The Gospel reading for Wednesday, October 12, 2016 was Luke 11:46, and it reminded me why I became involved with teaching natural family planning. In fact, if it were not for that verse, I might never have had the pleasure of knowing many of those who will read this blog.
It all started with the dissent from Humanae Vitae in the summer of 1968. When I read the encyclical, I thought it was good, but it didn’t get me excited. But when I read the dissent, I was appalled. The dissenters leaned heavily on the majority report of the Papal Birth Control Commission which the Pope had received in 1966. Briefly, its rationale for saying that the Church could and should approve of contraception was fatally flawed. It could not say a firm NO to sodomy.
In that light, I thought that Pope Paul VI should have taken about one day to read and digest the reports and then one week to prepare a logical rejection. Then he should have announced that the arguments used by the proponents of marital contraception could not say NO even to sodomy and were therefore completely unacceptable. I thought he should have said that all speculation that the Church could change its teaching on these matters should cease, and I think he should have promised a more complete response in the near future. But, unfortunately, he waited many months, and the proponents of contraception continued to prepare Catholics for the change they wanted and expected.
My response to this situation was to write a book that not only defended the teaching of Humanae Vitae with a positive, covenant understanding of the marriage act but also analyzed the arguments of the dissenters. I found them worthless from the perspective of Christian discipleship. Alba House published it as Covenant, Christ and Contraception in the spring of 1970.
Then, from somewhere in the depths of my memory the text of Luke 11:46 arose and confronted me. “Woe also to you, scholars of the law! You impose burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them..” I had done my best to affirm what many were calling a great burden. I don’t think I had previously given any thought to providing the practical help of NFP, but now I knew I had to do something.
Providentially, Sheila was already working on her book, Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, and we had learned about the cross-checking sympto-thermal system from an article by Dr. Konald A. Prem. We met with him in June of 1971, and that fall we founded the Couple to Couple League and began teaching.
We thought we were done teaching some 32 years later when we and the League separated in 2003, but the next year we saw CCL beginning to make significant changes. Within a few years, they rejected all three of the founding charisms—ecological breastfeeding, the covenant theology of the marriage act, and Dr. Prem’s version of the STM. That’s why we formed NFP International and continue with the original teachings on which CCL was founded.
If you have ever been helped by any of those founding charisms, please join me in thanking the Lord Jesus for teaching as he did in Luke 11:46. And please help us to continue those teachings through the work of NFP International at http://nfpandmore.org/missionhelp.shtml.
John F. Kippley, October 13, 2016