The issue came up in one of Danielle Bean's blog articles...in the comments at least. More recently it has come up in an email group to which I belong.
Are 'poor' (as in financially challenged) people being irresponsible if they do not actively use NFP to limit their family's size, as opposed to leaving the whole thing up to God?
First, I will define a couple of terms:
Natural Family Planning is a method of fertility awareness by which a couple may choose to space, or to avoid, a pregnancy, by avoiding sexual relations during the woman's fertile period. This method is approved by the Roman Catholic Church for married couples who for serious reasons (ie not to be able to afford a bigger boat) wish to space children. The method properly used is sort of like saying to God "We'd rather not have a child (right now) but we're open to your will."
Another licit option for Catholics in family planning is to simply let God decide when and whether babies arrive. By inference, I call this 'hands off' family planning. Which is not to be confused with complete abstainance.
Complete abstainance can also be practiced by a couple who feel they must not have any children.
What I have read is what I previously stated: if a family is materially poor, they are being irresponsible if they do not actively avoid pregnancy, and just allow God to decide if and when they become pregnant.
I do not understand this line of thinking. If the proper mindset for the use of NFP is to be open to life, even if it should begin when we would rather it did not, we are leaving it, ultimately, up to God.
If a couple chooses to leave it entirely up to God, who knows everything, how is this being less responsible than if they signalled God that be co-creators at this time is not desireable, but ultimately agreed to follow his will?
I think that the irresponsibility argument is removing credit from God to be able to decide when and where he wishes to begin a life. God has been known to work around contraception when he's forced to. There was even a case of a Virgin becoming pregnant...but God asked permission of her to do this!
A life begun is always a blessed event, regardless of the circumstances of conception.
I do not disagree with the use of NFP. I wonder though that those who demand its use from certain sectors of the population are not really wanting to demand abstainance? This seems to me to be one step away from demanding sterilization.
No one has been able to explain the irresponsibility argument to me in a way that does not end up sounding like "I don't wish to care for the children of poor people". Okay, but what if God decides that these poor people should have children? Is it not possible that we are being called to assist these people?
So, explain it to me, please!