Monday, November 26, 2007

NFP and 1 Corinthians 7:3-5

We've discussed birth control many times before here on Making Home... but it's been a while. A recent post I read on another blog again raised a question I've had in my head for a couple of years. I posted about it roughly a year ago, but didn't get any "takers".

This time, I'd really like to hear from you, if you are currently, or in the past have, or would like to be, an NFP (natural family planning) user. Essentially, NFP is a method by which women monitor their bodies in order to determine times of fertility. During fertile times, which is generally defined as 7 days before ovulation and 3 days following ovulation (based on the lifespan of sperm and eggs), couples abstain from times of intimacy in order to avoid pregnancy for that month.

Personally, though, I can't see how, for the Christian couple, that method can "square up" with 1 Corinthians 7:3-5:

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
With 10 days of fertility that come with every monthly cycle for a woman, NFP seems to require abstaining from sexual relations for 10 days out of every 28-ish days. I can't imagine intentionally abstaining from intimacy for 1/3rd of my married life... and frankly, it seems like it would do precisely what 1 Cor. 7:5 warns about-- having temptation creep into the marriage relationship from the outside. To me, that kind of planned time apart on a regular basis doesn't sound like the small amount of time spent apart in devotion "to prayer" (not for birth control) that may occasionally be used ("perhaps") "for a limited time."

So, those of you who use NFP (or have used it in the past), really, I'm wanting to know-- how does this square up in your mind? It may sound like I have my mind made up, and truthfully, I don't really see how it could square up-- but it's possible that I just haven't heard from NFP users who have thought about this and have a good explanation. Please, bring your thoughts... and if you are a reader who hasn't used NFP but would like to join in the conversation, come on! I'd love to hear any and all thoughts on this issue.


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