Family planning touches on so many issues vital to the health and happiness of people that any thorough discussion of the subject will eventually become moral in nature. We have discussed the impact that family planning methods can have on an individual’s health, on a woman’s image of herself, on a couple’s relationship, on simple concepts of justice and shared responsibility. These in themselves are clues that there is a moral dimension involved. Since all areas of our being – spiritual, psychological, intellectual, emotional, physical – interact, the health of any one of these affects the health of the whole. If morality represents Divine wisdom about what makes us healthy on all levels of our being, then the morality of our family planning decisions and methods is very important indeed.
There is a moral issue involved in how we treat our bodies, since it relates to our respect for life, and to our respect for God’s design for the human being – for its basic sacredness. Our attitude to our fertility, then, is significant. The underlying message of contraception is that our fertility is a disease, a threat, an enemy that must be operated on, drugged, suppressed, diverted. The object of the contraceptive exercise is to attack fertility. In contrast, the natural methods leave our fertility intact although recognizing that we may not always want to invoke our creative capacity. The underlying message of natural family planning is that we can live in harmony with this fact of our being
The attitude we have to our fertility also shapes our attitude to the child. When we are conditioned to fear our fertility and to attack it, it is not surprising then that we come to fear and attack the child which may be the product of that fertility. Feelings of fear, anger and despair are fuelled. Accepting our fertility, being relaxed and positive about this aspect of ourselves, promotes an accepting, relaxed attitude to the child. This atmosphere goes a long way to help those couples who are dealing with a pregnancy posing great difficulties. .
There is also a moral issue in how we provide for God’s involvement in our marriages. Planning our families carries a great responsibility to keep our values straight and to make truly wise decisions. Yet we know our decisions are flawed by lack of information, foresight, wisdom or generosity. What we rely on is the sacramental nature of marriage. When our resources are limited, flawed or exhausted we can ask for Divine help to raise the quality of our decisions.
If we inform ourselves, reflect, discuss and pray, we can then confidently say to God – the ball is in your court. Everytime we recognize our fertility and renew our decision to achieve or postpone a pregnancy, God has the opportunity to reach down and touch the decision-making process. Because we have not shut down our fertility, we are always able to act on a change in mind or heart.
Thus natural family planning promotes a respect for the integrity of the body, for life itself, and an openness in our relationship with God.