I still think a huge problem with the Catholic debate over when “NFP can be used” is largely based on calling it NFP. By calling it Family Planning, we are semantically connecting what would more accurately be called menstrual cycle charting (Please see the wikipedia article on what the menstrual cycle is) with periodic abstinence. This view of combining the two makes it a birth control method, making it semantically difficult for us to distinguish it from contraceptives.
The fact that we delay education in this sort of menstrual charting till a couple is engaged or already married further illustrates how we view the charting and abstinence so unified that we view charting as a birth control method — even when we insist it’s not. And this further leads to constant debates over the morality of it’s use. The ultra conservatives will continue to point to the fact that we’re playing a semantics game and thus argue “Look. It’s birth control. Therefore it’s wrong!” This leaves the rest of us to basically argue, “But it can’t be immoral because the Church approves it. Therefore it must not be birth control.”
If we are willing to recognize that the Rhythm Method was not defined by it’s simplistic chart until we started insisting we needed to distance ourself from it’s reputation by calling the symptom based methods by another name (NFP), then it becomes clearer what the Church teaches.
It doesn’t matter how we’re trying to figure out when we’re fertile. We could be determining our fertility by the most inaccurate tea leaf reading method possible. But the reality is, whether successful or not, Catholic birth control is and always has been abstinence.
When the Anglican Lambeth Council of 1930 “ok’ed” contraceptives under specific circumstances, the view was always one of contraceptives or abstinence. The Church did not talk about the Rhythm method because the Rhythm method, oddly enough, was only developed that year and wasn’t very well known.
The Church didn’t officially approved Rhythm in the 50’s, though priests and theologians did often advise laity that it fit with Catholic moral teaching before that period.
Regardless, the point to gain from this is that the Church has continually gone in the direction of both affirming that abstinence is the only legitimate form of birth control, all while promoting a growth in understanding of our reproductive systems so that we can more effectively use abstinence in a manner that puts the least strain on our marriages.
That pretty much summarizes my thoughts, but there’s a bit more of my thoughts here embersofincense.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/avoiding-pregnancy/
But I think what was posted here still allows room for discussion by itself. So thoughts? Should we stop calling it NFP? Should we teach fertility charting to young people?