God does is to know that person in his origin and his destiny, the child’s place in the large scheme of reality.
Then why natural family planning? Because by giving existence to creatures in his image, God has made known that the complementarity of man and woman in lifelong marriage reveals the beauty of true love and its fruitfulness — all within a supernatural family planning by the Creator.
God is in control
This sounds odd to many modern ears because, in the words of Pope Paul VI: “Finally and above all, man has made stupendous progress in domination and rational organization of the forces of nature, such that he tends to extend this domination to his own total being: to the body, to psychical life, to social life and even to the laws which regulate the transmission of life” (“On the Regulation of Birth,” encyclical letter, 1968).
In other words, people want control — “It’s my body, my life and I’ll do what I want with it.” Or there’s the choice that many make to eliminate a child with a handicap because of the trouble they might have in rearing the little one. Or the preference some have for a male child (eliminating a female child before birth).
Yet, the one truth that confronts us as creatures is that we are not in control of everything. A man or woman is certainly not in control of one’s spouse and the child God envisions.
To control is always to treat a person as an object, something I can handle and order according to my will. But marriage is learning to love by self-giving.
Natural family planning helps foster self-giving and self-forgetfulness; both spouses are invited to pay more attention to everything outside the conjugal act so that their whole life together is for service to one another and to their family.
And the ripple effect can be so happily surprising and rewarding, as when an NFP mother of several children relates that she was told by a chance acquaintance who had seen their family on a few occasions: “We’re having another because of you.”
Father Dosh is pastor of St. John the Baptist in Excelsior.