Opinion | Sexuality

Why We Don't Use Natural Family Planning

The method works wonders for many Christian couples, but shouldn't be elevated to one-size-fits-all heights.

Because I write often about reproductive ethics, I knew Bethany Patchin's story long before Mark Oppenheimer wrote about it in last weekend's New York Times. Bethany and Sam Torode divorced in 2009 after nine years of marriage, during which they had four children. Early in their marriage, the couple wrote a book called Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception, in which they argued that natural family planning (NFP) is the healthiest, most spiritually enriching contraceptive approach for Christians.

NFP, the only contraceptive method approved by the Catholic Church, requires couples to track the woman's fertility by detailed observation of body temperature and cervical mucus. Couples can then avoid intercourse on the wife's fertile days if they wish to avoid pregnancy, and plan intercourse if they want to become pregnant.

The Torodes, as other NFP supporters do, argued in their book and here at Christianity Today that not only is NFP as effective as medical forms of birth ...

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