Another Theology of the Body--Addendum to My Last Post

I stumbled across this old article this morning.  Here, Fr. Bill Daly, who I've talked about before, gives a Real Talk assessment of the role of NFP in his parish.

There is a line in this article that reinforces the division between "birth control" and "expected value reduction" that I spoke about in yesterday's post.

Most couples in our parish, like couples in most parishes in the developed world, are certainly using artificial contraception. Practically every young family has two or three children. I doubt that they are practicing natural family planning.

Why does he doubt that these young families with two or three kids are using NFP?  If Fr. Daly believed (as he says he does when he claims that NFP "works") that NFP allows for the kind of control comparable to artificial methods, then there is no reason for that skepticism.  Why would it?  If the effectiveness claims of NFP were true, then there would be no reason to doubt that a particular couple had concluded that two or three children was an appropriate family size, and then executed that plan via NFP.  Family size would be an entirely neutral indicator of whether a particular Catholic couple was using NFP--some NFP families would be big, and some would be small, depending on the individual discernment of the couple.

The answer, of course, is that Fr. Daly doesn't actually believe that NFP is as effective as artificial birth control.  He doesn't actually believe that a couple who decided they wanted two or three children could implement such a plan via NFP.  He thinks that using NFP almost inevitably results in big families--perhaps not as big as they would be without NFP, but bigger than two or three.  The moment he sees a family of two or three children, he assumes the parents are using artificial birth control, because he doesn't think that couple could achieve that result with NFP.

Now, there are other reasons why Fr. Daly is right to be skeptical of whether these couples are using NFP.  Statistics, for one.  But the fact he brought up family size as an indicator of whether the couple was using NFP is instructive about what he really thinks about NFP.  He doesn't really think it's just as effective as artificial contraception.  And he's right.


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